Thursday, October 06, 2011

OWS: Let's save the kids so they can save us

(The original version of this post was appended to "Bad revolution; good revolution" below. I've expanded those sentiments into this piece.)

I'm sorry, but the kids are not all right. The Occupy Wall Street protesters must be supported -- provisionally -- if only because, right now, they are the only game in town. They have the potential to be this country's salvation. But their demands, to the extent that they have been articulated, are insufficient. They aren't talking like FDR; they aren't even talking like Ike.

Their "vision thing" has been compromised because so many of them remain ideologically mired in the Libertarian thing.

Time and again, I see interviews with (or comments from) protesters who make odd, semi-admiring references to the Tea Party, to the Ron Paul zombie battalions, to the Alex Jonesian numbskulls and to the worshipers at the altar of the Divine Ms. Ayn.

A lot of people see OWS as an outgrowth of the Tea Party. They mistakenly believe that, in the beginning, the Ron Paulite teabaggers represented something pure and utopian which the Fox Newsers co-opted. They think that OWS offers a way to recapture the true Libertarian magic. See the commentary here:
This 'divide and conquer' approach must end.

See this clip of Ron Paul and Ralph Nader interviewed together on common interests...
I'm sorry, but the division is, must be, fundamental. If Nader is working with Paul, then I feel justified in my long-held detestation of Ralph Nader.

There can be no unity with those who think that Wall Street deregulation was a fine idea. Anyone who tries to forge that linkage is Lucifer. And yet there is persistent talk of uniting with the hordes of Hell:
Seriously. What do you think are the possibilities for working togehter? Could you bring Tea Partiers out in support of Occupy, so long as both decided publicly that we would only focus on what united us?
Now that the Tea Party is on the wane and the OWS movement is ascendant, a new myth is taking hold: That there was once a good, pre-lapsarian Tea Party which the "corporatists" co-opted. Some of the myth-makers would even have you believe that both parties were equally responsible for the rape of teabagger innocence.

We cannot allow this false history to take hold. Even in its gestative form, the Tea Party was the enemy of the working class.

If you read the above-linked comment thread carefully, you'll see that the infiltrators are offering up two recurrent memes which the OWS protesters are asked to accept as gospel truths:

1. Working with Democrats -- any Democrats -- is always wrong.

2. Working with the Tea Party and the Libertarians is always right.

Listen. Can you hear it? That is the voice of Satan. Satan is talking. Here:
Remain AWARE of anyone who CLAIMS to be the VOICE of the "Occupy Wallstreet Movement" Coming from a Libertarian / Voluntaryism / Anarchist perspective, I have seen all kinds of moments (Tea Party, Anarchist, Marxist, Liberal, Environmentalist, etc) become hijacked through various subversive means.

Also beware anyone, any website, or any group that claims to be the voice of the "occupy wallstreet" moment. They will start non-controversial, accurately reflecting the language of the movement, and then distort it. Please trust me when I say you should remain decentralized as you started, like the group anonymous. Please support diversity of within the movement; if you truly are "the 99%" then significant diversity should exist.
I think it could be extremely powerful to have it openly known and perceived that the movement is home to both socialists and libertarians. I hope there never comes a point when this movement decides that certain groups don't belong due to their political beliefs - so long as they can contribute meaningfully to the discussion.
Libertarians cannot so contribute. Libertarianism created the continuing economic catastrophe. Libertarianism is what the Wall Streeters want. Libertarianism is an absolute evil.

(And we can no longer tolerate this absurd Libertarian redefinition of the word "socialism," which is far removed from any historical usage. Anytime you hear that term blithely misapplied, know that you are in the presence of an enemy -- even if he pretends to be your friend.)

Here's another message from the Stygian deeps:
As a conservative, it was a hard intellectual leap for me to make and I wasn't so sure that my message would be well received here. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised by the willingness of these OWS folks to hear me out.

The idea of government intervention in business being just as bad as business intervention in government seems like an uniting thread. Ultimately, I made the pleasant discovery that OWS was as anti-fascist as the tea party was.
A comment of this sort indicates that the OWS movement is doing something terribly, tragically wrong.

Yet how could we expect anything different? The OWS kids see things in Libertarian terms because those are the only terms they know. They are like trout who can't imagine a life outside water.

Their easily boggled brains are the end result of a lifetime-long propaganda barrage. They have heard repeatedly that economic deregulation is some sort of holy untried ideal instead of the shitty idea that destroyed our middle class. They don't even know what the New Deal was.

And yet these youngsters are -- God help us -- the left.

Subversion? I've very familiar with it -- in fact, being an oldster, I've seen it happen time and again. For example, back in the 1980s, the anti-CIA activists attracted to the Christic Institute were subverted by the sirens of conspiranoia, which at the time seemed fresh and intriguing. ("Forget the La Penca lawsuit! What's really important is Roswell!") Yeah, I saw that process up close and personal. Similarly, in the 1970s, I saw the anti-War left subverted into support of Ronald Reagan. In the 1960s, the protestors were subverted by the CIA's LSD peddlers with their message of "turn on, tune in and drop out." Much more recently, I saw the outrage over Enron's rape of California subverted into support for Arnold Schwarzenegger. I saw the online blogosphere subverted by Markos Moulitsas and Arianna Huffington, Libertarians both. And I saw the anti-war movement subverted by the Obama cultists in 2008.

Yeah, I know all about subversion. And now I'm seeing it again. The voices warning the OWS protesters against subversion are themselves the subverters. (Moreover, I suspect that some of the commentary quoted above may well be bought-and-paid sock puppetry; see the post below.)

I'm sorry, but the OWS movement must define itself as anti-Libertarian -- using that term. And they must do so now.

If the protesters want power (and if they don't, they are nothing but yowling crybabies), then they must be willing to work with Democratic politicians without fear of becoming beholden to them. Working with politicians is a good thing as long as the politicians are the ones feeling beholden. On the other side of the aisle, the teabaggers now exact ideological fealty from all of the major Republican candidates. That, my friends, is how power is attained. Go thou and do likewise.

There must be no linkages -- none -- with the Ron Paulites or the Tea Partiers, no matter how sweetly the devil sings his infernal songs of false unity. If someone made an admixture of piss and lemonade, would you want to drink it? Let us have done with these recurrent hallucinations that the Tea Party was a formerly "good" movement which an amorphous conspiracy of bad guys managed to commandeer. At all times, the Tea Party Libertarians were in favor of allowing the finance capitalists to have the freedom to commit the evils documented in Taibbi's Griftopia. At all times, the Libertarians opposed both Medicare For All and the public option. The Occupiers must understand and denounce the evils wrought by the Tea Partiers and their ideological brethren.

If the OWS movement cannot say these things, do these things, then I stand against it.

If they favor strong regulation of finance capitalism, if they have the courage to say that democratic government is the solution and not the problem, if they learn to emulate FDR, then I stand with them.

I doubt that I have the words to get through to these young people; I am not of their generation. But someone has to penetrate their consciousness. Let's save the kids so they can save the rest of us.


Mr. Mike said...

The republicans have two factions, the Fiscal Conservatives and the Social Conservatives. The Fiscal wing wants government out of the boardroom, the Social wing wants that and the government to intervene in your bedroom.

Could there be room in the OWS movement for a Social Libertarian, one who believes the government has no business how you run your personal life?

Is that concept even feasible?

Joseph Cannon said...

On one hand, I'm something of a "social Libertarian" myself. On the other hand, I recognize that Social Libertarianism is another of the Devil's siren songs of seduction:

The Devil was purring:
"I'll make thee a deal
Smoke dope all you want.
Thy wallet I'll steal.

I'll march by your side
if you march against war.
But say not one word
when jobs go offshore.

Sleep with woman or man;
I cannot care which.
But regulate Goldman?
Go fuck thyself, bitch!"

joanie in Brooklyn said...

was at the OWS march yesterday. Very heartening experience. But it occurred to me as I read the signs being held up i.e. "Tax Wall St. transactions"; heard the chants: "Banks got bailed out, we got sold out", that the demands being made are being made OF THE GOVERNMENT, not Wall St; even though Wall St. is the target.

So which politicians will align themselves with OWS and risk the wrath of their Wall St. benefactors? I don't see how Obama or any other politico, even Ron Paul, gets to horn in on this.

As to the Libertarians, their philosophy is diametrically opposed to what OWS stands for. I don't see how they bridge that gap. They would indeed make strange bedfellows.

Twilight said...

"if you truly are "the 99%" then significant diversity should exist."

That's not easy to argue against.

Thing is, so many people still don't "get" what the real problems are, so that the 99% includes a lot of "sheeple" and some who, though sincere, have the wrong ideas for making things better (as we see it).

It's a conundrum. If some well-known figure would take up the fight, identify the anomalies loudly and clearly, it would help.

I'm sure there must be some politically savvy young people in the OWS general assembly, but they'll have too little experience in coping with any craftily organised potential undermining of to their cause.

Anonymous said...

From what I can gather by reading the twitter feeds, watching livestream vids and picking up articles of on the ground protesters, the libertarian strain is really at odds with what the movement is pushing for: a government responsive to the public, not the corporations and Wall St financiers.

There have been multiple complaints that this protest should have been centered in DC. The DC arm of Occupy starts today. But an argument could be made [and has been made vociferously] that Wall St. is the seat of power, that massive infusions of money have completely captured and corrupted our political system. Personally, I think that's true.

I'm less worried about the libertarian strain winning the day or snatching the message than I am of the Obamacrats infiltrating the movement and turning it into another campaign vehicle. I see both political strains as wickedly dangerous and destructive.

We shall see. But I have to tell you, at the moment it inspires me to see this energy on the ground collecting and growing. People can only be pushed so far. This is the public expression of that.

And btw, at Obama's press conference this morning I heard for the first time a question [think it was Tapper] about the lack of Wall St. prosecutions. Obama tap danced around the answer but it's the first time I recall the question even being asked publicly.

It's a small thing. But it's a start.

Peggy Sue

Aeryl said...

I really wish you'd stop with the "OWS kids" formulation. It's not just kids.

Have you read Riverdaughter? She was there last night and in her words, every generation is well represented.

For someone who advocates so strongly against accepting the established narratives, I find it hard to believe you've swallowed this one(that the occupiers are nothing but a bunch of dope smoking punks who want student loans forgiven) hook line and sinker.

You are doing the media's work for them by portraying the occupiers as "kids" who can be easily ignored and written off.

Have you been to the website? Have you seen the pics of the 90 year old grannies wearing anti war ponchos? The pics of the library where people are bringing books to share, almost all of them of a lefty/socialist bent?

The actual young'uns down there are getting an education better than anything our public schools offer, if they have any libertarian leanings, those will be thoroughly expunged.

Pennelope Pennebaker said...

I got an email from Mary Kay Henry
President of SEIU asking me to hit a website and sign up for a local OWS meeting. I was all gung ho (our backasswards state is always a decade or two behind the rest of the country) until I hit the site and it was ... ORANGE!!!

Now I don't know what the hell to do. If Kos and the rest of his Lightbringer worshipping fools are trying to take this over I want nothing to do with it.

Here is site SEIU sent me to:

prowlerzee said...

Joseph, did you write that poem? Excellent....I especially like the sly familiarity of "thy" etc. For uniformity's sake, I'd convert the second stanza's pronouns to thine and thou to match the other two. That Satan reminds me in tone of Seuss's Grinch. Maybe you could reference that if you illustrated the poem?? It might make a good flyer to post/hand out!

Other than that, it's impossible to talk to young people about this. My son's an engineer. He's surrounded by people who are making it and who are embracing Libertarian identities. I can't even point to Ron Paul's male supremacist's plot to make a Constitutional amendment giving fetuses personhood...because none of these misguided geek hipsters subscribe to that and so attribute it to RP's problem, not theirs.

My point is, he's not personally interested in any Libertarian identity, and is on the opposite end of that spectrum. But, he refuses to denounce it because he knows other young friends and colleagues he respects who embrace the label and he knows they share the same social outlook.

Our boogiemen are not their boogiemen.