Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Occupy Movement promotes both Liberation and Evolution

An article in The Economist entitled: "We are the 99% Straining for the populist mandate" represents a sophisticated attempt to "debunk" the international Occupy Movement that continues to grow. Here are some counterpoints to this attempted debunking.

You state in your article, “If "we" really are the 99%, why have we failed to use our overwhelming democratic heft to set in place reforms that would unrig the system and put the 1% in their place? The obvious answer there is a great deal of ideological disagreement within the lower 99%”

Yes and No. If there has been widespread “ideological disagreement” among the 99%, this is due not to apathy or lack of common concerns but to a well choreographed messaging by the Corporately controlled Major Media outlets and the two Major Political parties in the USA.

What is in the best interest of the Nation, a national energy policy that moves us off of fossil fuels (e.g. Brazil), a national healthcare plan, a national public education policy through University level that does not create a caste of indentured servants, a much reduced military budget that funds national defense and not an international Corporate empire, all of these it may be argued are in the national interest. Are these “leftist” goals? I would argue that they are human goals and that maintaining the current economic/social systems in place, although they profit 1% of the population, do so on the backs of an increasingly disenfranchised and vocal majority.

The choice is either voluntary reform, as Britain did when they freed their colonies in the post WWII period, or escalating social/political destabilization that will forcefully lead to the long overdue changes. Obama in 2012? Perhaps, but only an Obama and Democratic Party that aggressively pursues substantive reform, e.g. publicly funded political campaigns for Congress and the Presidency and anti-bribery laws with sharp teeth that make an end of political lobbying. Why should the 1% acquiesce to such reforms? Better to deal with a Gandhi than with a Lenin.

The 100% will all benefit with an end to the economic neo-colonialism of the Near East and Third World by Corporations and their purchased politicians (governments). We will all benefit from an end to Climate change that endangers all of our future. We will all benefit by an end to wars and uprisings inspired/driven by Corporate international Arms Sales and Oil interest’s greed.


Tal said...

Populism is a dangerous thing. It's goals always tend to be poorly if loosely defined (drawing as it does on a purported "broad base from below"), and the havoc it unleashes rarely does any good except for the demagogue, as history has all too often proved (Caesar, Robespierre, Hitler and so on).

I cannot agree with your point that the the failure of the "99%" to articulate a consistent and coherent message is a product of "a well choreographed messaging by the Corporately controlled Major Media."

The lack of ideological cohesion is a natural result of the source of the movement itself: general discontent arising from the current instabilities in the West, both economic and cultural. The causes are legion, and not surprisingly, those caught in it come from numerous different backgrounds and perspectives. Is it any accident, therefore, that a grab bag of different and frequently inconsistent ideologies have found their expression here? Anarchists, both left and right, rubbing shoulders with trade unionists and others. It's a blend of those who would use government to strip down the rich coexisting with those who disavow government itself, in addition to those seeking reform somewhere in the middle.

The lack of clarity in the Occupy movement is exactly what I would have expected. Could this movement crystalize into something more coherent? Perhaps, although in so doing, it would need to begin defining who is and is not in the movement, and what, exactly, the movement is.

My fear is that the movement coalesces around the only real thing its instigators have in common: anger, and its consequent potential violence. Some of that anger is justified, although much of it I believe is misdirected based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the causes of the economic downturn.

Father Geoff said...

Dear Tal,

Thank you for yet another thought provoking and well considered commentary. In brief, I think the major contribution that Occupy Wall Street is making is existential. They are helping America (and beyond) to rediscover our soul.

I highly recommend the following article in The New Republic:

Anonymous said...

Good post, Father. The Occupy Movement has me excited that real change may actually happen this time.

*A mostly hetero bear!