Awash in the chanting and cajoling of the Occupy Wall Street protestors can be seen a cultural hedonism interspersed with a utter lack of the true workings of the world with regards to economics, politics, and the nature of civil society. I do not discount many of the protestors earnest desires to grasp the reality of the world, but as someone who is a recent college graduate and has had difficulty in the job market, I have no sympathy for those who wish to spend all their time sitting upon the ground wallowing in a nihilistic stew of pity and self-doubt. Instead of actively looking for work they would rather gather in impromptu drum circles, chanting groups, or random assortments of humanity that are just there to be there.
Times are tough, I understand that simple truth more than most of those whom I know but it is almost insulting for those who are sitting idling in privately owned public parks to say they speak for the 99%. They certainly do not speak for me nor would I ever have the desire for them to do so for that would mean a usurpation of my individual thoughts and choice in how to express my discontent with the current situation. And while I understand that there are those who share the views of those protesting and would wish to be counted within the moniker of the 99%, I have no such desire.
It is also insulting to me that those who are out there protesting—aside from claiming to speak for me—are more interested in the struggle than actually effecting change through that age old antidote to societal problems, work. One only has to listen to the oft incoherent musings of the occupy participants to understand that—aside from idealizing Karl Marx and other radical thinkers— it is being part of something seems to be more a goal than solving anything. There is a reason that radicals romanticize the idea of the Marxian permanent revolution and that is because as long as one is in a permanent state of upheaval than one does not have to stand on their own two feet and be held to account.
Being held to account for one’s actions is part of being a member of a civilized society. There is a reason the communal experiments of the 1960’s failed and that is because pesky human nature got in the way of the utopian dream. And while I am far too young to ever have witnessed such goings on, I do not see much difference in the footage from then and now—with the exception that most of these anti-corporate people have iPods and expensive laptops—and so it is small wonder that while the media is enamored with those “fighting the man”, that the rest of us are just confused and a little embarrassed for them. Not that there is anything embarrassing about participating in a protest, just that what they are doing is far beyond a protest and is more akin to an experiment in an aversion to common sense.
Another problem with the occupy people is that they lack a coherent message and, in many cases, those who do speak for the “cause” seem to have been unable to master the nuances of the English language despite their higher education. Of course, there are several sites online that one can go and peruse some of the more structured demands which seem to resemble a laundry list straight out of the radical writings of the late 19th century and the early 20th century. And while buried beneath the radical exterior there are probably some valid complaints, there is something to be said about presentation and speaking clearly and not in jagged outbursts from a bullhorn.
Also, while this may be an exercise in free speech—something for which I am a devout supporter of—speech without purpose is an exercise in futility. So, while the protestors continue to embark on the rebellious underpinnings of youth, this 20-something will put my time to a more practical and fruitful use.