Saturday, November 26, 2011

In Their Own Words: Evangeline

I am a child of immigrants. I have a PhD and a basic middle class income and student loan debt. My family and friends are all liberals of varying degrees. I don’t believe in a “bipartisan” solution to the current economic problem. I consider myself to be far left—both socially and economically.

When did you first learn about the Occupy Wall Street Movement?

Can’t remember the exact moment. But I guess I have known about it since this summer.

Are you involved in this movement?
I am not involved. I support many aspects of the movement. But not enough to involve myself... I do NOT (want) to be involved in the movement. Mostly because I don’t think the movement is connected quite enough to a specific political outcome. It seems to be expressing general angst. Which I respect. But not enough to donate my time or money for the movement.

What do you think are the goals of this movement?

At this point, I don’t see any specific goals—which is what bothers me. “Protesting greed” for instance, isn’t much of a political goal. Do I think “greed” is problematic? Absolutely. But I don’t think that greed can be protested. In a similar vein, while I think that Wall Street INFLUENCES policy, Wall Street does not MAKE policy. The movement needs to become more focused and organized and focus on Washington.

How would you respond to criticisms of this movement?

To some extent, I am articulating those myself—that this isn’t policy driven. The conservative complaints that this movement is about “hating the rich” is ridiculous.

Who is the audience for OWS?

I think the best part of the movement is that is it raising awareness. Even more importantly, the “99%” slogan aligns the middle and the upper middle classes with the lower classes. Many times the middle and upper-middle mistakenly align themselves with the top income earners—to their own detriment and to the detriment of society more largely. The best part of this movement is that it helps the middle and upper classes realize that their interests are actually aligned with that of the lower classes. So I think that the ideal audience is the middle class.

What specific, tangible, and practical things do you hope this movement brings?

In my ideal world, this would lead to a policy change. In my most ideal world this would lead to a creation of a maximum wage....everything above 10 million goes back to the state. But that’s a pipe dream. :)

What can you personally do to follow the goals and ideals of the movement and implement change in your own life?

I think this question is wrong headed. Other than voting habits, the individual does not and should not change anything. Policy needs to change. (And the upper classes need to realize their own complicity in this system.)

If there was one thing you would want OWS to do or change, what would it be?

Take it to Washington! Make it specific!


  1. When you say "while I think that Wall Street INFLUENCES policy, Wall Street does not MAKE policy." Evangeline, aren't you splitting hairs?

    I agree that occupying wall street was problematic from the beginning, both in the "occupying" part and the "wall street" part. I agree that they need to focus more on Washington. But not just Washington, all over the country where policies are made.

    But, at this point, aren't back-room deals and the overwhelming influence of lobbyists enough so that wall street and washington are inherently linked?

    Where do you draw the line?

    Who's to blame, for example, for deregulation?

  2. So you think the 99% rhetoric is effective in aligning the lower and middle classes, rather than just rhetoric dumbing down the issues?

  3. Okay two other questions.

    1. I have a problem with the idea that these protests are raising awareness about anything other than park encampments and pepper spray. Do you disagree? You admitted you are an elite academic after all, so maybe your awareness was already heightened :)

    2. I also disagree that the individual doesn't have to do anything. You said "Other than voting habits, the individual does not and should not change anything. Policy needs to change. (And the upper classes need to realize their own complicity in this system.)"

    When are people going to grow up and take personal responsibility? I make bad choices and I learn from them. I don't blame other people. I agree that policy needs to change, I agree with that very strongly. Upper classes as you say - well it would be great if they realize their complicity in this system - which system do you mean and how?

    I think they realize it just fine. They don't want to change their way of life. And that is why I DO think personal behavior needs to change. People need to stop whining and be more responsible, and people need to stop being so greedy and irresponsible with other people's jobs and livelihoods.