Column:Wall Street protestors occupy realm of fantasy

David Holmes, You're Wrong

The Maroon

David Holmes, You're Wrong

David Holmes

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For the past two weeks, Wall Street has been under siege. Under the banner “Occupy Wall Street,” 2,000 people marched in protest on the first day. And, though attendance has now flagged to a mere few hundred, the dissidents remain determined, their website proclaiming, “The resistance continues at Liberty Square, with free pizza.” A mere block away from the famed epicenter of the American financial system they have gathered to be part of something that is part street theater, part block party and all spectacle, and they promise they won’t leave until their demands are met.

Those demands are wide and varied. They focus mainly on abolishing things, though platitudes about corporate greed abound. Interviews with protesters have brought to light gems running the gamut from striking down the Federal Reserve to doing away with student debt and the combustion engine. The protestors hate large corporations as a rule and want the top one percent to pay their “fair share.” No one will ever be able to accuse these protesters of lacking imagination, but their biggest hurdle is jumping from trumpeting how the world should be, to elucidating how to get it there.

If a single rallying cry for the Occupy Wall Street movement had to be chosen, it would undoubtedly be, “We are the 99 percent.” The conceit they show at claiming to represent not only the best interest but also the political ideals of the majority of Americans would be humorous were it not so outrageously contemptuous of the national political discussion. Never mind that their movement and their demands are even more fringed than their right wing counterparts — the Tea Party they so vehemently oppose. They insist that the most important part of their demonstration is capturing the underlying sentiment in America: namely that the citizens of the United States are, “mad as hell, and (they) aren’t going to take it anymore!”

The protestors seem to have one thing in common: namely a simplistic worldview. It is as if the lessons they learned as children sitting in front of Saturday morning cartoons have remained unchanged. To them the world is still the good versus the bad, and this recession is just the latest battle in a long righteous war by the rich against the “99 percent.” They mistakenly see the rich as a united front fighting against the working man, who they also assume incorrectly to be a united front fighting for all that is right and good. They are of a generation that grew up without the specter of Soviet communism spreading across the world, and as such are caught up in the romanticism of righteous revolution.

On the one hand, it seems ridiculous that anyone advocating for the end of the combustion engine should receive such a loud voice in the national discussion. On the other hand, it is proof that our national discussion is healthy even in this bleak economy. It is because of such healthy discussion that we can be sure that our nation will eventually bounce back stronger than ever.

David Holmes is an economics senior. He can be reached at [email protected]

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