Message to OWS
First sent this to the site’s e-mail, then posted to their forum:
I have been applauding the movement, because it is about time people finally started getting wise to the economic imbalance of the economy, and stopped blaming the poor, as the conservatives had actually been doing, an without much rebuttal, until now.
Still, I see the typical conservative responses being hurled at the movement, which is that:
•the rich “earned” all they have
•no one has any right to criticize how much someone else makes
•you’re just trying to get the government to institute socialist control over the nation
•if you want more money, just “work harder” like they did
•complainers are all “whiners” who are too “lazy” to get a job
•occupiers are all living in their parents’ house and out of work
Even liberal papers like the NY Daily News I see printing cartoons insinuating this stuff.
At the same time, one of the big charges is that the movement has no clear message.
What I’ve come to see as the heart of the issue, and which should be used to respond to these conservative claims, is, (to borrow from the Zeitgeist film) the illusion of scarcity this entire economic system operates off of.
It’s like we have this competitive system, where there seems to be only so much money, and it has to be divided in a fashion where those at the top have most of it (and then these people’s defenders blame the poor, unions, government regulations, etc. for “burdening” them, and thus as it were “forcing” them to take the jobs elsewhere).
However, the way they’re living is not one of scarcity; it’s one of abundance; ridiculous “money to burn” abundance, but the system they are running makes it seem like it is scarce, as it is in fact scarce for everyone else. [The conservative response that giving the rich more will create a “bigger pie” is a de-facto acknowledgment of a notion of scarcity. The debate is on whether that is true, or who is really to blame for there being such an apparently small pie].
So the issue is not about “rights”, and “legality” of “private ownership”; but about the line they are feeding us (through their conservative mouthpieces and defenders), that there is no money for anyone else (and it is all our fault for not “working hard enough” like they did; as if there was really so little money that one had to be a CEO to live decently). And then blaming other groups for eating up all the money.
Then there’s the argument, like in this article: http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=47712 that the rich all “deserve” all they have, because they are making their living “pleasing their fellow man”. So again, it’s all in the character of the person (as usual). This illusion of scarcity is even highlighted by the defense many give, that the CEO’s often had to work 20 or more hours a day (or up to a hundred or more hours a week) to get where they are. Some will even chide the workers “you work your 8 hours a day or 40 hours a week and then go home, yet you want more for nothing”.
Yet those extended hours are not normal, and in fact not healthy (for themselves, physically, or for their relationships). The 8 hour day and 40 hour week (with 8 hours of rest) was settled on because it was the most conducive to health.
But now, the extended hours, in these arguments, are being made the standard, or what’s normal or the basic reqirement, for “success”, or even to keep your head above the water. Just working the normal hours is being called “lazy” even!
Thus, it operates on a devaluing of everyone else’s work and service. It’s like if one is not a top executive or entertainer, they haven’t “earned” a decent living! Then, we tell them “just work harder” or assume that the complaints are a coming from people who just want “something for nothing” (govt. handouts).
But all of this holds only under a severe case of scarcity. Like the Ice Age, where there just isn’t enough for everybody, and only the strongest who scramble the hardest can gain enough to survive decently.
(Does anyone think, why is this the model of success in modern day America?)
But wealth is not really that scarce. All of this is only justification for it being increasingly concentrated.
To sum it up, the illusion of scarcity is an excuse for “civilized” humans to revert to the ‘law of the jungle’, for their own maximum convenience, and at everyone else’s expense (which they are then made to blame on others, including those lower than they!)
THIS is the theme I believe the movement should now focus on. (And the battle should become more rhetorical, as this is how the Right has successfully swayed the nation for decades (The silence or lack of focus on the other side being the ultimate proof to them that they are ‘right’), and the whole parks thing seems to have run its course as the “occupied” are now using it to make themselves the victims, get the police to become more violent, and confirm their above charges).
Another good direction to go in, is a better idea of a solution. Like do we really think government is the answer, when (as most of us are probably aware) the corporations have all gained the power they have through government, and often buy out politicians? But more govt. is what everyone assumes we want).
In other news on the subject; a few more articles: