The Wittenberg Trail

Some Thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street Movement

Some Thoughts on the Occupy Wall Street Movement

by Gilbert Keith Chesterton


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.

Views: 3713

Comment by Jerry Roseleip on October 22, 2011 at 8:02pm
Actually, do we see them really having any effect?  Those doing the trading on WS seem to be ignoring them.  Or am i missing something.  They should take their silly costumes and go home.  On another similar note, this post sounds familiar to the recent issue in The Middle east with Gaddaffi's Demise.  The way that he was brought down was as bad or worse than the terror of his reign.  And the reaction of Obama and Hillary as sickening and disgusting.
Comment by Dave Gosse on October 22, 2011 at 10:00pm

Hi Jerry


Are they having any effect?  I don't know... they seem to make the news every evening, and someone is feeding them, and the efforts of NYC to evict them while they cleaned the park were overridden by political threats, the "occupation" has spread across the country and into Canada... The authorities appear unable or unwilling to stop them.  Right now it is mainly the flotsam and jetsam of the street and some idealistic college kids listening to demagogues preach hate. 


Have you ever been caught up in a riot?  A crowd, an incident, and suddenly cars are burning and windows are breaking, the blood starts to flow... Vancouver went through it last year when their hockey team lost a playoff.  England experienced the same over a shooting.  It's a powder-keg out there and some are stoking the fires.  If an explosin comes they will take advantage of it, if it doesn't they'll throw more wood on the fire.


Do not forget that Ghaddaffi's demise was encouraged and possibly orchestrated by the White House.  They sent arms and support to the rebels. Their reaction reveals something of the regard they have for their fellow human beings.  Some regard others as human beings made in the image of God and worthy of respect... others regard them as tools to be used for selfish ends. 


The OWS protesters are, for the most part, useful idiots - cannon fodder - idealistic children, indigents, and madmen.  They will hang around listening to speeches, getting hungry, cold, and bored, and when the fuse is lit, if thing go well, they'll riot. 

Comment by Jerry Roseleip on October 23, 2011 at 6:42am
There was a demonstration on the University of Montana Campus last week.  12 people were there.  They marched around campus for awhile the marched on to uptowm Missoula to join the rally at the courthouse where there were about 16 other people camping out.  I think most reasonable people wish the whole thing woudl go away.  I say to them , "Go get a job."  I have been in mob crowds and the mobacratic force can get ugly.  It can be like a forest fire and create its own weather, so to speak.
Comment by James Robertson on October 23, 2011 at 1:18pm
Comment by Geary Burch on October 23, 2011 at 2:55pm
I'm highly doubtful about "thought" in your title. Maybe systematic indoctrination would be more fitting. ; )
Comment by Dave Gosse on October 23, 2011 at 7:48pm
Maybe so...
Comment by Dave Gosse on October 23, 2011 at 8:44pm

Lisa Miller
Belief Watch


Jesus at Occupy Wall Street: ‘I feel like I’ve been here before’




It was about 9 in the morning, and some of the park’s inhabitants were just waking up. Scruffy, tattooed, abundantly bearded, these protesters looked not at all like the bright, shiny vanguard of a new, idealistic American left. What would Jesus think of the occupiers, who have been derided by their opponents as a ragtag group of tax evaders, interested only in sex, drugs and rock and roll? In the flesh, their unsavory appearance can make the heart of even the most convicted lefty hesitate before embracing their cause.




At Zuccotti Park and other Occupy sites, the temporarily unemployed stand shoulder to shoulder with the truly homeless; the ­media-savvy organizers lie down with the whacked-out babblers. The unsavory aspect of this group is its greatest asset. Every time a powerful person denigrates the occupiers; every time a member of the established elite takes a swipe at them from on high (as George Will did in this newspaper), the occupiers’ moral authority is reaffirmed when they stand together. [bold added]


If the Jesus of history could wander the precincts held by the occupiers, “he’d see his people,” says Marisa Egerstrom, a graduate student at Harvard University who organized a posse of chaplains to volunteer at Occupy sites. “I think he would be pretty pleased.”


Full story

Comment by Dave Gosse on October 24, 2011 at 7:16am

Citizen empowerment and the direct democracy being practiced sugges...

by Barbara J. Falk

Associate Professor, Canadian Forces College.




I briefly chatted with an eager and articulate volunteer, who thought the protests could result in a new form of coalition politics. He dismissed the critique that the protests were lacking in vision and leadership, decrying what he called a 20th-century approach to understanding a 21st-century social movement. What was important, in his view, was not the now, but what might come to be. On National Public Radio, I heard another defend the protests as “leaderful,” rather than leaderless, in reference to the citizen empowerment and direct democracy being practiced


In reality, these activities are highly organized. Far from anarchism, there’s a lot of governance going on. Thirteen different working groups have been set up and hold public decision-making meetings. There’s an outdoor medical centre, a kitchen, a sign display and arts area featuring silkscreen production, a media hub, a lost-and-found, and even a library. Teach-ins are regularly held, and a large whiteboard announces who will be leading them, and when. Jeffrey Sachs and Barbara Ehrenreich were lined up – it’s becoming a progressive intellectual’s badge of honour to make an appearance.




Read more

Comment by James Robertson on October 24, 2011 at 7:17am
Comment by Dave Gosse on October 24, 2011 at 6:55pm

Received in an email about radical Islam, but it seems apropos.


A man, whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II, owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude toward fanaticism. 'Very few people were true Nazis,' he said, 'but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I  ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.'


You need to be a member of The Wittenberg Trail to add comments!

Join The Wittenberg Trail



Looking for a Liturgical Church near you?



Help us maintain the Trail on the web:

Add an item to the
Lutheran Calendar





© 2016   Created by Norm Fisher.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue to the WT Admin  |  Terms of Service