Rebellion Without A Cause

By Ankit Jain

The rebellion has begun. In the words of Rage Against the Machine, “The front lines are everywhere.” New York, DC, Boston, Rome, and Oakland, to name a few. Protesters have united all over the world to speak out against the political and economic conditions that have created the dystopic state of the world. Even those who have not actively participated in the protests agree that things need to change. The question everyone (including the protesters) has been asking themselves is: what should we change?

On this question, the protesters have been notably silent (or at the very least, muddled). For a group that has been so vocal in their disgust, they have been very cryptic as to what needs to be done to appease them. Indeed, much of the media coverage of the Occupy protests has focused on its lack of leadership and direction (The Onion actually has a pretty humorous take on the public’s fascination with the objectiveless movement, which actually merits some degree of consideration in my opinion). It’s hard to imagine when a unifying message will emerge from the groups of disparate protesters or if that is even possible, given the movement’s anarchic structure.

In our Politics class, we’ve learned about how to build a coalition of people by uniting them around a common cause. Is it possible to build a sustainable coalition without a cause? How does one maintain a nonspecific sense of outrage among a large group of people? How does one channel that rage into a productive effort? If these sound like unanswerable questions, it’s because they are. The Occupy Movement is many things: vocal, popular, persistent, etc. But effective is one thing it can never be.


Ankit Jain is a first year MPP candidate at the Goldman School, focusing on energy policy. He is also a contributing member of the PMJ Blog Team.