What's going to happen October 15th you ask? Global protests.
I can't say I understand clearly how this movement is interconnected with Occupy Wallstreet (whether one spawned the other or if there was originally a synergistic relationship going on), but I know that "official" Occupy Wallstreet website
has thrown its support behind them and essentially is going to take part in these protests. A lot of the rhetoric is much the same as the Occupy Wallstreet movement, especially the bit they reposted for them. They've co-opted a page from the Tea Party's by trying to sound like a non-partisan group with clips like this:
It's not any more about parties, organizations or unions. The call should come from all of the organizations and from the people of the world like you
But a cursory examination of their beliefs exposes them to be rather ideologically left-leaning and extreme, if not deeply naive and ignorant. This is their document I will be taking selections from: http://takethesquare.net/2011/09/24/15th-october-whats-the-plan-15oct/
Lets kick this off with my favorite quote of populist arrogance from this document:
And that fundamental issue that lie behind all the other problems is that we, the people of the world, are not deciding what the world should be. If we could, most of these problems would just disappear.
Yep, the problems in the world only exist because the ruling class isn't listening to the wisdom of the average person
; sounds nice, doesn't it? We could all live in a wonderful utopia if only the people
were the ones making the decision. Of course, embedded in this is the assumption that the populace is always right; that the people have a political system in mind that would be far better than the one we currently have. Only 34% of 'the people,' in the United States for instance, actually know that TARP was passed by Bush,
and yet somehow I'm supposed to believe that the fundamental problem we're facing is that we're not listening to the wisdom of the masses despite the fact that the nations in which these protests are largely taking place are already Democracies?
Pretending that Democracy has been subverted and corrupted so that the people's wishes are not expressed gives us the ability to deny responsibility for the consequences of our voting habits. This is the same rhetoric that the Tea Party has used, only repurposed with a new villain in mind. Where the Tea Party blamed government bureaucracy, debt, and spending for the stifling of freedom and Democracy, OWS and O15 blames private interests. Who's really to blame? Lets ask Steny Hoyer.
The American people have every right to be angry [and] disappointed by the performance of the Congress. Of course, the American people have also elected people with hard stances. Many people voted for people who thought compromise was not something that they ought to participate in. If elections have consequences — which I think they do — some of those consequences are getting what you vote for.
It's refreshing to see a politician actually blame something on the American People for once instead of rushing to get on his knees to kiss some populist ass. Ask yourself a very simple question: have you voted for someone with principles that they refuse to compromise on? Maybe abortion or a certain environmental policy is the cornerstone of your political ideology and you were looking for a representative who would never, ever given even an inch on those issues. Yes, those issues are of tantamount importance to you, and justifiably so in your own mind, but then think about your ideological opponents in the culture and imagine that they looked for their own mirror image in a politician: someone who was adamantly pro-life and a global warming denier. We send both of these people to congress at different times and expect them to get along, then we're surprised they don't? We don't elect people for their ability to solve problems in America, we elect people based on their ability to agree with us; sycophancy should not be a test for political fitness.
Moving on to discuss a few other places in the world, O15 says:
That’s the main idea that is behind all mobilizations in Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, Greece, Iceland, Israel, USA, … We want to decide what our countries should be, instead of dictators, markets, or governments that do not listen to the people. And once we get back the power we will find the specific answers to our problems, probably different from one country to another. That very basic, but powerful idea led us to two main contents for 15O:
The idea that the USA is even remotely comparable to Egypt or Tunisia is laughable. We don't even have a similar situation to Greece, where the problem truly is social spending running an unsustainable course. Here we have a problem with a lack of regulation and the rules tipped slightly
in favor of the rich. Yes, they own 40% of the nation's wealth (according to calculations which ignore the value of a person's home, which would otherwise skew the numbers interestingly enough -- plus this is post-recession and it was quite different pre-recession), but there are certain statistics that are completely ignored by "I just want the rich to pay their fair share"
types as well. For example, the top 1% pays 38% of Federal Income Taxes and makes 20% of our national income while the bottom 50% pays 2.7% of Federal Income Tax and makes 12.75% of the Income; so the ultra-rich are already paying a metric fuckton more than than everyone else even based on pure percentages (to the tune of an almost 200% ratio of their income versus federal tax burden, whereas the poor pay less than 25% of theirs).
However, our economic reality being as starkly negative as it is, this doesn't mean that we can afford not to raise taxes on corporations and the ultra-rich, it just means that doing so is more of a "hey we're in trouble please help us out" and less of a "you greedy assholic fucks, gives us your cash or we'll kill you." So much of what is wrong about OWS and O15 isn't really the basic takeaways of these movements (corporations have too much influence, the rich are too powerful, the economic disparity in this country is ridiculous) as much as it is the solutions on how to fix this and the empirical explanations of the problem. And a lot of it comes down to tone. Of course, O15 was nice enough to provide more documents to peruse on their website about this situation, which further extrapolate on what they want: http://15october.net/how-we-see-it/nothing-to-lose-everything-to-win/
Here's where they finally admit their ideological leanings:
. Faced with this material and existential precarity we demand the democratization of the economic system and European governance. This will allow the construction of a new economic model of social welfare based on two aspects: the guarantee of an unconditional access to income (basic income for everybody) and the effective and free access to social rights and common wealth (education, health care, housing, knowledge, environment).
That's right, O15 wants the government to provide housing, education, healthcare, and "basic income." They're also (unsurprisingly) opposed to austerity measures and they want amnesty for illegal aliens across the board. Essentially, they are radically liberal in every way imaginable. And yet they claim to be beyond party, and their sister organization OWS represents the 99%?
If you think this doesn't reflect on OWS as much as O15, I think you're somewhat right. They don't seem as extreme, but what do they want? Conveniently, they have a list of demands they're working on: http://occupywallst.org/forum/proposed-list-of-demands-please-help-editadd-so-th/
I'll give you cliffnotes and a summation of the problems with each. They want:
* More financial regulation.
* People on Wall Street prosecuted on the basis of "consensus" not evidence (and provide no argument or evidence on what was done illegally).
* To bring back the Equal Time rule (which will be used to castrate talk radio which is predominantly Republican).
* Citizens United overturned, which is a limit on how corporations can spend their money dueto the supposed power of advertising.
* Massive tax increases on the rich and corporations (50s and 60s levels -- this is tantamount to corporate deportation given how insane those rates would be today)
* More regulation and the SEC beefed up
* Laws limiting lobbyists (while failing to realize that what they're doing is lobbying and if they got their demands passed by congress it would be a violation of their very demands at the same time -- BOOM PARADOX)
* The elimination of "the Revolving Door" (so once you're out of government you can't get a job in the sectors you're actually qualified to work in by your experience, basically rendering you unable to take a position where your talents would be best utilized)
* The removal of corporate personhood.
Some of these are good, some of these are bad, but they're all liberal causes and ideas based on dramatically reducing the profitability and power of corporations in the United States to (in theory) aid in the creation of jobs. How does this make any sense? How will devastating the private sector like this help unemployment?
OWS isn't as crazy as O15, but then again O15 is a European movement, and Europe is much more liberal than the USA. They are essentially the analog however, and there are still plenty of people within OWS who agree with O15 on things. The bottom line is, and the point I've been trying to make, is that OWS and O15 are not presenting non-partisan solutions to our problems. They're presenting partisan ideas and acting like they're something new and they stand for the people. Their solutions will not fix the Steny Hoyer problem
, if anything they'll make it worse.