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November 16, 2011


CK MacLeod

To the contrary, "consciousness raising" pronouncement are almost always authentic, they're just not often very important or interesting. OWS is, in my view, one of the exceptions. It's interesting enough, for instance, to be widely covered and criticized, even by people like our honored host who prefer to belittle it.

Yes, it's true that "everyone" "knows" about inequality in wealth and power, but not everyone is in command of the subject, many are in better command of it now than they were a few months ago, and many are also now thinking more concretely about what that knowledge implies or requires, in particular whether there's anything that should, can, must be done about it.

Time spent attacking the protestors for being insufficiently mature is time wasted - or something worse. There are countless specialist hacks from the reactionary right already gleefully exploring that theme, overjoyed to have something to react against other than fever dreams regarding the Alinskyist Socialite.

In his last political testament, Tony Judt urged those seeking to open a space for social democratic politics to insist on a discussion of what kind of society we want to live in. In addition to offering a sign of popular life and always representing a potential for, a threat, of much greater disruption, a mere protest movement can't be expected to do much more than advance such a discussion. If those publically insisting on action don't have a platform, or a program, or a party, maybe that has as much to do with the institutional and other failings of the American left, all the way down to lone voices of blogging reason, as it does with inherent deficiencies in the "movement."

Robert Lipscomb

I commend your skill in limiting the analysis to whether or not people already knew or suspected that they were getting screwed. I agree that awareness of a problem, while important, is only a first step. Consider an intervention for an alcoholic. A very important first step is for him to admit he has a very real and bad problem that is hurting himself and others. Of course, he probably already knew that, didn't he? It is substantially different for one and one's family and friends to publicly and adamantly state one is fucked up.

To continue the analogy, the alcoholic could say, "Yeah, but so what?" In an intervention, the immediate answer is in some form or another, "Either you take corrective action, or we will take corrective action."

(Now, I will switch metaphors.)

That's a big difference, as when Julius Ceasar crossed the Rubicon and said, "The die is cast." Sometimes in human events, people reach a point from where there is no going back.

Yes, "everyone knew" they were getting screwed, but they were resigned to just taking it. OWS is not resigned to just taking it. They seem to be saying, "I have no real power and all I can do is bitch and call you out on this. But fuck it, I will at least do that because I can't just take it anymore."

At first, people of all stripes mocked them and ignored them. Then people demanded a plan from them, and now Very Serious People are explaining what they need to do next. pparently 18 mayors had a conference call to devise a strategy on how to make these ineffectual people go away.

Then they came back and essentially said, "This is fucked up, and I'm not going to just take it, and I'm not going away."

Maybe the new awareness is inside the heads of the 1% and their politicians that, " Nah, we won't just take it, not this time. And we won't just go away. Not this time."

The 1% has already tried just ignoring them. So now the ball is in their court. Confiscating tents is just hapless. Even Bloomberg said a time had come when doing nothing was not an option.


Your move, Mayor Bloomberg.

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