October 1, 2011

If only more protesters wore uniforms and marched in neat rows....

... like the 700 Continental and United pilots. They'd get more media coverage then the straggly, scraggly folks that predominate in the Occupy Wall Street protest.

A shorter, smaller, niftier protest seems bigger, then, because of the projection into the media. The larger, longer, freer protest will get attention, however, if the media is not on its side.

If that general rule is true, it suggests that protests ought to be well organized. There's a lot of debate at the link about the extent to which the Occupy Wall Street protesters deserve criticism for lack of organization.

I think a big, spontaneous, passionate protest can be effective, but not when it continues day after day. (My opinion is informed by observation of the Wisconsin protests over the many weeks and months.) At some point, people outside of the protests resent the disruption of the flow of ordinary life. If the continuing protest goes well and gathers steam, these outsiders to the protest worry about disorder and chaos.

If a continuing protest declines — and it will ultimately have to decline, unless the authorities break it up — then during the period of decline, the people left in the protest are, more and more, the extremists, the deranged, and the emotionally needy. Few onlookers identify with these people.


Kevin said...

the people left in the protest are the, more and more, the extremists, the deranged, and the emotionally needy.

Stop insulting Obama's base!

edutcher said...

Maybe the fact that the community organizers' protest had already proven to be a big embarrassment to the Gray Lady and its Lefty staff.

The pilots didn't get that much coverage, but it was, after all, a labor dispute.

PS I love it how the author is still obsessing over her parents' disdain for the hippie look.

Nice to see some people don't ever grow up.

Fred4Pres said...

Your mom was right, dressing neat and acting orderly makes a big difference! Appearance counts!

AllenS said...

Very few nicely dressed people stink.

chuck said...

If the people of the left could give up their fascination with youth and embrace maturity they would do better. And serving in the military as job training, as many pilots have, would help them with the discipline problem.

madAsHell said...

You could have started with your conclusion, and gone home early.

Mick said...

The media is not on the protesters' side because the Media is the Useful idiot of the Central Bankers and treasonous politicians .
The Central bankers have installed a non natural born Citizen lapdog to help them loot We the People, protected by the other lapdogs in Governement and the politicized courts, and the media (and "supposedly Constitutionally aware "law profs"). Perhaps this is the beginning of the end for the powers that be, even if it is started by a bunch of hippies. It will take We the People rising up en mass to stop these treasonous cretins.

Paddy O said...

These people are protesting against what they see as a corrupt Wall St. so as to enable the significantly more corrupt government.

They protest being hassled and disturbed in their protesting while hassling and disturbing many more.

They carry signs advocating helping the poor and against those they think are self-centered, and in doing so spend the whole day emphasizing themselves and not helping those who are poor.

They are the epitome of that which they protest.

John Lynch said...

Surely this post is ironic, pointing out the danger of uniformed rows of "protestors"?

Surely we've learned that simply wearing uniforms doesn't make a march respectable?


Lem said...

"If only more protesters wore uniforms and marched in neat rows...."

I dont know what the professor is talking about..

Some of these shoes are but ugly.. as titus might say.

Lem said...

..and dont call me surely.

Phil 3:14 said...

So at what point do marching, uniformed "protesters" become a nascient coup d'etat?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

And, if they would just Goose Step in unison and hold out their right arms in a rigid forward upright angle, they would really be effective.

AJ Lynch said...

I see he called the Hewlett Packer CEO a "Wall Street executive".

Are librul loons now applying the broad brush of "Wall Street = Evil" to all corporate execs?

Bender said...

Every January, there are hundreds of thousands of clean, well-dressed, live-next-door, All-American, nice-looking people who march down Constitution Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court building, and they are joined by thousands more in cities all across America.

And they are the most invisible people that the media has ever known.

Paddy O said...

It's a long quote, but this one from theologian Jurgen Moltmann has long been one of my favorites:

If we compare the two ways of knowing, it is easy to see that modern men and women need at least a balance between the vita activa and the vita contemplative, the active and the contemplative life, if they are not to atrophy spiritually.

The pragmatic way of grasping things has very obvious limits, and beyond these limits the destruction of life begins. This does not apply only to our dealings with other people. It is true of our dealings with the natural environment too.

But the meditative way of understanding seems to be even more important when it is applied to our dealings with our own selves. People take flight into relationships, into social action and into political praxis, because they cannot endure what they themselves are.

They have ‘fallen out’ with themselves. So they cannot stand being alone. To be alone is torture. Silence is unendurable. Solitude is felt to be ‘social death’. Every disappointment becomes a torment which has to be avoided at all costs.

But the people who throw themselves into practical life because they cannot come to terms with themselves simply become a burden for other people. Social praxis and political involvement are not a remedy for the weakness of our own personalities.

Men and women who want to act on behalf of other people without having deepened their own understanding of themselves, without having built up their own capacity for sensitive loving, and without having found freedom towards themselves, will find nothing in themselves that they can give to anyone else.

Even presupposing good will and the lack of evil intentions, all they will be able to pass on is the infection of their own egoism, the aggression generated by their own anxieties, and the prejudices of their own ideology.

Anyone who wants to fill up his own hollowness by helping other people will simply spread the same hollowness. Why? Because people are far less influenced by what another person says and does than the activist would like to believe.

They are much more influenced by what the other is, and his way of speaking and behaving. Only the person who has found his own self can give himself. What else can he give? It is only the person who knows that he is accepted who can accept others without dominating them.

The person who has become free in himself can liberate others and share their suffering.

AJ Lynch said...


Good point. This year was the first time I had ever heard much about it. And that was because my nephew was one of the many participants in the March for Life.

Moose said...

"700 hundred"?

jacksonjay said...

Young dirty unemployed hippies, who only know how to take from society are not that attractive to those of us who are contributors!

I instantly turn them off when I hear the drums!

Clean uniformed pilots have very important jobs, don't try to shut down daily life and pay a butt load of taxes to all levels of government!

This ain't rocket science!

What in the Hell did Paddy O say?

Bender said...

jacksonjay --

He said that these folks become busybodies, worrying about everyone else, because they don't feel good about themselves.

And instead of doing good, all these angry and miserable people end up doing is antagonizing things and making others feel bad too.

Bender said...

I would agree with Moltmann to that extent, but I would have to strongly disagree if this theologian means to suggest that the "meditative way of understanding" is one of self-centeredness, rather than one of communion.

"People take flight into relationships" NOT because "they cannot endure what they themselves are." Rather, people seek refuge in relationships because we are, by our human nature, social beings. We are made for relationship.

"It is not good that man should be alone." A theologian should know that.

But, then again, this is just an excerpt, so I am sure that I am not fully understanding his point. But the excerpt is misleading.

Robert said...

Hippies 'pantomiming progressivism'.

I wonder if the pepper spray makes a louder noise than the mimes do?

EDH said...

How do the protesters reconcile the fact that it will be a public employee union that will defend to the end any officer accused of excessive force by the police?

ricpic said...

What are they protesting, civilization?

Michael said...

I could walk through the crowd of protesters and i can assure you that not a single one of them knows a single thing about the capital markets and how they work. I would doubt if any have ever started or run a business or been employed outside the academy. Sad, actually, but the more so because of how unkempt they appear. How helpless and pathetic.

Paddy O said...

Bender, thanks for the succinct translation.

And yeah, your caution is right, and is something Moltmann absolutely emphasizes in that book (Spirit of Life). Rightly understood community is the way. That might even be the main point of that book. Not a type of community in which we can feed off each other, but as a way of wholly interacting and contributing to one another.

I think that is what makes his caution here stand out to me, that and the fact that politically I am pretty sure he's a Social Democrat, one of the more left wing political parties in Germany.

Carol_Herman said...

Actually, the protesters look "weird" for the polo shirts and chino's of the worker bees on Wall Street.

If they wanted to make it hard for the police to grab their long hair ... and pepper spray the women ... They'd have to look like they were employed.

Since they stick out so much ... And, Wall Street's streets are so narrow ... They're pretty easy to identify.

Phil J. said...

I think uniformed protestors might be fine as long as they had Good Humor. See, for example, this march of the ice cream men.


YoungHegelian said...


Nice Moltmann quote, even if I think Pascal said it much more succinctly in the Pensees.

That a 17th century Frenchman would be more succinct than a 20th C. German is no surprise.

As for Moltmann being SD --- hey, among German academics to be an out SD is tantamount to being a, like, you know, a social fascist or somethin'. So, considering where he come from the defense of a private moral life is pretty brave.

Carol_Herman said...

Mr. Circus-pants sees the limelight. And, races right in.

YoungHegelian said...

At the bottom of the NYT article is a very interesting quote (and a link to) an article by Michael Kazan:

"[The Left] fashioned their own institutions — unions, women’s groups, community and immigrant centers and a witty, anti-authoritarian press — in which they spoke up for themselves and for the interests of wage-earning Americans.

Today, such institutions are either absent or reeling. With unions embattled and on the decline, working people of all races lack a sturdy vehicle to articulate and fight for the vision of a more egalitarian society. Liberal universities, Web sites and non-governmental organizations cater mostly to a professional middle class and are more skillful at promoting social causes like legalizing same-sex marriage and protecting the environment than demanding millions of new jobs that pay a living wage."

Expressed in a nutshell in the quotation is the modern left's foundational problem: the modern Left is not Marxist, it's post-Marxist. Classical Marxism is based on the primacy of class consciousness, but the post-modern left is based on identity politics (female, queer, racial, ethnic, etc).

So many of the Left's moral postures (e.g. income redistribution) come from classical Marxism. Unfortunately for them, their identity-based ideologies completely subvert the Marxist foundations that their moral categories are based on.

There is, however, an historically successful ideology of blending identity politics into a functioning state. It's called Fascism.

Paddy O said...

"Classical Marxism is based on the primacy of class consciousness, but the post-modern left is based on identity politics (female, queer, racial, ethnic, etc)."

I think is is true, but it isn't quite as cleanly separated from class politics. That's why the rhetoric is so often about class, even as they end up defending people across classes and attacking people across classes. There's a mixed up understanding of where their allegiance lies, which comes out in their chaotic expressions that don't have any kind of firm point.

They want to be people who are for the poor, but they'll happily sacrifice the poor for the sake of identity politics, which makes them very frustrating as they neither help the poor or others. There's no real cohesive ideology, just a lot of frantic attempts to assert their own fractured identity, which can so easily be co-opted by others.

The short version: they're tools.

Saint Croix said...

Nice juxtaposition, Ann! You have studied at the feet of the master and now you are ready, grasshopper.

Saint Croix said...

Every January, there are hundreds of thousands of clean, well-dressed, live-next-door, All-American, nice-looking people who march down Constitution Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court building, and they are joined by thousands more in cities all across America.

And they are the most invisible people that the media has ever known.

Bender with the score.

Saint Croix said...

The whole point of the "protest march," by the way, is to subliminally scare people with your numbers.

Look how many people we have!

MLK emphasized the peaceful protest. Why? Precisely because large numbers of people gathered together (who are trying to change the government!) are scary. It suggests political engagement to such a degree that it's like a revolution.

Thus an organized cadre of people in uniform are far scarier (i.e. effective) than a bunch of stoned hippie rabble.

They just are.

Think too how the pilots seem absolutely united. This is how a military operates. You are united in a common will.

Now look at those damn hippies. It's like you can distract them with shiny objects.

jeff said...

"What's a pilot worth?" Whatever someone is willing to pay them, I would guess.

The Crack Emcee said...

If a continuing protest declines — and it will ultimately have to decline, unless the authorities break it up — then during the period of decline, the people left in the protest are the, more and more, the extremists, the deranged, and the emotionally needy. Few onlookers identify with these people.

Who cares who anyone "identifies" with? This isn't a fucking show - what are the facts? Are these people right or wrong, or are they misguided? That's all that matters. But, instead, we're being asked to respond to imagery - just as they did for Obama - when there are facts to lead us to the truth.

Ther whole approach is so shallow it's translucent.

John said...

Perhaps the difference is that one group contributes to society and the other does not. Both groups know which one they are.

I heard on the news the other day an interview with one of the WS protesters. He said "I have a college degree. I have a right to a job."

*IF* we had a press corps, the reporter would have asked him "What is your degree in? What are you qualified to do?"

I would also point out that his "right" to a job requires that I or someone like me create a job for him.

Sorry. I've created a job for myself. I have no desire to create a job for people like him.

He has a right to a job? Let him try to claim it.

I spent 3 days last week at PackExpo in Las Vegas. This is a huge (1mm square feet or so) trade show for the packaging machine industry.

Speaking with company owners and officers, I find that orders are way up. One company told me that they had done more business through August 2011 than in all of 2010. Several other companies told me similar stories. None of them knew why so they don't know whether it is a bubble. Until they can figure this out, they are holding off hiring.

Along these lines, I gave a 1 hour talk on packaging line design that cost $125/person to attend. I had 75-100 people showed up. That is a huge audience here. It is usually more like 25-50.

People would not be spending this kind of money unless they had some expansion plans in mind.

Several companies told me that they want to hire but are having trouble finding qualified people. If they want warm bodies, they can get 100 applicants for every person. But they can't find PLC programmers, machine designers and builders, electrical control technicians and so on.

John Henry

John said...

Allen S said

Very few nicely dressed people stink.


Been to Europe, Allen?

John Henry