While I like the idea of public protest in the United States — a petition of government and redress of grievances as is our right as citizens in the First Amendment — I am a little dubious of this Occupy movement (and of course the Tea Party too) in that I am not sure what they would propose as an alternative or what their actual demands are or what they are demonstrating about. And any violence, and it has been minimal so far, mars the whole movement — the Constitution speaks of peaceful assembly.
As John Rothman on KGO Radio in San Francisco asked his callers the other night, I wonder why they have forsaken the existing political process. The only answers to that I caught was some kind of psycho babble — maybe I missed the cogent answer, if there was one.
It could be that many of those people protesting, for the most part young people, I believe (have not really followed all this all that closely — too busy working), were disillusioned by Barack Obama for not taking advantage of the Democratic Party majority while he had it and for seemingly selling out to Wall Street and carrying on and even augmenting Bush-style war policy.
And while I do not believe that the Occupy movement is totally radical left wing or Marxist or communist, I do detect some of that theme. I mean it’s the masses against the capitalists and there’s this talk about not having leaders but groups that come to decisions by some magic consensus, and while that last part is not really out of Marxism (well, actually I have never studied Marxism in any detail), it does kind of sound like worker committees that are supposed to run communist societies — even though in real life practice they were run by cult of personality of one individual and strict totalitarian government where the individual counts for nothing and everything is for the state (the government).
This was brought to my mind primarily because I found a Marxist radio station in the Bay Area (no not KGO) and was listening to it because it came in clear and I wanted to break the monotony as I drove along and the speakers were all agog about the Occupy movement. But again, I do not think the Occupy movement is some kind of phony thing set up by Marxists to excite the masses, but they (though their numbers be small) would like to take advantage of it.
Actually a young caller into KGO which Gene Burns of that station taped from another KGO show to play on his program gave an excellent description of what Occupy is all about, unfortunately, I forgot exactly what he said, but I do recall that he felt the social contract we have lived under has been broken with the one per centers who make the bulk of the money in society controlling the whole political process, without throwing so much as a crumb to the masses.
I personally do not know the solution, except more citizen involvement in the existing political process. Politicians want to get re-elected, and they see their re-elections as mandates. And experience has shown the only sure way to stay in office is raise tons of money to finance propaganda (that is totally non-objective, one-sided messages, replete with out-and-out lies, or at least woeful omissions) in order to convince people to vote for them. And the main source of all this is the big money crowd — rich people and large corporations with their vested interests.
If a larger percentage of the populace voted and paid more attention to the news (and it is difficult these days what with the demise of quality media, killed by the quick profit motive and the proliferation of totally partisan sites) politicians might be actually forced to pay attention to what everyday people desire — the masses as it were.
You can write, and email makes it simple, to your elected representatives. And while blocks of messages on the same subject, such as all for or all against something may be more effective sometimes, you have to figure that if enough people on their own independently tell of their grievances, the laws of probability are that many more out there are in agreement and that would be just as effective or more effective than an orchestrated campaign which can be suspect, that is suspected of being phony — you know, canned messages, boiler plate.
(I didn’t mention social media as a method of contact because I am not into that and am leery of that whole concept, and maybe too old to appreciate it. I mean technology is great as a tool or medium but when it replaces the human element, not so good.)
If the Occupy movement and Tea Party would use the existing structure — actually the Tea Party has — they would be much more effective.
I do not have a lot of sympathy for college kids who spent a lot of money, both their parents’ savings and borrowed debt (and even theirs own wages), to get their degrees and now cannot find jobs — I mean, so what is new? Why do people think that simply going to college gives you a Constitutionally-guaranteed right to success in a society that has always had an up and down economy?
One has to face the world with his or her eyes wide open and act accordingly.
I still think change can come through active participation in the political process. Not everyone is going to be super active. For all my talk on the subject, I confine my participation to keeping informed, voting, and occasionally corresponding with my elected representatives. But that is a lot more than most, and I will bet you I have a better track record on that than a lot of so-called Tea Partiers or Occupiers.
But, as I said, I am all for protest and long as it is meaningful and peaceful.
Out-and-out rebellion is justified in the Declaration of Independence, but I do not think we have yet reached the point where that is necessary — but if the politicians do not start responding to the wishes of the majority of the people I do see the possibility.
And change cannot come overnight unless you go for dictatorship — we don’t want that kind of change.
My reference to the Declaration of Independence reminds me of the movie I saw in grade school in which a guy reads the Declaration of Independence on the street corner and people asked about it by an interviewer see it as treasonous — ignorance of basic civics in our own country has been rampant for a long time. I saw that movie in the early 1960s, as I recall, and it was probably made in the 1950s. I remember it was in black and white and the teacher set it up on one of those old reel-to-reel projectors.