Econintersect: Author Naomi Wolf (pictured) has a November 25 column in The Guardian in which she charges that the violence against Occupy groups in the recent weeks is an organized effort to blow back against a rising tide of protest that threatens the very core of “the establishment.” She defines what she says are the core objectives of the Occupy movement, the driving forces behind the increased effort to quell the protest and why that effort is simply fueling the protest further. Wolf writes, “the violent police assaults across the US are no coincidence. Occupy has touched the third rail of our political class’s venality.”
Wolf, who has spent much time attending Occupy meetings as a reporter, says she has received a clear picture of what OWS (Occupy Wall Street) actually wants by just reading her e-mail. Here is what she wrote about that in The Guardian:
The mainstream media was declaring continually “OWS has no message”. Frustrated, I simply asked them. I began soliciting online “What is it you want?” answers from Occupy. In the first 15 minutes, I received 100 answers. These were truly eye-opening.
The No 1 agenda item: get the money out of politics. Most often cited was legislation to blunt the effect of the Citizens United ruling, which lets boundless sums enter the campaign process.
No 2: reform the banking system to prevent fraud and manipulation, with the most frequent item being to restore the Glass-Steagall Act – the Depression-era law, done away with by President Clinton, that separates investment banks from commercial banks. This law would correct the conditions for the recent crisis, as investment banks could not take risks for profit that create kale derivatives out of thin air, and wipe out the commercial and savings banks.
No 3 was the most clarifying: draft laws against the little-known loophole that currently allows members of Congress to pass legislation affecting Delaware-based corporations in which they themselves are investors.
When I saw this list – and especially the last agenda item – the scales fell from my eyes. Of course, these unarmed people would be having the shit kicked out of them.
For the terrible insight to take away from news that the Department of Homeland Security coordinated a violent crackdown is that the DHS does not freelance. The DHS cannot say, on its own initiative, “we are going after these scruffy hippies”. Rather, DHS is answerable up a chain of command: first, to New York Representative Peter King, head of the House homeland security subcommittee, who naturally is influenced by his fellow congressmen and women’s wishes and interests. And the DHS answers directly, above King, to the president (who was conveniently in Australia at the time).
In other words, for the DHS to be on a call with mayors, the logic of its chain of command and accountability implies that congressional overseers, with the blessing of the White House, told the DHS to authorise mayors to order their police forces – pumped up with millions of dollars of hardware and training from the DHS – to make war on peaceful citizens.
Wolf goes on to describe what she says is a political system that allows representatives of the people to “legislate their own companies’ profits.” She also cites the blatant enrichment of politicians after they leave office as well, including the example of “Newt Gingrich’s having been paid $1.8m for a few hours’ “consulting” to special interests.”
Wolf says that we are seeing “the first battle in a civil war; a civil war in which, for now, only one side is choosing violence.” She charges that there is a new third rail in American politics and that is “personal congressional profits streams.” The ruling powers of commerce and government do not want that cookie jar opened and will try to smash any fingers reaching to take the cover off.
Editorial notes: The vast majority of Americans find the entire topic of the financial system, the crisis of 2008, legalized corruption of congress and other “complicated things” boring. This editor knows because he sees that attitude in his family, friends and neighbors. The violent acts of repression of Occupy demonstrators may be a vehicle that brings wider attention to “complicated things.” In that regard the violent incidents may be one of the most productive things in the course of the movement, if it gets millions more people asking just what is going on and why. As Wolf wrote:
Americans this week have come one step closer to being true brothers and sisters of the protesters in Tahrir Square. Like them, our own national leaders, who likely see their own personal wealth under threat from transparency and reform, are now making war upon us.
There are other views of Occupy besides those outlined by Naomi Wolf. John DeFalco, writing in The MetroWest Daily News, has an entirely different view of the objectives of the movement:
The Occupy Wall Street participants are members of the “everybody gets a trophy” generation who are now facing the reality of the world. They are naive, very misinformed and are frustrated by today’s economic conditions.
Their main objective is to get more “free stuff” including free tuition and health care. They incorrectly believe that Wall Street and banks are responsible for their overwhelming tuitions and student loans. The U.S. government has the responsibility for education loans. If they want to demonstrate it should be at the homes of college presidents who have let tuition costs grow at a much higher rate than other forms of inflation. Concerning jobs, they should demonstrate at the White House because that’s where the failed economic policies and insane spending originate. Obama now has a $1.3 trillion deficit and a $15 trillion national debt. The last stimulus cost $586,000 for each job “created or saved” and he wants to spend more. Obama hasn’t helped by creating class warfare and continuing to demonize big business, Wall Street and the rich, the people who create jobs.
The “occupiers” have been manipulated by groups such as Moveon.org and the SEIU who would advocate a European welfare state. The Occupy Wall Street members should ask the Europeans how that is working out for them.