There are a lot of protests going on all around the world right at the moment, which means that wherever you live you can’t have failed to notice that people are getting a bit pissed off with the ruling elite.
I can’t argue with that.
In Libya, Egypt and Syria – all across the Arab world, in fact – there are people fighting and dying for their rights. They want more freedom, more employment, less government brutality, real elections. Things like that.
In Europe and the USA there are middle-class people sitting in tents outside stock exchanges and universties. They want… well, they want things to be different, and they aren’t going to move until it is – all the while assuring us that they represent 99% of all people.
I’m a little bit torn, because I really can’t argue with the intent – I don’t think the top few percent of the population should receive most of the wealth. It isn’t fair. I do think sitting back and watching while western governments impose austerity measures on the poorest, while allowing the richest to receive bigger and better bonuses is flat-out wrong.
But I can’t pretend that sitting around and agreeing with each other about how wrong it all is will actually achieve anything.
I can’t pretend that coming up with ludicrous goals like “dismantle the entire capitalist system of governance” is ever going to happen - or that it would magically fix everything if it did.
And I can’t pretend that OccupyLSX and their ilk don’t increasingly remind me of the People’s Front of Judea; they’re willing to endlessly debate what should be done, they’re willing to come up with overblown, ridiculous and vague demands -
I mean, is there any real difference between
“We demand an end to global tax injustice and our democracy representing corporations instead of the people”
“We give Pilate two days to dismantle the entire Roman Imperialist apparatus” ?
The various Occupy movements want change. Good, so do I. So do most people, I’d imagine – recessions are shite, rich people are wankers and governments are generally a bit crap.
But how do they want things to change? Wanting things to be different, and then saying “well I’m going to sit here until it is” isn’t good enough.
I’m honestly not trying to be unfair to the people who are currently sat in tents in London, or being pepper-sprayed in California, because it is important to show your leaders that you object to what they’re doing. It’s just that it isn’t enough to only do that.
Once you’ve got their attention, you need to give them a realistic solution – you need to tell them exactly what they’re doing wrong, and how you want them to fix it. The aristocracy can’t negotiate with the proletariat if the proles just want “everything to be better” – that’s the status quo.
Otherwise you really do represent the 99% – the 99% of people who complain about the shitty situation they’re in, but do fuck all about it.