David Mills says concisely what I’ve been fumbling around trying to articulate in this space about Occupy Wall Street:
They make you, as I say, miss Marx. Or not Marx, exactly, but the kind of coherent and thought-out leftism he represents, ideas you can engage and challenge, and be challenged by, which is very different from the establishment liberalism of (to mention them again) the editors of the New York Times.
The loss of a left worth engaging hurts the country, not because that left will answer the questions of the moment, but because the country needs the challenges only the left will (at the moment) provide. The mainstream right will not challenge those who’ll exploit the system for their own ends, and exploit others for their own profit, because so many have off-loaded their moral thinking to the market. Nor, not in a million years, will the Republican Party.
That may be one of the worst results of the sixties, that the politics of gesture and emotion have been privileged, as the academics put it, which means a politics with no actual political content will drive a publicly successful movement like Occupy Wall Street—even though it is not going anywhere in particular.
As weeks drift into months, and the OWS movement continues to shun the very idea of alliance building, political action, or stronger messaging, it looks more and more as if it’s going to drift into irrelevance without accomplishing anything. Heavy-handed police action could change that, of course, but at this point it sort of looks to me as if its most promising destiny is to be v1.0 of whatever springs up in its wake. If things go well, OWS will inspire someone else to create a similar group that’s better at mobilizing public outrage, but OWS itself won’t be part of it.
Well, at least 19-year-old Brandon Watts got laid. So there’s that.