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Is Popular Protest Back As Force For Change?

“It is the response of the U.S. Autumn to the Arab Spring!” — Cornel West, addressing the “Occupy Boston” demonstrators in Dewey Square, Wednesday

The “Occupy Movement” is perhaps the most sustained popular protest from the left since the Women’s Liberation movement in the 1970s, or perhaps the anti-Vietnam war protests before that. From the right, more recently, we’ve seen the Tea Party movement spread nationwide and profoundly influence at least one election cycle.

Is popular protest back as a force for social and political change in America? What do the “Occupy Wall Street” or “Occupy Boston” protests represent? And are they effective means of protest and social change?


  • Sarah Sobieraj, assistant professor of sociology at Tufts University; author of “Soundbitten: The Perils of Media-Centered Political Activism”
  • Michael Klare, Five Colleges professor of Peace and World Security Studies


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  • Uva_mla

    I believe (I believe)That when you repeat what I say (That when you repeat what I say)
    You sound like a kindergartener (You sound like a kindergartener)
    Or a member of the Manson Family (or a member of the Manson Family)
    either way (either way)
    You are creepy (you are creepy)

  • dsws

    Occupy Boston isn’t just the 100 actual occupods in the tents.  It’s everyone who donates a bag of sugar or shows up for a rally.

  • Anonymous

    God I hope so!  It’s LONG OVERDUE!

    A few observations…

    1.  They didn’t protest for weeks in the 60′s, they protested for YEARS to effect change.  People are expecting meaning, organization, and a clear message after a very short relative period of time.

    2.  Americans have been “Fat and Happy” for so long we don’t want to rock the boat.

    3.  Krugman’s right…  These protesters are protesting against the right people.

    4.  They would be well served to start getting clear on a message.

    “The system is broken” is a poor excuse for a message…  BE SPECIFIC and SUSCINCT.

  • Anonymous

    I wonder how many of the young people “occupying” Boston, Wall Street and every where else are registered to vote?  It was not just student protests that ended the war in Vietnam, it was the protesters spreading a message that went all the way to the ballot box!  Are these people really looking for change, or just a place to hang out for a while and pretend they are making real change. The protest still looks like slack-tivism instead of activations to me.

    • Anonymous

      I think it depends on how many of them have a license.  Motor Voter registers most people when they get their license.  I mean how many people say no to that?

      Now whether they will bother to vote is a Totally different question.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jG8ErIQqpko protestfolk

    Perhaps the campuses of universities like Harvard that have recently started training professional military officers again for the U.S. war machine’s endless wars in Afghanistan-Iraq-Pakistan-Libya will also be occupied eventually like they were in the spring 1969 protest against Harvard ROTC and the 2001 “Living Wage” student protest at Harvard? And perhaps WBUR will start airing some more anti-corporate protest folk songs like the one from a few years ago at the following link:

  • Anonymous

    This is a movement of not just young people (anymore) but working class folks of all stripes. There is evidence from the 20th century that what seemed like impossible social change came about because enough people mobilized and demanded change.

    I have a job, but I am still volunteering with the Occupy group in my community for my fellow citizens who deserve better: http://michaelmaczesty.blogspot.com/2011/10/house-always-wins.html

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