Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Police and the Protesters are on the Same Side

By Anthony Gregory

The "Occupy Wall Street" movement is spreading. Protests have appeared in Los Angeles and Washington, DC. The drama has become palpable, featuring a march on LA's city hall, confrontations with police, and mass arrests.

In light of such a spectacle, those who highly value the role of ideas in social change are tempted to root for one side or the other. They wish to see their own ideology reflected in prominent people and institutions, and in any clash it is tempting to seek a hero. It is no fun to be neutral when history is being made.

Some who see the protesters as a bunch of whiny young leftists opposing the great symbols of American capitalism will be tempted circumstantially to side with Wall Street. Yet much of the anger against Wall Street is justified if misdirected, even reflecting a vaguely classical-liberal class consciousness. In cahoots with the politicians, these giant firms are indeed ripping off the middle class and poorer Americans. Today's political economy resembles some form of fascism more than the free-enterprise system, and of the businesses with a hand in colluding with the state in advancement of corporatism, those being targeted by the protesters for special animus are probably among the guiltiest. Some of the activists, waving signs in opposition to bailouts, war, and police abuses, are carrying a libertarian message.

But overall the protesters' message is too vague and heterogeneous — at best — to elicit much enthusiasm. As in the tea parties to which it has been compared, many in this movement are condemning a nebulous conception of the status quo without much of an inspiring alternative vision.

It gets worse. Although there is no single ideology uniting the movement, it does seem to have a general philosophical thrust, and not a very good one at that. OccupyWallStreet.org has a list of demands, and while the website does not represent all of the protesters, one could safely bet that it lines up with the views of most of them: A "living-wage" guarantee for workers and the unemployed, universal healthcare, free college for everyone, a ban on fossil fuels, a trillion dollars in new infrastructure, another trillion in "ecological restoration," racial and gender "rights," election reform, universal debt forgiveness, a ban on credit reporting agencies, and more power for the unions. Out of over a dozen demands there is only one I agree with — open borders — and, ironically, many on Wall Street probably favor that as well.

All in all, this wish list is a terrible recipe for moving far down the road toward socialism. On the way to achieving these goals, totalitarian controls on the population would be necessary. Some of these demands are merely horrible ideas that would injure the economy severely — such as the huge expansion of public infrastructure. But others are so fancifully utopian — such as a living wage guaranteed to all, especially when combined with free immigration — that their attempted implementation would confront the many disasters and horrors we have seen in every nation that has seriously attempted socialism. Such policies would vastly expand the government, including its manifestations in the corporate state and police power that these protesters find so unsavory. All of the corruption and brutality they think they oppose are symptoms of the same essential political ideology they favor.

Indeed, the true members of the ruling class have nothing to fear from these protests, which on balance strengthen the power elite, whether the activists get their demands or not. This is because they do not have a coherent program for true liberty. The same principle behind freely living where and how you please and voicing one's opinions without harassment from the government underlies the freedom to engage in short selling, hostile takeovers, mergers, and speculation. Just as important, these protesters fail to understand that the market economy that they want the state to conquer is the principal engine of prosperity.

Read the rest here.


  1. The list of demands on Occupywallst.org are unbelievable. It's like some college sophomore majoring in political science came up with them. One of the commenters summed it up very well though:
    I'd like to add a few more:

    Make the Middle East stop fighting.

    Everyone gets a helicopter that runs on children's laughter.

    Gummy bears are free.

    Nobody judges anyone for having dumb ideas or lists of demands. (cough)
    It's hard to see a difference in feasibility between this list and the other demands.

  2. @James E. Miller,

    Lol! Your post is the gem of the day IMO.

  3. Demand one: Restoration of the living wage. This demand can only be met by ending "Freetrade" by re-imposing trade tariffs on all imported goods entering the American market to level the playing field for domestic family farming and domestic manufacturing as most nations that are dumping cheap products onto the American market have radical wage and environmental regulation advantages. Another policy that must be instituted is raise the minimum wage to twenty dollars an hr.

    Demand two: Institute a universal single payer healthcare system. To do this all private insurers must be banned from the healthcare market as their only effect on the health of patients is to take money away from doctors, nurses and hospitals preventing them from doing their jobs and hand that money to wall st. investors.

    Demand three: Guaranteed living wage income regardless of employment.

    Demand four: Free college education.

    Demand five: Begin a fast track process to bring the fossil fuel economy to an end while at the same bringing the alternative energy economy up to energy demand.

    Demand six: One trillion dollars in infrastructure (Water, Sewer, Rail, Roads and Bridges and Electrical Grid) spending now.

    Demand seven: One trillion dollars in ecological restoration planting forests, reestablishing wetlands and the natural flow of river systems and decommissioning of all of America's nuclear power plants.

    Demand eight: Racial and gender equal rights amendment.

    Demand nine: Open borders migration. anyone can travel anywhere to work and live.

    Demand ten: Bring American elections up to international standards of a paper ballot precinct counted and recounted in front of an independent and party observers system.

    Demand eleven: Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the "Books." World Bank Loans to all Nations, Bank to Bank Debt and all Bonds and Margin Call Debt in the stock market including all Derivatives or Credit Default Swaps, all 65 trillion dollars of them must also be stricken from the "Books." And I don't mean debt that is in default, I mean all debt on the entire planet period.

    Demand twelve: Outlaw all credit reporting agencies.

    Demand thirteen: Allow all workers to sign a ballot at any time during a union organizing campaign or at any time that represents their yeah or nay to having a union represent them in collective bargaining or to form a union.

    These demands will create so many jobs it will be completely impossible to fill them without an open borders policy.

  4. Wait- aon@1133am---

    ARE YOU SERIOUS? Sarcasm doesn't come across in type, so I've got to assume that you are kidding...but that last sentence worries me. Anyone who believes what you just typed is possible, let alone desirable, and wouldn't result in societal collapse and misery across the planet is uneducated to the point of disability.

  5. I think "societal collapse and misery across the planet" is exactly the goal!

  6. Why bother with Demand One: "... and a minimum wage of $20/hour..." Why not just make unemployment benefits enough to live on and then save the trouble of working. If we had more free time, we could spend more money!

  7. Thats their actual set of demands. No sarcasm and i didnt make it up. Check the website.

  8. @Richard,

    His post is the list of demands on OccupyWallSt.org, and yes, unfortunately it seems like they believe it.

  9. "Demand twelve: Outlaw all credit reporting agencies."


    I think he must be quoting loons or engaging in parody. but this is typical of state-thought. Only by ignoring reality can its schemes garner even marginal plausibility.

  10. Libertarians should hijack OWS the same way Republicans hijacked the Tea Party.

    And that list of demands can be summed up by one single demand: we demand surrogate parents to pamper and baby us. It's politics of envy laid bare.

  11. Wages are a result of business dynamic...Why don't you start a business and earn your wage instead of Gimme-Gimme Bratism? To much trouble?