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PORTSIDE  November 2011, Week 1

PORTSIDE November 2011, Week 1

Subject:

Occupy Wall Street, the American Dream, Cynicism and My Own Optimism

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Mon, 7 Nov 2011 22:00:49 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (103 lines)

Occupy Wall Street, the American Dream, Cynicism and my
own optimism Or Taking the Long Road to Democracy

Rodney D. Coate	Mon, 7 Nov 2011

A Reader's Response, submitted to portside by the author 

Occupy Wall Street, now rapidly spreading across the
U.S. and even Overseas, seems to have caught both the
press and politicos off balance.  Now, in a strange
attempt to play catch-up or to just stay abreast, the
news seems obsessed with this latest democratic
permutation.  What's interesting is what appears to
have been first disbelief and now strained acceptance
as the media and pundits scramble to understand,
deconstruct, and otherwise explain this phenomena.  
Unfortunately, those who dismiss or overly romanticize
this movement fail to not only understand its
complexity but fail to connect it to the core values
associated with the American Dream.  Alternatively,
both responses reflect a sort of political cynicism
while the actual movement reflects critical responses
to  myriad concerns that lay at the heart of our
democracy.

Cynicism, derived from the early Greeks, originally
meant one who rejected the objectively decreed value of
opulence, property and power and chose instead a life
of simplicity with few actual possessions.  Now
cynicism has risen to high art, often masking as
critical thinking, but in reality representing the
absolute rejection of any hope.  Such fatalistic
viewpoints, politically deriving from both the left and
the right, often reject any position held by those it
deems its opposites.  Binary opposites reflected in
such terms and phrases as conservative and liberal,
atheist and Christian, male and female -seldom produces
anything but confusion, obstruction, and delusion.

In its purest form, democracy is devoid of political
extremism.  Democracy, a critical thinking enterprise,
encourages radically different visions while it seeks
to navigate the ship of state.  Hence, there is an
absolute need today for a critically, reflective, and
analytical political process.  One that encourages
extreme views, is willing to examine alternative
realities, and is free to debate the unthinkable.  If
indeed this is what the Occupy Wall Street is all about
-then it is indeed a breath of fresh air in the
otherwise stale discourse that goes for politics in
America today.

Let us be real!  Empowerment and rejection of
oppression has never emerged from those who are most
oppressed, most victimized, and most likely to be
humiliated by extreme poverty, neglect, and want.  All
too often it is the poor, the abused, and the oppressed
whose very existence becomes the focal point of others
who claim to represent them.  If indeed Occupy Wall
Street is about representing the 99%, then it would
entail both conservatives and liberals, Christians,
Muslims, Atheists, Buddhists and Jews, middle class and
lower class.  It would entail the veteran and the
pacifists, those who are anti-war and the hawk.  Those
poor huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, whether
or not they had a green card would at last be welcomed
on these shores.  Maybe, just maybe, we will discuss
the really important things such as how do we garner 
livable wages, environmental sustainability, universal
health care, affordable education and vocational
training, honorable retirements and respectful deaths. 
  When will we get out of peoples bedrooms and wombs? 
Can we guarantee to our children that they will be
loved and protected, while we age with dignity?  I am
not sure any movement can be so encompassing, but if,
just if it can then we might just breath freedom's air
for the first time in these United States of America. 
Me -I am optimistic, and willing to take the long road
to democracy -what about you?


Note: Rodney D. Coates is professor of sociology,
social justice and gerontology.  He can be reached at
[log in to unmask] 

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