Skeptics, by contrast, respond that political movements have come and gone long before the invention of Twitter. Malcolm Gladwell's remarks from last year on "Why the revolution will not be tweeted" are especially germane.
Stipulating that there are legitimate points of disagreement on these matters, there can be no doubt that organizational structure of the OWS and the Tea Party are qualitatively different than previous movements. Both organizations, for instance, eschew centralized leadership structures that ordinarily are necessary to coordinate large-scale activities. The compelling argument, therefore, is that the ultra-low cost and ubiquitous nature of information communication technologies has enabled a new organizational structure for what otherwise might be an old-fashioned politico-cultural movement.
So, those are the factors structuring the movement. Occupy observers, meanwhile, have expected it to produce something they could immediately understand. Unfortunately, the structure of political dissent in America is mismatched in scale to the intense emotions, ethical demands, political despair, emerging identity, and complex systems driving OWS. It's this mismatch that's caused so much confusion about what Occupy, as a movement of people, wants or could be.
Let's go through the extant familiar forms of political dissent more rigorously. As we noted before, most people are habituated to express their political dissent in a limited number of ways: individualism, token gestures of solidarity, joining an existing campaign, and partaking in a standard form of political participation. A relevant individual choice is to move personal savings from a large to small bank. This gesture can be a protest statement against the "too big to fail" ideology, and it can occur in total isolation from one's social circle. A great sense of pride can be felt going against the grain and defying complacent others.
A token gesture of solidarity is an action that signifies an alignment of moral values, but cannot be reasonably expected to make a significant impact. An example is clicking the "like" button on Facebook to signify one is a fan of the "Move Your Money" project, a campaign that helps people locate banks not associated with the Wall Street taint. Crossing the threshold from tokenism to actually joining the campaign takes effort. Sponsoring a consciousness raising Move Your Money event is time consuming.
Not much needs to be said about the standard forms of political participation. Voting on Election Day is a typical and well-understood example, and much ink has been spilled explaining why cynicism abounds.
None of these all-too-familiar forms of participation seems up to the challenge of creating the new values that protesters claim lie at the heart of OWS. People say, for example, "Run your own candidates!" and the Occupy protesters respond, "But that system is broken." They say, "Help out the unions!" and the Occupy protesters shrug because their concerns are not just those of organized labor. And so on, and so forth. Through it all, they keep Occupying away.