Predicting the Weatherman

It is the nature of protest movements that they must either expand or wither away: they can never stand still. The current Wall Street protests, originally conceived of as an "occupation," are attempting to maintain their momentum by expanding their numbers, occupying more territory, and generating clashes with the police.  They are now approaching the point of critical mass, where they will either swell into a mass movement that brings about significant change, as did the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s, or simply dissolve and disappear. Protest movements operate out of their own internal dynamic.  They swell in numbers in response to perceived injustices; they fade away if they cannot retain momentum.  As the great social psychologist Elias Canetti wrote of gatherings of this sort, "[e]verything here depends on movement" (Crowds and Power, 1984, p. 30).  Absent a sense of movement toward a goal, the Occupy Wall Street protest and similar protests in other...(Read Full Article)