This afternoon, I had a look at the Occupy Toronto protest that is mirroring Occupy Wall Street in New York.
Most protests for causes vaguely considered ‘left wing’ attract a few people intent on advocating an unrelated cause among people who they hope will be sympathetic. At climate change protests, I have seen people concerned about nuclear weapons, oppression of the Falun Gong, Palestinian statehood, and so on.
Insofar as there were meaningful and coherent messages at Occupy Toronto, they were to reform the financial system and to redistribute income from rich to poor. Mixed in was a lot of generalized anger, and a desire to punish bankers and/or the rich.
Beside the main messages were dozens of other causes that ranged from loosely affiliated to fundamentally contradictory. All told, I question whether Occupy Toronto is coherent enough to deserve to be taken seriously. There doesn’t seem to be an awareness that many of the causes advocated by some protestors clash with the objectives of other protestors. Solidarity is all well and good, but policies ultimately need to get made that support one objective or another.
There are real questions to be asked about financial regulation and redistribution of wealth. I just question whether this movement contributes intelligently to those discussions, or whether it is more a matter of unfocused energy being released.