Beyond Occupy Wall Street

30 10 2011

I’ve been patiently awaiting the revolution for some years now. It’s inevitable that it was coming. The only question was when. And in what form.

It seems it’s arrived, at least in its embryonic guise, in the form of the Occupy Wall Street movement. But is this really the revolution? Is this movement – without goals, without leaders, without a guiding ideology – fit to call itself a revolution?

Not yet.

But it’s a start. The first step in enacting change is to identify that there’s a problem. That’s fundamentally what OWS is today: it’s a broad protest movement making an unambiguous expression that we (maybe not 99% of us, but a lot) are mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.

If I could sum up the Occupy Wall Street movement to date in one line, it’d be this: the system is broken and it’s not going to fix itself.

I’ve heard the Occupiers voice this notion in many disparate, fragmented ways. But I have yet to hear or read any Occupier articulate precisely what the problem with the system is. Or, more poignantly: how to fix it.

But to me, the malaise is clear. I’ve been watching it brew for many years. The sickness in the Western capitalist system has many diverse manifestations, but the underlying causes are actually few and simple.

I’m adamant that if OWS is to have any lasting impact, it urgently needs to move beyond being merely a protest movement before people tire of it (or the weather sends it indoors, at least in the northern hemisphere), and move to embrace some positive ideology, one that might genuinely enact change in the world. One that might genuinely be called a revolution.

In the next several posts I’m going to outline my diagnosis of the three core problems with ‘the system’ – the problems that fundamentally underlie the grievances of the Occupy movement – and then offer three solutions as to where the movement could go next if it wants to change the system for the better.

I’ll update this post as a single landing page with links to the others:

Problem #1: The Market Ain’t So Free

Problem #2: The Problem with Politics

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5 responses

31 10 2011
Signe (@simbelsim)

On a completely unrelated note, loved the «Network» reference.

31 10 2011
Charles Wiggins

You may want to check out Occupy Philosophy.
http://occupyphilosophy.blogspot.com

It’s a place for philosophers to gather and discuss the Occupy movement.

31 10 2011
Tim Dean

Thanks for that Charles. I’ll check out the site and maybe contribute this series once it’s done.

31 10 2011
JW Gray

At least one major reason that “the system is broken” is because corporations buy off politicians then get all sorts of advantages as a result. I think that’s a good enough start. If you can fix that problem, then you’ve done something huge and never-seen-before (as far as I know). Even Plato knew the Philosopher Kings in his Republic would be bought off sooner or later.

2 11 2011
Tim Dean

Hi James. I completely agree about the corrosive influence of special interests. I’ve just written about that in part 2.

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