#Occupy Wall Street & the Language of Resistance, by Maegan La Mala

We don't really care so much about your one demand, but what the hell is that skinny white lady doing on top of the bull?!

La Mala stages an excellent critique of OWS and its narrative. We especially like the way she breaks down some of the branding and signage she saw:

I also saw a lot of signs based in the idea of privilege and the bullshit notion of who deserves what. Young people held signs lamenting not being able to pay their student loans and how having gone to college didn’t bring the jobs and success they expected. I thought about the high Latino high school drop out rates and my own lack of a college degree. Were we included in this dialogue/narrative or even within this “movement” were there some who weren’t worth fighting for – some who don’t deserve the “American Dream” because of not following the prescribed order of things.

Read the full post here!

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4 Comments

Filed under DisOccupy

4 responses to “#Occupy Wall Street & the Language of Resistance, by Maegan La Mala

  1. Thanks for the linkage. Glad to have found you on twitter

  2. One of the most glaring problems with the supporters of Occupy Wall Street and its copycat successors is that they suffer from a woefully inadequate understanding of the capitalist social formation — its dynamics, its (spatial) globality, its (temporal) modernity. They equate anti-capitalism with simple anti-Americanism, and ignore the international basis of the capitalist world economy. To some extent, they have even reified its spatial metonym in the NYSE on Wall Street. Capitalism is an inherently global phenomenon; it does not admit of localization to any single nation, city, or financial district.

    Moreover, many of the more moderate protestors hold on to the erroneous belief that capitalism can be “controlled” or “corrected” through Keynesian-administrative measures: steeper taxes on the rich, more bureaucratic regulation and oversight of business practices, broader government social programs (welfare, Social Security), and projects of rebuilding infrastructure to create jobs. Moderate “progressives” dream of a return to the Clinton boom years, or better yet, a Rooseveltian new “New Deal.” All this amounts to petty reformism, which only serves to perpetuate the global capitalist order rather than to overcome it. They fail to see the same thing that the libertarians in the Tea Party are blind to: laissez-faire economics is not essential to capitalism. State-interventionist capitalism is just as capitalist as free-market capitalism.

    Some have proposed the generic catchall of “resistance” to describe the Wall Street occupation. Perhaps this might be the most fitting title for the occupation, given its own self-description as a “leaderless resistance movement.” This moniker, however, comes with its own set of problems. Ever since the close of the Second World War, the concept of “resistance” has risen to prominence within the discourse of the Left, ennobled by the French experience of La Résistance during the Vichy regime. Unfortunately, the teleological valorization of resistance as a sort of virtue unto itself has had a rather perverse effect on protest culture over the last several decades. Instead of calling for a broader project of social revolution, activists have substituted the notion of simply “resisting” the forces of structural domination that surrounds us. Somehow — though the precise way that this operates is never made clear — this is supposed to “subvert” or “disrupt” the powers that be. “Resistance” thus becomes fetishized as a supposedly heroic act of defiance, no matter how effective or ineffective it might ultimately be.

    Nevertheless, though Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy [insert location here] in general still contains many problematic aspects, it nevertheless presents an opportunity for the Left to engage with some of the nascent anti-capitalist sentiment taking shape there. So far it has been successful in enlisting the support of a number of leftish celebrities, prominent unions, and young activists, and has received a lot of media coverage. Hopefully, the demonstrations will lead to a general radicalization of the participants’ politics, and a commitment to the longer-term project of social emancipation.

    To this end, I have written up a rather pointed Marxist analysis of the OWS movement so far that you might find interesting:

    “Reflections on Occupy Wall Street: What It Represents, Its Prospects, and Its Deficiencies”

    THE LEFT IS DEAD! LONG LIVE THE LEFT!

  3. Pingback: Capitalismo zumbi e a esquerda pós-Obama « Cirandeiras

  4. danielle

    aww man if we are going to crtique the images, ask who more oppressed then the other, we are not going to get anywhere. One white kid complaining about students loans are just reflecting their experience in capitalism, so be it. When we all unite one women will be holding a sign about high school drop outs the other will be holding a sign about student loans and thats ok.

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