“The economy”, after all, is ultimately a gigantic system of means and not of ends. Neoclassical economics has in fact only been able to make a successful claim to being a science since it has effectively vanished the analysis of ends—of values, of why people want the things they do—entirely from its purview. It can thus reduce human life to a series of strategies by which rational actors try to accumulate different forms of value: while exiling the study of value itself to other, inferior, disciplines: psychology, sociology, anthropology, and so on. (What this comes down to in practice is an insistence on treating all human behavior with total cynicism, and then treating the ability to do so as a value in itself. Hence, students learning rational choice analysis are endlessly told that one should not look at, say, idealists who sacrifice themselves for a cause as acting selflessly, but rather, as maximizing the feelings of self-satisfaction they get out of the knowledge that they are sacrificing themselves; while the obvious question—”why is it that anyone can get such feelings of self-satisfaction out of self-sacrifice in the first place?”—is treated as irrelevant.) The moment we refuse to sever these things, however, we realize that what on a personal level is a battle for access to the right to behave altruistically becomes, on a political level, a battle over control of the apparatus for the creation of people.
From the Chronicle of Higher Education blog (http://chronicle.com/blogs) Laurie Essing recounts her youth when she was young and “all radical” and in her post she positions herself as “all grown up” and postulates that occupiers may be missing the “personal face” aspect of that which they are railing against. I think she underestimates the protesters. (http://chronicle.com/blogs /brainstorm/eat-the-old) Here’s my reply:
Many want to “simplify” the whole occupy movement by making it “only” about economic issues. I say “simplify” because the economic issue is a beast in and of itself. Occupiers hate all that came before which contributed to the mess that we’re currently in… …the entire complacent culture which fostered our current reality. Why do you think people are trying to set up their own encampments with different stations, etc… and are experimenting with direct democracy? They want SYSTEMIC change. They don’t want any part of the bullshit which includes ideas like, “every generation has it tough, blah, blah,” and “go along, get along, stop making a fuss.”
Will this movement grow tired and eventually conform and go away? …or will they take a mallet to the system and pound out a place so that they can exist? Only time will tell.
And yes, I’m sure occupiers are aware of “personal faces…” The fact of the matter is that they are probably too aware of the personal side of the movement. Many have had their lives and the lives of those they know not only touched but destroyed by current economic relations and the effects they produce. I’ve personally seen (witnessed and experienced) so much poverty and hardship in the last few years… of which I thought that I could avoid or ignore but couldn’t; and NOW I know that I’m not alone.
On his blog (http://unemployednegativity.blogspot.com/) Jason Read points out the contradictory nature of the OWS “movement”. In response, I largely agree with his assessment.
American Dreaming can only last so long; then you realize its all wrong.
To the original poster: In regards to the latter part of your post, I see where you’re coming from and I’m right there with you. Basically, it seems you’re a proponent of Gramsci’s cultural hegemony theory and imply that its in practice within the United States. I’ll tell you this… if the current “middle class, American Dream, etc…” ideology dies, I won’t complain. It’s a necessary ingredient for systemic change.
Moreover, you’re right; this movement is currently a curious hodgepodge of societal problems of the last several decades. As a product of the 90s cultural wars, right now the movement is trying to be more than politically correct, its attempting to be politically perfect. Its almost laughable. I can’t attend an occupation event without laughing because its truly a spectacle. And for the record, the values being promoted by this movement are historically liberal. Why can’t this be articulated? Its just further testament to how tarnished the terms liberal and left have become. Anyway, I laugh not because I’m not sympathetic… I am liberal/progressive and I’m hopeful concerning the latest developments of the OWS movement. …I’m a fixture at the occupation in Philadelphia. I suppose its just funny to see this whole thing play out. The social justice aspects of this movement present huge hurdles that will need to be jumped successfully or they will become large obstructing mountains that the movement will try to hilariously go around without confronting…