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.

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Comment by James Robertson on April 30, 2012 at 12:11pm
April 29, 2012

The Nation
by Allison Kilkenny  

"Occupy Wall Street hopes to capture headlines once again next week with the May 1 'General Strike,' long advertised by the group as an event that will prove to the public and media that OWS is currently experiencing a resurgence. Whether workers, students or banking customers, OWS is calling on all Americans to stop offering their labor and money to corporations for one day and join their local Occupy chapter for a day of resistance. The plan initially drew the ire of some labor leaders who quickly declared their members would not participate in the so-called strike." (04/27/12) 

Comment by James Robertson on May 1, 2012 at 12:06pm

Comment by Dave Gosse on May 1, 2012 at 1:22pm

One of the leaders of the Occupy Cleveland movement, Brandon Baxter, is one of those arrested for today's terrorist plot to bomb a bridge in Cleveland. Occupier Brandon Baxter appears to have gotten the guidance he sought.

OCCUPIED — Occupy Cleveland organizer Brandon Baxter gets some shade in the Occupy Cleveland tent in downtown Cleveland on March 21, 2012. Baxter, one of the few remaining members of Occupy Cleveland’s physical presence downtown, said the group has seen a sharp decline in numbers since last October because of increasing disorganization. “We need guidance,” he said.

Another of today's suspects is Anthony Hayne, named previously in a report on Occupy Cleveland. “I just want to be very clear: we are not occupying Lakewood,” said Anthony Hayne, who is organizing the information session. Hayne, a Lakewood resident since 2001, said there will be about six or seven members of Occupy Cleveland, which stems from the Occupy Wall Street movement, at the table Saturday.

Barack Obama embraced the Occupy Movement when he saw his poll numbers sliding. Now, with so called Occupiers calling themselves anarchists and hurling Molotov Cocktails, that's still apparently not far enough for some. CBS has the names and official complaint here. The plot is now directly linked to the Occupy movement. A Doug Wright, found here on Facebook, also appears to have been involved.


Full story

Comment by James Robertson on May 1, 2012 at 1:35pm
Associated Press ^ | May 1, 2012 | THOMAS J. SHEERAN

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Five men, at least three of them anarchists, plotted to blow up a bridge near Cleveland, but there was no danger to the public because the explosives were inoperable and were controlled by an undercover FBI employee, the agency said Tuesday in announcing the men's arrests.

Another undercover FBI operation?

Comment by James Robertson on May 2, 2012 at 9:25am

May 2, 2012 - AmericanThinker
Occupy Wall Street May Day 'Relaunch' a Monumental Fizzle
Rick Moran

Exhibit A: This article in the Guardian describing the "relevance" of OWS goes on for more than 1,000 words without once mentioning any numbers as far as protestors in New York, Seattle, Oakland, and San Francisco.

Exhibit B: No mention of OWS May Day protests on front page of New York Times site today. They may have had something yesterday but if it had been impactful, they would have run front page stories for days.

Why? Suppose they began a revolution and no one showed up? If I was a left wing rag, I wouldn't have mentioned numbers either.

They billed it as "A Day without the 99%." Calling for a "general strike" and asking people to take "a vacation" from shopping and especially banking, as well as requesting students to stay home from school, the expectations before May 1 - which was also designated as the official relaunch of OWS - were very high:

"It's going to be important for the morale one way or the other of the movement," said Todd Gitlin, a social movement historian and Columbia professor who led Students for a Democratic Society in the 1960s and is the author of a new book on Occupy Wall Street. "If you want to convince people who are not inside the circle of the committed that the movement is back then you have to be able to make a case to them. Numbers are the easiest way to do that."


Demonstrations will focus on midtown banks for the morning and early afternoon, when activists will march from a pop-up occupation of Bryant Park to Union Square and hold a 4 p.m. rally. Later, there is a city-approved march from Union Square to Lower Manhattan, where Goldman Sachs' headquarters could be targeted for protest.

"A success would be relatively good press and relatively decent numbers," said Gitlin. "If the numbers in New York turn out to be much smaller than the numbers from the big marches in October and November, it will be hard to spin that."

The Huffpo blog on the San Francisco-Oakland OWS May Day event begins, "Hundreds of protesters flooded the streets of San Francisco and Oakland on Tuesday as part of the nationwide May Day general strike organized largely by Occupy Wall Street."

"Flooded?" Who is the writer trying to kid? You don't "flood" the streets with only "hundreds" of protesters. Thousands or tens of thousands of protestors are needed to "flood" the streets. The fact that only 25 protestors were arrested the entire day tells the real story of participation in the May Day OWS relaunch.

San Francisco was also the scene of mindless violence as a couple of dozen black clad anarchists trashed about 30 businesses in the Mission district. The violence mystified the small business owners:

Owners of vandalized businesses said they were hardly representative of the corporations targeted by Occupy activists.

"They're coming through the Mission, where there aren't any corporations, just a lot of small businesses, which is what they're all about," Koskoff said. "It doesn't make sense."

Jeremy Tooker, owner of Fourbarrel Coffee, said a friend had stopped a protester from smashing the glass storefront with a crowbar - and had taken a hit to his arm. Someone else splashed paint on the window.

"This just seems like they're frustrated with their impotency at this point," Tooker said. "It's like, 'Look at me, I'm still here, I'm still occupying.' "

Although the march sprang from a rally for an Occupy action, other Occupy protesters shunned its participants as outliers. Several said police must have been to blame, including one man dressed all in black at Tuesday's May Day protest in San Francisco, who gave his name as Banana Mouse.

"I think it was infiltrators. I don't think it was Occupy," he said. "They (the police) were instigating."

Some business people, however, said Occupy bore responsibility for the damage.

"Occupy is saying it's not them, but we wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Occupy, now would we?" Michelle Horneff-Cohen, a real estate broker, said as she surveyed the broken window of her workplace, Property Management Systems.

When in doubt, blame the police. The cops made the wackos break windows, spray paint stores, and cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage? Nice story if you can sell it.

Seattle was the worst city as far as violence:

Leaving the park, the group soon grew from about 50 to a couple hundred people. While many in the crowd were peaceful, simply chanting and carrying signs, it soon became clear that a fringe group was ready to cause problems.

The group was easy to spot. Most were dressed in all black and had bandannas or scarves covering their faces. As the crowd wound its way through the streets of downtown Seattle, it eventually became violent. At the old Federal Courthouse at 1010 5th Ave., vandals smashed three plate glass doors on the back of the building.

Police reported recovering homemade incendiary devices made out of toilet paper rolls and fruit juice boxes.

A longtime KING 5 photographer was assaulted by a marcher dressed in black. Richard Departee said the marcher hit him with a wooden pole, bloodying the side of his head.

The group continued down Sixth Ave., eventually smashing plate glass windows at the NikeTown store. In front of the store, parked cars were targeted. Windshields on the cars were shattered, tires slashed. As the vandals moved farther down the street, Seattle Police arrived in full force. Dozens in full riot gear came up behind the group.

At least eight people were arrested for everything from vandalism to pedestrian interference to assault.

At an afternoon press conference, Mayor Mike McGinn said a group known as the "Black Bloc" did extensive damage to the Federal Courthouse, then moved on to block traffic.

"A number of the core group of 'Black Bloc' members returned to Westlake, where we saw some of them live on video changing back into street clothes and blending into the crowd," said McGinn.

Violence in several cities, promised tens of thousands who would take to the streets and revitalize the OWS movement not in evidence anywhere, a general stike that was a joke from the beginning and that 99.9% of the 99% ignored, and a liberal press that barely noted the events.

What does that sound like to you? The New York Post pegs it correctly: OWS is "now in the 16th minute of its 15 minutes of fame":

Which is to say, no one cares anymore - assuming anyone ever did.

OK, some did: Besides the usual suspects - anarchists, anti-capitalists and misfits - the "movement" had lots of support in the mainstream media.

Attempts to picket and disrupt local corporate headquarters essentially fizzled.

The closest thing to an actual disruption that was evident was a few bags of initially suspicious white powder - corn starch, it turned out - mailed to several banks. It all made for good video, but little else.

Fact is, the vast majority of New Yorkers - the real 99 percent, in other words - spent their day doing precisely what OWS had promised, and failed, to stop them from doing: They went to work and school.

Which is as good a response to May Day as we can think of.

On the count of three, everyone point their finger at the left and laugh. And then thank them for giving us a front row seat to see the end of Occupy Wall Street.

Comment by James Robertson on May 3, 2012 at 7:37am

May 3, 2012 - AmericanThinker
Deciphering the Occupy Wall Street Movement
By Robert Weissberg

How are we to understand the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement? Is it, as many on the left insist, a commendable reaction to "obscene" inequalities in wealth? Or is it, as according to the right, a union-financed, thinly disguised Obama-supported ruse to stir up egalitarian envy? Both interpretations are partially valid, but let me offer a different take, and one that links OWS to countless similar political outcroppings that have flourished since the 1960s.

My descriptor is "recreational politics" and as such lies somewhere between, say, the well-organized ideologically driven Communist Party USA and the spontaneous, disorganized 1992 LA "Rodney King" riot. The ancestors of today's recreational politics would include a small portion of the civil rights movement and much of the opposition to the Vietnam War.

As a biologist might identify the key characteristics of new species, here are the Occupy movement's essential traits.

First, the ideological "glue" holding the movement together is a collection of alluring slogans and clichés that evaporate into nothingness when probed. Critically, if asked (and I have asked), no two participants can flesh out terms like "social justice" or "ending poverty." This is predictable, since recreational politics lacks anything resembling officially certified dogma, let alone leaders who can impose orthodoxy. No Communist Manifesto or Chairman Mao's Little Red Book here. This is make-it-up-as-you-go-along politics, and the result is, naturally, a cacophony of strident voices light-years away from anything resembling a legislative agenda.

The ideological incoherence is displayed in any OWS event. I recently watched their Manhattan May Day parade; dozens of signs and banners abounded, most homemade, and no two were precisely alike. Messages covered the ideological waterfront -- everything from opposing racism to calling for bankers to be put on trial. There were signs for open borders, a Palestinian flag, and demands for government-supplied well-paying jobs. Some marchers just shouted obscenities at nearby police. Try assembling these messages into a sensible political agenda. Hopeless.

Second, participants gravitate to the easy, "fun" aspects of movement politics while neglecting essential drudgery. My forty years as a college professor confirms that this is typical for today's politically inclined (often lazy) youngsters. Who wants to collate mailing lists if one can chant slogans while dancing to the drum beat? With no hierarchy to assign odious tasks and monitor performance, "pop-up" crusades tend toward chaos. Beyond calling for the marchers to assemble so as to "confront the ruling class," running OWS is akin to herding cats.

Third, since the movement lacks any concrete agenda, there can be no pay-off; absent this incentive, the only available fuel is passion, and we all know how passion wilts with time. The upshot, then, is that tactics abandon accomplishing anything tangible (too tedious, anyhow) to favor behavior whose real purpose is sustaining the passion. Given a choice between, say, drafting a legislative proposal to help the poor versus walking down the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge to instigate a media-circus police confrontation, the latter wins every time. After all, who can get excited over researching the impact of the minimum wage on poverty? But five minutes on the local 6:00PM news and screaming "police brutality" is such great fun -- enough fun to keep doing it, at least for a day or two more.

Political participation is one of my academic specialties, and my lectures always cite the great German sociologist Max Weber to explain political successes and failures. In a nutshell, successful movements must transition from charismatic leadership to bureaucratic organizations, where aims are advanced business-like. The contemporary gay rights movement illustrates this perfectly -- from ragtag spontaneous Stonewall demonstrations to the Human Rights Campaign with an impressive Washington headquarters and a paid, ample professional staff to promote gay rights with specific proposals, expert fund-raising, and all the rest. Most bottom-up movements cannot make this transition and are thus doomed to become historical footnotes.

Finally, down deep, OWS, like so many spontaneous recreational movements before it, is not serious about accomplishing anything other than some fun therapy. How do I know? Oscar Wilde once quipped that only shallow people do not judge by appearances, and I judge by appearances. If you want to shape American public opinion, you must outwardly respect public norms, and one look at the OWS crowd shows that they don't. Thanks to living in lower Manhattan, I've long observed these people in their various habitats, and take my word: with few exceptions, they look like unwashed, ill-clothed street people. To make matters worse, their trash-laden venues only confirm this rejection of public sensibilities. And I suspect that this is intentional -- they have no interest in winning public sympathy by looking like well-scrubbed all-American college kids. Once more, fun outweighs accomplishing anything.

In general, the attire of movement participants is, in my estimation, the best indicator of seriousness. Remember the pictures of Southern blacks conducting sit-ins or marching for the right to vote? Every single participate was in a dark suit, white shirt, and tie and was neatly groomed! And they made a point of speaking clear English with zero profanities. Let their opponents dress like slobs and curse. In 1968, many students traveled to New Hampshire to elect the anti-war Eugene McCarthy, who was running in the Democratic primary against the hawkish President Lyndon Johnson. Given that many of these volunteers faced the draft, this was serious business, and their slogan was "Neat and Clean for Gene." Thus, rather than alienate conservative New Hampshire voters, they got real haircuts, shaved their scruffy beards, and dressed like preppie college students. And it was worth it -- McCarthy fell short, but his strong showing forced LBJ not to seek a second full term.

The bottom line, then, is that OWS is not a serious political movement -- not a movement to be feared, let alone respected. It exists thanks to a kind and gentle political system that has a warm spot for wackiness and dissent that stops well short of treason. Only in Western democracies do police receive special training on how to handle protestors with kid gloves. Actually, street theatre, not political activism, better depicts OWS, and perhaps we should be thankful that its most serious offense is occasionally disrupting traffic, a few minor police scuffles, making too much noise, and generating millions in police overtime. America has seen and occasionally experienced far worse.

Comment by Dave Gosse on May 3, 2012 at 5:12pm

Tea-party reawakening with call for huge rally

Event challenges grass roots to take America back

by Bob Unruh


Private pilots who may want to fly near Chicago on the weekend of May 19-20 have been warned they could be shot down, and a Red Cross memo suggests there could be mass evacuations of the city in the event of riots by left-leaning activists protesting the NATO summit.

Less than a day’s drive away, however, near Jefferson City, Mo., at the same time there will be an event for Americans who also are worried about the nation. But instead of protests and riots, participants will focus on how to build up America, repair it and stabilize it for future generations.

The “Rally for Common Sense” will be held Saturday, May 19, at the “Patriot Field of Dreams” at Holts Summit. It will be more of a “Woodstock” as it’s on private property in the rolling hills of Missouri, where there will be camping, a nondenominational church service and vendors along with the rally.

A key organizer, Kim Paris, who was the Missouri grass roots director for Herman Cain’s presidential campaign, told WND that people who have been described as tea party folks need to make their presence, and their choices, be known.

“We need to be visible on this in a grassroots way, and what that does is it wakes up other people,” she said.

The event website highlights the freedoms that Americans traditionally have enjoyed: “We may not have agreed on who the Republican president candidate should be. We may not share precisely the same social views. We DO agree on the constitutional principles of smaller government, a balanced budget, lower taxes and less federal interference in our lives.

“We the people are comin’ and want our power back! It’s Common Sense.”

The speakers expected to be on hand include WND CEO Joseph Farah, Cain, Alan Keyes, Michelle Moore, Selena Owens, K. Carl Smith, Dave Roland, Stacy Swimp, Darin Chappell, William Temple, Dee Rock, Alfonzo Rachel, Mark Block, Gina Loudon and CL Bryant.


Read more

Comment by James Robertson on May 7, 2012 at 1:16pm

Thomas Sowell
The Moral Infrastructure

The "Occupy" movement, which the Obama administration and much of the media have embraced, has implications that reach far beyond the passing sensation it has created.

The unwillingness of authorities to put a stop to their organized disruptions of other people's lives, their trespassing, vandalism and violence is a de facto suspension, if not repeal, of the 14th Amendment's requirement that the government provide "equal protection of the laws" to all its citizens.

How did the "Occupy" movement acquire such immunity from the laws that the rest of us are expected to obey? Simply by shouting politically correct slogans and calling themselves representatives of the 99 percent against the 1 percent.

But just when did the 99 percent elect them as their representatives? If in fact 99 percent of the people in the country were like these "Occupy" mobs, we would not have a country. We would have anarchy.

Democracy does not mean mob rule. It means majority rule. If the "Occupy" movement, or any other mob, actually represents a majority, then they already have the votes to accomplish legally whatever they are trying to accomplish by illegal means.

Mob rule means imposing what the mob wants, regardless of what the majority of voters want. It is the antithesis of democracy.

In San Francisco, when the mob smashed the plate-glass window of a small business shop, the owner put up some plywood to replace the glass, and the mob wrote graffiti on his plywood. The consequences? None for the mob, but a citation for the shop owner for not removing the graffiti.

When trespassers blocking other people at the University of California, Davis refused to disperse, and locked their arms with one another to prevent the police from being able to physically remove them, the police finally resorted to pepper spray to break up this human logjam.

The result? The police have been strongly criticized for enforcing the law. Apparently pepper spray is unpleasant, and people who break the law are not supposed to have unpleasant things done to them. Which is to say, we need to take the "enforcement" out of "law enforcement."

Everybody is not given these exemptions from paying the consequences of their own illegal acts. Only people who are currently in vogue with the elites of the left — in the media, in politics and in academia.

The 14th Amendment? What is the Constitution or the laws when it comes to ideological soul mates, especially young soul mates who remind the aging 1960s radicals of their youth?

Neither in this or any other issue can the Constitution protect us if we don't protect the Constitution. When all is said and done, the Constitution is a document, a piece of paper.

If we don't vote out of office, or impeach, those who violate the Constitution, or who refuse to enforce the law, the steady erosion of Constitutional protections will ultimately render it meaningless. Everything will just become a question of whose ox is gored and what is the political expediency of the moment.

There has been much concern, rightly expressed, about the rusting of bridges around the country, and the crumbling and corrosion of other parts of the physical infrastructure. But the crumbling of the moral infrastructure is no less deadly.

The police cannot maintain law and order, even if the political authorities do not tie their hands in advance or undermine them with second-guessing after the fact.

The police are the last line of defense against barbarism, but they are equipped only to handle that minority who are not stopped by the first lines of defense, beginning with the moral principles taught at home and upheld by families, schools, and communities.

But if everyone takes the path of least resistance — if politicians pander to particular constituencies and judges give only wrist slaps to particular groups or mobs who are currently in vogue, and educators indoctrinate their students with "non-judgmental" attitudes — then the moral infrastructure corrodes and crumbles.

The moral infrastructure is one of the intangibles, without which the tangibles don't work. Like the physical infrastructure, its neglect in the short run invites disaster in the long run.


Comment by James Robertson on May 7, 2012 at 2:02pm

Comment by James Robertson on May 11, 2012 at 11:40am


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