So, a crowd of “occupy Wall Street” cry-babies surged past my office in New York late yesterday afternoon, shouting, banging on drums, blowing whistles, and generally making a nuisance of themselves. The police, which had lined the sidewalks with parade gates, looked bored. My colleagues at The New Criterion and Encounter, peering out of the windows as the menagerie passed, seem to regard the spectacle with a combination of bemusement and contempt. One of my New Criterion colleagues sent along this message:
“Guess it wasn’t a green crowd”: Occupy Los Angeles protestors leave tons of trash.
Yesterday’s tantrum was heavily, indeed ostentatiously, union-fed, which explains the odor of thuggishness which accompanied the crowd as it marched down Broadway. What do they want? More money. When do they want it? Now? Where will it come from? You!
Repeat as necessary.
The funniest aspect of this macabre puppet show is the “anti-capitalist” trope that is so prominent a feature of the OWS rhetoric. Just where do these children think that money, and the astonishing affluence it has brought in its wake, comes from? I sometimes suspect they are innocent of the facts of life, that they think the stork brings money into the world. The fact that capitalism is far and away the mightiest engine for the production of wealth that the world has ever seen hasn’t penetrated the adipose folds of their ideology. The pleasures of preening self-righteousness all but guarantee that such home truths never will be taken on board.
For a vivid taste of the humor, savor this delicious tidbit from The New York Times‘s daily report on OWS:
The composer Philip Glass will make a statement at a General Assembly at Lincoln Center Thursday evening, where his opera, Satyagraha, on the life of Gandhi, is closing.
Occupy Wall Street. Philip Glass. Gandhi. It really is droll. There is a reason that George Orwell began his devastating essay on that Indian fraud with the observation that saints should be considered guilty until proven innocent. (It cost a lot of money, the historian Paul Johnson observed in his tart assessment of Gandhi in Modern Times, to keep Gandhi living in poverty.)
In any event, for anyone who wishes to understand the inherent futility of the whole OWS movement, I’d like to recommend Richard Epstein’s new Encounter Broadside, “Why Progressive Institutions are Unsustainable” (Kindle edition here.) And for a taste of what’s at stake, take a look at this short video summary of Epstein’s argument, “The Tea Party vs. occupy Wall Street”: