The Right Word
By Kelly Sloan
It would be a mistake, really, to think that the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that has popped up in cities across the U.S., Canada, and Europe the past few weeks, is some sort of fresh, new, original phenomena.
It is, in fact, merely the most recent manifestation of a predominantly anti-western sentiment that was birthed in the 1960’s, and has periodically flared up, continually in search of a catalyst, since that time. Some of its more notable revivals were observed in the anti-nuclear protests of the 1980’s, the anti-globalization riots in Seattle, Quebec City and elsewhere during the 1990’s and beyond, the hysterical anti-Bush protests throughout the 2000's, and, more recently, the social upheavals in London and Greece.
That it is difficult to discern just what, exactly, the occupiers would like to see come about as a result of their shenanigans is by now something of a cliché. Media interviews, a scanning of the occupiers visual aids, and random conversations with the denizens of the ‘occupied’ areas reveal a deluge of real, perceived, and imagined social ills (elucidated with varying degrees of eloquence, but generally boiling down to some form of “he’s got an IPAD, and I ain’t got one”) brought about by the inequities built in to the current system, etc., etc., etc. When pressed for a solution, the typical response seems to range from confused bewilderment, through murky, non-committal circumlocutions (again delivered with divergent levels of skill), to unguarded calls for socialist revolution.
It is the negative definition of the movement – they are not so much “for” anything as “against” what currently exists – that serves as the unifying factor; and what they are against is nothing less than the West, and the civilization that it has wrought over the past thousand-plus years, especially as symbolized by America. The same contempt and disdain for the structures and institutions of the West – capitalism, Christianity, the rule of law, individualism, natural orders and traditions, etc. – that is evident among the throngs in New York, Denver, Oakland and elsewhere, was being spewed long before the OWS crowd commenced their current temper tantrum, and is what brings them into communion with the radical leftists of Europe and of previous years. How many of the erstwhile London rioters, for instance, do you suppose are currently “occupying” St. Paul’s Cathedral?
There are a couple ironies in all of this; the first is that this movement towards deracination of Western culture is in part a product of the West’s own success. The spoiled-brat class that populates the bulk of the OWS crowds, the London rioters, and the Greek mobs, is composed mainly of a generation that has become accustomed to being taken care of.
In Europe especially, where 50-plus years of experimentation with Social Democracy is now beginning to crumble under its own weight, the realization that the bill is now well past due is a frightening shock to a 20-something kid who thought that the state would provide for him. Ill-equipped to deal with reality after a lifetime of socialization, the only option he sees available to him is not to take responsibility for his own life, but to strike out at “the system”, a target conveniently presented to him by a local leftist organizer.
Rather than focus their rage on the source of their economic woes – an expansionist government that granted itself plenipotentiary power to organize society independent of natural and economic laws – they look for an easy scapegoat; the banking system, the rich, the church, the police, and so forth.
A second irony is that while there are serious economic problems plaguing both Europe and America, most, if not all, of these problems – many of which the occupiers themselves ostensibly carry on about – can only be solved by the very system that the protesters rail against; and would in fact be intensified under the system that some of them are coherent, or careless, enough to define as a replacement.
The final irony is that while clamoring for more freebies from government, the protesters also strain against the checks necessary in a free society. They want a society where a central authority exists to manage, distribute, and equalize, but not to bridle the more basal human instincts and appetites; restraints which provide order and structure in society, and which are the foundation upon which a free people build.
The OWS movement is zygotic with the war on western culture, which is why it should be unsettling to those who recognize the beauty and achievements, alongside the scars, of our civilization.