Bernard E. Harcourt | Political Disobedience

Published in Critical Inquiry: Vol 39, No 1 (2012)

The political phenomenon that was born in Zuccotti Park in the fall of 2011 and spread rapidly across the nation and abroad immediately chal-lenged our vocabulary, our grammar, our political categories—in short, our very language of politics. Although it was quickly apparent that a political paradigm shift had taken place before our eyes, it was hard to discern what Occupy Wall Street really represented, politically. It is time to begin to name this phenomenon and in naming to better understand it. So let me propose a term: political disobedience.

Occupy Wall Street is best understood, I would suggest, as a new form of political as opposed to civil disobedience that fundamentally rejects the political and ideological landscape that has dominated our collective imagination in this country since before the cold war…

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