Guest Post by: Bridget Franke
I am a number, a statistic, a percent, a fraction of so many figures.
I am a portion of the 50.8% of women living in this country.
I am one of the 8,293 students enrolled at Marquette University.
I am part of the 64% of Americans who do not have a tattoo.
And I am part of the 99% of this country exposed to economic disparity.
The Occupy Wall Street Movement brought to light the disturbing figure that 99% of population’s wealth is equivalent to the elite 1% of this country’s richest citizens. The 99% movement embodied both this country’s frustration and hope. Author and social historian Todd Gitlin does an excellent job of detailing the journey of the Occupy Wall Street Movement and incredible spirit of the occupiers in his book Occupy Nation.
One of the many strengths evident in Gitlin’s narrative is his ability to capture the personal stories of the occupiers. I was not very invested in the movement and therefore was hesitant to read the book. I knew that I supported the ideals behind the movement, but was cautious about supporting the protestor’s decisions and organization. But from reading personal stories about where the occupiers came from, who their families were and why they were so passionate, I established a sincere connection with the occupiers because together we are not only a percent, a number but we are people.
Gitlin also offers a scholarly analysis of the formation and inner workings of the social movement. He comments on the intricacy of OWS saying,
“Movements are social organisms, living phenomena that breathe in and adapt to their environments…” “They come, go, mutate, expand, contract, rest, split, stagnate, ally, cast off outworn tissues, decay, regenerate, go round in circles, are always accused of being co-opted and selling out, and are often declared dead,”(pg. 141).
This quote accurately depicts the unpredictable nature of the OWS movement. What started as a small group of protestors, erupted into mass movement that grabbed hold of our nation’s identity. However, their unpredictability became their downfall. One of the biggest mistakes was the decision to not elect a leader. Gitlin quotes someone who anonymously makes the brilliant critique “Anybody who says that there’s such a thing as a totally nonhierarchical, agenda-less movement is… not stupid, but dangerous, because somebody’s got to write the agenda- it doesn’t fall out of the sky” (pg. 136).
From reading this book I was able to form a strong, informed opinion about the movement. Gitlin provides a complete account from both an activist viewpoint and social historian viewpoint. While I disagree with many of the decision made by the occupiers, I am proud to be a part of the 99% because I too stand for equality and democracy free of corporate influence.
This photo below came up on my Facebook news feed just yesterday. It was posted by the site UpWorthy. It caught my eye not only because of the powerful sign but because of how prevalent the 99% still are.
To conclude, I feel that regardless of what the media says about hippies, liberals and bums who occupied Wall Street, there is something entirely wrong with the system. This video offers a creative way of putting it all in perspective.