The “Occupy” protests are intellectually vacuous whatever Laurie Penny says
The empty slogans of the protestors are becoming boring. They should grow up and do some proper analysis of the world’s ills
Laurie Penny and her friends Tweet furiously from collective decision-making breakout sessions and breathlessly file copy to the Indy via satellite.
Penny in particular does this with such passion that one could almost be forgiven for thinking she were reporting from a war zone.
But unlike the war correspondents who bravely covered the Spanish Civil War, Laurie and her tribe are little more than spokespeople for a lazy, insignificant and futile “movement” that stems from, at best, a poor understanding of global economics or at worst, an ingrained jealousy of wealth – no matter how hard earned it may have been.
Embedded among the trust-funded, part-time hippies of Times Square or lounging around the sunny central squares of Madrid (21 degrees and rising), Laurie attempts to add intellectual gravitas to the actions (or frankly, inaction) of her unwashed comrades.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Laurie Penny is an excellent writer. Her articles read like passionate speeches (a good trick, in my book) and she has a wonderful style.
The problem is simply one of content. In an effort to legitimise large amounts of people defecating in buckets and begging for cooking equipment on Twitter, she analyses the scenes in front of her as if having been instructed to do so by some Oxford sociology professor.
We get treated to such wonderful concepts as “non-hierarchical consensus building networks” and we’re told that “the sense of collective engagement overwhelms the multiplicity of different strategies”.
We hear about “collective possibilities” and the “re-colonisation of public space”. We learn about “collective political imagination” and we’re told, day in day out, that it’s “huge” and “exciting” and that it really will “change the world”.
The problem of course, is that it is not huge. It is certainly not exciting and, I say this pretty confidently, it will not change the world.
I’m a man who watches the news, a lot. I source news from Twitter, I read news sites from around the world, I keep up with breaking stories and the only time I’ve seen any coverage of the “Occupy” protests is when I’ve gone looking for it.
The protesters say that the corporate slaves in the mainstream media are deliberately overlooking them.
I would suggest that the protesters are overlooking what makes news. Images of tents on the street are interesting for a few minutes, because we don’t often see that.
But it stops being interesting when there’s no peg, no follow up. No purpose to it. There isn’t yet a channel dedicated to broadcasting footage of tents in Parliament Square.
A few statements (collectively agreed, naturally) about wanting a fairer economy or a better democracy is not going to cut it. It has been pointed out several times, from Dan Hannan in the Telegraph to the leader article in yesterday’s Times, that the protests are wrong.
Anger should be directed at the Bank of England and at the politicians, not the wealth creating private sector as a whole.
So no matter how eloquently they’re written about and no matter how passionately those involved believe in what they’re doing, I have no choice but to accuse Laurie Penny of indulging in utter fantasy when she says that “the world is watching.” It isn’t.
Cuddling around some donated camping equipment in a novel city-centre setting, bashing out blogs from iPads and streaming your thought-workshops via webcam does not constitute a revolution. It barely even constitutes a protest.
Christian May is a political consultant with Media Intelligence Partners Ltd, where he specialisesin foreign affairs and international consultancy. He writes for The Commentator in a personal capacity
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