Is Occupy Wall Street a modern version of “Village Politics”?

December 4, 2011

Political Theory


Last week’s reading for us, Village Politics, by Hannah More, gave us a somewhat amusing and satirical view of a citizen who was crying for change after the French Revolution. Tom, a mason, was so enamored by the effects of the French revolution that he was crying for change in England, his home country. He listed off several reasons about how the situation in France was much better than the situation in England, and how he wished that the system of laws could be changed so that the entire world was like France. Over the course of the story, his close friend Jack, a blacksmith, successfully refutes every single one of Tom’s ideas until Tom finally realizes his foolishness and, at the end of the story, starts to agree with Jack.

Hannah More wrote Village Politics in 1792.

So, one might be asking, how exactly does this portray to Occupy Wall Street? Well, in section this past week, when we were discussing Occupy Wall Street (as we do so often), a student who had visited the Occupy Washington D.C. movement over the break shared his personal recollection of interacting with some of the protestors. He stated that as he talked to the “occupiers” for an extended period of time, he realized that many of their claims were easily refutable, and that most of them simply wanted things that they can’t, and shouldn’t, have. He said that if you really thought all of their arguments through, it became increasingly apparent that they really didn’t make any sense and would most likely result in a significant decline of our nation. Obviously, the people at that certain Occupy Washington D.C. protest do not represent the entire Occupy Wall Street movement, however, it can be said with certainty that as the protests have continued to linger on, many people have started to get tired of the protestors because, with some of the demands that the protestors have at the moment, it really cannot accomplish anything.

The Occupy movement has started to lose support in recent weeks.

In this way, Occupy Wall Street is somewhat similar to Village Politics. The Occupiers (Tom) are fed up with the inequality in their country, as they should be, however, their ideas are most likely not the best way to approach the situation and can be easily shot down by someone who is looking at the bigger picture and understands the situation better (Jack). There is no single official set of Occupy Wall Street Demands, but there have been many ideas put forth by some of the protestors, the most notable and famous of which can be found here. It is a set of demands on the unofficial “de facto” Occupy Wall Street website, posted by a disgruntled protestor who wants his voice heard. He has some pretty ridiculous and crazy ideas, the most of which people who commented were able to tear apart.

No matter what side of the Occupy movement you support, most could probably agree that whoever posted this list of demands is similar to Tom. He has a bunch of ideas that will never see their way into law, since they will not create a better and stable nation out of it. Nearly everyone who has seen this article thinks that these ideas would never work, and are able to dismantle his arguments, just as Jack did in Village Politics.

Do you think that the Occupy Wall Street movement is similar in any way, shape, or form to Village Politics? Do you think that the protestors are just like Tom, in that they mean good, but that the things that they want are unfeasible and wouldn’t create a better situation? Or, do you think that the Occupy Wall Street movement isn’t similar to Village Politics, and that all of their desires are valid?

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