American reality - where the uber-wealthy operate under socialism, and capitalism is for the rest. It is a game of nationalised losses and privatised profits, and those occupying Wall St are calling it to account.

The “Occupy Wall St” protests are about to enter their third week, and suddenly America is paying attention.

Is this the beginning of a societal flash point aka class warfare?

Some of the banners – like those proclaiming ‘when there is nothing left to eat you eat the rich’ indicate time is ticking, even on the nice shiny Rolexes of those peering down on the angry mobs.

Right-wing commentators are in an absolute tizz over it all, resorting as they do to discussing the protesters as people who only need to go home and have a shower and get a job...or unemployed because they don’t want to work...or utterly left-wing, incoherent and destructive...and on it goes. No surprise, except perhaps some of them who grace the Fox ‘News’ screens may be getting a little worried that the mass arrests of last weekend did not deter the dirty filthy proletariat.

What’s really amusing – or sad I suppose – is the reaction of the Tea Party.

One of the co-founders of the Tea Party Patriots Mark Meckler (rhymes with ???) dissed the Wall St occupiers as not like Tea Partiers at all.  Why? Well because the Wall Streeters are breaking the law...they are not law abiding citizens because they are camping out in a public park which is not allowed and breaking the laws by assembling on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Just how naughty can you get?

It would be interesting if the anti-Wall-St-occupiers Tea Party members gave a little thought to the group from which they took their name.

The Boston Tea Party of 1773 was classic revolution with much law breaking, trespass, looting and destruction of property. That’s what you do if you board a private ship and dump its cargo into the Boston Harbour!

Oh that was just soooo long ago, why bring it up now when it doesn't suit?  These “law breaking thugs” as Meckler called the Wall Streeters will never appeal to Americans because Americans don’t like unreasonable behaviour.

Note to Meckler – they ARE Americans and they are not happy.

Meckler seems threatened too, and has resorted to trumpeting the immediate success of the Tea Party when it launched in 2009, as opposed to the comparatively slow momentum of the Wall St occupiers, but perhaps he should pay closer attention.

 America’s middle class, let alone those who can’t even be classified on that rung, is in bad shape with high unemployment, foreclosures and general uncertainty for most...while the rich have become richer.

The top one percent has all the money and all the say, and they are extremely pro-active in keeping it that way.  How can one percent have a greater collective net worth than the bottom 90 percent and the masses be expected to shut up and keep sweating?

After shafting their fellow Americans, the titans of Wall St with their extraordinary concentration of wealth were bailed out by the very people they trod over to make their money, and they are free to do it all over again, although moaning about regulations that might impede them just a smidgen.

It seems capitalism is for everyone but the capitalists.  For them socialism is the order of the day. It’s a neat little trick where losses are nationalised and profits are privatised.

As a result Americans are waking up to the fact that they have been caught in profound unfairness.

It is too glib for life and death reasons to liken the Wall St occupation to the Arab Spring, but reports about how technologically savvy these protesters are is definitely worth a comparison or two. The Arab uprisings were to oust dictators and herald in democracy.  Those camping out in Wall St and its environs don’t seem to have a clear message – yet, but their democracy at least allows them to protest without being shot.

They need to formulate a focus that perhaps encapsulates all the chat about not having money and so not having a political voice, or having no job and no future. Just hating bankers won’t do it.

As for the politicians...it is quite a sport watching them try to work out how to handle this.

Who is to blame – given politics is a blame game.

The Republicans can hardly condone it as most of this began stewing on their watch, the very reason why they can’t condemn it either.

Obama can hardly embrace it given he’s in charge and while he used to rant about corporate greed, he’s been complicit in the ‘too-big-to-fail’ mantra and will be wary about where this protest is heading.

What we do know is Obama and the do-nothing Republicans - whose only economic policy is to make Obama a one-term president – have to realise that a bureaucratic response to an emotional groundswell against corporate rape and pillage – perceived or real - will not work. The protests will only spread.

All the politicians have on their side is the approaching North American winter which can be brutal if you are in a tent in downtown Manhattan. Waiting for God(ot) is hardly a strategy. 

Comments (5)

by Mr Magoo on October 08, 2011
Mr Magoo

Nice article. :)

Much of the tea party leadership are a disingenuous bunch of right wing shills. (e.g. Palin) Their motives are about as pure and honest as the wall street bankers. It is not surprising they are trying to shun a movement that is perfectly aligned with what they supposedly want.

But it is also true that some tea partiers such as Ron Paul (known as the intellectual godfather of the movement - to his discredit IMO) have applauded the movement. So the blanket statement is simply not true although convienient to media such as Fox news. After all heaven forbid this movement move beyond a left-right issue! I think most people agree that US democracy needs change - even on the typically corporate-friendly right. There is hope yet.

One can only hope that this protest is the beginning of something bigger. Anything less will not effect change in washington or wall street and hence will have been a waste.

The current state of affairs has the senate at single digit confidence and they just don't care nor have too. Quite literally almost the entire american political system is based on being "better than the other party" and running empty rhetoric. Of course all backed by wall street and the tax payers purse and thus the machine is almost completely self sufficient.

Changing that is going to require something on the scale of the civil rights movement unfortunately. Will it make it? Not sure. Probably not. They can dream though and it is certainly not impossible.

PS:

The protest is about to enter its 4th week. I don't blame you though, the mainstream media have been stealing a week from the reporting time since the beginning. (when they report on it at all)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupy_Wall_Street

by Pete Sime on October 08, 2011
Pete Sime

The Boston Tea Party of 1773 was classic revolution with much law breaking, trespass, looting and destruction of property. That’s what you do if you board a private ship and dump its cargo into the Boston Harbour!

John Stewart made the exact same point.

by Andrew Geddis on October 08, 2011
Andrew Geddis

Pete,

It's "Jon" Stewart! And damn you ... I was going to reference him myself.

On Jane's post itself - it is interesting how the post-GFC economic problems are sparking similar responses from Greece to Spain to Israel to Egypt to Syria to Libya to the USA. The challenge is then whether these initially inchoate moments of resistance can find some sort of home within the existing political order (whether in existing parties or new ones), or if they spark some sort of deeper systemic change ... or if they sputter out altogether.

With regards the first, the question is whether Obama is brave enough to adopt the OWS message for 2012 - could we see a rebirth of the 2008 "Yes We Can" man (and will people believe him second time around)? Even if he does hop on board, look what his moderate consensus politics delivered in his first term ... with a Democrat congress, no less!

With regards the second, this is where the problem of goals arises.The OWS folks know there is a problem - but what the hell do they do about it? Twitter/Facebook/et al may be good for getting likeminded people to a place, but is a social networking platform any substitute for a theory of change backed up by organisation?

And if it's thus to be the third, then that would really suck.

by Mr Magoo on October 09, 2011
Mr Magoo

Great clip, had not seen it.

He covers these issues better than any news organisation that is for sure.

 

by alexb on October 09, 2011
alexb

I'm not sure if winter will have much of an effect on these protests, people have been homeless in the big northern cities since they were founded, and living in a tent is a lot better than a cardboard box. Besides, the tumbler blog of OWS suggests many of the protesters are on the verge of being homeless anyway, as there are no jobs out there, and rents in the inner city are high.

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