GABlog Generative Anthropology in the Public Sphere

November 20, 2011

A Note on OWS

Filed under: GA — adam @ 2:12 pm

By now there can be no doubt that the Occupy Wall Street movement represents the opening of a new strain of American terrorism. There’s no way of knowing how extensive, effective and destructive it will be, but OWS is promoting, very forcefully, the idea that no means are out of bounds if your demands aren’t met. I haven’t seen anyone, even among conservatives, devote any attention to the name chosen by this group or “protestors”—why “occupy”? I have to assume it’s an allusion to the tactics of the student movement of the 1960s, whereby one “occupied” the President of the University’s office until one’s nonsensical demands were met. Or until you got yourselves forcibly removed. The point is to leave your antagonists with only those two alternatives: capitulation or the use of force, with the latter revealing one’s intrinsic, if often so well concealed, fascistic nature. It’s a bizarre model for a society wide protest movement, because while a university is a strictly delineated institutional space, how do you “occupy” a city? Or even a street? Such a movement must both fizzle out and spiral out of control, simply because it can have no sense of what its objects or objectives are—it is both absolutist and utterly confused. And we see both fizzling and spiraling going on right now, but the example has been set and it will be iterated—the going underground characteristic of the student movement of the late 60s, whereby the SDS became the Weather Underground, is likely to happen now in a much quicker and more stereotyped way. The OWS participants already assume that they are in the posture typically assumed by anarchist and terrorist movements: representing a vast (99%) but quiescent majority against a deeply entrenched and cynical (1%) minority. Obviously no dialogue can take place among the oppressors, oppressed and somnolent—the sleepers must be woken up by provoking the minority and their lapdogs (the men with arms and badges) to commit spectacular acts of violence upon the vanguard. Etc. The removal of what James Taranto has been calling the “Obamavilles” from American cities will simply prove once again that mere protest is irrelevant (and forget about electoral politics, given the betrayal of Obama and the big city liberal mayors). There is no way of knowing whether OWS presages a wave of domestic terrorism, but there is no doubt that it provides a rationale and template for one.

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