Monday, October 17, 2011

We've dwelt in the wrong place for too long

The above illustration, which is getting wide circulation in market-oriented blogs is posted by a John Hinderaker. Each arrow points to a distinctive well-known brand product. The illustration has the pedagogic aim of exhibiting the protesters' bad faith, which consists of wearing products made by the corporations they criticize. Hinderaker relishes the following platitude:
I've always wondered: where do people who don't like corporations work? Do they seriously want to turn the clock back by centuries –it would take some research to figure to how many– to a world in which the only forms of business organization are sole proprietorships and partnerships? And who do they think designs, manufactures and distributes the products they use? Elves? 
Hinderaker confounds "work," an essential productive human activity with "wage-labor," an economic category, as if the former was a sufficient condition of the latter. A more perverse conclusion of his argument is that since we're all consumers, we are forced to accept -even justify- corporative excess as a blessing. We should fall on our knees & thank Gap for the opportunity to purchase a pair of jeans at fair market price!

Additionally, we should be grateful for Gap's being-there, as it were, for as long it exists people will hold jobs. Is Hinderaker referring to those in the production-line in China or Indonesia, making $7 for a 12-hour day, or America's retail, where being a manager earns you $7.50 an hour without commission? In Hinderaker's bureaucratic paradise, people hold jobs not because they are competent at doing something. Rather, work becomes an undeserved gift bestowed on individuals by a corporate superstructure.  

Hinderaker's corporate genuflection is not surprising, but he distorts the real aim of this movement, which is not to denounce corporations for just being corporations, which is vapid, but to denounce corporate excess, i.e., unethical corporate-friendly legislation, unfair corporate tax breaks, irresponsible corporate deregulation and its dramatic aftermath: lack of opportunities, unemployment, the crumbling of American manufacturing and organized labor, urban blight, etc, etc.

(Hypothetically speaking, I don't have to thank Gap for the jeans I paid for, nor wearing Gap jeans renders me impotent to denounce Gap's unethical corporate practices).

 Occupying what?

To "occupy" may show a group's determination to seize possession of, and/or maintain control over a place. This is not done by force. It's a right enacted by the force of consensus. To put it simply: There is the real, public space where protesters camp (Zucotti Park, Miami's Government Center, etc), and there is an ideal space of freedom. One needs the other. "To camp" in the physical space happens because one already dwells in this ideal space. "To occupy" is to do both. Occupy Wall Street or Occupy Miami protesters redefine the rules of dwelling:

1- They now dwell "outside" for the sake of all of us. 2- Their place takes over -and opposes- Wall Street's "center." 3-  Their "occupation" makes for a primal event. What is it?

Wall Street is the "center" of the 1% that rules the remaining 99%. This brutal gap exposes financial capitalism's unfairness. Acting as a gate of capital flowmation into the periphery, Wall Street's inflowence erodes region, place and borders. It downgrades political space by reducing local government control and packaging whatever is left of the public sector as commercial venture. No wonder Occupy Miami has camped outside Miami's Government Center, an emblem of a democracy hijacked by the opportunistic strategies of capital.

Yeah. we've dwelt in the wrong place for too long!

I'm closing this post Sunday 23 @ 11pm.