Occupy Wall Street - Position-blindness in the new leftist revolution
The following I write as an Eastern European sociologist and activist, departing from the basic question of how local movements that I know could connect with the OWS. By this time it is evident that with OWS, for the first time since a long time, leftist anti-system critique met a First World audience that feels the iron hand of power on its own skin, and that through mobilizing some of that audience, it made an indelible mark on present-day discussions on the social order. It is no doubt that in the present moment of crisis, the Occupy movement’s demands for equality and justice might bear a significant potential. Immanuel Wallerstein (2011) speaks directly of an ongoing transformation in world economy, where a global social movement might inform whether the present crisis in the dominant capitalism-cum-democracy model would slide in the direction of a non-democratic and unequal system, or in that of a more democratic and equal social order.
Keeping in sight the controversial lessons of the globalization-critical movement in Eastern Europe, I will point out a few characteristics in the OWS’s present structure that, in my view, obstruct such connection processes, and work as limitations to OWS as a global model. By that, I do not blame OWS activists for not representing the whole globe, but intend to add a semi-peripherical voice to the debate on global equality.
OWS: a post-68 hegemony
The OWS, speaking for the 99% percent damaged by the unjust logic of capitalism, managed to mobilize a general support that transcends the ranks of its actual organizers. Still, movement-friendly and outsider polls unanimously show that the organizers of OWS do not represent the 99% of the population (Cordero-Guzman 2011, Shoen 2011). They represent a highly educated and politically active social group. It is them who define the problems of the 99%, and decide how to formulate those problems – in this...