Playing the game to make a change

If you haven’t had a chance to yet read Mike Konczal’s interview with two of the Occupy SEC members who helped craft this epic 325 comment letter on the Volcker Rule. Like Konczal notes, many good posts have been written about this and I’m not really going to add anything new. I’d just like to take one quote from this Sarah Kliff piece (emphasis added):

Occupy the SEC insists there’s no contradiction between its in-the-weeds policy advocacy and the attention-grabbing demonstrations that have dominated most of coverage of the movement. “You can work within the system, and you can work outside the system,” says Goldstein. “What unites us with the Occupy movement is a strong belief in direct action. Direct action can take many forms—you can have protests, but you can also look at the devil that’s in the details,” adds Eric Taylor, an anthropologist and part-time military officer who’s currently unemployed. “We’re engaging in participatory democracy through the means that already exists.”

One of the many criticisms, of course, about the various Occupy movements has been their relative lack of organizational enthusiasm about engaging the system. Clearly Occupy SEC is bucking the trend in that regard, and in Konczal’s interview they reject the false choice of abandoning the system or reforming it – they’d prefer to do both. If I am to presume that these groups actually seek to effect the change they wish to see in the world, then this strategy makes a lot more sense to me. Otherwise you’re simply protesting, making symbolic gestures that quickly becomes lost on the general public when ancillary groups destroy private property, and when your subsequent non-actions for reformation suggest that you expect others to do the work for you.


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