The 99% or Main Street?

A quick thought before I continue reading through David Harvey’s The Condition of Postmodernity for this morning’s fun:

The language of “the 99%” is a welcome relief to the previous talk of “Wall St.” v. “Main St,” or the even more invidious but similar language of “real Americans.” Main St., Main St. America, Real America all conjur up images of white, small town, midwestern America. The language of “the 99%” by its very breadth can’t build on this implicitly racial nationalism. To use some other mathematical language: it allows a reorganization of political energy away from the mythical “mean” or “average” citizen.

Occupy Wall St. is still in its early stages; the strike in Oakland next week is a major push forward. Besides crediting OWS with shifting talks from “deficits” to “inequality,” OWS deserves credit for pushing political language away from the incessant talk about and attempts to produce the exemplary image of “real America.” Perhaps this helps explain the continual attempts to construct an “image” of the “typical” OWS protester (young, drug using, simultaneously unnaturally lazy and angry, with dreadlocks–meaning dirty…). OWS is bypassing and thereby diminishing the political saliency of this “image” of an average citizen. As such, it starts dismantling the racial nationalism implicit in the idea of “real America.”

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