By Joe Skoog ’13
The Occupy Wall Street movement’s main goal is to do away with “business as usual” economic practices by companies around the world.
As good as this may sound, however, this message is far too vague to accomplish anything.
In reality, a more precise and clear mission for these protests are the only ways to create social change.
There are many ways that this can be done.
As Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt José Medina said in his article “Toward a Foucaultian Epistemology of Resistance: Counter-Memory, Epistemic Friction, and Guerrilla Pluralism” in the October 2011 edition of Foucault Studies, “The critical task of the scholar and the activist is to resurrect subjugated knowledges—that is, to revive hidden or forgotten bodies of experiences and memories—and to help produce insurrections of subjugated knowledges.”
The subjugated knowledges, the ideas and, epistemologies or “truths” that are offered by oppressed populations can truly help create spaces for change.
Only through localized perspectives that evaluate not just the 99 percent, but the true bottom of the 99 percent—those who have had their voices silenced by traditional economic calculus—can we create real change.
There have been multiple examples where this form of localized knowledge and resistance has been effective.
Firstly, there is the example of the Chilean people, who were able to create social services for themselves after the oppressive rule of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was overthrown. This is what Medina would call a critical intervention that was able to disrupt the formerly dominant perspectives because of one thing: a concrete mission.
The second example is that of Spain, where the Spanish people were able to create sustainable forms of governance after the overthrow of an oppressive dictator, who were able to make fair elections almost completely regulated by normal citizenry.
As long as the protestors continue to engage in vague protests, there is no way that changes in our economic systems can be carried out.
They should promote what French philosophers and psychologists Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari call “multiple lines of flight.”
The idea of “multiple lines of flight” is to create change through different methods. If one fails, attempting to find another way will invariably work.
According to Deleuze and Guattari, isolating political advocacies as lines of flight can allow us to constantly find ways to overcome dominant hierarchies and create change.
These lines of flight create opportunities. Similar to the idea of water moving through the point of least resistance, the protestors should engage in change through paths that will create change.
Actions could include further protests, but ones that have concrete messages about change.
While the current Occupy Wall Street movement has good intentions, its lack of a plan has lead it astray.