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Long Live the New American Revolution
Posted on Oct 8, 2011
Occupy Wall Street rapidly spread well beyond the financial district of Manhattan, where marchers set up camp in Zuccotti Park on Sept. 17, and by Oct. 1 had homegrown branches in Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, Portland (Maine), Portland (Oregon), Seattle and Washington, D.C. An AP report on the expansion of these protests noted that Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York is “a billionaire who made his fortune as a corporate executive,” and then quoted Bloomberg (interviewed on a radio program) chiding the demonstrators for targeting Wall Street:
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No, that’s not the bottom line, financially, politically or morally. Intellectually, Bloomberg was not even dishonest; he merely opened his mouth and added spin to the hurricane of chickenshit bearing down on millions of people from the towers of finance and from the marble halls of Congress, that mausoleum of democracy haunted by corporate lobbyists. If we take our protest to Congress, the pols tell us to take our complaints back home to city halls. If we take our complaints to city halls, the pols tell us to take our complaints back to Congress. Now some of the Wall Street insiders also tell us our real gripe is with the politicians and not with the financiers. But that’s all a political game of three-card monte, a hypnotizing chain of distractions while the marked cards play us for rubes. The trickster goes on picking our pockets on bad gambles only so long as we don’t kick over the table and take our money back.
They barely begin to understand that we are denying the consent of the governed to the present political class, and that millions of people already recognize that corporate CEOs are the unelected government. In the corporate media, many reporters and financial wizards complain that the protests are too diffuse and have no clear message. In other words, politicians are demanding that we form a delegation with a magic number of proposals. All problems solved! The proposals would die in a dozen congressional committees after our very own lobbyists had been wined and dined.
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The refusal to use the personal pronoun can be an inverted form of vanity in political writers, and that kind of official journalism advertises false modesty while encouraging actual careerism. I, on the contrary, insist on saying “I” when this is what I mean; and likewise on saying “we” when the plural has some real social weight and historical meaning. I believe readers should know where I stand and what kind of comrades I choose. “We, the people” does not mean a personal voice must be strangled in order to claim a fair hearing in public.
The ways in which Fox News spins real news of popular rebellion against Wall Street is simply not my subject here. No, I choose instead to disclaim all bogus “objectivity,” if this means taking the magisterial position of Zeus on Mount Olympus, or indeed if this means taking the various managerial positions that constitute the spectrum of opinion on the op-ed pages of The New York Times.
If a gun was put to my head, and if my political horizon had to be narrowed to the pages of The New York Times, then I would surely choose the views of the economist Paul Krugman over the views of mystifying bloviators such as David Brooks and Thomas Friedman. Because Krugman at least never tires of arguing for a kind of left Keynesian program, insisting that President Obama must find the courage to become a Franklin Roosevelt for the 21st century, and that this country needs an up-to-date New Deal.
And yet Krugman will remain a prophet crying in the wilderness, admired by “progressives” who will vote by rote for Obama in 2012, but otherwise ignored in practical public policy by Obama and his inner circle of Wall Street economic advisers. At this very late date, Obama has ventured to outline a “roads, tunnels and bridges” kind of public works program, whose dividends would be jobs and more wages circulating within a presumably “free market.”
Why should we believe this program would be carried through with fighting spirit, since all such spirit seems to have been spent in the brutally slow disengagement of human limbs and lives from the meat grinder of several imperial wars? When Rachel Maddow asked Tulane professor and author Melissa Harris-Perry whether Democratic politicians had anything to fear from the Democratic base, Harris-Perry smiled and said, “No.” She went on to explain by quoting words dear to Hillary Clinton: “You campaign in poetry but you govern in prose.” An excellent formula for lying with every breath, and then staging the music, candles and fine wine for the next seduction scene.
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