Occupy Wall Street
The Face of Occupy Wall Street

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." - Abraham Lincoln

The “Occupy Wall Street” movement is one that for many is easily comprehensible. The movement is without a doubt, recognized as the common man’s battle. Many of American citizens have reached their own individualistic breaking points with the United States government and namely the corporations that the United States government protects. The goal of any democracy is to implement the common will of people into the decision making of the government that rules the people. Popular sovereignty is an idea that has been coined in the minds of early Americans such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Popular sovereignty is the ideology that the common will of the governed can and will be implemented into the government that represents the citizens. This idea has been completely disregarded in recent times with corruption and government bail outs running amuck. The goal of the Occupy Wall Street is a simplistic yet difficult goal to achieve: remove the 1% from government and install the 99% into the decision making of the United States government.


Why It's happening.

What is Capitalism?

To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men- Abraham Lincoln

The “Occupy” movement has its beginnings deeply rooted in a condemnation of a capitalist system. The capitalist system is one in which manufacturing companies are owned by a select number of individuals. The profit is gained by the capitalist class because more money is made by the actual buying and selling of the manufactured product. In turn, the so called “capitalist class” hires other individuals to perform the work needed to actually produce the product in exchange for a wage or salary for the worker. In this type of system, the worker produces the product while the executives of the corporation reap the rewards and benefits of the company. The executives at the top of the corporation are nicknamed the “1%” while the workers are nicknamed the “99%”. Again, this comes back to the early ideologies in American history where the “few” benefited at the expense and hardships of “many”.

Motivation behind capitalism:

In a capitalist system, it is nearly impossible to place the blame solely on the back of the “1%”. The motivation behind this type of system is solely competition amongst other corporations in the same industry. The need of profit is essential for an executive to keep his ranking within the corporation because of the vast competition. Time and time again, the executive finds himself in a race to stay ahead of his rivals. In order to stay ahead of the competition, the executive must reinvest profit made into means that will provide quicker and more efficient ways of production for his or their respective companies. In essence, the capitalist system not only places the workers at risk, but the entire company as well if a profit is not made.

Issues with Capitalism:

There is an abundance of problems and circumstances that a capitalist system can and will fail. In the “Occupy Houston” newspaper, Nouriel Roubini, a mainstream economist, claims that capitalism is a “self-destructive system” by stating that “…the firm, to survive and thrive, can push labor costs more and more down, but labor costs are someone else’s income and consumption”(Sharber 1, 7). Roubini implies the idea that the capitalist class couldn’t care less about their worker’s income and that it is not their problem. The capitalist class cares to only line their pockets with Franklins and Grants while the working class can only afford to line their pockets with Washingtons, Lincolns, and the chump change of the day’s work.
The controversies of capitalism are not only apparent in a daily periodical but also in a famous literary work by John Steinbeck. In Steinbeck’s work Grapes of Wrath, he states “[We have] the fertile earth, the straight tree rows, the sturdy trunks, and the ripe fruit. And children dying of pellagra must die because a profit cannot be taken from an orange…because the food must rot, be forced to rot” (qtd. in Sharber 1). One ideal of capitalism is that turning a profit is more important than satisfying an individual’s human needs. Also, in a capitalist system, “The propertied capitalists rulers…hold the reins of the U.S. imperialist state. The Democratic and Republican parties are their parties, a two part system of capitalist rule” (“The dictatorship of capital”). The executives of corporations control every step and every breath that the United States government takes. Ranging from the bank bailouts at home, to the desert where progress rests at a stalemate, corporations are in control of every single move our government takes. The dictatorship of capital is claimed and accused of being “…the source of unfolding social crises rising unemployment, attacks on unions and wages,…cop brutality, intensifying interstate conflict, and spreading war” (
“The dictatorship of capital”). It is clear that the Socialist Workers Party has acknowledged that we were on a crash course to a 3rd world country that we’ll call America. It is evident that the combatants in the working-class resistance “…see more clearly that what they face is not just one ruthless boss, some ‘bad apple’ cops, a few corrupt politicians, but the rule of a conscious social class, intent on using all its resources to hang on to its profits and power” (“The dictatorship of capital”). The Socialist Workers Party is fully aware that the capitalist class is in full acknowledgement that they are the select few that rule the people. This ideology is quickly leading to a corrupt government in America and if the government does not exterminate big corporations from rule, then this foreshadows disaster for the future and current working class citizens.

Revolutions in the World:

Many individuals may consider the Arab Spring as a cause for the “Occupy” movement. The most recent revolution in the Arab Spring was the removal of the Ghadafi regime from power in the country of Libya. The citizens of Libya looked for an immediate government reformation as the Ghadafi regime held power for over four decades. With results such as the one seen in Libya, the “Occupy” protestors look to receive a similar outcome with the extraction of the rich and powerful individuals from government and implementing the will of the common people into the decision making of the United States government.


Early ideologies of Wall Street and Philosophy:

Throughout the history of the United States, it has been apparent that the rich and powerful have always maintained a foothold in the decision making of the United States government. In early American history, a symbol was created similar to that of present day Wall Street. In 1791, Alexander Hamilton founded the Bank of United States which was chartered to harbor $10 million worth of stock. The stock would be divided into $2 million left for government funds and $8 million left to stockholders who wanted to buy it. The bank was originally chartered to pay off the massive debt the United States accumulated during the revolutionary war with Great Britain. Many war bond holders were poor during this time and had little choice but to sell their bonds to speculators for pennies on the dollar. The wealthy and powerful would be the select few that would benefit from the hardships of many.

The main reason for the American Revolution was the manner in which Great Britain ruled the colonies. Great Britain decided to rule the Americans in a way that none of the colonists received any form of representation in parliament. Intellectual trends soon began to rise among colonists that allowed them to think differently of their personal beliefs about the American Revolution. These trends are still existent today with the acts of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement and
Author of "Common Sense" Thomas Paine

are quite obviously, the backbone to these protests. Intellectual thinkers such as Thomas Paine and John Locke enlightened the colonists with their own ideas of how government and society should behave as a whole. Locke was the main advocate of the ideology of social contract which is the idea that if a government “…failed in its obligations as a government, the people had the duty to rebel and establish a new government” (Ayers et al. Page 86). The idea of social contract is an idea that fuels the “Occupy Wall Street” movement because many of the common man protestors are workers who get penalized for a suffering economy rather than the capital class who doesn’t hurt as badly as the working class. Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense, was a philosopher who also brought the idea of compromise to a halt. In his work, he claimed that “…the time for compromise had passed, that the proper course was to shed the British monarchy and aristocracy to create an
Philosopher John Locke

American republic” (Ayers et al. Page 130). Much like the goal of the “Occupy” protestors, Paine wanted to rid the powerful government of Great Britain from the everyday routine of the Americans. The “Occupy” protestors ultimately demand the removal of rich and powerful corporations from the decision making of the United States government.


In conclusion, the “Occupy” protestors share a common goal to remove the rich and powerful corporations from the routine of the average everyday American. With the utilization of ideas brought by Thomas Paine and John Locke, the protestors look to old ideas to form new ideals within their government and society. Some opinions of the current status of America are being flooded into the mainstream by bands such as Rise Against. Bands such as Rise Against seek to inform the youth and other individuals that the time to take a stand is among us. The movement “Occupy Wall Street” was truly inevitable with corrupt government officials in early American history and corrupt government officials among us today. “The Land of the Free” is now turning into “The Land of the Enslaved” and many Americans have finally decided to remove the few from the corrupt government offices.


Sharber, Dan. “A Self-Destructive System” Occupy Houston November 2011: Page 1. Print.

“The Dictatorship of Capital.” The Militant 28th November 2011: Page 9. Print.

Ayers, Edward et al. American Passages: A History of the United States. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, 2009. Print.