The Disorganized Occupy Movement

Occupy site at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Photo courtesy of The Guardian.

Today, if there is a cause you feel strongly about, chances are there is an organization that supports similar ideals. From combating hunger or raising awareness about breast cancer to supporting orphan puppies and educating citizens on how to have eco-friendly homes, the endless number of organizations worldwide allows individuals to team up with others who share similar interests.

The Occupy Movement, a protest formulated in New York that quickly grew into an international phenomenon, is comparable for this reason. Those who participate in the movement rally against economic and social inequalities by inhabiting highly visible locations in their respective cities, states or countries. By forming camps around the globe, Occupiers hope to express their opinions unto governmental officials on how to address unbalanced societies.

The mission of Occupy activists is to confront the “greedy and corrupt” one percent of populations that control the majority of the world’s wealth; while one percent enjoys economic success, 99 percent suffer.

And although this may be true, how effective can an organization be without visible leaders or positive marketing campaigns? Yes, many Occupy sites have social media groups and spokespersons, but how often do they rely on media coverage to spread their messages instead? How frequently do those media negatively present Occupy movements? It seems counterproductive to rely on organizations to announce your plans if they are doing so through negative, mocking tones.

The Occupy London movement of both St. Paul’s Cathedral and UBS Bank is quickly recognizing how impossible it is to persevere without distinct organization and direction. The momentum of London occupiers has suddenly come to a halt as camps were served eviction letters by the English government on Jan. 30, a Telegraph article stated.

Official logo of the Occupy London Movement. Courtesy of The Guardian.

A Guardian article that featured a question and answer session with author and Occupy activist Naomi Wolf highlighted Wolf’s beliefs in media reform, stating, “Her conclusion is that for Occupy to keep its momentum now, it can no longer afford to be such an amorphous, anarchic movement. In effect, it needs to get organised, in more conventional campaigning ways.”

Wolf expressed her sentiments by saying, “Media exposure, a clear message, smart soundbites, clearly stated demands, and, most importantly, tasked, empowered negotiators working on the inside in concert with mass disrupters applying pressure from without – this equals political life.”

St. Paul's protestors anticipate their eviction of the site. Photo courtesy of The Guardian.

Another perceived fault of several Occupy camps lies in the fact that they are composed of lazy, filthy, radical individuals.

A journalist of The Daily Mail, Tom Rawstorne, joined London occupiers for two days at St. Paul’s in hopes of better understanding its population and purpose. However, he found he didn’t even need to explain his identity, as many Occupiers were too concerned with other activities.

“In the 48 hours I spend at the camp, I discover that procrastination, contradiction and confusion are pretty much par for the course — and absolutely no one asks about my reason for being there. My fellow protesters are too busy posing for the world’s media, being interviewed by film crews and radio stations from around the world, and loving the attention … A key activity is sitting around smoking joints and knocking back lager.”

Kieron Monks, a reporter of The Guardian, addressed these bad reputations of Occupy London camps by saying:

The fear is that the Occupy sites have lost direction and momentum as they increasingly come to resemble crisis shelters. Before the 30 January eviction, over half of the 60-odd residents of the UBS building in the City had no alternative shelter, including young families with children, veterans suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, and people with disabilities.

In order to survive, I believe the Occupy Movements must overcome their negative impressions by enforcing ethical standards amongst campers and reconsidering the most effective ways to gain the attentions of government officials. In order to maintain a positive image and to avoid further mockery, they must reassess their purposes and work to present themselves as intelligent, effective groups rather than bunches of lowlifes. Is camping out forcing change, or is it a useless strategy now that its initial shock has worn off? Without organization, clear communication, consistent media exposure and appropriate behavior, the Occupy Movement will die before leaving its legacy. It will continue to be taken lightly by outsiders, and its moment, support and attention will quickly evaporate.

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