I work a block or two north of Zucotti Park where the Occupy Wall Street demonstration has been going on. When I checked it last time, a couple of weeks ago, there was a young woman holding up a sign saying, “Blame Barney Frank!” Hmm…better choose your targets more carefully, sister, is what I thought. Today, the crowd, many of them encamped, was much larger, and the slogans were various.
A generally scruffy bunch – goes with sleeping outside in a park, I guess – some with pretty wacked out messages. A wondering crank denouncing adultery was on his own. More common were protesters against The Federal Reserve System, fiat money, central banking generally, and so on. This group is heavily influenced by the intellectual wing of the anti-establishment wave, some of which sloshes in the Tea Party’s cups, and is libertarian, pro-silver, and a bit loony as far as I can tell.
Most of the people were simply angry at the usual and well documented offenses of “Wall Street.” Oversize-bonuses for CEOs while people get evicted from homes; hand-outs, bailouts, guarantees, and golden parachutes for the financial élite while most people hunker down and suffer. The capture of government and politics by the super-rich, and so on. One sign that I liked a lot said, “Lay off CEOs, not teachers.” Pretty good idea, pretty simple.
There was a man there making buttons with a T-shirt that said Un-Locke America, and had a picture of venerable John Locke with an international ‘NO’ sign on top of his face. “A pretty smart guy, but a schmuck,” is how the man described the granddad of British Empiricism and the intellectual godfather of our American bourgeois revolution. In particular, he took issue with Locke’s ideas of natural rights, and property rights being prior to all governmental arrangements. That was all a convenient assumption for a 17th century philosopher to make, and so very congenial to his patrons and his class.