Screen Shot 2018-12-16 at 12.31.37 PM
PM Carpenter, your host. Email: pmcarp at mchsi dot com.
Screenshot 2024-05-27 at 11.05.06 AM


  • ***


« The envy of the world | Main | This bird takes flight »

November 21, 2011


You Don't Say

I don't quite understand your antipathy to OWS. They're a different animal than phone-banking, etc., serve a different purpose and they have done a lot to change the conversation.

All the canvassing and door-knocking in the world will do little if people are of the less government, less taxes mindset, if that is the acceptable norm. Conventional wisdom needs to be changed and OWS is contributing to a push in the right direction, IMO.

I don't mean to belittle the action you write about. Of course, it's important and a civil and well-informed political worker can do something to change people's mind, one person at a time. They're just different actions.

CK MacLeod

pm is insane if he thinks all of that political grinding is going to occur, very much or effectively, in the utter and ascetic absence of street theater and associated visionary utopianism. He also apparently has lost any understanding he might once have had of the history and meaning of the "political demonstration." That he would end up quoting Mencken approvingly against the supposed "buncumbe" of Wilson underlines this reactionary turn in pm's writing. (Coming soon, criticism of everyone else on the left for self-destructive divisiveness.)

Peter G

If your other commenters do not understand your supposed antipathy to OWS I do. For myself it is not antipathy so much as a belief in the inutility of their behavior. A movement which disdains leadership and is more poorly organized than a high school student council (and considerably less effective) is going to achieve nothing. It relies on the goonish behavior of individual police officers as it's sole media draw and it's hope for growth. A self limiting feature if ever there was one. What could have a hundred Madison Wisconsins has instead turned into a festival of confrontation with police forces which are acting as the surrogate for the targets of their righteous anger. The silly expectation that the Democratic politicians will embrace as a whole this movement is bizarre given the contempt in which OWS holds the political process. The tea partiers did it better. They translated their anger into political reality. OWS is incapable of making that leap.

CK MacLeod

Peter G - If you or anyone wishes that the OWS/99% movement was more or better than it is, then show that better thing or be it, but why hold the protesters to an entirely inappropriate standard. Why should a particular manifestation of protest carry the entire burden for the efficacy of left/progressive/oppositional organizing and action? It is an imperfect means for delivering a range of messages, subject to static and other forms of interference, not the be-all and end-all of political life in the 21st Century and forever after. It is much less important whether the public ends up "supporting" OWS or OWS ends up "supporting" Democrats or anyone else, than that, over time, a constituency for a different kind of politics and policy outcomes, the ones I think that you and pm would prefer, develops from top to bottom, while additional incentives and possibilities begin to inform our political culture. If things go remarkably well, then some will see in OWS a sign, others an actual cause, of the changes sought by the left.

CK MacLeod

also, Peter G, "supposed antipathy"? "Supposed"? Have you noticed a single gesture by pm in the general direction of sympathy, however tempered or qualified? Serious question. I've seen no indication that he doesn't consider the movement on balance or perhaps wholly negative, a dangerous distraction.


@CK: You want to see better than OWS? See OHIO and WISCONSIN - The people of those states got together and did some serious grinding to protect the 99%. They didn't have any catchy names, but they did ground work, phone banked, talked to people who were completely ignorant of what their state gov'ts were doing. They got results and they haven't stopped.

OWS needs to stop with the arrogance and start taking meaningful advice from people who want them to succeed. Otherwise the GOP and the MSM are going to rip them apart. Hopefully when the GOP goes Rambo on them, OWS hasn't alienated potential allies.

Tom D

@Alli: You understand that in Wisconsin and Ohio there were (are) specific issues and individuals (e.g. public employee collective bargaining rights, Walker/GOP state rep recalls) that were (are) on the bubble for democratic action via referenda, petition or election that are directly vulnerable to political organizing efforts.

Not to take away from the valiant and highly effective work of the good people in WI and OH. There were (are) specific available choices and selections in those states that directly address clear goals concerning major issues being given plenty of popular attention.

But this is not the case on a national level regarding the issue of disproportional political advantage for moneyed interests over the interests of the "99%". In the spring and summer of 2011, media coverage of political discourse revolved around the national debt and what form austerity measures should take (rather than whether austerity is even the appropriate strategy). OWS attempted to bring wealth-driven political influence into the national dialogue, which is an absolute prerequisite for the kind of political action you've lauded in those midwest states.

We cannot collectively address a problem that's not collectively recognized and accepted.

If wealth inequality becomes part of the political consciousness of the great mass of low-information voters, it will be entirely due to the 'sound and fury' of the OWS movement. Regardless of whether PM or any other progressive intellectuals believe the occupations to be "utterly valueless" and "unnecessary."


For another serious, in-depth look at OWS and its problems, I suggest reading this:

and the follow-up here:

I won't begin to try summarizing because both pieces have to be read in full to fully appreciate them. You may well find yourselves in violent disagreement; you may start out angrily denying the author's points, but come to agree with at least some of what he says; you may discover he captures your own thoughts on OWS, partially or wholly; but even if you end up disagreeing, consider that what the author lays out is how a considerable segment of the population does and will see the movement, like it or not.

William Lenneman

So, PM walks the well worn path meandering from Liberal to Reactionary.

The comments to this entry are closed.