Sunday, October 23, 2011

Accounting for "Occupy"

Roger Kimball writes:
As I noted yesterday, one of the curious features of the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon is the breadth of its sponsorship. It’s not every congregation of anarchists and anti-corporate layabouts that earns endorsements from the secretary of the Treasury, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, and the President of the United States. But so it is in this case, notwithstanding the mixture of incoherence and mendacity that characterize the phenomenon. How to explain it? I’m not sure, but I suspect anyone uninfected by the OWS virus will find it inspiring not sadness but irritation and contempt.
Speaking as one of the uninfected (and un-undead), I blame the endorsements on opportunism as the Obami carpe diem, so to speak, hoping it will zombify Republican chances in 2012. As for the Occupyniks themselves--I blame their thinking, at least in part, on the self-esteem movement they grew up with. These are the same young adults who, as kids, were told they didn't have to compete (because it's "unfair" if some kids receive recognition for being better and/or are smarter than other kids), that they were wonderful for doing absolutely nothing, for merely participating, for just showing up. The phony kudos went straight to their heads, and we now see the appalling result--zombie-like creatures who find that the real world isn't like that at all, and who cannot--who refuse to--deal with that reality. Instead, they want to return to childhood, when they were taken care of by people who told them how smart and good and valuable they were simply for being them.


Carlos Perera said...

That's a great insight, Scaramouche. A corollary, to which you alluded tangentially, is that such people are putty in the hands of charismatic would-be totalitarians. No one, except perhaps a large, ruthless occupying army at the end of a total war--think Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe at the end of WWII--can take over an entire society by police methods alone (though these might suffice once all of the levers of thought control are firmly in the grasp of the Maximum leader); during the power-grabbing phase, would-be totalitarian dictators must effectively convince at least a significant minority of the population that he is doing it for _them_, because he loves them so much, and, most importantly, because they _deserve_ Utopia. (Well, I would have to agree with the part where they deserve what they're about to get, but, admittedly, that's cynical of me.)

scaramouche said...

C.P.--Re my "insight": I'm neither a psychologist nor a sociologist, but it seems obvious to me that an overweening and unjustified sense of self-esteem often leads directly to an overweening sense of entitlement.

Re their being "putty"--I think that's what the Occupyniks call-and-response "mic check" thing is all about.