I’m sorry to see the stalwarts of the Occupy movement kicked out of their encampments. Not because I thought they could change the world by reinventing it on a small patch of grass — I didn’t. Not because I thought they should seize property to which they had no legal claim — in a capitalist society, that’s a non-starter. Yet over the past two months, I’ve grown tired of cynical pundits who’ve picked away at these protestors because they lack a programme; because they’re noisy and unkempt; because some of them end up behaving as humans always end up behaving in groups: with a measure of arrogance, stridency and naivete. It’s useless to critique a movement by using human nature as a bludgeon, since we’re all human and prone to the same mistakes. In any case, human nature also prompted acts of kindness, generosity and imagination in each encampment’s tiny polis and its newly-awakened citizens.
This awakening is the whole point. The occupiers bear witness to the silence that corrupts us and the moral power of people who say no. They are the voice of conscience; that is their function. They are Kafka’s axe for the frozen sea inside us. The Occupy movement has woken me up from a long sleep, a torpor that bordered on despair. Like most people, I don’t know what to do about the crimes of High Finance; in my writer’s tower, I coax my most difficult thoughts away from the window-ledge; I’m afraid to look down at the shattered lives below, the out-of-work and homeless. Yet now the occupiers have got us talking and sharing thoughts, feeling the sting of conscience and the relief of long-supressed outrage. Their encampments stand for the psychic space they’ve cleared for hope to grow. They’ve brought us home to our humanity, from which no one can evict us.
This movement is a blessing. I wish it well.