It occurred to me yesterday that the old Occupy X slogan about the 99% and the 1% is an inversion of Christ’s parable of the lost sheep in the Gospel of Matthew (the shepherd leaves the herd of 99 to save the 1 lost sheep).
Back when the occupiers were occupying, I wrote a short article that argued Occupy X expressed a sort of unconscious anti-Semitism. I put it this way:
The problem of anti-semitism is not the fault of the protesters, any more than the economy is the fault of employees of banks: the logic of externalisation that appears here as anti-semitism may be an essential component of any revolt, including, paradoxically, revolt against anti-semitism. The structure of revolt is a fight against external authority, and those participating in a revolt will ultimately pose the question who are we revolting against? This question appears as the limit or barrier of revolt. The forms revolt uses to overcome this barrier – mass violence, internal purges, dissolution, etc – bring back the old cliché about becoming what you were fighting against. To go a step further, those fighting were never anything else.
My concern was less Occupy X or anti-Semitism than the structure of revolt itself: that revolt seems always to be revolt against someone. The structure of revolt defeats the principles of those revolting. The structure is not altered when the named enemies are class enemies rather than national, racial, or religious enemies. (Is Christ’s admonition to love one’s enemy a different path? Does it relieve us of the category ‘enemy’ and lead us away from war?)
When the People occupy the square, walk in the park. When the People occupy the park, walk in the square.
Man cannot think without taking walks outside.