The Occupy protesters have been ridiculed by the press, celebrated by the left, and reviled by the right—but rarely allowed to speak for themselves. After the initial New York protest morphed into a national movement in October, reporters struggled to understand the spectacle and pundits stepped in to pontificate and prognosticate. They were right about one thing: United in anger, the mostly young protesters have lost faith in America’s political and economic system—but they don’t always agree on how to repair it.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up