"Indeed, a minimum of life, an unchaining from all coarser desires, an independence in the middle of all kinds of outer nuisance; a bit of Cynicism, perhaps a bit of ‘tub’."
Friedrich Nietzsche

13 Nov 2011

Occupy: a silent protest

The term cynicism has been abused and misused, but rather than see the cynic's protest as negative and winging, even nihilistic, the cynic actually cares deeply about the world and its inhabitants. As Raymond Federman observed: "true cynics are often the kindest people, for they see the hollowness of life, and from the realization of that hollowness is generated a kind of cosmic pity".  

As with the ancient Cynics, a criticism leveled at today's anti-capitalist protestors is that, while they call for the removal of the capitalist structures they rail against, they have not articulated what it is they want to put in it's place. But is that their role, anymore than it was the role of the Cynics when they railed against human folly in another millennium? This type of silent protest rather holds up a mirror to a society that has run out of ideas, forcing its audience to provide their own answers, even rephrase their questions: do some critical thinking.

Silence in this context is the antithesis of the meaningless, obfuscating overuse of language we hear from economists and politicians desperate to sooth us with their explanation that the integrity of the human project lies in doing capitalism even better. Perhaps we need more silence, create a contemplative void inside the deafening roar of answers and explanations about the world. This is the role for which the cynic is ideally suited, and the 'occupation' of our city centres is a wake up call for society at large. 


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