"We were young and it was beautiful"

19 Nov 2011

David Hill, for McSweeney’s:

I’m not sure why it was so important to keep the park occupied. I just know that when I heard the cops were coming to shut it down, I wasn’t ready for it to end yet. Evidently neither were the rest of these people, here cheering at sunrise like the Yankees just won the pennant. Me and James and the rest of these folks, we couldn’t know for sure, of course, but we figure that this right here is what power feels like. This is what it must feel like to win.

And we touch, finally, on the goal of Occupy: power, both real and imagined – the elusive notion of dominion. It is dominion over their lives, over their happiness that these protesters want, the power to control their own destiny. They seek feathers and fabric; they seek aluminum frames and aerofoils; they seek wings with which to fly as they imagine others do.

Absolute freedom is the right that we took when we followed two thieves out of an orchard and it is the right that we gave up when we escaped the state of nature. Our democracy is not the structures by which our freedom is realized; democracy is that by which our freedom is constrained.

I have been critical of the movement for a number of reasons – some of them still valid – but I have decided to stop decrying their methods. They have proven to be peaceful enough, certainly more-so than those watching over them. Am I still uneasy with the occupation of Foley Square and Zuccotti Park? Yes, but if now is not the time, then when?; if here is not the place, then where?