An exchange with my friend, Neil Remington Abramson. He sees the occupation movement very differently from my own impressions. This started with an article link:
From Neil Remington Abramson, November 11, 2011:
Here’s a piece that explains the motivation of the Occupy Movement. Some I agree with, I suppose. And the writing is pretty good.
He then linked an article in the Globe and Mail from John Gardiner, “Protesters are still the canary in the coal mine”. Here are some extracts:
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick and tired of watching the privileged rich and famous live in a type of decadence and opulence that boggles the mind. It’s indeed a strange and sad place where some feast while others starve, and there’s no security for anyone. How have we let it come to this?
I’m convinced that a thousand years into the future – if we can stagger that far forward – our current era will be known only for its barbarism, both economic and physical. It’s a time of great darkness, regardless of the apparent gains in technology. The Occupy protesters can see that – just like the hippies did more than 40 years ago.
They’re not political movements – they’re harbingers of a future we’re all part of.
…for most older middle-class people, life has been good. They don’t understand what there is to complain about. I understand. I’m an old hippie and I understand that the Occupy protesters are basically fighting the same thing the hippies did. It’s called the Establishment – at least that’s what we called it back in the old days.
And it’s big government and big business and big wealth and big power. It’s everything that makes ordinary people feel impotent and powerless, and it’s all around us.
Back in the 1960s, the Establishment was just getting its footing, just starting to entrench itself in our societies. Today, it’s everything and everywhere.
It’s what sets the price of oil. It’s what starts wars where poor people fight it out. It’s what causes big banks to collapse so the little people can pick up the pieces. It’s so powerful that governments bow to it and bail it out when it gets itself into trouble. It’s the Establishment, plain and simple.
And while the silent majority sleeps soundly on silk sheets and down pillows, the Establishment continues to lead us into deeper and deeper trouble, all in the name of greed and profit.
There were those of us who actually bought into the whole hippie thing. We thought we could change the world and make it a kinder, gentler place where people would treat each other with dignity and respect. We thought that was what the world was going to look like as we moved into the future.
I responded to Neil the following day:
The sentiments in “Occupation II“, particularly relating to Eric Burdon as the “psychedelic sucker” of his times…well, maybe you have some further comments. I find it interesting that you can have any sympathy for/emphathy with these people, given so much wasted effort in the 60s that could have been redirected for lasting constructive change…just reach out and help someone who needs help. One to one.
To which Neil had what to my mind is a more persuasive take, though I’m still not persuaded:
I think these Occupy people are the potential beginning of a rebellion or revolution against “Capitalism”. I just hope they don’t get more and more violent, and into some sort of class warfare theme. The 2008-2011 recession has produced so many well educated young people with no prospects. They are bound to be resentful.
And no doubt the recession, double dip especially, is seen as an indictment of Capitalism – as if we had that. Its more an indictment of Socialism, except no one but the Tea Party admits that’s what we’ve got. So, no doubt Communism will look more enticing, since its failure is less recent.
On the other hand, perhaps things are changing. The US is the Saudi Arabia producer of natural gas. And the technology has been developed to get the oil out of shale oil. Our oil sands give us the oil reserves of the Saudis. The shale oil gives the US the same x 10. They probably vetoed the pipeline because by 2015 they are predicted to be self-sufficient. 5-10 years ago, they were importing 50% of their oil. Now 28%.
Also the wage differential China vs US is at a tipping point, where the industry is coming back. Chinese wage rates are up 16%/yr, due to inflation (a product of keeping the yuan pegged to a depreciating dollar–so the US found a strategy to deal with that pegging, when the Chinese wouldn’t budge on it).
Chinese wage rates are about 45% of American vs. 20%, some 10 years ago, but with transport costs, IP piracy etc, companies are building their mfg in the US again.
So my point is that the Occupy discontent will be evaporating in the next 3-5 years. It’s all the result of frustrated self-interest. It’s not the idealism they portray themselves as. There will be the revenue again to fund the Socialism that masquerades as the Capitalism that we have. Gosh, with the Tea Party, we might actually get clear of our debts, instead of just kicking the debt can down the road ahead of us.