Occupy Wall Street, New Anti-Globalization Flunkies

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 10/17/2011 10:50:00 AM
Some people never learn. One of the recurring complaints about the so-called anti-globalization movement has been its lack of an actionable and coherent agenda. In many ways, anti-globalization is a step backwards from being a counter-hegemonic force from Marxist thought--many of whose elements it borrows but then mucks up with its own flights of fancy. Occupy Wall Street is even worse. While I certainly don't begrudge those wishing to curtail the influence of certain financial institutions--even mainstream figures do the same--you have to wonder if these all-purpose rants have any chance of effecting anything significant.

Consider the large logical inconsistencies about these all-purpose gatherings to complain about whatever annoys certain folks. For starters:

1. Why is "Wall Street" a target for those concerned with the environment? Financial services are not a carbon-intensive form of economic activity compared to, say, heavy manufacturing of the sort United Automobile Workers protest participants are engaged in and apparently wish to revive Stateside. So, why is "Occupy Detroit" so poorly attended by comparison?

2. What is the purpose of this trendy reference to the "revolutionary Arab Spring tactic" which is no more than a rip-off of the Philippine "People Power" idea of half a century ago? Or, even far before that, Gandhian principles of nonviolent resistance? Examples of successful, relatively bloodless regime change do predate those in today's Middle East.

3. As I always like to point out, the momentary euphoria of regime change alike that in Egypt--these people keep mentioning Tahrir Square--often masks the reality that the alternatives are not necessarily better overall. Witness Egypt's current descent into sectarian violence absent a stabilizing force:
As the exuberance of Arab Spring becomes a faraway memory in the Middle East, a counterrevolution is gaining ground, exploiting the sectarianism that power brokers in the region have long used to keep their populations at bay.
4. Invoking that all-pervasive of conspiracy theories, what does protesting the Afghan invasion have to do with "Wall Street"? As far as I can tell, it's been a money-losing misadventure that those who invaded it are urgently trying to extricate themselves from. Nor is Goldman Sachs in a hurry to set up shop in downtown Kabul, as far as I can tell. If Afghanistan is a money grab, it must be of financial "dark matter."

The New York Times has an article which relays similar criticisms. While it's easy to make demands alike "universal employment"--why not add six-figure pay while you're at it--there is a world of difference here between reality and ambition. Heck, they even fail to lay out grand, unachievable designs:
In New York, the demands committee held a two-hour open forum last Monday, coming up with two major categories: jobs for all and civil rights. The team will continue to meet twice a week to develop a list of specific proposals, which it will then discuss with protesters and eventually take to the General Assembly, a nightly gathering of the hundreds of protesters in the park.
Absent anything concrete, it is what it is--a mildly bothersome anarchist movement with the usual leftist sympathizers worldwide. Not that many of its participants necessarily disown the "anarchist" characterization:
In Boston, Meghann Sheridan wrote on the group’s Facebook page, “The process is the message.” In Baltimore, Cullen Nawalkowsky, a protester, said by phone that the point was a “public sphere not moderated by commodities or mainstream political discourse.” An Occupy Cleveland participant, Harrison Kalodimos, is even writing a statement about why demands are not the answer. Joseph Schwartz, a political science professor and an Occupy Philadelphia participant, said he thought the movement’s “anarchist strain” discouraged a demand-making environment.
If these people actually knew what they stood for, perhaps more serious-minded people would pay them some attention. As it stands, leave it to the likes of Krugman to be impressed. Here you have today's rebels without a cause.