Recent events – “evictions” (sometimes violent) of “Occupy” protesters, the statements of public officials, and many media reports, have revealed something about those in control of our so-called democracy.
“Occupy” protesters are doing what is just not allowed in the so-called, “Home of Freedom,” they are calling into question the assumptions of the power system, of the status quo, of the “free” market. Since the 1950’s and Senator McCarthy’s witch hunts, this kind of talk has been simply shunned.
The reaction of the “establishment” to this mass exercise of first amendment rights has been somewhat predictable. For weeks the protests were ignored and treated by the major media outlets as if they were just a few unemployed, pissed-off people venting some steam. Then, when the protests didn’t go away (and in fact started to grow) they were ridiculed. “The protesters have no demands, no agenda.” the press reported – over and over again.
The goal of major media corporations has been to marginalize the occupy protesters, to make them appear as a fringe group of malcontents – the losers of society that didn’t work hard or smart enough to make it in a completely reasonable and fair system. The message was clear: “These peopla aren’t like you. You’re not a directionless loser, are you?”
The establishment assumed that their efforts had been succesful – after all, the same methods had certainly been successful in 2003 in the lead-up to the Iraq “war.” And if they had been correct, the majority of Americans would have cheered when the police took advantage of the anonymity afforded by “riot” helmets and broke up occupy protests with arrests, nightsticks, rubber bullets, and tear-gas. But they were wrong.
The “malcontents” of America are legion. But wait, doesn’t everybody just want, well, what we’re all supposed to want? Money? Bigger houses? Bigger TVs? Bigger and bigger SUVs? Aren’t these people just pissed off because their march toward material bliss has been interrupted by a dip in our perfect, capitalist juggernaut? No. I’ve met many of these “malcontents” and they represent those who are immune to the brainwashing television commercials that are intended to define us so completely; the commercials that say: “Buy, and thou shalt be happy.”
The lunatic fringe of America is made up of those crazy people who would be content with a decent place to live, a reasonable means of transportation, good, clean food, clean air to breath, the shade of some trees, and the love and companionship of family and friends. Maniacs to be hated and feared, for sure.
Why do these sociopaths question what is seen (by those who have a huge advantage in the current system) as “the Natural Order?” After all, capitalism is the system that most resembles the insect world – the strong eat the weak. Isn’t that the way things should be? If you “lose”, don’t you deserve to lose?
That gets us to what might be the central question of our race – the human race: How do we want to live? If we had no laws and no organization I, as a 225 pound former college hockey player, could simply walk down the street, punch somebody in the face, and take their wallet. And a guy bigger than me could do the same to me, as could an eight-year-old girl with a gun.
My point is that we have governments and laws for the express purpose of rising above the “Natural Order.” We have decided, as a human society (in America and pretty much everywhere else on Earth) that the strong will not take advantage of the less strong. But this is not just true of physical strength, but of economic strength as well.
In simplest terms, I shouldn’t be able to pay someone to beat somebody up for me either. That’s pretty obvious. But why do we allow corporations to pay our government officials to take away our rights? To protect them instead of us?
This is the big-picture “demand” of the Occupy movement, and it has one weapon in its arsenal – persistence. The occupy movement looks to me like it’s here to stay and I give my heartfelt thanks to everyone who is willing to camp out in the streets all night and/or march in the daytime. Occupiers know that, if they allow the movement to deteriorate into violence or vandalism, they will undermine themselves.
Occupiers are out to change an ingrained pecking order. They are out to do away with the “survival of the fittest” mentality – especially when fitness has much more to do with inherited status than with original work or accomplishment.
Persistance… That’s the thing. The only thing.
Tom Rossi is a commentator on politics and social issues. He is a Ph.D. student in International Sustainable Development, concentrating in natural resource and economic policy. Tom greatly enjoys a hearty debate, especially over a hearty pint of Guinness.
Tom also posts on thrustblog.blogspot.com