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Some socialist critics of OWS see it as petite bourgeois entreprenuerial wanna-be’s and disappointed bourgeois college graduates disconnected from the poor and working classes and acting out an affective politics suited best for social media. Cloaked in a rhetoric of autonomy and horizonality is the actuality of a self-indulgent individualism resistant to the kind of discipline real political struggle requires. I don’t think this is a true–and I think that we insure that it does not become true by identifying and fighting against the effects of neoliberalism on our political subjectivity.

Bigger than any of us: occupy history

Because people aren’t mobilized primarily as workers but as those who are proletarianized and exploited in every aspect of our lives—at risk of foreclosure and unemployment, diminishing futures, increasing debts, shrunken space of freedom, accelerated dependence on a system that is rapidly failing (I’m thinking here of the ways corporations file for bankruptcy and thus shed their obligations to pay people their earned and expected pensions as well as the ongoing threats to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid)—because people are mobilized as the 99%, the attack on capitalism takes different forms, forms loosely associated with the ideological span of the contemporary left.

OWS and the left

Protest can allow for a public persona to be reclaimed through the process of struggle, which then becomes not a hardship or an ascetic procedure of self-effacement but a source of deep pleasure — this is why unlikely people report being energized by General Assemblies, when in the abstract they sound like tedious nightmares. The process becomes constitutive of a civic, collective self, which is liberating — it allows the private self to go private again, releasing us from the anxieties of ostentatious displays of identity. That means the use of social media is liberated from the personal-brand-building bullshit and becomes more about transmissions that orchestrate solidarity among politically engaged groups. In a sense, the personal ceases to be political; everyday life in public begins to be lived in a civic space rather than a commercial one, and private everyday life ideally starts to escape capture.

Rob Horning: Inspired by Jacobin dissent


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