Rhetoricians (and others) on Occupy Wall Street
Of American Revolutionaries and American Occupiers Jennifer Mercieca, Associate Professor of Communication at Texas A&M University
Demand the Impossible Judith Butler, Professor of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley
Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now Naomi Klein, Canadian author and social activist
Occupy First. Demands Come Later Slavoj Žižek, Senior researcher at the Institute of Sociology, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
The Architecture of Oppression Kevin DeLuca, Associate Professor of Communication, University of Utah
Occupy the Future Noam Chomsky, Professor (Emeritus) in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy, MIT
How Wall Street Occupied America Bill Moyers, President of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy
Occupy Wall Street as a Fight for “Real Democracy” Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Michael Hardt is Professor of Literature at Duke University. Antonio Negri is former Professor of Political Science at the University of Padua and the University of Paris 8.
My Evening with Occupy Pittsburgh: Observations from an On-the-Ground Rhetorician Doug Cloud, PhD candidate in rhetoric at Carnegie Mellon University
Parsing the Data and Ideology of the We Are 99% Tumblr Mike Konczal, fellow with the Roosevelt Institute
What Is a Revolutionary Idea? Robert Hariman, Professor in Communication Studies at Northwestern University
Naomi Wolf: how I was arrested at Occupy Wall Street Naomi Wolf, American author and political consultant
Occupy Wall Street — “We Are What Democracy Looks Like!” Benjamin Barber, Senior Fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy
I have absolutely no particular political agenda in mind as I cite examples of programs aimed at reducing the ill effects of poverty. If true Christianity prevailed in our nation, there would be neither economic disadvantage nor the need for government programs to address it. All would be taken care of through private acts of sincere charity. But economic injustice and suffering persist, and something must be done. To me, the options for action include public as well as private efforts.
This is not the place for a long discussion of the meaning of “socialism,” but I must admit that the notion that it is “socialism” and “of the devil” for citizens of a democratic nation to voluntarily address human needs through taxation and government programs strikes me as patently absurd. If that were so, perhaps we have the devil to thank for public libraries, highways, police and fire departments, and American aid to post-war Europe, to name a few. If we choose to irrationally recoil from the label “socialism,” we can simply refrain from using it, as we do with reference to Social Security and Medicare, for example. And if we believe that public funding of a basic “safety net” of minimal standards of decency in health, education, shelter, and opportunity are impossible to provide in a setting of political democracy and religious freedom, we can ignore the existence of most Western European nations.
I cite it only to reject the notion that the eternal principle of “free agency” somehow translates into an economic system of “free capitalism.” They are not the same. Such an equation strikes me as terribly ironic and potentially terribly tragic. Of course we can question the wisdom of specific government programs, or in general prefer private to public efforts. Those are not basic moral issues. But when the public nature of a program is used as an excuse to do nothing or to selfishly cling to one’s wealth while others suffer, wickedness has entered the picture.
America was built upon the pillar of self-restraint as well as the pillar of personal freedom, on a presumption of community responsibility as well as individual responsibility. Indeed, community responsibility is the heart and soul of everyone’s personal responsibility. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison warned that republican democracy could only survive in a society of relative equals in which the public good, not individual interests, remained the supreme objective (cited in Dennis, 1990:57 and in Bellah et al., 1985:30-31). Jefferson observed that if people forgot themselves “in the sole faculty of making money,” the future of the republic would become bleak ( in Bellah et al. 1985:31).
The rich have run out of excuses. What happens when the poor run out of patience? Is literal global war a necessary part of our future? If so, it is reasonable to predict that it will involve an attack by “have-not” nations on the “haves” of the world, rather than a confrontation between superpower “haves” with differing political ideologies. After all, the have-nots would have nothing to lose in a global conflagration, by definition.
We must become more willing to sacrifice and share. Whether we do so out of obedience to God, out of genuine charity, out of earthly fear, or in view of long-term economic and political self-interest, the time has come to share or face the consequences. How long can we ignore the scriptural description of socioeconomic inequality as evil? How long will we be guided by the “traditions of our fathers” instead of the Savior of humanity? How long will LDS church members join mainstream America in not only condoning, but admiring and pursuing, worldly self aggrandizement? Might not the great lesson for the last days be that in order for peace to prevail or for Zion “with no poor among them” to be established, that there must also be no rich among them?
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 19:23)
But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin. (D&C
Mormonism and inequality
This article was written by a professor of sociology at Brigham Young University in 1994. The entire thing is worth a read, but I’ve excerpted some of the most compelling paragraphs below:
In short, poor Americans are poor primarily because they were born poor, have few opportunities to escape poverty, have characteristics that are socially devalued (including race, gender, and age), or have “landed” in an unfavorable economic setting—not because they decide to be lazy. It makes just as much sense to blame more than a small fraction of current poverty on individual laziness as it does to cite laziness as the cause of the Great Depression of the 1930s. (For related data and similar conclusions, see also Garfinkel and Haveman, 1977; Nasar, 1992b; Jaynes, 1989; Ryan, 1976; Katz, 1989.)
There is widespread belief, at least among my students, that public spending on the poor is a major government expense and a significant cause of budget deficits. Furthermore, the poor’s willingness to “take something for nothing” is cited as proof of their degeneracy. Not a few students ask, “Why should I work hard just so others can receive a handout?” That is certainly a valid public policy question, and asking it should not necessarily call into question one’s morality. The problem is that it is misdirected. Vastly greater sums of public money are doled out to the non-poor in “wealthfare” than to the poor via welfare. The difference is that the price of benefits to the poor includes public humiliation and loss of self-respect, while the rest of us take our handouts with clear consciences and unsullied reputations.
“Doing nothing” is justified by some on the grounds that everyone simply has what she or he has earned. That conclusion, of course, fails morally and logically. Scriptures state clearly that the obligation to assist the poor remains intact whether or not the poor are judged to be “deserving.” And how can anyone reasonably view the growing millions of poor infants and children as undeserving of help, regardless of one’s opinion of their parents?
Moreover, empirical studies show that when the disadvantaged—children and adults alike—are given real opportunities to succeed, the vast majority work hard and take advantage of those opportunities. Many efforts have been found to be very successful in helping members of our society escape poverty (Schorr, 1988).
(stay tuned for more)
Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance
1. If you work hard, and become successful, it does not necessarily mean you are successful because you worked hard, just as if you are tall with long hair it doesn’t mean you would be a midget if you were bald.
2. “Fortune” is a word for having a lot of money and for having a lot of luck, but that does not mean the word has two definitions.
3. Money is like a child—rarely unaccompanied. When it disappears, look to those who were supposed to be keeping an eye on it while you were at the grocery store. You might also look for someone who has a lot of extra children sitting around, with long, suspicious explanations for how they got there.
4. People who say money doesn’t matter are like people who say cake doesn’t matter—it’s probably because they’ve already had a few slices.
5. There may not be a reason to share your cake. It is, after all, yours. You probably baked it yourself, in an oven of your own construction with ingredients you harvested yourself. It may be possible to keep your entire cake while explaining to any nearby hungry people just how reasonable you are.
6. Nobody wants to fall into a safety net, because it means the structure in which they’ve been living is in a state of collapse and they have no choice but to tumble downwards. However, it beats the alternative.
7. Someone feeling wronged is like someone feeling thirsty. Don’t tell them they aren’t. Sit with them and have a drink.
8. Don’t ask yourself if something is fair. Ask someone else—a stranger in the street, for example.
9. People gathering in the streets feeling wronged tend to be loud, as it is difficult to make oneself heard on the other side of an impressive edifice.
10. It is not always the job of people shouting outside impressive buildings to solve problems. It is often the job of the people inside, who have paper, pens, desks, and an impressive view.
11. Historically, a story about people inside impressive buildings ignoring or even taunting people standing outside shouting at them turns out to be a story with an unhappy ending.
12. If you have a large crowd shouting outside your building, there might not be room for a safety net if you’re the one tumbling down when it collapses.
13. 99 percent is a very large percentage. For instance, easily 99 percent of people want a roof over their heads, food on their tables, and the occasional slice of cake for dessert. Surely an arrangement can be made with that niggling 1 percent who disagree.
5 reasons why the Occupy Wall Street Protests are the real Boston Tea Party
1. The original Boston Tea Party was a civil disobedience action against a private corporation.
2. The original Boston Tea Party feared that corporate greed would destroy America.
3. The original Boston Tea Party believed government necessary to protect against corporate excess.
4. The original Boston Tea Party was sparked by a corporate tax cut for a British corporation.
5. The original Boston Tea Party wanted a stronger democracy.