Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Occupy Wall Street (FilAm Star, October 21, 2011)

A disillusioned view of big money corporations and ultra-capitalists is that they are not known for their human compassion or sensitivity. They are often referred to by their detractors as being in the habit of ruthlessly excavating the physical, psychological, and pecuniary resources of society, all for the lion’s share of larger-than-life profits. The dehumanizing phenomena of corporations’ and ultra-capitalists’ rabid appetite for profit is so evident to liberal activists and intellectuals that they belabor the serious threat they represent to the balance and well-being of a democratic society.

As a result of the near 2008 financial meltdown, this perception sharply accelerated among even the most economically optimistic. It was becoming apparent that, as demonstrated by the 2008 crisis, a lineup of greedy corporations and unscrupulous financial professionals were the main culprits. Three years later, a tangible outgrowth of this unrelenting idea is the Occupy Wall Street movement that is multiplying not only here in the United States, but around the world as well.

Occupy Wall Street is making its name as an expanding movement against the corporate and capitalist powers-that-be and their inordinate economic/political influence and nightmarish financial excesses. The movement is quickly becoming an icon of social resistance against Big Business and its exploitative practices. Occupy Wall Street is strident but intelligent, unsettling but justified. As for myself, I want to speak to the movement and its followers by telling them in no uncertain words that it’s about time.

What is all the more impressive about Occupy Wall Street is that its most irreplaceable asset is its presiding spirit, a presiding spirit that runs with a righteous indignation and intensity that not even the most outraged of Tea Partiers can match. It is true that the movement on the surface looks rather improvisatory and jumbled. To its critics, Occupy Wall Street is made up of what one media expert said was a “random, silly blather of an ungrateful and lazy generation of weirdos.”

But anyone who takes the movement lightly or as a fleeting, nebulous afterthought to the global economic recession is shortchanging what Occupy Wall Street is all about. Looking to fill the absence of a steady, liberal- and left-of-center-based mass mobilization against corporate malfeasance, the movement, rather than letting itself become some short-lived public activist melodrama, will continue to gain supporters and venues as the American and the wider global economy worsens.

But what good is it you might ask, to rant and rave about the policies and actions of a deeply-entrenched corporate establishment that won’t easily give up their monopoly on wealth, power, and influence? Are we talking about an impossible dream here? For all I know, the Occupy Wall Street movement may eventually peter out. But then again, it might succeed in isolating the foulest elements of the corporate universe as the agents of prominence in the recessional void that America and other societies are trapped in, and thereby stimulate the minds and voices of the people as they non-violently resist the structure of corporate dominance.

Obviously everyone has an opinion on Occupy Wall Street, but as modern-day conscientious objectors it is hard to disagree with their message of combating corporate irresponsibility and socio-economic inequity. Granted, it is a message that has been repeated in various forms for much of the modern period. What then, makes this movement every bit a staple of progressive change that the great social movements of the past were? For one thing, Occupy Wall Street’s populist relevance is validated by what are terribly distressed and unstable times.

In times like these, people look for something to believe in, something that will give meaning to their angst and suffering. So there is nothing like a movement that possesses the energy and conviction to express the truth about power and that also speaks truth to power. It develops into a dependable point of transition from apathy and helplessness to healthy activism and contrarian thinking aimed at injustice.

As of now, we find ourselves at a crossroads of history, a crossroads that will either lead to Occupy Wall Street-like humanist idealism or to the drawing out of predatory corporatist philosophy and Tea Party-like paranoia. Already being set upon by riot police and by crass creatures of conservatism, the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are sure to remain undeterred. So good luck to them, because they are going to need every bit of it.


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