From London to Toronto, New York to Vancouver, the 'Occupiers' of capitalism are facing evictions and other challenges. Clearly, legitimate debates ensue over one's right to protest versus the rights of locals to enjoy their neighborhoods as they normally do. However, where people stand on these matters has, for the most part, had more to do with sympathy or animosity to the cause - one's views on constitutionality and other such matters are then doctored to suit the one's politics. Hey, we're all human, right?
So maybe it's best to focus on goals and attitudes. I see people in the media, and on the street, putting down the many occupations going on worldwide - "crazy", "delinquent", "juvenile", "unrealistic".
OK, let's do this one at a time.
A homeowner in the US owes $400, 000 in mortgage on a house he now couldn't sell for half that amount. Some would call that the "real world". Here's a reality check: there's nothing real about it. This guy is a victim of a fake world, built on lies and false promises, because a once healthy capitalist economy devolved into what essentially became a pyramid scheme. Those left holding the bag are currently supporting the shysters (and some lucky innocents) who got out in time. What we have in place is a crazy conception of reality, where those who live off of speculation and other assorted deals consider their privileged halls of commerce to be more real than hungry mouths and real economic hardship worldwide. That's crazy - and the acceptance of it is crazy. Dissent is the ONLY sane option available.
As an addiction scholar, one who has even written on the history of addiction and its rapport with delinquency, I will let you in on a poorly guarded secret: some people are just plain addicted to money. Much like a junky who keeps wanting more and more, and at increasing doses, those addicted to money will at times do anything to feed their habit. The street drug addict, however, is typically a minor nuisance whereas the high finance money grubber is a serious menace to society. A billion dollars can't satisfy that habit. So in an effort to turn that billion into two billion, someone will destroy the earth, put children on the street, and ruin countless lives everywhere - just to maintain a habit that can never be satiated (FYI: a heroin habit can be satiated; a money habit cannot). If the money addict tries to step out of the financial game and just enjoy his money, his chances of maintaining abstinence from money-grubbing are about equal to that of a junkie or crackhead trying to kick: maybe one in twenty. While the symptoms are practically identical, there is one difference: no street addict or skid row alcoholic does as much harm as someone addicted to ridiculous amounts of money. These people are the most notorious delinquents on earth. Standing up to them is anything but a sign of delinquency. It is bloody criminal not to.
People in high finance are often like children - confusing their own petty little concerns with reality as such. Think of a toddler who sees a candy, and for one moment is aware of nothing but this object of desire. Now, consider the financier quibbling over interest rates in the safety and comfort of a mansion or a yacht, convinced that this game represents the "real world" even while people maybe a few blocks away lack food and medical care. Sadly, this juvenile conception of "reality" is rampant among the 1% and even in the mainstream media. There is nothing juvenile about telling these punks to grow up already! So the grownups at Occupy are simply doing what grownups do: telling spoiled kids that the world doesn't revolve around their self-centered desires.
Here's another reality check, a lesson in "realism" from an addiction scholar who started off as a political theorist: capitalism has been breaking down. Only a couple of years ago, we were all hit by a recession that most experts were starting to compare to the Big One we had in the 1930s. We're still struggling with all that. In the 30s, capitalism had two choices: make serious adjustments, or make way for the Bolsheviks. So adjustments - big ones involving security for the aged, assistance for the poor and the unemployed, and many other innovations - were made all over the industrialised world. In the US, they called it the New Deal, but it happened with less fanfare all over. We are now, once more, at such a crossroad. The people at Occupy are realistic enough to see that clearly, so they push for needed change.
The changes will come. Not maybe - for sure.
Oh, those juvenile, addicted and delinquent crazy people working at places like Wall Street complain about Occupy already. But when the changes are seriously implemented - when the necessary structural adjustments are not just ideas but reality - those crybaby billionaires (and wannabes) will kick and scream and throw their food all over the kitchen. They can't help it, because they're crazy.
But in the end the world will be a better place, even for money grubbers. So the crazy, delinquent, juvenile punks in high finance will be grateful.
That's right, kids, when you finally grown up you'll thank us.
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