All last week across the media landscape, in pod, blog, flat-screen, and crunkly old newsprint columns, fatuous professional observers complained that the Occupy Wall Street marchers “have no clear agenda” or “can’t articulate their positions.” What impertinent horseshit. I saw a statement on one OWSer’s sign that said it all:
$70,000 College Debt
$12,000 Medical Bills
Where’s My Bailout?
What part of that is unclear to interlocutors of what we called “the establishment” back in the day? That would be the day of the Vietnam War and the Aquarian Upsurge. One difference being that in 1968 we at least had some solidarity in the older generation coming from figures of gravity like Senators Robert Kennedy (bumped off), Eugene McCarthy, J. William Fullbright, George McGovern, Rev Martin Luther King (bumped off), and even one US Attorney General, Ramsey Clark. Today, the entire “establishment” is a clueless, hopeless blob of self-interested, craven opportunism. Even the arty fringe – the people who pretend to be an avant-garde – are nothing but narcissistic self-branding operations masquerading as culture leaders.
The worst offender this past week was the prating empty vessel Nicholas Kristoff at The New York Times who affected to offer the OWSers his own tidy agenda of nit-picky, arcane tax reforms (e.g “Close the ‘carried interest’ and ‘founders’ stock’ loopholes”) and limp-dick banking regulations (e.g. “[move] ahead with Basel III capital requirements”). David Plotz and his Gen X sidekicks at the Slate Political Podcast were equally mystified. I have some heartier suggestions: bring the full weight of the RICO act and the federal anti-fraud statutes down on Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon, Brian Moynihan, Angelo Mozilo, and a host of other impudent schmekels still at large in their world of Escalade limos and Gulfstream vistas. Or, if that’s just too difficult, how about a handy lamppost and about 40 feet of stout nylon cord?
It is cosmically ironic, of course, that the same generation of Boomer-hippies that ran in the streets and marched through the maze of service roads around the Pentagon has become a new “establishment” more obtuse, feckless, greedy and mendacious than the one they battled with over 40 years ago. I guess they just don’t see that their time has come to get right with reality – or get shoved aside and trampled. The essence of the OWSer’s argument is pretty simple: they’ve got a raw deal; somebody dealt them a bad hand; someone ran their society into a ditch and not a goddammed one of the older generation will set in motion the machinery to correct the situation, or even acknowledge it.
At the apex of this new establishment is the Baby Boomer’s moral trophy president: Barack Obama, whose election made the Boomers feel good about themselves – while they preceded to loot the national treasury’s accumulated capital, and then reach forward a few generations to rob their legacy, too. I haven’t heard Nicholas Kristoff (or any of his colleagues at The New York Times) complain about Mr. Obama’s stupendous inattention to the crimes of Wall Street, or to the dereliction of his proconsuls in the SEC and the Department of Justice. I’d at least send somebody to hold a mirror under Eric Holder’s nostrils to see if he is actually alive.
For my money, the OWSers have plenty to yell about. Apart from the crimes and turpitudes of their elders, the younger generation hasn’t even been prepared for the massive change in reality that these times are heaving them into. If it was me out there, I’d conclude that I’d better make up the future on my own, with no help from my parents’ generation. In fact, that future is rushing toward all of us so cold, hard, and fresh even in this autumn season that it might splatter the banking establishment – and the global economy – like a bug on a windshield. The OWSers have a front row seat down there in lower Manhattan. The financial gangrene (thank you Zero Hedge) is not just seeping anymore, it’s blowing through the arteries of the money underworld like fracking fluid. The damage can’t be contained. Let the Arabs have spring. The OWSers of America own the fall. Rock on OWSers and don’t let the “pigs” (as we used to call them) get you down.