“It’s an invention of necessity that nicely reinforces the protesters’ messages of community, horizontalism, and strength in numbers. Also, it can’t be confiscated by police.”
“We have yet to see what the next step for Occupy Wall Street will be. But the movement’s lasting legacy may include a handy lo-fi trick that future protesters can use to turn the tables anywhere, anytime, no equipment necessary.”
The ironic thing about all those posts on the bottom half of the Internet demanding that Occupy protesters stick to individual action to improve their individual lives, rather than collective action to improve the lives of their class, is that making such a post is itself a collective action. Each of those messages was typed on a computer designed and built by other people, processed by software thought up and implemented by other people, transmitted by electrical lines laid by other people, written in a language developed over the course of centuries by other people… and you can say that about virtually everything we do. Everything one accomplishes is really an achievement of multitudes. So if we contend that some of the income from those accomplishments must be shared with one’s network of collaborators, i.e., the rest of society — if we point out how absurd it is to think that 1% of the population could be responsible for, and therefore deserve, 40% of the common wealth — if we say that our current lopsided distribution of that wealth is therefore indicative of serious systemic problems that need to be fixed — then, sure, a libertarian can try to argue against us. But what he can’t do is say that it’s somehow illegitimate to make these kinds of decisions for anyone other than oneself. If it’s legitimate to collectively invent the notion of property and decide on rules about it that apply to all of us, then it’s equally legitimate to change those rules via the same method.
An interesting take on this situation. And (though it has less to do with the quote above and more with an earlier part of that essay) I particularly find the highlighting of pronoun semantics interesting, because it actually does play a huge part in the dialogue around both the Occupy movement, and class issues generally. When we decide to treat and refer to people as individuals, versus when we consider them part of a larger entity, is incredibly important.
Sometimes nothing saddens me more than the phrase “just semantics”. Semantics matters.