Friday, October 7, 2011
The Occupy Wall Street Movement and Stoicism
Photographer Russell McNeil PhD (Physics) lives in Nanaimo, British Columbia. His book, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: Selections Annotated and Explained (Skylight Paths Publishing) presents a radical and modern science-based interpretation of the ancient philosophy of Stoicism. This way of living teaches that happiness and healing come to us in life when we learn to “live according to nature” - this is the ideal that Russell strives to reflect in all of his photography.
The First Amendment to the US Constitution provides for the “right of the people peaceably to assemble.” Article 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms defines the "freedom of peaceful assembly" together with "freedom of conscience and religion; freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication; and freedom of association"... as "fundamental."
In both Canada and the USA these freedoms have been protected to ensure that our nations are never co-opted by tyranny or hijacked by special interests. The fundamental argument underlying the Occupy movement protests currently underway is that this co-opting has occurred.
Our Rights and our Freedoms have been threatened by a corporate minority. We have been hijacked by fascistic forces and that the majority have been subjected to economic, political and environmental oppressions. Furthermore we argue that the elected governments and assemblies of both nations no longer effectively represent the will of the majority, but represent rather these forces of oppression. That this is so requires that we exercise our fundamental freedoms and that we peaceably recover what is ours.
This is our right, and this is our duty. The argument that we are duty bound to recover ourselves from enslavement is embedded in the ancient principles of democratic right developed in the philosophies of Athens and echoed in the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius who asserted that human rights are derived from the Law of Nature:
"As you are yourself a component part of a social system [family, city, nation, world], so let every act of yours be a component part of social life. Any act of yours that has no reference either immediately or remotely to a social end tears asunder your life [this refers to acts that are self directed such as those by corporate entities designed to serve and benefit the few over the many], and does not allow it to be in solidarity, and it is of the nature of a mutiny [this asserts that the acts of the corporate few are in effect a mutiny against the interests of the community]..." ~ Russell McNeil (from Chapter 9 on Political Activism, Criticism, and Dissent, p. 229 ff, Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: Selections Annotated and Explained (2008))
The unpublished meditations presented in this Blog are provided as supplemental material to the published selections which are annotated and explained in the book. The published selections are referenced in this Blog by page number and section.