OWS: The complicated movement

I’ve struggled with the modus operandi of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement for the last month, or however long they’ve occupied news headlines. I’ve struggled to find a reasonable explanation for what their problems are, and why they’ve chosen to take to the streets. I think I’ve finally come up with what is a reasonable assessment, and it comes from a most unlikely source.

The general belief is that the OWS movement is against the current state of our country where the rich get richer, and the poor getting poorer. The decision to take to the streets, and wreak havoc, seems a noble effort on this front, if you think The French Revolution was a noble effort of rational minds seeking solutions. Yet, it seems impossible to me that all of these people are simply upset that they haven’t accumulated wealth to this point in their lives as Thomas Sowell had charged. Perhaps the leaders, and the most vocal of the group, think this way, but all of them?

A Slate.com piece seeks to explain a portion of the movement to us: “By refusing to take a ragtag, complicated, and leaderless movement seriously, the mainstream media has succeeded only in ensuring its own irrelevance. The rest of America has little trouble understanding that these are ragtag, complicated, and leaderless times.”

Note the word “complicated” in this explanation. Any time a liberal has a difficult time explaining their motivations, they always resort to the “complicated” explanation. In other words, if you seek to explain a movement such as this in simplistic terms, perhaps you weren’t meant to understand.

The author of the piece goes onto explain that Fox News doesn’t understand the OWS movement: “OWS may not have laid out all of its demands in a perfectly cogent one-sentence bumper sticker for you, Mr. Pundit, but it knows precisely what it doesn’t want. It doesn’t want you.”

In other words, “It’s complicated.”

This reminds me of those liberal friends of mine who stand for nothing, but they stand against everything. When you take these people down the aisle of the issues of the day, and you ask them what they are for and what they are against, you get the answer: “It’s complicated”. This is very frustrating to people like me who appreciate a stand on the issue, regardless if I agree with it or not. “Why do you have to understand?” my friends ask. “Why does everything have to fit in your nice, neat box of comprehension where everything is neatly labeled and categorized and put on an ideological shelf?” The Slate.com author concurs with this answer when she addresses the topic of corporate television’s frustration and their inability to understand: “Hallelujah. You can’t talk down to a movement that won’t talk back to you.” This is true, but you can’t really support the movement either. Not true, say supporters, the poll numbers are very high in support of OWS. If that’s true—and recent polls suggest that it is not with all of the recent violence, and mayhem, and violent acts against policemen conducted by some members of the OWS movement—then what are they for? Those of us who need to have everything have to fit in a nice, neat box of comprehension need to understand why we should be for or against your movement. Remember: It’s your job to garner support, if you hope to accomplish anything with your movement.

Are you one of those who believe solutions lie in chaos? Do you believe that a revolution in the way things are done in Washington can occur as a result from a movement without a message? If you are, then you are in the minority, because the rest of us do not know what you’re talking about. Some of us have seen your movement as an opportunity through which some can indulge in crime, free sex, and public indecency without fear of incarceration. It’s your job, as a supporter, leader, or vocal spokesperson to correct this notion.

“OWS is not a movement without a message. It’s a movement that has wisely shunned the one-note, pre-chewed, simple-minded messaging required for cable television as it now exists. It’s a movement that feels no need to explain anything to the powers that be, although it is deftly changing the way we explain ourselves to one another.”

This reminds me of the college professors who downgraded my thesis papers because my solutions were: “Too simplistic.” When I would ask my college professors what the answers were (or how I got it wrong) they would either avoid my question, or they would speak for the next five minutes using words that they didn’t think I understood. In other words, they would say, “It’s complicated.”

The author of the Slate.com piece then goes onto slam the media for their idiotic coverage of the Kardashians, the Palins, et al, and she sums up the wants and desires of the OWS movement thusly:

“They want accountability for the banks that took their money. They want to end corporate control of government. They want their jobs back. They would like to feed their children. They want—wait, no, we want—to be heard by a media that has devoted four mind-numbing years to channeling and interpreting every word uttered by a member of the Palin family while ignoring the voices of everyone else.”

She’s right. The Palins and the Kardashians do receive far too much coverage, but it’s because we can all grasp what they are about. We all have our characterizations of these people, and we all have a side that we have taken in their daily dramas.

“You just want an answer that you can try to defeat,” says a liberal friend of mine. True. Very true. I suspect that other observers watching the OWS movement want an answer they can support. “It’s complicated” doesn’t mean anything to us, except that you want to seem complicated and wiser than those of us seeking real answers.

At a certain point in my search I wasn’t seeing anything that I deemed an objective view of OWS. The mainstream media were proclaiming these people to be righteous warriors, and their descriptions became hard to hear through all of the salivation. The media of the right were broad brushing them as dirty, slovenly people that have a far-left agenda. I wasn’t buying that either. Not all of them think this way, I reasoned, there have to be some legitimate beefs among these people.

The answer, as I say, comes from a most unlikely source: Eric Cartman. Eric Cartman, star of the show South Park, says: “In today’s day and age you can’t blame a black person for anything.” I was a little embarrassed that I didn’t recognize it sooner. These people all voted for the hopes and dreams of presidential candidate Barack Obama, and he has not only failed to deliver he’s made things worse. The OWS movement can’t blame him though. He’s black, he’s liberal, and this could’ve all been worse if it wasn’t for him. He’s their savior. How can you blame him for anything anyway? He inherited all of this mess, and the fact that he made the mess worse is only said by Nazi, fascist types that no one takes seriously anymore. Can you blame Republicans? Of course you can, you’ve probably done this for generations, or you’ve had college professors do this in endless lectures, but every time you run into one of those rascally demons of the right they keep bringing up the stubborn fact that Democrats had two years of overwhelming majorities prior to 2010 to pass any and all legislation they could. Can you tell them to shut up, of course, but that doesn’t settle well in the mind after a time.

The next possible solution is to quote Paddy Chayefsky’s line from the movie “Network” and scream out the window, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” If you believe in Arthur Janov’s Primal Therapy techniques, this screaming may soothe your soul a little, but it does nothing to ease the frustration that everything you’ve learned in college, everything the media has told you, and everything you hear over macchiatos at Starbuck’s has turned out to be false: the federal government cannot solve your problems.

As author Kurt Vonnegut noted we usually laugh or cry as a result of peaked confusion. We also scream, and some of us take to the streets to set fire to stuff.

Recent years have shown that federal government officials cannot wave a magic wand, or push a “Yea” button, and make everything all right. This modus operandi has led to surprising and frustrating results such as: financial disasters, home mortgage disasters that we could not comprehend ten years ago, and previously unimaginable deficits. It takes a village to solve these problems. It takes evil, corporate greedy villains (one-percenters in other words), it takes mom and pop stores, entrepeneurs, problem solvers, and it takes legislators pushing back from the table before gorging on so much of our freedoms that we don’t have a self-governing country anymore. In other words, it’s complicated.





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