“Unfocused meaningless ‘activism'” is worse than apathy? Hardly.
An Op-ed in the International Business Times written by Palash R. Ghosh and published online this morning chastises the protesters as doing nothing more than inconveniencing daily workers’ route to Wall Street, workers, he writes, who have nothing to do with “corporate greed.”
Ghosh goes on to question the effectiveness of having celebrities, who are possibly just as out of touch as the people they are protesting (i.e. Susan Sarandon), come to the cause of the working class.
He questions the point of putting the working-class family derived stock of NYPD in an uncomfortable “socioeconomic, ideological battle in which they have no stake and no real authority to resolve.”
If they are protesting the nebulous, ambiguous concept of “corporate greed,” then they may as well protest such other human foibles as lust, gluttony, jealousy, anger and mendacity, as well.
But if the protesters are proposing specific reforms – like, say, cuts on bankers’ bonuses or concrete tax breaks for companies that hire American employees, then I would support them wholeheartedly and not be annoyed by the modest disruptions they are causing.
Ghosh even makes a questionable comment that in the United States protesting does not put your life in any risk so long as you are peaceful (Ghosh clearly does not believe being pepper sprayed inflicts injury nor does it seem that Ghosh has viewed the video of a young man who was not resisting arrest being beaten while police laughed at him – see today’s Democracy Now for the clip) and unlike Syria or other tyrannical countries where you would be in serious physical danger.
Ghosh makes very good observations but his conclusions are far from true. The point of a demonstration is to disrupt everyday life, that is how you draw attention to your cause. NPR has said that they have not covered Occupy Wall Street because there have not been any people of importance at the protest, so it makes sense that celebrities like Susan Sarandon show up, and Michael Moore’s presence is beyond question about relevance (remember his film Capitalism: A Love Story?). Putting people in a place that forces them to question who they really work for (in this case the police) means that this kind of activism is working.
Lastly, to the outsider, the protesters may seem unclear on their demands, however, to anyone who follows the state of politics in this country it is obvious. There are so many things going wrong in this country, from a failing economy (starting illegal war without a way to pay for them, packaging toxic mortgages and selling them off as securities leading to the crash), to threats to entitlements, to union-busting, to rising health care costs, to threats to reproductive rights, to a bloated military-industrial complex, to the so-called jobless recovery and the threat of a double dip recession, as well as the American bred terrorism done in the name of the American people, there is a lot to be upset about. Furthermore, how often have we asked the protesters of the Arab Spring what they are fighting for? What do they want? Who are their leaders? We supported them because they believed in democracy and nothing else. Well the protesters on Wall Street are also fighting for democracy. The voice of the people has been greatly diminished since the passing of Citizens United. The voice of the people is being lost among the endless bankrolling of corporate funded politics.
The protesters want a better life and a taste of democracy that today seems a lot like a fairy tale. That is all they want and sometimes it comes out as discontent over unemployment, sometimes over the wars, but ultimately it is about the ability to do more than just live, it is to thrive.
Link to IBT editorial: http://goo.gl/DyKC4