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Does Occupy Wall Street Have An Agenda Or Need One?

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The Question OWS Hears Most: "What's Your Agenda?" 

By Danny Schechter, Author of The Crime of Our Time

One of the most frequently repeated, recycled and dismissive questions about Occupy Wall Street is its supposed lack of an "agenda."

The "what do you people want" question has featured in media interviews almost to the exclusion of all others.

It's as if the movement won't be taken seriously by some, unless and until, it enunciates list of "demands" and defines itself in a way that can allow others, especially a cynical media, to label and pigeonhole it.

Many are just frothing at the mouth for some political positions they can expose as shallow or absurd. Teams of pundits are being primed to go on the attack once they have some bullet points to refute.   (Many police departments don't need bullet points to go on the attack. They have been having a field day arresting occupiers in many cities, while collecting overtime and readying their own bullets as needed.)

Some on Wall Street already denounce these adversaries as "unsophisticated" for their formulation of the 99% versus the 1%. You'd expect the 1 % to reject this way of seeing the world.

On the right, there is no factual inaccuracy or bizarre incident they won't invoke to dismiss a movement they lack the mental tools to understand.

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The Drudge Report was delighted to expose an incident involving public masturbation in one city. A group of gun nuts blasted away a group of people who in their majority are deeply disappointed with President Obama's non-leadership on economic issues.

They write: "Don't be mistaken. The Wall Street protestors aren't peaceful hippies congregating about greed or social inequality. They are uniting to destroy America and everything we stand for. Their model is the "Arab Spring" which discharged their Governments in favor of anti-Israel agitators and Muslim fundamentalists. "They are NOT about freedom, but about World domination and total control. And Obama is supporting them..........fully."


Others like Reverend Jesse Jackson want more engagement with legislative issues and even the backing of candidates. Democratic Candidates, even progressive ones like Elizabeth Warren, seem ambivalent about backing the occupations. Most are taking their cue from President Obama who only say he understands their "frustrations.")

Some on the left, including friends of mine, seem to suffer from undisguised vanguardism and want the Movement to raise the red flag right away, despite all the anarchists, libertarians and Democrats among them. Here's Bill Bowles writing from London:

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"Although many on the established Left are claiming OWS as their own, latching on to the anti-capitalist theme that figures prominently, at least in some locations, it's clear that the focus of the OWS 'movement' varies greatly from place to place. Thus where it all started, in downtown Manhattan, the focus is very much on capitalist criminals rather than criminal capitalism. But little or no mention of the dreaded word- socialism, ironically for fear of alienating even those who occupy, never mind what the rabid corporate/state media does with that which shall remain nameless."

These are old and, in many instances, predictable debates but what they miss is what's new and so vital about this decentralized, mostly leaderless movement that has captured the worlds imagination.

Judging by the media attention it has received and polls that show large numbers of supportive Americans. it is touching a global nerve and changing the national, even international conversation. It seems to be doing a lot that's right!

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News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at See

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Thats the issue that the media is obsessed with. W... by Danny Schechter on Monday, Oct 31, 2011 at 12:01:09 PM
it really has helped me to understand the whole ph... by M. Wizard on Monday, Oct 31, 2011 at 12:54:06 PM
Their very existence reflects the "agenda": Som... by BFalcon on Tuesday, Nov 1, 2011 at 5:21:53 PM
One of the great messages that just the existance ... by Marika on Monday, Oct 31, 2011 at 1:32:50 PM
"Wall Street" is term used for nearly 100 years to... by michael hersch on Monday, Oct 31, 2011 at 2:13:20 PM
An unrecognized threat from Solar Superstorms is c... by Mark Goldes on Monday, Oct 31, 2011 at 7:38:33 PM
It is no wonder then that America is unable to c... by greg timmons on Monday, Oct 31, 2011 at 9:39:41 PM
To 'name leaders' and 'set agendas' at this stage ... by Jack Flanders on Tuesday, Nov 1, 2011 at 12:01:37 AM
Danny Schechter, you "get it". Why should OWS shou... by Timothy Gatto on Tuesday, Nov 1, 2011 at 1:42:40 AM
If you read 200 or so OWS signs, it's pretty clear... by Healthy Breeze on Tuesday, Nov 1, 2011 at 4:08:25 AM
Before real change will happen the consciousness o... by Philip Pease on Tuesday, Nov 1, 2011 at 5:56:01 PM
Acting alone OWS will not be able to end Amer... by Gary Brumback on Tuesday, Nov 1, 2011 at 8:04:48 PM
Perhaps in some ways the Democrats would be more u... by Justin Samuels on Wednesday, Nov 2, 2011 at 8:12:54 AM
An excellent point is raised here. We're all condi... by Robert McNiff on Thursday, Nov 3, 2011 at 7:03:47 PM