Thousands more people are joining the Occupy Wall Street movement every week, with up to 20,000 at some points, as the protest movement continues to gather pace. With various unions starting to join the campaign, and mainstream media outlets giving greater levels of coverage, it’s clear that Occupy Wall Street – and the other Occupy movements around America – are here to stay.
While some critics argue that Occupy Wall Street lacks a clear set of demands, others suggest that the protest movement should not be seen in such a confrontational way. Occupy Wall Street has clear targets: the continuing greed of Wall Street, which is pulling down the American economy; and the unwillingness of American politicians to recognise the real enemy.
How long will Occupy Wall Street last?
What Occupy Wall Street has done, arguably, is to light a fire under some ideas that have been in place for a while. Many people in America were angry at the ruling financial elite, yet there was no focus for this anger. Many people travelling to Zuccotti Park report that they are being supported by others, and there seems to be a mood emerging that suggests support for Wall Street is dwindling among the general population.
Of course, Wall Street bankers are not going to surrender just because of a mood. And US politicians are clearly not going to tackle the real problems that are continuing to damage the country’s economy. So it’s hard to see where the impetus for real change is going to come from. But ideas are being aired, and these ideas would not have been aired with so much publicity before Occupy Wall Street.
What happens next? Who knows? But Occupy Wall Street isn’t going to go away, even if it looks equally unlikely to deliver the kind of short, sharp shock to the system that might effect real change. This is going to be a much longer term form of protest. There won’t be scenes in Zuccotti Park that resemble what happened in places like Tahrir Square. But Occupy Wall Street does look to be building to something, even if that ‘something’ will only become clear once – as now seems sadly inevitable – the banking elite is allowed to trash the American economy for the second time in a decade.