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Friday, April 26, 2013

What Happened to Occupy?

The Financial Times has a well-done roundup review of several books about the Occupy Wall Street movement, mostly by people involved in it. The short version: "A sympathetic reader of these books will end up with the slightly exasperated feeling that Occupy wasted its chance as a political movement." A couple of observations:

1) Past Prawfs guest Bernard Harcourt of Chicago appears in the review, with a quote from his essay in one of these collections. This is just a guess, but when the dean at the University of Chicago Law School sent a memo to the faculty urging them to assist the efforts of its students and recent graduates to occupy Wall Street, I doubt this is what he had in mind.

2) I love this quote from Michael Taussig, a Columbia anthropology prof who also wrote an essay for a collection. As the review puts it, "Taussig hails the coming together [in Zucotti Park] of a 'community defining itself through a new language and sense of collective': this, he reflects, is a problem for politicians and experts who 'want to channel the messianic and transgressive  impulse into their own need for pathological fame and power'." The use of "pathologicial" is especially nice here; why let people think for themsevles when you can just insert a pseudo-diagnostic adjective? But I would have thought that politicians and experts who wanted to pursue fame and power would have been delighted by the Occupy movement.

3) There are probably lessons in here for the popular front of the law school reform movement.  

Posted by Paul Horwitz on April 26, 2013 at 01:24 PM in Paul Horwitz | Permalink


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What happened to Occupy? Its main protest sites were dismantled by violent police action. I know it's fun to snicker at drumming bozos, but you might also want to reflect on the use of tear gas, kettling, violent arrests, surveillance, and other ways in which state violence disrupted quintessentially political speech by nondisruptive protesters. Consider, too, police intimidation of journalists--a constant theme of the protests. Though I suppose our priors may well dictate whose First Amendment rights we highly value, and whose we condescend to.

Posted by: Anon | Apr 28, 2013 5:09:24 PM

So members of OWS are very proud off their internal accomplishments, while opponents are happy with their lack of external impact. Sounds like a win-win.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Apr 27, 2013 4:52:03 AM

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