Monday, October 10, 2011

Occupied America

Via Red

"It looks like a rock festival the morning after, a tangle of tattered sleeping bags. But the demonstrators taking part in the three-week-old protest against Wall Street have created a functioning city within the city, a small, working democracy."

This unusually gooey paragraph introduces an AP story, "Wall Street Protest functions like a small city." The subject is, of course, the "Occupy Wall Street" event in New York. But wait, as they say on TV infomercials, there's more:

"There are task forces in charge of food, security, first aid, sanitation, legal help and Internet access. There's even a library. A generator supplies power for laptops and cellphone chargers."

This will sound depressingly familiar to any baby-boomer still able to remember the 1960's, when spontaneous demonstrations of peace-loving students were organized by SDS to show American parents how wrong they were to value money and success. Even before then-Governor Ronald Reagan had used the phrase, it was already morning again in America:

"Well I came upon a child of God, he was walking along the road

When I asked him where are you going, this he told me:

Said I'm going down to Yasgur's farm, going to join a rock and roll band

Got to get back to the land and set my soul free"..

"We are stardust, we are golden, we are billion year old carbon

And we got to get ourselves back to the garden."

The kids at Woodstock did not need government or police or the stock market. Miraculously they did not need jobs either. Hundreds of thousands of peace-freaks could assemble on a farm and live like Adam and Eve before the Fall.

"By the time we got to Woodstock, we were half a million strong," cooed Crosby, Stills, and Nash in Joni Mitchell's anthem to the doomed youth who would grow up to be stock brokers, real estate salesmen, and plastics manufacturers

Of course, every hippie I knew was a drug-dealer or a remittance man paid to stay far away from home.

The reality of Woodstock was filth, mud, drugs, and babies that would never know their fathers. I passed it up, but I did go to the infamous Rolling Stones concert at Altamont. Like Don McClain, I saw "Satan dancing with delight" and grew out of whatever counter-cultural delusions still possessed me. Four people died from violence and stupidity. That was the real 60's, and when all the foolishness and lies of the "Occupy Wall Street" Movement are sorted out, it will make Altamont seem as innocent as a Percy Grainger tune. (Not that Grainger was innocent.)

If you can believe the anti-capitalists writers who make up the news at The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, the "Occupy" movement is a spontaneous outburst of ordinary Americans who are angry at being ripped off by the rich, as symbolized by Wall Street. It is one more populist uprising, like Bryan's free sliver campaign or the Western states progressives once dubbed the "sons of the wild jackass."

"We're the 99%," proclaims one demonstrator in New York, going a long way beyond Jerry Falwell's boast that he represented the "Moral Majority."

I have looked at films of the demonstrations spreading around the country like an outbreak of salmonella, and I don't see many middle American populists, and as badly dressed as the American majority is these days, they don't look a bit like the protestors. What I see are the kids of the 60's kids, and they are even weirder than my generation.

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