Perhaps this essay is a little late in a certain sense; the Occupy Wall Street movement has been going on since September and many have already given commentary concerning it. But never the less, I feel as though to not comment on it would be a waste of opportunity to show not only my opinion on the matter, but also evidence that I was observant and aware of it. I'll start by mentioning that I take no full sides in this matter; I am not fully opposed to the OWS protestors nor their collective goal, but simultaneously I do not approve of their methods nor structure. I'll begin with what I like; underdogs. I am of the temperament that both loves and supports the little guy who fights through thick and thin against a higher form of power for just means; this applies to both individuals and societies. Thus, the idea of an entire nation (or at least thousands of people in this case) assembling together for a social cause is something that I would naturally find hope and inspiration in. And the goal they fight is also one of which I can share; that eternal struggle against economic disparity and the grand division of wealth that divides the haves and haves not. Additionally the movement itself also focused on non-violent means, preferring the power of peace and civility as opposed to reckless destruction (and while there was violence in some areas, most of the protest has generally been non-violent). But despite ideological admiration, what the protestors failed in was the pragmatic and organized approach to making their movement, well, and actual movement.
Occupy wall street hasn't moved anywhere constructive since its start; no amount of great change has occurred as a result of this movement, and I find it doubtful that it will lead anywhere in the future. First and for most, the movement is lacking a crucial quality; a leader. There is no official representative in charge of anything, no one to lead the masses to their goal, no one to make important decisions regarding logistics or action. Any good movement will often have a figurehead at the very least, someone who embodies the core ideals of the group and unties them under one will. This is evident in multiple areas of history, such as Gandhi, or Martin Luther King Jr.. But OWS doesn't have an iconic leader with charisma and intelligence to direct their cause; it is a leaderless and disorganized mass of people arguing for change but not providing a representative to ensure any form of negotiation or communication. For all intents and purposes, people might as well protest from their comfy homes if they don't have a leader.
Also, the logistics of the movement are a complete mess; although the main goal seems to be economic and political change (which is one hell of a general and vague goal) different sects of people arguing for a variety of things; this hampers the strength of the movement because without a clearly defining incentive, they can't be taken seriously nor can they hope to actually accomplish anything further. In addition no plans have been created as to what will occur if the protestors succeed, don't succeed, are offered negotiations, etc.. Without someone to say what their next phase of action will be, they'll be stuck in the 'protest' phase indefinitely. So far all we have are thousands of college kids and beatniks dicking around major cities wanting social change but doing nothing constructive to see it done; it's all bark and no bite.
In addition the image that they convey is one that has seriously, is not completely, hurt their chances at succeeding at anything. Most protestors have painted themselves as young, naive, far-liberal, chaotic, rule-breaking, lazy college-age kids demanding social change as though we were in the depression. Yes, the economy is in the toilet, but when 25% of the nation is homeless and sitting outside soup kitchens, then a call for action might be more justified. Regardless, even if the bad economy warrants such social revolution, they are going to get it as much as their going to get respect from most other politicians. Politics isn't just sharp dressed men in government buildings.
And even if the OWS protestors were to somehow succeed in their goals, what could they possibly hope to achieve? They believe that the can somehow bring economic prosperity to the nation, but their means of doing so may only further hurt the nation. If I remember correctly, many OWS protestors wanted to implement left-wing economic policies that would border on complete and utter socialism. Now I'm not against welfare nor am I proponent for laissez-faire economics, but socialist policies that border on communism don't work and would only further worsen things. If anything, although capitalism has gotten us into this economic mess, it can get us out of it; business need to generate more jobs, which gives people more work, which allows people to but more, which strengthens business, ad nauseum. But major redistribution of wealth, although not the worst idea ever, may only do more harm than good.
Overall, Occupy Wall Street looks like a pointless revenge of the sheeple masses; the fruitless proletarian uprising. But don't get me wrong, it's not just the protestors who deserve criticism, for those against them can be open to criticism as well.
First off, the police. Yes, they're doing their job, arresting non-violent protesters who are protesting illegally (although the idea of legally protesting sounds fundamentally absurd, but that's another matter entirely); however the endless series of arrests have only to further worsen things. For one, it gives fuel for the protesters' cause; by trying to suppress them the protestors it gives them a sense of justification in their goal; the 'man' is actively trying to shut them down, thus they have all the more reason to continue rebelling. Now had the police (as well as the politicians and media) just ignored the protestors, this probably would have all ended weeks ago. Without so much as any real recognition from those they were fighting against the protestors would have seen little reason to continue their goal; they would have become bored by the sheer lack of progress and stultification, and subsequently dispersed and ceased activity. But as long as the police fight back, so will the protestors; and if the police were to stop arrests now, then the protestors would consider themselves victorious (although, theoretically speaking if the police were to cease all arrests and give the protestors a supposed 'victory' then they might eventually disperse and break up without anything tangible left to fight against). In addition, police brutality in several cases (such as Occupy Oakland and that event where a line of sitting protestors were pepper sprayed) only further makes the opposition against OWS look authoritative and evil; not exactly a good way to combat a mass social cause of self-righteousness.
But it's not just police who are a problem; it's also those who generally approve of the status quo as well as the great division of wealth in this country. Although the OWS protestors may be ineffective at the very least they care about the bad state and twisted structure of the economy; however there are many in the U.S. who seem to think that 1% owning almost 25% of the nation's wealth is a good thing, as though the super-rich were extremely beneficial to everyone. Now while some of the richest people in the world may be charitable, I highly doubt that is the case for all of them; for all those who buy themselves luxurious mansions and jet airliners there are at least ten more people who need work of some sort in order to earn wealth. Perhaps incentives such as extra money and tax breaks for all new businesses would help, or progressive income taxes to transfer money from the super-rich into job investment programs; either way, anything is better than just allowing perfectly good money to sit around being unused because of the selfish.
And hell, if drastic action is really necessary to bring about economic and social change, wimpy protests aren't going to get the job done at all. From a theoretical perspective (and note: I'm not advocating this) terrorism and espionage tactics would be more pragmatic; in order to oppose great injustice, sometimes a little violence is needed. Now of course that would damage the reputation and image of the OWS protestors, but maybe if they were being led by a group that carried out intelligent warfare tactics while the protestors tore up areas of civilization, then maybe some progress might be made. Or they might just get shot at by the police; aggressive war maneuvers never do end well.
Either way, Occupy Wall Street is simply a waste of time. It feels good knowing that people are willing to stand up for social justice and the good of the nation, but logically it won't lead to anything constructive nor realistic. time will only tell how much longer is lasts.