The Burnett Rule: If You Buy Something, Don’t Say Something

Erin Burnett’s snide putdown of #OccupationWallStreet on her new CNN platform OutFront included some sniffing over the fact that the protesters (like other Americans) drink bottled water, eat “catered lunch,” (actually slices of pizza from a local pizzeria, probably courtesy of anonymous online supporters), wear designer clothes, use Apple computers and Blackberries. The implicit “argument” in Burnett’s patrician sniffs, which we’ll no doubt be hearing over and over from the protest’s sideline critics in the days to come, is rendered explicit in this ironic photo art found on Twitter: via @ForceMajeure_

So on this account, if you consume any of the products of corporate capitalism, it’s hypocritical to protest against corporate capitalism. What, then, do the Burnettists think is the correct attitude of consumers toward corporate capitalism? Obedience? Submission? Worship?

We are not only consumers–not only economic animals, but also political animals. The fact that we consume the products of the predominant economic  system doesn’t disqualify us from criticizing the political system that serves the interests of the “captains” of the system at the rest of our expense, does it? The protest is not about the economic behavior of corporations–not about capitalism per se, in other words–but about their social, political and moral behavior.

Burnett pretends to be a journalist, which of course she is not. (Seriously, Erin, a journalist?!) She is an apologist for the 1%. But anyone who is not in the role Burnett has chosen to play ought to pay closer attention to what the occupation is about, ought to use their minds to examine what the occupiers are actually saying.  I think most Americans will tend to get it if they give it a little thought, because I think most Americans can see that the system does not favor their own interests any more than it favors the protesters.

7 thoughts on “The Burnett Rule: If You Buy Something, Don’t Say Something

  1. Bottom line is that without the investment, effort, and igenuity that capitalism and capitalists bring to fruition through free markets, you wouldn’t have any of those things to enjoy. In fact people would be far to busy scrounging for a subsistance level existance to be “occupying Wall Street.” That is the point. Capitalism, and free markets make life better for everybody. You don’t have to like it, you just have to face facts.
    I dunno, I prefer having options and disposable income to trying to eek out a living, a la sub-Saharan Africa or Cambodia, but that’s just me.

    • Maybe the protests are not about the ingenuity of capitalism to create products for consumers. Americans have been kept very docile and complacent thanks to such ingenuity for decades now. But maybe the protests are about something else. Personally I think (and said in this post and elsewhere) that the protests are about the enormous disparity in power between the haves and have nots, a disparity that is only increasing as the government continues to bend over backwards to meet the haves’ needs. People don’t travel hundreds of miles to sleep with strangers in a New York City park for days and days without having something motivating them. (Just as people don’t dress up to look like colonials–and laughingstocks–without a real impetus.)

  2. I guess they could all walk around naked and starve themselves to death. What a ridiculous argument and nice post. I think you last sentence is dead on.

  3. Pingback: #FreeWillies | Tragic Farce

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