Michael Hardt (Literature) and Jedediah Purdy (Law) will convene a spring working group at the Franklin Humanities Institute on the Occupy movement and the basic questions that it raises.
In an opening session we will set the context by surveying Occupy, the non-US encampment movements (in Egypt, Greece, Spain, and the UK, among others) that emerged in 2011, and the precursors to all these movements in the last 15 years of social movements around globalization and democracy. We will then move to more conceptual sessions, in which we use historical episodes and texts to try to enrich our appreciation of what the Occupy movement might mean. One session will focus on the tradition of political, social, and moral critique of the economy, with attention to the idea that democracy has some definite meaning for economic life. Another session will address broadly constitutional questions: how can a group of citizens claim to speak for “the people,” or “the 99%,” and can such a movement change the basic terms of the political community itself, that is, make constitutional change? Our historical material will come from both US and non-US sources, with specia l concern for the US constitutional tradition.
This is not intended as a discussion group on the day-to-day events of the Occupy movement, nor as a chance to rehash familiar debates about it. We hope to take the movement as an occasion for informed reflection on the questions about economic fairness and democracy that Occupy raises, and to understand its hopes in light of the longer legacy of such movements.
There will be four evening sessions (6pm to 8pm) in the spring semester: Monday 30 January, Monday 20 February, Monday 12 March, and Monday 2 April. Food will be provided. Readings should not exceed 50-60 pages per session, and participants must be committed to reading and engaging in discussion. We expect about 20 people from around the university to participate.
If you would like to participate, please send a short paragraph describing your interest and any relevant background to Dawn Cronce, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael Hardt and Jedediah Purdy