Listening to the people at #OccupyWallStreet

Matt Stoller has spent time at #OccupyWallStreet and his post at Naked Capitalism explores what’s happening there, who’s participating and what it means. The whole post is, as always with Stoller, worth reading. But this passage stands out:

What these people are doing is building, for lack of a better word, a church of dissent. It’s not a march, though marches are spinning off of the campground. It’s not even a protest, really. It is a group of people, gathered together, to create a public space seeking meaning in their culture. They are asserting, together, to each other and to themselves, “we matter”.

This is tremendously important, in no small part because while these people are boldly stating the importance of their take on the world, to this point, political and wealthy elites haven’t listened to them. While it is unlikely that these elites will suddenly listen to the complaints about and aspirations for government and the economy from young people and workers, the act of stating their case and expressing their importance is tremendously important. Gideon Rosenblatt wrote about the dangers of not listening earlier this week:

If that happens, if these young people are cowed into submission, or worse, simply ignored by the rest of us in society, then their courage will have been in vain. This promising catalyst that might have helped us all to find the courage to take our own stand, to give voice to our frustrations and work to protect this great country from further excesses of Wall Street — all of this will have been wasted.

These young people deserve our attention and our respect. They need our help in turning their idealism into actual solutions to move our country out of its current state of decline.

I don’t think anyone involved in #OccupyWallStreet is expressing a radical position. It is only radical to the extent that other progressive organizations and liberal individuals fail to lend their support to this movement and leave these people on the outside of accepted debate.. The Transportation Workers Union Local 100 in NYC is lending their support, and the Air Line Pilots Association held a huge march and rally to Wall Street. Other larger unions and community groups are joining as well. These actions validate the people camping out on Wall Street and show that at least some of us are listening to the #OccupyWallStreet movement and showing the participants that their action does have meaning.

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