Friday, October 7, 2011

Occupy This!

With arrests at protests in Sacramento and Los Angeles, and other events occurring in San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Cruz, it's safe to say that the Occupy movement has officially made its way to California. In case your only source of news is this blog, this movement (its heavy backing from organized labor won't let us call it "grassroots") began weeks ago on Wall Street, with doxens of angry hippies people protesting against the excesses of big banks and large corporations. Sort of. Usually a large protest of this sort involves a coherent list of demands, yet as this Reason article argues, Occupy is a decidedly heterodox movement. While many of the protesters are ridicule-worthy college students angry about corporations being all corporation-y, using their iPhones to Tweet about the evils of capitalism, it must be acknowledged that many of the attendees come from the ranks of the bailout-hating Tea Party, while others are Ron Paul supporters angry about crony capitalism and the Fed's role in the current economic crisis. What the protesters want, it seems, depends on whom you ask: some just want the bailouts to stop, some want to step up prosecution of police abuses, some want the government to do more about jobs, and so on. The demands of the original Occupy Wall Street, however, are a bit more outlandish: free college education and health care, a $20/hour minimum wage regardless of employment, a war on imported goods, and end to secret ballots for unionization, $2 trillion in spending on infrastructure and environmental restoration, a rapid abandonment of fossil fuel and nuclear power, abolishing credit reporting agencies, and immediate forgiveness of all debt on the planet.

You could criticize these demands on logical grounds — um, now that you've done away with debt, how are you going to pay for all that spending and the free entitlements? — but it seems like a waste of time. We really only have two thoughts in response to them. First, it's important to remember that the vision of the leaders of Occupy Wall Street is no less totalitarian than anything they think they're opposing. They might wax poetic about "democracy" and representing "the 99%," but what they're really demanding is the right to wear Sauron's Ring. When you have a mob of people each insisting on unlimited power to implement non-overlapping versions of paradise by force, what you get is anarchy. And not the good kind of anarchy. But second, we can't let the libertarians in these crowds off the hook very easily. As we've said before, we detest conspiracy theories and doomsday scenarios; complaining about an evil cabal of powerful interests — whether it's labor unions, terrorists, the police, the banks, the corporations, or the political establishment — is little more than giving in to the sense of dread and helplessness that our world tries to instill in you. If you're going to live a life of genuine freedom, embracing the idea that you're essentially powerless is not going to get you there. Your freedom begins with you, not with a crowd and certainly not with political action.


  1. RobOct 7, 2011 07:05 PM
    Your freedom begins with you, not with a crowd and certainly not with political action.

    <shreds LP membership form>
  2. GSLOct 8, 2011 08:36 AM
    Hmm. I didn't realize that there was an html tag for shredding LP membership forms.

    To clarify, I don't really have a problem with libertarians who get involved politically, so long as it has a purpose. If you're running for office or supporting a political campaign, or you're organizing a signature drive for a libertarian ballot initiative, good on you: you're doing something about your freedom. But gathering in public to complain about evil forces beyond your control seems like a self-defeating waste of time.
  3. AnonymousNov 9, 2011 09:14 AM
    "&mdash" I won't assume what this means, can someone explain it, Please.