Zuccotti Park, or the Power of Numbers
“Something is happening here, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Bloomberg?”――Bob Dylan (with slight emendation)
What’s going on in Zuccotti Park is now crystal clear. As the spent leaves and bitter rains of autumn fall, that heretofore inconsequential place now holds a tiny spark of liberty, all that is left of what was once a great light unto nations. The so-called rag-tag youth are freezing and fighting for all of us.
They are small in number, but they are only the tip of the spear. To see how many millions stand figuratively behind them, you have only to read the on-line comments on any article on the subject, anywhere.
Millions now know the bankers of Wall Street have not done their jobs. Millions see how they have deceived, swindled and bamboozled their peers in finance, real business and the rest of us. Millions laugh when they claim the exalted status of “essential” capitalists, “too big to fail.”
Wall Street has exerted its unholy influence over our elected officials, our political system, and our media. It has won virtually every battle of significance for the last thirty years.
But as the old song goes, “the times they are a-changin’.” Wall Street did not fight fair. It did not fight openly. It acted by stealth and indirection, backed by the greatest propaganda machine in human history. And now, when the tide is just beginning to turn, its minions wail, “class warfare!”
They should have thought of that when they started the war on the middle class thirty years ago. They were vastly outnumbered from the start.
They seem to have forgotten Lincoln’s famous admonition: “you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” Now the people are waking up.
For the bankers and their sorry myths of “too big to fail,” “trickle down” and “competitiveness” with foreign bankers, the time is up. We don’t need people who gamble and swindle under the guise of “innovation” and “modernity.” We don’t need people who torpedo the global economic system and, when their victims―the swindled, defrauded, and innocent depositors, homeowners and creditors―come to collect their just bills, point to the government and us taxpayers. We don’t need people who lack even the basic humility to give up their corporate jets while flying to Senate hearings to explain why their mistakes, greed and dishonesty should be rewarded with continuing power and more obscene bonuses.
It’s not just that we want them stripped of the power to do further damage. We do. It’s not just that we want the worst of them behind bars, in real prisons where real criminals do hard time. We do. It’s not just that we want them stripped of their wealth (although we’d be happy if most of them would just retire to their yachts or luxury mansions in Europe and never bother us again). We do.
It’s that we hate their guts for what they have done to our economy, our country and our democracy, for spoiling the most just and equitable society in human history.
And it will be a long, long time―and will take a lot of real contrition and public sacrifice―before we forgive them, if ever. There is no sign yet of the slightest contrition, even a mere acknowledgement of mistakes. So there is no basis for forgiveness or mercy.
These men (they are all men) have no sense of perspective and little imagination. What little imagination they possess bends toward numbers and greed. But the hatred of millions could lead to the same results here as in the French and Russian revolutions. That’s why the private owner of Zuccotti Park, under pressure form politicians who can sense the public tide, called off the police yesterday.
Thomas Jefferson wrote that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” But in that quote, Jefferson forgot one thing. An enlightened society need not shed blood if people can count. Our democracy started nearly eight centuries ago, on the fields of Runnymede, when King John counted the opposing barons and their armies.
He decided not to fight, but to settle, and our Magna Carta was the result. Isn’t that the whole idea of democracy, ballots not bullets?
They have taken our ballots from us by stealth, guile and corruption. But it doesn’t take a genius to count us now. Even the loopy Tea Partiers want to bring the bankers down and break up their monstrous, thieving empires, as does everyone who can read and think.
We the people have the plutocrats outnumbered at least 100,000 to one. And, if it comes to that, the army is the one force in our society they do not yet control. We just have to make it clear even to these supremely arrogant fools that they are outnumbered, their days are numbered, and their number of days is small. Then they’ll retreat to their gated mansions and let us begin the Herculean job of cleaning up the mess they have made. We can’t even begin with them standing in the way, claiming their disastrous prerogatives.
The notion that the protesters are “disorganized” and lack plans is absurd. They are not protesting to form a government, at least not yet. They are protesting to bring a corrupt and monstrous system down, or at least bring it to heel. Their grievances have been read on cable TV, are crystal clear, and are well and succinctly expressed.
Millions share those grievances, and justly so. Nobody likes the bankers of Wall Street. Nobody who is not on their payroll thinks they are doing a good job. Nobody believes they are necessary to the survival of capitalism, let alone democracy.
We all want them gone. We want their fine leather boots off our necks, so our economy and our liberty can breathe again. If you took a real popular vote today, you could probably summon a majority for nationalizing all the big banks. We the people have paid for them many times over. We should own them.
The protesters have done as much as our Founders, who listed their grievances against King George III in our Declaration, asserted the right of self determination, and left the rest to the future. It took five more years (mostly in war) to form a government under the Articles of Confederation, and fifteen in all to form a lasting government under our Constitution. To ask more of youth whose bulwarks are courage, zeal and outrage (which all of us feel) is not just unfair. It’s ridiculous.
Make no mistake about it. The protesters in Zuccotti Park are no paid front group like the Tea Party. They are the genuine article. They are a spontaneous popular movement drawn from millions of people who have been pushed beyond endurance. And they represent all the millions of us―including me―who are just now deciding how much of our “lives, fortunes and sacred honor” we are willing to put at risk to get our country back. We know that what we do next will seal our own and our childrens’ fate, not to mention our nation’s.
Sparks can catch fire even in the depths of wet autumn. Just ask the Russians about October 1917. The bankers and their shills and lackeys had better start reading some history and readying their exits, for the hour is growing late.