What Occupy Wall Street Has Accomplished in Two Short Months

occupy nycMany people in the media, as well as many citizens, complain that Occupy Wall Street has no leaders and no goals. While Occupy Wall Street and its spinoffs around the nation have certainly not developed “leaders” who articulate its goals to the media or negotiate with public officials, it has already registered a formidable list of accomplishments for a movement this young.

Here is my list of some of the important things this movement has done, with more to come as it grows and matures

  • Put the question of economic inequality in the center of national discourse for the first time since the 1960s, even though such inequality has been growing dramatically for the last 20 years. The vocabulary the movement has developed to describe this inequality “ the 1 % and the 99%” have become a permanent part of our political discourse and has focused great attention on how the mal distribution of wealth has undermined democracy and eroded the living standards of the great majority of Americans
  • Called attention to the stifling impact of student loan debt on young college, professional and trade school graduates who face the double whammy of a stagnant job market and crippling debt. The attention given this issue inspired President Obama to marginally ease the loan burden of current recipients. In the future, it might well prompt a radical reconfiguration of the debt or a major program of loan forgiveness
  • Created political pressures that prompted the postponement of a decision by President Obama to begin construction of the controversial Keystone XL natural gas pipeline
  • Inspired a wide variety of actions to prevent foreclosures and evictions and to bring relief to beleaguered home owners and tenants
  • Put the undemocratic character of many education reform policies, particularly school closings, under much greater scrutiny, creating pressures on policy makers that will make these closings much more difficult to implement them without more consultation and input from parents, students, teachers and community members
  • Given the labor movement a new vocabulary to challenge attacks on collective bargaining and union recognition, providing added ammunition to the successful campaign to defeat an anti-collective bargaining bill in the state of Ohio.
  • Mark NaisonFocused attention on the issue of police brutality and the militarization of urban police forces in ways that reinforces longstanding complaints of police misconduct and abuse in Black and Latino communities

This would be an impressive list of accomplishment for a movement that has lasted two years. But Occupy Wall Street has only been with us for two months!

Mark Naison
With A Brooklyn Accent


  1. Joe29 says

    The author is giving way too much credit to the Occupy “movement” than it deserves. The fact is that the Occupy “movement” is not a movement at all. Occupy is mostly a group of angry Anglo college educated anarchist who have no agenda (other than legalizing marijuana) and no “leaders.” Reading about the Occupy movement is like watching a Woodie Allen movie of Anglo “intellectuals” “blah, blah, blah.” As far as I can tell, the Occupy “movement” has made no efforts whatsoever to broaden its so called “appeal” to minority communities and is in fact a non-factor for minorities, particularly minority small business owners in downtown L.A. who are being seriously hurt by Occupy’s tactics.

    The fact is that Occupy refuses to participate in the political process and Occupy rejects this country’s political system. There is a huge disparity in wealth in this country but we don’t need Occupy to educate us because this is all painfully obvious. However, the vast majority of Americans are not interested in a socialist or communist revolution to overthrow the government and if Occupy continues to refuse to organize politically, develop an agenda, elect leaders, and participate in the political process, then Occupy deserves to be ridiculed and ignored. What the author and the other Occupy people are not getting is the boiling frustration of the masses who want to see the Occupy “movement” become a political movement but this will never happen because the Anglo intellectual anarchist who are currently “guiding” Occupy will never let this happen because this means possibly losing control of Occupy to others, including people of color.

    In a bizarre way, as a Latino I appreciate conservatives much more than a liberal or “progressive.” A conservative will often tell you exactly how they feel, even their racist beliefs. A liberal or progressive will say all the right things but in the end of the day, they still want to be in control. So to use George Orwell’s book, “Animal Farm” as an analogy, at the end of the day the pigs (progressives) end up becoming like the farmers (the 1%) so what is the point? And yes, this has a racial component.

  2. Ray Crosse says

    They didn’t affect any of this. Quit taking responsibility for these actions. If you must take credit, then explain exactly how you did these things.

  3. Mitchell says

    Has anything really changed yet? I see a lot of angry people. They definitely have a voice, but have they changed anything? They want things to change, have spoken about issues, but there’s no clear direction. Most of the people shown are pierced, tattooed, alternative looking, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but from Joe Average’s perspective, they just look like a group of people dissatisfied with their own lives. I still see no clear platform for change. Yes, they are being heard, but so many just jump on their band wagon without really understanding or knowing what they’re protesting about. I’m sure most of them feel like they are doing something worthwhile, but what exactly is that? Are they going to vote someone out of office? Are they going to support someone who shares their ideals and beliefs?

    I’m a teacher and was laid off. I protested. I marched. It made somewhat of a difference, but I eventually got my job back. The second year I was laid off, I didn’t march or protest. I felt what I did last time didn’t accomplish anything because no matter how loud we were, my district still sucked, and even now, budget cuts will take effect midyear, so they suck even more. Am I part of the 99%? Hell yeah, but I’m not going to go down and camp out in the cold because there is no clear agenda for change.

    All the things mentioned are very noble, but what has it really accomplished? Black Friday and Cyber Monday were in full force and those companies in the 1% made a ton of money. So OWS didn’t do much to change that, as much as they had liked to. Now, all that is focused on is the negativity such as drug use, sexual assaults, and belligerence. And as far as being left wing politicos, get real, the right wing are hypocrites, just look at the parade of presidential candidates.

  4. Jack says

    These comments here and on other blogs are often are polar opposites of each other. How are we going to save our nation when neither side will acknowledge the other’s viewpoint?

    To Ryder, who must be watching a lot of Faux News or reading the NY Daily fake News:
    Surely you don’t think you can characterize all OWS participants as a monolithic group? I’m a OWS attendee, and here’s who I am, which is similar to most people I talked to there:

    1 – (They don’t like the United States… and despise the principles it is founded on.) I love my country. I’m a veteran and a parent. I want my grandchildren to live the American dream, not suffer in an economy where the common people are forced to work for $10/day, which is where we’re heading if we allow the super rich to destroy our middle class. I study the founders’ writings, and I believe they did an excellent job creating our democratic republic, but they had race, class, gender and cultural biases that reduced their insight and effectiveness. A classic example is the creation of the US Senate with imbalanced representation for small states that degrades the democratic principals they tried to uphold. Another example is the half-baked idea they came up with for electing the US president via the Electoral College. It’s just not a good system, and it needs to be changed. There are plenty of other problematic areas in the Constitution, and it’s time to set them right. One concept you might agree with, Ryder, is the changing Fourteenth Amendment, which provides for birthright citizenship. Hundreds of years ago, it made sense. Now when you can sneak into our country and have a baby that is automatically an “instant citizen” it’s a dysfunctional policy. It needs to be changed, which is a concept the left wing should start considering.
    2 – (They don’t appreciate that capitalism has given them the highest standard of living in the history of mankind.) Wrong. It was the rise of a strong middle class that created our great standard of living, not capitalism. The robber barons of the 1800s, who rode the wave of rampant, unchecked capitalism, tried to suppress democracy. Today’s 1% oligarchy is once again trying to destroy our democratic power and our standard of living. Capitalism without plutocracy is a good thing; the current rampant abuse of political and economic power will eventually destroy our fledgling democracy.
    3 – (They don’t appreciate that liberty coupled with free markets has given them the greatest level of opportunity ever in human history.) I defended our liberty as a US service member. Our freedom is our greatest asset, but we have reduced liberty when we allow the plutocracy to run our country into the ground as it has for the past thirty years. Liberty needs to be defended constantly. We will reclaim our government “by the people, for the people,” but I think many of us will be killed in the process.
    4 – (They expect things be given to them by others, in exchange for NOTHING…) in other words, they are comfortable with freeloading. I’ve been working in jobs since I was ten years old, from farm work to computer programming. I’ve paid into social security my whole life. My government is now attempting to dismantle social security, calling it an “entitlement.” Congress is not reducing their own fat-cat retirement program. So who are the freeloaders? Those of us who work for a living, or those who take other people’s money without any value added benefit to society?
    5 – (They are comfortable with using violence to achieve any aim.) Our nation was born in violence. We will try to peacefully reclaim our government, but it may require other methods to take back what is rightfully ours.
    6 – They are sexual predators. You’ve got to be kidding. What a stupid statement to make about the diverse group of people who participate. You may as well generalize and say “MEN are sexual predators, and some of them showed up at the OWS events.
    7 – (They don’t use their brains except as a playground for drugs.) I don’t use drugs. Did it back in high school and college, but grew out of it long ago. Now I see that drugs are one of the many ways the plutocrats keep common Americans under their heel. Again, Ryder, this is a stupid generalization. My eighty year old grandma joined the protest. Do you think she’s a drug addict?
    8 – (Whenever asked, “what would you do to correct things”, they prove themselves to be insane… ) The diverse group of people who attend Occupy events indicate broad based support for Change. All attendees are not educated, literate leaders. You’ll get a variety of answers because the members are not in lock step with each other. So what? The fact is, hundreds of thousands of people want to improve our country by reclaiming the US government and taking back control from the super rich who bribe (lobby) our elected officials. We’re at the very begging of a massive movement to reclaim our government.
    9 – (Why the Constitution doesn’t allow people under 35 to become president.) I’m not sure why you said this, Ryder; what’s the relevance to this discussion? That young people can’t create change? Whatever, most of your arguments are silly generalizations anyway.

    Our biggest block to effecting change today is apathy, and people like you who ridicule other’s attempts to set right what the plutocrats have driven awry. We WILL reclaim our government, or die trying. That’s our American history and legacy. Will you join us, or continue to ridicule us as you help the super rich destroy your own future?

  5. says

    Yes, OWS has dramatized that ECONOMICALLY it’s us 99% being shafted by the 1%. Actually, as Krugman has pointed out, it’s more like us 99.9% vs the 0.1%.

    But it’s time to connect the dots, people. The POLITICAL system is what enables the ECONOMIC oligarchy to legalize and impose its will. And that’s because the political system is, deliberately, a constitutional populist-veneer Roman-republic-style oligarchy. 0.1% of us are long-term totally empowered public policy and law decision-makers, and the rest of us have the power only to plead and beg, not decide. 0.1% of us are all-powerful oligarchs, given the power and incentive to sell out and be corrupted by the 0.1% of the economic oligarchs.

    And why has this problem inevitably gotten worse over time? One reason is that population keeps increasing, but the size of the political oligarchy – the number of empowered jurisdictions and offices – does not come anywhere to keeping pace.

    If you really believe that you don’t want to be subservient to the economic 0.1% oligarchy, then you had better start questioning your acceptance – and your friends’ acceptance – of a constitutional political 0.1% oligarchy. No matter how much rhetoric about ‘democracy’, it’s oligarchy.

    • Ryder says

      If the Constitution was actually followed… the political system would not have the levels of raw power it now has to sell to the highest bidder.

      ALL power is for sale. The issue then is simply and precisely our ability to prevent the government from accumulating power.

      Supposedly it has NO authority not specifically granted it by the Constitution… but progressives insist that the Constitution is a “living” document, and can be relentlessly reinterpreted to grant new powers based on nothing more than “times have changed”.

      Where the fed’s are allowed to provide for the general welfare of the ***states***, progressives have allowed and even DEMANDED the government provide for individuals… an authority never arising in the document.

      Progressives get behind the idea that the commerce clause, which allows the feds some say in commerce between the states (in order to make it regular), that this means that the Feds can reach down and force individuals to make commercial purchases without qualification.

      And the list of infringements goes on and on… and certainly far beyond my ability to capture in its entirety.

      Progressives want an extra-constitutional government… which is the basis for it’s immense power… which is, of course, for sale.

  6. Ray Bishop says

    I imagine that their will always be someone who does not think the Occupy Movement has been great for America. But it has.
    Youth of America feel that the intelligent vote is in a minority and they have had a tendency to feel dis-enfranchised.
    Occupy has made a huge statement and those who participated will be inspired to become activists for a better system in the future.

  7. facts says

    @shaun is correct. occupy wall street was making a point it’s own vague aimless whiny way at first. but now it is clearly creating more problems than it is solving.

  8. says

    @ Shaun:
    OWS got you to read this article and make a disparaging remark.
    While the second accomplishment probably isn’t all that large, actually, the first almost certainly is a major one.

    thank you for proving the author’s point for him.

  9. Timi Burke says

    @Shaun: That’s witty but vapid. Our entire culture has been steadily hijacked by Fox News et al., within Right-wing Media’s role as “Tokyo Rose with a Bullwhip”, mesmerizing their massed followers with lies and distortions while viciously attacking anyone who dares challenge or compete with them. For a decade, America’s poignant situation has been “being raped while Duct Taped into paralysis and silence”, because awareness of reality is steadily suppressed 24/7.

    The 99% Occupy Movement has finally become our 21st c. version of the late ’60s consciousness-raising youthful protesters, and from the moment of their advent, The Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy has begun its marginalization.

    • Ryder says

      On the contrary… the entire MSM, minus Fox, has glorified Occupy from the start… even though they don’t have a message… they use violence both outward and inward… the rapes, the murders, the sex, the drugs, the vandalism… all talked openly about by Occupy.

      The early Occupiers started leaving when crimes were committed within Occupy, and they tried to convince the victims to NOT go to police in order to attempt to protect the image of Occupy.

      What the Occupy movement has accomplished more than anything… is that they have put a living, breathing face on the Democrats and the political left.

      1 – They don’t like the United States… and despise the principles it is founded on
      2 – They don’t appreciate that capitalism has given them the highest standard of living in the history of mankind
      3 – They don’t appreciate that liberty coupled with free markets has given them the greatest level of opportunity ever in human history.
      4 – They expect things be given to them by others, in exchange for NOTHING… in other words, they are comfortable with freeloading.
      5 – They are comfortable with using violence to achieve any aim.
      6 – They are sexual predators.
      7 – They don’t use their brains except as a playground for drugs.
      8 – Whenever asked, “what would you do to correct things”, they prove themselves to be insane… like “eliminate money”, or “make banks illegal”. Eliminate money? Turning back the clock 4000 years. Good idea!
      9 – Why the Constitution doesn’t allow people under 35 to become president.

      They are a thoughtless, disgusting mob engaged in racist class warfare… infant children with dirty diapers complaining about things they clearly know nothing about.

      Those are the progressive leftists… violent destroyers… an angry mob armed with ignorance and slogans.

  10. Shaun says

    “Put the question ”
    “Called attention ”
    “Inspired a”
    “providing added ammunition”
    “Focused attention ”
    “Created political pressures”

    So, nothing?


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