Occupy Wall Street is occupying every pundit’s commentary right now. I’d love to ignore it and focus on something else, but I’m too fascinated by watching the wreckage of civil society mewl and puke in the streets of Manhattan.
The Tea Party, a grassroots movement of Americans concerned that the Constitution is being abandoned (and it is) by our government, has been referred to in the press as racist by Keith Olbermann and many others, and compared to the angry rabble gathered outside the University of Alabama in 1956 hoping to keep black kids out by The Washington Post. Frank Rich in the New York Times equated it with the Nazi’s Kristallnacht, and Diane Sawyer condemned Tea Partiers for hurling “slurs and epithets.”
Meanwhile, a New York Times editorial from October 8 praises the OWS protesters for “giving voice to a generation of lost opportunity.” It would be hard to find a conservative who disagrees that these protesters do represent their generation to some extent. The editorial goes on to diagnose the problem, using the words “income inequality,” “extreme inequality,” regular old “inequality,” and “deeply unequal society.” The prescription? “Greater legal protection for workers’ rights,” “more progressive taxation,” and “public spending for job creation.”
It must be nice to be whoever wrote that editorial, unburdened by the petty concerns of history, human nature, economics, and justice. He must feel free as a bird, now that he’s shrugged off the cumbersome onus of the Constitution.
I wonder if they will finally be happy when we are all equal, which is to say, all poor, all starving, all subservient to the State.
In David Mamet’s important new book The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture, he describes, in a collection of illuminating essays, what he has learned in his sixty-some-odd years of living as an American, and how he came to be a conservative despite belonging to subcultures (playwright, Jewish, Chicagoan) that normally proscribe such an eventuality. One of the subjects about which he writes with a great deal of passion is the dreadful failure of the postmodern liberal arts education to churn out anything other than skill-less ideologues who have been taught to repeat talking points in exchange for the reward of acceptance into the Group, in the form of good grades and entry into graduate school, where they can avoid the real world for a few more years.
I was a liberal arts student once. With the help of the media, college taught me the following: America was built on the backs of slaves. America exists because of the lawless genocide of American Indians, who were the original peace-loving environmentalists. America is and has always been on a bloodthirsty quest for empire. America is responsible for more death and destruction all over the world than any terrorist group. America deserved 9/11.
When I wrote columns in my college paper expressing these beliefs, I was lauded. I received fan mail — fan mail — from professors in response to my column about how the United Nations was the key to achieving Middle Eastern peace and that unilateral action on behalf of the U.S. against Iraq should be condemned as criminal by the World Court. I also received praise and adulation from professors for a humor magazine of which I was editor, which described the sitting President of the United States as mentally challenged and compared Guantanamo Bay to the gulag.
No one — besides one lone conservative columnist who occasionally provided a counterpoint, and who was more or less shunned, or at least ignored — ever suggested I might be wrong. No one.
The other night on his TV show Sean Hannity quoted a New York Magazine poll in which 34 out of a random group of 100 OWS protesters said the U.S. was worse than Al Qaeda. Hannity wondered aloud whether this is a movement that hates America. I do not wonder. I know. When I was a liberal, I hated America. I would not have admitted it aloud to just anyone, but I hated America.
You cannot love America while despising the very principles on which it was founded. You cannot love America and disregard the Constitution in favor of some vague concept of “social justice.” And that is what the OWSers are after: the magical, imaginary equalizing effect that will come from our government if we just give them enough power and enough money.
It is worth quoting Mamet at some length on the issue of social justice:
“A system of Justice already exists, formulated by Legislature, in supposed expression of the will of the people, and administered by the Judiciary. This is called the Judicial System. What then, is this additional, amorphous ‘social justice’? It can only mean, as Hayek wrote, ‘State Justice.’ Here, though the Left will not follow the reasoning out to its end, the State (operating upon what basis it alone knows, and responsible to no law enacted by the people) confiscates wealth accumulated under existing laws and redistributes it to those it deems worthy… What is ‘social justice’? It is not merely an oxymoron. It is, inherently, the notion that there is a supergovernmental, superlegal responsibility upon the right-thinking to implement their vision… It means actions by the State in the name of Justice, which is to say under complete protection and immunity from review. Its end is dictatorship.” (Emphasis in original.)
The OWS protesters are ignorant of history, ignorant of economics, ignorant of the fact that the “equality” and “compassion” they espouse has historically led to quite literal destruction, starvation, and death. You cannot manufacture equality without tyranny.
Paying close attention to the Occupy protests these past few weeks has led me to believe that the majority of these people — and I use the word very loosely — are young, white, and at least semi-affluent, or born of semi-affluent parents. They seem terribly angry, but about nothing in particular, or everything in general, or something very odd, such as the fact that other people are unfairly making money while they, the protesters, are not. Meanwhile, the valuable service they seem to be offering up involves public yoga, public sex, public defecation, public sleeping, and public holding-up-signs-and-looking-for-news-cameras.
Although his book was published earlier this year, Mamet seems to have predicted this rabble. He wrote of the liberal youth, “The world in which they live, in contradistinction to the America which created the wealth to allow their leisure, does not understand the concept of work. It is not that we are becoming, but that we have become two cultures occupying the same space.” He then adds, ominously, “History provides no counter-example. A country which will not work will fall.”
If these protesters wanted to work and earn money, they might very well have jobs. They might be entry-level jobs, as unfortunately the real-world value of an MA in Gender Studies is not what universities advertise. If they want their share of the economy, they must earn it. But they are not working, or looking for work. They are having what amounts to a big street party in lower Manhattan, replete with co-ed sleeping arrangements, pot, DJs, and even celebrity guests. Protesters have been photographed defecating on police cars, having sex, doing drugs, threatening violence, decrying “the Jews,” and hypocritically displaying their not-so-secret penchant for the products of capitalism, from iPhone 4S to shining iPhone 4S.
This is not a protest. It is a warning. If the history of Socialism and Communism has taught us anything, it’s that this is the way the world ends: not with a bang but a hand-out.