Who Owns OWS?

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Who is the father of Occupy Wall Street? The question strangely doesn’t send the accused rushing to paternity tests for exculpation. But as protesters head for park exits, academics crowd in to claim credit. Feeding on the corpse of Occupy Wall Street will fuel some intellectual’s career.

The urban campers drew the attention of such visitors as rapper-professor Cornel West, welfare-rights advocate Frances Fox Piven, and Herbert Marcuse-mentee Angela Davis. But it’s not the celebrity academics, but the academics seeking celebrity, who are most active in playing connect-the-dots between their words and the occupiers’ deeds.

“I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do,” Harvard law professor and Massachusetts U.S. senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren claimed this fall. “I support what they do.” But since “what they do” at the Occupy Boston encampment included narcotics trafficking, knife-wielding standoffs, rampant thefts, and transforming the Rose Kennedy Greenway into a muddy brownway, Warren’s boasts continue to haunt her in her contest against Scott Brown.

A recent University of Pennsylvania conference on Herbert Marcuse imagined Occupy Wall Street as evidence of the Frankfurt School activist-intellectual’s posthumous comeback. The Chronicle of Higher Education piece “Occupy This: Is It Comeback Time for Herbert Marcuse?” noted that a few Occupy Philadelphia campers attended the conference and quoted Marcuse’s stepson. “Over the last 20 or 30 years, Marcuse was totally missing,” Peter Marcuse noted. “Now Marcuse comes from the outside. That was not the case in the 1960s. He’s almost an unknown name.”

Perhaps the most outlandish claim comes from the Chronicle of Higher Education. “Occupy Wall Street’s most defining characteristics—its decentralized nature and its intensive process of participatory, consensus-based decision-making—are rooted…in the scholarship of anarchism and, specifically, in an ethnography of central Madagascar,” senior reporter Dan Berrett writes. “It was on this island nation off the coast of Africa that David Graeber, one of the movement’s early organizers, who has been called one of its main intellectual sources, spent 20 months between 1989 and 1991. He studied the people of Betafo, a community of descendants of nobles and of slaves, for his 2007 book, Lost People.

The drum circles may have a Madagascan origin. But the democracy? Perhaps a source closer to home bears responsibility. One wonders how many Occupy protesters have read the books, let alone have ever heard, of their supposed antecedents. The stream of interest certainly runs from these authors toward the activists. There is no evidence that it runs from the activists toward these authors.

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  • Larry

    Not a one of them has the intellectual or moral capacity of a Vaclev Havel or Lech Waleska, but I've seen various leftards compare OWS to the stand taken by those and others during the 60s, 70s, and 80s against the tyranny of communism and statism.

  • kateyleigh

    Elizabeth Warren is a perverted woman with an agenda. An agenda that gives her in elitist control of the OWS followers (and through them, hopefully America)….and certainly not in the same class. What's good for the geese isn't good for the gander, and these mindless followers are useful, but beneath her.
    The use of drums are interesting. Hypnotic. How many cultures use drumming to achieve an altered state? Along with drums, cueing (mic check), and drugs, you have a group highly vulnerable to suggestion. A group that have probably always been reactive rather than rational .

    • "gunner"

      @ katey,
      as a "pagan" (roman mithraic) i've noticed the effect of the "drum circles" you cite, as well as the "call and response" "mike check" chanting, and agree with you. my beliefs do not include such and i carefully avoid such gatherings of the mindless herds of whatever stripe.

  • StephenD

    “Rhetoric pitting the ninety-nine percent versus the one percent….”

    THIS is why a Democratic REPUBLIC (under the rule of law) is necessary and not straight up Democracy where the majority could run roughshod over the minority. Not that their claim of representing 99% was anywhere near accurate, it still points to the fact that if they had been a majority, their will would be done.

    Probably little known to them is they do have a history in Shay’s Rebellion of 1786. I think Abigail Adams’ description of them is fitting to OWS. Speaking of the revolt itself she said: “will prove salutary to the state at large.” Even though it was led by “ignorant, wrestles desperadoes, without conscience or principles.” Many in the US believed a strong National Government was needed to PREVENT such local uprisings against legitimate government.

    My problem is that there exist legal means of redress. To revert to revolutionary tactics before petitioning their representatives is exactly why we have a National Government…to put them down.

  • Rifleman

    Lol, if their own claims are true, the mess they made demonstrated why they are unfit to run anything bigger than a classroom, if that. The noise, crime, unsanitary conditions, vermin, disease, environmental damage, the denial of public and private property to the residents and businesses of the communities they occupied, was all very educational.

  • UCSPanther

    This is just one more reason why those isolated academics need to STFU and experience the real world before they put their pen to paper and create another laughable "research paper" that isn't even worth the paper and ink that it is printed in.

    And yes, a lot of so-called academic papers are quite off the wall, including one that I saw where the writer (Dr. Sawraj Singh-WEST’S DISGRACEFUL BEHAVIOUR – DISRESPECTING THE DEAD!) pretty much eulogizes Hitler, Stalin, Gaddafi and Kim Jong Il while talking trash about western civilization.

  • "gunner"

    if these academics are eager to claim credit for the "occupiers" the proper word is "blame", let them remember that many leaders of revolutions have themselves ended up on a hangman's rope, the guillotine, or facing a firing squad when the proles ran out of control, and intellectuals have been a favourite target of the mobs throughout history whenever anarchy has run loose in the ruins of society. when rome fell "order" was restored not by monks cloistered in abbeys, but by bands of armed thugs seizing power and establishing themselves as the new rulers. it took a few centuries before "civil society" regained a foothold.

    • Dave Navarre

      Gunner, you're exactly right. The intellectuals always assume that their brilliance and logic will not only save them in the crisis, but will put them in leadership positions. They forget that violent, grubby peasants, like Stalin, tend to be ruthless enough to seize power and execute any who threaten their rule. Intellectuals face the firing squad as "enemies of the state" or "tools of the bourgeosie".

  • WilliamJamesWard

    Home school……………………………………………………………….William

  • BS77

    OWS…what a stale joke.

  • PAthena

    The Occupy Wall Street and related Occupy groups are greedy, conceited would-be communist tyrants. Like tyrants everywhere, they claim the support of most or all of the people they rule. The Occupy people claim to represent 99% of Americans – for which they have no evidence. Any elected representative has more claim to represent his constituents than these would-be tyrants do

  • stevefraser

    Wikipedia "Paris Commune" for all you need to know about the OWS….and how it ends.

    • "gunner"

      @ steve,
      exactly, the revolution eats its children, the french revolution, the bolsheviks, cambodia's killing fields and too many more examples to count down through history, and each new set of rulers more oppressive than the last. we were lucky with our revolution in the 18th century, but i fear that our luck is running out, and this time the barbarians have come from within the walls, using the laws to loot and pillage.

  • "gunner"