Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Problem With Occupy

I see Occupy's situation today as analogous to that of the Civil Rights Movement. As long as they stayed in the South Northern liberals loved them. But when the movement went North and started confronting racism there, it became "Dr. King, you are going too far!" Perhaps without intending to, the Civil Rights Movement exposed the limits of liberalism and of the socio-economic system of the United States.

Occupy has gotten a lot of back patting and verbal support from political moderates. However, now that the time has come to turn those kind words into taking a real stand with the Occupy Movement, the story becomes, "No, we can't do that, and you have been here too long anyway. Please pack up your tents and go!" There has to be more to this rejection than just fear of slobbering rightwingers.

One of the most appealing aspects for the public – when they know about it – has been Occupy's list of demands. So moderate, so reasonable, probably three quarters of Canadians would agree. Yet, I think these sorts of demands are the very thing that upsets our corporate masters and their ideologues the most. If Occupy was demanding the implementation of anarchist communism next week, the movement could be laughed off, but demands that the average person can get behind are dangerous to the greedy and powerful.

Occupys sweet little list of demands is slam-bang up against the dominant ideology – corporatism, also known as neo-liberalism. To paraphrase the Godfather of corporatism, one Benito Mussolini, corporatism is best seen as "Everything by the corporation, everything for the corporation, nothing against the corporation." A contemporary corporatist, Margaret Thatcher, now dying of brain rot (karma) put it rather cold bloodedly, TINA - There Is No Alternative (to corporate domination)

The age of reforms was supposed to be over. Through their control of the state apparatus, the corporatist ideologues began eliminating the reforms thousands of working people had died struggling for. The neoliberal utopia was one without trade unions, minimum wage laws, laws regulating work hours and even child labour laws. Heaven for the wealthy and powerful, hell for the rest of us.

They beat the drum of corporatist ideology so long and so loud, that it became virtually economic "common sense." (This is known as hegemony) The mainstream left adopted the ideology but in a smiley face form. They are like someone who says beating you with a broom handle is an improvement over beating you with a chunk of two by four, yet dismisses not being beaten as utopian foolishness that you must outgrow.

Occupy, thus to adapt a quaint phrase of Lyndon Johnson's, is guilty of pissing on the corporatist barbecue. Millions of people now want to reverse the neoliberal depredations and push for new reforms. This was not supposed to be in the script!

Getting back to the otherwise friendly politicians – for them to take a concerted stand with Occupy would brand them as enemies in the eyes of our corporate masters and their hacks and ideologues. I wouldn't be too judgmental if I were you. Few of us are heroic, and often those who are, have nothing to lose anyway. Ultimately, Occupy has exposed the limits of conventional politics.


Blogger mollymew said...

Hi Larry,
I think it would be summed up as neither you nor I have any "problem" with Occupy. I suspect that, strangely enough, I am more optimistic in this case than you are. Maybe I'm wrong, but I see the Occupy movement as something equivalent to the New Left and Counterculture that we grew up in. The feelings it evokes are comparible. While I may admit that it is shallower than NL and CC it is certainly ! broader than either.

1:44 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

I think it is broader and also one hell of a lot more mature. It seems people can learn from history after all. But then again these young people did not have our authoritarian upbringing/pedagogy to spend their lives living down..

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Null Void said...

Larry, mollyew: As a left-leaning market libertarian (in that weird place between left-Rothbardianism and Carsonian mutualism) I can attest to that. I was in attendance at the first day of October 2011 in DC and recently paid a visit to the Occupy site at McPherson Square a few blocks away. It felt like I had traveled back in time, like experiencing something of what the 60's were like. Being someone who is soon to be 23, that is quite a rush!

At McPherson Square, one person kept coming to my mind: FA Hayek. It was nothing if not a perfect example of spontaneous, unimposed order. Maybe he was not consistent in it, but the concept is the same. They even had a "people's library"; apparently, everyone brought and shared books with each other. Without anyone ordering it, they all agreed to deposit their books at a tent, which turned into said library. There, I got a sense of the political diversity of occupy. You had left-liberals, progressives, greens, Marxists, anarchists, even free market libertarianism (albeit, only a few titles.)!

The two people who "ran" the library are a couple of hold hands from the New Left, like yourself. Fascinating people, both of them. I always enjoyed the company of the Left more than the Right, especially as of late.

Occupy has all the virtues of the New Left (openness, radicalism, creativity) while overcoming the vices (immaturity, impulsivity, impatience, excessive willingness to use violence (which I understand was only a minority of New Leftists)).

Rightists may say to a market libertarian, left or right, to come over for Tea. I never accepted the invitation, but I could tell how rigid and astroturfed it was a mile away-and this was before I became a left-libertarian! Principled libertarians at least are allowed at Occupy, as long as they don't act like complete assholes. It was where I first finally met Carol Moore.

Forgive the length of my comment. Its just that I now realize how much I will cherish my brief encounters with this movement. I will always have fond memories of this amazing movement. It was...beautiful. Just beautiful.

8:14 PM  
Blogger Larry Gambone said...

Thanks for the insight Null! Nice that you met Carol Moore, I am sure she is someone you would see eye to eye with as a left-Rothbardian.

10:33 AM  

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