One of our current amusements is how so many media pundits on TV and in print are befuddled by the Occupy Wall Street movement. They say they don't understand it. "What do these people want?" At first the pundits were ordered to kill the movement by ignoring it. Now the pundits have evidently been ordered to kill the movement by labeling it as "aimless" -- a ragtag bunch of out-of-work neo-hippies with nothing better to do than criticize the establishment. (Even the PBS News Hour staff focuses again and again on how "aimless" the movement is.)
We see photos and videos of neo-hippie costumes, hand-made signs, long haircuts, wild clothes, and snickers about boys and girls sleeping in tents together.
We're flooded with establishment baloney about a protest movement that should be taken seriously as a symptom of socio-politico-economic disease.
The problem, apart from pundits as minions of a class, is that too many pundits don't read enough history to understand anything beyond what they learned in school -- which usually wasn't much. If they would stop looking at their manicured fingernails and do some reading, they might learn a few things.
The Occupy Wall Street movement is an outburst (really a scream of pain) provoked by a politico-economic condition that's almost a replica of the past.
Here is a quotation from our past:
The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism -- ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.
Who said it? Franklin Delano Roosevelt, April 29, 1938 (deep in the Great Depression) in a message to Congress.
And what was Roosevelt worried about? In the same message to Congress he provided the answer: Figures for 1935 published by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (now the IRS) revealed that "of all corporations reporting from every part of the Nation, one-tenth of 1 percent of them owned 52 percent of the assets of all of them."
There are some people still alive (including myself) who lived through the Great Depression and who are dismayed at the prospect of seeing a revival of that old movie. The awful misery of it. People on the edge of madness caused by economic chaos produced by greed and ignorance of the people who had the real power -- the financiers and corporations and their lobbyists and lackeys -- what we call WALL STREET.
We had Franklin Delano Roosevelt working for the American people during the Great Depression (a rich man who turned against his class). Unfortunately, during the present movie revival we have no one comparable.
The way it looks now, one of the great tragedies of the history of the early 21st century will be the way Barack Obama disappointed the people who voted for him by aligning himself with corporate power on the road to corporate fascism -- an alignment of corporations and government designed to foster the accumulation of personal capital.
This century now threatens to be as dramatic as the last century -- when we surely had too much drama in our lives.
Occupy Wall Street is about popular disappointment. That it seems aimless and lacks a consensus policy is irrelevant, The sadness of it is that nearly all the power these days is not with the people but with the old enemies of the people -- the financiers and corporations who put personal gain above public interest.