As the Occupy Wall Street protests spill over onto Tejon Street, the question remains: What the hell do they want?
One of the things that you would hear ad nauseum back in the heyday of the Tea Party movement was that it wasn't concerned with the "left-right paradigm." This was an outdated dichotomy; a holdover from the bad old days of the mid-to-late 20th century that the tricorne types had emerged from with their protest signs about the Federal Reserve, bailouts and Obama. They were going to forge a new political sphere where fact and reason would be held above party.
I was skeptical of that claim then, and, in the end, skepticism was rewarded as the Tea Party ultimately morphed into an ugly wing of the Republican party. The libertarians, anti-globalists and their sympathizers in the Tea Party crowds finally had to break ranks.
This doesn't mean, however, that some of what came out of the Tea Party movement wasn't positive or even useful to the populist left.
Now the Occupy campaign is mocked in the media as unfocused — and why is this a bad thing? The Tea Party movement was, at its best, a visceral reaction to an economy that was in collapse. It wasn't until it became co-opted by the Republicans that it lost its value. This is perhaps where the Occupy movement can learn from the Tea Partiers, that as long as they can stay committed to discussions and resist coming to "solutions" they won't be useful to any party, and therefore ultimately not useful to Wall Street.
James Howard Kunstler, the author of The Long Emergency, had this to say:
I dropped in on the Occupy Wall Street crowd down in Zuccotti Park last Thursday. It was like 1968 all over again, except there was no weed wafting on the breeze (another WTF?). The Boomer-owned-and-operated media was complaining about them all week. They were "coddled trust-funders" (an odd accusation made by people whose college enrollment status got them a draft deferment, back when college cost $500 a year). Then there was the persistent nagging over the "lack of an agenda," as if the US Department of Energy, or the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs was doing a whole lot better.
This is the funniest part to me: that leaders of a nation incapable of constructing a coherent consensus about reality can accuse its youth of not having a clear program. If the OWS movement stands for anything, it's a dire protest against the country's leaders' lack of a clear program.
This lack of focus, by the powerless and the powerful, has brought us to an interesting time. While the mainstream media has latched onto proposed policy goals, a wish list for the far left that supposedly represents Occupy, the truth is much of the conversation coming out of this movement is complex and has little to do with party allegiance.
In this instance, perhaps what they want isn't as important as the issues that they are grappling with.
Here are some links:
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