In Les Confessions, Rousseau wrote, "Finally I recalled the stopgap solution of a great princess who was told that the peasants had no bread, and who responded: 'Let them eat cake.'" This 1782 quote has become the iconic slogan of class oppression by the ruling elite. While the right cries class war at the proposal of taxing millionaires at a slightly higher rate, the richest 1% continues to wage war against the other 99% of us with powerful corporate, financial and lobbying connections.
Class war is being waged daily-- foreclosure fraud, wanton oil speculation
a>, a student loan bubble fit to burst. The same corporate moguls who have bankrolled the campaigns of tea party candidates promising deregulation and lower taxes have been recently highlighted for illegally trading with hostile nations, falsifying documents, and knowingly operating equipment that has killed children. A trader nonchalantly mentioned on BBC that he dreams every night of another recession, so he can profit more from a market crash. The evidence of class warfare is everywhere. Our current system has been carefully designed so the 1% will benefit from the efforts and toil of the 99%
If you saw Jon Stewart's most recent bout with Bill O'Reilly, even the FOX commentator agrees that Wall Street speculators aren't paying their fair share and should be held accountable. Even lifetime registered Republican, corporate CEO and tax preparer Henry Bloch admits that wealth and tax burdens for the rich and poor are extremely unequal in the United States. Even billionaire tea party financier Charles Koch admits that Social Security and Medicare are wonderful programs worth paying taxes for and using to the fullest, despite his brother running a vice presidential platform of eliminating those programs 30 years ago.
In protest of the greedy practices that wrecked our economy, thousands of people have occupied the nerve center of the world's financial system since September 17, calling themselves "The 99 Percent," and have grown to roughly 6,000 since. The police brutality recently on display in New York's financial district was reminiscent of Cairo. A police officer kneeled on the neck of a man holding an American flag. NYPD Lt. Anthony Bologna pepper-sprayed a group of women cordoned off on a sidewalk, disappeared into the crowd, and made more unprovoked attacks on another part of the crowd. One nonviolent protester was openly beaten in the street. While protesters were expressing their first amendment rights and experiencing brutal treatment by the police, Wall Street banksters lounged on the balconies above, sipping champagne. The wealthy, powerful elite mocking the impoverished masses protesting below. 0 bankers who purposefully wrecked the livelihoods of millions have been arrested, yet over 1,000 ordinary people have been arrested speaking out about it. A Hollywood screenwriter couldn't have set the scene any better.
Yet, despite such a populist message and stalwart resistance from the left, mainstream media sources have only given the occupation a passing glance. While thousands were kettled on both ends of Brooklyn Bridge this weekend after shutting down the NYPD headquarters, New York Times Financial Columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin mocked their numbers, referring to "all 80 of them." This comes on the heels of a particularly snooty column by the Times' Gina Bellefante. The main criticism of the media has been the movement's supposed lack of organization and/or central message, and the supposed stereotypical images of the protests. Even Mother Jones harped on the occupation's "dirty hippie" theme. Yet, the occupation has grown incredibly diverse, bringing in pilots, marines, and 100 NYPD officers boycotting in solidarity with the protesters. But the only real response from New York's flagship paper has been dismal coverage and the bemoaning of a supposed lack of leftist demonstrations.
The American Left has been standing up and fighting all year-- from the collective bargaining marches and recall efforts in Wisconsin and other states in February, to The Yes Men/US Uncut's prank on GE and subsequent weekend of actions in over 100 cities on tax day weekend, to liberal birddogging of Congressional Republicans during the August Recess, to 1,253 activists arrested to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, to the Occupy Wall Street movement and the dozens of similar occupation campaigns happening nationwide, the leftist uprising sweeping North Africa and Europe has reached America. Corporate-owned media can black it out and mock it all they want, but they're only delaying the inevitable. Dr. Cornel West said it best in a recent speech to the occupiers:
"...Because when you bring folk together, of all colors, of all cultures, of all genders, of all sexual orientations, the elite will tremble in their boots."
Ordinary Americans, the other 99%, realize that the corporate takeover of our democracy will only worsen until we come together and demand new, sustainable economies and political structures uncorruptible by the influence of lobbying and corporate money. That's what's driving the occupytogether.org movement. And that's a demand that any reasonable member of the 99% can agree on.