Those interested in the fate of the Occupy movement might like to read a discussion by Thomas Frank of some books on the subject. Frank takes a critical look at both the books and the movement, but sees himself as critical in the way a friend might be, since he sympathizes with the impulses behind the movement. Some of the notes he strikes will be familiar to readers of this blog. For instance:
OWS may be the most over-described historical event of all time. Nearly every one of these books makes sweeping claims for the movement's significance, its unprecedented and earth-shattering innovations. Just about everything it does is brilliantly, inventively, mind-blowingly people-empowering.
And what do we have to show for it today in our "normal lives"? Not much...
Occupy itself is pretty much gone. It was evicted from Zuccotti Park about two months after it began - an utterly predictable outcome for which the group seems to have made inadequate preparation. OWS couldn't bring itself to come up with a real set of demands until after it got busted...
Frank's article is on the long side and some won't be interested enough to read the whole of it. But be advised that it contains some very entertaining moments. Here's one of them:
A while later I happened to watch an online video of an Occupy panel discussion held at a bookstore in New York; at some point in the recording, a panelist objected to the way protesters had of saying they were "speaking for themselves" rather than acknowledging that they were part of a group. Another one of the panelists was moved to utter this riposte:
What I would note, is that people can only speak for themselves, that the self would be under erasure there, in that the self is then held into question, as any poststructuralist thought leading through anarchism would push you towards... I would agree, an individualism that our society has definitely had inscribed upon it and continues to inscribe upon itself, "I can only speak for myself," the "only" is operative there, and of course these spaces are being opened up...
My heart dropped like a broken elevator. As soon as I heard this long, desperate stream of pseudointellectual gibberish, I knew instantly that this thing was doomed.
Another choice item, quoted by Frank from an Occupy-related pamphlet:
Our point of attack here is the dominant forms of subjectivity produced in the context of the current social and political crisis. We engage four primary subjective figures - the indebted, the mediatized, the securitized, and the represented - all of which are impoverished and their powers for social action are masked or mystified.
Movements of revolt and rebellion, we find, provide us the means not only to refuse the repressive regimes under which these subjective figures suffer but also to invert these subjectivities in figures of power.
There's a 'dear God' from Frank after that one and reference to 'impenetrable essays seemingly written to demonstrate, one more time, the Arctic futility of theory-speak'.