Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The peasants are revolting...
'Heather Amato, 35, a psychologist who lives near the protest area, said she felt disturbed by some of the conduct of the protesters. She said she had to shield her toddler from the sight of women at the park dancing topless. “It’s been three weeks now,” Ms. Amato said. “Enough is enough.”' — New York Times, October 7
As the Occupy Wall Street movement gains momentum, spreading across the country to dozens of local Occupy protests, marches, sit-ins and encampments, the establishment, to use a word spawned by the 1960s protests, has begun to look down on the movement with some consternation and confusion. Besides the hatchet job quoted above about how Occupy Wall Street is nothing but dirty, smelly, rude hippies with no respect for property, there was an extraordinarily condescending OpEd piece by the Times's resident old-line conservative, David Brooks:
"If there is a core theme to the Occupy Wall Street movement, it is that the virtuous 99 percent of society is being cheated by the richest and greediest 1 percent. This is a theme that allows the people in the 99 percent to think very highly of themselves. All their problems are caused by the nefarious elite....The Occupy Wall Street movement may look radical, but its members’ ideas are less radical than those you might hear at your average Rotary Club." Of course, Brooks is a die-hard defender of the 1%.
A two-pronged attack on Occupy Wall Street is unfolding: it's an attack by the class that has the most to lose from these protests that hint at the incredible potential suggested by the awakening of those who have thus far been the victims of class war waged against them. The attack will be a classic good-cop bad-cop act.
The first prong of the attack, the "good cop" is as Kasama warns: "Here is the deal: The smell of sulfur is upon the land. Satan himself is coming now… Of course we don’t believe in Satan. It is a metaphor. What I mean is this: The real and difficult struggle within this movement and for this movement is now starting. The media is turning on the machinery. The unions officials will now come as “supporters” but broker for the liberal establishment. “Advisers” will show up. People (who are pliant and acceptable) will now be declared leaders and spokespeople in the media. Demands will be announced or promoted or demanded that correspond to the program of the Democratic Party…. and much more." This will be the strategy of the liberal establishment to co-opt and blunt the Occupy Wall Street movement...to feign sympathy for its ends while trying to channel its energy away from radical potential.
The second prong will be the "bad cop," as those forces who will do anything to defend their privilege and power attempt sway public opinion against the Occupy movement, and then when they believe the movement to be weak, they will unleash whatever forces of repression are necessary to sweep up the remnants.
On the internet front, check out two widely circulated graphics from the teabaggers trying to demean the Occupy movement. The first attempts to paint the movement as idiot hypocrites for being consumers as if to oppose Wall Street we should all walk around in burlap sacks. The second attempts to paint them as anti-patriotic criminals looking for government handouts. For those with strong stomachs, check out the Think Progress video contrasting how the right-wing media coddled the Teaparty and attack the Occupy movement. I could only watch half of it. Link here. And read Gawker's evisceration of the thoroughly tragic attempt by the right-wing to paint the protesters as freeloaders and get suffering working-class Americans to identify with the cause of their suffering, "We are the 53%." To quote Gawker editor Richard Lawson: "these people have been glamoured by vampires, have bared their necks and welcome the pain as a gift. It's so deep and so bedrock in national mentality that the only salve seems, honestly, to be some sort of genuine revolution. I kind of feel like a French person in 1788. I wish these people knew they had allies behind them."
We don't know what will happen. The Occupy movement may grow and bloom, or it may succumb temporarily to winter. I do know that it's impressed the hell out of me personally, and the people involved in it are very, very smart, and becoming very very very wise by their own actions. The time is overripe for this kind of movement. If there's one thing that I hope people in the Occupy Movement understand, and I suspect many of them do, it's that the so-called 1%, whatever that true number is, do not need to understand or be educated, or learn anything: they are doing what they are doing because it is in their self=interest to do so. The rich want to stay rich. The powerful want to keep power. Appealing to the better natures of those with power has its limitations, especially when they understand the logic of the movement even if not everybody in that movement has drawn the same conclusions through to the end.
Those of us who want — who need — change or economic and social justice: it is for us to take. These things are, by virtue of our absolute majority and humanity, our right. No begging is necessary.
(The graphic, of course, is Mel Brooks and Harvey Korman in "The History of the World, Part 1." If you've seen it you'll know why it's here!)