- Laurens Rademakers
This conversation is closed.
Where are the poor in Occupy Wall Street?
---Or is this just another bourgeois movement?---
I have a lot of sympathy for Occupy Wall Street. Hell, even Slavoj Zizek came by to give a talk.
But what bothers me is that I can have sympathy, because I'm relatively well fed (like all OWSers), I'm relatively wealthy (like all OWSers), I don't live on foodstamps (like all OWSers), I have an academic background (like all OWSers). In short, I'm an average middle-class bore (like all OWSers, and probably like you who read this).
So where are the poor? Where are the ethnic minorities? Where are those who're the biggest victims of capitalism? I don't see them. Especially: I don't hear them.
-This begs the question as to whether OWS is just another bourgeois party, that will end without any impact, as we have seen so often, and instead of relieving inequality simply sharpen it.
-This also begs a more optimistic question: do all genuine revolutions always start with an avant-garde that acts "top-down" and that claims to be speaking for the poor? It may be the case, but we know that this form of "representation" -- middle-class bourgeois kids (like Lenin or Mao or Hitler) speaking for others --, is highly problematic and has led to catastrophies.
In short, OWS is not a bottom-up movement. It is a movement of the middle class, which, all in all, does not have to complain. And that is why I fear it will easily be coopted by its enemy - capital. OWS has no real "antagonistic" streak, no real vitality, in the sense that it is willing to give all to win all (like the few real revolutions in history did).
When will the wretched of the earth rise up, in America? When will these people, who scratch for a "living", who are condemned to being obese or dead-poor or uneducated, get up, leave their TV sets and unite to pronounce a discourse (in whatever form)? Because only then can we speak of some genuine revolution, and not just of a "movement".