Why I signed the 'Occupy Writers' statement (Oct. 2011)

I 've been asked by Slate for a quote about why I added my name to the Occupy Writers list. I suspect they may not be able to run the whole statement, so I've asked them to link here. Far more eloquent that anything I can say are the testimonies on this blog. Here is why, as a writer, I am participating in #ows:

Writers do many kinds of cultural work, but one of our roles (or duties, if you prefer) is to make visible what is hard to see, to use words to tell the truth about the world. We live in a period when the ideology of finance capitalism is presented as common sense, and uses the language of freedom and human development to promote the agenda of the class that is now becoming known, through the shorthand of the Occupy protests, as ‘the one percent’. It seems to me that this is mystification. The version of capitalism we have now is far from ‘natural’, and its benefits for the majority of the world’s people are not self-evident. As a writer, schooled in the slipperiness of language, I can help by exposing this ideological mystification, so that a more honest assessment can be made. As a fiction writer in particular, I can help by opening spaces of imaginative possibility and asking whether other kinds of social, economic and political arrangements are possible.

Writers, it must also be said, occupy a precarious place in the current social order. We tend to be freelancers, with variable incomes and little security. Because of this, despite our education and privilege, we have a lot in common with other workers who are forced to operate ‘paycheck to paycheck’. This insecurity is only exacerbated by the collapse of the traditional publishing industry, and its reconfiguration by the internet. Our class interests, as writers, lie with the rest of the 99 percent, in struggling for a more just distribution of wealth and resources. For all these reasons I am part of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

  • Hari Kunzru 20th october 2011