OWS part 2

In the comments to the last post many of you sympathized with the Occupy movement but argued that it needs to rethink its tactics (e.g. “wrong way of going about it” “need a clear message” “not realistic” and my favorite “organized temper tantrum”) 🙂  This article written by anthropologist David Graeber addresses some of the issues raised in your comments.  Rather than being an incoherent and angry mass of people with no agenda, Graeber argues that the movement is characterized by anarchist principles that are democratic, egalitarian and intentionally do not recognize the legitimacy of existing political institutions.




31 responses to “OWS part 2

  1. I found this to be a very interesting and informative blog post. To be honest i did not know the definition of an anarchist, I never really thought about it. One thing I’m not sure about is when he was discussing the fact that Americans were willing to stand up and fight for their rights. Maybe it is just the people I know but most of them seem to distracted by music, fashion, and their social life to even care about about some of the issues at hand. And the ones that do care are not willing to sacrafice their time to do anything other than talk. I do think it is time the people took back their right to freedom.

    • No, in America, I think most of us are like that. It is so easy to be distracted.

      • Jyoti Chhetri

        Hi Chelsey! I was also not familiar with the word anarchist, and when I was reading the blog came upon the word and I googled it. Wiki defines it as political philosophy, state of undesirable or harmful. Then as I was watching news, there was the news on occupyMN tent in Government center and this word “anarchism” was used. You are right, most of us are very busy worrying about our own life that we hardly have time to even pay attention to what is happening around in the country or in the world.

        I am guilty as well. These kinds of protests are an eye opener for lot os people like us. It was a great article.

  2. Katie Burggraff

    This article opened my eyes up to what the underlying functions of Occupy Wall Street is. I found it almost enlightening that this movement has been happening for this long. It stated in the article that many other groups of individuals have came together to form a movement against the government, the “arrogant elite,” as was stated in the article. All of these other attempted movements have failed completely. It makes me ponder, why is Occupy Wall Street working? Is it because people have nothing to lose and everything to gain? Or is it finally time for the blue collar Americans to say enough is enough and stand up for their rights? We are all living in a very interesting time, and I am glad to be a part of it!

  3. Jasmine Carroll

    This article is extremely interesting, and supports a lot of the stuff I’ve been hearing from people who actually support the cause and know it’s roots. So often I find myself wondering “why are all these people on Facebook (or Twitter) who are so passionate about this, posting links and signing petitions and starting movements, not down there fighting the good fight. How can they sit here and ‘pretend’ to support it. I don’t see them on TV. Protesting in tents.” This article sheds a lot of light on that. This movement has been going on for a LONG time, and a lot of the supporters, the real supporters, the ones who know what they’re fighting for, are NOT the ones I see on TV. They’re ones making real demands, making things happen in their own lives, not just sitting around and being angry and hoping that makes things move, but I think the haze is lifting, as this article eludes to. Every day more and more people are starting to realize, “okay we’ve kicked up enough dust, it’s time to sit down and get to work. Figure out what we really want, and form a REAL plan to go after it.” It’s time for working americans to exercise their right to have a least some piece of American Pie. It’s what they’ve worked hard for all these years, and it’s finally time to make big moves. I see the Occupy Wall Street movement making a big shift in the weeks to come. I sincerely hope that next time I tune in, I don’t see some confused old woman being defaced on the pavement by an officer for storming a building when she’s not sure why; I want to see someone standing up and saying “playtime is over. It’s time to fight.”

    • Katie Burggraff

      Awesome post! great insight!

    • Jasmine, you have great points. But again, it requires lot of perseverance and commitment to be in their shoes. Most of us, like myself are busy fulfilling our daily needs and tending to family’s issues, jobs and worry about being able to pay our bills.

  4. It was a very interesting article that made some very good points. The one thing I don’t understand, is this movement is seen as a predominantly left movement. However, if it does have anarchist believes, why would it not embrace a libertarian ideal or following. The closest political structure to anarchy is libertarian ism. Socialism actually creates elitism by robbing individuals of their freedoms. While a few handful of leaders create the laws and run the country, and those laws are designed to keep the elite in power. I would argue that we are becoming an elitist society because we are becoming a more socialist nation. The real people we should be mad at is not the Wall Street millionairess, but their friends, career politicians. The ones who make the laws that give these people an advantage. Both republican and democrat. Individuals are mad because they feel like they are being held down, and they are. Our laws and regulations have made it so only those with the means, can get ahead.

    • I agree with your point that they should not be upset with the wallstreet workers, but the politicians. People who work on wall street do not have the power to change.

    • Rebecca Milbrett

      I agree with your point about not being upset with the people of wall street, but the politicians. Those who work on wall street do not have the power to change things.

    • I actually think the movement represents all 3 camps (libertarian, anarchist, and socialist) and probably progressive democrats too. I agree politicians are just as culpable as wall street.

  5. I agree with Graeber’s assertion that if most Americans knew more about the definition and concept of anarchy, they would see the Occupy Wall Street movement in a different light. The domination of our media by a few large corporations limits what is broadcast and whose stories are told. I think one reason that the movement has grown so quickly is that the internet has allowed more people to broadcast their own story and information.

  6. It’s interesting to see how OWS can be similar in an anarchism movement. The article provides a good point and makes a great attempt in opening the reader’s mind to understanding the OWS movement, “towards a national movement against the financial elites” (Graeber). Another statement I couldn’t have to agree more on is that everyone in this country knows that there’s something wrong and we need to make changes.

  7. Natalie Simmons

    I have somewhat been following the OWS movement, particularly when the protesters showed up here in Minneapolis. It seem to be all wlaks of life participating. My Mother, who is an associate professor, aggrees with it. I have to say, my percetion of anarchy was quite extreme. I acciatied it with violence and protest. But if it’s about the idea behind anarchy, I can see where this article makes sense. If we believe anarchy is to protest and disagree with an oppressive, uinfair government cloaked in the guise of equality, thet the anrachist prevail.

  8. Rebecca Milbrett

    I agree with all of you on the fact that this article is very interesting and eye opening. I too, did not understand anarchism, but this has helped to shed light on it for me. I think it is great that they are trying to get people to see what the entire protesting process is really about and that it’s not just about camping out and yelling. This movement has become so large and is taking over many cities, I hope that the end result of all this is a good one. I do think that this could work, based on the fact that Homosexuality was removed as a mental disorder from the American Psychiatry Association simply because the homosexuals were persistant with their protesting! So, there is hope, however I know that this is a different subject matter and different times.

  9. I think this is a great article that sheds light on the OWS movement from a new perspective. Initially, one may have negative reactions to it because traditionally we are taught that anarchism equates to chaos, disorder, violence, etc. But this article does a good job explaining how anarchist tactics and principles can be used in positive ways to create positive change. I think if articles like this were being printed in the nation’s most popular newspapers and discussed on national news programs people may be more open minded in their opinion about what the movement is truly trying to accomplish. And I think this is one example of how facebook and other social network sites along with blogs and the “alternative” press can help create radical change. The majority of mainstream media so often only portrays a very narrow view of important events, like the OWS movement. I would hope that in hard times, like what we are experiencing right now in this country with unemployment, rising debt, economic inequality, etc., people would try to keep an open mind about how we can change what is wrong within our government and public policies.

  10. It is a very interesting and informative article. I too didn’t have much knowledge about anarchism but the article cleared some things up for me and OWS movement makes more sense. I do agree with what a lot of people posted earlier. That it’s the politicians that can make the changes not wall street. So how do we get them to listen?

  11. This article about anarchism was very eye opening for me. I didn’t really ever pay too much attention about what it really means. I, like many others just saw it as contributing to chaos and violence. This author does a very good job at explaining what the movement is trying to accomplish. I now understand more what is trying to be done, but still it seems they aren’t being listened to. The main stream media has a hold on what the public gets to see and so people assume this movement is a bad thing. I think that articles like these being portrayed in main stream media might change peoples views on this movement and people might start to listen. I now believe that the people in this movement are coming from a good place and are trying their best to be heard and make a change that is good for all. They just need to figure out how to be heard in a different way. With all of the power still only with a select population, it might be hard to overcome their power and really be heard.

  12. I really enjoyed this post. I think it is so interesting to hear other view points and have people stand up for that they believe in. One quote I found interesting was: “Democracy meant the madness of crowds: bloody, tumultuous and untenable. “There was never a democracy that didn’t commit suicide,” This quote, from my point of view, is very true!

  13. I found this blog to be very informative and interesting. I like how it analyzes anarchism and defines it so people do not have the wrong ideas about it when they hear it is an anarchist motivated movement. Anarchism is working for equality but there is so much in our society that is unequal. The media really distorts OWS by putting their own spin on it and only telling certain stories. This blog is the most informative one I have read so far!

  14. Whenever I would hear the word anarchy you think total chaos or no respect for authority. This is what I would think when I heard the word at least. The article brought a new viewpoint to me with the ideas behind anarchism and Marxism. I did not know Gandhi was influenced by anarchism too. I think more balance by the people is in order and through new ideas and creativity wall street could make improvements with how they do business.

  15. This is pretty ironic. Some friends and I at work were having a conversation a little while ago, specifically about the pepper spraying incident. Basically some were saying that’s what they get and others were saying it was totally uncalled for. But it all stemmed from a conversation on anarchy. This article has definitely made me look at the whole “Occupy” movement in a different light. I never would have put the two together. That being said, there’s still a lot of gray area in terms of how things can be resolved and how the government has responded to the movement.

  16. Informative article for sure but it fails to address the problems that I noticed from the movement. I actually did a final project in one of my other classes on the occupy protests and while one man can form an opinion call it anarchist and post it online it is still not the general concensus among the people of the protest.

  17. This was an interesting and very informative read. It was a good explination and application of modern day anarchist ideas. I have to admit I didn’t know much about occupy wall street and this second article does a better job of clearing up the ideals behind the movement I didn’t previously understand. Although it now seems the movement is dwindling in cities around the country as far as I have seen i think the movement created a positive dent in the way wall street and the government look at working with people.

  18. Maren Bertramsen-Reichel

    This article provides an excellent rebuttal to the previous article. However, if this article was correct in its assessment of anarchism, then anarchism would be in action and civil disobedience would be widely successful. This is clearly not the case.
    I do agree with the section “Democracy in America?” I think it is very correct that our democracy is a model of Rome and not an actual representative democracy. I also agree that the paradox of individual freedom and a high regard for listening to authority provides an internal conflict that is detrimental to American citizens.

  19. I also found this article to be very interesting and informative. It’s gave a very good perspective. I fell like with some of the recent evens going on at my campus I can see someof this happening and forming with students. Its good to see that there are still some people out there willing to fight for what they believe in. I still feel that the way occupy is going throughout the US, that it will eventually have a positive effect on society.

  20. What an interesting blog. I was happy to see that many of you agree that this movement has been going on for a longer while than many have suspected. I agree with most of you that overall the break through to the majority of citizens will have a great impact on our accomplishments.

  21. Pingback: Occupy Wall Street 1 year Anniversary | Anthropology in the Global Age

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