Friday, September 21, 2012

Maureen Tkacik — The radical right-wing roots of Occupy Wall Street

Nice historical article about Karl Hess, if you are into the history thing.

The radical right-wing roots of Occupy Wall Street
By Maureen Tkacik


Dan Kervick said...

As far as I can tell, except for their common use of the term "the 1%" to refer to the richest of the elite, Hess and Occupy have very little in common. Nor did Tkacik demonstrate any historical roots of the Occupy movement in Hess's thought. So her title is false and the ostensible theme of the article is sloppily executed and without foundation. Other than that, the article is interesting.

I have my own beef with Occupy, as people know, since I often find it too much in the anarchist camp of apolitical and antinomian radical individualism. But this article seems a bit like a like smear job.

Tom Hickey said...

I agree that the link between Karl Hess and Occupy is is tenuous at best without evidence of influence. What is interesting historically is how a person woke up and shifted views from one extreme (right libertarianism) to the other (left libertarianism). What it shows is that "conversion of heart" is possible.

A similar story is that of Frank Shaeffer wrt Christian Fundamentalism. Frank is the son of ├╝ber-fundamentalists Francis and Edith Schaeffer, who were instrumental in founding the religious right with an explicitly Dominionist political agenda.

While neither of these cases bears directly on the Occupy movement, the leaders of both right and left are well educated about antecedents and doubtlessly knew of people like this — see New Left — and were influenced by them much more than Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin or Mao Zedong, none of whom are directly relevant to the contemporary experience, mainstream propaganda to the contrary not withstanding.

Tkacik is correct is point out that Occupy is more oriented toward market anarchism than the socialism of the Old Left. But Occupy also emphasizes that it is New New Left rather than a continuation of the New Left of the Sixties. Nonetheless, I see a whole lot of similarities, less the frivolity and fun.

Magpie said...

I largely agree with Kervick, particularly in his misgivings about OWS. I also sniff a bit of smear job in that article.

But on first hand experience I can say that "conversions of heart" are possible.

I myself never was an operative of any party, let alone right/center right. More the average kind of guy who stays away from protests and that kind of things.

I was quite moderate in cultural matters (although more conservative than many).

But I was a believer in free-markets; or, to be more precise, things were working for me, so I wasn't too concerned about details.

It took serious changes in my circumstances to teach me a lesson: I became part of the "details".

I guess there is such a thing as poetic justice.

Maybe that's why I am emphatic about these matters.