Can the Occupy movement initiate a makeover?

Occupy Wall Street

Some of you, dear readers, have asked me to write about the ongoing Occupy movement. This blog is about how you and I can impact our personal spheres of influence, not about collective action or political affairs. Allow me to make an exception.

I think that the Occupy movement has achieved its foundational goals. It has posed serious questions on the socio-economic inequalities in our societies. Motivated by a sense of helplessness and resentment towards the financial establishments in the United States, the Occupy movement has brought to public attention some themes that are worthy and germane.

So what’s next? This effort to occupy urban space for demonstrations is inspired by the “Arab Spring” uprisings in Egypt and other countries. The direct demands of those dissent movements were somewhat straightforward, viz. the end of the political regimes in their countries. On the contrary, the themes broached by the Occupy movement are far-reaching.

If the Occupy movement is about change, what is the nature of this change? The movement should focus less on what it does not want, and more about what it does want. Beyond proposals to minimize the immediate difficulties of “the 99%,” if our hypotheses about how to operate a healthy society are wide of the mark over the long term, how can we reform the prevailing capitalist democracy-based social order? Can we merely reconcile to some degree of government-interventionist capitalism, regulate businesses further, and increase taxes? How do we develop social welfare programs that truly benefit the deserved and the underclass? How do we continue to uphold individual responsibility and reward the most productive people in proportion to their contributions to the society?

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