Admittedly, it’s the Upper West Side, but even so, the reports from last night’s march suggest there were a lot of people who joined in spontaneously from the sidelines, and maybe even came down from their apartments. This kind of thing probably happened at the height of antiwar sentiment in ’68 and ’69, but I certainly don’t recall anything like it in my experience. Such an occurrence implies a very high level of background dissatisfaction with the prevailing order of things.
I’ve been expecting to see the “space” of OWS expand from Zucotti Park, and this suggests the process is underway. It’s natural, as is the likely energizing of more and more young people who react to the giddiness of a crowd gathered for high moral purpose. We’ve had a few decades in which crowd feeling was available mostly at football games and rock concerts. If this movement continues, which I expect it will, this new experience can be expected, for at least a few, to lead them to want more and organize more if they can’t find it elsewhere.
If the recession that seems to be oncoming really materializes, and the Fed engages in QE3, which chatter this week suggests they seem to be preparing, we can expect another round of “deflation in things we can own, but inflation in things we need”. Rising inflation and rising unemployment will fuel radical sentiment. We don’t know where this is going, but it sure smells like the ferment of rebellion.