Occupy; Neoliberalism

The first article, “The ‘Occupy’ Movement: Emerging Protest Forms and Contested Urban Spaces” by Judy Lubin, lays out the practice of occupying pseudo-public spaces as a form of protest. The Occupy Movement is a distinctly urban phenomenon, but with global roots and a larger scope than traditional urban politics. The protesters were enraged at the very rich in America and around the world, dubbed the 1%, blaming them for the loss of jobs and opportunities, and the widening wealth gap. Lubin traces the Occupy Movement’s roots to the occupation of the Wisconsin capitol building in protest of the Governor’s efforts to eliminate collective bargaining rights. The protestor’s claiming the public space and even sleeping inside of it were the prototype for other Occupy protests.

While the Occupy protests may have taken place in urban areas, their objective was to change the nation. I do not believe they should be considered a part of urban politics, but more of a particular and uniquely urban reaction to traditional politics. As Lubin points out, global economic forces shape urban life, and in the face of globalization, city dwellers have lost much of their representation to “quasi-state bodies such as economic development councils and private entities that have no

accountability to the electorate”. Lubin states, via Purcell, the city-dwellers have two rights: the right of participation, and the right of appropriation. As globalization robbed them of the former, the turned to the latter as a means of protest.

The second article, Neoliberalism and the Urban Condition by Neil Brenner and Nik Theodore, lays out how neoliberalism, in three different ways, affects urban life. First, neoliberalism can be considered a framework for modern urban cities. Second, and more importantly, neoliberalism acts as a “spatially selective political strategy”. That is to say that neoliberalism can be used a cover for systematic disenfranchisement of people in certain areas. The example in the article, private “public” transit companies cutting routes to lower income areas in order to fund cleaner buses to service the richer neighborhoods, shows particularly well the urban-political aspect of neoliberalization. The third way, neoliberalism as a form of discourse, is personally the most interesting perspective to me. The authors point out that in several preceding articles, neoliberalism has been fused with “reactionary discourses” in order to legitimize repressive political measures. This mixing of discourses creates an urban-political environment which is very hostile to immigrants, activists, and most city-dwellers in general.

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