In September 2011 and onwards, Occupy Wall Street and its many spinoffs occupied squares all over the world. The meetings shared some degree of dissatisfaction with present systems, but clear aims were not really formulated, nor were there any clear leaders.

Now, we are more than a year further, and the question is: has anything changed? Apart from initiating limited debate on the financial system and related issues (for example, it triggered me to move part of my savings to an ethical credit union), has the Occupy movement had any lasting political influence?

For example, from this Huffington Post article: Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said:

"[W]e have to be careful not to allow this to get any legitimacy," he warned. "I'm taking this seriously in that I'm old enough to remember what happened in the 1960s when the left-wing took to the streets and somehow the media glorified them and it ended up shaping policy," he said. "We can't allow that to happen."

Indeed, the civil rights movement in the 1960's did influence policy. Is there any evidence that Occupy Wall Street has shaped any policy?

  • You should probably define "tangible achievements" more specifically.
    – user4012
    Dec 16 '12 at 21:58
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    <comments removed> Please keep comments focused on improving the post and try to not to turn comment threads into miniature chat rooms. Thanks. Dec 18 '12 at 19:06
  • Examine the premise of your question. Was Peter King's statement a rejection of the Civil Rights Movement, or was he referring to the anarchist counter culture hippies radical communists, etc.? By framing the question with the supposition that the Republican Peter King's statements are a rejection of the Civil Rights Movement without evidence, the Question colors the possible answers. May 16 '16 at 14:50
  • @DrunkCynic The civil rights movement ended up shaping policy. I'm not sure if radical communists did so (unless it is by triggering McCathryist repression).
    – gerrit
    May 16 '16 at 16:25
  • My comment is not an assertion that the civil rights movement did not shape policy. It is an attempt to highlight the movements that Peter King was likely pointing towards. In the Sixties, the New Left movement gave rise to the Third Wave Feminists, Environmentalist movements, Students for a Democratic Society, and others. Each of these movements was incorporated in some fashion into what is now the Democratic party platform. May 16 '16 at 16:40

In a purely subjective way, based on my impressions from several visits to the NYC site, I do not think the various OWS happenings changed the minds of a significant number of people. In most instances, there were more curious onlookers and gawkers than actual occupiers. The occupiers did not seem to have coherent agendas. They seemed more to be gathering places for barely connected islands of opinion.

People who were already inclined to think that somehow, somewhere, someone owes them some money did not change their opinion. People who did not think that a sociology major with a concentration of revolutionary organizing was going to pay for $200K in student loans were not impressed.

They did form useful props for politicians who already espoused or supported similar views in the first place.

  • OWS was not really about money, though. Your link seems to show that. But I agree with your point about gathering places.
    – gerrit
    Dec 18 '12 at 9:43
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    @gerrit - a large portion of OWS demands were about "gimme this for free". College loans, college education, loan forgiveness...
    – user4012
    Dec 18 '12 at 18:38
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    To me the only coherent message seemed to be "We like protesting and are trying to relive the 60's"
    – JohnFx
    Dec 19 '12 at 2:48

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