Occupy Wall Street (and other locations) is a fairly current event that has been getting a lot of media talk in the past week. Before I get into the rant, kudos to the protesters that actually thought apoop (I think this word is much more useful in this case than “ahead”) and did some port-a-potty preparation.
When some people decide to do a peaceful protest they sometimes need to come up with a name. In some cases, it’s not all that apparent what you’re protesting when your name is something that doesn’t seem to be anything you want to be. What’s peaceful about an occupation? Aren’t we leaving a country we’ve been occupying for the past 9ish years? I do get the irony, but when you want to be taken seriously and get something done your movement’s name should be something sincere and serious. This is probably the biggest mistake they made.
It seems to be cool and to get young people involved irony goes a long way. Mad at Wall Street? Let’s take it over! Justifying anger, instead of their actions. With very little chance of actually being able to take it over, so they go to the next best place, a public park relatively close to Wall Street (or in other cases, other public property, or in Zucotti Park’s case a private/public hybrid). Then saying these public parks are “ours”, when the general public was already well aware of that fact and that yes, it is okay to be there, but why make it unusable for everyone else that’s not an occupier? Plus, not cleaning after themselves leaving municipal budgets in worse condition.
Media coverage of this stuff just eats this up. The “doing this for you” stuff when it annoys the people that you’re saying it to. The obsession with class of this movement is disturbing. Even the 53% reaction is disturbing. Soundbites with no context wins minds these days, but the size of those gained are exactly the same size as the memes. The saddest thing is probably they are expressing their protest as asking government to do what they want it to do, rather than having goals for themselves to make that change. Become a protest that does, instead of a protest that asks.
“Irony and cynicism were just what the U.S. hypocrisy of the fifties and sixties called for. That’s what made the early postmodernists great artists. The great thing about irony is that it splits things apart, gets up above them so we can see the flaws and hypocrisies and duplicates. The virtuous always triumph? Ward Cleaver is the prototypical fifties father? “Sure.” Sarcasm, parody, absurdism and irony are great ways to strip off stuff’s mask and show the unpleasant reality behind it. The problem is that once the rules of art are debunked, and once the unpleasant realities the irony diagnoses are revealed and diagnosed, “then” what do we do? Irony’s useful for debunking illusions, but most of the illusion-debunking in the U.S. has now been done and redone. Once everybody knows that equality of opportunity is bunk and Mike Brady’s bunk and Just Say No is bunk, now what do we do? All we seem to want to do is keep ridiculing the stuff. Postmodern irony and cynicism’s become an end in itself, a measure of hip sophistication and literary savvy. Few artists dare to try to talk about ways of working toward redeeming what’s wrong, because they’ll look sentimental and naive to all the weary ironists. Irony’s gone from liberating to enslaving. There’s some great essay somewhere that has a line about irony being the song of the prisoner who’s come to love his cage.”
― David Foster Wallace
What’s my prescription for OWS (as if anyone would ask that)? I hope (and this is a big hope) that it becomes a left-libertarian answer to the anti-spending conservative Tea Party. Basically, yes, cut government spending but with an eye on government policy that hurts the poor, minorities, and basically society in general. Namely, the war on drugs, intervening overseas, creating cartels of businesses that small businesses have a tough time competing against (things like the DC Taxi fiasco), basically ending corruption. I can only see that happening by cutting the size and scope of government. People are tired of government’s power being leveraged towards big business and the politically connected, instead of trying to leverage that power, why not take the power away. Isn’t this what big business wants? Not all of them. T. Boone Pickens, that guy who ran that ad campaign for people to call their representatives so he could start a water farm? He is exactly the type of big business crony that seeks help from government to enrich himself. A lot of laws passed are said to be “for the little guy” when it just makes it more difficult for the little guy to compete. That would have an aggregate affect of wealth being concentrated, exactly what the protesters are talking about. Government is not a good way to distribute wealth (not just tax dollars). Taxes are not going to change that. In fact, it might even make it worse. This is a sick society. Not only because of that, but citizens think establishment politics in government is still the best way to change things in their favor. OWS should figure out a way to go outside of establishment politics, stop appealing to Obama and Democrats and other already-elected officials, and elect their own people. The Tea Party did this, despite how crazy some (or most, or even all) of their nominees were/are, they are now a force that Republicans have to worry about.
OWS making campaign finance reform their issue would be a mistake. Why? Because that sort of law decides who is allowed to pay for advertisements (or “make contributions”) during elections actually means less voices are heard around election time, exactly when more voices should be heard. All that raised money goes towards groups that would be able to spend money on advertisements. In general, bigger groups with a bigger tent, more concentrated wealth, less is said to make everyone who donated happy. Citizens United actually made bigger groups much more weaker by allowing more groups to speak around elections on those elections. Not very many people realize that the ACLU supported what a lot of people say what was/is the “pro-business” side. That wasn’t really covered in the media, nor is it covered by anyone who think it’s a travesty. It’s been mostly misrepresented. I’m sure this is going to garner some hate. Oh well. Winston Churchill said, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Just because things are said doesn’t mean those things are true. If people on the left and right are upset about the mainstream media misrepresenting things, they can just as easily see through political ads. As if there really is any difference. Opinion publications (paper, online, and video) are synonymous with news publications. I don’t want to sound like the NY Times hating right or the Fox News hating left, honestly both get a lot wrong (more than others even), but they both also report some good stuff. I don’t even go to either one very much. Hell, I actually like Rachel Maddow. Just because I like her doesn’t mean I don’t have some grains of salt handy.
This is the way I see it. Now you know just how ridiculous I am. Small-”l” liberidiculouserian.