Ideas have consequences. That’s a famous maxim of conservative theorist Richard Weaver, a thinker who was big when I was little. He was right. Ideas do have consequences, and different ideas have distinct consequences.
One can sometimes judge ideas by the consequences of trying to articulate them and put them into practice.
A few weeks ago one of the more seemingly absurd statements about the Occupy movement, the “99 percenters,” went viral. Doug “Media Virus” Rushkoff argued that the movement should not be counted as “a protest, but a prototype for a new way of living.” He said that the prototypers (can’t call them “protestors,” now, can I?) “are actually forging a robust micro-society of working groups, each one developing new approaches — or reviving old approaches — to long running problems.”
Read his argument for yourself. To me, it seems a bit too much in the old Charles Reich/Theodore Roszak school of counterculture-pushing.
Worse yet, Rushkoff’s explanation doesn’t fit well with the facts on the ground. The movement has gotten increasingly ugly and violent, as has been widely reported, but which the folks at Reason.com handily synopsize . . . giving Shikha Dalmia an excuse to conjure up the Hobbesian specter of the life of man in a state of nature: nasty, brutish, and short.
And yet, evidence suggests that people do co-operate without oversight, at least during emergencies, pretty well.
But not, I think, if their ideas scream out for special treatment and subsidy and against others’ success.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.