Occupy Ideology: a monster called democracy

It’s been a little more than two months since the Occupy Wall Street movement started in New York this fall, becoming a nationwide phenomenon and spreading in cities all across America. Not surprisingly it has been subject of praise as well as criticism. Along with the Republican primaries, the Occupy protests have been a continuous topic among the mainstream media and an issue of debate in public and private discussions. On one hand many well-respected academic intellectuals, artists and social critics like Slavoj Zizek, Cornel West, Noam Chomsky…etc have given their support to the protesters and have participated in rallies as well. On the other hand, the movement and the protesters have been demonized by conservative as well as liberal political and public figures who have accused the protesters of participating in violent left-wing extremism. The conservative critique of the Occupy movement is a somewhat neo-Mccarthyist one; “they are against democracy, against American liberalism…”. However, the liberal critique of the Occupy movement concentrates on the idea that none of the protesters offer empirical solutions to a well-known crisis ; “they do not know what they want, what is their goal?…etc. Although I agree with liberals when they say that the Occupy movement is not a single issue movement and doesn’t have a concrete goal, but I believe that it is precisely what makes it an important movement and should remain in that way. No, the movement doesn’t have a manifesto with solid demands and specific solutions…and it shouldn’t! We (and by we I mean the “99 percenters” who are participating in the movement) have already achieved something that I think is very interesting,  something perhaps even the very same protesters don’t realize: we have broken the taboo of questioning American liberal democratic capitalism as a whole. Until now, the twentieth century have been inundated with single-issue protests that have been focused on changes: for more immigrant rights, for ecological protection, for universal health care, for re-distribution of wealth through welfare-state, against racism, against poverty…etc but always remaining within the current political and economical space. What if all of the issues listed above, are not possible to fix within the current political and financial establishment? Now we find ourselves confronting a bigger monster, a monster called democracy. Now you are probably thinking that I am some kind of Bolshevik totalitarian nut, but all I am really saying is something very simple: we shouldn’t be afraid of questioning our democratic system as a whole. For a very long time, we have been blindly attached to the ideal that democracy and capitalism mean the same thing. I think that the link between capitalism and democracy is coming to a certain end, they will no longer be synonyms. Of course now the big question rises among the 99%: “If we know that our political and our economic system is failing what will we replace it with?”. Nobody seems to know. The people certainly don’t know, the politicians don’t know, economists have no idea what is going on and intellectuals who say they have a solution are undoubtedly lying. We can’t really imagine the end of capitalism, we have an easier time imagining the end of the world than we do imagining the end of this “post-Berlin Wall” utopia called Western democratic capitalism. That is why there is hard work and hard thinking ahead of us and that is why I suggest everyone (or at least the 99% ) should support the Occupy movement. Let’s make noise! Let’s ask questions (the right questions) and let’s not fall into the trap of becoming simply a harmless, non-violent political statement. Let’s face it, there is no such thing as a “convenient  protest”. Let us be violent! Of course not physically violent but metaphysically violent instead. Violent in the sense of trying to disrupt an entire system and not just make little changes here and there. Violent in the same way that Mahatma Gandhi was violent. Slovenian philosopher and cultural theorist Slavoj Zizek said it best when he said we should  have the courage to do nothing: “Sometimes, doing nothing is the most violent thing to do”. But of course, “doing nothing” here means in the sense of non-dialogue and non-violence, not in the sense of non-action. When two opposing forces are pressing against each other, the first force will fall on itself  if the second suddenly stops pressing. Freedom is at stake. It’s no secret that mayors across the nation are now loosing their patience, they are being pressured by the top 1% to get rid of the protesters who are “doing nothing” in the parks and squares of many American cities nationwide. And in result we have seen numerous park evictions in the past weeks. Plutocrats and oligarchs are desperately demanding an answer from us. We shouldn’t answer. Let them figure it out. They will try to dilute it in the same way they diluted Obama’s universal health care platform. A space has been opened, a vacuum has been created, let’s not fill it in too quickly. Every bad decision comes from lack of thinking. We should think before we act and accept that the twentieth century is over and that solid empirical solutions have never worked out without a hard and long thinking process. I truly believe we are now beginning this process.

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7 thoughts on “Occupy Ideology: a monster called democracy

  1. Undoubtedly we are living a historical period.
    I agree, lets be part of it and speak, speak and speak.
    Crisis’s are good for change.
    Some of us have been active protagonists of the changes in 60ths.
    It was a freedom revolution, freedom of speech, freedom for woman, freedom for minorities,
    The new positive morals from today where then born.
    Democracy became more real.
    Al these things that now seem obvious, where then achieve.
    How? With speech. We where concern with the world and we wanted change. And we talked about constantly, till the dominating classes understood that they couldn’t go on.
    This is the proof that we can do change things.
    You and me and the neighbour and the other one.
    Don’t stay home and undergo what the banks are doing!!!
    Look Greace, look Italie, they got technocrats at the head of the country, allies of the banks.
    Lets shout to the world that we don’t want to be slaves of any religion, dogma of political of financial power!!
    Lets them know, that they are incompetent and they are going to have to pay for it!!!
    But i agree that there is a lot of work to well define what we want and let it knouw. Obviously saying what we don’t want is not enough. I think this beautiful world and his inhabitants deserves better

    • I could not agree more. I also believe in Europe it’s a little different. In America, if you ever criticize liberalism you are immediately blackmailed that you are against democracy. The left in America used to turn to Europe as a model for effective welfare-state, universal health care…etc to show the American people that it worked, that it isn’t such an impossible dream. And Europe used to turn to America for bail outs and loans (a role that now has switched to China) . But what really worries me about Europe is that now, the American left can no longer turn to it to seek example. With the exception of Slovenia and Norway, almost every single country in the European Union has a right wing political party in power. This I think is dangerous to our European legacy. It’s dangerous because it’s not the simple classical conservative right. It’s a weird anti-immigrant, nationalist, xenophobic, half-religious fundamentalist liberal conservatism that used to belong to states like Kansas or Texas or Louisiana, and it’s now become a wide spread phenomenon in Europe. I’m young but I can still remember a time when Europe was an exemplary force in the world. Not perfect, of course. But working very well. The incident in Oslow was not a simple coincidence. Unfortunately, the killer was not an idiot. If you read his manifesto, is monstrous! But If things go on like this, it won’t be far from our political reality. So there is a lot of work to made in Europe as well. Perhaps even harder work and I am certainly not optimistic with Italy and Greece.

    • That is exactly right but the solution I think, we shouldn’t worry about to much yet. I think what is really important now is to ask the right questions. The answer lies in the people. But to what question do we hold an answer? That, I think is more important because more too often we’ve provided answers to which we never understood the question. And I think that’s what the protesters are doing now. We know what we don’t want, so now comes the hard part: what do we want?

  2. Ethical and Moral values have to be changed to root. These movements, under my opinion, are the beginning to achieve so. I agree with Jordi, humanity should stay away from the fear of being the change we want to see in the world. We should be proud to have the privilege of having in our hands the possibility to contribute to built a better world.

  3. Hi there! This blog post could not be written any better!
    Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He continually kept preaching about this. I’ll forward this post to him. Fairly certain he’ll have a great read.
    Thanks for sharing!

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