Archive for October, 2011

The 99 Will Never Agree

October 21, 2011

The 99% is comprised of ninety nine 1%s

Excuse my being topical, but Occupy Wall Street (et. al.) has me struggling for a fingerhold. Most everyone in the variant circles I travel views the protest with kind eyes, and are sympathetic to the basic ethos of the crowd (believed to be a sincere desire for fiscal responsibility on the part of private sector, and by decree and law). Some specific demands are bubbling to the surface of the wave; the Robin Hood Tax being one example and welcome relief for those of us desperate for an opinion with which to grapple. But cynicism descends in a grey mist and I shudder at the inevitability of some journalist trotting out some tired but apposite idiom about herding cats. Yes, you and I can agree that laissez faire capitalism is dangerous, but can we agree on anything else?

I fear the struggle for a viewpoint, or the emergence of a leader, or the necessary pragmatism that amounts to distilling broad and sometimes disparate desires to a list of demands, will fracture the movement into the ineffectual bands they were before the protest began. Make no mistake, the typical OWSer does not exist. We have all stratums, and all kinds of leftists. We have the militant vegan sect mixing with those for whom animal rights only a minor issue. Humourless environmentalists are mixing with humourless feminists, liberal interventionists with relativists, secularists with religious appologists, and all with bents that place emphasis on certain issues. Hell, I am all for a heavily regulated economy, the bailout money returned, but I eat meat and think the Iraq war defensible. I don’t think corporate America is any way meaningfully responsible for Sept 11th, even indirectly. Can I walk arm and arm with my brothers and sisters because we both support regulation? Perhaps, but perhaps only for the time being.

Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth put together a pretty swell gallery of photographs  of the Occupy protests in NYC. Take this one:

The sign in the right rear reads “Private Ownership of Industry is Theft.” In other words, that fella is advocating communism. Are the other protestors communists? Dude on the left is an FDR fan. That is golden age American responsible government, but anything but communism. Buddy in the centre just wants a job, and wants the world to know it. I suppose that is an attempt at conveying willingness to work lest conservative America view the protest as little more than the poor hoping for a handout – a welfare state. Could those three guys agree on the best way for the movement to make progress? Does the guy in the middle care? How can a communist and a nostalgic capitalist with an Obama hate on agree on the specifics of the Robin Hood Tax?

The 99% is a fantasy.

Robin Lindsay



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