The Agenda

#OccupyWallStreet

I was fascinated, but not entirely surprised, to learn that David Graeber is one of the initial organizers of #OccupyWallStreet. Ezra Klein recently interviewed Graeber, and their conversation was illuminating. I’ve referenced Graeber a number of times in this space, including in a post on birthright citizenship a few months back. It is remarkable that labor unions and liberal pressure groups like MoveOn have embraced a movement that seems to have an anarchist-Autonomist core. This makes me somewhat more optimistic about the right’s political prospects in the short to medium term. It does, however, raise questions about whether our left-of-center interlocutors have a sufficiently well-informed sense of the elements with whom they’ve aligned themselves.   

P.S. Interesting. Some readers interpret my last sentence as a, “Nyah-nyah, you lefties hang out with anarchists,” the considered response to which is, “Well, well, Tea Party people are racists!” In fact, I think that Graeber is a really smart guy and I’ve learned a great deal from him and from other anarchist thinkers. It just so happens that anarchist thinking — including a desire for global freedom of movement and the destruction of borders, etc., — is very much in tension with traditional social democratic thinking. 

A better analogy would be if an avowedly anti-theist Socialist Revolutionary Group held a series of Tea Party rallies which expressed profound antipathy for President Obama as part of a big-tent strategy, and in the process attracted church groups, the local Chamber of Commerce, and other groups we traditionally associate with the right. I’d probably ask, “Hey guys, uh, you sure you know what’s goin’ on over there?”

Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

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