Bookworm saw all the Powerbooks and iPads buzzing down at Occupy Wall Street, and reflected that these young people’s problem doesn’t consist of material poverty in the traditional sense. They were badly educated and their problem is intellectual and moral poverty combined with a weak grasp of reality.
[T]here’s the sense of poverty created by utterly ludicrous expectations. We promised these kids that they were all “good enough, smart enough and, gosh darn it!, that everyone would like them.” We promised them that they were all number one, and that they would never need to make any actual effort to achieve that blue ribbon status. We taught them, through MTV and computer games, that a 3 minute attention span is sufficiently long to be awesomely cool and win the game. And, God help us, we taught them that a Womyn’s Studies, or Africana Studies, or GLBT Studies, or Oppressed People’s degree from some big name university would assure them the kind of job that would enable them to pay off $25,000 or $100,000 or even $250,000 in student loans. We, the older generation, created this wealth of stupidity.
These young people also suffer from a vast intellectual and moral poverty. One of the things that shines through when we interview the people taking to the streets is that so many are woefully ignorant, and that they wallow in a sea of relativism that allows for no morality other than that gained by intense navel gazing. They are the antithesis of the original American revolutionaries, whose leaders were men of exceptional erudition and thoughtfulness, and whose followers knew at the very least their Bible and Pilgrim’s Progress. Revolutionaries of old were shaped by philosophy, known science, literature, practical life experience, and a deep sense of morality and justice. Today’s little park piddlers are shaped by an aching sense of unfairness, a terrible fear of human-kind (that would be the AGW shtick), and a morality shaped by Oprah and whichever fabulously rich Hollywood Leftist happens to grab the microphone on any given day.
These self-styled 99%-ers are not poor, not by any known standard, either today or in the history of the world. They are intellectually and emotionally bereft, but otherwise awash in material benefits.
Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., at the Ludwig von Mises Institute, says those Occupy Wall Street protestors have got it right about the 1% exploiting the 99%. They just are mixed up about the identity of the parasitical 1%.
The “occupy” protest movement is thriving off the claim that the 99 percent are being exploited by the 1 percent, and there is truth in what they say. But they have the identities of the groups wrong. They imagine that it is the 1 percent of highest wealth holders who are the problem. In fact, that 1 percent includes some of the smartest, most innovative people in the country — the people who invent, market, and distribute material blessings to the whole population. They also own the capital that sustains productivity and growth.
But there is another 1 percent out there, those who do live parasitically off the population and exploit the 99 percent. Moreover, there is a long intellectual tradition, dating back to the late Middle Ages, that draws attention to the strange reality that a tiny minority lives off the productive labor of the overwhelming majority.
I’m speaking of the state, which even today is made up of a tiny sliver of the population but is the direct cause of all the impoverishing wars, inflation, taxes, regimentation, and social conflict. This 1 percent is the direct cause of the violence, the censorship, the unemployment, and vast amounts of poverty, too.
Look at the numbers, rounding from latest data. The US population is 307 million. There are about 20 million government employees at all levels, which makes 6.5 percent. But 6.2 million of these people are public-school teachers, whom I think we can say are not really the ruling elite. That takes us down to 4.4 percent.
We can knock of another half million who work for the post office, and probably the same who work for various service department bureaus. Probably another million do not work in any enforcement arm of the state, and there’s also the amazing labor-pool fluff that comes with any government work. Local governments do not cause nationwide problems (usually), and the same might be said of the 50 states. The real problem is at the federal level (8.5 million), from which we can subtract fluff, drones, and service workers.
In the end, we end up with about 3 million people who constitute what is commonly called the state. For short, we can just call these people the 1 percent.
The 1 percent do not generate any wealth of their own. Everything they have they get by taking from others under the cover of law. They live at our expense. ...
Why don’t the protesters get this? Because they are victims of propaganda by the state, doled out in public schools, that attempts to blame all human suffering on private parties and free enterprise. They do not comprehend that the real enemy is the institution that brainwashes them to think the way they do.
They are right that society is rife with conflicts, and that the contest is wildly lopsided. It is indeed the 99 percent versus the 1 percent. They’re just wrong about the identity of the enemy.
I think Mr. Rockwell is wrong, though, about those public school teachers and other government employees. Today’s public school system is an employment empire, which devotes far more energy to its real purpose of growing itself and gaining an ever larger share annual budget and staff than it does to its ostensible purpose of educating. Public schools in America are either rudimentary babysitting services which evolves into concentration camps or lavishly funded credentialing services designed to maintain the grip on status of the next generation of the haute bourgeoisie.
The New York Post reports that some of the demonstrators Occupy’ing Wall Street are experiencing the joys of socialist redistribution by government firsthand. I guess this Smith guy never read “Dr. Zhivago” or “Atlas Shrugged.”
Even in Zuccotti Park, greed is good.
Occupy Wall Street’s Finance Committee has nearly $500,000 in the bank, and donations continue to pour in—but its reluctance to share the wealth with other protesters is fraying tempers.
Some drummers—incensed they got no money to replace or safeguard their drums after a midnight vandal destroyed their instruments Wednesday—are threatening to splinter off.
“F—k Finance. I hope Mayor Bloomberg gets an injunction and demands to see the movement’s books. We need to know how much money we really have and where it’s going,” said a frustrated Bryan Smith, 45, who joined OWS in Lower Manhattan nearly three weeks ago from Los Angeles, where he works in TV production.
Smith is a member of the Comfort Working Group—one of about 30 small collectives that have sprung up within OWS. The Comfort group is charged with finding out what basic necessities campers need, like thermal underwear, and then raising money by soliciting donations on the street.
“The other day, I took in $2,000. I kept $650 for my group, and gave the rest to Finance. Then I went to them with a request—so many people need things, and they should not be going without basic comfort items—and I was told to fill out paperwork. Paperwork! Are they the government now?” Smith fumed, even as he cajoled the passing crowd for more cash.
The Finance Committee dives on whatever dollars are raised by all the OWS working groups, said Smith, and doesn’t give it back.
The Comfort group has an allowance of $150 a day, while larger working groups, like the Kitchen group, get up to $2,000.
“What can I do with $150?” said Smith. “We have three tons of wet laundry here from the rainstorm—how do I get that done? We need winter gear, shoes, socks. I could spend $10,000 alone for backpacks people need. We raise all this money. Where is it?”
Read the whole thing. It’s a hoot.
An announced visit to New York by former Polish President, and leader of the Solidarity movement, Lech Wałęsa to stand with, and endorse, the Occupy Wall Street protests was slated to be a major coup for the International left. A hero of the anti-Communist labor movement which liberated Poland from the Soviet Empire endorsing OWS would prove, once and for all, that the demonstrations represented a legitimate, mainstream expression of protest, and that they were not simply astroturf, a fraudulent, artificially contrived, and unrepresentative collection of assemblies of bums, bohemians, and gullible students out for a good time, representing nothing in particular and with no rational agenda, arranged by the hard-core radical left to wave the red flag prominently as a form of agitation at a time in which the left’s grip on political power can be perceived imminently to be slipping away.
Matt Yglesias, in fact, was quick to have a go at hiding the commies behind the anti-Communist hero Wałęsa in his apologia for Occupy Wall Street in The New Republic.
The notion that Occupy Wall Street is a fundamentally radical anti-capitalist movement is completely without foundation. Not only is it odd for TNR to take a harder anti-communist line than, say, Lech Walesa, but this view misunderstands the basic nature of a fluid and rapidly growing movement. The participation of some radicals in the initial organization of the Zuccotti Park protest shouldn’t distract from the fact that the movement has grown by attracting a diverse set of adherents united primarily by an appropriate sense of grievance.
“See?” says Yglesias, “If Lech Wałęsa is willing to stand with them, those protestors cannot possibly be anti-capitalist radicals, agitating for a Marxist revolution.”
But, sorry, Matt, what the American left failed to reckon with, when it tried pulling journalistic strings in Europe to secure a visit and endorsement from Wałęsa is the fact that a significant Polish community exists in the United States, particularly in Chicago, and educated, articulate, and responsible Poles live here, who have family, academic, and political ties to their Fatherland. Ethnic communities with roots in former communist dictatorships and captive nations. not surprisingly, loathe Communism. Poles feel about Marxism and the Left exactly the same way Cubans do. Communists? They hate those guys.
So, what do you know? It just so happened that, hearing reports of that proposed OWS endorsement, an Illinois businessman and political activist with Polish roots named Adam Andrzejewski made it a point to get in touch with people in the Old Country in contact with Wałęsa, to share with him some home truths about just who is who and what is what about those Occupy* protests.
Andrzejewski himself explains what happened at Big Government.
When Walesa’s comments hit the AP wire last week, my team immediately reached out to our Polish contacts. We made the point that the political themes of Occupy Wall Street may have started out with some of the principles that we share, but OWS themes were rapidly being morphed into anti-freedom and anti-liberty messages. At the core is the want for a big, powerful central government to dominate the lives of individual citizens.
Using biggovernment.com plus other news sources, rapidly we painted an accurate picture of the groups training, leading, and organizing the “movement.” The movement is organized by anarchists, Code Pink, the American Communist movement, jihadists, anti-Israel, socialist, and anti- free enterprise interests. OWS folks are politically to the left of President Barack Obama.
At the Lech Walesa Institute Foundation in Warsaw, they were thankful to receive this information.
Based on our discussion and intervention, President Walesa is not going to get involved with the OWS. He is not comfortable with the “organizations” behind the movement. It was not a difficult discussion.
The lifetime of good work exercised by President Walesa has lifted people around the world fighting tyranny. Through the Lech Walesa Institute Foundation in Warsaw, Walesa has supported freedom and liberty around the world. As a man primarily responsible for vanquishing communism in Poland, Walesa has a personal bent toward helping the underdog and the downtrodden.
This spring, when President Obama visited Poland, President Walesa refused to meet with him.
So, no, Mr. Yglesias, you guys did not succeed in bamboozling an aging anti-Communist hero into serving as a useful idiot, and, yes, your protest movement is “fundamentally a radical anti-capitalist” piece of communist agitprop. You lose.
In Oakland, there are problems with violence and sexual harassment and organizers have resorted to vigilantism. As Verum Serum reports, it has all come to remind some of the local authorities of a book they read in high school.
One officer compared the scene to “Lord of the Flies.” His supervisor was even more insightful:
One Oakland police supervisor said that the participants first appeared to him as “freethinking activists” but have since devolved into something more sinister. He said it was “interesting for a group that claims to be against current civilization and rules to set up a far more oppressive society than our own.”
New York Magazine compares Zuccotti Park to “Animal Farm“, reporting with amusement that some of those who Occupy Wall Street are levying taxes on other more enterprising protestors, and the latter are not very happy about having their earnings spread around.
All occupiers are equal — but some occupiers are more equal than others. In wind-whipped Zuccotti Park, new divisions and hierarchies are threatening to upend Occupy Wall Street and its leaderless collective.
As the protest has grown, some of the occupiers have spontaneously taken charge on projects large and small. But many of the people in Zuccotti Park aren’t taking direction well, leading to a tense Thursday of political disagreements, the occasional shouting match, and at least one fistfight.
It began, as it so often does, with a drum circle. The ten-hour groove marathons weren’t sitting well with the neighborhood’s community board, the ironically situated High School of Economics and Finance that sits on the corner of Zuccotti Park, or many of the sleep-deprived protesters.
“[The high school] couldn’t teach,” explained Josh Nelson, a 27-year-old occupier from Nebraska. “And we’ve had issues with the drummers too. They drum incessantly all day, and really loud.” Facilitators spearheaded a General Assembly proposal to limit the drumming to two hours a day. “The drumming is a major issue which has the potential to get us kicked out,” said Lauren Digion, a leader on the sanitation working group.
But the drums were fun. They brought in publicity and money. Many non-facilitators were infuriated by the decision and claimed that it had been forced through the General Assembly.
“They’re imposing a structure on the natural flow of music,” said Seth Harper, an 18-year-old from Georgia. “The GA decided to do it … they suppressed people’s opinions. I wanted to do introduce a different proposal, but a big black organizer chick with an Afro said I couldn’t.”
To Shane Engelerdt, a 19-year-old from Jersey City and self-described former “head drummer,” this amounted to a Jacobinic betrayal. “They are becoming the government we’re trying to protest,” he said. “They didn’t even give the drummers a say … Drumming is the heartbeat of this movement. Look around: This is dead, you need a pulse to keep something alive.”
The drummers claim that the finance working group even levied a percussion tax of sorts, taking up to half of the $150-300 a day that the drum circle was receiving in tips. “Now they have over $500,000 from all sorts of places,” said Engelerdt. “We’re like, what’s going on here? They’re like the banks we’re protesting.”
Doug Schoen, Bill Clinton’s former pollster, in the Wall Street Journal, investigated just who is participating in the Occupy Wall Street protest and what they really represent.
[T]he Occupy Wall Street movement reflects values that are dangerously out of touch with the broad mass of the American people—and particularly with swing voters who are largely independent and have been trending away from the president since the debate over health-care reform.
The protesters have a distinct ideology and are bound by a deep commitment to radical left-wing policies. On Oct. 10 and 11, Arielle Alter Confino, a senior researcher at my polling firm, interviewed nearly 200 protesters in New York’s Zuccotti Park. Our findings probably represent the first systematic random sample of Occupy Wall Street opinion.
Our research shows clearly that the movement doesn’t represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse. Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence. Half (52%) have participated in a political movement before, virtually all (98%) say they would support civil disobedience to achieve their goals, and nearly one-third (31%) would support violence to advance their agenda.
The vast majority of demonstrators are actually employed, and the proportion of protesters unemployed (15%) is within single digits of the national unemployment rate (9.1%).
An overwhelming majority of demonstrators supported Barack Obama in 2008. Now 51% disapprove of the president while 44% approve, and only 48% say they will vote to re-elect him in 2012, while at least a quarter won’t vote.
Fewer than one in three (32%) call themselves Democrats, while roughly the same proportion (33%) say they aren’t represented by any political party.
What binds a large majority of the protesters together—regardless of age, socioeconomic status or education—is a deep commitment to left-wing policies: opposition to free-market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth, intense regulation of the private sector, and protectionist policies to keep American jobs from going overseas.
Sixty-five percent say that government has a moral responsibility to guarantee all citizens access to affordable health care, a college education, and a secure retirement—no matter the cost. By a large margin (77%-22%), they support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but 58% oppose raising taxes for everybody, with only 36% in favor. And by a close margin, protesters are divided on whether the bank bailouts were necessary (49%) or unnecessary (51%).
Thus Occupy Wall Street is a group of engaged progressives who are disillusioned with the capitalist system and have a distinct activist orientation.
And, what do you know? These people are not the economically distressed and the unemployed. They are your rancid communists, the lunatic fringe of the activist left, the people yearning for socialist revolution and Marxist totalitarianism, people left of Barack Obama.
Read the whole thing.
El Marco discovered, in the midst of photographing the lefties’ antics in Denver, that the movement has official leaders and organizers, who are identifiable by a sinister symbol of officer status not entirely unreminiscent of the swastika.
Eratosthenes marvels at the way left-wing ideology makes the metrosexuals start talking tough.
What does it say about a so-called “man,” when he possesses certainty & conviction only when he discusses the deconstruction of some unknown stranger’s right to earn and own property? And on all other subjects he reverts, with all the reliability of gravity, right back to the dreaded emasculated tone of the American Castrati? What do we know about someone who is certain about the world in which he lives, only when he seeks to destroy things, along with people who built those things and might build other things?
Hat tip to Vanderleun.
Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times:
There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear, but we may, at long last, be seeing the rise of a popular movement that, unlike the Tea Party, is angry at the right people. ...
When the Occupy Wall Street protests began three weeks ago, most news organizations were derisive if they deigned to mention the events at all. For example, nine days into the protests, National Public Radio had provided no coverage whatsoever.
It is, therefore, a testament to the passion of those involved that the protests not only continued but grew, eventually becoming too big to ignore. With unions and a growing number of Democrats now expressing at least qualified support for the protesters, Occupy Wall Street is starting to look like an important event that might even eventually be seen as a turning point.
What can we say about the protests? First things first: The protesters’ indictment of Wall Street as a destructive force, economically and politically, is completely right.
Proving, once and for all, that our political opponents are not rational adults.
What we are dealing with is children, Walter-Mitty-role-playing in a fantasy filled with stereotyped images of mustache-twirling villains foreclosing Little Nell’s mortgage and sturdy workers and peasants protesting for land and bread.
What do you do with a Nobel Prize winner in Economics who thinks the American financial industry is “a destructive force?” I’d suggest calling the little men in the white coats to throw a net over the poor zany and carry him away for an extended rest period in the laughing academy.
How can you debate with insanity?
The haute bourgeois American left is so thoroughly invested in imaginary archetypes of injustice and oppression, of class struggle and revolutionary glory, that it looks at ordinary life, at people going to work in offices and doing conventional lawful business, and sees some kind of diabolical conspiratorial wrong-doing going on.
Its members look at their balding, pot-bellied establishment selves, sitting in expensive chairs in offices in some of the best real estate in the land, and they see youthful muscular workers and revolutionists getting ready to storm the Winter Palace.
These people are completely demented.
One fellow gets a degree in finance, writes some papers that make a splash, gets tenure, conducts some seminars, wins some prizes, and writes lots of angry editorials.
Another chap also gets a degree in finance, goes to work for a bank, writes the analyses used in some important deals, rises higher in management, receives some hefty bonuses, and isn’t angry with anybody.
So, the first guy is a righteous fighter for causes greater than himself, and the second guy is a fiend in human form who has climbed to the top over the corpses of the poor? What a crock!
I don’t take a lot of interest in the academic field of Economics. I majored at school in Philosophy. But I gather that, at some point in the past, Mr. Krugman did some worthwhile writing, offering useful explanations for the efficacy and service to humanity of trade and economies of scale. When you read him today, you seriously wonder if somebody has not dropped this poor man on his head.
But Paul Krugman is not alone. My college class is filled with similar upper middle class professionals, well-educated, affluent, and successful, who nonetheless have their heads full of bizarre prejudices against banks, corporations, “the rich” (artfully defined, of course, so as to exclude themselves) and with fantasy images of oppression, class warfare, and political struggle.
All I can say is, our educational system, which filled these whackos’ heads with all this nonsense, has a great deal to answer for.
I sometimes like to fantasize to myself what things would have been like if our colleges and universities and elite culture had been otherwise hijacked, not by the radical left performing its Gramscian long march through the institutions, but by nerds obsessed with Marvel comic books. Paul Krugman, for instance, would be editorializing from the perspective of Ironman or the Silver Surfer, not that of Piotr Kropotkin, hero of the workers’ revolution.