- May 9, 2010
- Reaction score
The person who wrote this makes sense. The OWS group is about things that should be anathema to every liberal in existence.
Protests And Power: Should Liberals Support Occupy Wall Street? | The New RepublicHow should liberals feel about Occupy Wall Street? If you follow politics and you think of yourself as a liberal, then you have undoubtedly been grappling with that question in recent weeks. At first blush, it would be difficult not to cheer the protesters who have descended on lower Manhattanand are massing in other cities across the United Statesbecause they have chosen a deserving target. Wall Street should be protested. Its resistance to needed regulations that would stabilize the U.S. economy is shameful. And, insofar as it has long opposed appropriate levels of government spending and taxation, it has helped to create a society that does a deeply flawed job of providing for its most vulnerable, educating its young, and guaranteeing economic opportunity for all.
But, to draw on the old cliché, the enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. Just because liberals are frustrated with Wall Street does not mean that we should automatically find common cause with a group of people who are protesting Wall Street. Indeed, one of the first obligations of liberalism is skepticismof governments, of arguments, and of movements. And so it is important to look at what Occupy Wall Street actually believes and then to ask two, related questions: Is their rhetoric liberal, or at least a close cousin of liberalism? And is this movement helpful to the achievement of liberal aims?
This task is made especially difficult by the fact that there is no single leader who is speaking for the crowds, no book of demands that has been put forward by the movement. Like all such gatherings, it undoubtedly includes a broad range of views. But the volume of interviews, speeches, and online declarations associated with the protests does make it possible to arrive at some broad generalizations about what Occupy Wall Street stands for. And these, in turn, suggest a few reasons for liberals to be nervous about the movement.
One of the core differences between liberals and radicals is that liberals are capitalists. They believe in a capitalism that is democratically regulatedthat seeks to level an unfair economic playing field so that all citizens have the freedom to make what they want of their lives. But these are not the principles we are hearing from the protesters. Instead, we are hearing calls for the upending of capitalism entirely. American capitalism may be flawed, but it is not, as Slavoj Zizek implied in a speech to the protesters, the equivalent of Chinese suppression. [In] 2011, the Chinese government prohibited on TV and films and in novels all stories that contain alternate reality or time travel, Zizek declared. This is a good sign for China. It means that people still dream about alternatives, so you have to prohibit this dream. Here, we dont think of prohibition. Because the ruling system has even oppressed our capacity to dream. Look at the movies that we see all the time. Its easy to imagine the end of the world. An asteroid destroying all life and so on. But you cannot imagine the end of capitalism. This is not a statement of liberal values; moreover, it is a statement that should be deeply offensive to liberals, who do not in any way seek the end of capitalism.