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Occupy Wall Street
I have been predicting a public and popular (that is, from the streets) surge of discontent at the state of the USA almost since I have been posting and certainly since I have been speaking of libertarianism and criticizing the roles of the oligarchs and the corporates in the US's political processes.  Well, here it comes and here it is.
 
I now would like to make another prediction.  This is not going to go away.  It may morph from its present form into other forms which I leave to your imaginations, from the unthinkable to the unimaginable, but it is not going to go away until there are some radical changes in the way that USA Inc does business with its citizens, because they are mightily peeved off with the status quo.
  
Anger is violence or the threat of violence to gain or maintain control. To the average American, control of our own destiny seems to be slipping away. Tea-Partiers are royally pissed but unfortunately permit the propagandists at Fox News tell them where to direct their anger…at at other working Americans such as labor union members and away from the real culprits.

I find the Occupy Wall Street movement heartening. I was certain the American aristocracy (banks, corporations, media moguls and wealthy individuals that use wealth to effect government policy to their benefit and at the expense of working Americans, outside of the democratic process) would crash the economy again and “We the People” would pick up the pieces and hobble together something resembling democracy…again. Now I’m not so sure the crash has to happen. The anger is not going to go away and I am beginning to have doubts that the corporate media will be able to sweep this under the rug.
Hello John Barri and David Brown,




    This is a kind of FYI. Just to give you my impressions.

 

    We live about two hours from New York. Friday – the day before yesterday – I took the train down to the city and made my way down to Zuccotti Park. (Don’t be deceived by the way that trips off my tongue; I’d never heard of this tiny park before. I just had to google it to get the name right.)

     I had a long walk through the financial district before I finally found the place. There was a business-as-normal atmosphere until about two blocks from the park, where a police presence – traffic barriers, mounted police, uniformed officers – began to be obvious. There was nothing menacing about them, a least to me. Half the cops seemed to be five foot high Hispanic women.

     The park is tiny. One square block. It was crammed with people. A cordon of police stood casually around the perimeter. Not at the border of the park, but on the curb on the street side of the sidewalk that surrounds it on four sides. Again there was no sense of menace, and people were continually flowing in and out of the park. I heard one cop tell a gawker that he was blocking the sidewalk. The sidewalks, one each side of the park, were crammed with gawkers, readers of posters, takers of photos and journalists checking their equipment; I assume that that particular gawker was blocking the narrow open lane of  the sidewalk.

     There was one Big Brother touch, though. The police had parked a truck with one of those accordion lifts that are used by tree trimmers, power companies, bridge painters, etc. And on the top of this extended accordion, overlooking the entire park, was a little enclosed surveillance hut.

     The occupation resembled a crowded outdoor market, more than anything else. Chock-a-block: an encampment of sleepy Goths; a table where an old New York lefty was making large “I Support Occupy Wall Street” buttons on a small hand press machine (no doubt left over from the heroic days, when a demonstration was really a demonstration and women still had passion); a group of earnest young men in plaid shirts with clever placards quoting Rosa Luxembourg and Thomas Jefferson; an intense orderly little soviet let by a slight young woman wearing a bright red Caribbean turban, which behaved as though it was controlling everything although I found that hard to believe; a country rock band; a Danish television crew (two young men, one with a mike and one with a light hand-held camera) interviewing a man in a suit and tie, with a ginger moustache, who was from North Dakota, and like myself and most of the other people who were walking around rather than being just being stationed somewhere, were there both to show their support and satisfy their curiosities.

            There were far fewer political jesters, outlandish costumes and painted faces, than the media would lead one to expect – though, of course, what else would they zero in on? (Danish Television excepted, of course.)

            I didn’t see any fundraising.  There was a free food table, with food donated by restaurants. When I passed by they were doling out pizza slices. But I didn’t notice any kind of contribution plate. The guy making the buttons was giving them away, although you had to promise to wear them.

            It was great – but I had seen enough by the end of an hour. I had one or two exchanges with people my own age, but I didn’t see any way I could “join in” for the afternoon. I had heard that there was supposed to be a march by academics in support of the occupation, but found out that it was scheduled for five o’clock, by which time I’d be on my way back to the train.

 

            So, here are my thoughts after one sleepy warm hour mid-day last Friday.

            1) Whatever anger emanated from those in the park – and  it was very subtle if it existed – was the kind of anger that comes from disappointment, not oppression. Violence was the last thing on anyone’s mind there, including 99+% of the police.  (If the police had continued as they had in the first 48 hours, the anger would have been much more volatile.  It occurs to me that the large percentage of female non-Caucasian police might not have been accidental; the NYPD has to be credited with getting itself straightened out about this. I wouldn’t be surprised if the PBA – the police union – had weighed in on the side of benign containment rather than aggression.)

            2) I think this event will morph into something larger and more meaningful, but if it does, more credit has to be given to the media than the demonstrators. They were a great bunch, but would have remained inconsequential except for the media attention.

            3) It would seem that some Tea Party types should be attracted to join in – after all, the far left and the far right are on the same page when it comes to government corruption by wealthy special interests. Unfortunately, having glommed onto Rush Limbaugh while scanning my car radio dial yesterday, and seeing clips of Fox News’ coverage, I think the Tea Party will be propagandized to shun the Wall Street Occupation (just as, perhaps, I was propagandized to go in and check it out).

            4) It’s wonderful that these people are doing this. They lack the energy that we used to bring to demonstrations in the ‘60’s (or is that just an old codger carping), but at least something is happening.

 

 

 

    

In response to Samuel Reifler
As you quite rightly pointed out, demonstrations are not new to the US, and these demonstrations are quite tame by comparison to those of your generation.  Your reference to the lack of TEA party participation I think is not surprising because this is not a TEA party issue.  The OWS and the TEA party may in fact be diametrically apposed to one another.  I think the significance of the OWS movement (if that is what it is) is that it opposes the establishment that the TEA party would support - oligarchs&corporates&etc., or at least the OWS demands accountability, morality and responsibility of that establishment -  What the OWS are protesting is the betrayal by the system, by the whole of the system, of ordinary citizens.

South Africa's Bishop Desmond Tutu has just recently accused the ANC of being worse than the South African Apartheid government, because, he said, you got what you expected from the apartheid government.  With the ANC you are getting not what is expected, but that which is unexpected.  One day, he predicted, people will be praying for the downfall of the ANC just as they prayed for the downfall of the Apartheid Government.  

This is what OWS supporters feel, BETRAYAL.  And why is this?  Probably because the establishment are treating them with disdain - the establishment believes itself untouchable.  Macveigh and the not too distant American civil war should caution their sense of invulnerability.  If they don't want to look that far back, they should look just to the response of a jilted lover.  As the William Congreve put it in his play The Mourning Bride (1697) 'Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned'.

By chance I happened to be reading Montaigne (essay 19 Page 8).  In 1575 he wrote  'There cannot a worse state of things be imagined, than where wickedness comes to be legitimate, and assumes with the magistrates' permission, the cloak of virtue ....  The extremest sort of injustice, according to Plato, is where that which is unjust, should be reputed for just.'
 
How very pertinent.
 
The significance of the OWS is not the heat or the noise of their passions but that the movement is persisting over time and is growing and expanding to other centers in the country.  There was a very clever add for a truffle, the punch line was 'if you want to be heard, whisper'.  That the OWS are whispering does not mean they will not be heard.  The European version are the 'Indiagnantes' or Indignants - who are appalled and indignant at how they have been treated and are being treated by the establishment and are making a lot of noise about it.  Kings and Princes may fall.
 
Somehow, it is all connected with the unbridled greed of the establishment, wherever the establishment exists.  The Arab Spring, the European Indiagnantes, The OWS - they all have a common concern.  The restoration of simple justice. 

I'm convinced this is not going away.

Postscript (October 10, 2011 at 9:11 AM):
And how about this from Paul Krugman:  Panic of the Plutocrats
 
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/10/opinion/panic-of-the-plutocrats.html?src=me&ref=general&gwh=BFD1E20425BDA150A1317EACCD798FB0
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