Saturday, November 12, 2011

A critique of "Occupy Demands: Let’s Radicalize Our Analysis of Empire, Economics, Ecology" by Robert Jensen

"There’s one question that pundits and politicians keep posing to the Occupy gatherings around the country: What are your demands?
I have a suggestion for a response: We demand that you stop demanding a list of demands."

Wow, when you start out like this you know it's not going to get better. The Occupy movement is supposedly about two things, one, pointing out that the system is broken and two getting people to change it. Kudos on achieving the first. On the second this guy wants someone to change things without knowing what changes they want. I suppose they're just going to have to keep occupying until you guess right. It's like a bad wife telling you "If you don't know what you've done I'm not going to tell you" and expecting you to make her happy somehow. Oh god, I'm critiquing Lillian Reardon.

"The demand for demands is an attempt to shoehorn the Occupy gatherings into conventional politics, to force the energy of these gatherings into a form that people in power recognize, so that they can roll out strategies to divert, co-opt, buy off, or -- if those tactics fail -- squash any challenge to business as usual."

No the demand for demands is an attempt to subject the Occupy movement to rational critique. Now of course some of the people who are demanding that hope to portray the movement as a bunch of know-nothing hippies and losers. Some however genuinely want to determine what they want and consider if it actually has any sense, morality or practically. I am one of those. I gotta be honest with you, so far, not so much.

The strategy of not presenting demands is essentially the strategy of saying "There is nothing you can do to satisfy us.". How much effort will people go to giving you the things you want if this is your strategy? Why help those who will deny that whatever you do is help?

"Rather than listing demands, we critics of concentrated wealth and power in the United States can dig in and deepen our analysis of the systems that produce that unjust distribution of wealth and power. This is a time for action, but there also is a need for analysisun."

Great, analyse, I'm all for it. But considering that these people are in a protest movement not a university coffee shop the analysis better include a plan of action. Otherwise it's just a thesis that you won't get a grade for.

"Rallying around a common concern about economic injustice is a beginning; understanding the structures and institutions of illegitimate authority is the next step. "

If you don't understand these things how do you know there is economic injustice? Analyse first THEN tell people you're upset and why. Otherwise you're just a crying baby.

"We need to recognize that the crises we face are not the result simply of greedy corporate executives or corrupt politicians, but rather of failed systems. The problem is not the specific people who control most of the wealth of the country, or those in government who serve them, but the systems that create those roles. If we could get rid of the current gang of thieves and thugs but left the systems in place, we will find that the new boss is going to be the same as the old boss."

Absolutely right. The idea that replacing some personnel in a flawed system will solve the problem is very, very wrong. A new captain of a sinking ship is not a change either he or I can believe in.

"My contribution to this process of sharpening analysis comes in lists of three, with lots of alliteration. Whether you find my analysis of the key questions compelling, at least it will be easy to remember: empire, economics, ecology.
Empire: Immoral, Illegal, Ineffective"

I'm not going to comment much on the empire section as it's a fairly standard and fairly accurate account of US imperialism. If you're read one critique of US imperialism you've read them all. The only quibble I have is with the idea that the goal of US policy was to prevent independent development. Independent development that lead to greater production in the developing nation would have been a massive boon to the 1% who supposedly control things. And China is developing pretty independently, with the western capitalist class not influencing the Chinese government at all, if anything the reverse is true. A better explanation is standard public choice theory, government departments, including the military, do things because that's how you get a budget.

"Economics: Inhuman, Anti-Democratic, Unsustainable
The economic system underlying empire-building today has a name: capitalism. Or, more precisely, a predatory corporate capitalism that is inconsistent with basic human values."

And here he goes off the rails. Capitalism is a word used to describe a lot of different systems, from laissez-faire to mercantilism and even massively regulated fascism. He doesn't really distinguish between these forms.

"This description sounds odd in the United States, where so many assume that capitalism is not simply the best among competing economic systems but the only sane and rational way to organize an economy in the contemporary world. Although the financial crisis that began in 2008 has scared many people, it has not always led to questioning the nature of the system."

I'm not sure what he means but "has not always lead to questioning the nature of the system". Reading capitalist websites I've noticed a lot of questioning of the system, and on socialist websites too. Everyone from George Soros to the town drunk has been questioning the system.

"That means the first task is to define capitalism: that economic system in which (1) property, including capital assets, is owned and controlled by private persons; (2) most people must rent their labor power for money wages to survive, and (3) the prices of most goods and services are allocated by markets."

There is just so many questions begged here. How do you define if a capital asset is "controlled by private persons"? If there are literally thousands of rules about the asset you have to follow do you still "control" it? Even if one of those rules is "You must rent it to this person at this rate until we say you can rent it to someone else."? Because that's not much control, and arguably it isn't really ownership.

The idea that "most people must rent their labour power" is an untestable theory. Most people do but to what extent "must" they? If they decided instead to invest their savings in capital goods and start their own business would they survive? What does he mean by "most people must"? Is he saying that the majority of people are in the situation where they must rent their labour, or that even though each person who does so need not there must be at least a majority who do? Does he mean even if each one of the majority could individually quit and become an entrepreneur that less than 49% could do it at one time? What's his evidence for this? He has no experience in the entrepreneurial world so I can't see how he'd know.
As for the prices of most goods and services being allocated by the market, I don't believe that's true. With at least 40% of the money spent by government and regulations, tariffs, quota, subsidies and other forms of interference covering almost all the rest it's reasonable to believe that most prices are set at least in part by government action not the market. The most important price, the interest rate certainly is and that affects every other price out there. To really answer this question of what proportion of prices are allocated by the market would require a) a good definition of what we mean by "allocate prices" and "the market" and a probably a book length essay. Needless to say he has done nowhere near enough research to give us any of these.

" “Industrial capitalism,” made possible by sweeping technological changes and imperial concentrations of capital, was marked by the development of the factory system and greater labor specialization. The term “finance capitalism” is often used to mark a shift to a system in which the accumulation of profits in a financial system becomes dominant over the production processes."

Not exactly sure what he means by "accumulation of profits... dominant over the production process", without the "production process" the banks don't have anybody to lend to or get deposits from. The insurance and finance sector is about 8% of GDP, arguably too large but not exactly "dominant" over the manufacturing sector which is 11% of GDP. I don't think there has ever been a large modern economy with a finance sector bigger than the manufacturing sector, so when has "finance capitalism" happened? Of course there are small countries that were banking hubs for larger collections of countries, but since the whole reason they are is because the economies of said countries were interconnected and arguably one economy that isn't finance capitalism either. The finance sector in the USA is less about 1/5th the size of the government sector so what is "dominant"?

This is symptomatic of the problem of many intellectuals when talking about economics. They don't know basic facts about the economy, but they know what their fellow intellectuals have said, and believe them, without checking if they knew their facts.

"Today in the United States, most people understand capitalism in the context of mass consumption -- access to unprecedented levels of goods and services. In such a world, everything and everyone is a commodity in the market."

Everything is a commodity in the market? How much bride price did this guy pay? Where did he hire his friends? And the Social Security payments he's hoping to get, were they provided in the market or by government? Why is it people on the left can say things that everyday experience shows are false and be praised for it?

"In the dominant ideology of market fundamentalism,"

Ok, I know it's generally not cool to cut someone in the middle of a sentence but I gotta pull this guy up here. I happen to be a market fundamentalist and lemme tell ya, we're not exactly "dominant" (he keeps using that word). Let's run down a few of the things that "market fundamentalists" believe would be good and compare them to both what actually happens and what most people of influence like. Bear in mind this is in the USA where "market fundamentalism" is said to be at it's strongest. I think we can all agree in Europe it's much weaker. I've had some formatting problems so just scroll down.

What market fundamentalist likeWhat actually happensWhat influential people say is good.
No central bank.Central bank.Central bank with even more power.
Spectrum allocated by "homesteading", no government involvement except to confirm homesteading rights in court.Spectrum allocated by government agency, with rules on what can be broadcast, in what format at what time.Spectrum allocated by government agency, with rules on what can be broadcast, in what format at what time.
Ron Paul for President.Barack ObamaRick Perry, seriously.
Farming not subsidised or regulated beyond "no force or fraud".Farming heavily subsidised, with amazingly intrusive regulations where you have to pour bleach on your food if it's not up to code (even if it's perfectly safe)./td>
What actually happens but more so.
Education all private and paid for by parents. Government does not set or influence teaching methods, teacher selection, curriculum or other major elements.Pretty much everything in education set or influenced by
government. Few parents pay for primary or secondary education, considerable government finances at tertiary level.
What actually happens but more so.
Healthcare and health insurance not regulated beyond "no force or fraud", no government payment of health costs other than of it's employees as part of a compensation package. People can buy or not buy health insurance if they like.
Massive amounts of regulation of both healthcare and health insurance, with 1/3 of the money spent by government and mandatory purchase of health insurance for many people.Some resistance to Obamacare but other than that the ruling class are happy with the status quo.
If banks go broke they go broke, don't come crying to us about it. If banks go broke the government pays them hundreds of billions of dollars to keep working.If anything they'd like to hand over even more of our money.
Anyone can be hired or fired for any reason, after all it's his money and if he doens't want want to spend it on you, tough.Thousands of words of regulations on why and how you can hire or fire someone.
Maybe some influential people want the government to have less say in this but not much less.
Few regulations.Thousands of regulations and a considerable increase in their number during both the Bush and Obama presidencies.Again some might argue for a few less regulations, but by and large they're all in favour of having thousands, some just don't want to crack 5 figures, yet.
No subsidies for "alterantive energy" whether solar, nuclear or whatever.Billions of dollars of subsidies for almost every form of energy known to man, including ethanol, the biggest agricultural boondoggle since "price stability".If anything even more of this rubbish than we presently have.
Roads 90%+ privately owned.Roads 90%+ publicly owned.Roads 90%+ publicly owned.

So much for our "dominance".

"it’s assumed that the most extensive use of markets possible, along with privatization of many publicly owned assets and the shrinking of public services, will unleash maximal competition and result in the greatest good -- and all this is inherently just, no matter what the results. If such a system creates a world in which most people live in poverty, that is taken not as evidence of a problem with market fundamentalism but evidence that fundamentalist principles have not been imposed with sufficient vigor; it is an article of faith that the “invisible hand” of the market always provides the preferred result, no matter how awful the consequences may be for real people."

The fact that "market fundamentalists" can point to specific harms to the poor and others because our "principles have not been imposed with sufficient vigor" doesn't rate a mention.

"How to critique capitalism in such a society? We can start by pointing out that capitalism is fundamentally inhuman, anti-democratic, and unsustainable."

Well you could start by pointing out it's mostly absent.

"Inhuman: The theory behind contemporary capitalism explains that because we are greedy, self-interested animals, a viable economic system must reward greedy, self-interested behavior."

Well no, because we are "self-interested animals" we must reward behavior that's actually good for other people. Self-interested behaviour will naturally reward itself because hey, that's the point. Of course much behaviour that is described in this paradigm as "self-interested" doesn't appear to be at first glance. For instance feeding one's children is "self-interested" because you want them to live. So is contributing to a club you want to continue operating, even if you don't have to. The trick is to arrange things so that by serving one's own interest one's serves the interest of others. It's hard to believe anyone is so ignorant of what capitalist proponents propose that they haven't heard this.

"That’s certainly part of human nature, but we also just as obviously are capable of compassion and selflessness. We can act competitively and aggressively, but we also have the capacity to act out of solidarity and cooperation. In short, human nature is wide-ranging. In situations where compassion and solidarity are the norm, we tend to act that way. In situations where competitiveness and aggression are rewarded, most people tend toward such behavior."

Nobody ever denied that people can be compassionate, or "selfless" whatever that means. What is suggested is that relying on compassion to get your bread baked isn't a good idea for most people. what are these situations where "compassion and solidarity are the norm"? How is it possible to make them more common? He doesn't say, he just assumes that capitalism reduces them. However since capitalism has flourished so has the desire to help the poor. Slavery was ended in large part due to the efforts of people in capitalist countries who had not a single friend or relative enslaved. The modern period has seen more non-kin altruistic behaviour than any other period in history both absolutely and as a percentage of production. Is this due to capitalism or in spite of it? He gives no indication he even knows the question could be asked.

He doesn't tell us how "competitiveness and agression" are rewarded and he doesn't seem to want to distinguish between these two very different types of behaviour. Aggresion isn't necessarily competitive and competitiveness isn't necessarily aggressive. Every day this guy uses products that are as cheap and as good as they are because the producers are competing for his business. Yet he presents "competitiveness" as a bad thing.

"Why is it that we must accept an economic system that undermines the most decent aspects of our nature and strengthens the cruelest?"

As pointed out he hasn't shown that we do. In fact arguably we accept a system that does the opposite.

"Because, we’re told, that’s just the way people are. What evidence is there of that? Look around, we’re told, at how people behave. Everywhere we look, we see greed and the pursuit of self-interest."

Well considering the massive amount of philantropy in the US I guess that depends on where you look.

"So the proof that these greedy, self-interested aspects of our nature are dominant is that, when forced into a system that rewards greed and self-interested behavior, people often act that way."

Again the claim that capitalism rewards greed and self-interested behaviour is made, with no evidence whatsover. It rewards them compared to what? Would reward gree and self-interested behaviour more or less? How about totalitarianism?

"Anti-democratic: In the real world -- not in the textbooks or fantasies of economics professors -- capitalism has always been, and will always be, a wealth-concentrating system."

In the real world he cites not a single study, statistic, theory or even anecdote to support this view. The fact that textbooks of a subject say something would, for most people, suggest that there is at least some evidence that suggests it's true. This would tend to indicate to a real intellectual that he must present some evidence that it's not. Mr Jensen doesn't bother.

"If you concentrate wealth in a society, you concentrate power. I know of no historical example to the contrary.

For all the trappings of formal democracy in the contemporary United States, everyone understands that for the most part, the wealthy dictate the basic outlines of the public policies that are put into practice by elected officials. This is cogently explained by political scientist Thomas Ferguson’s “investment theory of political parties,” which identifies powerful investors rather than unorganized voters as the dominant force in campaigns and elections. Ferguson describes political parties in the United States as “blocs of major investors who coalesce to advance candidates representing their interests” and that “political parties dominated by large investors try to assemble the votes they need by making very limited appeals to particular segments of the potential electorate.” There can be competition between these blocs, but “on all issues affecting the vital interests that major investors have in common, no party competition will take place.” Whatever we might call such a system, it’s not democracy in any meaningful sense of the term."
Great so under what system would the major investors have the most power? Well under free market capitalism they would have virtually none, because by definition the governemnt doesn't do a lot so it can't do a lot to benefit major investors. Mr Jensen is so utterly ignorant of economics and politics that he has no idea that this is true.

"People can and do resist the system’s attempt to sideline them, and an occasional politician joins the fight, but such resistance takes extraordinary effort. Those who resist sometimes win victories, some of them inspiring, but to date concentrated wealth continues to dominate."

Ok, but WHAT does it dominate and to what end? Primarily it dominates (he really likes that word) governemnt interference in the market, the opposite of "market fundamentalism". So the best solution is to remove the government interference so that the motive for interference by concentrated wealth is removed.

"If we define democracy as a system that gives ordinary people a meaningful way to participate in the formation of public policy, rather than just a role in ratifying decisions made by the powerful, then it’s clear that capitalism and democracy are mutually exclusive."

Ok let's assume that's true, what would you rather have a "meaningful way to participate" in controlling someone else's life or control of your own? Because you can't have both. Either you get to help boss someone else around or you get to not be bossed around. Democracy is simply people thinking that because there is a lot of them they're right, the argumentum ad populem fallacy as policy.

"Unsustainable: Capitalism is a system based on an assumption of continuing, unlimited growth -- on a finite planet."

Actually it's not. There is no need for continuing, unlimited, positive or even non-negative growth to justify capitalism. If one was in a situation where for some reason economic growth was inevitably going to be less than zero e.g. on a spaceship with resources that depleted over time and with too few people to make technical advances big enough to compensate for that, capitalism would still be the most efficient and the best system. Capitalism has often been sold as though it's main advantage was economic growth, but the sales pitch isn't necessarily an indication of the best qualities of something, only it's most marketable ones.

"There are only two ways out of this problem. We can hold out hope that we might hop to a new planet soon, or we can embrace technological fundamentalism and believe that evermore complex technologies will allow us to transcend those physical limits here."

He likes this word "fundmentalism" too. Evermore complex technologies have already allowed us to transcend the physical limits here. That's why the US has as much forest now as it did 100 years ago, despite having an economy that with 1911 technologies would need several times more wood. That's why whale oil isn't in short supply any more, even though whales are.

"Both those positions are equally delusional."

Now what do you think is the most arrogant thing you can do when commenting on a political, scientific or economic issue? I would say that calling people delusional without presenting a single shred of evidence that they're wrong is pretty high up there.

"Critics now compare capitalism to cancer."

Which critics? Are they experts in either cancer or capitalism? Have they made useful predictions that would indicate their theories of capitalism are empirical?

"The inhuman and antidemocratic features of capitalism mean that, like a cancer, the death system will eventually destroy the living host."

The "inhuman" features of capitalism if you'll recall consisted of it allegedly being based on theories of human behaviour he didn't like. Nothing else, just a contradiciton between what he would like to be true and what capitalism allegedly holds to be true. This doesn't exactly prove that ie will destroy anything let alone everything. As for the anti-democratic features, non-democratic societies persisted for thousands of years so clearly being anti-democratic isn't a death sentence.

"Both the human communities and non-human living world that play host to capitalism eventually will be destroyed by capitalism."

Again this is based soley on the belief that it's based on certain theories of human behaviour, is allegedly anti-democratic, and allegedly assume continaully growth none of which he shows is true and capable of destroying the earth.

"Capitalism is not, of course, the only unsustainable system that humans have devised, but it is the most obviously unsustainable system,"

Again he presented no evidence that it was unsustainable, only his belief that it
assumes continual growth (it doesn't), that such growth is impossible (it doesn't appear to be)

"and it’s the one in which we are stuck. It’s the one that we are told is inevitable and natural, like the air we breathe. But the air that we are breathing is choking the most vulnerable in the world, choking us, choking the planet."

The most vulnerable in the world appear to mostly live in very uncapitalist places.

"Ecology: Out of Gas, Derailed, Over the Waterfall
In addition to inequality within the human family, we face even greater threats in the human assault on the living world that come with industrial society. High-energy/high-technology societies pose a serious threat to the ability of the ecosphere to sustain human life as we know it. Grasping that reality is a challenge, and coping with the implications is an even greater challenge."

But the greatest challenge is finding a single fact that backs up this theory in his essay.

"We likely have a chance to stave off the most catastrophic consequences if we act dramatically and quickly. If we continue to drag our feet, it’s “game over.”
While public awareness of the depth of the ecological crisis is growing, our knowledge of the basics of the problem is hardly new. Here is a “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” issued by 1,700 of the planet’s leading scientists: "
And how many of these scientists have studied the relationship between population and poverty? Because they made a big thing about how there's so many poor people and how we need to stabilise population, even though the greatest reductions in poverty happened during the industrial revolution when populations were exploding in the places were poverty was imploded.

“Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about.”

That statement was issued in 1992, and since then we have fallen further behind in the struggle for sustainability. Look at any crucial measure of the health of the ecosphere in which we live -- groundwater depletion, topsoil loss, chemical contamination, increased toxicity in our own bodies, the number and size of “dead zones” in the oceans, accelerating extinction of species and reduction of bio-diversity -- and the news is bad. "

So even the argument from authority he used is 19 years old. He claims that every measure shows us worse off, but he doesn't quote one. Nor does he compare the deterioration in capitalist and non-capitalist countries. So basically he's claiming there's a problem, that capitalism caused it and that less capitalism would solve it, without even a scintilla of evidence that this is true.

"Remember also that we live in an oil-based world that is fast running out of easily accessible oil,"

Yeah, remember that, because he's not about to remind you by posting any actual evidence to that effect.

"which means we face a huge reconfiguration of the infrastructure that undergirds our lives. And, of course, there is the undeniable trajectory of climate disruption."

Let's agree to disagree on whether it's undeniable or even undesirable.

"Add all that up, and ask a simple question: Where we are heading? Pick a metaphor. Are we a car running out of gas? A train about to derail? A raft going over the waterfall? Whatever the choice, it’s not a pretty picture. It’s crucial we realize that there are no technological fixes that will rescue us."

And by "realise" he means "assume" because again, he presents no evidence of this.

"We have to acknowledge that human attempts to dominate the non-human world have failed."

Yeah I'm betting this guy is vaccinated, so clearly he believes some attempts to dominate (again that word) the non-human world worked out pretty well.

"Facing a Harsh Future with a Stubborn Hope
The people who run this world are eager to contain the Occupy energy not because they believe the critics of concentrated wealth and power are wrong, but because somewhere deep down in their souls (or what is left of a soul), the powerful know we are right."

About what? Criticism of concentrated wealth and power or criticism of capitalism? These are not the same thing. Or does he mean criticism of the current system which is not capitalism as understood by "market fundamentalists".

"People in power are insulated by wealth and privilege, but they can see the systems falling apart. The United States’ military power can no longer guarantee world domination. The financial corporations can no longer pretend to provide order in the economy."

Actually the regulators pretended to do that. They were quite convincing, as long as you didn't enquiry too much.

"The industrial system is incompatible with life."

And the unsupported assertions just keep on coming.

"We face new threats today, but we are not the first humans to live in dangerous times. In 1957 the Nobel writer Albert Camus described the world in ways that resonate:

“Tomorrow the world may burst into fragments. In that threat hanging over our heads there is a lesson of truth. As we face such a future, hierarchies, titles, honors are reduced to what they are in reality: a passing puff of smoke. And the only certainty left to us is that of naked suffering, common to all, intermingling its roots with those of a stubborn hope.”

The question of how to get rid of hierarchies is a vexed and important one. What does he suggest?Well nothing really, except the implication that democracy is good, which in any large society will lead to hierarchy. Note that the fear Camus had was of nuclear weapons, a problem entirely created by government.

"A stubborn hope is more necessary than ever. As political, economic, and ecological systems spiral down, it’s likely we will see levels of human suffering that dwarf even the horrors of the 20th century."

Again, no evidence for this likelihood is presented.

"Even more challenging is the harsh realization that we don’t have at hand simple solutions -- and maybe no solutions at all -- to some of the most vexing problems. We may be past the point of no return in ecological damage, and the question is not how to prevent crises but how to mitigate the worst effects. No one can predict the rate of collapse if we stay on this trajectory, and we don’t know if we can change the trajectory in time.

There is much we don’t know, but everything I see suggests that the world in which we will pursue political goals will change dramatically in the next decade or two, almost certainly for the worse. Organizing has to adapt not only to changes in societies but to these fundamental changes in the ecosphere. In short: We are organizing in a period of contraction, not expansion."

Of course there is no actual guidance for how that affects organiation or even if it does.

"We have to acknowledge that human attempts to dominate the non-human world have failed. We are destroying the planet and in the process destroying ourselves. Here, just as in human relationships, we either abandon the dominance/subordination dynamic or we don’t survive.

In 1948, Camus urged people to “give up empty quarrels” and “pay attention to what unites rather that to what separates us” in the struggle to recover from the horrors of Europe’s barbarism. I take from Camus a sense of how to live the tension between facing honestly the horror and yet remaining engaged. In that same talk, he spoke of “the forces of terror” (forces which exist on “our” side as much as on “theirs”) and the “forces of dialogue” (which also exist everywhere in the world). Where do we place our hopes?

“Between the forces of terror and the forces of dialogue, a great unequal battle has begun,” he wrote. “I have nothing but reasonable illusions as to the outcome of that battle. But I believe it must be fought.”

The Occupy gatherings do not yet constitute a coherent movement with demands, but they are wellsprings of reasonable illusions."

Well if they're illusions how are they reasonable?

" Rejecting the political babble around us in election campaigns and on mass media, these gatherings are an experiment in a different kind of public dialogue about our common life, one that can reject the forces of terror deployed by concentrated wealth and power."

Ignoring something is not the same as rejecting it. If you seriously think that the answer is to protest without even the pretence of being mollifiable then you're just ignoring the forces of terror and indeed reality. Of course one has to ask, is Jensen even prepared to reject the forces of terror? Well his solution appears to depend on men with guns making other people do what he wants (or what "we" want since he's so democratic.

"With that understanding, the central task is to keep the experiment going, to remember the latent power in people who do not accept the legitimacy of a system."

Right, so the idea is not to actually achieve political goals but to continue trying to achieve them. That's the "central task", not oh I don't know, helping the poor, educating the people, giving the people revenge justice for the crimes of banksters. No it's just keeping the momentum, without reason or motive. You might think I'm misinterpreting him here and maybe I am, but I suspect not. I suspect he and a large number of intellectuals benefit both materially and non-materially from this sort of thing continuing. Materially this sort of protest sparks more interest in political events and perspectives lifting book sales (he has written several). Non-materially as long as OWS continues the dream of intellectuals challenging and changing the status quo continues and they can think themselves movers and shakers and not discredited time-serving wretches who long ago gave up their idealism for tenure and a book deal. Fundamentally this article wasn't an intellectual piece it was a religious one. A prayer to secular gods which no more required evidence than Sunday mass does.