What the ‘Occupy’ Protesters Want

With the number of protests starting to multiply, I’ve started to pay a little bit more attention to the Occupy movement.  While the mainstream media might be a bit confused by what the Occupy movement wants I find the answer a bit more obvious.

The rallying cry of the groups has been how the top 1% of the world has the majority of the wealth (at least in the US, Canada it is a bit more even).  People find this unfair and generally I have to agree.  Having several more million doesn’t marginally improve your life after the first few millions.  So the concept of billionaires is somewhat obscene.

The problem with the mainstream media and somewhat the protesters themselves is they know that this inequity is wrong, but don’t realize the issue isn’t really a problem.  Rather the wealth distribution is in fact a symptom of a much larger problem.

This is where some people start to lose my point, but I’ll try to explain this anyway.  The issue is in fact the hierarchy is basically married to our civilization.  From the company where you work to where you can choose to live there is a hierarchy which always will result in the concentration of wealth towards the top.  This isn’t to say the business you work for or where you live is evil, but rather the by product of our civilization.  By frame of reference when I say civilization I’m referring to 99.99% of the world population, the handful of tribes still living their traditional lifestyles in remote places are excused from this generalization.  Civilization as it stands is great for businesses and products, but rather sucks at being good for what people need.

So when you have any hierarchy it goes really well for those at the top.  They get the best of everything while everyone else just gets what is left over.  So occasionally the masses get so pissed off and remove those from the top of the hierarchy by way of revolution and then  put others into the top of the hierarchy.  Things might improve marginally for the masses at that point, but generally speaking things will end up in a similar point in the future because the hierarchy still exists and you will end up with concentration of wealth at the top.  The problem isn’t the people involved, but rather the social structure we keep using.

In the end, the Occupy movement really doesn’t want a different government or new banking rules, they want a different system than a hierarchy which effectively means an end to civilization itself.  The two concepts are so married to each other there is no way to replace the one without taking out the other.  This is why people find the entire moment without focus, because we refuse to even look at that idea.  We are terrified of the end of civilization, which is funny because the doesn’t mean the world will be worse off.  In fact, it might even get better.

So what other social organization could we use?  Well for humans we are lucky that we have several million years of evolutionary development that have weeded out the poor ones prior to our civilization.  The only other model that has survived is a tribe.  In a tribe, there may be a chief or leader, but this doesn’t make it a hierarchy since the leader is just another job that needs to be done and doesn’t make that person better than the rest of the tribe.  The downside of a tribe organization is you are limited to smaller groups since you need to know your other members to keep them accountable. So even if you used a tribe of tribes model (basically each tribe would have a representative in a larger group the represents all the tribes in a small region) to increase the total number of people in a area your upper limit for organization would be perhaps a couple 100,000 or so.  Likely less than that.

Now some people might reject this idea out of hand by pointing out many First Nations in Canada and the US have tribes and they have serious problems like poverty, crime and other social issues.  This is rather an unfair comparison since this is rather like comparing a healthy person you work with with someone in a  hospital dying of cancer since they both have brown hair.  First Nations have had a cultural collapse from what our civilization did to them, so they aren’t functioning the same capacity of what they used to do.  Their social fabric that once made them a successful tribe is utter been destroyed (By the way, how do I know they were successful? They were here we our civilization arrived, everything else had been weeded out by evolution).

So that is what the Occupy movement really wants: the end of civilization.  They want to address the core of the hierarchy.  Yet that kind of change would utterly alter our world.  Nothing would be exactly the same again.  Yet really, this won’t entirely be a bad thing since after all our civilization doesn’t have that good of a track record: global pollution, poverty, crime….you know.  It frankly can’t get much worse and for a species as creative as ours it makes sense to experiment with things when you realize they don’t work so well.

So what do you think the Occupy protesters want?

7 thoughts on “What the ‘Occupy’ Protesters Want”

  1. It seems like one of the big difference between a small tribe and a large civilization is the long-term contact that makes it hard to get away with taking advantage of someone else. You just can’t have a deep enough relationship with 10,000 people to be permanently accountable to each one.

    Now for some far-out crazy talk: I wonder if we’re slowly getting closer to a point where people accept that this sense of responsibility and accountability is necessary even with people you don’t know and won’t see again. It is a requirement for living in a civilized way, it’s just not widely recognized yet. Hopefully a good crisis can open a few people’s eyes.

  2. I disagree the OWS want a flattening of all hierarchies and the end of civilization, as you put it. Maybe some of the more crazy ones.

    However, I do think there is merit in their point that the inequities have widened between the hierarchies: http://www.businessinsider.com/what-wall-street-protesters-are-so-angry-about-2011-10

    And I think the best proposal I’ve seen so far has come from Matt Taibbi:


  3. I think that you need to replace the use of the word ‘hierarchy’ with capitalism and the simply call the tribe an example of communism or socialism on a micro scale.

  4. My interpretation of the occupy movement is simply that the existing forms of Government are no longer representative of the people, as the ‘top 1%’ use their wealth to manipulate the decision making of our governments.

    Case in point (in my mind) is using tax payer money to bail out banks who then kick taxpayers out of their homes.

    I believe that media has a difficult time addressing this because the occupy movement do not communicate in traditional formats, as they communicate as they feel should be done.

    It all boils down to the concept that every individual is as equal as the other, no matter how wealthy the other may be, they are not more important. In a few interviews I heard from people participating at the Occupy movements they defended to media’s perception that they would not allow politicians to speak by explaining that they are allowed to speak, but they are as important as the people in front of them in line, therefore they must wait their turns.

  5. Occupy Wall Street might be simply an opportunity for people to vent their frustrations. I’m not sure anything will change.

    But if something could change, it would be to give everyone an equal start. We all know that wealth, influence and power will always be concentrated unequally around a few people. It might be because of skill, looks, charisma, or just dumb luck. But as long as we all start at the same place, it feels more fair.

    For example, the Americans (and Canadians to a lesser extent) outlawed hereditary titles of nobility. That way, everyone is equal. However, now we’re seeing dynasties of wealth instead. It would make sense to implement a hefty inheritance tax to address this, as was recently suggested in Macleans. I wouldn’t like it, but it would be a solution for fairness.

  6. “Well for humans we are lucky that we have several million years of evolutionary development that have weeded out the poor ones prior to our civilization. ”

    This statement is somewhat wrong. Anthropologists estimate that Homo Sapiens evolved 400,000-250,000 years ago. If you look at models of civilization, modern humans (100,000-50,000) are probably more appropriate given that they had the biological means for developing a complex social organisation (AKA a civilization).

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