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American Fall

October 13, 2011

RATHER THAN “American Spring” (it’s the wrong time of year,) or “American Autumn” (meh,) wouldn’t American Fall have had a nicer ring to it?

Of course, what IOZ says is right on the money:

Occupy Wall Street is no revolution, and we are in no danger of replacing democracy with democracy. The protests are symptomatic of something else; they do signify change, even though they are neither the cause nor the ultimate result of it. These sorts of things are like melting glaciers and long tomato seasons: phenomenal indicators of a self-catlyizing reaction across a whole vast and complex system of systems. [IOZ]

Once can only hope that the “something else,” and “these sorts of things,” are things like the decline of global corporate empire and American power. Maybe capitalism itself? It’s obvious, at least, that there is some kind of geopolitical realignment of power underway. #OWS is a symptom of that, not an agent of actual change in terms of shifting power. So the malcontent, the overly-weepy pessimist, can’t help but wonder: is it even too much to hope that #OWS can influence any sort realignment of widely-held perceptions* of the machinations of financial power? [*See how your host adroitly avoids using the term ‘public opinion.’]

They have been, and will continue to be, criticized for the lack of a clear, unified goal and a list of specific demands. Though, I’ll admit being partial to one slogan heard early on, “Occupy Everything, Demand Nothing.” For a minute it seemed the occupiers might be trying to forge a festival-like public space where new, more egalitarian means of exchange and divisions of labor might develop, a sort of petri dish of alternatives to profit motivated capitalism. It’s not clear #OWS was ever that, really. The whole thing seemed to get bogged down in the development of, well, the democratic town hall meeting.

The unified message might have been seen in a demonstration that, yes, people are perfectly capable of getting along without The Economy. The unspoken demand might have come in the form of a realization among the horde of human participants who drive crony capitalism: better to let it fade into obscurity without a fight.

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