October 20, 2011

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On the demands: #occupywallstreet So the discussion of demands is underway, stimulated by a serious, specific proposal from the demands working group. It's a good position to think about, to frame discussion. I have a number of concerns about it, though. The most general is: does this demand change our current discussion of the economy? Does it rupture the discussion of the economy in the same way the occupations themselves have ruptured our sense of the possible? I think the ultimate answer is no. And because I think these demands too easily fit into business as usual, I think we need to engage, criticize, and rethink them. First, the jobs for all plan too easily reiterates Obama's rhetoric and proposals: infrastructure, clean energy, education, health. In fact, the Obama administration could say that it actually began some of these efforts (although it would of course concede that 'we can do more') with its (pathetically weak) stimulus program last year. Second, and accordingly, the Obama program failed in part because the money was never distributed, the programs were implemented in a half-assed way, and they got trapped within other deals and regulations. As described by the demands committee, the jobs program can be inserted directly into such a slot. One can imagine an implementation that gives money to states for road construction (existing program) and mass transit (which some states moronically refused to accept earlier this year). Third, the program too easily resembles Clinton's moves from welfare to workfare. One way the demands as currently...
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Occupy time: What I learned from #occupywallstreet Last weekend, I was in NYC. I went to Zuccotti Park three times, Washington Square Park two times, a working group meeting, a strategy session, and I occupied Times Square (yay!). Since I got back, I've been embedded in the media feeds, but I've also started to reflect some on the experience rather than just the politics and the issues. In part, this reflection has come from talking with students and friends as we think about how to extend the occupation form up here, to the town and campus. It's also come about because of how much time all of this takes. Yesterday I noticed that I spent about three hours in different face to face conversations with people. That's rare for me. I usually work alone, in front of a screen or text, for hours on end. And I usually prefer it that way--for reasons personal and inchoate as well as determined by capital: chatting is not productive (I try to trick myself and the system in me by writing about new media--that way, being online all the time is work). Anyway, endless meetings: the drudgery of socialism or the thrill of activism? Can't have one without the other. But #occupywallstreet is suggesting something different to me--that the endless meetings, the constant meetings, are the occupation; they are the break with everyday life. Activity in around the movement, generating interest, making plans, writing, making signs, consulting, discussing, debating, and listening--with a patience and generosity that is very hard to...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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