10 December 2011

The Occupy Movement: UWO's Klatt and Hammond, and other perspectives

[revised Jan 12, 2012]

In November, 2011, Heinz Klatt, retired professor, wrote a piece for Western News (UWO, London, Ont), with the title 'Occupy movement may be most vapid of all,' Nov 24, in which he complained about the Occupiers, ending with a suggestion that they might, after all, be on the same side, against the 1%.

Klatt was critical of the Occupiers not being able to articulate their concerns well or comprehend their aims sufficiently. But we all speak from our own knowledge base - from ‘education,’ the media, our own experience, and elsewhere. If the Occupiers are pursuing a particular path (placing blame on the 1%) and still sorting out where their movement is heading, then we should consider that normal, under the circumstances. Which revolutionary movement ever strated out being well organized and knowing exactly what their aims were and how they could be accomplished. Take the women's liberation movement as an example of a movement that has been chaotic at times, with no clear direction or organization in its early years. Chaining themselves to gates and throwing themselves in front of horses may not appear to us to be well thought-out strategies for success, but look at them now. As the Occupiers continue to discuss, listen to others, reflect on what they want for themselves and society, and to organize, no doubt their movement will progress in achieving their aims and their ability to express them.

The media’s emphasis, Klatt’s, and Bernie Hammond's, whose Nov 17 piece was the instigator of this discussion, all claim that the 1% is the problem, not that there could be many reasons why social inequality is worse now than in recent decades. As the division between the classes widens, there is bound to be increasing disatisfaction among those lower down, while those at the top (eg top 30-50%) reap the benefits of the 'good life.' Yet this fact of life, that the struggle for scarce resources exists at every level of society, has yet to be recognized as a contributing factor to the problem of social inequality in general.

Feminism is one contributing factor - beginning with the women's liberation movement that formed in opposition to men's dominance in society, and which now is in many ways dominant itself, if not over men of their own class, then over men and women lower down in terms of economic standing. Unfortunately, the real numbers of good careers and jobs in society has not increased, even though many more women are now working alongside men, and marrying them, resulting in increased numbers of the well-off dual-career, dual-income family and their assumptions of entitlement.

Feminism has achieved much for women's independence, but not for all women. And while men used to be dominant, in general, that dominance is now shared with women. We no longer live in a world where the man is breadwinner with a wife at home. In fact, most young people do not understand the way things were. Nor do many in the middle classes comprehend (or perhaps would rather not admit) that there are many capable people out there being pushed out, while they edge their way upwards.

Don't shrug off the power of the Occupy movement
By Bernie Hammond
Opinion, Western news
November 17, 2011

Occupy movement may be most vapid of all
By Heinz Klatt
Opinions, Western News
November 24, 2011

Income inequality: deep, complex and growing
By Jeffrey Simpson
Globe and Mail
Dec 09, 2011

The poor are doing better than you think [comments section]
By Margaret Wente [and concerned readers]
Globe and Mail
Dec 10, 2011