We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to try to get a handle on the madness occurring in and around Wall Street. I confess I am almost totally at a loss on this one. From what little I can tell by scanning various news sites and the protestors own site:
- There are somewhere between 500 (conservative estimate) and 1200 (generous estimate) people involved. Fewer than attended my son’s high school homecoming game a couple weeks ago.
- The number tends to be larger during the day. Apparently many of the protestors go home at night to get a good night’s sleep and catch up on some corporate sponsored sit-com.
- They have no specific demands other than a seeming distaste for banks, large corporations, and anyone they deem to be in possession of too much money. “Too much” being defined loosely as “more than I have.”
- They seem to want to align themselves tactically with what has gone on in the Arab world recently. You know, where they’ve been overthrowing oppressive militant regimes that have been in entrenched power for years?
- The media love it…but seem to be growing a bit weary since they can’t find a good contiguous angle.
So in the interest of helping these angst filled souls disentangle themselves from their socialistic ennui allow me to suggest four characteristics that are the mark of a really good protest:
You ought to have a recognized villain
The French got this right when they did their revolutionary gig. Yes, yes they hated ALL the bourgeois but they REALLY hated Marie and Louie. A really good protest need a villainous face to point at and spit on and shake fists at. This idea of vaguely villainizing the corporations that built much of America and gave the protestors parents jobs, and contributed to their schools is ineffectual. Pictures of ‘corporations’ don’t work well on posters.
The villain really ought to have done something decidedly bad
You’d be hard pressed to call any of the recently displaced leaders in the Arab and north African world “good guys” and once they start firing on their own people it’s all over. While I agree that we have seen continuously mounting evidence of rampant corporate greed in the news lately the jury is still out on how they choose what is fit to show. After all Pine Creek’s homecoming had more people out than this protest and it got NO air time. At the end of the day corporations provide jobs. You’d have to give a LOT of money to illegal immigrants and homeless people to put them in a positions to create jobs.
You really ought to have specific demands
When my kids were little we taught them that ranting, pouting, and grousing were not effective methods for getting what they want. As a result all three of them have turned out to be first class negotiators. (My bad on that one.) A ‘protest’ without specific demands or calls for specific action comes across rather like a flash-mobbed tantrum. Cool idea, but you really need more commitment to make it fly. Plus, with no call to specific action how do you know when the protest is over? How do you keep score?
You really ought to have a plan for change
A workable plan. At least the rudiments of a plan. “Redistribution of wealth” isn’t a plan unless you’re Robin Hood and working on a small village scale.
I can completely identify with the sens of disenfranchisement expressed by these protestors. I empathize even more with the fact that it is difficult to sort out who to vent their spleens towards when it all just feel oppressive, unfair, and constant. I applaud them for trying to keep their carnival non-violent.
But I’m afraid that shy of defining these four characteristics for their current shindig it’ll be tough to have any consistent, meaningful dialogue and without consistent meaningful dialogue I’m afraid we’ll all continue to flounder a bit.
Care for a slice of consistent meaningful dialogue? I’d love to hear your thoughts on these protests and their issues.