The democratic ethos : authenticity and instrumentalism in US movement rhetoric after Occupy / A. Freya Thimsen.

Thimsen, A. Freya [Browse]
Columbia, South Carolina : The University of South Carolina Press, [2022]
211pages ; 24 cm.


Movement rhetoric/rhetoric's movement
Summary note
  • "First book in the Movement Rhetoric/Rhetoric's Movements series! September 17, 2021, marked the 10th anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. Headlines this week have included "Was Occupy Wall Street the 'Beginning of the Beginning'?" (NY Times), "Occupy Wall Street Won the Future" (WSJ, opinion), "Lessons from Occupy Wall Street for today's tax fight" (The Hill), "Occupy Wall Street Did More Than You Think (The Atlantic). In The Democracy Ethos: Authenticity and Instrumentalism in US Movement Rhetoric after Occupy, A. Freya Thimsen asks the question implicit in these headlines: ten years later, what were the lasting impacts of Occupy? If it is evaluated solely in terms of specific, near-term policy outcomes, it cannot help but be found wanting. But the longer view, Thimsen argues, suggests that the democratic ethos consolidated and disseminated by the Occupy demonstrations plays an important role in the way that more mainstream US pro-democracy advocacy groups disclose their practices of self-organization in order to prove their commitment to democracy. The democratic ethos, she says, is a flexible, repeatable set of rhetorical tactics. The book begins by contrasting the democratic ethos drawing on Left radicalism and liberal instrumentalism that was consolidated in the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations of 2011, and the "ironic instrumentalism" of the "Democracy Vouchers" used in the 2017 Seattle municiple elections--a pro-democracy strategy to reform campaign finance enacted through the undemocratic means of large private donations. In subsequent chapters, Thimsen shows how the democratic ethos born from Occupy has been adapted by collective actors working in the existing political system--in the contexts of amending the Constitution, Bernie Sanders's 2016 presidential campaign, and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund's work to provide legal aid to municipalities fighting corporate incursion. While Occupy began as a startling disruption in politics as usual, its long-term importance rests in how its performative techniques have been folded into more common, less "interruptive" forms of politics. It changed what "counts" as credibly democratic and how democracy is performed, with impacts visible in the current Movement for Black Lives, immigrants' rights activism, and political campaigns"-- Provided by publisher.
  • "A multidisciplinary analysis of the lasting effects of the Occupy Wall Street protest movementWhat did Occupy Wall Street accomplish? While it began as a startling disruption in politics as usual, in The Democratic Ethos Freya Thimsen argues that the movement's long-term importance rests in how its commitment to radical democratic self-organization has been adopted within more conventional forms of politics. Occupy changed what counts as credible democratic coordination and how democracy is performed, as demonstrated in opposition to corporate political influence, rural antifracking activism, and political campaigns.By comparing instances of progressive politics that demonstrate the democratic ethos developed and promoted by Occupy and those that do not, Thimsen illustrates how radical and conventional rhetorical strategies can be brought together to seek democratic change. Combining insights from rhetorical studies, performance studies, political theory, and sociology, The Democratic Ethos offers a set of conceptual tools for analyzing anticorporate democracy-movement politics in the twenty-first century"-- Provided by publisher.
Bibliographic references
Includes bibliographical references and index.
  • 9781643363172 (hardcover)
  • 1643363174 (hardcover)
  • 9781643363189 (paperback)
  • 1643363182 (paperback)
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