Monday, November 12, 2012

Much of the Values critique of Liberalism comes from the Occupy Seattle experience

If you're wondering what I mean by "Values critique of Liberalism", which should be "My values critique of (philosophical) liberalism", look Here.

Before talking about Occupy Seattle, I want to say that my understanding is that what happened in Occupy Seattle did not generally happen in the Occupies across the country, and so is sort of unique. In other places the Occupy movement is still strong, and is still doing productive things. Seattle, by contrast, has no more Occupy movement, and hasn't for a long time, because some very selfish people decided to take it over and run it into the ground.

What happened in Occupy Seattle is a great example of how freedom and autonomy alone aren't enough to make for a good movement or a good society as a whole. There, you had folks who were highly ideological who wanted to take control of the movement, who were also unethical and dishonest, who had no moral objections to manipulating the system of direct democracy to get what they wanted. However, because we, and Occupy, decided to respect people's autonomy and freedom to an nth degree, not encroaching on them whatsoever, when these folks should have been called on their bullshit and told to either change or be excluded from the movement, there was no mechanism to accomplish this. There was no way of getting rid of people, or punishing people, who were disrupting the process and using it for their own ends, which were at odds with the goals of Occupy as a whole.

One nice way of avoiding that in the future is to say that, yes, Values matter, character matters, honesty matters, and that personal freedom and autonomy do not always rule the day. I would much rather infringe on someone's idea that they have the personal freedom to do whatever they wanted to the point of destroying things for the whole than let something that had much positive value, like Occupy, descend into shrillness, irrelevancy, and all the rest. 

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