Some Thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street Movement
Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, "Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good--" At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.
G. K. Chesterton, "Heretics", 1908
Now, I happent to be of the opinion that the "Organize Wall Street" movement is being orchestrated and encouraged by some rather nasty people toward some nefarious end. I may be wrong in substance but, as Chesterton points out, it matters little. Human nature being what it is (sin-filled and depraved) even the most benign interpretation of the OWS movement reveals an undercurrent of lawless anarchy which can only end badly for those on the street and our society as a whole.
One need only recall the French Revolution is a more accurate template for OWS than the American Revolution and then look to the consequenses of that period in history. The French Revolution was led by libertarian idealists resisting an irresponsible and oppressive regime. It was not organized by nasty people for nefarious purposes. It had far more legal and moral justification than the OWS movement. But when the mob acted the world crumbled. It turned upon itself with unprecidented savagery and destroyed everything in its path. The mad thrill of pure destruction.
When the madness reached its apogee and he horror (the Terror led by Mm Guillotine and the Mob) was universally appalled by the rank and file citizens, in stepped the "Strong Man", Napoleon, with his cannon and a "whiff of grapeshot", stepped to the forefront and seized power. His ambition and hubris led him to attempt the conquest of Europe with all its consequent death and destruction.
And that is the fruit of the misguided idealists. The "nasty people of nefarious ends" have viewed and calculated this fruit as a necessary and desirable price for the attainment of their goals. So, even if I am paranoid and wrong about the nasty people orchestrating the OWS movement that should not be cause for relief.