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Occupy Wall Street: Trustafarian Revolt Or Genuine Working-class Movement?

Posted on the 19 October 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

Occupy Wall Street: Trustafarian revolt or genuine working-class movement?

Wall Street protest march. Photo credit: Paul S, http://flic.kr/p/aqZJb2

Working class misapprehension? On The Washington Post‘s Plum Line blog, Greg Sargent wrote that right-wing commentators believe any show of support from Obama for the Occupy movement will lose the Democrats blue-collar working class voters. “But what if the opposite is true — what if working class white voters actually like and agree with Occupy Wall Street’s message, if not always with the cultural and personal instincts of its messengers?” asked Sargent.

The ‘missing middle.’ Joan Williams argued at The Huffington Post that Occupy Wall Street appeals to the “missing middle” who have been overlooked by the Democrats. This group comprises “hard-working, settled, middle-class families who have had the rug pulled out from under them by recent economic conditions”, she said. Williams also wrote that Republicans are trying to portray OWS protesters as “trust fund hippies” in order to alienate blue-collar voters from the movement.

Class matters. Writing for The Sacramento Bee, Darryl Wellington argued that the protests have forced American to confront an unpalatable truth: that “class matters.” “The middle class is experiencing the levels of anxiety that the poor in America have always experienced,” he wrote.

Hippies. But it’s not just Republicans who are questioning the class credentials of the movement. In a The Daily Telegraph blog, Brendan O’Neill criticised a The New York Times feature on Occupy protest-chic, which, he said,  offered “a brilliant glimpse into the combination of teenage self-pity and hipster narcissism that is fuelling the Occupy Wall Street movement.” O’Neill poured scorn on the idea that this is a working-class protest: “This ain’t class politics; it’s just classy clothes and haircuts”, he said.

No future. David Graeber disagreed at The Guardian‘s Comment is Free, arguing that OWS represents “a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds.”

Lack of diversity? Meanwhile, Errin Haines reported for The Associated Press that some activists are concerned that there is a lack of ethnic diversity within the movement. Haines wrote that this was worthy of comment because the issues Occupy stands for “are disproportionately affecting people of color”, she wrote.


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