About a week or so ago I was stopped by two tired police officers on Broadway and Exchange place, on my way to the office early in the morning. A line of people was waiting to show those policemen some proof of them actually working in the general Wall Street area, before being allowed to enter the heavily barricaded protest zone.
My driver’s license was not enough, and I had to dig into my bag to pull a business card showing my name and the address of my firm. That worked and I was allowed in.
That little and seemingly insignificant incident had a strange effect – it forced me to acknowledge the fact of the existence of those caricature protests, commonly referred to as “Occupy Wall Street”.
This acknowledgement was strong enough to shake me out of my writing coma. I present to you my thoughts on this miserable imitation of the “Arab Spring”.
Strangely enough, despite the fact that my firm is located almost on Wall Street itself, for all that time I haven’t really seen the protesters themselves. As most people in the world I only saw them on the news.
Feeling that I might be missing a piece of history I decided the next morning to skip my subway station and go to the Cortland Street stop to get a close look. As I got closer to the “Zucchini” park I didn’t really see much change in the life of Downtown Manhattan. Same people rushing to work, same buildings slowly rising above Ground Zero.
Finally I reached the park, and found it heavily surrounded by a bunch of bored police officers. The camp looked as you would expect to see such camp – sleeping bags, some blankets, a few accurate piles of protest signs, a collection of trash bins with a big, sort of an aggregate, for collection of recyclables, a mobile morning-coffee-and-bagels mobile cart selling goodies, and a bunch of induced activists.
They did look like a bunch of homeless people, and I believe that is why a couple of professional homeless folks parked their little “Help me I’m hungry” signs right next to the garbage collection center, hoping to cash on this unique opportunity to ride the popular wave.
As I passed by I witnessed a funny scene of a few of the campers religiously shampooing and scrubbing the sidewalk right next to a couple of sleepy police officers. I’m sure a few good shots where taken by a professionally looking dude with a really big camera, pretending to be a tourist, of this iconic scene of how “clean”, “hygienic” and “aesthetic” the protesters (and, by extension, their protest) are, facing the violent oppression of Mayor Bloomberg’s Nazi police regime.
For a second I felt like buying those police officers some coffee with doughnuts.
I went on in the general direction of my office, just to be greeted by an activist holding a sign. 40 something, very manhattanish looking, this not-so-young-but-still-feeling-like-its-the-seventies gentlemen was holding a sign saying “Greed is Goød” (the second ø crossed out). He smiled mysteriously, almost devilishly at me, almost implying that I should bow to his sign. I realized that this is the kind of man I would have no words to say to. I turned away and went to my office, not wanting to waste a single extra moment on that morning expedition of mine.
When people speak from their hearts they usually are very demanding of those around them to not just listen but to accept their emotion as a claim. It is not always clear what the claim is, what is being claimed, or why.
An explanation of this phenomenon is very simple – when the reasoning, the direction, and the object of a claim can be defined in clear terms the organ being used in that process is no longer the heart, but the brain. However, that opens an opportunity for those to whom the claim is directed to use their brains in turn and challenge the reasoning of the claiming side to claim their right for the object of the claim.
Back to Wall Street protesters. What do they really want? Nobody knows for sure. The strategy of this particular movement is not to want anything particular, but just to want.
Children often know what they want, but they can’t express it in words. People who decided to join this hysteric protest (I’m sorry, I meant to say “historic” but changed my mind after my trip to the park) are much more sophisticated than children, because they know how to express themselves in words, except they haven’t decided yet what exactly they want to express besides their general “unhappiness”.
In other words, Occupy Wall Street is a form of retreat for unsatisfied people, where they can participate in wonderful activities like shitting on police cars or listening to distinguished philosophers and acclaimed literary critics such as Roseanne Barr, who actually knows that Ayn Rand wrote a book.
So I wanted to try applying some reasoning. When you look at what happened in the US in the last 3-4 years you actually do expect something along the lines of what happened on Wall Street to take place. Here is why.
Under Bush administration the government has grown beyond control, freedom was restricted by Patriot Act, two “just” wars were going nowhere, and on top of it a massive corporate bailout took place right before Bush departed to his well earned retirement. The American public freaked out and elected a socialist.
This total disappointment from the decrepit Republican party and the fear that the socialists are going to destroy whatever is left (which they successfully do) led to one of the peculiar popular movements, the Tea Party. Its followers were a pretty mixed bunch, but in general one could see that it was a conservative soup spiced with libertarian ideas. The spice aired off, the soup remained.
Soon it was clear to all that something was unbalanced it this whole equation. Big and growing conservative government of fear mongers was replaced by the even bigger and growing socialist government of “yes, we can” do “more of the same”. Disappointed, it was now the turn of the leftist liberals to spice their soup up with anarchist ideas and march on Wall Street. Same ideas, repackaged to closely follow the new fashion.
All they needed was some trigger to use as a role model for the uprising. “Arab spring” came along.
The anarchist spice will air off, the good old liberal soup will remain.
So the tea partiers were primarily protesting big government. Occupy Wall Streeters primarily protest big corporations, propped by the government and propping it in turn. A pretty healthy reason for protest, however perverted to the point of disgust by the Occupy Wall Streeters and their patrons.
The current movement, following its ideological roots, is looking to make a clear class-based case, where rich can only exist as the parasites of the poor, using government control as the instrument of exploitation of the masses. As such, “the rich (Wall Street bankers) should not be rich at all, since they should not have been bailed out by the government when it was their greed that caused the troubles we are all in now“.
The question those people pretend never to ask is this – what about those rich who never received any bailout money, or those who were forced to receive this money despite the fact that they did not need it at all? Are they as guilty as the other ones?
The answer is simple: they are all guilty by definition of being rich. Guilty for wanting to build their wealth. Guilty for wanting to be successful. Guilty for being able to enjoy their wealth. The only rich who are not guilty are those who win a lottery, because “it could be anyone of us” (but, well, those “rich” often go back down to being poor vary fast for some reason…).
The only way for a rich man to somehow redeem himself is to get down on his knees and cry for mercy by denouncing himself and his wealth, much like Warren Buffet did when he called on his fellow rich to “pay their fair share”. Hollywood clowns are off limits of course, because they work very hard to prove capitalism is BAD through their wonderful art.
After all, the rich are growing richer and the poor are growing poorer. Income inequality, right?
Quoting Wikipedia’s article Income inequality in the United States:
Looking back even further to 1915, an era in which the Rockefellers and Carnegies dominated American industry, the richest 1% of Americans earned roughly 18% of all income. Today, the top 1% account for 24% of all income.
Weird…forget Obama, even well before Roosevelt’s wonderful New Deal, in fact even before the creation of the wonderful SEC to regulate stock market, IN FACT even before the most exciting Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution that gave the Congress the right to distribute wealth in the ugliest form through taxation of income – America had less inequality.
It seems like all those years government regulation surely contributed to decrease of the income inequality. Thank you, American governments, for making our life better.
Another interesting quote from the same article:
A study done by University of Texas economists James K. Galbraith and Travis Hale found that most of the gains enjoyed by the top 1% came from a small number of counties, rather than a national trend. Almost all of the richest 1%’s gains occurred in the economic hotbeds of Silicon Valley and New York City. If the top four counties in those regions are removed, there is almost no trend towards income inequality in the US in recent decades. On this basis, the researchers ascribe the recent growth in income inequality to the growth of information technology.
Think about it.
No, you are not. Ten, maybe fifteen percent. That’s how much of the general population are fool enough to cheer you.
So technically yes, you represent 99% of those 10-15 percent, and the other 1% of the 10-15% are morons who believe they are rich and want to be taxed. I’m sure their parents turn in their graves now, knowing that their well fed and taken care of child is publicly denouncing them for making his or her life easier (and it’s a great lesson for people like myself who want to become truly rich and want to bring their children up appreciating the hard-earned wealth they are to inherit).
It should be clear, mostly to those sitting in the park, that they do not represent more than a fraction of the population. I’m sure their patrons know it.
To try to push it down our throats that they are would only make them look more foolish as time passes. Sure, it sells news, because media loves that crap.
But sooner or later their message will crystallize, no matter how hard they try to make it as vague as 99% could be. And the message would be same old socialist-liberal crap, that would be successfully washed away by New York rain.