cross-posted from Dagblog
I would like very much not to have a revolution. I know that you don't
want one either. I prefer my change peaceful and democratic. You, I
suspect, prefer any changes to be strictly top-down, decided upon by the
existing power structure. But neither of us want lawless, spasmodic
change. So please take my advice: leave the protestors the hell alone.
I know like the Occupy Protests seem like too much to you, that they're
going on too long and spreading too far. There is a reason that you
think this. You are completely out of your minds. You have lost all
sense of perspective.
We have real problems in this country, problems that long since became
unacceptable. And he have a power structure that declares even the most
modest, common-sense solutions to those problems unacceptable. Limiting
the pay of bankers whose banks were being propped up with tax dollars?
Impossible! Raise the taxes of the super-wealthy by a small increment!
Unthinkable! Use the Federal Reserve to reduce the unemployment rate, as
the Federal Reserve is officially charged to do? Too radical! Fine. But
don't tell us that being angry about these things is unacceptable, too.
Something's got to give. And if you can't deal with peaceful protests,
you're essentially demanding less peaceful protests somewhere down the
It's been nine percent unemployment for years now. The miracle is that
the protests didn't start earlier. If you ignore the suffering of large
groups of citizens over long periods of time, this is what happens. Now,
it's obvious that Washington, Wall Street, and the mainstream media
have no interest in taking the concerns of average Americans into
account. At the moment, the big kerfuffle in Washington is a fight
between the party that wants to pass some counter-productive budget cuts in the middle of a long recession and the party that wants to pass massive
counter-productive budget cuts. And the hand-wringing is that the
bipartisan "supercommittee" failed to reach a collegial consensus on how much to hurt the economy. That's madness.
Mass protests serve an important political function. They give the people
in power a reality check. When angry people are in the street, it's
time to figure out what's not working. A healthy and sane government
tries to figure out the underlying problem and fix it, so that the anger
diminishes. A rigid and unhealthy regime commits to ignoring those
problems, and tries to shut down the protests so it can go back to
ignoring them. That is an invitation for the public anger to grow, and
for the public to give up on the regime. And that, bizarrely, is what
we've seen in America over the last weeks. I never thought that I would
see it in this country. And it is very disheartening to see this foolish
and counter-productive police response to such manageable and
reasonably-sized protests. The overreaction suggests that many of our
ruling class are much more frightened, and much less practical, than I
ever dreamed. It's amazing that they would draw the line this early.
It's shocking to find that America's current rulers are stupid enough to
go to what is essentially the Hosni Mubarak playbook, especially when
they just saw how that works out. It's even more disturbing to think
that centrist American politicians have been looking at the Arab Spring
and identifying with the dictators. That they've drawn exactly the wrong
conclusion, trying to crack down harder on protests. Here's the lesson:
you can't crack down hard enough, ever. Sooner or later, you have to
give people what they want. If you don't, they'll get it without you.
America has survived because it's been flexible; the system has changed
over time to keep from breaking down completely. We haven't had a
revolution for the last two centuries because we've always managed to
reform the system enough to maintain order; maybe not to reform it as
much as we should have, but enough that we didn't completely break down.
This is one of those times that demand big changes, the kind that have
seemed out of the question to the people in charge. But those changes
have to come, one way or another. They are no longer out of the
question. If the people in charge want to stay in charge, they need to
do the reforming. It that seems impossible to them, sooner or later it
will happen without them. It looks today like it will happen without
them. My only hope is to get rid of those people through our existing
political process, before something worse happens. Revolutions are messy
and people get hurt. Bad decisions get made. I'd like to live the rest
of my life without one. But if the voters' welfare doesn't matter any
more, there's going to be a change. Resisting change with violence is
the surest way to make that change violent. So, please, authorities:
call off the cops, take a deep breath, and let's figure this out at the
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
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