Greg posted a picture from the Occupy demonstrations this morning that made him angry, and he’s been roundly criticized in the comments for getting angry over it.
It’s a coincidence that I reposted “Taking It Downhill” this morning, but if you read that post, you may have a sense of why this sign pissed me off too. In case it doesn’t, I’ll spell it out.
I am a hippy, if by hippy you mean someone who thinks living outside of consumer culture is a good thing, that the number of pages of “news” devoted to business relative to those devoted to human welfare is appalling, that the costs of war are too high to justify almost any of them. It is the hippies who have kept the spirit of protest alive over these last few decades as everyone else has been calling participatory democracy “un-American.” Without the hippies, no one would have much idea how to put these protests together.
I am a freak. I have stood outside the averages much of my life. I have supported the art and the politics of the counterculture and of minority culture. Many other freaks, far more than me, have acted as the canary in the coal mine for the last 30 years. They have told you what was coming, because it has been happening to them. They have given you the words to describe these events. Without the freaks, people would still be struggling to understand what was happening to them now.
I am an anarchist, if by anarchist you mean those people who have had to develop rules for living with each other in arrangements that are not sanctioned by the government. Anarchists have kept alive the traditions of self-organization that decades of fear-driven conformity have tried to destroy. Without the anarchists, these protests would be taken over by the first strong-voiced person who came along.
I am part of a mob, although it is a contained mob–for the moment. If you don’t understand that part of a protest is the threat of numbers, perhaps you should be listening to the old-timers more. Without a mob, these protests would have no power.
I am a punk. I do not recognize authority that is not earned. I do not recognize authority that oversteps its mandate, either in time or in action. I do not recognize corrupt authority that has been bought and paid for. Without the punks, these protests would wither up the first time a group of police officers wandered by and told everyone to go home.
I am vague. Or rather, I am concerned about a great many things, although they generally fall under the umbrella of oligarchy. There is a lot of work to be done, as this has been coming for decades. We must address the problem of being able to purchase power at the same time that we undo much of the harm that has been done. And yes, I’m better at identifying the problems than the solutions; identifying the solutions is not my job (via Mike). Without this sort of “vagueness,” these protests would be caught up in fighting over whose particular issue was going to be resolved first, which is how we’ve been distracted this long.
I am a left-wing nut job. Crazy is defined by the culture that measures it. Our pundit class thinks idealism is crazy. They think attempts to change the system are crazy. They think attention to anything but the minutiae of politics–political gossip–is crazy. Given that they’re part of the problem, I want them to be calling me crazy. It says I’m doing something right. So are these protests.
I am not a mother, but I want a better world for everyone’s kids: the hippies’, the freaks’, the anarchists’, the mobs’, the punks’, the vague and inarticulates’, and all those left-wing nut jobs. This isn’t about me. It’s about us.