I suppose that for many of the Occupiers, when they think of the government they think of the police, the US military, George W. Bush, or Barack Obama. They probably think that the system is thoroughly corrupt and we need to replace it with a new system -- one based on what? Love and cooperation? I think that's the same libertarian idealism (or fantasies) some of the Tea Partiers engage in. Or maybe the Tea Partiers believe that unregulated, bottom-up market competition will magically result in fair distribution of power and resources, tempered perhaps by Christian love.
Or maybe the Tea Party is just a astro-turf group and most of the supporters don't give a crap about the poor and the middle class.
Later, I talked for a half hour, by facebook chat, with another occupier, a man who had worked with Occupy Seattle's media committee, until he left because of the infighting. He spoke of wanting to rebuild the Occupy Movement ("I want to build it with a different model, one where we work on community with each other. Hey if you have any ideas how to get everyone to get along let me know. I know i can draw them together, but i don't have any clues how to get them to communicate with each other.") For many of the Occupiers, the movement is their community -- a substitute for the church that serves the same role for many right wingers, I suppose. (I note, again, that churches are typically hierarchical.)
In this regard, there's a good article about Occupy in the Sept 24th edition of The Nation, by Nathan Schneider from wagingnonviolence.org. He says, "In a society still ruled by capitalism and hierarchy, anarchist utopia [the first few months of Occupy] isn't easy to keep up for long. Working groups have splintered into project groups and affinity groups that have gone on strike against one another."
The Occupy Movement has been effective at raising awareness of gross injustices in our society. See Anniversary of Occupy Wall St.: A CAUSE For Celebration! But the way forward should not involve anarchism, in my opinion. We need hierarchy, and we need Big Government that serves the People.
Maybe I'm just too cynical about human nature.
Perhaps if the economy goes far south and Grover Norquist succeeds in drowning government in a bathtub, we'll be forced to fend for ourselves and I'll eat my shoe.
I'd love to hear from anarchists their response to the above.
Addendum: on facebook, some Occupiers recommended that I read books by Emma Goldman or Howard Zinn. Someone said that government doesn't provide the things I listed, people do. I think that distinction is bogus. It's a historical fact that government did provide all those things (Social Security, seat belt laws, the Internet, etc). And their statement is reminiscent of the right wing slogan "Guns don't kill, people do." It's also reminiscent of Margaret Thatcher's words: "There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first." (source)
1 | 2