Slavoj Žižek, writing for the London Review of Books on the recent London riots, makes a point pertinent to the perennial "OWS HAZ NO DEMANDS" whining:
The fact that the rioters have no programme is therefore itself a fact to be interpreted: it tells us a great deal about our ideological-political predicament and about the kind of society we inhabit, a society which celebrates choice but in which the only available alternative to enforced democratic consensus is a blind acting out. Opposition to the system can no longer articulate itself in the form of a realistic alternative, or even as a utopian project, but can only take the shape of a meaningless outburst. What is the point of our celebrated freedom of choice when the only choice is between playing by the rules and (self-)destructive violence?
Of course, in the case of Occupy, they are indeed articulate about their reasons for protest, if anyone bothers to listen, even though there are so many perspectives on such a huge set of issues that it seems inarticulate - and the fact that a status-quo business-dominated media too often refuses to listen doesn't help, either. Hasn't anyone told these idiots that socialism failed? There Is No Alternative - and, anyway, all capitalism needs is a few neo-liberal tweaks here and there and everything will be fine. Derp, derp.
Which suggests a rationale for the constant assertions from the wingnuts that OWS is funded by Soros or whoever - Liberty Park is a socialist anarchy, one that seems to be working, and the only way the Limbaughs and Glennbecks of America can cope with this apparent gross violation of natural laws is to conclude it's a Potemkin Village.
There is a point as well towards explaining, for example, the looting that happened after Hurricane Katrina, which of course was labeled by the Right as little more than a concrete expression of the tendency of "Those People" to (as supposedly in the case of social programs) enrich themselves at other's expense:
Zygmunt Bauman characterised the riots as acts of ‘defective and disqualified consumers’: more than anything else, they were a manifestation of a consumerist desire violently enacted when unable to realise itself in the ‘proper’ way – by shopping. As such, they also contain a moment of genuine protest, in the form of an ironic response to consumerist ideology: ‘You call on us to consume while simultaneously depriving us of the means to do it properly – so here we are doing it the only way we can!’ The riots are a demonstration of the material force of ideology – so much, perhaps, for the ‘post-ideological society’. From a revolutionary point of view, the problem with the riots is not the violence as such, but the fact that the violence is not truly self-assertive. It is impotent rage and despair masked as a display of force; it is envy masked as triumphant carnival.
The Social Darwinist ideology so popular now with conservatives (Republican and Democrat) is basically one of not so much driving a mule with a carrot dangling in front of its nose, as starving the mule beforehand so it pursues the carrot with that much more vigor and efficiency. Which neglects the possibility that the mule is at some point going to say "Fuck this" and turn on you and bite your hand off to get to that goddamn carrot.
We have a contracting economy where wages have fallen, job security effectively no longer exists, credit is tightening, and the economic safety net has been gleefully frayed by free-market conservatives. And yet, we still have a system that demands ever-increasing consumption, that teases with images of wealth and "success", that insists on displays of affluence, that offers so much for a privileged few, while the proles are merely allowed to look on with envy and fight each other for a vanishingly small chance at upward mobility.
So go ahead, dismiss OWS. Dismiss their views. Thousands of people are peacefully expressing their anxiety about their financial situation. Thousands of people are willing to articulate in reasonable, polite terms what they think is going wrong and what should be done about it, even if the news media isn't interested in listening. Go ahead and ignore them, roust them out of the parks with clubs and tear gas, then cut their wages, slash social programs, demand austerity from everyone but the 1%. Make the economy scream in the name of protecting profit and privilege. Just don't get all pissy when the inevitable happens and articulate rage turns inarticulate.
As Langston Hughes put it:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?