Friday, January 13, 2012

Occupy 2.0

I participated in a panel yesterday on "Occupy Dartmouth: Voices Crying in the Wilderness?" sponsored by the United Campus Ministries.  My contribution to the panel was similar to my newsletter column from earlier in the week.  Here are some quick reactions:
  1. If you ever want to be impressed by the thoughtfulness of the next generation of leaders, you need look no further than Stewart Towle ’12 and Nathan Gusdorf ’12, the two student participants in the panel and two of the most heavily involved members of the Occupy Dartmouth movement.  I don't think we would agree on two many political or policy challenges
  2. They are in no hurry to organize a political movement.  I think they are still experimenting with the cultural process of allowing their individual worldviews to be influenced by direct communication with other sympathetic individuals.  They shared an interesting observation -- that the movement is what democracy "feels like."
  3. I don't think the members of the Occupy movement fully understand how little change they will see in our government's actions through nonviolent means unless the movement fields its own candidates.  I went a step further in my remarks to suggest that effecting change through the political process was a nice alternative to martyring yourself for the cause.

In a moment of reflection, I offered that the Occupy movement is appealing to me based on the contradiction that it exposes in policy rather than individual policy positions.  Specifically:
  1. You could tell me a story in which it is very important to move heaven and earth politically to step in and rescue financial firms that are about to implode.  You could even tell me a story in which, unfortunately, those who broke the law or exercised poor judgment were not held accountable in the process, because we had to move quickly to intervene.
  2. You could tell me a story in which fiscal considerations prevent the government from transferring more public resources to those in need – be they unemployed, uninsured, undereducated, or merely unfortunate.
You cannot tell me both of those stories at the same time without revealing that your priorities are screwed up.  That these two stories have played out in sequence is our national contradiction, and I applaud the members of the Occupy movement for refusing to ignore it and for mobilizing to help change it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Unfortunate truth is that BigMoney buys enough candidates of both parties to get the upper hand at the bargaining table. BigMoney controls BigMedia and IS BigMedia. In the age of Citizens United, a candidate who can't be bought is a fool who can't get enough money to refute the negative advertising needed to win.

I suspect OWS members will selectively support candidates that share similar values and leave other candidates to fend for themselves. Some races are more important than others. The failure to defeat Joe Lieberman did more harm to the passage of progressive legislation than any other race.

-jonny bakho