The Occupy movement is not utopian. It is more realistic than its liberal critics.by Paul Walker / July 6, 2012 / Leave a comment
On Prospect’s website last month Alasdair Roberts gave his interpretation as to “Why Occupy Failed.” Chief among the reasons for this failure, according to Roberts, was the movement’s anti-democratic nature. Roberts admonishes the movement for its unwillingness to compromise, suggesting that Occupy’s “disdain for democratic politics” places the movement in the company of the very neoliberals which the movement sought to attack.
Yet, in criticising the Occupy movement for its lack of pragmatism, its unwillingness to operate through existing political structures, its refusal to “accept results that fall short” of its ideals, Roberts misunderstands the very principle on which Occupy was founded; a principle without which there would be no Occupy.
Consider the standard liberal response to the financial crisis and the ensuing austerity measures that have emerged across the globe. This viewpoint criticises the capitalist system for its recklessness and political institutions for their carelessness. What we need, the liberals say, is some tightening of regulation for the financial sector, a little bit more money spent on welfare, strong penalties against corrupt bankers, and so on. In other words, a series of small adjustments to the system without questioning the fundamentals of the liberal democratic capitalist system itself.