Occupy Wall Street?
My inherent skepticism is not as limited as one would expect it to be. I have to wonder about the reasoning behind the NYPD’s supposed assault and battery of protesters. I can see four possibilities:
- They aren’t, and it’s all being made up to gain sympathy further the cause
- They are, as a result of legitimate violations of the law, most likely obscure assembly regulations
- They are, because cops are violent, ruthless protectors of the oligarchy
- They are, and the police are acting on orders from above
1. is unlikely, and 3. is far too convenient to be likely; that likelihood diminishes further for anyone who chooses to believe the stories going around about police being reluctant to take action against the protesters. This leaves 2. and 4., which I think are equally likely; the protesters do not seem like the sort of people who would take care to jump through the proper bureaucratic hoops to stay on the right side of the law, but it is also plausible that the police have been ordered to take that action, for one of two reasons: the higher-ups either favor the oligarchy or oppose it and want to put on a show to further the cause.
Actually, the oligarchy is not even what is being protested; the targets are a certain small subsection of the oligarchy whose power is mostly limited to short-term financial action. The Kochs seem to be the only ones, or at least the most visible, who have a clue as to how power is really maintained, but this makes sense. One whose only reason for obtaining power is to make money does not need to maintain power over the long term.
That said, I think the main effect of these protests will be organization. US Uncut did not have any discernible impact, but that was probably due to failure at networking and marketing, and as an offshoot of an obscure UK movement, that is understandable. These protests, on the other hand, have captured the rich white college student demographic, which may well be the one most suited to making it go viral. The best realistic scenario at this point would be for it to go viral and coalesce into an anti-neoliberal movement for the Democrats to co-opt, in a mirror-image repetition of the Tea Party situation, but the difference between the Tea Party and this is that there is not yet the mainstream support that the Tea Party had. Mencius Moldbug got this point, albeit in a different context: that of violent political action (i.e. ‘terrorism’):
Why does left-wing terrorism work, and right-wing terrorism not? As Carl Schmitt explained in Theory of the Partisan, terrorist, guerrilla or partisan warfare is never effective on its own. While an effective military strategy, it is only effective as one fork of a pincer attack. The terrorist succeeds when, and only when, he is allied to what Schmitt called an interested third party – either a military or political force.
Left-wing terrorism succeeds as the violent arm of a political assault that would probably be overwhelming in any case. In every case, the terrorist plays Mutt in a Mutt-and-Jeff act.
This can be extended to also cover nonviolent political action: the Tea Party was the activist wing of a machine that had already been constructed, the other wing of which is the machinery by which the activists’ views are not only disseminated, but also taught, to the people: Fox News, talk radio, the Austrian economics machine, and so on. Where is the propaganda wing of Occupy Wall Street? Nowhere, because it has no positive platform; it can point out problems, but not offer solutions, so it is useful simultaneously to everyone and no one outside the sphere of neoliberalism. In order for it to grow a propaganda wing, it must first decide on solutions, which, considering its ‘big tent’ nature, is highly unlikely. It would, however, be interesting to see the distributist machine pick up these protests; the only barrier that I can see between distributism and the mainstream is its utter failure to propagandize effectively, especially considering that it should have the support of the world’s oldest political organization.