By Traviss Whitt
When I first heard about the Occupy Wall Street movement, I assumed, like many probably did, that this was a small group of radical anarchists who would soon be demolished by Big Brother himself. The enormous demonstrations in other countries had something I didn’t think Americans were capable of; organization, solidarity and an intelligently designed strategy.
As the days went on, mainstream media coverage of the event began to fizzle. The protesters were mentioned briefly, but shed under a very negative light. Newscasters continued to point out their “anti-capitalist agenda,” as I would sit at home thinking, “Maybe that’s not such a bad agenda to have.”
As a sociology student, I will be the first to tell you that the capitalist mode of production is a system built entirely around exploitation. It’s a system designed at its most basic elements to funnel money out of our hands and up to one percent of our population who now own and control damn near everything.
“It’s just a bunch of people who don’t have jobs with nothing better to do” is the argument many people are posing in opposition to the protest. I am torn on this issue, because it seems these people are the very problem they’re complaining about. Unfortunately, we’ve become such a fascist nation that an overwhelming majority of the population is employed through some type of corporate entity. These corporations have one goal in mind, and that is to make as much profit as possible.
While millions of people have jobs that can’t even support their own existence, millions more are patiently awaiting one of these positions and hoping that Wal-Mart truly does have their best interests in mind. I can assure you, this is not the case. Wal-Mart wants to make money, and in order to do so, they’re going to give as little of it away to their employees as they possibly can.
I was shocked to find that the Occupy demonstrations had been spreading with speed all over the nation, the closest being Occupy Lexington. Overwhelmed with curiosity, I packed up my ukulele and headed north, not knowing what to expect. Would there be a single man wearing a Guy Fawkes mask sitting by Chase Bank, or would there be thousands?
Upon arrival, I saw about 30 people sitting at the corner of Chase in downtown Lexington. These people weren’t wearing Insane Clown Posse uniforms. They weren’t throwing Molotov cocktails. They weren’t screaming obscenities.
They were simply holding signs that would be impossible to disagree with. It’s pretty hard to make a counter-argument to a sign that only says, “Think of the Children.”
There was so much diversity at the protest, it would be difficult to pinpoint one demographic that has a vested interest in participation. The people in Lexington, much like the people on Wall Street, come from all walks of life. Children, college students, local business owners and even political representatives could be found drifting in and out of the protests that have been going on 24/7 for almost a month.
“We are the 99 percent” is the dominant platform of the groups, and they really only want representation in their government. They want corporations to unleash our society from the stranglehold they have put us in for the past 60 years. They want to restore a sense of the democracy that was lost long ago, and I really can’t find one point of contention.
The amount of support from passersby was astonishing, with many cars honking in support. Although the goals seem vague and utopian, perhaps that’s what we need in these times of financial and political turmoil.