Monday, October 17, 2011

Big Government Anarchism

A phrase I came up with to describe the thinking of Noam Chomsky comes to mind reading this article from the Grey Lady — Intellectual Roots of Wall St. Protest Lie in Academe.

The headline enough should set any decent person against the Occupy Wall Street movement, but the article is well worth a read as it exposes the intellectual bankruptcy of our intellectuals. We are told that "Occupy Wall Street's most defining characteristics—its decentralized nature and its intensive process of participatory, consensus-based decision-making—are rooted in other precincts of academe and activism: in the scholarship of anarchism and, specifically, in an ethnography of central Madagascar."

We are told that it was on the "island nation off the coast of Africa that David Graeber, one of the movement's early organizers, who has been called one of its main intellectual sources, spent 20 months between 1989 and 1991," and where "he observed what he called 'consensus decision-making,' where residents made choices in a direct, decentralized way, not through the apparatus of the state." There, in "a place where the state picked up stakes and left," "instead of petitioning the government to build a well, members of a community might simply build it themselves." This is rightly called "an example of anarchism's philosophy, or what Mr. Graeber describes as 'democracy without a government.'"

But we are then asked to believe that this "ethnographer, anarchist, and reader in anthropology at the University of London's Goldsmiths campus.... transplanted the lessons he learned in Madagascar to the globalism protests in the late 1990s in which he participated, and which some scholars say are the clearest antecedent, in spirit, to Occupy Wall Street." C'mon!

Would the good people of Betafo, the "community of descendants of nobles and of slaves" that Prof. Graeber observed, who "instead of petitioning the government to build a well... might simply build it themselves," be so foolish as to petition a government they (rightly) saw as corrupted by corporate power be given yet more power to regulate the same corporations that corrupted it in the first place?

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Blogger Pints in NYC said...

So I walked around the protesters today, with Plato's Republic in hand, on my way to get a haircut: the barber is on Wall Street. I figured I'd read it a bit if I had to wait.

Does that count?

October 17, 2011 at 11:50 PM  

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