This morning I overheard a couple of twenty-somethings discussing the Occupy Wall Street protests in a D.C. coffee shop. One of them seemed totally “stoked” about the whole thing, and wanted to know what is was all about. His companion explained, as follows:
Basically they’re protesting… well… uh… capitalism… basically. It’s to protest capitalism. The movement itself is more focused on what the… uh… systemic problem is, which they see as capitalism, and everything that emanates from that — income inequality, greed, corruption, lobbying. They basically want to get rid of capitalism and replace it with a socialist government, which I support.
Sure. Because we all know how splendidly greed- and corruption-free socialist government is, and how “the 99 percent” of Americans are just clamoring for it. Certainly, this one fellow doesn’t speak for “the movement,” but being familiar with how a (frighteningly) large portion of my generation thinks — and in many cases, has been taught to think — this seems like a fairly accurate distillation of the protesters’ collective mindset: vague, incoherent, idiotic. I might have told him that if he really wanted to “protest capitalism,” he could start by ditching his $2,000 MacBook Pro, which is produced by one of the largest corporations on the planet — Apple (AAPL) — currently trading at more than $370 a share, on Wall Street.