Sunday, October 09, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Becoming a Mainstream Dialogue

I've been watching the fast growing "Occupy Wall Street" movement on Twitter and in the mainstream media online. Today (Sunday, October 9th), it emerges as a major news story on CBS's online website. The cat is out of the bag - the "money, wealth, and power" discourse is up for renewal. I'm hoping it's a return to reality and away from ideology. This will take a massive amount of dialogue in all directions; between many kinds of people.

Occupy Wall Street is now a "normative dialogue" (a dialogue about the kinds of society we value) between people on the streets, people at home watching/reading the news, and talking with friends at coffee houses, local markets, workplaces, etc. There are also the measured responses of those with "control" on all sides of the political spectrum. We are facing a profound social-political-economic mystery. All I hope for now is that we all stay nonviolent and be open to deepening dialogue and understanding - open minds, suspending all judgments. Let truth guide us.

1 comment:

Ross Wolfe said...

One of the most glaring problems with the supporters of Occupy Wall Street and its copycat successors is that they suffer from a woefully inadequate understanding of the capitalist social formation — its dynamics, its (spatial) globality, its (temporal) modernity. They equate anti-capitalism with simple anti-Americanism, and ignore the international basis of the capitalist world economy. To some extent, they have even reified its spatial metonym in the NYSE on Wall Street. Capitalism is an inherently global phenomenon; it does not admit of localization to any single nation, city, or financial district.

Moreover, many of the more moderate protestors hold on to the erroneous belief that capitalism can be “controlled” or “corrected” through Keynesian-administrative measures: steeper taxes on the rich, more bureaucratic regulation and oversight of business practices, broader government social programs (welfare, Social Security), and projects of rebuilding infrastructure to create jobs. Moderate “progressives” dream of a return to the Clinton boom years, or better yet, a Rooseveltian new “New Deal.” All this amounts to petty reformism, which only serves to perpetuate the global capitalist order rather than to overcome it. They fail to see the same thing that the libertarians in the Tea Party are blind to: laissez-faire economics is not essential to capitalism. State-interventionist capitalism is just as capitalist as free-market capitalism.

Nevertheless, though Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy [insert location here] in general still contains many problematic aspects, it nevertheless presents an opportunity for the Left to engage with some of the nascent anti-capitalist sentiment taking shape there. So far it has been successful in enlisting the support of a number of leftish celebrities, prominent unions, and young activists, and has received a lot of media coverage. Hopefully, the demonstrations will lead to a general radicalization of the participants’ politics, and a commitment to the longer-term project of social emancipation.

To this end, I have written up a rather pointed Marxist analysis of the OWS movement so far that you might find interesting:

“Reflections on Occupy Wall Street: What It Represents, Its Prospects, and Its Deficiencies”