ISSN 2327-3666

November 21, 2011

The Unrepentant Marxist on "Disenchantment with OWS"

International Journal of Radical Critique via LOUIS PROYECT: THE UNREPENTANT MARXIST

Two of the most prominent leftwing websites in the U.S. have recently published articles finding fault with the Occupy movement to one extent or another. Counterpunch was the first to weigh in with an article by Michael Neumann titled “Love the Occupiers” that had the ominous subtitle “Why Blaming the Fat Cats is Retrograde” filled with the sort of jargon normally expected from the Spartacist League rather than from a Canadian philosophy professor.

On ZNet, an outlet with ideological affinities ostensibly much more favorably disposed to the sort of free-wheeling anarchism associated with OWS, there’s an article by PARECON guru Michael Albert that echoes Neumann’s article but with a gentler tone. Titled “We Are The 99% – But Are We?”, it dispenses bookish advice along the lines of “I would prefer that we call the 1% capitalists.”

Neumann’s article starts off quoting Donald Trump to the effect that the occupation is “kind of cool”. I don’t know if the good professor has access to Lexis-Nexis but a cursory search will reveal that in the 10/30 CNN interview Trump was referring not to the occupation but the possibility that he would be interviewed in tandem with some OWS activists:

TRUMP: Somebody called me before from CNN, actually, and they want me to do — I have a big building right there, 40 Wall Street. It’s actually the tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and unfortunately because it used to be the World Trade Center, but it’s now the tallest building in downtown, and it was very interesting because they want me to do an interview with representatives from the group “Occupy Wall Street.”

MORGAN: And how do you feel about that?

TRUMP: I sort of think it’s cool. I mean there’s something I like about it. Like I said, might do it.

As I have noted on previous occasions, fact-checking is not exactly Counterpunch’s forte. More to the point, Trump is on record as calling OWS agents of “class warfare”–something in line with what is heard on Fox News every day of the week.

Doing a little math, Neumann wondered why OWS aligns itself with those whose incomes may be as high as $503,566, those relative “fat cats” who are indeed part of the 99 percent. Maybe it never occurred to the philosophy professor that creating a dichotomy between the 99 and 2/3 percent and the 1/3 of one percent does not exactly lend itself to chants on a demonstration unless you have training as an auctioneer.

He also has trouble with some OWS activists wanting to “rein in rogue speculators, re-erect the firewalls between banking and investing, and so on” since the Fat Cats like George Soros and Warren Buffett have been demanding the same thing for years now. Of course, one would not expect either Soros or Buffett to camp out in Zuccotti Park risking police brutality and illness to press such demands either. Perhaps his long-time roost in the Ivory Towers has convinced him that politics is mostly about what people say rather than what people do, an understandable confusion to be sure.

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