October 2nd, 2011
(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: email@example.com
Peter F Drucker said that we were living through the era of organizations. He was writing about the mid 20th century. I think that era is ending. Life for 100 years was about organizations and nation states, and during that era people enjoyed an increase in their standard of living, but during the whole era there was a constant criticism that organizations were infringing on people’s freedom. The criticism had right-wing and left-wing variations, but there was unease the whole time. Now, faced with the Great Recession, people have the chance to rethink the role of organizations.
In other words, it’s not just about inequality–but the deeper failure of institutions. To let people–especially the young–redress inequality by whatever slender means they might muster, by creating new opportunities. At every turn, the people in the Metamovement feel not merely spurned and scorned–but suffocated and strangled by institutions every bit as unflinchingly lethal as a hangman’s noose.
Their truth, I suspect, might be this: there’s no one left to turn to–and so the Metamovement has turned to each other. Not for yesterday’s notions of “solidarity”, or the corporatist ideal of “inspiration”–but as nodes in a pulsing network whose coherence defines it: to demand institutions which can literally deliver the goods of enlightened social contracts. That enshrine in the people, first and foremost, the inalienable right to be authors of their own destinies–instead of mute victims, puppets yoked by the invisible hands of remorseless fate.
For no matter how small and insignificant those destinies might seem to those looking down from the Olympian heights, in an era where prosperity itself lies in tatters, to have no agency over your destiny is the final word; the allegorical slap in the face; the insult that cannot be borne; the spark of quiet revolution.
To get a deep, intuitive–visceral–feel for this, please stop for a second and visit We Are The 99 Percent. Check out some of the pictures–and reflect on the deeper thread that runs through them: one not merely of loss of financial prosperity, but of the paring back of dignity, of the evisceration of agency, of the disappearance of that which might be said to be essential to the experience of being human, before all else–the power to make purposive choices, the gods themselves be damned (for example, to reduce it to crudity, the hyper-American decision to “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps”). Read a few? Good.
It is, of course, this sense of choice that is the cornerstone of eudaimonia, a moral obligation to make if not the most, then at least better than the least of one’s potential. And in that foundational sense, I’d say, the Metamovement is the first glimmering of a larger eudaimonic revolution that will burn over the globe like Bouazizi’s fire.
Yesterday’s institutions have reaped the whirlwind. The furies have blinked luridly awake. Not every revolt ends in revolution–but every revolution begins in revolt.