Here’s a poignant vignette of the Occupy movement from Occupy Vancouver, where a woman in her twenties was found dead in her tent on Saturday night:
In a strange twist of events, the band D.O.A. began performing a live outdoor concert about 20 metres away while police set up crime scene tape around the now-collapsed tent.
Indeed. In a culture that values the attitudinal pose above humdrum reality, D.O.A. means the “transgressive” band with “edgy” titles (Last Scream Of The Missing Neighbors) rather than the actual corpse being carted off to the morgue a few yards away.
In my book, I quote a famous line from Gibbon on the late Roman Empire:
The form was still the same, but the animating health and vigor were fled.
Alas, that goes for counter-cultural imperialism, too. At OWS the form is still the same – the third-of-a-century old fashions, the half-century-old songs – in the same way that at Franz Joseph’s last military ceremonial in Vienna in the autumn of 1913 the form was still the same – the imperial coach and its six white Lippizaners, the Polish cuirassiers, the Hungarian hussars in leopard skin. But, in Zuccotti Park as in the Schwarzenbergplatz, in Oakland as in Rome, the animating health and vigor are fled.
When “youthful idealism” is an implausible euphemism for mopey solipsistic passivity (“I am a first semester college student, I have no idea where I will be in 4-5 years“), it’s hardly surprising it degenerates into party time for crack dealers, granny-preying thugs, statutory rapists, and transgenderphobic looters. What else is there? The slogans, the drum circles, the D.O.A. gig, and the endorsements of opportunist celebs like the Rev Jackson and Michael Moore is like a Starbucks compilation CD of revolutionary chic.