December 15 2011
How is Occupy Wall Street like a Rorschach test?
You can pretty much tell where someone stands on most political issues, matters of personal responsibility, and view of the free market by where they stand on Occupy Wall Street.
Some liberals are getting the memo that the movement has the potential to really, really embarrass them (see "How Politically Toxic Is OWS?"). But the affinity is there, and most liberals can’t help themselves. They love Occupy.
New York University will even be offering two for-credit courses on Occupy next year (hmmm—do I sign up for the Occupy class or is Marxist gender stereotyping, at the same time, a better bet?).
At a time when Occupy is receiving less ink and even liberal mayors of occupied towns are summoning the courage to breakup Occupy’s filthy compounds, this rational is offered for the course:
"The Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are catching on across the United states, linking to popular discontent with economic inequality and financial greed and malfeasance around the globe," says a flyer for the course distributed by its professor, Lisa Duggan. "This course is designed to provide a background for these momentous events."
Wow! It would really be neat to rack up some college loan debt to take the Occupy course!
Noemie Emery has a delicious piece in the Weekly Standard on the attraction people who, as Noemie Emery notes, would regard an overdue library book, as a major infraction, to Occupy. First point to be noted is that Occupy, by its nature, can draw only from the dysfunctional element of society:
What kind of people move into a tent for an indefinite period? Those without strong connections to professions or to other people, without obligations, routines, and responsibilities; without children or clients or jobs. This self-selects against the 90 percent of the population that is productive and grounded, that supports itself and works hard, not to mention the part of the population that votes.
While the rest of us see misfits and brats, the liberal elite sees the glorious dawn of a new day. Emery quotes some examples of liberals going giddy for Occupy: “God, I love ‘em,” Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post wrote. Brookings scholar and Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne is also a fan. Phillip Kennicott of the Washington Post said OWS is similar to the Situationists, “a radical European avant-garde collective begun in the late 1950s with ideas that remain influential today.” Just for the record, I have never heard of them. Blessedly.
Emery suggests that the affinity between well-paid columnists and liberal think grandees and Occupy derelicts stems in part from Occupy’s rejection of everyday values, including the obligation to support oneself.
She seems to say that some of the natural attraction stems from Occupy’s having no grasp whatsoever of the concept of market forces. Furthermore, the OWS crowd seems to “demand the right to do what one wants and be recompensed for it, whether a demand for one’s product exists or not.”
It seems to me that the affinity stems from a mutual rejection of the norms of society, one group returning their library books on time but sympathetic in theory, the other lacking normal roots in these norms.
On the bright side, in their inescapable, uncontrollable enthusiasm for Occupy, the liberal elite shows itself, as F. Scott Fitzgerald once said of the rich, “different from you and me”--you and me being people who believe in self-reliance, the market, and cleanliness.