Radicals for the System:
The Phony Left & Phony Right Shadowbox at Occupy Wall Street
Portuguese translation here
For it’s the End of History
It’s caged and frozen still
There is no other pill to take
So swallow the one that made you ill.
— Rage Against the Machine, “Sleep Now in the Fire”
The great strength of the Left is that it constitutes both the system and the only permissible alternative. This country, and the West, is governed by the power of international finance and the unholy conglomerate of big business and big government controlled by those hostile to us. Together they undermine national sovereignty, fund the destruction of traditional values, bankroll the hard Left, hollow out the conservative movement into a pointless defense of corruption and privilege, and push open borders and the dispossession of our people. They are the enemy of any real conservatism and the small business owners and workers that make up any real right wing movement. Yet incredibly, once again, we find ourselves in a situation where the Left has co-opted the call for change, even in a society where they hold all the levers of power. Also, on cue, the American Right (such as it is) is rallying to defend the status quo, to argue in defense of the kleptocrats that are destroying them.
We’ve been here before. During the Vietnam War, a group of construction workers (back when Americans used to be able to obtain such jobs) fought with a large group of anti-Vietnam War protesters on Wall Street. The workers were wearing hard hats, and the construction helmet became a symbol of the New Right coalition that elected President Nixon, and later Reagan. One of the signs among the workers said, “God bless the establishment,” communicating an entirely justified fury at privileged protesters who scorned their own country and spat on the values that made the nation great. Of course, the “establishment” was hardly conservative. Richard Nixon was far from the far right mad genius we see in popular culture. He pushed through affirmative action, Section 8 housing, wage and price controls, the removal of the gold standard, and more lawsuits and regulation from the civil rights bureaucracy in the executive department. Not only did he not oppose the far reaching agenda of cultural transformation from the extreme Left, he actually worked to solidify it. However, because the “radicals” hated him, the silent majority rallied to him. Even as radicals complained from their tenured positions in the universities about the country’s swing to the Right, the left wing radicals became the establishment and created the kind of society we have today. Ultimately, the responsibility for this has to be laid at the feet of the American Right.
The same kind of thing is happening today. Republicans are reacting with sneering contempt, calling them a bunch of scruffy mobs. It’s an understandable reaction. Protests are Fourth Generation Warfare in miniature, in that there is absolutely nothing police can do to avoid looking like fascists. Therefore, all contemporary protests are an exercise in media driven slave morality. At every protest, we see supposed militants try to instigate a confrontation, succeed, and then wail and flop around like the Italian soccer team trying for a red card. Of course, this only works if you have a sympathetic media that has a narrative of idealism from the Left firmly established. A bunch of old people holding signs and calling for tax cuts was treated like the march of the Sturmabteilungen, whereas calls for overthrowing the government are treated as simple idealism. No wonder many conservatives want to send in the dragoons with swords drawn to clear this shaggy mob.
They’re wrong and while emotionally satisfying, this way of thinking is dangerous on two levels. First, they are dramatically underestimating the potential of this movement. Unlike conservatives, progressives have a huge network of professional activists, funded by large foundations, colleges and universities, unions, and government bodies. Activists who are getting involved now will stay involved for the remainder of their lives. This movement will not blow over. It will continue to grow in the months ahead and create new institutions to fund itself.
Secondly, the Republicans are simply wrong on the main point. Hermain Cain’s statement of “If you are not rich, blame yourself,” is beyond foolish. Even though he styles himself as some kind of Tea Party outsider, it reeks of the kind of contempt for working Americans of the worst Beltway “conservative” corporate lobbyists. The essential point of the protests are correct – this country is governed by an economic oligarchy that is deeply hostile to the American people and that American workers are suffering while Wall Street is being protected. Time and again, the American people are presented a choice between leftists who openly despise them and conservatives who are at best indifferent, but are mostly out to protect their corporate donors. The latter is less evil, but hardly a real choice. In electoral terms, the American Right looks like it will gain ground in Congress in the 2012 elections (if not capture the White House itself) but it’s not going to do anything with it.
That said, of course, what the protesters actually want not only won’t solve the problem, but are some of the very things that have gotten us in this mess (though keep in mind as of this writing there’s no “official” list of demands). Spending a trillion dollars that we don’t have to do more “shovel ready” projects, or wiping out all debt (I presume taxes are exempted), or creating a “right” to a job (provided by whom?) aren’t going to do anything. Calling for open borders may be a diversity commandment, but as Samuel Gompers and other past labor leaders would confirm, it obviously leads to a loose labor market and therefore lower wages. In fact, the protesters are carrying the Chamber of Commerce’s water for them on this issue. As other commentators have pointed out, the protests are directed at the inability for ordinary Americans to lead a middle class life under these circumstances but don’t consider the social, cultural, and governmental changes that caused these problems to take place. The left wing lifestyle choices, political correctness, multiculturalism (including affirmative action and preferential loans and financial programs for minority groups), open borders, growth of government power, growth of welfare programs, and the debt driven finance required to pay for all of this are why the American middle class and the American nation are collapsing. In fact, if we didn’t have this debt driven financial system we wouldn’t have the money to pay for the professors of “globalization studies” that I see on Democracy Now! every night telling me how they are helping organize these protests.
What the educationally credentialed but very uneducated protesters seem to want is a nation that resembles a typical college campus. It will have lots of amenities, you are protected from viewpoints that might challenge your liberal assumptions, you don’t really have to do very much, and you don’t think very much about who pays for all this. For a lot of the liberal arts majors out there, the reason they don’t have a job is because a liberal arts education doesn’t even teach you the liberal arts, never mind something that will help you contribute to society. Unemployment is the least damaging thing we can hope for from these guys. Does anyone truly believe that what our society really needs are more guys who want their 200K in student loans paid off so they can have their “right” to be a minister for “LGBT youth?”
It is fashionable, especially at protests like these, to talk about being beyond Left and Right. Publications like the American Conservative and conservative blogs occasionally speak about an alliance between the Left and the Right against the banks, the government, and the “Establishment” in order to create a more humane system. The problem is that this only goes one way. The demonstrators are making sure that no one who believes in say, gender differences, immigration laws, or even “discrimination based on ability” (!), meaning that anyone who even remotely fits on the right is not welcome. As a result, while this movement will grow in strength, it will remain solely a movement of the Left and, as such, never actually challenge the system. In fact, it will be a movement of the left wing establishment.
However, even that somewhat misses the point. Much like the May 1968 protests in Paris that almost toppled de Gaulle, the action in the streets is as much driven for a search for meaning as it is a search for economic justice. In a world of consumerism and shattered community, taking to the streets is a way of showing that you still matter, that you have an identity, and that there is still some semblance of democracy in this country. It will fail. Our economic masters have long since mastered the art of selling left wing rebellion right back to the consumers. Even Adbusters realizes that. Ultimately, the world of deracinated, autonomous, atomistic individuals babbling about the “rights” they learned in college serves both the corporate world and the left wing establishment. In fact, they’re one and the same. After all, the main figure of May ’68, the dashing revolutionary Danny the Red, is now European Parliament member Daniel Cohn-Bendit, striving to bring you the antiseptic, soul-crushing policies of the European Union that will tell you what light bulbs you are allowed to use.
The biggest obstacle to McWorld isn’t some nonsense theory about institutional racism – it’s real existing communities built on Tradition and Identity. Real change, real rebellion, has to come from the unapologetic and explicit Right that recognizes and defends hierarchy, excellence, and the right of peoples to determine their own destiny. It will come from a real Right that puts the nation above the bankers, that puts free enterprise above corporatism, and that doesn’t sneer at workers that are part of the national community. The closest example would have been the movement behind Pat Buchanan that would have stopped mass immigration, outsourcing, and the deindustrialization of America. Rather than looking for meaning in existentialist rebellion that has tried and failed before, what is needed is National Revolution that can create a superior version of an actually existing community built on nationality, culture, and tradition. As far as youth are concerned, we should be marching against the college administrators that put us 200K in debt for useless degrees. We should actively seek to pop the education bubble, campaigning against the federal subsidies towards colleges that allow them to keep jacking up tuition and demanding cuts for useless disciplines that serve as an excuse for leftists to rent seek off the public teat. It needs to be said that the leftists are protesting the world that they created. Agitating for more of the same won’t do anything for us.
We’ve seen this kind of movement before both on campuses and on the streets in Europe and in America in ’68. I saw something of it on a smaller scale in Iceland in 2009. The Left has the problem but has no solution – the phony Right seems to pretend there is not a problem to begin with. We’ve been here before and this is nothing new. Both the Left and the phony Right had their shot and both failed. It’s time to build a real Right that is opposed to the current system to seize this moment before it gets away.
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