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Occupy the toilet seat

By Phil Chevalier
On October 26, 2011

To those who liken the Occupy movement to the Tea Party, I ask one question: Are you the same people who installed

the automaticflush toilets around campus, the toilets

that flush no fewer than four times per sitting? You must

be, because there is no way more than one group

of people can share such a deep lack of contextual understanding. I mean, what is the deal with these toilets?

Even if the amount of water they use per flush is substantially less than your standard manual flusher, I'm wasting quite a deal more if they flush every. Single. Time. I lean forward. There are two ways to get around this problem as far as I can tell: 1) sit up perfectly straight and surrender yourself to the constraints of the automatic - flush

in order to make it less wasteful, or 2) tell the people who

make those decisions , not the custodian but Xavier's

own administration, that the automaticflush system itself is wastefully designed, and request a fundamental change

of strategy. Think of the toilet as the federal government, the automaticflush as corporate tax write-offs and enormous bank bailouts and the administration as the major financial institutions of America. There you have it – the two ways

of handling the problem represent the essential difference between the Tea Party (option 1) and Occupy Wall Street (option 2). The Tea Party sees the automatic- flush system as a way of the world; that America is a capitalist nation is for them immutable and not at all what they aim to change.

They, therefore, advocate things like off-shore drilling and raising the carbon ceiling and they attack social welfare programs and safety nets, demanding that all Americans "live within their means." The problem will be solved, they think, if everyone sits up nice and straight so as to prevent

wasteful flushing. The Occupy movement, on the other hand, has decided that leaning forward on the toilet is

part of what going to the bathroom is all about. For them, the

toilet is first and foremost a wonderfully utilitarian service, which enables them to defecate in a civilized manner and whose function should not require unnatural personal contortions – as long as they aim successfully in the bowl.

Their approach then, after they lean forward and find themselves sitting above a frigid insurrection of unnecessary consumption, is to try to fundamentally change the external conditions that allow the waste to happen in the first place. Going against the banks and the

brokers, not the politicians, speaks to the fact that they know who has power over whom and have chosen their enemy accordingly. I assume that what people are referring to by comparing the two movements is that they both spawned from frustration, and that one took a conservative form while the other took a liberal form. Well, sure, just like both approaches to the automatic-flush problem are spawned from the same frustration of going somewhere

to relieve oneself in peace and leaving with a cold, damp rearend. But since when does such a thin connection make two things essentially the same? Could we also then say that the musician is doing essentially the same thing when he abuses drugs as when he writes beautiful music because both are responses to the same sorrow? Well, maybe we could. In any case, the difference between the

two movements is established by the nature of their respective methods, and what those methods presuppose. That is what makes the one far more exciting than the other.

So, are the Occupiers naïve? Totally. Are they doomed to fail? Probably. Are they absolutely right? Without a doubt. And right they will be until the day I start seeing "Occupy" shirts on the racks at Urban Outfitters.


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