Consider This

Dispatches From the Fringe

In Pursuit Of Ethics

The Occupy Wall Street movement, like the Greek protests, the Spanish Indignados, and the Arab Spring, though all precipitated by different specific events, are all springing from a common well. The source of this well is a modern disregard for certain fundamental aspects of how human life is defined and what follows as society manifests from these definitions.

These movements are, if nothing else, a basic protest against an ethic which devalues society’s building blocks – its people – and manifests systems of organization which are inefficient, loathe to adapt, and which leads to an entropic inability to correct flaws that would lead to the whole system’s failure. Primary human production, the basic unit of all human labor, has been funneled by the current system into subsystems of self-perpetuation which totally devalue human creativity and imagination, where following its internal logic means feeding the system a half-capable person, only able to fulfill a largely arbitrary task rather than contemplate the entirety of the apparatus. Taking to the streets and occupying parks and public spaces is an expression of outrage at the contempt of the system for what we all know human experience can be; for what we have seen mostly in spite of that system.

This system of alienation from humans being-for-themselves is the inevitable product of a economic-philosophy known as Capitalism. This philosophy, followed to its logical ends, dissects communities as needed for the directing of wealth to the already-wealthy, without regard for human dignity or what we would consider morally acceptable. Within the confines of this ethic, all is justifiable in the pursuit of more efficient gains, be the consequences war, outrageous inequity between persons (manifesting as “classes”), environmental degradation, or in all reality a combination of these factors. This system, so far removed from the commonly shared human experience – with its pesky emotions and natural communities lending to the healthy development of empathy and compassion – alienates people from their own personal experience; it effectively praises and rewards those who would act against their own expanded interests, creating monsters who would do monstrous things to those who would otherwise be allies or companions, for the sake of “gains.”

But what is gained by perpetuating a system in such clear opposition to normal human interests? Certainly, the wealthiest among us could argue that their comfort is worth the cost to others’ well being, that, for example, when employees are laid off to raise shareholder earnings, the end goal as stated by Capitalism (gains) have been accomplished, and therefore justify any and all means for achieving that goal, particularly when the gains are spectacularly impressive. Given enough time for this philosophy to explore its possible manifestations, it will, and has to, consume any resource for the sake of the perception of gain.

The human beings we find in parks and streets and having conversations in their homes, schools, and workplaces, are not satisfied by this way of being. They understand that a system which is more effective at exploiting its participants – at every level, even the top – than providing for them is utterly broken. They may not see the full scope of the problem, or see it manifested in every aspect of their lives, but they must feel it, as a sense of alienation from their truer nature which emerges in the company of a loved one, one’s friends, or in the rare moments of clarity when all else falls away and the deepest self emerges, nakedly and in full sunlight.


Written by Ryan Georgioff

November 5, 2011 at 4:47 pm

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