Paul Krugman can’t have it both ways.
He can’t, on one hand, post the photo above with some evident satisfaction and then, on the other hand, argue that he can’t be in Liberty Park (to speak with the protestors, teach a class, hold a sign, chant a slogan, or whatever) because it would mean “crossing the line between advocate and activist.”
First, that supposed line never prevented him from participating in the World Economic Forum in Davos, at which capitalist globalization is both celebrated and engineered. (In fact, in early 2011, he explained he wasn’t going to Davos not because it crossed some kind of line but because “there’s not much for me there.”)
Second, there is no line between advocacy and activism. I’ll grant him such a line between journalism and advocacy/activism or between teaching and advocacy/activism (I don’t use the classroom to advocate, because teaching is not a soapbox, but I certainly engage in both advocacy and activism on my blog, and engage in other forms of advocacy and activism in still other spaces beyond the classroom). But I don’t see the line he’s drawn between his ongoing commentary (as a regular columnist in the New York Times and on his blog) and appearing (or being identified) as an “activist” in Liberty Park.
A more honest way of bowing out would be for Krugman simply to argue that he wants to reach some groups of people and he’s afraid that, if he shows up as an activist within the Occupy Wall Street movement, those groups will stop listening to him. That’s a real choice. It’s not one I want to make but it’s a choice all the same.
My only point is, that decision is quite different from hiding behind the false choice between advocacy and activism. And it’s a decision he has to live with (as he tries desperately, with the best of intentions, to get the elite to change their minds and correct their plutocratic ways.)