It was interesting to me that my comments that protesting the economy without also including elements of economic protest were taken to mean “I think Occupy Wall Street is bad.” I still think that to be genuinely effective, protests of capitalism have to take into account what will replace it – and our own implication in the system, but I am happy to see the protests growing, and developing an emergent sense of possibility.
I think Jim Kunstler hit it on the head this week:
This is the funniest part to me: that leaders of a nation incapable of constructing a coherent consensus about reality can accuse its youth of not having a clear program. If the OWS movement stands for anything, it’s a dire protest against the country’s leaders’ lack of a clear program.
For instance, what is Attorney General Eric Holder’s program for prosecuting CDO swindles, the MERS racket, the bonus creamings of TBTF bank executives, the siphoning of money from the Federal Reserve to foreign banks, the misconduct at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the willful negligence of the SEC, and countless other villainies? What is Barack Obama’s program for restoring the rule of law in American financial affairs? (Generally, the rule of law requires the enforcement of laws, no?)
Language is failing us, of course. When speaking of “recession,” one is forced into using the twisted, tweaked, gamed categories of economists whose mission is to make their elected bosses look good in spite of anything reality says. I prefer the term contraction, because a.) that is what is really going on, and b.) the economists haven’t got their mendacious mitts around it yet. Contraction means there is not going to be more, only less, and it implies that a reality-based society would make some attempt to acknowledge and manage having less – possibly by doing more.
The system is as gamed as possible, and the anger at it is a good thing. We also are going to have to do some hard thinking, though, about what standard of living and way of life can emerge from a society that honestly critiques the system we have become dependent upon. The reality is that the growth we’ve lived with is going away whether we like it or not – I’m hoping that this new emergent consensus that we’ve been screwed comes with a collective response to the end of growth – or the solidarity won’t last as the system pits people against one another.