The Ridge Review
Changing the way we changeWednesday, November 30, 2011 By Ari Borhanian
The word “Occupy” has been tossed around a lot lately. From Israel to Italy, from the United Kingdom to the United States, the world is ready for a change, showing their exhaustion with the system through (mostly) peaceful protest. As America splits itself between the 99 percent and the demonized 1 percent (those who hold the majority of America’s wealth), there are questions on every citizen’s mind regarding politics, culture, and even daily life: Is it possible that the world needs to, or even can, change? In this writer’s opinion, meaningful change will not occur with what we are doing now. Of course, it’s true that actions need to be taken: The United States’ economy has reached an incredible low. As seen in cases such as the Joe Cassano scandal, during which the insurance executive played a major role not only in taking down AIG (and gaining millions in profit thereby) but in creating the 2008-2009 financial crisis, corruption has made its way into many levels of the system. Protesting provides a way to make a statement. Peaceful protesting has generated incredible changes in history, like with Gandhi’s protests in an effort to bring civil rights to the inhabitants of India in the 20 th Century. The interest and numbers of Occupy Wall Street are incredibly high, and, on the surface, it appears a potential sign of great change for our nation. Looking deeper, however, one can find inherent flaws that may prevent Occupy Wall Street from amounting to anything more than a dirty park campsite. While the protesters have a list of demands, they lack one fundamental necessity: an explanation not only for what and why , but also for how. If a group wants a structure to change, they must explain exactly what can replace it and defend its ability to rise above the current system. If, theoretically, the Occupy movement succeeded in its mission, and the Wall Street suits threw up their hands in defeat, there would be nothing apparent to replace the current situation. That’s not to say that such a drastic change isn’t possible, but the activists have jumped the gun by setting up camp for a war without any weapons. As it is, Wall Street has the advantage; it has the money, resources, and influence that the 99 percent, in small numbers, lack. Without a clear, organized list of demands and an explanation of methods of improvement, the Occupy movement will go nowhere fast. Then, there are those who give the movement a bad name – those who throw up arms and fight physically, giving authorities an excuse to not only arrest them, but also to forcibly end protests, as with Occupy Boston. If a peaceful movement is taken down, the media will generally side with the protestors. If violence becomes involved, the perspective switches. Keeping this in mind, a greater level of overall organization is necessary. A bunch of little protests, disunited in demands and methods, will never cause effective change. Occupy Wall Street, like the whole Occupy movement, is an exciting and meaningful protest of the system, promoting change and the common man’s right to fight corruption. If it is not more deeply and intellectually organized, however, it will most likely die away and, a decade from now, become little more than an anecdotal memory.