Occupy Philosophy

A new blog, Occupy Philosophy, describes itself thusly:

Occupy Philosophy is meant for serious (and if necessary, technical) discussion addressing the moral and political questions that have risen in light of the rotten situation we’re in. Philosophers are uniquely suited to this work. We created this website because we’ve been inspired and at times perplexed by the 99% Movement—and because we’ve been appalled by efforts to exculpate the criminal, immoral behavior of the recidivist 1%.

Brian Leiter writes about occupying the plutocracy:

We are now in the fourth year of the worst economic catastrophe in the capitalist world since the Great Depression, and the “Occupy” movement is a visceral expression of the human suffering this catastrophe has wrought. As a student of philosophy, of law, and of history, it seems to me there are a few points that might be worth emphasizing.

First: at historical moments pregnant with the potential for significant social and economic change, the choice of language sometimes matters. Just as “we are the 99%” has been a powerfully galvanizing slogan to reflect the current state of American society, so, too, we should dispense with one of the central legitimizing illusions of contemporary life in America, namely, that this country is still a “democracy.” Whatever the defects of democratic processes in the decades after World War II—including the vicious exclusion of non-whites from the ballot–over the past generation the United States has become a quite brazen plutocracy, a country where the rich rule, and dictate the terms on which the rest of us live. The United States is the most powerful “plutocracy” in the world. It is no longer a democracy.

Plutocracies have been the norm, in one form or another, throughout the history of the world, even in many apparently “democratic” societies. Those with money and power, unsurprisingly, prefer not to have the majority interfere with their privileges. To be sure, plutocracies, like ours, have the façade of elections, in which the wealthiest candidates are allowed to compete (almost all our elected officials at the national level are millionaires!), half the population quite reasonably declines to participate, and the media controlled by the rich—the “well-intentioned” rich like those who run the New York Times and the sociopathic rich that control the Wall Street Journal and Fox News—either heap abuse upon or simply ignore any candidate who deviates from the party line. Although most of the U.S. population (like most of the population in every society) supports health care for all, higher taxes on the plutocrats, and an end to wars of aggression in which the plutocrats’ children never fight, their concerns do not count. The only thing that counts is what is “good for business,” that is, good for the plutocrats.

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