The crowd in the Occupy movement

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In this article, I recast Elias Canetti's notion of crowds by placing it in the framework provided by Friedrich Nietzsche's Heraclitean dialectic of Apollonian and Dionysian opposites. The argument is introduced that, in European societies, the forms of social existence are mainly Apollonian, whereas crowds are Dionysian. Along this line of reasoning, Dionysian drives, and hence crowds, tend to be marginalized in Europe's Apollonian culture. I argue that, in the liberal democracies of the Cold War era, crowds were marginalized, although they did emerge in the rock 'n' roll mania of the 1960s. West European post-Cold War, I maintain, is characterized by the collapse of liberal democracy and the rise of global capitalism. The recent financial crisis is an event that has disrupted the hegemony of global capitalism. In the context of this disruption, Occupy Wall Street (OWS) emerges as a movement in which post-modern crowds play an important port. OWS is presented as a new social movement that is Apollonian in substance, while its crowds embody and manifest a certain Dionysian vitality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages17
JournalDistinktion: Scandinavian journal of social theory
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2013


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  • IR-83175


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