In New York City for our “Singularity Summit,” Alex Daley of our Casey Extraordinary Technology service and I decided to see what all the commotion is about and so wandered through a light drizzle to Zuccotti Park, home to the Occupy Wall Street protestors.
The group sure is attracting a lot of media smoke, so might there also be fire?
While it may be a conceit, as a young person arrested in the Oakland Induction Center riots, circa 1967, I like to think I know at least a little about grouping together in order to take it to the man.
So, based on my experience, how does OWS stack up?
In a word, pathetic. For three reasons.
1. Lack of a solidifying (or even coherent) purpose.
First and foremost, the movement lacks a cohesive purpose.
As expected, there were a dozen or so cliques touting anti-capitalist themes. But other than in a general sense, they were far from the majority, which I would loosely describe as loosely described.
We saw one group against fracking and another small pod holding up signs calling for justice for the victims of Ecuadorian death squads. One old-timer held up a soggy sign with a passage of the US Constitution, lecturing passionately to a small contingent of bored youths on how said passage had been violated.
Standing nearby in the small park, an aspiring young Che was trying to get the attention of fellow les miserables in order to tell them how South America had been a non-violent paradise prior to the arrival of the white man. Others want to "eat the rich," while another... Well, you get the idea.
I am sure there was a divergence of opinions on this and that back in the Sixties, but I can assure you that everyone who sat in at the Oakland Induction Center, and dozens of other locations like it, was clear that the objective of the protest was to stop the Vietnam War. In the case of Oakland, by blocking the doors to the center through which the US war machine was regularly processing thousands of slaves, er, draftees, precedent to flinging them into a losing war in a country that not one in a hundred of them could even point out on a map.
By contrast, Occupy Wall Street appears to be little more than a gathering spot for the misguided, ill-informed, disgruntled and disenchanted. That is not to say that there aren't some legitimate gripes represented among the motley. Rather it is that unless and until they actually decide on a specific objective, their chances are slim of accomplishing anything more than encouraging copycat groups in other countries to riot for more targeted purposes - for instance, in Italy to protest government austerity measures.
As to who is encouraging those other groups, look no further than the television vans around the park perimeter. I strongly suspect some producer somewhere decided that OWS could be made into good drama for the nightly newsertainment, and so it came to pass. Given the lack of vigor in the park, it wouldn't surprise me at all if said producer had to periodically nudge the lumps with the toe of his boot and encourage them to make some noise for the cameras.
2. What leaders they have, appear to be both idiots and ideologues. A leader leads, as in getting the masses to act in concert in order to achieve a specific goal. Given the Tower of Babble gibberish so clearly in evidence, it's clear that no one near the top of the flock has a unifying vision or the ability to rally the troops in cohesive action.
If you want to understand just how painfully moronic the purported thought-leaders of this movement are, you only have to take a few minutes to watch this YouTube video. (I have to warn you, however; this may cause irreversible brain damage.) The speaker is none other than uber-greenie Bill McKibben.
Doug Casey recently referred to these guys as "watermelons"... green on the outside, red on the inside, and I can't argue the point. In case you are wondering, the spastic wiggling of fingers in the background is called "twinkles" - and is done when trying to express enthusiasm for a speaker without interrupting them with applause.
So, what's got McKibben and his troupe of scary sycophants all heated up at Zuccotti Park? None other than the proposed extension of the Keystone Pipeline, an evil tube of death flowing from the tar sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. In McKibben's own words, according to certain unnamed scientists, "If we build this pipeline, it is game over for the climate."
Game over for the climate? Egads! Death to us all, including the doe-eyed little polar bears! And people accuse us here at Casey Research of being gloomy and doomy.
Thanks to regular correspondent Marko, here are a couple of maps that clarify the dire threat posed by the proposed Keystone extension, this veritable Godzilla of Goo. So, what does the extension actually look like? See the dotted lines on the map just above. Monstrous!
Devastating, no question about it.
Next, (right) we see a map of all the many pipelines in the US that are interconnected with the Canadian oil fields.
How can anyone deny that McKibben and his chorus are right... we should fight this monstrosity at all costs! To the ramparts!
That would show those filthy Canadians what to do with their filthy oil... namely swing that dotted line west in order to better ship the stuff off to China.
3. If You Aren't Getting Arrested, You Are Doing Something Wrong!
Seriously, I wanted to stand up in the middle of the park, clear my throat and yell, "Hey, listen up! What are you doing here? Pull yourselves together and get down to business!" (Egged on by Alex for his personal entertainment, I'm pretty sure.)
So, here's the set-up. The protestors, which number only in the dozens, are encamped in a small park in a fairly non-descript and unimportant corner of Manhattan. They are literally surrounded, in order of scale, by the police, the media (in nice, cozy vans), and Falafel vendors (it's hard not to love the contradiction between the signs saying "Down with Capitalism" and the Falafel vendors doing land office business selling the protestors their grub).
In other words, like the "Free Speech Zones" now mandatory for anyone caring to express an opposing opinion as presidential motorcade6s rush by, the Occupy Wall Street folks have allowed themselves to be corralled within the boundaries of a designated protest area, approved by the powers-that-be as suitable for the malcontents.
Exposing the extent of the farce, the New York Police force has a portable, extendible watch tower that looms over the park, keeping a Sauron-like eye on the goings-on. That thing would have lasted about ten minutes back in the good old brick-throwing days.
If I learned nothing back in the Sixties, it is that (once you decide on an objective) you need to assemble in the spot that most forcibly gets your point across - by disrupting business as usual - until the government has no choice but to arrest you, after which you return to same scene and repeat until someone gives. You win if the other guy blinks. Were I trying to discomfit Wall Street, I'd be blocking the doors of the major financial houses.
But what I'd really do is to forget Wall Streeters; they are mostly only symbiotic parasites stuck in the guts of the Washington overlords. And so, speaking only hypothetically here (because one would never advocate an open uprising against one's own government), were I leading the Occupy Wall Street mob, I'd have them on the next bus to the Golden City of Oz. And once there, I'd hand out chains and padlocks for the mob to lock themselves, like early Christmas ornaments, to the gates of the White House and to the front of the congressional hive.
That, however, probably won't happen. Instead, I suspect these directionless 'shrooms will remain largely hunkered down in their little park, venturing out only occasionally to be joined by sport rioters with no larger purpose than shouting out in a crowd, until the Northeastern winter picks them off one at a time.
"Hey dude, where you going?"
"Ah, er, out for a latte."
"Really? You sure? That's what the last hundred people said, and they never came back. "
"No man, seriously, I'll be back. Seriously."
And so, rather than ending with the bang of exploding tear gas canisters and the strident sirens of paddy wagons, I expect OWS to end one day after the few remaining protest leaders, staring at each other across the leftovers of last night's falafels, realize they are pretty much alone and shuffle off muttering something about the need to get a job.
If you sense a certain disappointment in my remarks, you would be right.
For starters, the protestors provide such tangible proof of the failure of the US educational system. Things have gotten so bad, so politically correct, so politicized, so degraded by teacher bias, so removed from the hard sciences, so enamored of the big lies, that the vast majority of rank and file down at Zuccotti appear almost devoid of reason - and therefore rationality - about what it is they are doing.
Secondly, I'm disappointed because if there was ever a good time for a protest - against the sovereign states with their constant meddling in their economies, in starting wars, tampering with justice, interfering with the personal pursuit of happiness, and regulating business out of business - it is now.
Unfortunately, if there is a unifying theme even remotely present in the OWS movement, it is that the government needs to meddle more, not less.
If I wasn't so lazy, or maybe indifferent, I might suggest a counter-demonstration with a simple slogan:
Concise and straightforward. Better, because from the standpoint of organizing, it opens up a wide vista of potential protest locales. The Fed, the FDA, the Congress, the Treasury, the White House, the State Department, the Department of War... why, the list is (sadly) almost endless at this point.
And it wouldn't start on Wall Street, but about 227 miles south. In Washington.