The March Of Civilization, Writ Small

Say what you will about the Occupy Wall Street group — it’s helping to provide people with an education about how civilization works.

It’s one thing to spend one night in a park, enraptured by your freedom and the spirit of the protest, listening to the tom toms and the snares of the “drum circle.”  But what to do when you’ve been there for a week?  Hey, how long can that damn drum circle play?  How are we going to divide the tips that those drummers get, anyway?  Are we going to let just anyone in?  Who’s going to make sure that my stuff doesn’t get taken?  This particular patch of the park is my patch, and I’m not going to move for the johnny-come-latelys who probably are here just to look for a good time.  Who is going to make sure that things are cleaned up?  Where’s my food?

New York magazine has a classic article on the growing pains of the OWS group, as “facilitators” and drummers clash, the old guard and the newbies bump heads, the “General Assembly” gets denounced as “unwieldy” and “cumbersome,” those who want to sleep and those who want to just let the music flow jostle for power, and property rights get asserted and exercised. It’s a living sociology class, confined to a smelly park in Manhattan.

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