Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Christopher Ketcham Reports on Occupy Wall Street: Denunciation and Disruption

At Truthdig today, Christopher Ketcham reports on the events of 15 October in the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York--including the police brutality he witnessed.  He concludes that the movement is driven by a double goal of denunciation and disruption.

The occupiers intend to shame and ridicule the parasites, the 1%, who feed off the rest of the body politic, the 99%.  And they are staging a politics of disruption--by sheer (and growing) numbers, by their occupation of public spaces, by their marches, chanting, and drumming--designed as street theater to draw attention to their denunciation of the parasitic 1%.

Ketcham's powerful conclusion:

The norm in the political economy of the United States is that the corporations and the banks run things and we all suck it up and smile. With the rise of the occupation, the disruption of this degraded normalcy of affairs is the message and the meaning. The message is that the future of American democracy is not in casting the meaningless vote in the two-party shell game, nor in lobbying over fine dinners, nor in writing letters to robots like Charlie Rangel, nor merely in Facebooking and Twittering one’s dissent. The future lies in people gathered in the streets in solidarity and making trouble.

The future lies in people gathered in the streets in solidarity and making trouble.  That concluding sentence has a fine ring to it.  A hopeful ring.  And it sounds just about right to me.  As Judith Butler told the occupiers this past Sunday,  "If hope is an impossible demand, then we demand the impossible . . . ."

One of the primary ways in which ruthless ruling elites always try to consolidate their power is by attempting to make nothing else imaginable, nothing except their control of things.  Ruthless ruling elites seek to make everything other than their control of everything unthinkable--unthinkable, as in hopelessly utopian,  incapable of being realized, incapable of even being contemplated, if it projects an alternative to how the controlling elite has constructed the status quo.

We Americans have come to inhabit a nation in which the only thing ever imaginable, in the view of our political leaders, is oil and warMore oil and more war.  Since the few that profit from a status quo designed around this crippling imagination which projects no future at all for a majority of us control the government, everything our nation thinks, does, and projects in its central political governing structures  is, in the final analysis, premised on the univocal, dominant, crippling imagination of a single possibility: more oil, more war.

We have refused to build any other future.  We have refused even to imagine any other future.  In this way, we have constructed a world as antithetical to the values of life as possible, because the world we have constructed is a closed system that has no place for the next generation.

And so, if that generation wants to have any future at all, it now has no option except to take to the streets, denouncing and disrupting, before it is too late.  Before the future of this generation becomes a book closed forever.

And, as Madison Shockley tells Truthdig radio this week, this attempt to fashion a space for hope in a culture that has sought to foreclose the future, to feed the insatiable greed of the few at the expense of all the rest of us (and of the next generation): this is a spiritual quest.  Because the pursuit of hope is always spiritual in its deepest foundations.

No comments: