“Two nations; between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by a different breeding, are fed by a different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws.” “You speak of — ”said Egremont, hesitantly. “ THE RICH AND THE POOR.” Benjamin Disraeli, from Sybil, or the Two Nations (1845)
Occupy Wall Street.
The genius of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement is primarily to be found in its key slogans tied up with the confrontation that it has been put forward between the “1%” and the “99%” and the assertion: “We are the 99%”. Of course, the numbers involved in the Wall Street demonstrations, and even throughout the USA – which is the heartland of the occupy actions – are nowhere near mobilizing or even genuinely representing the 99%. Polling does show that more than half of the American population is in sympathy with OWS’s anti-corporate greed message but that sentiment has not – not yet – manifested in either mobilisations or a clear electoral manifestation. Yet, the use of the word “We” is justified. In this context I think Slavoj Zizek has summed up the correct approach to the word “we” when he said that the use of the term “we” had to be seen as an act of creating “we”, the agency that can bring about change. In reality, the 99% cannot be referred to as “them” rather than “we” except as a means of escaping responsibility for being part of the agency for change.