Dispelling the “Naive, Uneducated” Red Herring :: Reverb – Patrick Bick

10 Jan

I’ve helped run a few businesses, and that’s not a lot, but I can tell you that, for Occupy Calgary, running General Assembly at 3pm is a colossal administrative oversightColossal.

That engenders a demographic problem. The only people who can show up to say their piece are:

  • self-employed
  • under- or un-employed
  • homeless (which Calgary long ago disregarded as “transient citizens”)
  • those collecting a government dime (EI, disability, etc)

These are an important chunk of the voices that stand at the microphone.

You cannot reasonably expect the majority of those speakers to be highly-educated, articulate, and well-informed. Most people are not, and that’s not a character flaw. That is normal. Normal people have a place in government; they have a place in decisions that affect their well-being.

In large part (especially now), education is a function of economic prosperity. Thing is, we live in a society where money is a social necessity, such that we have more trouble seeing the value in people who have less of it. Occupy has shown that it’s willing to work with that sad problem, even if it can’t solve it.

This takes me to another, highly relevant point: most of the actual campers were homeless, and were, without question, in need. This is not surprising.

Let me repeat that.

This is not surprising.

We offered free company, food, water, shelter and amenities to passers by.Those in need will heed that call, particularly those that are not welcomed, elsewhere. It’s certainly not that they don’t have something to complain about (regardless of whether you view them as deserving or not).

To the idea that Occupiers are naive, uneducated, or just plain dumb

If the counter-arguments and disputes my educated, intelligent colleagues have had is anything to go by, we all are, because, as “smart” people, we’re expected to know better – to see these patterns for what they obviously are. I expect (however unfairly) that people who attack Occupy this way to recognize the blatant classism, hypocrisy, condescension, and fallacious, self-attributional thinking that pervades this kind of statement.

The people most likely to show for GA to be heard are also likely to have less education because they’re more likely to have a lower economic standing, and, ergo, a lot of shit to complain about. That, in some considerable part, we owe to the timing of GA. The reason more people aren’t showing up is because most of us are too busy trying to survive within the economic climate that fueled the Occupy movement in the first place.

And for those of you that might complain that all these people need to do is get jobs, I can reply simply: it’s not that easy. Everyone is scared; there’s a lot less of that surge of neurotransmitters that makes people go “this is a good decision!”.

Or, to put it another way, Republicans spent the first half of the year slamming Obama for high unemployment, and how the people don’t have any jobs. In the latter half of the year, they’ve talked a lot about how Occupiers need to get off of their asses and get jobs.

If you’ve seen those postings of people on Facebook, with their faces obscured by some piece of paper talking down “the 99%”, about how they’re just lazy, not working hard enough, and that they deserve whatever they’ve got, I’ve got a cautionary tale for you.

That’s it, in a nutshell, folks. Moving on.


One Response to “Dispelling the “Naive, Uneducated” Red Herring :: Reverb – Patrick Bick”

  1. Brad Pitt January 10, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    Great article, more people need to read it. Thank you.


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