While I’m pleased to see some popular opposition rise up to Wall Street’s manipulation of the US (and hence world) financial system, after following numerous Occupy groups over the last 6 weeks, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s noisily going nowhere.
The NYT’s Nelson Schwartz and Eric Dash penned this bit which calls out protesters as ‘unsophisticated.’ That ain’t the half of it. I’ve chatted directly with a number of the occupiers in several cities and found a miasma of conspiracy theorists, anti-vaccination liars, anti-science loopbags and wholly politically naïve babes-in-the-woods. No small number of occupiers are fully distrustful of the political system and believe, quite earnestly, that they can get political change merely by standing in a park with a bullhorn and ‘demanding’ it.
The mind doth boggle.
Occupiers had better quickly catch a clue- ‘demanding change’ only works if you can orchestrate a revolution by force- and that means outgunning the US military. Good luck with that. Failing being able to foment a proper revolution, you participate in the political system- find sympathetic officeholders who will drive your policy agenda into public law- or field and elect your own candidates. Then, and only then, will you be able to effect ‘change.’
Moreover, many of the basic concepts seen on occupier signage are just plain silly. Being wealthy, in and of itself, is not an evil. Using absurd levels of wealth to buy political influence to protect the legislative environment that allows one to amass absurd levels of wealth, on the other hand, is full-on evil. Money, truly, cannot be defended as a constitutionally protected form of speech- this doesn’t even pass the giggle test. Eat the rich? No. TAX the rich. Also, capitalism per se is not a particularly evil thing. It certainly beats the alternative of centrally planned economies as one might find in pure communism or Marxist/Leninist socialism.
‘Soft’ socialism, where excessively high earnings are taxed at a correspondingly high rate and redistributed to improve the general social condition, as one finds in Australia and in Scandinavian countries, not only works, it works really quite well. Having lived the first 30-odd years of my life in the US and then traveling the world, finally winding up in Australia, has been illuminating. Australia in particular doesn’t have swathes of bombed-out looking neighbourhoods as one finds in many inner-city locales in the US.
On the upside, US occupiers have exposed the militarisation of US law enforcement and are driving a certain level of education as regards the function of the US Constitution in the everyday lives of ordinary Americans. That’s good stuff- and I hope they keep it up. However, occupy movements had better quickly learn that nutbags and twits are NOT helpful. A leaderless movement is all well and good, but sensible people had better start stepping up and leading the movements in a direction where some actual change can be effected, turning the raw rage into votes- or the moment is lost.