In Memoriam: Occupy Wall Street

On the two year anniversary of the beginning of the end of capitalism, otherwise known as Occupy Wall Street, I’ll revisit a few posts I made during its rise and fall.

7 October 2011:

#TeaParty v. #OWS: a tale of two movements

The Tea Party is a new iteration of a long-standing political tradition, classically defined as the “paranoid style” by historian Richard Hofstadter: a pot of conspiracy thinking leavened with a healthy dollop of nativism and covered with a poujadist lid. Far from being an independent political movement, the Tea Party is a creature of the Republican Party and has always sought its nirvana on the happy hunting grounds of right-wing conservative fears: fear of government, fear of a black President, fear of gays, fear of Mexicans, fear of Muslims. Establishment Republicans love the energy but loathe the substance of the Tea Party, just as level headed Republicans sought distance from the mania of Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.

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The #OWS crowd is the typical mix of left-wing and progressive causes one finds at any large demo. The symbolism of the mass gathering is, however, losing its efficacy as a carrier of political meaning. It is telling that only confrontations with baton-wielding and mace-spraying police (as opposed to Blackberry-wielding and derivatives-spraying financiers) have brought it wider attention: alas, the police don’t run “Wall Street” or crash the Lehmann Brothers of the world. At some point, enlightened elements of the #OWS will figure out that engagement with the Democrats is the only means to bring about practical reforms. Clever Democratic politicians would be wise to leverage this left-wing angst. But short of an actual revolution, no new form of people’s capitalism is likely to emerge and the youth of the nation must grow accustomed to conditions of scarcity that have beset most people at most times in history. The golden years of the housing and credit bubbles are gone forever.

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Life in a declining empire: get acclimated.

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