How Not to Talk About the Protests
Whenever I read something like the following, I find it hard to figure out if the author is being facetious:
The people in the tumblr aren’t demanding to bring democracy into the workplace via large-scale unionization, much less shorter work days and more pay. They aren’t talking the language of mid-twentieth century liberalism, where everyone puts on blindfolds and cuts slices of pie to share. The 99% looks too beaten down to demand anything as grand as “fairness” in their distribution of the economy. There’s no calls for some sort of post-industrial personal fulfillment in their labor – very few even invoke the idea that a job should “mean something.” It’s straight out of antiquity – free us from the bondage of our debts and give us a basic ability to survive.
I keep hoping that this can’t have been written in earnest but I keep fearing that it might just be.
There is nothing more – not even modern – but fully postmodern than these protests that the very ignorant and drama-queenish author of the post refers to as “straight out of antiquity”. We are talking about people who can afford to spend all day every day protesting something that is, honestly, quite vague. And nobody starved as yet during the protests or is very likely to. How many people at those protests do NOT have a cell phone, iPad, laptop, etc.?
I am very happy that the protests are taking place. They are renewing my faith in the American people. But let’s just not exaggerate how miserable and on-the-brink-of-starvation these protesters are. Nothing is threatening anybody’s “basic ability to survive” in this country. Let’s not lose our grip on reality altogether and start pontificating about the “starving billions” of the US.
If you go to the 99% Tumblr you will discover a number of “real-life” stories that are supposed to make us question the “basic ability to survive” of 99% of us. I stopped reading after the 3rd story which features a young woman making the exact same salary as I do but somehow magically paying 35% in taxes on it (the real rate is 12%). I understand that one might have a hard time making ends meet on $52K+ at the age of 26. But I think that referring to such a situation as the brink of starvation is very offensive. Especially, to those who are actually on the brink of starvation on other continents.
I’m afraid the protests have no chance of achieving anything useful while people are formulating their grievances in this kind of way.
And I know that nobody wants to hear this, but it is very possible and actually quite easy to live in the US and not owe a dime to anybody. So “the bondage of our debts” is – at least to an extent – one’s own choice. There will be no progress until we all – the 100% of us – acknowledge that we have gotten ourselves into this mess by our shared and collective efforts.