Monday, December 26, 2011

The Occupy Movement and The Social Contract

The leaders* of the Occupy Movement have failed in the first instance to accept the most basic principles of Rousseau’s Social Contract,“The social treaty has for its end the preservation of the contracting parties. He who wills the end wills the means also, and the means must involve some risks, and even some losses”(Book 2, Section 5).

They seem inexplicably accepting of their repeated losses imposed by public authorities in the various cities where they are protesting, and have not succeeded in recruiting broad support from the American people.  Their nihilistic insistence on equivocality has had a stultifying effect.  They have failed to clearly articulate their ends, and as a consequence have failed to enunciate the means to achieve their vaguely expressed goals. By repeated insisting to reporters and other members of the press that they have stated their goals clearly, which they have utterly failed to do, does not make it so.  No one really cares about their altercations with cops over where their tents can be pitched.  That is why the repeated, totally unacceptable brutal use of force, including pepper spraying elderly defenseless fellow protesters, and beatings of defenseless people by police officers, has garnered only passing expressions of outrage from the American people.  The Occupy groups are seen primarily as protesting state authority, not specifically advocating for specific widely agreed upon economic and social goals. They have utterly failed in expressing what specifically they hope to achieve or how.

Kalle Lasn
Micah White
Expressing their protest within a self-serving anarchic framework has counterproductive and contributing to the lack of practical concrete steps toward solutions to our political and economic crisis. By focusing their anger at governmental authority and hierarchical organization, the very democratic structures that are embedded within the US Constitution designed to solve such problems, they actively impede solutions.   Everyone knows they are incensed by economic inequality, the housing crisis and unemployment.  Most Americans share their concerns.  Righting those wrongs within our democratic institutions requires adopting political strategies that will address those inequities, not rejecting such methods.  They offer no solutions, only persistent complaints.  Indeed, when opportunities to adopt clear objectives and political means that will reach those goals, they have repeatedly rejected them.
 The United States is now less than a year from its national election that will have profound effects on our future.  There is time to harness the broad discontent of the American people, upon which the Occupy Movement has cast light, for which they have earned justifiable credit. It is time responsible progressive political leaders step in and translate the grumbling and railing of the Occupy Movement into clear, achievable political goals, and specific strategies for achieving them, that will garner support broadly within the American people.
·       * Paradoxically, all anarchist movements (that have been based on rejection of hierarchical organization with clear leaders), have all been lead by strong charismatic individuals, such as Josiah Warren, Henry David Thoreau and Lucy Parsons.  The current Occupy Movement was started by Kalle Lasn, an Estonian Canadian Co-Founder, Co-Publisher, & Art Director of Adbusters magazine; former filmmaker & documentarian, PBS and the Canadian National Film Board and Micah M. White a senior editor at the magazine Adbusters and a writer for the UK's The Guardian. White is the only American creator of the original idea for the Occupy protests. They have become the Rock Stars of the anarchist movement, and their claim that the movement is leaderless is absurdly disingenuous. Regrettably, the leadership is incompetent, leading the well-intentioned people on the street into one dysfunctional mishap after another. 

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