Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Meanwhile, down on Wall Street & soon spreading to your town

A protest doesn't lose validity - not initially - if the protesters lack a specific list of demands.* Who wants an elite  revolutionary cadre running things? I saw that bullshit during the Vietnam protests,  ideological assholes muddying up the movement when what most of us wanted was for the war to wind down, get those conscripted American soldiers out of there, cut our losses & concede the rest of a small South Asian nation anyone could plainly see on a globe wasn't of much future strategic importance. Fuck Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh

The anti-capitalist signs on Wall Street won't get much traction with the rest of America.  Most of the protesters look like young people who expected to do well by American capitalism,  it's  what they were taught & what they believed. I know some of them. The problem is that "Wall Street" is capitalism gone  amuck with absence  of reasonable regulation,  engaging in wildly speculative practices  that send the stock market careening up & down, undermined the generally stable American housing industry - a foundation of our economy, & is run by a bunch of fat cat international plutocrats who have taken over both our political parties but have no fundamental loyalty to the United States of America. They mean to suck us dry. We've  been bamboozled because high finance is something few Americans understand or want to understand. We play by a different set of basic rules, rules we thought were generally fair.  If you pay your bills, manage your household debt, keep your credit rating good, the bank will loan you money for a home & car & everything ought to work out alright. The  banks, mostly local, holding their own loans for the life of the loan,  didn't loan money to poor risks. That's one part of the problem.

Another less discussed goes back to President Eisenhower's famous farewell speech warning about the "Military-Industrial Complex."  Eisenhower knew war was  profitable if you worked it to advantage.  As a military commander, every expendable piece of equipment, every Jeep, plane,  tank, bullet & bomb  he used in battle  at government expense  was  made by & bought from a private company.  All American companies back then. The human beings were expendable, too, but less so. By the completion of his second term, America had  vastly over-sized armed forces that resisted his attempts to bring  under control.  Including an immense conscripted Army.  With the great armed forces came the temptation to use them, because bullets not fired are bullets that don't need to be replaced, & so came Vietnam, the first of several wars waged mainly for profit. There's no reason to bring a war waged for profit to the fastest possible victory, no reason to even define what victory is. So we borrow incomprehensible  sums of money to finance all the material & services we need to purchase to wage the wars. Without draftees, sacrifice becomes optional.

As much as I dislike triumphalism, the displays of nationalist hubris following a victorious war, at least it signals the war is ended. Yes, I do bore myself saying this stuff over & over.

The Wall Street protesters will get it right, they're in the right place for it, & as it grows & spreads it will look & sound more broadly  "American" & less citified.  It will find a voice. It has identified the real power & it means to speak truth to it. The Tea Party, starting actually from similar gripes, gets it wrong. Two ways. First, they think the government runs the government & therefore it is the government that should be protested.  Obama faces the same "establishment" Eisenhower, with all his prestige,  couldn't budge, but it's much more intractable now.  Second, they get a lot of unrelated issues mixed up in there, as one might expect from a movement born of hinterland white protestant Republicans.

*They did issue a list of the reasons they are protesting. Most I agree with completely, none of the others bother me.

Very astute observant commentary about the Occupy Wall Street protests. They are growing every week, and have expanded to a multitude of cities. I have actually donated money to buy pizza for the guys and gals in Los Angeles! It is truly a grass roots protest that maybe does not have a leader or leaders, but it will continue to grow as the rest of corporate America belittles them.
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