OWS Personal Prelude

I haven't gone yet. I will. I had started a post (a nice long one for a change) about my concerns. But, really, can anything I write have any significance without first-hand experience? I don't believe so. I do just want to throw this one thought out though, based on my experience with this site.

While there are certainly a lot of truly tragic stories, many of these people seem to be angry that they no longer have the opportunity to become cogs in a machine that has always treated and will continue to treat people as they are now being treated. Do they resent the existence of an island of suffering, or are they mad they were denied entry to the last boat leaving it?


Jack Crow said...

What a brilliant closing question.

:-p said...

Thanks for the comment. I want to say so much more but for two problems:

1. I am more worried about the way in which my judgments might keep me from participating, not only now, but in perpetuity, than I am about whether they are correct.

2. I am quite aware of the hypocrisy that would stem from taking on the role of the dismissive Leftist complaining about the seeming lack of ideological purity on the part of the US protesters after having attacked that tendency in others in relation to recent events in the UK. To be fair to myself, though, my concern over the events in the US has to do with the ambiguity of my closing question, an ambiguity much less present in the UK due to differences in class and tactics.

fish said...

If you think Maslow is on to something with his "hierarchy of needs" (and I do), the pressing immediate needs of the people on We are the 99% give little room for dealing with the higher order questions of how do we fix it over the long term. They need security first. These are frankly luxury questions that can only be addressed when the panic subsides.
It will be interesting to see how many with currently steady incomes will join in with OWS.

Devin Lenda said...

Great question indeed, but I tend to think that the only thing that matters in the proverbial final analysis is: will it make the future less painful/more enjoyable, particularly for the humans, but if you wish, for all living things? Some actions set things in motion that lead to net pain, others to net pleasure. What people are thinking at the time they're acting is fascinating, and I've had no luck myself figuring out what to do with this question of responsibility, but once now has become past, it doesn't seem all that important. If OWS actions lead to better lives for future humans, they'll have done well objectively, even if not necessarily subjectively.

:-p said...

Thank you for your thoughts.

I totally understand where you both are coming from and I guess my question seems a little abstract when faced with the very real lack of food, work and housing that so many people tragically face.

But motivations matter don't they? I'd like to think that the larger issues can be addressed once everyone is secure in their basic needs but I don't think that that will happen unless people develop the kind of solidarity that could survive the restoration of their own lives.

If we restore the consensus of, say, 1998, of a debt-laden and compliant middle class willing to sell out the poor in order to not be among them, yeah, on paper things will be better, but we would just be kicking the can down the road.

The only thing that angers me more than needless suffering is people coming out of it with their selfishness intact. But that's just me, I guess.

Devin Lenda said...

I framed my point pretty poorly. It's more of a counterweight to your argument than a criticism, meaning that if one takes this detached utilitarian view I'm offering, the picture appears a bit differently, but with the truth of what you said included alongside what I said.

So yeah, motivations definitely matter but since they're not identical to actions, or material reality, i.e., the material has a life of its own apart from intended human inputs, and since I consider the material, specifically as it relates to real pain and pleasure, to be the real ball one should keep one's eye on, motivations seem to be sort of secondary, mostly a means to an end.

At the same time, I share your anger at those who refuse to challenge a system while it benefits them while hurting others and your concern about what might come from such motivations. Better motivations lead to better results, for sure.

Thanks for making me think about this.

DPirate said...

Most people just want to live their lives as comfortably as they can. If you have a problem with that, then you'd best just ignore it; it's not going to change. I don't see any great existential crisis over this. If you go insisting on the purest of the pure, you'll end up all alone.

:-p said...

Thanks again for the comments. It's exciting/surprising to see new people making their thoughts known here.

DL - The utilitarian view is valuable to me and thanks for developing it further. I don't revel in social dysfunction just because it may prove me right and it's been so long since an opportunity to make things better on a large scale has presented itself that I have found myself a bit unprepared for it. I'm looking forward to sitting down and shutting up for a while and listening to people directly instead of, well, this.

DP - I know.
Two thoughts, though: I want radical change because I am sick of the way that capitalism sets people in competition with each other whether they like it or not and I feel like there has to be a way to reconfigure society so that people CAN just go live their lives without inadvertently fucking someone else over. And when I say competition, I don't mean sports. I'm talking more about structural issues like the need for a reserve army of unemployed labor and wage depression that results.

Alternately, I think the view that political and social participation is somehow separate from one's own life is not intrinsic to the human condition. A better society might resolve this contradiction without resorting to some sort of fascism.

Yeah a bit idealistic but, you know, fuck it. I am one of those people who is just always disappointed. Better for these reasons than most others I figure.

DPirate said...

We all want radical change, though it remains that what's radical for many people would simply be getting a job with a future, and they will be perfectly happy to continue to bomb muslims once that's secured for them. That really sucks, but there's little time left for re-education and they wouldn't take to it anyhow.

"I think the view that..."

I agree. If someone holds that view, they are mistaken. That goes all the way down the line, though, to include preaching politics from the pulpit.

Idealistic? Hell, yes! amd all the better for it. Just try not to be too hard on people.

:-p said...

Ok. I'll try. I know how stupid it is to declaim others as arrivistes to hell.