My rating: 1 of 5 stars
I hate this book.
I really tried to give it a chance. But I knew going in that any book about occupy that was compiled by someone described as “an editor who has worked with Nobel Prize-winning economists, Pulitzer Prize-winning writers, and leading political figures, financial journalists, academics, and bestselling authors” was going to be a shit show. And a shit show it was.
It isn’t that all the essays are crap. Some of them are quite good. The first section breaks down the financial crisis and brings in some history of previous people’s movements. The second section talks about occupy itself. The third section, the part that really sealed my hatred, is about what we should do now.
What are the proposed solutions? Campaign finance reform. Corporate regulations. Environmental regulations. Progressive taxation. Elect a different congress. Smart loans…Are you still awake? The only reason I haven’t passed out from boredom is that I want shake these people until their heads pop off.
Dear asshats who think everything will be solved if we just all rally around one magic, conservative/liberal bullet like ending corporate personhood. Please take your brilliant idea to someone sitting in prison for twenty years on a weed charge, with all the fabulous opportunities they have to look forward to when they get out, and tell them they need to set aside their pet issues (aka their life) and lobby for some bullshit bill. And if you wouldn’t mind filming that for me.
But the contributors to this book weren’t thinking about people in prison. They weren’t thinking about anything that doesn’t affect them. And who are they? There are 66 contributors to this book. Fifteen of them are women. One of those women is just an interviewer. Eight of them are co-authors with some dude. One of those women is Asian. There is one black man who contributed an essay. Three Indians (by which I mean grew up in India) are contributors. 61 of the 66 authors are white (though eight of those people are from Argentina, Chile, Cuba, Spain, or Turkey). 52 out of 66 authors have grad degrees. At least 35 of them went to school or taught at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, MIT, Georgetown, or Oxford.
This book is the antithesis of what occupy was supposed to be about. The book oozes status, hierarchy, academic circle jerks, and conservative/liberal “solutions” that nip around the edges of the system, but have no interest in actually changing it – much less getting rid of it. This book is the worst kind of racism, sexism, and classism. It is the kind that just erases anyone outside of their tiny, elite circle. It is the kind that wraps itself up in a pretty package of intellectualism.
The reason occupy has been so damn difficult is that the people involved had to confront head on all of the issues that this book ignores – often failing spectacularly. But at least there was some space for people who didn’t have the kind of pedigrees that the contributors to this book have. The reason occupy took off is precisely because it created a space for people to be heard, to negotiate directly with other people, to come up with ideas outside the usual bullshit that kept most of us at home drinking ourselves into stupors and yelling at our televisions.
The last thing we need is a bunch of essays compiled by some woman who creams her pants every time she meets a white dude with a PhD from an Ivy League school.