The loss of a left worth engaging hurts the country, not because that left will answer the questions of the moment, but because the country needs the challenges only the left will (at the moment) provide. The mainstream right will not challenge those who’ll exploit the system for their own ends, and exploit others for their own profit, because so many have off-loaded their moral thinking to the market. Nor, not in a million years, will the Republican Party. That may be one of the worst results of the sixties, that the politics of gesture and emotion have been privileged, as the academics put it, which means a politics with no actual political content will drive a publicly successful movement like Occupy Wall Street—even though it is not going anywhere in particular.
I agree with this analysis completely. I sympathize with, and feel, the anger behind #OWS, but with every day that passes the various acts of “occupation” seem emptier, more pointless. How do we get from these gestures to legitimate political action?