It’s an anti-capitalism thing. No, it’s an anti-war thing. No, it’s a civil rights thing. No, it’s a desert topping. No, it’s a floor wax.
Ever since the Occupy movement began garnering mainstream media attention there has been an energetic, maybe even desperate, debate to define the significance of thousands of people from all over the nation spontaneously gathering in America’s large urban centers, decrying the rapacious criminality of the establishment — all sans identifiable figureheads or fixed policy programs.
Yes, from the start it was clear that, in its broadest outlines at least, this thing was a passionate rebuke to parasitic Wall Street types. Whatever that may mean in actual practice, it’s definitely not a formulation consistent with laissez-faire economics a la the Koch brothers’ Tea Party. So not surprising that most right wing analyses approached the topic with a dismissive laziness. They’ve crafted fear into a formidable electoral weapon and are well familiar with the coward’s first law of dealing with Truly Scary Things: avoid real contact.
That general approach, however, is hardly the exclusive resort of the right wing. It is, in fact, the universal reaction of all establishment types across the board. Witness the White House’s statement about the Occupy movement.
And that is the point most interesting to me, as a recovering Obama zombie. Not so much that His zero-ness is not even trying to swim with the raw, powerful populist currents churning within Occupy, but that those on the institutional left are not doing a helluva lot better.
Analyses during the early, pre-mainstream exposure pretty much focused around the creeping sense of unease felt by veteran activists when confronted with the informal, unpolished and unfocused demeanor of some demonstrators.
While I’ve only become really engaged with public affairs recently, I identify most closely with this group of commentators. They may have much more extensive pedigrees of activist involvement than I, but we all share one key characteristic: a relatively simplistic linear model of the world. Something akin to a cold, impersonal, mathematical dogma bound by a rigid series of theorems and acceptable logic that is fatally dependent upon the artificially constricted environment of 2-dimensional Euclidean space. Just as where A + B = C and C = 2A, then A = B, when social outcomes are a function of the implementation of policy programs by formal authorities, all movements seeking to affect social change must have designated leaders and a fixed platform of specific policies.
Elegant notion, that, no? Makes a man feel superior. Powerful. Easy able to comprehend the vast workings of the society around him and have a decisive impact. ‘Cept it don’t quite work that way in the real world.
Read the rest of this reductive rumination at Dystopia Diaries