Wall Street is occupied!

Okay. Now what?

As far as I can tell, this protest crystallized around anger directed at the people who got away with stealing billions from the rest of us. Lamenting the past is not the organizing principle for a political movement. This is a candlelight vigil for our economy.

What do we want?

If you think that getting mad as hell is all it takes to effect change, you need to go back and finish watching Network. Anger isn’t enough. We saw the same thing during the Mastercard hack in Dec. 2010. What did that achieve? Nothing. They had no demands and weren’t asking the public to help. If you don’t have a clear goal you’re not a protester, you’re a vandal. A protest that can effect change needs to have a stated, achievable goal, and a clear call to action.

A clear goal gives a protest a finish line, and it makes the opposition responsible for the costs. The message of a protest shouldn’t be, “We’re going to destroy your business,” but rather, “You can stop this by making a simple change.” A protest without a goal is just a public party, and the opposition has no choice but to wait it out.

At least they’re doing something?

Sure, maybe it’s not well organized, but at least they’re not just sitting on their butts doing nothing, right? Really? That’s the rock the vote argument, that every eligible person should vote regardless of how well they understand the issues. Just be heard; it doesn’t matter what you say.

This protest is going to be completely ineffective. This isn’t elementary school, there are no points for participation. This is going to demoralize people that might have participated in an effective civil action in the future. Worthless protests are a pressure release valve to prevent effective civil disobedience.

Don’t just do anything. Save your energy until you have a clear goal, and a real action that will put pressure on your opposition. Without those things you aren’t holding a protest. You’re just throwing a party.