Occupy the Future: Occupying the US Higher and Secondary

Occupy Public Education!

Contributed by Angelo Letizia PhD candidate in Educational Policy, Planning and Leadership at The College of William and Mary
January 05, 2012
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  Occupy the Future: Occupying the US Higher and Secondary

   Public Education System

                                      Angelo Letizia

                       The College of William and Mary 

 

  Occupy the Future: Occupying the US Higher and Secondary

   Public Education System

  

The Occupy Wall Street movement states that its purpose is  “fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations” (Occupy Wall Street, 2011). The occupy movement states that they represent the 99% of society who are oppressed by the richest 1% who control the global economy (Occupy Wall Street, 2011). They are undoubtedly correct. However, their analysis may only be the prick of a surgeon’s scalpel that now must be plunged straight through to the heart of society.

The dichotomous divisions and seemingly simple categorizations; i.e. 1%/99%, wall street/everyone else, economic oppression, tend to obscure one of the most pressing issues of contemporary social movements; their occurrence in a postmodern society. If we suspend our judgment for a moment and assume that we live in a postmodern society characterized by a lack of definable boundaries between various social classes and social structures, a lack of an objective or universal reality and the proliferation of subjective interpretations which all seem viable, then Occupy Wall Street, and the terms used to describe it, run the risk of becoming archaic and simplistic because they are rooted in modernism. At worst, they may degenerate into propaganda.

In the past, the protagonists and the antagonists of revolutions and social movements (depending on one’s point of view) were clearly definable, i.e. the 3rdestate struggled against the nobility, proletariat struggled against the bourgeoisie etc. What becomes problematic is when the aims of contemporary movements are also seen dichotomously. The “end” of contemporary social movements lies in the supposed defeat of a clearly defined enemy, but a postmodern revolution can never have an end. With no clearly defined boundaries or universal structures, postmodern revolutions must continue perpetually.

            While this may sound like a frightening prospect, it is not. Instead of endless conflict a perpetual revolution involves dialectal action. The dialect can be described as a perpetual movement of opposing ideas which are mediated with each other; a simultaneous destruction of outdated structures and a preservation of their beneficial qualities, all mediated with new ideas (Jay, 1996, Kellner, 1992). The aim of a dialectal movement is not the attainment of a universal truth, but rather the sparking of social action; it is the constant quest to annihilate what is obsolete and repressive in a given society. Dialectal action is a constant transformative process; it is painful and involves suffering and critique. A modern social movement cannot end with the vanquishing of an enemy, because the enemies are everywhere and nowhere, in the past and the future. Only by realizing the dialectal nature of revolution in a postmodern world, can a social movement be “won.” The end of modern social movements and revolutions are just their beginning. 

The purpose of this paper is to apply a dialectal framework to the core tenets of Occupy Wall Street; namely its categorizations of 99%/1%, economic oppression, and Wall Street itself as the source of oppression in an effort to wage a postmodern fight. The enemy is not simply the oppression by the 1%, but the ideological and sociological apparatus behind their oppression. A dialectal analysis will broaden the simple categorizations currently propounded by the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Further, the paper will argue that this dialectal analysis can be tied to the United States’ higher and secondary public education systems to ensure the dialects’ continual critical powers and effectiveness.

The first section of the paper will briefly survey some of the various definitions and ideas surrounding postmodernism. Some of the factors that have contributed to the making of a postmodern global society will be explored.  The next section of the paper will some of the roots of this ideological and sociological apparatus behind the dominance of the 1%. Lastly, the paper will explore the aims of Occupy Wall Street, and apply dialectal insights in an effort to wage a postmodern revolution.

  

                                    A Postmodern World?

Modernism has its roots in the Enlightenment which emerged during the 18thcentury in Europe. A modernist paradigm is rooted in reason; the belief in universal structures independent of the mind, the scientific method and logical, cause and effect thinking. Binary conceptions of knowledge are dominant, where societal and natural phenomena are seen in a hierarchal relationship and where one position of the hierarchy is superior to other (i.e. science/humanities, rational/irrational, logical/mystical) (Kellner, 1992).  However, it is the idea of representation that is the foundation of modernism (Kellner, 1992). The belief is that societal structures in the form of laws, policies and institutions accurately and truthfully represent the will, aspirations and needs of the people of a society (Bloland, 2005, Kellner, 1992). With careful scientific and empirical investigation, it is believed that absolute or universal laws can be discovered.

By the 19thcentury, this scientific knowledge has been fruitfully applied to industry. Science and capitalism were natural allies. Together, capitalism reached a new stage of organization and productivity (Bohman & Deal, 2008, Morgan, 2008). Scientific management of industry became the norm, and the West, with science and industry, remade the world in its image. Further, science and industry were seen as the highest a universal creed; they were the apex of modernism. The West sought to spread these ideas globally (through conquest and annexation) (Morgan, 2008, Weber, 2010).

The events of the 20thcentury however, worked to undermine the dominance of the modernist paradigm. First the Great Depression, both globally and in the US, shook the confidence of the free market capitalist system that had predominated for almost three quarters of a century. The First and Second World Wars, and more specifically the atrocities of the holocaust and Hiroshima, shook the seemingly unquestioned faith in science and reason for many. The Nazi death camps were run with machine like precision, executions were compassionless, the battlefield was a showcase for the most destructive weapons man had ever created, and of course, the awesome power of the atomic bomb was unleashed. Later, events such as civil rights, feminism, sexual liberation and movements for homosexual rights called into question the at best paternalistic and at worst racist and sexist dominance of the white Western man (Lemert, 2010). Further, the African and Indian decolonization movements, as well as the Vietnam War and OPEC oil crisis and more recently the events of September 11th, propelled the supposed third world countries into the global spotlight as contenders and opponents of the West, and specifically modernism (Lemert, 2010, Peet, 2009). Currently, the growing income disparity in the United States and globally, the disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have further called the modernist paradigm into question. In light of all these events, some thinkers (but by no means all) have argued that modernism has failed, and that society as entered into a state of “post-modernity.” (Lemert, 2010, Kellner, 1992, Jay, 1996).

While postmodernism is not a coherent school of thought, some commonalities can be discerned. Postmodernism dispenses with the notions of objective reality, hierarchies, and of representation (Bess & Dee, 2008, Lemert, 2010). Instead, postmodernists believe that an objective reality does not exist, only subjective interpretations. As such, the western paradigm of science, capitalism and reason is no longer the universal norm, but only one of many subjective interpretations. Further, the subjectivist positions of those with power or with authority are manifested by various structures, such as language, policies and institutions and taken to be objective; as the West has done to other nations and minorities at home. The subsequent objectifying of these one-sided subjective positions and their manifestation usually leads to the marginalization of those without power by the creation of hierarchies. Postmodernists attack the notions of hierarchies because they see all forms of inquiries and cultures as valid (Bess & Dee, 2008).

As mentioned above, the foundation of modernism is the notion of representation. So it is no surprise that this notion came under heavy fire by postmodernists; postmodernists question if any structure or language can accurately represent what is portends to represent, and who has the right to represent who. Many feel that the West can no longer claim the dominance of the modernist paradigm. Science and capitalism, while productive, have disfigured the world, dominated oppressed populations, and destroyed native economies, wreaked economic havoc on billions while enriching a few thousand. The current income disparity in the United States and the subsequent actions of the Occupy Wall Street are evidence of this.

  

                                               Occupy

The Occupy Wall Street movement began on September 17th, 2011 (which is also constitution day) in New York City as an organized protest against the economic inequality in the United States. It was organized by a Canadian non-profit organization called Adbusters and was inspired by the Arab Spring movements, as well as the Spanish Acampadas (Adbusters, 2011). Adbusters defines itself as a “network of culture jammers” which seeks to alter the way information flows in society. Specifically, they take aim at what they see as a culture driven by a rampant consumerism, a culture fixated on consumer goods.

As mentioned earlier, the Occupy Wall Street movement specifically has taken aim at the growing economic in equality in the United States. According to many estimates, 95% of the wealth in the United States is held by 5% of the population (Fowler, 2009). Recently, the Washington Post ran an article titled “Slipping from the Middle Class.” The author, Michael Fletcher describes how the notion of “downward mobility,” or Americans slipping out of the middle class bracket, is becoming common in the United States. The middle class bracket is determined by income between 32,000 and 64,000 dollars a year.  As mentioned earlier, according to the US Census, in 2000 the median household income rose by roughly 1,000 dollars for the lowest fifth of the population and 3,000 dollars for the second lowest fifth. By contrast, during the same period, the median household income rose by over 27,000 dollars for highest fifth and by over 35,000 dollars for the richest 5% (US Census, 2011). In light of postmodernism, it can be argued that the present capitalist system no longer represents the majority of the American public. As Occupy Wall Street has made clear, the capitalist system really only works for the 1% of the population, not the 99%.

The Occupy Wall Street movement has legitimate grievances. However, like all left-wing movements, Occupy Wall Street runs the risk of degenerating into propaganda. As Martin Jay (1996) notes, left-wing intellectuals straddle a precarious line. If and when left-wing scholars decide to descend from their ivory tower and join the masses in social protest, their complex ideas need to be distilled and distributed in accessible form. This is where the risk of propaganda creeps in. Left wing social theorists must somehow keep the intellectual complexity of their theories while making them accessible. The Occupy Wall Street movement has made efforts to ensure the continued vitality and complexity of its theories. There are continued calls for participation, broadening of the decentralized structure, and a call to spread to different facets of society (Occupy Wall Street, 2011).

The Occupy Wall Street movement has taken aim primarily the economic oppression of the 99% by the richest 1%. But they cannot simply fight against economic oppression. This economic oppression is a symptom of a much larger oppression, that of social and cultural oppression, and it is this oppression that must be taken aim at. What must be examined is not the simple oppression, but rather the actual unquestioned ethos behind the oppression; the ingrained ethos of capitalism.      

  

                        

The Ethos of Capitalism: Then and Now                          

The capitalist system can be described as a sociological construct because it restructures human behavior and interaction. In a capitalist system, human interactions are reduced to that of buying and selling. The bedrock of the capitalist sociological construct is the atomistic individual. The individual is seen as a consumer, and as the target of persuasion and advertising. The consumer in turn, views the world from a buyer’s perspective, always looking for the best deal. More than this however, the atomistic individual becomes the locus of gain. The object of capitalism is to accumulate profit at the expense of others. The notion of a communal good is in some ways incompatible with a capitalist system. This is not to say that all interactions in society are the direct result of capitalism, but capitalism nonetheless has helped to restructure contemporary society and its human actions (Colletti, 1973, Hill, 2006, Overtveldt, 2007, Peet, 2009, Slaughter & Rhodes, 2004). Of course, this state of affairs did not spontaneously occur. Beginning during the later Middle Ages in Europe, we can begin to detect the emergence of capitalism as a sociological construct, or what this paper has termed the capitalistic ethos.

Colletti (1973) argued that in the medieval era, economics and ethics were still linked; the common good was the end of business transactions. The idea of the atomistic individual was anthemia to most. However, the theories of John Locke changed this conception. Locke separated the connection between ethics and economics, locating property not as the common good, but as an individual attribute. This individual attribute was than sanctioned by nature and god in the social contract. Here, Colletti argued that Bernard Mandeville, a Scottish philosopher and economist of the 17thcentury, realized this problem, this cleavage between ethics and economics, but instead of repairing it, he endorsed it as a sign of modernity and the emergence of a free market system. Mandeville argued, unabashedly, that in order for there to be wealth, there must be poverty.  Here, Colletti juxtaposes atomistic individualism to the common good. He cites Mandeville as one of the first to recognize this problem; how can there be a common good if society is built on “private vice?” He sees Mandeville throwing down the gauntlet for the modern era, and posing an as of yet unanswered question. Working off Mandeville, Adam Smith’s notion of the “invisible hand,” saw harmony resulting from the chaotic interactions of self-interested individuals. Capitalism, with the individual at its core, was a harmonious system that promoted the benefit of all (Colleti, 1973).

Weber (2010) argued that the present capitalist ethos was born during the protestant reformation, specifically with the advent of the free market. Buying and selling, the acquisition of wealth became not simply ones’ vocation, but a holy calling. The best way to serve God was through ones vocation. Further, success in ones vocation was a sign of blessedness, and ultimately a sign that one was destined for heaven (Weber, 2010). By the 18thcentury, Puritans, Methodists, Pietists and Baptists all embodied this capitalist ethos in America and Europe. In short, capitalism was divinized (Weber, 2010). 

This capitalistic ethos was a dominant feature of the American social fabric since the time of the American Revolution. The Revolution itself was a capitalist endeavor, fought largely to secure economic rights and free trade (Breen, 2004, Nash, 1986). The constitution itself is in many respects an economic document, which enshrines the notions of free trade and business through individual liberty. The life, liberty and above all property of citizens were to be free of government influence (Breen, 2004 Nash, 1986). The French Revolution (excluding the Reign of Terror) was similar in respect to its American counterpart. The French Revolution was a victory for the rising class of French bourgeoisie over the nobility. The revolution of 1789, and subsequent revolutions and events of 1791, 1795, the Napoleonic era, and the revolutions of 1830 and 1848 liberated French business interests from their archaic feudal regulations (Sewall, 1985). Capitalism, with the bourgeoisie and merchant class as its primary bearers, was now ascendant in Europe and America.

As industrialization took hold in Europe and America during the course of the 19thcentury, the capitalist ethos became engrained in the West (Hobsbawm, 1962). The capitalist ethos found its highest expression in the doctrine of Social Darwinism, which called for the economic survival of the fittest. Capitalism, the relation between buyer and seller, the acquisition of profits, was now both religious and biological (Hobsbawm, 1962). The poor were not only barred from salvation, but they were biologically unfit as well.

Some of the more destructive notions of capitalism were tempered by the events of the Great Depression and World War Two, but by the late 1940s, capitalism was on the rise again, especially in the United States (Overtveldt, 2007). In response to the liberal new deal economic policies that dominated American politics and economics since the 1930s a counter economic movement began to emerge in academia. Drawing on the notions of eighteenth century liberalism, economists at the University of Chicago and elsewhere developed what later came to be known as neoliberalism. At the heart of the neoliberal paradigm is the fact that the market can solve all social, as well as economic problems. This harkened back to Smith’s notion of the invisible hand. This glorification of the market increasingly found a wide audience in the second half of the 20thcentury, as capitalism and the market were seen as bulwarks against the Soviets and communism (Overtvelt, 2007).

However, it was Ronald Reagan and the conservative revolution of the 1980s that gave neoliberalism its highest expression (Diggins, 2007, Fowler, 2009). Diggins suggests that Reagan in many ways believed capitalism and the pursuit of material wealth to be an almost spiritual endeavor. Reagan’s theory of “supply-side” economics saw the rise of a decadent, materialistic class of Americans. Diggins states that Reagan believed that with the added wealth, people would invest more, and ultimately work harder, thus creating more wealth. And this has been the mantra of republicans and conservatives ever since. The free-market is thought to be the most efficient mechanism for promoting not only economic harmony, but social harmony as well (Overtveldt, 2007). Neoliberalism is market reductionism. Individuals are reduced to consumers and targets for advertisement. All is reduced to the market.

Seen in light of capitalisms’ development from the Reformation onward, neoliberalism embodies many of the traits of capitalism that have emerged in the past; capitalism as a religious calling, as producer of harmony, the individual over the community, capitalism as biology etc. This does not imply a teleological design, but it does point to a historical development. This capitalistic ethos is dominant today, and through globalization, is not just limited to the West. And it is this notion of a capitalist ethos that Occupy Wall Street must contend with.

The simplistic 99% versus 1% obscures the complex and deep rooted nature of capitalism, not just as an economic system, but as a social and cultural system. Capitalism, since the Reformation, has been restructuring human interactions. Viewed through a capitalistic lens, people are seen as consumers, all human relationships take the form of business interactions, the weak die and the strong survive. It is no wonder 99% exploit the 1%, that the 1% view the 99% as weak, not fit to survive, as destined to be dominated, as biologically and socially inferior etc. This is not to say that oppression is a distinct feature of capitalism; oppression has existed since the beginning of time in non-capitalistic societies. What marks the present oppression is the fact that it is bureaucratically and more efficiently administered, and despite the philosophical advances in areas such as human and civil rights, the oppression grows daily. Further, oppression does not need to be brutal or painful; many citizens in oppressive societies live comfortable lives, but are nonetheless oppressed (Adorno & Horkheimer, 1969, Jay, 1996, Kellner, 1992). Occupy Wall Street cannot simply fight economic oppression, but rather it must take aim at the capitalist ethos which makes oppression seem natural and destined for 99% of the worlds population.

Capitalistic oppression is amorphous in a postmodern society. Baudrillard (1993) likened modernity to an orgy, where all spheres of life (economics, sexuality, politics etc) have collapsed on each other. With modern technology, production of not only goods but ideas is viral. There are no boundaries, there is just production. The capitalistic ethos of the capitalist system has become autonomous, and a part of all facets of society, it is no longer confined simply to economics. Capitalism has now totalized the world in its own image (Baudrillard, 1993). Oppression in a postmodern society is not a simple binary relationship between oppressed and oppressor, rather oppression is amorphous and it must be fought in like manner. Specifically, the capitalistic ethos outlined above is rooted in different spheres of society, from religion, to economics, to politics etc. The capitalistic ethos pulsates in this orgy and dominates in a variety of ways.

Using Baudrillard’s (1993) analysis of capitalism as a jumping off point, we can better see the amorphous nature of capitalistic oppression in a postmodern society. With its viral spread across collapsed societal boundaries, the capitalistic ethos has restructured all human relations and interactions to that of buyer and seller, all is an advertisement. The individual is pitted against other individuals, all fight for profit. Further, products (whether ideas or actual tangible products) become tools of domination and oppression which help to mold the perceptions, desires and values for groups in society. Politicians, sex, education and even religion are sold and used to push and pull various sections of the population in different ways. The 1% dominates the 99% like objects, but this is only one type of domination in a vast web of domination which comprises contemporary society. Once the fluid nature of oppression, specifically the capitalistic ethos is defined, we can begin fight back.

  

                                          Fighting Back

Again, to reiterate, Occupy Wall Street cannot simply fight oppression, but it must fight the source of this oppression, which is the capitalistic ethos which has existed in one form or another for centuries. And the most effective method for combating this deeply engrained ethos may be the dialect. Dialectal thinking was derived from Hegel and Marx and further elucidated by the School of Critical Theory. Members of the Occupy Wall Street movement could promote dialectal thinking in all facets of everyday life. As mentioned earlier, the aim of dialectal reasoning is social action, not immutable truths (Jay, 1996, Kellner, 1992). Indeed, dialectal thinking is opposed to immutable truths.

Dialectal thinking is characterized by a refusal to rest; it involves a complex understanding of all historical and social phenomena (Jay, 1996, Kellner, 1992). Instead of fragmenting these phenomena and looking at each separately however, dialectal thinking views all social and historical phenomena as a totality. Dialectal analysis elides well with a postmodern frame, because as mentioned earlier, postmodernism collapsed the boundaries between societal institutions. This cuts to the heart of the capitalistic ethos; it cannot be viewed in a fragmentary manner, as solely a product of economic conditions. Rather, the capitalist ethos must be seen as interplay between social, historical, and even biological and religious factors that influence each other. It must also be situated historically. The ultimate foundation of the dialect is transformation and emancipation; the emancipation of man from oppressive structures through a continual process of transformation to a higher level of social reality. Hegel and Marx used the term aufheben to denote a simultaneous destruction and preservation of existing structures (preserving what is beneficial in them, and destroying what is oppressive). New developments, ideas and theories would then be mediated, or what was called Vermittung in German (Jay, 1996, Kellner, 992). Once the dialect destroys, it creates something new. This is why the recognition of post modernity is crucial. Without it, simple dichotomous categorizations will abound, and the well meaning fight will only yield modest and ultimately impotent results. Only with the recognition of fluid boundaries of societal institutions, and sources of oppression, can Occupy Wall Street truly bring about change.

While the capitalist ethos is inculcated in a variety of different ways (media, government, military etc) one of the most subtle and powerful inculcation methods is the American education system (both secondary and higher education). And it is the American education system where the Occupy Wall Street can ignite dialectal change. Of course as it stands right now, the American education system is one of the most effective, and subtle perpetuators of the capitalistic ethos (Hill, 2006). Mathematics and science are elevated, while disciplines in the humanities are relegated to a second tier status in both higher education and secondary education. Science and math, while valuable, are bound up with the dominant modernist paradigm, since modernism holds that only empirical investigation can yield truth. Further, scientists yield profitable inventions and discoveries, in both the civilian and defense spheres.

Of course, even history and other disciplines in the humanities are taught like math and science. At the secondary level, history is sheared of its ability to inspire critical thinking and analysis; instead it is fragmented into memorizable pieces to be regurgitated on standardized tests. The tests themselves yield tremendous profits to private companies (Hill, 2002, Post). Students are ranked like workers with their GPAs, and they must perform like workers, turning out products for marketability (mainly themselves for prospective colleges, their GPA and tests scores etc). Similarly; higher education is considered the gateway to economic prosperity, if for no other reason than providing the human capital to fuel the global economy and to ensure the United State’s dominant position on the world stage. Nationally and globally, this economic utilitarian view of higher education is flourishing (Maassen & Stensaker, 2010, Fowler, 2009, Pusser, 2008).  While the humanities are by no means forgotten, they are increasingly relegated to second tier disciplines. History, philosophy and literary criticism do not have the potential to yield profit like mathematics, engineering and the sciences do. American secondary and higher education are thoroughly imbued with the capitalistic ethos. So, using legislative means to influence public education are almost always sure to fail. Educational politics, at the federal, state, and local levels are anything but rational endeavors (Farmer, 2009, Fowler, 2009). Rather, they are battlegrounds for special interests and lobbyists, as well as virgin territory for corporations and businesses (Hill, 2006). Thus it will be necessary to circumnavigate the established structure.

Education should be liberation from the oppressive strictures of society, whether they be religious, economic or political (Nietzsche, 2004). If the modernist notion of education continues to dominate, if education continues to be solely an arm of the global economy, than secondary and higher education may lose its liberating quality and simply become training and indoctrination, it they have not already. Occupy Wall Street can infiltrate the education system at all levels, by sustaining contracts with students, teachers and professors. Occupy Wall Street can make the education system dialectal; and the dialect can be turned on the capitalist ethos that permeates American society from all directions. Teachers, while performing their mandated tasks of teaching to the various standardized tests, can go above and beyond the test. In unison with other teachers, students and the occupy movement itself, teachers, either overtly, or more likely covertly, can inculcate dialectal thinking in their students. The same can be said of college professors. The aim is not to teach the correctness of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but rather to teach how to criticize every facet of society and liberate it from the corrosive influence of the capitalist ethos.

 With dialectal knowledge, students, teachers and professors can work within the system to change and reconstruct it. This is a postmodern fight. As such, it must be waged against a variety of opponents, not the simple and misleading characterization of the 1% as the sole enemy.  To wage a fight against the 1% and not the indoctrinating and fluid forces behind the 1% would be to wage a fight against the symptom and not the disease itself.

The dialect must attack all forms of domination, in all spheres; it must expose the interconnected nature of domination as well. Domination cannot be fragmented into separate atomized spheres (i.e. economic oppression of the 99% etc). A few examples of the interconnected nature of domination will suffice; the politicians that are sold to the US people are puppets of business lobbyists and other business interests,  sex (especially teenage sex) is a commodity on which the cosmetic, advertising and birth control industries subsist, media and government  are entwined to create propaganda, the religious right has a tremendous influence in politics and on candidates, corporations and defense contractors reap huge profits off of supposedly patriotic wars funded by taxpayer dollars (or just paid for with credit), “heroes” are created by the media and their stories are sold (i.e. professional sports athletes, exaggerated war stories etc). Corporations and businesses net billions a year in educational products and software, of which the pedagogical value is unquestioned. All of these instances are examples of the interconnected nature of domination and oppression.

  

            The decentralized nature of the Occupy Wall Street movement lends itself perfectly to fighting a postmodern revolution. If different occupy groups choose to wage this fight, the individual groups can maintain contacts with local students, teachers and professors. A true revolutionary impulse must come from the bottom up, as the occupy movement has. Now it must continue to spread, but always in a decentralized manner. All that is needed is a few determined and insightful revolutionaries to spread the ideas covertly. Occupy protesters cannot simply mouth “truths” that appeared on face book, or the movement will quickly degenerate into left-wing propaganda.

            The essence of dialectal thinking is not providing truth but providing the means to question all supposed truths. Informal teaching sessions could be held for students, teachers and professors, either in person or online, informal sessions can also be run in conjunction with local students, teachers and professors. These sessions could highlight the amorphous nature of postmodern society and methods to question it, i.e. why and exactly how does the 1% oppress the 99%? Who composes the 1%? How can we historicize the growing income inequality? In what ways has the capitalist ethos penetrated society? What do the terms community and republic mean and is a communal vision compatible with capitalism? Again, there are no prescribed answers, but penetrating questions that would emerge as a result of discussions. The answers to the questions (which may be more questions) are then mediated (Vermittung) into the structure of the Occupy Movement, and into the further critiques and analysis of society. From these new vantage points, the dialect would continue.

In their general assemblies and group discussions, some of the occupy movements employ a technique known as collective thinking, which is not based on adversarial argumentation, but rather on consensus building. The object of collective thinking is not to beat an adversary and prove a point, but to create a new and higher position in conjunction with others (Occupy Wall Street, 2011). This creation is the essence of the dialect. However, the created positions can never become ossified, but must always be open to further transformation. This collective thinking technique, with the capitalist ethos and its multifaceted points of dissemination as its object of discussion, can be implanted into local educational institutions. Students, teachers and professors could examine the interconnected nature and historical continuity of current societal problems. Of course, this dialectic method, transposed to the American education system, cannot be the answer to the Occupy Wall Street movement; it can only be the beginning. The answer Occupy Wall Street is searching for may be a question that ignites a revolution.

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

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