Duck! and Gather

Occupy Us and the Sixties

Posted on: October 1, 2011

There’s something happening here; What it is ain’t exatly clear; There’s a man with a gun over there; Telling me I got to beware

Although those lyrics were written in 1966, they almost perfectly describe the first two weeks of Occupy Wall Street.

I’m 48 years old. I was 4 years old, growing up in a small Canadian town, during the Summer of Love. Technically speaking, I’m a Gen X, not a Boomer.

But man, I love the Sixties. I love the psychedelic music. I love the passion of the children of that day. I love Angela Davis’ fro. I love The Graduate.

And most of all, I love the anti-corporate meme running through those children.

Of course, those “anti-corporate” children grew up to become the very same asshole middle-aged Boomers who put Mr. Bush into office not once but twice. A paradigm example of a classic “turncoat” Sixties progressive who, years later, became a political reactionary is Michael Weiner, a.k.a Michael Savage.

On the surface, there is so much in common with the children of Zuccotti Park, and the flower-children of the Sixties. Check out this meditation flash mob from a couple of days ago:

Straight out of 1969.

But while style and message are similar between these children and those of the Sixties, there is a crucial difference. History says that the anti-corporatism of the Sixties was just a passing phase among the children of the day. It was a style to wear, not so much a cross to bear.

The children of Zuccotti Park are altogether different. Their anti-corporatism is no luxury. They are in that place not just on an adventure, but for first level Maslow hierarchy reasons of survival. They are in Zuccotti Park because there is nowhere else left for them to turn:

These youth have their backs to the wall in a way the youth of the Sixties never did.

The youth of the Sixties raised the anti-corporate flag, but then dropped it altogether by the time of Reagan. The flag had been lying on the ground for the past 30 years. Trod and spat upon — not only by the 1%, but by most of us.

These children in Zuccotti Park, and their fellow travelers in other cities, have picked up the flag.

One of the links above is to a Youtube clip of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock” (performed by CSN in 1971). The climax of the song goes:

By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong, and everywhere there was song and celebration. And I dreamed I saw the bombers, riding shotgun in the sky, turning into butterflies above our nation.

Allow me to paraphrase and update for 2011:

By the time the children got to Zuccotti Park, and they were followed by the unions, and the working people, and even the Tea Party, I hope they’ll be half a million strong. And if that happens, I know there will song and celebration. And if Mayor Bloomberg calls on the National Guard to “keep the peace”, I hope that their modern urban weaponry will turn into butterflies above our nation.

The children of Zuccotti Park are picking up the anti-corporate flag. And this time they’re going to plant it on the corner of Broad and Wall. Politely, to be sure.

But for keeps this time.

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16 Responses to "Occupy Us and the Sixties"

As always, your writings are interesting.

Maybe it’s because I live in Canada, or maybe it’s because I don’t quite understand America, but I don’t see what you’re seeing in Occupy Us.

They aren’t 99%. Maybe that’s just a hyperbole for their platform. They are a small group of people who are standing up for economic and political change for a much, much smaller percentage of the population than they profess to stand up for.

Most people in America are middle class, have a home, a job and enjoy the freedoms and luxuries that Corporate America offers.

It’s sad to say, but if some of these kids went into the military, they wouldn’t have a job problem. The US always seems to have it’s arms open for that type of thing. But obviously, that’s not the philosophy of these kids, and so instead, they choose to park their butts on Wall Street.

It’s interesting that the video below moved you to tears. And I know that’s rare for you. I couldn’t figure it out. I guessed that it might have something to do with your concern about your child’s future in America, and where there is slim hope in a country reeling with crises, you now have hope that a more peaceful solution is possible.

But I don’t know.

Personally, when I saw the video, I felt sorry for the cops. What a frickin waste of man power. Instead of using their valuable time and energy to address day-to-day activities of violence and emergencies, they have to babysit a bunch of 21st century hippies who talk of “change” and “revolution”.

I don’t know what the answer is for these kids, or for America for that matter, but like the hippie movement of the 60’s, I doubt their actions will amount to much. Hopefully they can give us music that’s as good, minus the bell bottoms. Wouldn’t it be wonderful though, if at the very least, they could influence a better (socialized) health care system for America?

It won’t happen though. The reason their actions will not amount to much, is because of the large military complex in the US, as well as the fat cats at the top of the food chain that control the press.

Any historical major revolution that changed the world in a big way, always involved violence.

But perhaps this situation is more like the peaceful revolution/non-violent resistance of the fall of the Berlin wall.

It will be interesting what effect these young people will have on the course of America’s history. Time will tell.

I think the actions of these kids will amount to the same type of efficacy for change that Mr. Obama has accomplished. Unfortunately they were both left with a huge mess by people before them. And that mess is too deep.

Excellent insight KG. Re “Most people in America are middle class, have a home, a job and enjoy the freedoms and luxuries that Corporate America offers”, let me offer you a story.

The business colleague I mentioned in one of these “Occupy Us” posts who wants, as I do, to sleep in solidarity with the kids in Zuccotti Park, works for a big company and earns an income that puts him close to the so-called 1%. What’s his beef?

He’s been trying to refinance his mortgage for the past year. BofA has treated him and his family like criminals and grifters. His wife is apoplectic. They call BofA “Skank of America”. Their question is: “If you, BofA, are treating us this way, how are you treating everybody else?”

These kids in Zuccotti Park are just the public tip of a very, very large iceberg. I mention the Tea Party in this post because they are the natural allies of these kids. The Tea Party was the first “grassroots” or at least “astroturf” organization that got out in the street and raged about the banks.

Yeah, sure, a good many of the Tea Party seem to be not-so-closeted racists. But that’s neither here nor there for this particular battle.

And yeah, this Occupy Us movement may fade and go nowhere. But like the predictions I issued in 2003-04, I see a grain of truth here, and I’m blogging it into an elephant.

That right there is one definition of “blogging”.

I hope your predictions are correct. Peaceful change is always the way to go where possible.

I guess the one thing that makes me think that this may be a possibility, is that if Tea Party types (typically right thinking America), unify with the Zuccotti park types (? liberal/left thinking America), and find common ground, there is power in that. Perhaps that is oversimplifying it though.

Surprising about your 1%-er friend. However, I think the pendulum has completely swung for America regarding bank lending because of the present economical climate. At one time, mortgages were given out like candy at parades, and now, it appears that for anyone, even the 1%-ers, it’s like getting (stealing) money from Fort Knox.

The reason I’m not hopeful, is that these fat cats are given money by the government and by Warren Buffet. Does the lending administration then change? Do these fat cats live a little leaner? I doubt it. All that is done, is that purse strings are tightened into a knot, so that people like your friend feel the effects of this poor-excuse of an economic fake solution.

But I have no expertise in politics or economics. It’s just how I see it from the outside looking in.

And then there’s the issue of the American press . . .

it’s telling that the camp is on wall street instead of washington this time:

Very interesting video. Thanks Tom.

OMG. OMG. OMG.

So my husband calls me up today and says: “KG, take a look at this: http://occupywallst.org/forum/proposed-list-of-demands-for-occupy-wall-st-moveme/

What a bunch of spoiled brats sitting on their butts, and doing what again? oh yeah, trying to change the world, or the country, or which is it now? trying to make changes while sitting on their butts.

I tried to look at it from a more compassionate point of view like the following: If you’re going to court, your lawyer is going to ask for much more than you are expecting to get, so at the outset, it’s reasonable to make a long list of demands.

Nah, no room for compassion here.

Demands should at least be reasonable. While many demands on the list of these youngsters make sense: healthcare, alternative energy and reforestration, many of these demands illustrate the immaturity of youth.

Minimum wage at $20/h sounds reasonable. But people who are unemployed and on welfare get the same? So a guy working his butt off, flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s for long hours in order to support his family, should get the same wage as a person who wants to park his butt on Wall Street and hold up placards? Oh yeah, that’s fair.

And another demand is to outlaw credit reporting agencies? This can only be spoken by the minds of the very immature, who have an idealized world view, that it is possible for everyone to be accountable, and for everyone to be responsible for himself and for others. These youngsters only need to look at the overflowing prisons in the US to have their ridiculous “demand” blown up in their face. (Granted, poverty may be one factor for some who have found their home in prison, so which is the chicken and which is the egg? However, by no means does poverty factor into all criminal activity).

Demand #11 was interesting (forgiveness for all debt). So my husband said to me: “KG, so if Demand #11 was ever implemented across the globe, after all we have sacrificed to cut our personal and business debt load down, after all the penny pinching and careful money management we have done over the years to try and not contribute to the national financial problem, – in the end, how would you feel and what would you think if this change were to be implemented?”

I told him, I’d laugh. I’d think it was very funny, because had I had a crystal ball to have determined that kind of outcome, I’d have been living high on the hog, maxing out all my credit cards, and taking out as many bank loans as I could.

This is the most ridiculous demand of all. Not because of it’s logistic impossibility, but because of the incredible fairytale belief that it suggests: No one needs to be accountable for any of their actions in the past, and if we just wipe the slate clean, everyone will automatically start being accountable.

And you know what the irony is? I’d hazard a guess to say that most of those kids parking their butts have cells phones. Cells phones are expensive for the monthly charges they accrue.

I don’t even own one. They’re too fucking expensive.

Kids, get a life. Get off your butt. Try and get into the system that has the power to change laws. Try and motivate big corporations to get involved into reforestration, alternative energy, etc.

But for crying out loud, quit your whining.

IMO (and it’s not humble)

And just to add, if I ever decided to park my butt on Wall Street (NOT), I’d add one more demand to the list:

From the time children enter kindergarten, they are taught the following: money management, ecology, caring for one another, work ethic, cooperation, playing fair.

ETA: the biggest problem I see with today’s youth can be summoned up in one word: entitlement.

I have absolutely no clue as to what this world, this nation, or my nation will look like in 20 years.

KG — I agree with your most of your rant about the spoiled youth. Key word in that page is “Proposed”. This is just one kid’s idea. Not idea approved by the General Assembly. All I could find that they had agreed to is a list of complaints: http://nycga.cc/2011/09/30/declaration-of-the-occupation-of-new-york-city/

Thanks for referring me to this site. This makes sense, and creating a peaceful assembly to complain about injustices as written in this document, makes sense.

It’s too bad that the “Occupy Us” site is associated with this peaceful assembly, as it takes away from the spirit in which this assembly was created in the first place. This time, IMHO.

Odd that KG sees the “biggest problem with today’s youth” as “entitlement”, yet sees no problem with socialized medicine, a very large and expensive entitlement program.

KG is older and Canadian. I’m older and grew up in Canada — with “socialized medicine”. I’ve got no problem with that, just like I have no problem with “socialized roads”, “socialized schools”, “socialized police”, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. IMHO, Americans are in deep denial about “socialism”.

As for youth sense of entitlement, maybe there’s some of that. But IMHO, that doesn’t even come close to the biggest problem with youth of America today. That biggest problem is what the OWS movement is about: a rigged system that gives the kids no viable future.

Corporations control the US government in a way that I doubt Canadian parliament is controlled by corporations.

There are proper roles for government to fill, and there are roles which are NOT proper (but government does them anyway). Governments exist to protect the rights of citizens, not to transfer wealth from some citizens to other citizens. Rights do not impose a POSITIVE OBLIGATION on others, merely a negative obligation to leave me alone. Your alleged “right” to education/health care/roads stops at the point at which you have to take from me (by force) to provide it.

Your premise that “corporations are eeeevil” misses the point – the corporations are merely doing what they allowed to do via the powers of the government. If the government was unable to influence the marketplace and confer favors to the evil corporations, the evil corporations would have no power to “rig the system”. You seem to be tilting at the wrong windmill.

And I find it incredibly naive that you consider the Canadian government to be somehow more “pure” than that of the US. Corporations use the power of the Canadian government for their ends just as corporations use US governmental power. It is merely better camouflaged (or more easily ignored) in a country 1/10th the size (economically) of the US.

Thanks utabintarbo. Um, I don’t think I said people have a right to “education/health care/roads”. In fact, I don’t believe that. I simply think that government of a civil society providing them is good public policy. Sound public policy is a far cry from fundamental human rights.

I agree with you that the latter are of the form: “leave me alone”.

As for the “evil” of Corporations vs. Government, I’d say the distinction is a semantic one. That is, the two are indistinguishable. Does Government choose to serve Corporations? Yup. Bad Government. Do Corporations control Government? Yup. Bad Corporations.

That I highlight Corporations over the Government probably identifies me as part of the political far left. Far right focuses on Government.

I’ve long predicted that far left and far right in America will join.

Example? Who was railing about the criminal banks and crony politics that serve the banks before OWS? It was the Tea Party.

Semantic difference between the two. OWS complains that banks control government. Tea Party complains that government serves the banks.

What material difference does it make?

Finally, re Canada, or Europe for that matter, I’m guessing from your comment that you haven’t paid rent/mortgage or income tax in either place. I have.

I’ll give you one little European example: GMO foods. They’re banned in Europe. But not in the U.S.

Why? Because the GMO Corps own the US Government, but not governments in Europe.

Hi utabintarbo. Actually that isn’t quite accurate. It’s not that I see “no problem with socialized medicine”, it’s just that in an imperfect world, it’s the best option out there.

I am a naturopathic physician. For the majority of patients that I see, it is an out of pocket expense to see me (much like the private healthcare system in America).

And you are right. In Canada, many, both young and old feel a sense of entitlement regarding healthcare and medicine because this type of socialism has been in place for many decades now.

However, many others are learning and understanding self-responsibility where there is not an attitude of entitlement, but one of gratitude.

At the end of the day, if the shit hits the fan with the health of a loved one, regardless of financial status, the system in Canada is set up so that the “whole country pitches in to help”. I’m proud to be part of a country with this type of ideology, and at the same time, I am a practitioner that is involved in the practice of private healthcare, completely unrelated to government taxation of the people.

This is not incongruent, it’s just broad-minded IMO.

Both of you have seem to have an inability to remember the “Forgotten Man” – those who are forced to pay for your “good public policy”, and those who “pitch in to help” at the business end of a gun. You see, that is the common thread to all these issues – the use of force to attain alleged “social goods”, regardless of the rights of those being forced to pay.

The proper role of government is to protect the rights of men, not to serve as the enforcer of policies which infringe on those rights. I find it difficult to see such a system as “the best option out there” or even good public policy.

Remember, corporations cannot actually force citizens to do anything without government “help”. Therefore the “root cause” is the government’s misuse of its ability to use force. That some corporations avail themselves of this tool is not surprising – not all are ethically motivated. That the government has the ability to make such a tool available is unconscionable.

As to your example re: GMO foods… This is an example of the Post Hoc fallacy. Just because the FDA has not seen fit to ban GMO foods proves nothing about the relationship between the FDA and companies that produce GMO foods. After all, a plausible case can be made that GMO food is beneficial.

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for the money has gone too far

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