George Will didn't quite hit one out of the park with today's column comparing the tea partiers with the Occupy Wall Street crowd, but he came awfully close. He rightly describes OWS as a progressive movement, according to which people should have a perpetual right to support by the state regardless of their contribution (even Lenin didn't believe in that sort of nonsense), and the government should provide, basically, everything else required for the good life. (This, I hardly need point out, has been the basis for European government programs and policies going back as far as World War II, and we see the result quite clearly in today's headlines.) He characterizes another OWS demand as “forgiveness of 'all debt on the entire planet period'” -- which leaves one wondering, what if this jubilee year really came? Would anyone, from that point on, even assuming they had the resources, ever be willing to loan any money to anyone ever again? Seems unlikely. If we forgive all debts, then we effectively forbid all loans and all borrowing... and it's hard to see how that degree of Puritanism would yield up a net benefit to the human race. Surely there has to be an acceptable in-between point... something like what Kiva is doing, for instance.
Will refers to OWS as a “countermovement” to the tea party – although I have pointed out that, in many respects, they are opposing the same thing. The problem is getting them to realize it. On the other hand, the OWS crowd's visceral opposition to work for pay, higher education having to cost anything, and -- implied -- property in general (when held in quantities exceeding those required for mere survival) would not sit well with most tea partiers, who are solidly middle-class with values attached. And I don't suppose the tea partiers' adherence to conventional religious creeds would sit well with the OWS crowd, which, I suspect, has an unnaturally high incidence of atheists, skeptics, pantheists, and the like. When it comes to war, the picture is bit less clear, since the OWS folk don't seem to say a whole lot about war per se, and yet surely they realize that it's war that keeps most of the corporations they are protesting against in business. The tea partiers, on the other hand, like war for war's sake, no matter which president is in charge – as witness their stunning silence on the matter of Obama's having embraced the role of a war president.
And yet, as I said, there is a common ground... or there should be. But neither side sees the big picture enough to realize it. Even George Will doesn't realize it, or so I suspect. What he sees are “the tea party's splendid successes” -- I'm not sure how “splendid” they've been as yet – and that the OWS movement may be paving the way for a conservative reaction, the way the anti-Vietnam War movement supposedly paved the way for Nixon's election in 1968. Well... but you'll notice the hand-off of the Vietnam War from LBJ to Nixon was slicker than greased bear crap on glass... and I suspect the same will happen if a Republican should replace Obama in 2013, vis-a-vis both the wars and the economy. They're all working for the same master now – a fact that Mr. Will doesn't seem willing or able to perceive.
But in the meantime, he does aim some pithy observations straight at the progressive heart of OWS – and they hit the target. “(OWS's) meta-theory is... clear: Washington is grotesquely corrupt and insufficiently powerful.” Ouch! This statement could be made of the tea partiers as well, of course; it's not about size of government but its priorities. And how about this: “Government of the sort progressives demand... is not just susceptible to corruption; it _is_ corruption.” Wow. One doesn't often hear it put that way... and it's probably because progressives' good intentions tend to defuse criticism – at least early on. But in the long run, every “progressive” program turns into just another tentacle of government, with all the bureaucracy, corruption, finagling, and waste of any other government program without such benign pretenses. What has the FDA done for you lately? It's probably keeping you from drinking the beverages you'd like to drink and eating the foods you'd like to eat, taking the supplements you'd like to take, and undergoing the medical treatments you'd like to undergo. It is, in short, totalitarian – and progressives have nothing, in principle, against totalitarianism, as long as it's for a good cause. The supreme irony of this is that progressivism is a subset of populism -- which supposedly believes in the wisdom of the common man. And yet every government program or policy ever dreamed up by progressives implies just the opposite -- that the common man is an idiot, and a sheep, who needs constant attention and guidance in order that he might not destroy himself.
But really, as I've said before, there are no degrees of freedom left for the tea party, OWS, or any other movement to operate in. All the cards have been taken off the table – which is why the administration and its state and local appendages have shown so little concern. Oh sure, the mainstream media have kept up a non-stop diatribe against the tea party ever since it was named... but that's just their job. The fact that the Regime, and its servants in government, have ignored both it and OWS is the best indication that they feel they have absolutely nothing to fear. (You'll notice, by the way, that they have not yet come to the point of ignoring threats from “third parties” -- they still fight like demons to keep them suppressed and in check... which tells you something about how much the “two-party system” means any more. When third parties are as good as outlawed, that means that there aren't two major parties, but only one.)
So... all I'm saying is, don't get too excited about either the tea party or its left-wing, through-the-looking-glass doppelganger. They are no wiser than any two of the blind men trying to figure out what an elephant looks like. That they each suspect that something is terribly wrong is commendable, no doubt – but, in the tea partiers' case, they have already been at least partially co-opted and absorbed by the Republican blob... and who knows, the OWS crowd may suffer the same treatment from the Democrats before long. Unlikely, you say? But you'll notice that they never blame Obama or the Democrats for anything that's going on; only big business. Problem is, Obama and the Democrats are the servants and enablers of big business, every bit as much as the Republicans are. But again, that is part of the big picture... way too big to be seen by people camped out in Zuccotti Park.