Who would have thought that the one thing the American left needed to reinvigorate itself was a blast of pepper spray aimed straight at the eyes of a few defenseless women? It took these women, as well as the two following men, to topple the world as we know it—one police officer with the unlikely name of Tony Bologna, as well as the Tunisian man, Mohamed Bouzizi, who set himself on fire almost a year ago and began the Arab Spring, although I suspect he might have thought twice about self-immolation if he had known how many people across the planet sympathized with his plight.
Watching all of this from the distance and relative safety of Korea, I’ve wondered why the police and the mayors across America who are fighting their own citizens have not drawn the one obvious conclusion that anyone could hope to make about this movement: if you ignore it, it will go away. If you stop breaking up their camps, stop beating them up and tear gassing them and preventing the media from having any access, really, eventually, after a few weeks or months, everything will peter out. From its inception the OWS movement has gained the lion’s share of its strength not from the protestors themselves, or even their supporters, but from the outrage caused by unnecessary police brutality, as embodied by the unfortunate Tony Bologna, who lost ten vacation days for the crime of empowering a movement that, until then, was ridiculed by almost everyone. It’s been going on like this since Quit India, but the people in power just don’t ever get it. This is a monster that draws its strength from attention and institutionalized violence. Without that, as the link above says, OWS is just a bunch of crack addicts mixed in with people trying to sell puppies.
And I’m afraid of where the movement will go, because although it represents my beliefs, and I would totally be out there right now with those guys if I were living in America, and I have thought several times about organizing some sort of solidarity march here in South Korea, despite the prospect of losing my job as a result of doing so—still, cynically, inevitably, I have to say that popular movements are often co-opted and turned against themselves. The energy that causes people to take to the streets and overthrow entire governments is often so fierce it becomes its opposite. Look at what one of the inspirations for Occupy Wall Street, the pseudo-fascist, astroturfed, Koch-financed Tea Party, has now become. Karl Marx became Joseph Stalin. Mohandas Gandhi became Indira Gandhi. The party of Abraham Lincoln gave us George W. Bush; the American revolutionaries fought for the freedom to enslave blacks. As a result of this pattern or rhythm or rhyme I can guess that the Occupiers may find themselves ringing the opening bell of Wall Street itself, sooner or later occupying themselves, dressed in the same suits they despise.
But really, all of us can agree that we have no idea where Occupy Wall Street is going. If it results in handcuffs clapped around the wrists of the guys who wrecked the world economy, that would be nice. If it destroys the two-party system, that would be even nicer. In an interview with Rachel Maddow, I believe, Michael Moore (also known as He Who Must Not Be Named) spoke of creating a democratic economy, wherein workers would presumably be able to hire and fire their bosses, turning our current autocratic economy entirely on its head. That is perhaps the ultimate aim of the movement which the talking heads on TV have been searching for, as I think the motivation of the Occupiers stems not just from police brutality but also from several years of unmitigated disasters by extraordinarily smug, rich men in business suits, all of whom should probably be cooling their heels alongside the millions of very angry inmates whom they have opted to imprison for possessing near-insignificant amounts of marijuana.
They—and I will name names: George W. Bush, Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch, the reptoid Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, the now-forgotten Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh (bloated with poison, spewing bile every time he opens his mouth), John Boehner, Fucking Eric Cantor, the inevitable Koch Brothers, and even Barack Obama, for disappointing everyone and for doing nothing to correct the wealth imbalance in America—took one step too far with the debt crisis that plunged the American government into chaos over the summer, and all of them had a hand in it, one way or another. They thought they could get away with stealing just a few more dimes out of the pockets of the working class, and now that class is, perhaps, standing outside of their towering skyscrapers and neoclassical capital buildings, waiting, just waiting, for the police to give way, so they can run inside and really start to fuck shit up.