First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win.
- Mohandas Gandhi
An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.
- Victor Hugo
It seems like it's been forever since we first heard about a small group of protesters camping out in the middle of the Wall Street district. In reality, it's been a little over 2 months. In that very short time (in political movement terms), they have galvanized the planet, touching off similar movements in other cities and other countries. Their approach - strange to the minds of most people used to traditional governance models refined through centuries of trial, error, and enlightenment - brought uncertainty and bewilderment to those outside the encampments. What were their goals? Who were their leaders? How did the plan to make these changes happen?
Strangely, it seemed their only goals were to make their grievances heard. No demands, no lobbying congresspeople... Eventually, some demands WERE forthcoming (such as reinstating Glass-Steagall, and other financial reforms in the interests of economic justice), but for the most part, their purported purpose was to get people to think and to open their eyes.
As it became clear that the protesters were not going to get bored and leave, the power hierarchy (both political and financial) got nervous. Ignoring them was not proving fruitful, and was becoming harder to do as the size and quantity of encampments grew. Ridiculing them and infiltrating them with agents provocateur
was also useless, as the groupthink was not susceptable to provocation.
That left the only response that they knew how to use - violence.