Without Leadership and a Defined Frame Occupy Wall Street Risks Faltering

I support Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and for those who read this blog that might already be apparent.

Nevertheless, I am concerned that it faces two urgent problems that, unless corrected very soon, will lead to the unsuccessful end of the movement before the Winter Solstice.

The below chart suggests that interest in OWS has already begun to wane. Average search traffic has reached its lowest level since September and news references, after spiking earlier in the month, have begun to level off also at lower levels.

Search Term "Occupy Wall Street" Google Trends All Regions Last 30 Days

The first problem concerns leadership which I have discussed previously. OWS urgently needs a leader. On October 9, I wrote:

If there was a single voice to better define the movement and inspire, OWS would accelerate focus and force.

This is even more true now than it was 2 weeks ago.

Causes require one person who steps up and motivates and, in a protest movement especially, there needs to be a single voice supporters trust, listen to and rally behind. The leader is also essential in communicating with the media and must be accepted as the definitive spokesperson of the movement who captures the attention and allegiance of those across America and the world who might not yet be involved in the movement.

Without this, there is no point person to speak in the interest of OWS and no one for the people to follow.

The second problem concerns the lack of a concrete, specific and well defined doctrine including principles, objectives, goals or demands.

It was reported earlier this month that OWS was working on a set of demands, which is only a start, but that progress was slow on this. This is not good. The result is that the OWS movement becomes more diffuse and various somewhat related agendas get mashed up together.

This obstructs momentum as the wider public perceives the diffusion of purpose and questions rather than joins in.

I asked my friend Josh Brown, author of the excellent Reformed Broker Blog  and eloquent proponent of OWS, what the movement stood for to him and he replied:

What I want is an end to privatized gains – socialized losses and all money out of politics now.

I can get behind this  and I think many who are not yet involved in the movement can also, but this clear, straightforward and reasonable purpose is not etched anywhere definitively.

Perhaps Josh would make a great leader of the OWS given his understanding of the entire field, wisdom and trusted voice on both sides.  I don’t know for sure.

What I do know is that the leadership and doctrine problems are most observable in the media because without them, OWS gets defined by anyone who is dissatisfied with the status quo and, importantly, by critics who, realizing there is no well defined frame, emphasize the most radical elements of the movement and attack these points of greatest vulnerability.

Occupy Wall Street needs a leader and a well defined and specific doctrine fast or risks faltering before Winter approaches Zuccotti Park, perhaps sooner.