The metaphor of “occupation” strikes me as a provocative one not only for what the activists in Manhattan and elsewhere are doing, but for what they are struggling against.
Some, and perhaps many, of these are people without traditional “occupations,” so they are occupying themselves by re-occupying the public spaces that have been occupied for too long by the values, habits, and appeals of the Occupation Force — the whole industry of slogans, gestures, come-hither looks, sales pitches, jingles, hooks, nods and winks (backed up by policies, and ultimately by laws and policing) that keep us steered into the spectacle of Politics-as-Usual-and-Consumption-Above-All.
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With protests gearing up today to push the Obama administration away from its current timidity with its economic policies (see A New Way Forward and Democracy Now’s broadcast on it), it seems apropos to ask whether and to what extent the Obama administration should be trusted by progressives.
Open Left, one of the better progressive political websites, and one of the groups that greens should be building better alliances with, has an interesting discussion going on about this – see Chris Bowers’ Open Left:: The Case for Distrust.
For some background on Open Left, I recommend its take on the twentieth-century history of left politics in the U.S.
Similar questions as these could be raised about the administration’s environmental positions, where a notably strong set of opening strategies – particularly on climate change – seems to be growing a little limp. In particular, it will make a big difference whether carbon credits are given away to polluting corporations (effectively giving them what belongs to all of us, the air) or sold to them (and bringing in some revenue in the process). But at least with environmental issues we don’t have the same faces from the Wall Street-loving Clinton era as with economic issues (the Summerses, Geithners, et al.).