The history of populist uprisings like Occupy Wall Street isn’t a reassuring one. The last one to have any staying power was the populist farmers revolt of the 1800’s, and it was aggressively dismantled by everyone from the two major political parties to the banks and railroad corporations of its day.
Most revolts are snuffed out well before their efforts impact the political scene—not because their ideas and issues aren’t relevant, but because the major institutional players within the system-that-is rapidly attempt to snag the power and energy for their own. In the eyes of the Democratic Party or the national environmental groups, this revolt is merely seen as an opportunity to assimilate newly emerging troops back into those groups’ own ineffective organizing. After all, if those institutional groups have actually been effective all of these years, why the need for a revolt at all?