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Public discourse over the “Occupy x” movements is stuck at the level of the Fresh Prince’s “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” Why don’t the youngsters put forward some concrete goals? Why don’t the old liberals understand that concrete goals are for fascists? Everyone’s having a grand old time and avoiding the real question: What is the relationship between democracy and protest? Old or young, everyone seems to believe in democracy’s power to overcome all evil. The oldsters believe in the party system, which is why they don’t understand the anarchist, horizontal modified consensus tradition that the kids believe in. But who outside of the literati really cares about this debate? Unelected politicians might try to use it for their own ends, but elected politicians don’t give a crap. They’ve been elected. Protesters might sing “this is what democracy looks like” about themselves, but the real face of democracy is seen in national party politics, where the better impulses of the population (if it has any left) are beaten to a pulp by its own greed and selfishness. One day it might be better, but only if we do something really impressive. And that’s only possible if we reject the “every individual is the best judge of her own best interests” dogma until the world we’ve made makes that dogma true.

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