How Occupy Wall Street Is Like the Internet: If you're raging against the symbol of Wall Street, your message is going to resonate with a lot of people. But it's so abstract that it's going to provoke a backlash too -- after all, for some people Wall Street remains a symbol of free enterprise and meritocracy. The case against symbolic Wall Street turns out to be weaker than the one against actual Wall Street, I wrote, since actual Wall Street's firms did specific unethical and illegal things.
To practice the kind of grounded-in-the-real-world critique I was preaching, I even offered a specific criticism of actual Wall Street.
Figuring out precisely how to feel about Occupy Wall Street or "We are the 53 Percent" is difficult for many. Much easier to decide that it's wrong to create a mortgage-backed security filled with loans you know are going to fail so that you can sell it to a client who isn't aware that you sabotaged it by intentionally picking the misleadingly rated loans most likely to be defaulted upon; or that it actually doesn't make sense to blame Wall Street for inflation in college costs, the student loan market they spurred, and the culture that sent a message to too many young people that borrowing for education is always a good investment. The allusion is to the SEC case against Goldman Sachs that Planet Money made intelligible to me in this podcast -- when I listened to it, back in April of 2010, is another place this story could have begun….
My words on a sign in New York City, where they were photographed by Ben Furnas, who I bizarrely happen to know, and who presumably didn't know I was their author; he posted the image on his Twitter feed, where it was discovered by Xeni Jardin, a writer at BoingBoing, who then posted the photograph under the headline "#OccupyWallStreet Sign of the Day: It's Wrong."…
I now understand a little better what it means for a protest movement to be without "a traditional narrative arc," to be "the product of the decentralized networked-era culture," to be about "inclusion and groping toward consensus." I now see how Occupy Wall Street is like the Internet -- and that parts of this protest movement would be impossible without it…