Thursday, November 10, 2011

protests

Set aside** for the moment the merits of the arguments/complaints made by Occupy*.

Like many campus protests, this is fundamentally a movement of bored (unemployed) people desperately looking for anything to blame their frustrations on and get angry about in a somewhat active way. Even if they have to invent problems to get riled up about, they're bored enough to do so. And so, like this ridiculous rioting over the firing of a football coach, these stories fill me with leaden ennui.

I just don't get it. What do Berkeley students hope to accomplish by forming a mob for a few hours? By intentionally stirring up trouble, looking for ways to get maced and arrested? Being able to tell heroic-sounding stories about standing up to the Man? Do they hope that from a distance it's less obvious what's really going on, that it appears sincerely desperate? Because from downtown Oakland and the campus of U.C. Berkeley, I can tell you it sure doesn't. Do they hope that by acting out the story, history will make it real?

*Haha did you think that was a footnote marker? .... er wait.

**Sure, it's impossible to entirely disentangle my interpretation of the sociological phenomenon from my interpretation of their complaints. I can't get riled up about a few people getting rich in small part because some systemic issue amplifies the returns to their hard work in some way that other people call unfair. I just don't care that some people who are enormously rich by worldwide standards are upset that a few others are even richer. Maybe that colors my interpretation of anyone who does.

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