The purpose and popularity of Occupy

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June 3, 2012 at 11:09 pm #2473

tom123b

The question I believe that needs answering is what is the essential function of the Occupy Movement. Is it A) to provide the correct information to people at relevant times, or is it B) to attract new, previously-unengaged people to social justice work?

In other words do we want A) focus on calling out the 1%, and responding to changes in the political and economic system, or B) focus on forms of artistic communication that captures the public’s imagination and makes them curious (as occupying a park next to Wall St. did last October)?

I believe these goals actually have little to do with one another and actually could get in the other’s way quite easily. If our function is to provide correct information to people at relevant times, than we need a committed, core group of people who have extensive knowledge about specific topics. If this is the goal, we would want people who come to us voluntarily and ready to do serious work.

If, however, our function is to attract new, previously-unengaged people to social justice work, then we would want to come up with artistic performances that communicate to mainstream America and make people curious about our message.

I think both functions have been part of the Occupy Movement from the very beginning. At first, things worked well, because the public was curious about what occupying public spaces was about. Occupy was a platform for emotional judgment at this time–a conservative might have disagreed with our political analysis at this time, but been really into camping outdoors, and so have been enthusiastic about what was happening. This sort of curiosity ended, however, once the idea of Occupying became formulated in a thought and defined as a form of socio-economic protest. Once something becomes formulated into a thought, it ceases to be a platform for emotional judgment, and moves to the realm of analytical judgment. This kills the curiosity of the general public, because the media and our schools and universities already analyze everything to death, and people are sick of hearing it.

We’re all very comfortable operating through analytical judgment. But that’s not going to significantly change American society.

The way to create large-scale social change is to give people a platform for exercising their emotional judgment. What aspects of life are platforms for emotional judgment? That is to say, what aspects of of life have not formulated into analytic thought yet?

>>> Music and artistic performances (hence the popularity of concerts / movies)
>>> Relationships, and the interplay of people’s personalities (This is the strength of small-scale group decision-making processes, such as Occupy GAs and other direct democratic practices. It also accounts for the popularity of Facebook.)
>>> God and the meaning of life, etc. (hence the popularity of religion)
>>> Symbols, the nature of language, (which explains the curiosity about Occupy before it became formulated into a thought)

There’s also there’s scientific research / exploration of unknown natural phenonmena, but universities have just about beaten that one to death.

Perhaps we need to reign in our ambition, and focus on concrete attainable goals, such as providing correct information to people at relevant times. Perhaps large social change in a short-term period is an overly-ambitious, impossible-to-achieve pipedream.

I don’t know the answer, but it’s a discussion I would like to continue.


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