At the Huffington Post and ABC Ethics and Religion, neither of which I feel much like linking to, you may find an article by Luke Bretherton offering unsolicited advice to the #OWS movement. His advice is rather strange and I’ll explain why. First, though, a note on Bretherton himself. While it is not very expedient for me to say this, I have not been very impressed by Bretherton’s work and I’m sad to see that he will be taking Hauerwas’ spot at Duke soon. He works generally in the field of what might be called “applied political theology” and all of his ideas generally boil down to a kind of Christiandom with a human face. He’s part of the “politics of paradox” crowd that unites the racist ideologies of Blue Labourism and Red Toryism (if you want to know more about that look at the other posts on this blog that deal with it). He’s also part of a group called Citizens United, which he holds up as a model for the occupiers to emulate. But this is a strange suggestion, for none of the things that Bretherton holds up as exemplary about Citizens United have, well, come to pass! For example, sure, Citizens United calls for a living wage to be implemented in London, but such a demand has never been seriously considered by the city government. What is advocating? Only that they look towards Citizens United as a model for how to fail politically but keep their veneer of respectability before the powers that be!
Now it has come out that Bretherton and Maurice Glasman (the entirely uncharismatic sexist and racist man at the centre of the limp theory of Blue Labourism) have tried to hijack the General Assembly meetings at OccupyLSX in London. Now clearly the OccupyLSX movement has been stalled, in part because the police reaction to the movement was so strong and in part because of the new problems that arose regarding St. Paul’s Cathedral, more a tourist trap than a house of worship. But what Bretherton and Glasman are doing, no doubt, is trying to completely change the character of the occupation. While I don’t believe in leaderless movements, or rather I think that such a phrase is an ideology that must be ruthlessly criticized from within the movement itself, the leadership style of Citizens United is entirely soft authoritarian. If the occupy movement allows itself to be co-opted by Blue Labourism or even Citizens United it will have already surrounded any chance it has of resisting and challenging the City (the Wall Street of London). Precisely because Blue Labourism is only capitalism with English characteristics. It is a form of extreme cynicism regarding what is possible within a human society masking itself as a high moralism which aims to protect all the old hierarchies at whatever cost. I can only hope that the London occupiers can see through the cunning dishonesty and hatred for true democracy present in figures like Bretherton and Glasman.