The distinction between indignation and outrage might seem like nitpicking. But the lessons that elites learn – and they clearly will want to turn the protests to their electoral advantage – will partly depend on how these movements are described, and how they conceive of themselves. On that point, the demonstrators have so far remained curiously mute: They have yet to articulate any wider demands or a sense of what a different society, or “real democracy” – a stock phrase of the Spanish movement – should be all about.

If today’s protest movements are based on righteous indignation, the lack of concrete demands should not be a problem: Shared norms (and the policies that would follow from them) can still broadly be assumed. But if they are being driven by rage, then a lack of clear goals might merely produce more anger and frustration, which in turn could eventually lead to physical violence and some kind of political nihilism. INDEPENDENT online.

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