Is Occupy Wall Street "Doing It Rong"?

Crommunist argues no, challenging the historical validity of oft-heard memes how successful protest movements are “supposed to” work:

“The Occupy people don’t have a plan! All successful protest movements have clear goals and plans that are defined before the protest starts!”

I suppose the second statement there is pure implication from the first. The truth, however, is something quite different. The important thing to remember about the civil rights movement is that it started as something quite diffuse, as a reaction to several problems that all overlapped. Certainly voting rights and housing were part of the civil rights struggle, but they were not established as “the goals” at any point.

While the establishment of the Fair Housing Act and the Civil Rights Act were significant milestones, nobody at the beginning of the movement was pushing for federal legislation. It would be far more accurate to state that they were fighting a number of small battles over individual injustices that were linked by a common theme of anti-black racism. It’s hard to imagine that Rosa Parks was pulled from a bus shouting recriminations of the Southern Democrats and white flight from the suburbs of Detroit.

Similarly, the Occupy movement objects to the general state of affairs, and is using its platform to fight individual battles rather than laying out precisely what will make them happy. It is also worth noting that the civil rights movement never really ended. It’s not as though when the ink dried on the Voting Rights Act that Dr. King dusted his hands and said “Good! Dream achieved! Let’s go get funnel cake!” Revolution is a long process, and to imagine that a movement like Occupy will, after only 2 months, have an “end goal” is a ridiculous expectation.

“They should just occupy a voting booth! After all, there’s nothing wrong with the current state of the democratic system!”

I don’t know what kind of person looks at a group protesting corruption in government and says “this problem can be solved by voting”. I hope that kind of person doesn’t practice medicine, or they’re likely to look at a gangrenous wound and prescribe a band-aid and some strong peroxide. The political system is the problem – candidates on both sides of the aisle are beholden to large money donations, and spend more time campaigning than legislating. As a result, we see debates over issues that are volatile but not relevant to the long-term health of the country, since neither side can afford to rock the boat too hard.

Read More.

And while you’re there read about the frustration he feels when religious believers offer to “agree to disagree” with him. I thought I was the only one who was irked by this phrase. He articulates my own thoughts on the phrase as I never had.

He’s on a roll today.

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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