Occupy Wall Street

This article discusses the difficulty Occupy Wall Street protestors have had in coming up with a series of demands.  One sees in their meeting minutes the difficulty (and frankly absurdity) of democratic processes that refuse structure.  Coming up with a list of demands is hard enough (especially when they are so keen on not marginalizing anyone that they want 90% consensus), but even the call for demands is controversial.  My favorite remark was this:

“Inherently, in asking for demands, you are accepting that there is a power greater than yourself, which is something that this movement is categorically against.”

Good luck with that whole “brotherhood of man” without any structure thing, what Occupiers are calling “this beautiful society we are creating in this park.”  This is a perfect example of why John Lennon’s song Imagine is so stupid. He asks us to imagine there is no heaven, no hell, no countries, no property, no religion too.  The assumption is that without these "alien forces" of civilization, life would all come up roses.  Such a view is utterly naive about human nature.  Wisdom of the ages – whether it be religious wisdom or the wisdom of the Greek tragedians like Sophocles and Aeschylus – knows that something has gone wrong with the human condition.  The cookie jar has been broken, things are not "all good" and won’t be fixed by just getting rid of things like the civilizing forces of things like rule of law and culture.

So yes, Lennon is a "dreamer", as he admits in his song.  But a hopelessly idealistic one, idealistic to the point of absurdity.  For my part, in the city of man I prefer the structure of the rule of law.

Anyway, when I think of these movements and the issue of demands, I immediately think of this classic scene from Life of Brian (click here or click to see full post for embedded video).  After all, “What have the Romans [capitalists] ever done for us?!”  I love the demand made: “We are giving Pilate 2 days to dismantle the entire apparatus of the roman imperialist state.”  I wonder if the Occupy Wall Street demands are any less absurd.

About Kleiner

Associate Vice Provost and Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Utah State University. I teach across the curriculum, but am most interested in continental philosophy, ancient and medieval philosophy as well as Catholic thought, all of which might be summed up as an interest in the ressourcement tradition (returning in order to make progress). I also enjoy spending time thinking about liberal education and its ends.
This entry was posted in Catholic thought/religion/culture, Philosophy, Polis (politics, culture). Bookmark the permalink.

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