15.4.12

#Occupy, Round Two

Most of these 'wrongs' are committed within the complexity of a system that allows men to take dangerous risks with the fate of the world's working population.  All of us everyday rubes who will live and die under 150K a year.   What's now hanging in the balance is the ability of the 99% to continue supporting the top tiers.  It even seems at times as though the stereotypical 1% have essentially shot themselves in the foot.  Collective recklessness and short-sighted short-term gains may have actually destabilised (and exposed) the power structures that has been running largely unchallenged for a very long time.   In addition, the trickle-down has been shut off as those who saw the crash coming took their gains and exited with as much as they could.   

We scrutinise incumbent and campaigning leaders with fine tooth combs, hold their moral character against every flinch and word they utter, and yet, the businessmen who marched the world into ruin demand and maintain their privacy.  The backlash from the bottom rungs and protest around the world have brought has shaken the men behind the curtain as they realise that they may be outed.  CEOs are likely hiring the most savvy of PR teams to prepare for those times they could be held publicly accountable to face the modern equivalent of a tomato-chucking when their company is surrounded by protestors or they suffer a hacking by Anonymous.  (Or a release by Wikileaks)  I wonder if some of them are afraid, making reactionary risk plans to quash the whittling of their bottom lines and their reputation?  

Ultimately, they aren't monsters, they are only men, and we'd do well to engage them as such rather than evil corporate figures.  Their bad behaviour could be due to little more than taking advantage of their circumstances, or a lifetime of nepotistic promotion.  Products of upbringing, a chip on one's shoulder, an obsessed ambition, pride, or a need to upkeep a lifestyle that one has been taught is within one's rights to pursue, or old-fashioned greed.  We will not always know why, nor do we need to.  



Despite the most paranoid conspiracy theorists, the architects of the current bleak state of affairs may live opulently, act self-interestedly, yet they usually hold thoroughly well-educated rational concepts of ego and life philosophies some of us would have difficulty arguing with.  In many ways they are as unremarkable as any sharp dressed man or woman we pass each day.   We are not the white knights riding in against dark forces, no matter how unscrupulous or even dangerous their acts may appear.   We must take responsibility for being asleep on the watch all of this time.   

Being able to hold the belief that those who handle world finance will be just and behave as good stewards towards human affairs is an ideal of social contracts that feels like a pipe dream.  But if we are to be able to realise the greatest opportunities for human potential, one day that needs to be a reality.  Right now however, regulation and rules need to be put in place to save them from themselves. Even if we have enough watchdogs in place that we may be relieved of distrust and anxiety about the movements of financial elites, it will remain important that the public never again completely abandons our post as the final line of critical, scrutinising defence.   The no-brainer here is the strength in numbers.  Though taking back the reigns of a banking system that has been allowed to run amok for decades will require untold solidarity, something that can't be accomplished if we are busy dissecting sex scandals and caring about Kim Kardashian.  

Marching in with completely righteous indignation, leaves doors wide open for snide comments, backhanded hippy and hipster labels and eventually a complete dismissal of even the most sensible messages.   That in turn, excludes the mainstream working public, the ever-mentioned middle-class who do the most voting, hold the most purchasing power, and continue to be slowly crushed as they strive ever harder to obtain the life that five decades of television media culture has promised them.   




The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee, and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.

John D. Rockefeller
Attributed in How to Win Friends and Influence People (1937) by Dale Carnegie

One of the most definitive changes in the power of protest has been the use of technology and social media.  Is there a way to make peace with the necessity of using the best tools at our disposal without being trapped in the hypocrisy of participating in a system we say we want to re-make?  Any perceived counter-entity surely has much more image management leverage and unfettered access to mass media at their fingertips to disseminate the public relations clean-ups necessary when their dealings are thrust into the limelight.  There is a tightrope-level difficulty to be walked to achieve the cultural shifts that are at the core of Occupy and we should not feel guilty for fighting fire with fire.  As long as non-violence continues to be the guiding principle, we need to access to the equivalent resources as much as possible and use the ones we have in ways that PR firms can't see coming (Adbusters, culture jams, street art, flash mob and the like).  Lastly, if the first step is being realistic about our prolonged apathy, followed by mitigating the conflicting guilt, then the not final, but ongoing and lateral stage the extends across all efforts - is continuing to get out from behind the screen into the street.  

Let us take great advantage of all mediums, but also show up on time whenever we can - because we won't survive scrutiny as armchair cynics and philosophers any longer.  Even if you emerge only to see what the fuss is about, there is likely a way in which the part of the movement you identify with can be expressed within your own boundaries.   The inclusiveness and strength of Occupy includes those who are capable of committing to long terms of physical sit ins, as well as those who work tirelessly to perpetuate the diverse ethos through as many channels as possible.   Perhaps it will not even be Occupy itself, but a related space you can best contribute to.  As long as any social activism movement continues to embody acceptance and inclusiveness of membership, it might hope to remain relevant, and insulate itself against partisanships and political games that are all too easy for any one of us to succumb to. 






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