What is the Occupy Wall Street Protest a Protest Of? A Psychoanalytic Investigation

Howard S. Schwartz

Oakland University

July 5, 2013

The Occupy Wall Street movement appears to be a protest of capitalism, but their expressions of what they are doing offer little in the way of economic analysis. Their critique is not economic but moral. I analyze Communique #1, their purest self-definition, which reveals that they see us as living in a world of artificial images created by, and serving the interests of, malevolent forces: capitalism is the expression of these forces. Their stance against this is their own authenticity, which is their paradigm of an alternative. I compare this to the movie The Matrix, which sees us as living in a similar world, except that the malevolent forces are not capitalism. I compare these with the Cave allegory in Plato's Republic, which is similar, except the artificial images are not expressions of malevolence. I use psychoanalytic theory to argue that the malevolent object of OWS' critique is the father, who, in fulfillment of the paternal function, forces socialization upon us. The world of artificial images is culture, seen from the standpoint of alienation. Their alternative, rooted in their authenticity, with themselves as models, doesn't amount to much.

Keywords: capitalism, Occupy Wall Street, The Matrix, the Oedipus complex, socialization

JEL Classification: A13

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Date posted: February 10, 2013 ; Last revised: April 30, 2016

Suggested Citation

Schwartz, Howard S., What is the Occupy Wall Street Protest a Protest Of? A Psychoanalytic Investigation (July 5, 2013). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2214377 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2214377

Contact Information

Howard S. Schwartz (Contact Author)
Oakland University ( email )
Rochester, MI 48309-4401
United States
(248) 982-7044 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.sba.oakland.edu/faculty/schwartz
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