Why the Incoherence of Occupy Wall Street Doesn’t Bother Me
The most common criticism of the Occupy Wall Street movement and, in some ways, a primary condition for its eventual demise, was the criticism that it could not, at any given moment, provide a clear, well-reasoned articulation of what precisely it proposed was out of order within the current socio-political system and how it was that the government should fix it. This criticism, took the form of countless headlines like “Can OWS Make Sense of Itself?” “OWS Critics Have Their Say” “Many Claim OWS Lacks Focus” and “OWS Struggles to Make Specific Demands.” This, I argue, is evasive and nonsensical:
Asking a mob for coherence is like asking an elephant to play violin: it is neither possible nor desirable and entirely misses the point. A mob, by it’s very nature and for the very purpose it serves, is a blunt object and, as such, is capable of forcing change in a way that academic discourse, legislation and democratic process cannot. But because the tool is blunt, so must be the force that moves it. A mob requires some sort of raison d’être, but this need be only as refined as the mob itself. For instance, felt states such as poverty, oppression, war or even dissatisfaction not only can but MUST be the only sufficient justification for a mob to assemble. In this way, the mob is both a valid and necessary democratic force, exactly as it is, in all of its emotional and inarticulate incoherence.
Thus, those who oppose Occupy Wall Street on the grounds that it is being, in essence, a mob, which it is, are being suspiciously nitpicky if not vaguely vain (particularly, when these opponents are, as they commonly were, those who go to great efforts to look and act like “free-thinking” liberal intellectuals, VICE MAGAZINE…), since one must either object to the mob’s basic grievance (e.g. “unemployment”), which most did not, or to “mobs” in general, which is strange and distinctly undemocratic.