Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I just want to say a few words about Occupy Wall Street and the protests that are spreading around the country. (Listen to NPR - On Point with Tom Ashbrook)

I think its about time that a large-scale protest movement has been launched against the corporations, the Supreme Court's granting them personhood, and against the greed and corruption that is bringing this nation down.

(Really, it warms my heart to see young people with a cause other than their iPhones).

It is long past the point of trying to effect progressive changes through a corrupt, political process - because the process has been dysfunctional for years and is now being bought and sold by politicians and the highest corporate bidders.

But there is a danger for the movement to become fragmented by different, extreme ideologies and persons with destructive agendas.  It would be most unfortunate for this fledgling movement to implode before making a real impact.

As a "veteran" of the 60's and 70's idealism and the peace movement, etc.  I have seen how easily such calls for change and reform get amalgamated by the media, pop culture and political mainstreamers.  And how we are worse off in many ways today than we were then.

But I still think it is about time people take to the streets one again.  The teabaggers did it - can you believe conservatives protesting,? how un-American.  Conservatives sure didn't complain about teabaggers protesting.  But they are quick to call the Occupy Movement communist and socialist and anarchist.

Liberals and progressives are certainly better at protesting than the teabags.  And because it is a populist movement it will exhibit some extreme elements - after all, there are a lot of unhappy, frustrated people with different liberal and left-leaning ideologies making up the masses.

Conservatives are right about one thing - they SHOULD be worried about the Occupy Movement - they are all likely to loose their jobs and a good chunk of their wealth if the Movement has the influence it seeks to have.  But they are desperately trying to dismiss this movement by using whatever scare-tactics they can muster.  And they are so good at using scare tactics.

The protests' initial focus on Wall Street was logical, but the focus needs to widen, as I think it has.  I should think that an "Occupy the Republican Convention" might be a future step for the bravest members the movement.

And I can see pickets in every state through the 2012 elections calling attention to the selling of democracy.

I think things are just getting started.

NOTE: See comments for more on this.


  1. People need to realize that if you say and do nothing, then nothing ever changes.

  2. N.B. - The useful legal fiction of corporate personhood is ancient, and used around the world. Do go read the short Wikipedia article on "legal personality" for a quick briefing on that. The recent Supreme Court ruling didn't create that idea, it radically extended the limited notion of legal personhood in a dangerous way, as I think you and I would both agree.

    And I agree with most of the rest of what you wrote: high time there were protests about the bloodsucking "capitalists" who came out smelling like a rose with their Lear jets and penthouses and golden parachutes while the rest of us peons worry daily about the price of gas and groceries. They aren't so much capitalists in my view as they are con artists and card sharks.

    Nothing succeeds like excess. And yet I don't want to overthrow what is called capitalism - I think, human nature being what it is, that individual initiative and the profit motive can be very useful tools for creating a high standard of living, and Marx was just dead wrong about the workers being permanently enslaved. Goddamn, plumbers and truckers and other tradesmen with no education at all are making 3 and 4 times as much as I ever did per annum, with vacations to Hawaii and new trucks every year and half-million dollar homes.

    But up there on Wall Street and in the boardrooms of all those big multinational corporations, there has to be a limit, a restraint. Unregulated capitalism is just a license to steal. That's no good.

    Like you, I'm glad some people are saying they're mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore. The wonder is that it's taken 3 years for this to happen. But a leaderless movement with no specific objectives - ? Oh my, that's very easy pickings for the militant Right, isn't it?

    I was never part of the counterculture: I'm younger than you, and from a more conservative part of the country. It's actually taken me all these years finally to arrive at the same level of consciousness that I can understand what it was all about, and agree with the outrage.

    But I do remember there was a lot of ugly to it as well, it wasn't all sunshine and flower power (arson, bombings, murders, etc.). And I remember also that when the Powers That Be started actually shooting people - e.g., Kent State - oh my, all those cool protests and marches suddenly dried up to nearly nothing, didn't they? This generation is even softer and more addicted to their gadgets and creature comforts than ours was - I wonder just how they would react to serious confrontation.

    And yet - what can stop the forces of reaction and oppression from taking complete control and imposing an imperial yoke on us and everyone else they can lay hands - or bombs - on? All the time now, I see reader comments on other blogs and news reports saying things like "Obama's communist agenda must be stopped, and since over 100 million Americans have guns, we know how to do it" . . . .

    Which really, really worries me, Frank. Where is it all heading?

    So many people think because we now have internet and iPoxes, oh well the Golden Age has arrived at last, as St. Steve promised, no problem. But without moderation and good sense and a deep commitment to civility on both sides, I fear a dark and bloody nightmare looming dead ahead.

  3. Russ,
    A very thoughtful and thought provoking response. Thanks for clarifying the corporate personhood concept - that was sloppy and lazy on my part. But you said what I meant.

    Yes, movements can certainly have their ugly side; we always advocated only non-violent protests and I still feel strongly that violence undermines the message and any legitimate standing the movement may have.

    My involvement in the "counterculture" was real, but somewhat timid (reluctant rebel) although I took to heart the underlying message - it was the same message that I heard in Catholic school and church: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, ransom the imprisoned, shelter the homeless. In other words, insure that all persons are valued and cared for.

    I also often follow links to blogs or websites that are unfriendly to LGBT and other progressive issues and I get overwhelmed by the ignorance, lack of understanding, blatant lies and outright hatred that I see in print or video.

    It all leaves me with little optimism and less faith in humankind. I sometimes wonder if the myth of ancient astronauts is really true - and that some of us are just a different species - or from a more advanced civilization. What other explanation can there be?

    And I too, can see the possibility of a "dark and bloody nightmare". Sometimes I just want to leave, but where can I go?

    Thanks again for your comments.

  4. It does seem that grassroots movements are the ones with the most "feeling", but as you said, they need to become focused in order to succeed

  5. Thanks, Bill
    I've added you to my blog list.



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