Sunday, October 23, 2011

frame yourself before others frame you?

Video - Bill Maher New Rules on Occupy Wall Street

truthout | I was asked weeks ago by some in the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement to make suggestions for how to frame the movement. I have hesitated so far because I think the movement should be framing itself. It's a general principle: Unless you frame yourself, others will frame you - the media, your enemies, your competitors, your well-meaning friends. I have so far hesitated to offer suggestions. But the movement appears to be maturing and entering a critical time when small framing errors could have large negative consequences. So, I thought it might be helpful to accept the invitation and start a discussion of how the movement might think about framing itself.

About framing: It's normal. Everybody engages in it all the time. Frames are just structures of thought that we use every day. All words in all languages are defined in terms of frame circuits in the brain. But, ultimately, framing is about ideas, about how we see the world, which determines how we act.

In politics, frames are part of competing moral systems that are used in political discourse and in charting political action. In short, framing is a moral enterprise: it says what the character of a movement is. All politics is moral. Political figures and movements always make policy recommendations claiming they are the right things to do. No political figure ever says do what I say because it's wrong! Or because it doesn't matter! Some moral principles or other lie behind every political policy agenda.

Two Moral Framing Systems in Politics
Conservatives have figured out their moral basis and you see it on Wall Street: It includes: The primacy of self-interest. Individual responsibility, but not social responsibility. Hierarchical authority based on wealth or other forms of power. A moral hierarchy of who is "deserving," defined by success. And the highest principle is the primacy of this moral system itself, which goes beyond Wall Street and the economy to other arenas: family life, social life, religion, foreign policy and especially government. Conservative "democracy" is seen as a system of governance and elections that fits this model.

Though OWS concerns go well beyond financial issues, your target is right: the application of these principles in Wall Street is central, since that is where the money comes from for elections, for media and for right-wing policy-making institutions of all sorts on all issues.

The alternative view of democracy is progressive: Democracy starts with citizens caring about one another and acting responsibly on that sense of care, taking responsibility both for oneself and for one's family, community, country, people in general and the planet. The role of government is to protect and empower all citizens equally via The Public: public infrastructure, laws and enforcement, health, education, scientific research, protection, public lands, transportation, resources, art and culture, trade policies, safety nets, and on and on. Nobody makes it one their own. If you got wealthy, you depended on The Public and you have a responsibility to contribute significantly to The Public so that others can benefit in the future. Moreover, the wealthy depend on those who work and who deserve a fair return for their contribution to our national life. Corporations exist to make life better for most people. Their reason for existing is as public as it is private.


nanakwame said...

Quite interesting events: I remember Irish boys doing in a small Ma/Pop store for Coke Cola - we know why, or walking in, eating, and all walking out.


A hard police restrictions of movement coming, they stopping cars on Ralph Ave, now. The psychic of the last decades have triggered non-discipline responds. Philly is a very interesting City/Town. There is a battle within the players of power, we must watch carefully the play of our youth, if you can call it that. 

CNu said...

Did you see this

A new uncompromising movement against NYPD's notorious Stop &
Frisk program began yesterday as hundreds of demonstrators marched from
the Harlem State Office Building to Harlem’s 28th precinct. At the
station, Cornel West, author and Princeton professor, Carl Dix of the
Revolutionary Communist Party, Rev. Stephen Phelps, interim senior
minister of Riverside Church, and dozens of others were arrested in an
act of non-violent civil disobedience. Among those arrested and
protesting was a large contingent from downtown’s Occupy Wall Street.

“We are here today to put our bodies on the line to stop this racist,
immoral, illegitimate and unjust ‘new Jim Crow’ from the gateway of
stop and frisk to the wholesale mass incarceration of Black and Brown
people," said Dix to the assembled marchers. "We are serious and we will
continue until we Stop Stop & Frisk!” The crowd chanted, “Stop
& Frisk don’t stop the crime, Stop & Frisk IS the crime,” as
arrestees were carried to waiting police vans. A solidarity march to
33rd Precinct ensused, where arrestees were said to be held.