Thursday, October 6, 2011

What Is The #OWS End-Game?

In short, I don't have a clue, nor am I aware that anyone else has. I'm blogging this today in part to clear up what I perceive to be a misapprehension on the part of quite a number of people who follow me on Twitter or on this blog.

Yes, I've been following the news about the Wall Street protests from the beginning--or very nearly so. And I follow a number of people actively involved in the movement in NYC and across the country via my Twitter "occupy-wall-street" list. Originally I created and curated the list as a private list, but yesterday made the list public so that people who are interested in that topic specifically don't have to follow me on Twitter in order to see the same updates I do. Now they can simply follow the list. But I have never met anyone involved with the movement in person, nor am I (or have ever been) privy to any sort of "inside information" about the movement.

What attracted my attention to begin with was that, all those days ago when I first began following the updates of the New York protesters, a group of young Americans were finally standing up for what they believed in. That takes courage, even if local law-enforcement isn't being particularly heavy-handed, and I admire courage.

Now the movement's spread across the United States, and in a very real sense has even gone global. Commentary in the mainstream media has ranged from being absent at first to claims now that the movement is some sort of left-wing equivalent of the Tea Party all the way to wild claims that those involved are aiming for some sort of American totalitarian state. Via Twitter and a number of online blogs and news sites, I've "observed" people who declare that their political beliefs range from libertarians on the Right to socialists and anarchists on the extreme Left. Several "progressive" groups and sites seem to me to be engaging in wishful thinking when they opine that the movement espouses, or will espouse, their own favorite progressive causes--the re-election of President Obama in 2012 being high on the list among these. Yet based on updates I've read from many of the protesters themselves, it appears that the President's re-election is about the last thing they are interested in.

The one common theme in the original movement, and all (or nearly all) of the various offshoot, sympathy movements I'm watching via the web and social media seems to be, simply: get money out of politics, a sentiment with which I heartily concur.

The trouble, of course, is that the existing two-party system in the United States is never, under any circumstances, going to agree to any such thing. The so-called "rice bowls" of far, far too many professional politicians on the Left and the Right would be upset if money were somehow removed from the political equation. And the melancholy fact of the matter is that no governmental system as deeply and firmly entrenched as is that of the United States is going to voluntarily submit to being reformed, let alone to reform itself from within. Indeed, many years ago (circa 1983) I read a book entitled The Third World War by General Sir John Hackett, Royal Army. I no longer possess a copy of the book, but I do recall one quote Sir John used within it, and although I have had no luck in finding the quote on the web, I remember that it went something like this: "The first duty of any government is to preserve itself in being." Whoever may have originally uttered or written those words, they do ring true and I do not doubt that the government of the United States will adhere to that concept.

Entrenched systems, especially systems based on money and privilege, die hard if and when they die at all. One has only to read about the Bourbon kings of France, the Romanov czars of Russia, and the Manchu dynasty in China to see that this is so, and these are only three examples. The repressive, anti-democratic regime in Tunisia succumbed to change rather quickly. That of former President Hosni Mubarak in Egypt succumbed far less quickly, and the monstrously blood-stained regime of President Assad in Syria is murdering its own citizens with considerable gusto in its resistance to change.

There have been comments now both in the mainstream media and a number of web-based news sites and blogs that the "Occupy Wall Street" movement in the United States, at least, resembles (or may come to resemble) some kind of "American Autumn," the reference being to the revolutionary movements of the "Arab Spring." Is this possible? If it is possible, would it be considered desirable by a majority of Americans from across the political spectrum? Because history teaches that once those gates are opened, once that threshold has been passed, literally almost anything may happen. In historical terms, revolutions have a bad habit of taking on a life of their own, of getting out of the control of the original leaders, and of ultimately bringing results and consequences which few, if any, of the original participants expected.

There have already been unmistakable signs of suppression. In New York at first several young women were pepper-sprayed by police and several young men were roughed-up. Next came the so-called "Battle of the Brooklyn Bridge" during which some seven hundred protesters were arrested. Yesterday evening, it appears that something very akin to a pitched battle was fought in or near Wall Street, resulting in yet more pepper-sprayings, beatings, and arrests. In Seattle yesterday several protesters were arrested, and it appears that even in San Francisco, perennially among the most progressive of American cities, repressive tactics have been used by police against the protesters there.

The mainstream media, of course, as is their wont, have been looking for a specific set of demands from the moment they began covering the protests. They like everything in neat little boxes, easily labeled. And to an extent, I believe that the protesters have been smart in making no real demands, at least as a group, other than that of getting money out of politics. No one connected with the movement, however, has ever, to the best of my knowledge, outlined just what the "end-game" is supposed to be. The system will not, cannot reform itself from within, and as has already been clearly demonstrated on several occasions, is perfectly capable of employing brute force against those whom it perceives may be trying to reform it from without.

And I have the feeling (which truly is nothing more than a feeling) that there is some sort of plan, at least in the minds of some people, somewhere, that all of this is leading up to something, that public opinion and the media are being very skillfully and meticulously conditioned for ultimate purposes which still elude me. I don't give a hang about the media's deadlines or their desperate wish to be able to label what is going on, but people across the country plainly are being encouraged to put themselves in harm's way, and I do believe that they at least have every right to know exactly why they are being encouraged to do so. Generalized objectives such as "getting money out of politics" are all well and good, but if there is some sort of plan as to exactly how that is to be accomplished, I think it is high time that the public should be made aware of exactly what they are getting themselves into.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe it is that we are the same age but I see exactly what you are seeing. Thank you for so elequently putting it to words. I do think I would like to start tweeting your pages.