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Three good backgrounders on the the origins of the Occupations

Justin Elliot; David Graeber; Andy Kroll.

I'm really just laying down a marker with this post, since informed readers know Corrente was early on both reporting and analysis, including and especially MsExPat, because when you think about it, spring came early to Bangkok....

Anyhow, all of these posts, from overground left publications, are interesting and well-written. I'm meditating one of those theory of everything posts, but RL is very, very pressing!

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Submitted by MsExPat on

Especially towards the middle and end of the essay, when he talks about the composition of the core OWS protesters. Graeber is, after all, trained as an anthropologist, and he catches the social markers of these students:

The popular base of the Tea Party was always middle aged suburban white Republicans, most of middling economic means, anti-intellectual, terrified of social change—above all, for fear that what they saw as their one remaining buffer of privilege (basically, their whiteness) might finally be stripped away. OWS, by contrast, is at core forwards-looking youth movement, just a group of forward-looking people who have been stopped dead in their tracks; of mixed class backgrounds but with a significant element of working class origins; their one strongest common feature being a remarkably high level of education. It’s no coincidence that the epicenter of the Wall Street Occupation, and so many others, is an impromptu library: a library being not only a model of an alternative economy, where lending is from a communal pool, at 0% interest, and the currency being leant is knowledge, and the means to understanding.

I noticed it right away the first time I went to OWS. The college sweatshirts read "Rutgers", not Princeton, "Colby" not Harvard. These are the very, very bright kids who for various reasons having nothing to do with their talent or intelligence--economics, temperament, personality--did not get into the Ivy League/financial industry training program for future elites.

I say "notice" but in fact I felt this, and felt it deeply. If I were their age today, I would fit in their ranks. My parents were white collar, college graduates, just barely--we were only one generation away from coal mining and poverty. But 30 years ago, when I went to university, it was possible to go to the very best schools AND come out of it with little or no debt, even as a scholarship student which I was. It was also possible to make your way to a big city (New York, still affordable on a student budget then), and just hang out while trying on different hats, different careers. I was a round peg in a world of square holes then as now, but back then you could spend some years searching for a place to fit.

The 20 somethings of OWS, by contrast, have had to push themselves into square holes since they were in grade school. There's no time, and no money and no breathing room for today's bright, talented, maybe artistic and creative kids from the sucked-dry middle and working classes. They have to swallow down who they are and grab jobs wherever, even if those jobs are stupid, immoral, soul destroying. I feel for them so. But for a couple of decades, I would be one of them.

The incredible explosion of organizing, building, art, ideas at OWS is no accident--what's happening here is that suddenly, unexpectedly, all these frustrated young flowers have space to bloom. I go there and walk around, and always at one point the realization hits me like a hammer: this is what will save us. If only we can figure out how to release this talent, this energy, not just within Zuccotti Park, but everywhere in America--and the world.

Submitted by lambert on

I was the guest of an exceptional class up here at the University. Exceptional not because they agreed with me, but for critical thinking, use of sources, and many of them working two jobs and coming from horrific rural poverty.