Tuesday, October 11, 2011

American Spring

It's a wonderful, terrible thing to watch the Occupy Wall Street protests. The belated but increasing corporate media coverage, as well as the prospects for the protests themselves, present some possible dilemmas.

First, the media. One could go back a couple years, and compare and contrast coverage of the teabaggers versus that of the OWSers. While some media observers surely did point out the incoherence and logical inconsistencies of the 'baggers and their proclaimed goals, just as many covered them almost reverently, as if they took the be-Rascalled tri-corner hats as a new wave of founding fathers, righteously battling an oppressive, indeed despotic, regime. Vituperative cranks hollering at hapless aldermen at local town hall meetings, and protest signs announcing that the bearers were unarmed "this time", were simply manifestations of this new breed of self-actualizing, totally-not-astroturfed codger.

The Occupiers, otoh, were portrayed (at least initially, and even still in many instances) as having no goals or leaders or stated political outcomes as such. And that's true, as far as it goes, but there's an actual reason for that, one which the media fails to comprehend so far.

The simplest way to put it is the old Upton Sinclair chestnut that it is impossible for someone to understand something when their paycheck depends on their not understanding it. But it is also ingrained, institutionalized in the corporate media DNA, to "properly" limn the narrative of a political story by long-established principles and benchmarks -- appointed spokespersons, bullet-point goals and negotiating tactics, etc.

It does not occur to your average corporate media bear that the OWS folks have quite clearly stated what they are pissed about -- a system that is rigged against the majority, that insists on practical impossibilities: that you can't get a decent job without going into hock for a degree, preferably a graduate degree; that the best time to look for a job is when you already have one, because apparently prospective employers smell rotting meat when an unemployed job-seeker walks in for an interview; that cutting taxes for corporations and financial insitutions is an imperative for job creation and growth, even though taxes have been at historic lows for a decade, and job creation has run at a net negative, while corporations outsource jobs and offshore revenues.

And that's not even touching on the too-big-too-fail banks sitting on reserves, refusing to lend or help jumpstart a moribund economy, continuing with the crooked derivatives that got them into trouble in the first place, pushing people out of their homes with retroactively falsified MERS and bullshit tranched promissory notes that no longer have identifiable holders because they've been sliced and diced and resold so often, etc.

It's a goddamn racket, folks, from A to Z. They don't even bother trying to conceal it anymore, one of the ancillary benefits of owning the political system outright, both the center-right and the far-right wings of the Corporate Party. That is what the OWSers are protesting, their complete economic and political disenfranchisement from a hollowed-out system. And they -- and by they, I mean the media and their owners -- know full fucking well what these people are fed up about, why they're risking being truncheoned and pepper-sprayed in their "free speech" cordons by chickenshit cops.

No doubt Lloyd and Jamie and the rest of the banksters are hoping for an early, frigid winter, the better to shut the rabble down forthwith, lest any substantial portion of the populace actually start believing this populist guff and daring to stand on their hind legs and be men. That simply would not stand, especially since the proles do have plenty of weaponry.

Wall Street is never willingly going to give in or even haggle with people -- literally everyone who is not on Wall Street -- they hold in such deep, unabiding contempt. Make no mistake, America -- Wall Street fucking hates you, considers you nothing more than sheep to be repeatedly fleeced, financial Soylent Green.

But it should be admitted and observed that, since in the conventional sense OWS does not have achievable, realistic outcomes to aim for -- the banksters are not going to voluntarily renegotiate their bloodsucking; unless OWS gets some measure of big, committed donors for candidates, they are not going to make a dent in what passes for a political system.

Certainly this doesn't mean their efforts aren't valid, worthy, even necessary -- they absolutely are, first as catharsis, then as curative, if possible. But "success", however one defines it for OWS, would seem to be automatically fraught with at least two noteworthy dangers: the inevitable attempt by someone from within the corrupt political system to co-opt them, or a (not necessarily inevitable, but not at all unlikely either) violently catalyzing event, a cop going full thug on a defenseless coed and provoking a riot, a lone nut in the crowd going after a bankster in person, that sort of black-swan game-changer that you just can't predict but resets the entire perception of the situation.

But those things are all different from a positive outcome, obviously a subjective, difficult-to-define thing to begin with. One dynamic is impossible to walk back from, though -- the spectacle of working-class people being told by millionaires that other working class people are the enemy, and worse yet, actually believing it, instead of their own lyin' eyes. I know Jay Gould wasn't bullshitting when he said he'd pay half the working class to kill the other half, but I still balk at the prospect of the first half actually falling for such a transparent ruse.

If the teabaggers actually believe their own stated precepts, and aren't simply a group of angry cranks that simply can't stand any government spending that doesn't benefit themselves, then they do have common cause with the OWS crowd. And for their own sake, they may want to find that common ground sooner rather than later, since the Koch brothers will sell their dumb asses down the river first chance.

Maybe the biggest takeaway of all is the quintessentially American notion of loudly supporting rebels and protesters in other countries, but denouncing the selfsame breed here as morons at best, traitors at worst.

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