Originally posted on October 7, 2011
Well the hell is unfocused about I can’t afford a shirt? What are these young women supposed to be chanting? “The system works for the most part and I believe I’m only temporarily shirtless because I have faith that President Obama might get me a job at the post office?”
The OCCUPY protesters around the nation express genuine frustration and anger at a political system that does not work for the 99 percent–that has never worked for the 99 percent without huge government intervention. Think Abolition. Think homesteading. Think anti-trust laws. Think public works projects. Think GI Bill. Think Civil Rights legislation. None of those interventions could have come to pass without anger, protest and violent repression.
So it is disconcerting that even liberals like Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes Nattering Nabobs of Progressivism, while tepidly supportive of the protests, still express mild dismay, “In this big picture, in this environment, frankly, some sort of inchoate, bottom-up, indefinite expression of anger at Wall Street, anger at their control over our lives and our country now, is probably a little overdue.” A little overdue?! A little overdue like a Chicago Cubs World Series win.
Note that Ms. Maddow still seems to think that the protesters somehow need to connect back to the political system that stole the shirts off their backs. “Is the message itself important that they are even trying or do they need to be offering something very concrete that will make a difference in people’s lives in order to connect people back to the political system?”
But really Chris? “Barack Obama raises tons of money from Wall Street. And Nancy Pelosi, God bless her, who love, I think he`s a great politician and has great politics, also raises a lot of money from Wall Street. They all do. They all have to. That’s the way the system works.” Really? And you think that somehow the system can changed from the inside?
The answer is clear. For now, the message–the frustration, the anger–is important in and of itself. It is important because it will eventually lead to the conclusion that the system cannot be fixed and that a new one must take its place. Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes are the good guys. Yet their cynicism is palpable. Yes they question it. Yes they’re uncomfortable with it. But they still can’t see a United States without Republicans and Democrats.
Then there’s buffoonery that went down on Real Time Friday night. Bill Maher likes to think that he understands, but he doesn’t. As he was egged on by the colossally confused P.J. O’Rourke, Bill muses: “These people in the Occupy Wall Street movement, they are kind of hippies. They don’t have a coherent message…They do need some focus…They gotta lose the bongo drums, the tits…”
The OCCUPY protesters are expressing an emotional response, an appropriate emotional response. Their detractors who would paint them as bongo playing, naked hippies don’t have much political memory. Bongo playing, naked hippies forced the nation to get out of the Vietnam war. Unfortunately that generation put away their bongos, put on their business suits, stuffed their noses with cocaine and let their enemies lure them into the fold.
A emotional response is a real response, a true response. Of course reality and truth have been long lost in the cynical political game played by Democrats, Republicans and those who justify them and their “system.” It’s a game played at great cost to the 99 Percent.
Stay angry and stay naked. Refuse to be co-opted, like your parents, with promises that maybe you can rise to become one of the 98 percent, because, really, that’s all the Democrats will be offering.