JONATHAN COHN OCTOBER 13, 2011
On the home page, John Judis and I make our case for the Occupy Wall Street movement:
“A mixture of undesirables—thieves, plug-uglies, degenerates.” That’s how in 1932 a newspaper described the veterans who were marching upon Washington, demanding their promised bonuses. There was some truth in the description: The marchers included a few undesirables. But the majority were simply people who were struggling and wanted their fair share. Their actions would lay the groundwork for what became the 1930s left, which helped revive a floundering liberalism and make possible the New Deal.
Stop by Zuccotti Park or any of the other spaces across the country that Occupy Wall Street has claimed in recent weeks and you’ll find a similarly motley group, with some modern-day “undesirables”—not thieves and degenerates, perhaps, but at least a few anarchists, communists, and bigots, along with plenty of funny-looking people making funny-sounding music. That’s how protest movements almost invariably emerge: The first to join them are the ones most willing to break with the conventions of mainstream society.
But at these demonstrations you’ll also find plenty of people who’ve come simply because they belong to what has come to known as the “Other 99 Percent." ...