Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking Forward to 2012, Looking Back at OWS

Arguably the biggest domestic political development of 2011 was Occupy Wall Street, and it’s interesting how it manages to throw my four favorite things (at least up to this point in life) back at me in mutated form:

Comics/genre material: V for Vendetta masks have become almost as important in reality as in the comics that spawned them.

Alternative rock: Jeff Mangum of Neutral Milk Hotel and others have serenaded Zuccotti Park – and I have tickets to see one of his now-rare concerts on Jan. 21 in the slightly classier setting of the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Anarchic politics: Of course, to the extent OWS wants anarchism, it’s decidedly of the left-anarchist variety, but I sort of have to admire the willingness to ask fundamental questions largely shied away from since about a century ago, when anarchists were also making trouble downtown.

(I’ll have more to say in the near future about OWS guru David Graeber’s bizarre and disturbing argument in the book Debt for abolishing not just government debt, student debt, or mortgage debt but indeed all mathematical keeping of accounts whatsoever.)

Skepticism: From the hygiene problems to the odd little shrine at Zuccotti to the refusal to outline a legislative agenda, there were signs reality has not been OWS’s highest priority – but for all my cynicism, I would not want to rule out something new and useful coming out of all this.  Surely, the carnivalesque uncertainty (and potential) was part of the appeal.

In any case, I look forward to the new year and a whole new era – and, I think, even a completely altered list of favorite things – much as I enjoyed the last twenty years of my time in NYC (having arrived just a few months after college graduation) and in this mindset.  

The more mundane key to making it a truly happy new year by my standards, though, will be keeping that Romney-vs.-Gingrich fight going so long that they exhaust each other while Ron Paul – who I think has the potential to change the world in even more fundamental ways than those contemplated by OWS – quietly scoops up all those disaffected, quasi-libertarian, and Tea Partyish votes out there and becomes the plurality voice within the GOP. 

Whatever strange, eclectic, and occasionally reprehensible motivations the Paul movement might have, the common theme for nearly all his enthusiastic fans is creating a world of voluntary interactions instead of domination by force.  I look forward to being able to talk of such things in mainstream settings – instead of just number-crunching election returns and budget tweaks and the like. 

My New Year’s resolution is to renew contact with the world (live and in person instead of just online, as you’ll soon see), including with some people I’ve neglected amidst recent hectic transformations.  Soon, I promise, things will be taken up a notch.

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