Occupy Wall Street, Steve Jobs’s “Genius,” and Mad Men

Reflections on the American Democratic Imagination
  • Bruce Baum


The fall of 2011 was marked by the concurrence of two events with sharply divergent economic, cultural, and political ramifications: the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement’s radical democratic protest against economic inequality and corporate power and media celebrations of the singular “genius” of Steve Jobs, the Apple Corporation CEO, spurred by his death that October. These events highlighted a basic tension in democratic capitalism: public affirmation of democratic equality—ideals of equality before the law, equal opportunity, and equal political rights—combined with widespread admiration of successful corporate leaders and entrepreneurs and acceptance of enormous economic inequalities. These two occurrences—the Occupy movement and postmortem celebrations of Jobs’s supposed genius—crystallized two conflicting ways that Americans envision, enact, and contain democratic equality.


Sharp Inequality Capitalist Firm Economic Enterprise Liberal Imagination Economic Democracy 
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© Bruce Baum 2016

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  • Bruce Baum

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