Sunday, October 16, 2011

Of comments, communists, and commixture

For some reason, since I returned belatedly from my sojourn in ports foreign, I seem to be encountering difficulty with commenting on some blogs that I know I was able to comment on before.

Apparently, my google account does not have permission to post comments - but only on some blogs. Is this a new security feature? Something I should know about Google? Something I can fix?

In other news, I've been following the Occupy Wall Street protests with some interest recently. It's interesting to compare with the other significant popular political movement of recent times, both as a phenomenon in itself and as an artifact of media reportage - in the Information Age, of course, the two are inextricably intertwined.

The T.E.A. party coalesced around a single simple (perhaps simplistic) theme - that Americans are Taxed Enough Already, and that government must be spending too much if taxes can't cover spending. Its members by and large supported Republican candidates, on the basis that the Republican party is nominally the party of low taxation. Energizing the Republican base, it claimed responsibility for the 2010 election "shellacking" of President Obama's party.

OWS also takes a single simple (perhaps simplistic) theme - that the richest 1% are prospering in a time of economic trouble at the expense of the 99% that make up the rest of us. The difficulty for protestors here is that their message, while resonant and popular, does not clearly translate into a program of action. The organizers of the original OWS protest were keenly aware of this problem, seeking to identify a specific demand to which protestors could address themselves. Various proposals were made, by various groups, all of which can be seen represented among the crowd at what was once Liberty Plaza Park. Anarchists advocating the dismantling of government join drum circles with communists advocating its enlargement. Campaigners for racial equality share space with neo-Nazis and anti-Semites. Tea Partiers swap billboards with their former detractors. In one sense, there is something wonderfully democratic about the OWS protest - those who derided the T.E.A. party as an "astroturf" rather than a "grassroots" movement would struggle to level the same charge against the chaotic organism that is OWS. In another sense, the protest is dismayingly jejune - and, despite its longevity, it remains representative of a much smaller percentage of the population than it might wish. Neither has the clear rallying cry yet emerged - the general anti-globalist anti-capitalist themes persist, as they have for decades, without translating into the ballot-box power of the T.E.A. party.

Democrats clearly hope that OWS can do for them what the Tea Party did for Republicans, but there are several reasons for believing this will not be the case - not least of which is the significant cohort of OWS protestors who consider Democrats to be part of the problem, and not part of the solution. From a sociological standpoint, the movement remains fascinating; but until a coherent political or economic message emerges, it is unlikely to advance beyond a mere curiosity.


Karen Jones Gowen said...

A lot of people are having this commenting problem, some with imbedded comment forms, some with pop-ups. Interesting thoughts on OWS movement. I know what I think about it but I'm not saying.

Mojo said...

Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone on the comments issue!

I respect your right both to an opinion and to privacy, although I must admit I'm curious about your take on OWS. I know politics are a third rail, and not everybody's cup of tea. For the record, whatever your view is, I accept its validity.