Friday, October 28, 2011
There is a quote I rather like, and I'm paraphrasing, "Never doubt that a small, passionate band of men can change the world. Do you know why? Because it is the only thing that ever has."
I was thinking of that last night as I was surfing the web and getting all the reports of the arrests and tear gas and alleged police brutality in Oakland and San Francisco and Phoenix in response to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Almost at the same time I watched a story on NBC news about the high price in overtime being paid to police officers in the major cities because of the uprisings. And, the police union declared they would sue any individual who injured an officer while being attacked by the police in these gatherings. Which, even in it's ironic grotesquery, amused me. Apparently the overtime costs in NYC alone are closing in on 3 million dollars.
So as my wife and I watched a bit of television last night at the end of a long day, my mind kept wandering. I kept trying to put myself in the shoes of the police, the city administrators and mayors, the local governments opposed to the demonstrations. And asking myself, "Why is this particular movement, unorganized and shoddy at times as it is, garnering so much malevolent resistance?" And I began thinking on the phrase used to describe the NAZI's following the holocaust: the banality of evil. The cops are not to blame in the clearer, bigger picture, really. They are, as tedious and worthless as it sounds, simply following orders. Of course, as history has proven time and again, it is a defense that doesn't hold water. Nonetheless, it works at the time. Until later, in 20/20 hindsight, it is condemned. However, always too late for the average Joe who's had his head bashed in.
So those of us, the fabled 99%, well, what are we to do in the meantime? And with whom, exactly, should we be angry?
Often times the criminal spends his jail time being angry with the cop that arrested him rather than the judge who condemned him. It's a pedestrian anger, an ill-conceived anger, a sophomoric response. And yet, sometimes it is the only tangible anger possible.
Declaring war on cops is not the answer, as satisfying as that approach might be. Occupy Wall Street must engage the larger issue. The people and institutions the cops represent. The cops are only the drones. The queen ant is congress. Bought and paid for, Democrats and Republicans alike. There is but one weapon left, and frankly, it was always the only weapon, really: one vote, one man. Although the OWS movement is quite noble on a grass-roots level, it is ultimately inconsequential. It is a no-win situation, good for stirring the water but in the final analysis, moot. There must be an electoral revolution. One man, one vote. Oust Ceaser. Vote Louis 14 out of the palace. Overturn Tojo's Diet. Strip the fascists of their power legally. And demand the one thing, in the end, that will resolve the current horror: regulate Wall Street and end political lobbying once and for all. Clean house.
When the Nixon tapes were released in the late eighties, there was one segment, largely overlooked, that scared the bejesus out of me. The conversation in late July, 1974, between Nixon and Halderman in the Oval Office when Tricky Dick asked what steps needed to be taken to MILITARILY hold onto power. Awesome. Nixon wanted to know, as Commander-in-Chief, if the United States military would follow his direct order to seize absolute power in Washington, DC, and disband both congress and the courts as an emergency measure. Simply astounding. The idea was discarded in the end of course, but the thing is, NIXON CONSIDERED IT.
Of course, perhaps even scarier than the idea of a bought and paid for congress, is the idea of a bought and paid for fifth column, a national press taking orders from the almighty dollar, an entire system of free press being manipulated by a nation in the throes of a plutocracy. This is called propoganda. And it is the single most terrifying result a democracy can face. Once the press is corrupted, a nation is stricken with an incurable disease because information, not money, is the final step to absolute power. Once information is taken away, all resistance is, indeed, futile.
Like the peasants before the Bastille, the Occupy Wall Street movement doesn't stand a tinker's damn of a chance. But also, like the peasants before the Bastille, the inhabitants of the structure are eyeing them ever-so-warily. Politicians across the country, from mayors to representatives to senators to the president himself are, late at night, when no one is watching, when the rubber meets the road, actually pondering the unthinkable: money or votes. Because money has always insured votes. Always. And now, unspeakably, that particular philosophy is under scrutiny. What if...what if money, in this case, does NOT insure votes? Which way do I step off the fence? What if, heaven help me, I have to make a choice? What if one man, one vote actually WORKS this time?
No, cops are not the target. Although I personally believe in Machiavelli's concept of power corrupting, they should not be the target. The target should be November, 2012. The weapon that must be picked up, the rusted sword lying on the ground, unused for decades, maybe more, is the Constitution of the United States. It hovers over the bought politicians and the unsavory, greed-stricken, cowering bankers, traders and regulators and lobbyists like a hot sun threatening to burn Orpheus to the ground. One man, one vote. November, 2012. Therein lies salvation. Not in the day to day, senseless struggle over inches at the political Maginot and Seigfried lines. November, 2012.
There is a phrase often used in boxing gyms around the world: kill the body and the head will die. It is not meant to be metaphorical. But I can't think of anything quite as apt at the moment.
See you tomorrow.