Occupy Wall Street and the shallowness of discontent

By Edward Hadas
October 18, 2011

By Edward Hadas
The views expressed are his own.

Occupy Wall Street can claim a tremendous heritage. In almost every generation – from the French Revolution of 1789 to the student revolts of the 1960s – popular movements have rejected a society which, they say, denies some sort of basic freedom. But for a protest to leave a lasting impression, it has to start or mark a significant cultural change. What could OWS signify?

The Occupy movement certainly expresses popular fury at high finance. But that sentiment is far from revolutionary. President Obama and many business dignitaries have expressed sympathy. There also seems to be anger at inequality created by unjust practices. In the words of an October 14 blog entry on Occupywallst.org, the “99 percent” of the population will “no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the one percent.” Such righteous indignation could perhaps spawn a revolution, but only if it came with a more positive agenda. As it stands, though, the manifestos and soundbites coming out of the leaderless groups are long on complaints and short on both intellectual coherence and suggestions for new arrangements.

Still, this movement must have something going for it. It has spread around the world and attracts much friendly attention from the mainstream media. I see three forces at work.

First, economic confusion. Occupiers see the economy as a disaster. They blame the triumph of “neoliberals” who put their trust in small government and big companies. Many of the hand-lettered signs at Occupy protests go further; they suggest the enemy is not an erroneous ideology but a huge economic conspiracy of the elite against the people.

Such claims are not justified. The global economy is certainly not in bad shape. The big news these days is the increasing prosperity and influence of China, India and other countries which used to be too poor to matter. The U.S. economy does have problems, especially in the job market, but the country remains prosperous. Occupy is certainly right that the elite are still powerful; that is what elites do. New laws and regulations would be enough to temper corporate power; a brand new economic order is not required.

As for the dangers of neoliberalism, faulty ideology did indeed lead to inept deregulation of the financial sector, but the political tide is already flowing in the opposite direction. In other parts of the economy, there is no need for reversal. During the years leading up to the crisis, the U.S. government increased its sway over healthcare, education and mortgage finance – three of the four domains citied in the Occupy Wall Street blog as under neoliberal control.

Second, utopianism. The spirit of Woodstock lives in OWS. There are tents, talk of peace and love and hope for improvement in human nature. “We must change, we must evolve” is a typical slogan. Utopianism, though, was not invented in 1968. The belief that society can be made perfect through radical democracy has long been part of the Left’s revolutionary ideology. More than two centuries of history show how easily the failures of past experiments in radical social engineering are forgotten. The enthusiasts at Occupy have duly forgotten.

Third, the decline of the Left. If the moderate left had a distinctive agenda for reform, Occupy’s wrongheaded and unrealistic musings would look like a dangerous distraction. But there is nothing to be distracted from. Even a crisis in speculative financial capitalism has not spawned substantial left-wing proposals for reform.

The Democrats in the U.S. make a partisan show while the European center-left parties mostly feud among themselves. As bearers of anything like an ideology, though, the Left is a spent force everywhere. The decline is easy to explain. The Left’s basic economic demands have largely been met: the proletariat has mostly become middle class and the government mostly protects the weak. That leaves the Left without an obvious agenda. In practice, it must choose between fine-tuning and revolution. The politicians go for incremental policy initiatives. The timidity leaves room for extremists to flourish.

Occupy’s participants might want to be revolutionaries, but they are a pale imitation of the idealists of the 1960s. While the new movement is undoubtedly counter-cultural, corporate leaders and politicians have learned how to co-opt such incoherent anti-establishment sentiments. Apple, for example, has done brilliantly by combining high tech, high prices and a veneer of counter-culture. Occupy participants use more than their share of Apple products.

Indeed, the grief over the death of Apple’s founder, Steve Jobs, gives a more accurate cultural reading than Occupy. The college dropout who wandered to Asia looking for enlightenment became a hero for many of the 99 percent. They may feel oppressed by the state of the economy, but they sense they have more to lose than to gain from any substantial change in the system that has provided iPhones and iPads. So what does OWS signify? The shallowness of our discontent.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

“the proletariat has mostly become middle class and the government mostly protects the weak”


Posted by chadem311 | Report as abusive

The protesters may not know how to change what needs to be changed, but I think that we all understand one thing:

People in power need to have a personal stake in the overall well being of society. When things turn sour everyone needs to feel the pain. Otherwise the powerful will have no incentive to lead positive change.

The worse things get, the more the powerful will have to contend with incoherent obnoxious hippies on their walk to work.

People rise up!

Posted by effoff | Report as abusive

Thank you for your views. I have wondered how some Americans can simultaneously give their financial support to corporations (by being consumers and investors) and then rally for corporate demise. It seems possible that more attention and action could be commanded if personal financial support was withdrawn from major corporations. Imagine the impact if 50% of Americans stopped all non-essential spending. The companies and the government would pay close attention in that scenario. We do have some power here–how and where we spend our money. Your example of Apple Corporation is one that can be expanded.

Posted by MaSewall | Report as abusive

The two most highly regulated businesses in America, the ones that the government has its hooks into the deepest, setting the rules and doling out enforcement are, wait for it…….Banking and Medicine. The two most disliked businesses in America. Marching on Wall Street and Obamacare are classic cases of the tail wagging the dog.

Posted by GLK | Report as abusive

Just like the the “Tea Party” movement, “As it stands, though, the manifestos and soundbites coming out of the leaderless groups are long on complaints and short on both intellectual coherence and suggestions for new arrangements” It’s funny how one’s personal financial and political pursuasions will color one’s attitude toward perceptions of what “others” are saying ? “Occupy Wall Street” is only the parakeet in the mine that is telling those with power that it is being used in the wrong direction. “Still waters may run deep” but the currents within them will ultimately move the entire water column. The currents within today’s financial and political world are full of turbidity and turmoil and those within that world that have any control at all should guage these currents and act to move with them. Otherwise, they may be swept away……

Posted by searider | Report as abusive

try this, good analysis, some good proposals for a way forward


Posted by Robertla | Report as abusive

Maybe if the neoliberals acted like they had some confidence in the global economy, 99% of sceptics of neoliberalism would have some basis for at least tolerating it. Instead of showing confidence, however, it looks for all the globalised world like a significant number of neoliberal beneficiaries of the 1% variety have expressed their own discontent with neoliberism by pumping up an ultraconservative movement in the form of the Tea Party. If garden variety neoliberal Republicans had instead worked constructively with garden variety neoliberal Democrats since the 2008 elections, perhaps any movements off the neoliberal ranch would have remained small and easily corralled again. Too many neoliberal cowboys are screaming that The Last Round-Up is upon us, dagnabbit. Sadly, the little doggies jes cain’t git along, thus proving once again that we are all our own worst enemies. I just feel all gosh darn warm and fuzzy about it. Don’t you?

Posted by CarlOmunificent | Report as abusive

The argument of this opinion piece is completely wrong. First of all OWS is not “a pale imitation of the idealists of the 1960s”, nor do they aspire to be idealists. They are very practical. What they — the OWS crowd n American cities, the indignados in Europe and Latin America, Les Indignes in Francophone Africa, the outraged in Asia — are demanding is a sustainable future for the whole human fraternity; fairness and dignity for all workers in economic opportunities, and, yes, for property owners whose material wealth has been legitimately earned, and for gatekeepers to opportunity to be honest not opportunistic facilitators. All this, though sounding idealistic and vacuous, is, in fact grounded in an eminently concrete and doable action plan. Many of the activists acknowledge that the mass-movement should have come nine, ten years ago when, already then, the PNAC (Project for the New American Century) agenda, together with its corollary plan of “dollarization” of the world had gripped policy-makers’ fantasy in Washington as much as in London, Paris, Berlin and the lesser capitals of the “new Europe” as George Bush anointed the former capitals of the defunct USSR’s satellite states in an attempt to shame reticent “Old Europe” states into joining his Crusade to recolonize the world. Now, it is very late, but not too late, if only the movers and shakers of the world can be clear and pragmatic. What new agenda, informed by the bitter experience of the last decade is doable? First is for the West to embrace multipolarity. Second is to recognise that it is not cowardice for a hegemon in relative but not absolute decline to soften the exercise of power, be it military, financial, or cultural, and to share decision-making in institutions of global governance in an atmosphere of sincere and transparent mutuality, with rival interests no doubt, but without destructive dissemblance or outright deceipt. That means accepting more equitable voting rights in the institutions of Global Security (the UNSC, but also the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, emerging Regional Security Institutions in Latin America and Africa, the [Arab] Gulf Cooperation Council, Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic States) and the International Financial and Trade/Technology Transfer Institutions (the IMF/WB/BIS, the WTO, but also recognition of the ASEAN+3 payments settlements arrangements, the BRICKS -– BRIC+South Korea+South Africa — variable-geometry economic cooperation dynamic). That is the skeletal action plan at the global level. At national macroeconomic levels, roll-back of the roller-coaster deregulation frenzy of the Reagan era through smart regulation such as the Volcker Rules, and rethink of purely tech-assisted, mechanical financial innovation added to caps on CEO remuneration and perks, plus an end to accounting fudging. At the meso-economic and microeconomic levels, a focus on the hard realities of the ‘traditional economy’ — recalibration of food demand and supply, repair and sustained maintenance of infrastructure which has the great benefit of creating jobs, meaningful support to smalle and medium enterprises in parallel with a sharp decrease in defence-industry production and marketing structures and defence-related public spending (the corollary being reduction of foreign wars to the very strict minimum). Other dimensions of the doable plan will emerge from these initial actions.

Posted by MohamedMalleck | Report as abusive

How obvious is it that Mr. Edwrd Hadas has not even passed by from any General Assemblies or meetings of philosophy and politics committees in any of these squares.

Stay in your little bubble while we are changing political thought

Posted by Peripeton | Report as abusive

Despite it’s use of thoughtful words and apparent nod to balance, this article is just another hit piece against change and OWS’s valid complaints by a thinly veiled shill for the corporatists.

No, Edward, revolutions often do NOT have a positive agenda, other than getting rid of the people who are causing the pain. You may quote history, but it appears you haven’t understood it. The colonies didn’t go to war with Britain because they had a constitution written; they did it because they needed to get rid of the British. The ‘positive agenda’ sounds like you’re trying to get OWS to come up with some framework that those in power will accept – and that is exactly what OWS is NOT trying to do.

And it’s the height of arrogance for you to call this country prosperous. Within its borders is a great deal of wealth, but with the top 20% owning 80% of the country, and trends accelerating in that direction, you cannot call this country “prosperous” without looking like you don’t know what you’re talking about. There are just too many poor people. The Right likes to complain (incorrectly) that 50% don’t pay taxes. Well, the 46% who don’t pay *income* taxes aren’t paying them because the tax structure is designed to not force you to choose between eating and paying taxes. That’s not prosperity.

Now, run along and play with your Wall Street friends and stay out of the adults’ conversations.

Posted by rseer | Report as abusive

effoff…incoherent obnoxious hippies – an apt description.

Posted by jaham | Report as abusive

Corporations must DIE

After a life span of 50 years. Like never restarting a Monopoly game. New players don’t have a chance. Corporations must DIE; with 1% accruing to the People each year. At the end of that lifetime; sell it off lock stock and barrel; extinguishing copyrights and patents. Otherwise we will forever be enslaved by the filthy rich.

Posted by bloggerswamp | Report as abusive

This article serves as a rallying cry for the nutcases who believe nothing is fundamentally wrong….

Posted by LordCavendish | Report as abusive

I think your use of the word neoliberal though technically correct is incredibly misleading, because it was the policy of neocons in the us, the grover norquists who wanted to shrink gov’t to the size where it can drown in a bathtub. This is as much related to anti-communism and anti-government as it is connected to pro-market forces; it probably has just as much to do with big money lobbying trying to weaken the political sphere. What the OWS hate is that they know that the malditos corporate interests do actually run a policy that serves american corporations at the expense of the american public, american unions, and the american working class. Everyone knows americans have everything, so what does it matter if corporations take our say in government? we’re content, surely?

Admittedly the american working class may have iphones, ipods, and ipads, but the fact that American self-governance has been replaced with access to the internet and consumer technology does not make us shallow. it makes us aware of what in fact the american people are losing; their own voice has been replaced by corporate (and media) interests. People like Rupert Murdoch and Grover Norquist came from a cold war world that no longer exists, so the conservatism which they have thrown across the media and political landscape in fact entrenches the interests of those that have power, so that the rest of us are carried on the road to an american plutocracy, rather than a democracy or meritocracy.

Please don’t call us shallow.

Posted by theinfamoush6 | Report as abusive

Another propagandist for the right speaks the usual, well, propaganda.

Posted by scrumble | Report as abusive

My guess is that the writer, and many commentors have never been hungry or out of work. Some of you commentors think you have all the answers. We, as a country, are in deep trouble. We have no accountable leadership and I think most politicians and some commentors would just kick the proptestors to the curb as you go on your way eating yourself fat into oblivian. Wake up USA.

Posted by fred5407 | Report as abusive

> First, economic confusion

Really? You think the protesters are confused? You have a pretty poor opinion of your fellow man, eh? Because it’s all pretty self-evident.

But if you’re having trouble figuring it out, try these nice graphs:
http://www.businessinsider.com/what-wall -street-protesters-are-so-angry-about-20 11-10?op=1

Posted by riku | Report as abusive

Just like Tea Party members were ridiculed for calling for smaller government while receiving Medicare, OWS protesters are ridiculed for railing against corporations and the rich while being mass consumers of their products.

Maybe everyone can now understand how ridiculous it was to make the original accusation. Now, if people could acknowledge how ridiculous their accusations of racism in the Tea Party were, we might actually make some progress toward a more civil discourse.

Posted by AndyAE | Report as abusive

“Neoliberalism”? And you’re defining it as “trust in small government and big companies”? That’s the best example of doublespeak I’ve come across in a long time, straight out of the Orwellian Ministry of Truth.

Have you ever seen the Oceania pyramid? I find it fascinating. You can find it here on this Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nineteen_Ei ghty-Four
It’s a pyramid based on George Orwell’s novel 1984 depicting the social structure of the super-state Oceania. It shows the majority of the population, the “Proles,” starting from the bottom and taking up most of the pyramid, 85% of the population. They are the lower working class, the subjects who are controlled by the Party. Then up toward the top is the “Outer Party,” the ones who keep the 85% in line and run things for those at the very tip of the pyramid, the Inner Party, which makes up less than 2% of the population. Sound familiar? Okay, Orwell didn’t get the percentages exactly right, but he was darn close.

There are a lot of things that point out the gross unfairness of our system, but perhaps the most revealing is the disparity of wealth in our country. There is only one other time in our nation’s history when wealth distribution was so eschewed and that was during the late 1920s, and I’m sure you know how that turned out.

As mentioned, Orwell was only slightly off the mark. 99% of the population is being ruled 1%. The “Outer Party” is the US government, and not just the Federal government, state and local governments as well. And at the very top are the plutocrats, Orwell’s “Inner Party,” Big Brother, if you will. The severity of this system is not the same, for sure, but the structure is remarkably alike, and the continuous march toward control by the ruling class is unmistakably Orwellian.

You claim that the OWS movement is short on intellectual coherence. That’s the usual reaction from someone lacking the capacity to fully grasp what is taking place. The more accurate observation is that OWS is an organic movement in its nascent stages. It needs to remain open to all people to give it time to build, something you obviously oppose. Had the specific intent and target been defined at the start of the protests, it probably would have been defused by now, or co-opted like the Tea Party was on the hard right, those you’re using doublespeak to define as the neo-liberals. So actually the movement’s lack of definition at this point of development is perhaps its greatest strength.

There’s nothing “shallow” about our discontent and only a true elitist would have the audacity to make such a statement. We are at the point now where Americans are dying because they can’t afford proper healthcare. And you consider that to be shallow? Families are being threatened as they lose their homes and face bankruptcies. College is increasingly a pipe dream. When investing what little money we have, we’re left choosing either something that earns as much interest as hiding our money under a mattress would garner, or investing in an equities market that is about as safe as a gambling casino because, as with all aspects of our society, we’re left trying to compete on a grossly inequitable playing field, dominated by computers and investment professionals whose primary intent–and in far too many cases, only intent–is to make themselves rich. And who do you suppose they’re making themselves rich off of?

It’s clear that you’re not quite ready to fully understand what is happening here in America, denoted by the OWS protests, and perhaps across the world, but until you do I’ll give you a term to chew on: sea change.

Posted by doggydaddy | Report as abusive

Citizen’s United + Gerrymandering = A broken political system and corporate oligarchy

The financial system has been a brain drain and has negatively impacted the rest of American society.

The financial system is based on game theory and tragedy of the commons. It needs to be fundamentally changed. Making a buck trumps long term stability.

Posted by justinz | Report as abusive

“The U.S. economy does have problems, especially in the job market, but the country remains prosperous.”

Anyone claiming the country is prosperous right now clearly hasn’t left their ivory tower to wallow amongst the unwashed masses since the 90s. Please PLEASE for chrissakes if you’re going to write an opinion piece about the political leanings of a much younger generation, try learning something about it first.

“The spirit of Woodstock lives in OWS.”

Woodstock and OWS are the same in that they both involved people living outside in tents. That’s pretty much where the similarities end. But keep on blindly assuming these protestors are uneducated, uninformed, drugged out hippies while you rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, blissfully unaware of the real change that has become eminent.

Posted by Shamrock21 | Report as abusive

PS – Christopher Whalen is calling both Herbert Hoover and FDR fascists in his column today (http://blogs.reuters.com/christopher-wh alen/2011/10/17/obamas-jobs-plan-is-noth ing-new/). Do you reckon that kind of trash talk’ll help keep the neoliberal ball a’rollin’?

Posted by CarlOmunificent | Report as abusive

The OWS movement shouldn’t waste their time on protest movements. If they really don’t see a place for themselves in the larger society – they should try to make alternatives. The hippies were too young and inexperienced to succeed at the communes that used to spring up in the 60′s. These people might stand a chance. They shouldn’t try for utopia but something that can sustain them while the rest of the economies of the world may be having a very hard time providing for basic needs. They would be doing them a favor in the same way monastic communities use to provide for a standard of living – a severe and restricted standard for the most part – but there were lavish exceptions – for men, women and children who had no real place in their restrictive economies.

I think the only reason the US didn’t become as firmly class riven as European and LA society was that it still had vast undeveloped territory until about 100 years ago and that territory took some time to develop. They should be building life rafts while they have a chance. They might even have a chance to rough out that new constitution CarlOmunificent mentioned in another post that seems to have disappeared. That’s what the 60′s communes lacked. None of them wanted to live by any rules and none seemed to have the slightest business training. They never built a sustainable community and were really just therapy for the kids of middle class nuclear families. We were a very packaged and controlled generation.

I fear a future will see a country where the entrenched and well invested will be inclined to see all others as pests, expensive tax burdens and military fodder. You can hear the attitude in many of the comment threads in this news site. And they can be on some cushy payroll where meaningful work – not endless meetings, or conferences, or email to catch up on, has been so thoroughly defined down – and still consider themselves hardworking.

Is the world over populated, not sufficiently organized or will it matter? A very crowded world where many are idled or pushed out of chances to make their own way will get on everyone’s nerves, especially their own.

They could form corporations of themselves, invest pooled financial resources and their own labor, even setting their own standards as to what they see as an adequate standard of living for the short term and over time create a better one. They don’t really need leaders, charismatic, religious, political or otherwise. I wouldn’t trust the bastards and wouldn’t want to live under a modern day Brigham Young or David Koresh or Jim Jones or the Shakers Mother Ann. Maybe they should have all been on their meds if they had any at the time. Power always goes to their heads. And it’s hell to have to play the part. For a fraction of the money invested in propping up the faltering superstructure of this and other countries, the Federal government could help with loans and grants.

Their whole design strategy could be – we design it, teach ourselves to build it, we make it and we can afford not to make a profit until we are good and ready. They might even allow for the possibility that they could go public.

The best way to avoid mob thinking is not to get caught in one and that may not be possible. And I can’t think of a dumber invention than suburban sprawl and the need for a lot of infrastructure to make life easier for people with lawns they seldom use. Building one’s own home is the best way to avoid a mortgage and the option is not always available except in the rural parts of the country. But suburbia sets density limits and the need to purchase large enough tracts of land to accommodate a viable subdivision. And suburbia is generally useless without the automobile. Don’t do it in suburbia. Modern communication media gives one more freedom of movement. The private automobile need not be the sine qua non or anyone’s lifestyle. There are such things as car pools or even rentals.

The country is nearly 1/2 desert. And that means solar energy in abundance as well as geothermal power.

Posted by paintcan | Report as abusive

You can get paid for work, or you can be unemployed, either of which, gives you no voice. The SCOTUS gave your voice to an entity, that can`t vote. You have no way to get through to your elected representative, but the corporation do, so you must change the court to reflex justice.

Posted by desmoines | Report as abusive

“The global economy is certainly not in bad shape.” Well maybe from your leather chair on the top floor it isn’t. This is typical rhetoric from pundits and money changers and thugs – “Things could be worse for the minions so what is this rabble complaining about !!” How about if the CEO’s in the limelight step up and say “We have done things badly – we’re not going to do that anymore and we’re going to try to fix it – here’s how”. It amazes me that not one – NOT ONE of the people in a position of power (and lots of income) has even made an attempt to deal with the HUGE PR problem they have right now. The view from the street is that corporate executives and politicians and those with a 6 or 7 figure paycheck are only interested in a narrowly defined bottom line at the expense of a large portion of the society they belong to. Are we wrong?? Explain your position.

We have companies sitting on billions of dollars in cash that they won’t spend because they can’t double their money. Where’s all the R&D? What happened to being competitive? What happened to gambling on an idea? Are we all out of ideas?

Yes, I know that everyone who looks in the mirror is responsible for where we are. The problem for the vast majority is that we’re on the wrong side of the television cameras. What choice are people left with except to go and do? True leaders would know that discontent(from people who feel completely powerless and valueless)IS THE MESSAGE! This isn’t a few people – it’s a pulse of thousands and the attempt to blow it off as meaningless and valueless IS THE PROBLEM! What has happened to our best and brightest as leaders? What has happened to character and honor? Here’s your message – SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY!

Posted by SGinOR | Report as abusive


It’s still there: http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/20 11/10/14/the-politics-of-americas-wealth -chasm/. (Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain – The Great OWS has spoken! Follow the Yellow Brick Road…)

Glad you like it! I’m car-free and mortgage-free already, by the way. I find it pleasant.

Posted by CarlOmunificent | Report as abusive

Let’s see how these students react when President Obama DOUBLES the interest rates on their student loans as of July 1, 2012. Can’t blame the banks for that one kiddies. That comes directly from Washington DC courtesy of a Democrat Congress and Ted Kennedy, may he rest in peace.

Posted by feudi | Report as abusive

The writer assures: “The Left’s basic economic demands have largely been met: the proletariat has mostly become middle class and the government mostly protects the weak.”

Yeah, TARP went to the weak alright. And those Halliburton contracts for the wars. And those billions we give to dictators around the world each year for ‘military aid.’ Yeah, the weak in America are doing great. Regular soup kitchen there, you tool.

The existence of a large middle class can not be taken for granted. It was hard won in the early 20th Century, and we will fight to keep it here. The multi-nationals are more than happy to turn us back into Mexico at any time. Wage earners have nothing in common with corporate boards.

Posted by MarketForce | Report as abusive

to begin with the tax system has to be completely changed. The easiest and biggest tax available for governments is to charge tax on all money changing,such as banks and especially on e very share sold. The stock exchange woud be one of the biggest tax collectors. Income tax rates must be proggressive. After ww2 Britain had income tax rates up to 95%.

Posted by foozie | Report as abusive

The reason this movement will fail is because it’s not a real grass roots movement at all. The OWS is a fabricated movement designed by Obama, Soros, Unions and some wealthy entertainers made at the Tea Party. It’s hard to get too enthusiastic denouncing the Rich when the main spokesman is worth $50 million dollars and will eventually make a movie out of this for more money. Obama has done great job of destroying the job market and blaming it on the wealthy. This has been his plan all along and these upper middle class kids in NY who feel their lives are wasted were the perfect target for an anti-establishment protest to make them feel an important part of history.

Posted by Hobobob | Report as abusive

Tom Richards, MAmoderate 0 minutes ago
“Shallowness” of OWS? Not so, Edward Hadas. Wake up! I just love seeing the banks get slammed and lose money! It would be better to do away with their rip off mindset by progressively taxing all kinds of income at the same rate and a 70% tax on incomes and estates of over $1-million and $10-million, respectively. Congress and #occupu_boston take note! Do it or we’ll vote you out.

Posted by Tom1934 | Report as abusive

feudi: I guess when one’s ideology is bankrupt, he is left defending his agenda using lies. Actually, Obama and the Democrats have expanded the Pell Grant program. Here’s an easy to follow explanation that demonstrates the desperation you embody with your prevarication: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/31/us/pol itics/31obama.html

You guys need to keep your lies straight. If Obama’s a socialist as the right claims he is, why would he raise interest rates on student loans? And can a president even do that? But I’ve got an open mind. Substantiate your claim with some proof (which you should have done to start with).

Posted by doggydaddy | Report as abusive

“A little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.”

Thomas Jefferson, 1787

Posted by MarketForce | Report as abusive

All they need is a good job.

Quit exporting them abroad with offshore outsourcing.

Posted by robb1 | Report as abusive

Shocking! A rich white guy who’s in bed with Wall Street doesn’t ‘get’ the Occupy Wall Street movement. He only understands and appreciates the simple one sentence movements like “We want our country back!”, whatever country that might be…

Let me explain it Ed: They’re complaining that Wall Street wrecked the economy three years ago and nobody’s has been held responsible for that. They’re angry because not a single person has been indicted or convicted for destroying twenty percent of our national net worth accumulated over two centuries.

They’re upset about the fact that Wall Street has iron control over the economic policies of this country, and that one party is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street, and the other party caters to them as well.

They’re upset because 24 million people in this country can’t find a full time job, that we have 50 million people in this country who can’t see a doctor when they’re sick, that we have 47 million people in this country who need government help to feed themselves, and we have 15 million families who owe more on their mortgage than the value of their home.

Its not so hard Ed. Just think about someone besides yourself once in a while.

Posted by kevinflynn56 | Report as abusive

doggydaddy –

It’s the work of Minitrue. Here’s some more of their latest Newspeak:

“FDR would later expand this fascist model of Hoover…,” after which, “FDR and his fellow travelers began to experiment in socialist engineering with the New Deal.”

http://blogs.reuters.com/christopher-wha len/2011/10/17/obamas-jobs-plan-is-nothi ng-new/

Thus, FDR and his associates, who apparently included Herbert Hoover, were both fascists AND socialists. How double-plus good is that?

War is peace! Freedom is slavery! Ignorance is strength!

Be seeing you!

(Rats! Double-plus ungood! Get them away! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!…………..)

Posted by CarlOmunificent | Report as abusive

Most of the people who criticize the New Deal do it from the comfort of today’s world, behind a computer sipping coffee. Just because they weren’t born until long after their proud grandfathers stood in soup kitchen lines and took CCC work where ever they could find it, or sharecropper housing….. doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Find an old person today (and I don’t mean Dick Cheney old). Find an OLD person, a person who lived all the way through the Depression and ask them if the New Deal ruined America. Go ahead and ask.

You revisionist weirdoes.

Posted by MarketForce | Report as abusive

You’re clueless buddy.

And your patronizing tone tells me I could lay it out in black and white and it wouldn’t help. But I will give you a hint – OWS isn’t left wing and it’s not right wing either. I realize that’s not going to compute for you but nonetheless, they don’t have an ideology.

Posted by majkmushrm | Report as abusive

Hadas: “They blame the triumph of “neoliberals” who put their trust in small government and big companies…they suggest the enemy is not an erroneous ideology but a huge economic conspiracy of the elite against the people.
Such claims are not justified.”

This is a crock! That’s not what they’re saying at all. It’s the Republicans who support small gov’t and big business. Hadas can’t distinguish between the OWS and the Tea Party.

One percent controlling more wealth than the other 99, while completely blocking or gutting any legislation that would reign in the financial institutions or stop corporate destruction of the environment.

The government is controlled by corporations through lobbying, which is simply another word for corruption. Both parties are corrupt, and Obama duped us into thinking he was different. And the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations have the same rights as citizens. Sounds like a conspiracy to me.

One thing the OWS supporters want to see is restrictions on lobbying and election reform.

Posted by Andvari | Report as abusive

Thanks to you all for the comments. I do not feel alone. I hope OWS lasts through the next year and then mobilize to the phone banks and neighborhoods and polls to reverse this travesty that has become our Congress. I hope the dems and our president listen to the message of how they let us down. I hope the voices will be heard through democratic dialog and action. BTW, this article was incoherent tripe.

Posted by BakoD | Report as abusive

Mr. Hadas has no basis to assume any expert authority to speak on this subject. He may be very knowledgeable on the subjects of economics and markets and have written a textbook on “Political Philosophy”, but he knows nothing about grassroots movements.

There are no good sources of information or textbooks on the most effective grassroots movement in US or world history, the Anti-Nuclear movement. When the Shoreham, L.I. nuclear plant was built and completed at a cost of %5 Billion, in just the US alone, there were over 300 other nuclear plants under construction. There was at least another 1000 in various stages of planning. After they loaded the fuel rods into it, the state of N.Y bought it for $1 and shut it down. No other plant has been built since.

Up till when the Shoreham plant was completed,the nuclear power was arguably the largest industry in the world. It was effectively killed dead by the same type of activism and very similar strategies now at work in the Occupy Wall St. movement.

30 years ago in N.Y. we operated under Quaker principles of non-violence and consensus. In a group with over 5000 people who self-proclaimed affiliation, every decision had to be agreed to by EVERY member of the group.

here are spiritual principles far more effective than those who think and believe solely in material terms will understand. Gandhi and Martin Luther King understood. By using such tactics both Gandhi and King achieved much more and more quickly than was possible with other methods.

I am 52 years old, I am no naive kid. I have owned numerous businesses and conducted business all over the world. I have also witnessed corporate globalism and a fantastically wealthy elite sucking the life out of people and this planet. 99% have only begun to suffer the misery which awaits them if governments and institutions are created to replace all that is in place now.

Mr Hadas and others remain clueless about this movement and its significance because of a conspiracy of silence on this subject. Mr. Hadas and many other so-called experts will continue clueless right up until the moment the whole system is brought down and crashes on their heads.

I was one who occupied and got arrested at Shoreham and in two weeks I will soon be camping out on Wall St., prepared to stay there until the whole system is brought down.

And THAT is what democracy looks like.

Posted by kakrainmaker | Report as abusive

There is much pain among the ‘non-1 percent’ Class of USA’s population. Erosion of pensions’ values, 401k’s, and the pain of real estate plummeting towards (more reasonable) market equilibrium levels. Wall St. deserves perhaps 25% of the blame….Federal Gov’t deserves the remaining 75% (specific example: Point ownership going to honorable B. Frank) for convincing Congress to vote such that every American family must deserve a “Mortgage opportunity”. Point Result: Free-for-all financial disaster of orgasmically devastating scale (basis year 2008). No ‘required confirmation’ of credit worthiness…employment history (current or past)…decent human status/not a criminal miscreant. Hundreds of thousands of mortgages were “awarded” to Americans who didn’t even comprehend how financial systems or basic financial transactions function. Some barely could read the papers they signed. Thanks to you, Sir, Mr. Big Barnie Frank f-head…you a-hole. Result has been massive foreclosure wave of mortgage loans which had no arguable/reasonable basis to ever exist on prima facia basis.
…OK, fast forward to NOW. We as USA citizens have overall ‘Screwed the proverbial Pooch’. Solution: What really drives our destinity now? Business “Development”…”Entrepreneurialism”…Every body gets to go to college…Right??. WRONG. No, not the engineering or science or math ‘capable’ fraction of our population…but EVERYBODY deserves it. Of Course, for God’s sake. COLD TRUTH: Complete waste of time college majors culminating in a degree include: History, English, Philosophy,…”—fill-in-the-blank Studies”. If you do not comprehend it by now, …that these b-s majors are useless and impractical piles of “s..t”, costing your distraught Parents upwards of 100K in loan debt, then you are just another ‘Pawn’ in the game which was devised and remains RULED by those humans who are sufficiently intelligent to comprehend and utilize science and mathematics in a manner to gain advantage in our real world. NOTICE: This is true Darwinism at it’s most glorious display, portrayed in finest color among these pathetic ‘March on WS demonstrators’…LOOK PLEASE: You demonstrators as a ‘Group’, …You apparently lack the base-level intellectual capacity, and the base-level COURAGE, to achieve a real SOLUTION and put it to PRACTICAL USE. ‘Screw You’, you protester leeches …if you don’t have the fortitude and courage to achieve tangible improvement. Go and Shrivel gloriously in your self-created piles of loathing self-pity.

Posted by STEMcollege | Report as abusive

why do the pundits always go to “left” and “right” when trying to explain something. Are you purposefully trying to twist what is going on with OWS?

Try this. OWS has nothing against business success. It has a problem when those with power and money get more attention and special treatment from elected officials.

When the rich rig the game for their benefit – we revolt. If elected representatives in DC were actually solving problems for the people -we wouldn’t be marching.

Posted by gordo365 | Report as abusive

Hobobob – what are you talking about? You have a very active imagination…

Posted by gordo365 | Report as abusive

Occupy Wall Street is a “human smoothie”, so blended that none of what comprises it remains identifiable or even cohesive. No one can lead it because it has no head and no tail. It is as an octopus with eight heads and one tentacle, a freak that cannot even feed itself.

The fundamental and unresolvable problem of OWS is that it is too much like a magnet in an iron mine. A disaffected “hard core” is periodically swollen for a few minutes, hours or even days. The people and the “mix” vary moment to moment. There is no common, tangible “substance”.

There are “I’m afraid for my job”s,the unemployed, the unemployable, the unmotivated, the incapable, and the unions. These strange bedmates and a few genuinely confused and greatly concerned from the articulate “middle class” show up on the evening news as a leaderless squirming mass.

The goal or goals of the few who have some clear idea of why they are there are as like as not in direct conflict with those of others “participants”there. Each will shout the other down.

At the same time America IS in deep trouble. The process by which we elect those who supposedly speak for us has become hopelessly corrupted.

The Oaths of Office of our Presidents, our Congresspersons and Judges at every level are routinely disregarded or ignored without penalty. The legal profession has an inappropriately dominant role, presently holding the White House, 100% of the Supreme Court and a huge majority of those presently elected to Congress.

We have “elevated” Congressional service from a relatively short term, uncompensated “public duty” of our “best and brightest” to a profession of the disingenuous and forked tongue who have rewarded themselves at public expense with lavish salaries, privileges and retirements even as they repeatedly betray the public interest.

None “rising to the top” have ears or eyes for any but the coalition of special interests that puts each in office (and, they hope, will keep them there). Their idea of “long term planning” is inflating our currency such that the dollars they so lavishly spend in ever-increasing amount are to be “repaid” as far into the future as possible with dollars of ever less purchasing power.

As Pogo said, “We has met the enemy, and he is us.” These problems are not going to be solved by a bunch of tent “cities” supported by other special interests currently popping up across this country and the world like a game of “Whack-a mole”.

As the Romans said, “Give them porridge, wine and games”. As I look at a TV saturated with Occupy Wall Street, football, hockey, basketball and the upcoming World Series of Baseball…the formula is alive and well.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive

There’s nothing shallow about the repeal of the Glass–Steagall Act, and the fact that it was opposed by every governor across the whole USA. Not to forget those inscrutable derivatives and it’s endless path of speculations that devoured pensions, home equities, jobs; all vanished overnight into a financial back hole. But it doesn’t stop there, our government has used a credit card in lieu of war bond issues and taxes to finance four big wars beginning in Nam and ongoing today. This unknown and accumulated indebtedness has so devalued our currency that the first world currencies buying power is scarcely a tenth of what it was in 1960.
Do I need to hum you the Marat/Sade tune so aptly sung by Judy Collins! We’ve paid with our blood and now our wallets!!

Posted by elmerfudzie | Report as abusive

” Occupiers see the economy as a disaster.
Such claims are not justified. The global economy is certainly not in bad shape. ”

Can anyone in their right minds say that Europe is not in bad shape right now economically as per Greece and Spain etc, Not to mention that the US is barely recovering from the crash of ’08, we resorted to socialist principles to save our banking system, we’ve had our credit level downgraded because we almost went into default, and GOLDMAN Sachs posted a LOSS this quarter LOL.

This is a ridiculous statement and certainly invalidates the rest of the article… Mr. Hadas needs to get his head out of the clouds before we even discuss “neolibralism”.

Foolish and dangerous ignorance…

Posted by venusfur | Report as abusive

This is a very interesting piece. The goal of the piece is to gut the message of OWS by lulling. This is the common critique of the status quo.

“Even a crisis in speculative financial capitalism has not spawned substantial left-wing proposals for reform.”

A crisis that nearly crippled the global economy and we need left-wing proposals to correct? Really?

Perhaps the enormously disproportionate influence the wealthy maintain and continue to buy more of has something to do with it? Nah, that’s us being silly. We need ‘left-wing’ counter proposals.

According to the author, basically things are not that bad.

Really? I guess that depends on from what perspective you view things. The author’s perspective is from an armchair, with a drink in hand. I expect no less from a neo-liberal, not too unlike a neo-con sitting in his/her armchair taking in the world.

The worst aspect of neo-liberals is that they see consumption as crucial to the system.

In a world where sustainability should be the meme, must be the meme, of this new century. Not consumerism.

The problems will eventually tear at the very fabric of societies, you sit in that armchair nice and comfy and pretend everything is alright. (I’m sure from your window it probably looks like it is.) There won’t be enough iPhones and iPads out there to keep that from happening.

Posted by TheUSofA | Report as abusive

“The OWS is a fabricated movement designed by Obama, Soros, Unions and some wealthy entertainers made at the Tea Party.”

Thanks for identifying yourself. Are you just a parrot? Can you think for yourself without some conservative whispering in your ears grand about Soros and grand conspiracies?

Can you not see this movement is aimed at ALL leadership? Including Dems who caved to 30 years of conservative hammering long ago? That’s staring at you in the face but you’ll ignore the fact and create fiction to suit your ridiculous notions. Your just as bad as those idjuts who think 9/11 was a conspiracy. You’re the opposite side of that same coin.

You’re the victim of a divide and conquer strategy and you can’t even see it.

Posted by TheUSofA | Report as abusive

There are none so blind as who will not see. Edward Hadas
does not see well. Some of the people that post here do see well. The Capitalist system has a crack in it and that crack is getting wider and wider. I don’t know about 99% to 1% but America is in need of a lot of things. You must have good health care for all. That is for sure. The single payer system is the best! The Government must have tight controls on it. That is why we vote for a Government. To promote the general Welfare of the all the people. To insure our Teanquility. That is the Governments JOB! Not Wall-Street, not the Banks, not the big Bosses. The Governement! You have to ask how a backward over populated Communist country. Has now become No#1 How did that happen. Oh yes maybe it is time to dust off that old decrepit book of Karl Marx and take another look. American business has for to long sought out the cheapest labor to the point that the Avg. person can not buy some of the things that made America great. That is what the Wall-Street protest is all about.

Posted by touch128 | Report as abusive