OccupyWallSt: America’s first Internet-era movement

Many journalists frequently deride the ongoing OccupyWallStreet protests which started in New York City but have since spread nationwide.

For example, CNN anchor Erin Burnett recently aired a propaganda fluff piece in which she rhetorically (and sarcastically) asked, “Seriously – what are they protesting!? Nobody seems to know.”

But Douglas Rushkoff, a media theorist and the author of “Program or Be Programmed: Ten Commands for a Digital Age,” explains that mainstream news journalists often depict Occupy Wall Street protests as incoherent – because it is difficult to comprehend a 21st century movement from the perspective of the 20th century politics, media, and economics some are still mired in.

“We are witnessing America’s first true Internet-era movement, which – unlike civil rights protests [and] labor marches, does not take its cue from a charismatic leader, express itself in bumper-sticker-length goals and understand itself as having a particular endpoint,” Rushkoff wrote in an op-ed article published on CNN.

“Yes, there are a wide array of complaints, demands, and goals from the Wall Street protesters: the collapsing environment, labor standards, housing policy, government corruption, World Bank lending practices, unemployment, increasing wealth disparity and so on. Different people have been affected by different aspects of the same system – and they believe they are symptoms of the same core problem.”

However, Rushkoff emphasized that anyone who claimed they have no idea what the demonstrators are protesting was not being truthful. To be sure, whether or not we actually agree with them, everyone knows what they are upset about: investment bankers on Wall Street are getting richer while the rest of the country suffers from a prolonged recession.

“[Yes], the members of Occupy Wall Street may be as unwieldy, paradoxical, and inconsistent as those of us living in the real world. But that is precisely why their new approach to protest is more applicable, sustainable and actionable than what passes for politics today.

“And in the process, they are pointing the way toward something entirely different than the zero-sum game of artificial scarcity favoring top-down investors and media makers alike,” he concluded.