'Occupy Wall Street' Tries to Harness Anger on the Left

The movement is gaining traction, but diverse goals could undermine its effectiveness.

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The resolve of protesters may be holding steady in New York City's Zuccotti Park, and support is certainly spreading throughout the country. What remains to be seen is whether the movement will continue bubbling under surface, a metaphorical thorn in Wall Street and corporate America's foot, or if it will morph into a more cohesive bloc, capable of exerting pressure for change.

No one knows for sure, but, like the London riots and Arab Spring before it, Occupy Wall Street's success or failure doesn't hinge on a compelling leader, or a carefully-manicured, neatly-packaged mission statement. Instead it relies on a new breed of political organizing, self-organizing, facilitated by technology and social media.

"In a way, if there are thousands of people frustrated, all from different ideological backgrounds, mad at a system that's not responding to their needs, that in itself is a message," says Paul, an Occupy DC participant who declined to give his last name. "You don't have to have a goal. People are so angry that they're willing to go and essentially get arrested. That tells you that something is wrong in the system."

mhandley@usnews.com

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