I’ve been spending as much time as I can down at Occupy Wall Street, listening to the speeches, reading the literature, talking to the organizers. Here’s something to keep in mind: You’ll hear in a lot of the conservative media that this is some kind of socialist/communist enterprise piggybacking on a populist protest. In reality, it is much worse than even most of the conservative media is reporting.
Almost every organization present at OWS is explicitly communist or socialist. Almost every piece of literature being handed out is explicitly communist or socialist. I don’t mean half, and I don’t mean the overwhelming majority — I mean almost all of it. Yes, there are the usual union goons trying to figure out how to get OWS to do the bidding of the AFL-CIO and the Democratic party, and the usual smattering of New Age goo (the “Free Empathy” table) and po-mo Left wackiness (animal-rights nuts), the inevitable Let’s-Eradicate-Israel crowd (“Free Palestine, from the river to the sea!”). But, that being said, almost every organized enterprise and piece of printed material I have encountered has been socialist or communist. It’s been a long time since I saw anybody peddling books by Lenin. It’s been a long time since anybody told me the Ukrainians had it coming.
When the protesters were rallying to march to Times Square, out went the call: “Follow the red flag!” Which is what they did, literally and, I fear, figuratively.
Interesting, then, that Barack Obama has decided to lend some presidential legitimacy to the proceedings. OWS isn’t a socialist revolution — I’d be surprised if it ever escalated past the vandalism stage — but it imagines itself to be, and Barack Obama suggests that he is in sympathy with it. This reminds me of something . . . a particular image . . .
Speaking of vandalism, I witnessed a bit of it on Saturday, when a protester denied the use of the facilities at a local pizza shop began tearing up merchandise and throwing it in the garbage. The owner caught the vandal outside and put him in a bear-hug, yelling for somebody to call the police. The police eventually showed up and, of course, did something close to nothing. A few union goons loitering outside the pizza shop began to taunt the owner: “You feel better now? You got that out of your system?” The shop owner was an immigrant, who probably came to this country under the mistaken notion that the police would be here to protect his property and that random acts of destruction would be at least frowned upon by his fellow citizens.
“Follow the red flag!” Yes, indeed.