“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” –Thomas Jefferson
You’ve seen them on television, proclaiming to be the voice of the 99-percent linked in opposition to the economic oppression the wealthiest one-percent is inflicting on our society. Those who stand in front of television cameras speak in platitudes that decry profit over people and greedy corporations extracting wealth from ordinary folks.
Not all of the demonstrators are anxious to leap in front of a television camera, however, so I was curious who the rank-and-file protestors are and how deeply they have thought through the movement that they have joined.
A recent sojourn to the encampment at Duncan Plaza, across from New Orleans City Hall, revealed the intellectual desert that exists in Occupy NOLA and how useful idiots are acting as foot soldiers in a movement they don’t really understand.
To any Occupiers that have stumbled upon this blog and think I am taking a cheap shot at them by referring to them as “useful idiots,” understand that I use the term as it relates to the historical context of young idealists who allow themselves to manipulate by people who want to seize power for their own ends.
The term dates back to Bolshevik times, in which students supported the rise of Vladimir Lenin without understanding that they would be among the first to be disposed of when the revolution was complete. Much the same is happening here, I fear. I mean no disrespect with the term.
Okay, maybe a little. Call it tough love, hippies.
There is an eclectic mix of protestors at Occupy NOLA, but most that I encountered were 20-something, mostly white, transients who describe themselves as anarchists and put the welfare of the collective above individual rights.
The right of the collective is a central theme and it’s something that I’ll come back to later in this post.
These are drifters who move around the country, sleeping where they can and often relying on handouts for sustenance. If they weren’t at Occupy New Orleans, they might be found at a homeless shelter or under a bridge. There are those that have a criminal history that includes violent crimes.
It should be noted that of the dozen or so I spoke with, only two were from Louisiana. More often than not, they called places thousands of miles away home. I even met one from Hawaii.
This video is indicative of the life-style that many of the occupiers lead.
Some of the demonstrators didn’t want to be videotaped by me and some appeared disguised in Guy Fawkes masks or with their faces partially obscured with bandanas.
For those who don’t know, Guy Fawkes was a 17th Century English terrorist who unsuccessfully tried to blow up Parliament by hiding barrels of gunpowder beneath the House of Lords. He is revered among certain occupiers thanks to the popularity of the 2006 film V For Vendetta, in which a futuristic fascist British government is taken down by Fawkes wannabe terrorists.
For those who might think the occupiers demonstrating across the country are simply grass-roots protesters in the vein of the tea party movement, you’re mistaken. It’s a well-financed, top-down movement with ties to leftist billionaire hedge-fund manager George Soros’ Open Society Institute, Big Labor and a hodgepodge of anti-capitalist interests.
Stephen Lerner of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) laid out plans weeks before the first Occupy protests of the “spectacular things planned in Boston and New York” among many other American cities for a movement in the street to “create a crisis for the super-rich.”
The problem is that the super-rich will be just fine. It’s those they employ who will suffer the most as organizers work to create economic crisis so they can gain power. And that’s what it’s really about, socialists behind this movement wanting power so they can realize their utopian dreams of enacting “social justice,” damn the consequences.
Fringe elements in this country that are supporting the Occupy Wall Street include the Communist Party USA and the American Nazi Party. Even Louisiana’s favorite Nazi, David Duke, has lent his support to the movement.
By your friends, you will be known.
As I interviewed the New Orleans occupiers, I didn’t want to be confrontational or challenge them too much. I wanted to get into their heads and understand how deeply they thought about what the movement is advocating.
My suggestion to a couple of them about lower corporate tax rates as a means of enticing evil corporations to bring jobs back to this country was rejected in favor of giving tax credits to businesses to hire felons – even violent felons.
While I believe strongly in redemption and giving a person a second chance, that doesn’t seem like a very sound economic policy to me. Of course, it would be argued – and is, among the rather hygiene-deprived in Duncan Plaza – that those who abused others by perpetrating crimes against them are better than corporations who make money by offering goods and services that induce people to freely spend money.
In this clip, a self-described anarchist admits that anarchy is no way to run the United States. Just about all occupiers I talked to describe a leaderless system based on democracy as the best way to form the government we need.
He was at a loss when I tried to explain why the Founding Fathers preferred a representative republic to democracy, which they considered mob rule. As a side note, I flubbed the “wolves and sheep” quote, which was not said by Thomas Paine. I had been discussing Tom with someone else and had Paine on the brain.
A quote than I can get right is from John Adams, who said, “Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”
Maybe the occupiers should put down Marx and read a little more John Adams.
After a democracy built on the law of man commits suicide, the dream of a leaderless society vanishes. History teaches that you always get a Napoleon after all the Robespierres’ heads have rolled.
If I would have let the camera on a little more, you would see that his answer to my question of a better form of government than a representative republic was “I don’t know.”
Maybe I should have taken the time to delve into to why the American Revolution, a hard-fought battle in blood, didn’t end in blood and instead led to a country that has created more prosperity than any other.
It was never a sure thing, but that’s what happened.
When the Founding Fathers forged our republic, there was much uncertainty as to whether Man had the propensity to govern himself or whether the the experiment would end in destruction and chaos.
One thing that the founders were certain of is that posterity had to be grounded in more than a passing knowledge of Enlightenment thought from the likes of Locke, Hobbs, Rousseau and others that guided them.
The anchor of Judeo-Christian teaching was also cornerstone of the experiment, even for the most Deistic of the founders. They knew that without an essential understanding that individual rights were gifts from the Creator that must be jealously guarded against usurpation from government, their experiment in self-government would eventually be swept into the dustpan of history.
While the Occupiers have an abstract understanding of the freedom and equality that is their birthright, their argument is missing a key ingredient. To put it in Louisiana terms, it’s like gumbo with no okra.
What’s missing is their fidelity to individual rights above collective rights.
The most in-depth conversation I had was with an occupier from Wisconsin named Chad. Chad wouldn’t let me put him on camera, which is a shame. It would have made some great video. He is a sincere man and a nice person, but, sadly incorrect in his beliefs that collective rights and individual rights can equally co-exist. They can’t. History teaches that the collective always consumes the individual and a lot of individuals end up in mass graves because they were a drag on the collective. He said that things could be different this time.
I explained to him about Karl Marx’s vision of the New Man that never materialized and instead led to the murder of millions. The most astonishing thing he said was, “Marx wasn’t radical enough, because he only dealt with the economy and not with the true nature of our being.”
I told him that human nature doesn’t change and frailties like envy, avarice and injustice would remain as long as mankind draws breath.
To accent my point, I walked up to a tent not long after our conversation to take this picture of a sign that interested me.
As I was snapping the shot, someone started shouting that I was in his “perimeter.”
I didn’t realize until then that the occupiers claimed “perimeters” by roping off sections of Duncan Plaza with string. I explained to the man shouting at me that I was in a public park and he could shove his perimeter where the sun doesn’t shine. I was occupying his perimeter at the moment, whether he liked it or not.
Amazingly, Occupiers were squatting in a public space and claiming it as their own.
As you might suspect, all is not right at Occupy NOLA.
Not long after, I spoke to this young lady from California, who asked me for money to help her post bail for her husband who had been arrested for aggravated assault after an altercation with a fellow occupier who goes by the name “Big Mac.”
I wish that I had more of the interview, but I had a camera malfunction and she decided not to speak to me once I got it working again.
It seems that Big Mac was causing trouble, “trying to steal dogs, swing on women and steal wallets,” which lead to the altercation. Human nature, it seems, is alive and well at Occupy NOLA.
There has been crime, harassment and one death at the encampment—a 53 year-old man known as “Curly” who, most likely, died of natural causes.
I suspect that there will be more bodies at the encampment, if it continues, and they won’t be attributed to natural causes. Other encampments around the country have already been the site of multiple arrests, rapes, suicides and a couple of murders.
The other key ingredient missing at the occupy movement is that lack of people who have ever experienced real oppression. It’s a slap in the face to those across the world who suffer under real tyranny or persecution. The occupy movement doesn’t stop at our borders and much of the world looks at these Woodstock wannabes as the one percent who have lived a cushy existence compared to their lives.
With all this said, I do feel a twinge of sadness for these useful idiots. It is a seductive argument they make and, who knows, as a younger man I might have been sucked in. I might have, but I doubt it.