Saturday, May 12, 2012

Why Is Anyone Surprised?

Those five mutants who were picked up for terrorist activities (intended, not actually carried out) turned out to be tight with the Occupy Cleveland group... and said group is, predictably, all in a flutter as to how to distance themselves from the alleged terrorists. Well, OK – given that the whole thing was a sting operation, which means that the “terrorists” would not have had a plan at all if they hadn't been helped along by the government... it remains that there was a plan, and they were willing participants. In fact, it reminds me of nothing so much as the anarchists of old – you know, those guys who were always pictured with long coats and bushy black beards, carrying a round black bomb with the fuse lit. That was raw material for the “Red Scare” of old (post-World War I)... and now it turns out that, with a bit of help from the makeup and costume departments, it can serve as raw materials for the current obsession with terrorism. Our home-grown terrorists, in fact, don't look all that different from white supremacists – not a coincidence, I'm sure.

But here's what I find striking. The Occupy types are shocked – shocked! -- that any of their associates would be implicated in any way in such a dastardly plot. And when you look at the Occupy movement on the surface, it seems reasonable – after all, who doesn't object, to some degree, to the many predations of Wall Street, big business, and crony capitalism? I even suspect that far more than 99% of the populace considers themselves part of “the 99%” -- i.e. the taken-for-granted, exploited, and put-upon. We do have a love affair with victim politics in this country, and even people who live high off the hog occasionally indulge in victimization claims. And it is certainly true that any number of Democrats/liberals mouth 99%-er words from their palatial mansions. But just being a 99%-er, or claiming to be one, doesn't automatically brand one an anarchist or a terrorist... right?

The important thing to remember about the Occupy crowd is not what they are against, but what they are for. The anarchists of old turned, overnight, into Bolsheviks and totalitarians. They wound up severely oppressing “the people” whom they had pretended to represent. And they were no more interested in true freedom and individual liberty than had been the czars and kings of earlier times. I will say that behind the face of nearly every self-styled “anarchist” lies the brain and heart of a totalitarian dictator. They only want to smash the state in order to install a new, even more oppressive, one in its place – with them in charge. Seek no further than the “coat-and-tie liberals” of the 1960s who have now matured into -- for all intents and purposes -- fascists.

Now... it is true that there is a significant anarchistic wing of the libertarian movement, and I suspect that they are the real McCoy... i.e., true anarchists in principle and not hypocrites with a hidden agenda. I'm not saying that their position is realistic or sustainable, mind – although they certainly deserve a lot more “air time” than they have gotten up to now. But at least they're consistent, and not driven by political relativism... which is why, I suspect, there are few if any among the Occupy crowd. Because that rag-tag group, if I'm not mistaken, consists not of true anarchists, and certainly not of true advocates of distributism – but of thinly-disguised communists, collectivists, and totalitarians. In fact, the thin disguise falls away entirely at times, as we have seen over the past few months... especially when one of them expresses a desire for the government to move in and solve all the problems the Occupy people are protesting against. Right – refusing to acknowledge that it was, by and large, the government that was responsible for the problems in the first place. So the solution for government interference in the economy is, apparently, bigger government. How can that possibly be considered anarchism? It's only anarchism to the extent that someone wants to destroy the current system – but they don't want to do that either; not really. All they want is that the current system changes priorities, and makes a shift in the people who receive privileges... and becomes more totalitarian. So, for example, the government is supposed to pay off everyone's college loans, presumably by taking money away from Wall Street. But the government and Wall Street are symbiotic; they're practically synonymous. And if the government pays off every existing college loan, how about the ones that are taken out next fall, or next week, or tomorrow? Shouldn't the government pay for those as well – which really means, shouldn't the government just send everyone to college for free? This would certainly require a bit of economic reshuffling... but I can guarantee government would only get larger, and I doubt “Wall Street” would get any smaller. Only the middle class would, as usual, wind up with a bigger bill.

So are the “Ohio Five” real, true-blue anarchists? They may think they are and act like they are, but unless they are extremely atypical of the Occupy crowd, they are anything but. The main difference would seem to be their tactics, which are, let's admit, a bit on the extreme side. How would blowing up a bridge in Ohio accomplish anything other than creating a highway version of TSA? How about a body scan every time you want to drive on the Interstate? I can hardly wait.

Another nuance in all this is as follows. The Occupy Cleveland movement says, in its indignation, that the movement is nonviolent. Well, fine – but we have all seen what happens when “non-violent” movements gain the upper hand. First comes revolt, then revolution, and then a settling of scores and an attempt to remake society that invariably involves enormous amounts of violence and coercion. Give any “non-violent” person some real political power and see how long he remains non-violent.  (See, for instance, the "non-violent" Quakers' role in "urban renewal", i.e. the forcible ethnic cleansing of urban areas.)  Even the ones who stand above the fray seem to have plenty of “lumpen proletarians” available to do their dirty work. (And how many “non-violent” political types, once in Congress, have signed on to every war, “police action”, invasion, and occupation that came their way – not to mention to the Patriot Act and other police-state measures?)

So this development at least makes it a bit more clear what the agenda of – I suspect – more than a handful of “Occupiers” is. And it's not as if the points they are making in public are wrong; it's more about the motive behind them. Many of them, I suspect, not only hate “big business” but all business... and they not only hate disproportionate distribution of wealth, but all wealth... and private property as well. Many of them have been quite explicit on this matter. But the irony remains that, while they hate the things that government has provided to the privileged few, they expect that same government to come in and clean house, and to right all wrongs, and to enact a great leveling – not only of rights and opportunity, but of outcomes on all levels. I hesitate even to call it hypocrisy – invincible ignorance might be more appropriate.

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