Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Breathes there a man with soul so dead who hasn't yet weighed in on the occupy movement and its why, whither and if? So apologies to whomever I'm citing without credit bcs I can't remember, but this struck me as a true and smart observation on the significance of the occupations: They have made it so that selfishness and greed are no longer cool. The bumper sticker proclaiming, "The person who dies with the most toys wins" got retired a while ago, but the philosophy has thrived and may explain why a lot of the 99% has put up with getting screwed over by the 1%. So RIP to sophomoric Ayn Randism (in peace only bcs I like pacifism) and let's move on to the the next step, which is recognizing that we're going to have to do more than just redistribute the resources -- although that's not a bad place to start.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
I've been thinking a lot about how an impulse or dissatisfaction becomes a political movement, as the economic fairness encampments around the country might -- and when it doesn't -- as with the antiwar cause, which attracted hundreds of thousands before the invasion of Iraq and the agreement of the majority of Americans since 2007, but never really took off. A major reason it didn't was that a tiny portion of Americans have anything to do with the people who have been fighting those wars -- the slogan could have been, "1% at war versus the 99% who get to ignore it" -- but the occupy everywheres don't represent 99% of Americans either. At most, the 74% who are neither very poor, nor very rich. Still, it's smart marketing to assume common cause among that three-quarters, despite the diversity of economic and political perspectives within, and I believe the protests are a genuine cri de coeur from younger people who are discovering that they've been screwed over by the system they're eager to be a part of. What I've come to realize -- it's so obvious and it makes me sad -- is that Americans may take to the barricades over a principle, but they stay there in large numbers only when it's their own interest at stake.
Monday, October 10, 2011
NOT AFGHANISTAN**or Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, etc.
(of course I have to have footnotes)
We're beginning to get discussion, however superficial, about what constitutes a political movement. History profs weighing in that movements need identifiable spokespeople, old lefties noting ruefully that we've been here before, a pal laughing that the general assemblies (GA on the website -- I keep thinking they're talking about Georgia) sound like the crafts coop she used to be a part of -- on steroids. Me, I quote Oscar Wilde that the trouble with socialism is that it would take too many evenings.
But for all that (and the (non)organizers do seem to be getting degrees in meetings and the signs aren't yet witty enough, or the rhythm section jazzy enough), I keep hoping that maybe they're on to something new -- where they don't have to give the press a star protester to fuck and then fuck over (anyone recall Camp Casey and Cindy Sheehan?), or give the politicians something to co-opt and water down to meaninglessness (examples too numerous to mention), or have to court money people to keep going (it's a real worry that some organization, such as MoveOn, will move in and tame the protest into a rally for the Dems), or end up replicating the liberation movements of my generation (for better and worse). Seems to me the title of "movement" gets bestowed mostly in retrospect because real grassroots movements are inchoate and evolving while they're happening and because we can't know what will change history until history is changed. So maybe the thing to embrace right now is a willingness to be surprised.