As Occupy Wall Street encampments are being evicted, it seems that one key component of the OWS movement’s success has been neglected. Yes, the bottom-up governance structure is exciting. The ‘human mic’ is innovative. Without a doubt, police violence at key points breathed energy into the movement, and helped it gain sympathy.
But I don’t think that’s what made OWS so successful, since most supporters and sympathizers didn’t visit an encampment (never mind actually dwell at one). If polls are to be believed, at least a quarter of the U.S. population supported OWS, with many more sympathetic to the group’s complaints (even if there was a ‘culture war’ dislike of the usual suspects).
So what was so critical? The We Are the 99 Percent tumblr. It iss authentic (not the manufactured ersatz authenticity surrounding political campaigns). It was very straightforward, with no jargon, and that simplicity gave it power. And internet access made it broadly accessible: you didn’t have to attend a rally. Most importantly, it removed the political press as an intermediary filter. It didn’t matter if David Brooks is too fucking stupid to understand OWS, all you have to do is read the signs.
It’s odd that this site seems to have been mostly forgotten.