What do the demonstrations on Wall Street and those spreading across the country such as the one in Baltimore on Tuesday, praised and encouraged by the Baltimore Sun in an editorial with guts, and the one planned for Saturday in Indianapolis, have in common with the Tea Party movement and the Vietnam War protests?
The concept most easily understood that ties these together is the military draft. Or perhaps the adjective applied to a work animal like a “draft horse.” That is, being conscripted against your will to become a party to something ordered by the more powerful.
There were hundreds of thousands who protested the Vietnam War in the name of morality and humanity. War is ALWAYS a moral wrong only qualified by self-defense when there is imminent danger of harm and/or death.
But what set the kindling of moral outrage ablaze was the personal cost to young men of the middle and upper classes, never touched by war in the past unless volunteering for it or commanding it, who, after we’d run through our nation’s poor and minority classes, were being drafted to serve in a nonsensical “foreign imperial adventure”. The people whose noise might be heard, began to indeed make noise.
This was no “great war” that could be sold by promoting a noble lie such as protecting humanity from a genocidal madman (while being fought for less than noble reasons such as protecting loan repayments from the “Allied” forces); the “specter of communism” was an abstraction that had no one fooled or at least not fooled enough.
And yet here it is again: the Owner Strategy played out nationally this time under the banner of terrorism. And this, because it is in its very nature “sinister” and “secretive” requires that you and I cannot “know” what the CIA “knows” or the sub-sub-committee on terrorism “knows.” Because of this, nearly everyone in government has become Joe McCarthy. What is the greatest growth industry in the U.S., besides killing people in Middle Eastern Countries or on video games, and besides Temporary placement (no bennies)? The Surveillance Industry. Everyone a brown shirt, everyone one a Hitler Youth, everyone a potential threat and a potential rat.
In some sense, we have always been “drafted” to comply with our rulers and masters. But as poverty increases and more and more the policies promoted and funded by the Corporate classes with real zeal in the Reagan years have been shown, not by talking heads or scholars, but by EVENTS, to fail our citizenry while benefiting the “global” conquests of the wealthy owners, the population “drafted” to perform the task of enriching the few have begun to make noise.
This is PERSONAL and LOCAL harm induced by an economic system endorsed and enforced by the state. We are in a war that we haven’t, on the whole, realized was being waged.
We might even posit that in some sense ALL foreign “campaigns” are simply distractions created so that the state can find ways to increase its power at home. The Obama administration has done that perhaps better than any other administration. The list of civil liberty abuses and retractions of human rights committed and codified by Obama is long, indeed. Most recently we have seen the murder of a two US citizens for exercising their constitutional right of protected speech (“The First Amendment Renamed the Gallows Doctrine“). That has been allowed. That is a “test” case. That will allow this and any future administration to simply kill any citizen and claim it a “war necessity” and any evidence “secret”. That can be transferred to the War at Home…
You are of course aware of the most recent campaign against the American Citizen–the big banks set up an entire class of people using the financial system of debt-financing–inducing people to believe that credit and “ownership” was their “dream come true”–and then laughed as the bubble burst. Why would they laugh as the market burned? Because they had so confounded the “assets” and “deficits” of these loans by mingling them with other “financial” products (finance=fiction) that no one EXCEPT everyone might be accountable. And EVERYONE can’t be accountable or the game and facade of capitalism’s success is over. In fact, the biggest banks were allowed to simply eat all the smaller banks that COULD be held accountable thus concentrating more power and wealth. Here’s a graphic of that contraction.
I would suggest further that the renewed push, renewed since it’s strategical inception via think tanks, again with the Reaganites, for corporate control of education, libraries, the postal service are simply other battles on other fronts. As many point out, increasing Charter schools simply dilutes the funding pool…more schools creates less money per school. Vouchers offer the same pernicious effect. This is NOT unintended; it is the primary tactic of school reformers. Creating “grading” systems for schools and teachers based on whatever criteria the corporate legislators decide is intended to show FAILURE to a purpose: takeover and “turnover” (NOT turn around) funds to privateers. Money that goes into the pockets of corporate entities does not find its way back into your community.
So, it makes sense that Occupy Wall Street should spread once folks realize that everything that is happening to make them more poor and less secure, from occupying foreign nations to continuing to protect and subsidize fossil fuels, from allowing usury rates on credit cards and protecting and entrenching the very forces that create our financial recessions, is all tied together by a system that privileges property above people. That is Capitalism. Rising tides drown most of us as all we have are shards of our shattered homes and pensions to hold onto.
Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1967, while promoting evading the draft (the most human and humane thing a person could do), also proposed that anti-war protesters and civil rights activists join forces. They were, at base, the same thing and would only become stronger by working together.
Can we imagine that the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street can come together to a common aim? Is there an Anti-war movement now? Can there be? It’s not “war” so much as “military industry” as there is no enemy…only a shadow.
Occupy Wall Street: “For what?” the Baltimore Sun asks. For the care of each and every human life.
Does that seem too Peacenik for you? I mean it. Well, for what then? Social Justice? Too abstract.
How about because there is a War at Home and you and I are getting slaughtered with no mercy and told to “get over it.” How about that the only suggestions you get from the “successful” among us are to “be an entrepreneur,” to go back to school, to “reset” your expectations.
I have a very simple suggestion. DO NOT BUY ANOTHER THING that you don’t deem ABSOLUTELY necessary. The only way to change your world is to first starve the beast to which you are chained.
In this way you can Occupy Wall Street in your living room, on your porch, walking down the street, playing in the park.
Capitalism, the privileging of property over people, will not go away by forcing it to be “kinder” for a time. It will just alter its methods–it is brilliant at that. It is economic cancer. It is not a facile comparison. It is nearly as perfect a metaphor as you will find.