September 17 was supposed to be the Day of Rage, the starting point of an anti-capitalist revolution that (in theory) was going to sweep the country coast-to-coast. As I noted yesterday, “The plan is to protest in state capitals and major cities across the nation, but the focus of the revolution will be in New York, where a hoped-for 20,000 anti-capitalists will ‘occupy’ Wall Street.”
I dutifully sent my operatives out to cover what were to be three of the largest Day of Rage protests — in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles — so humanity would have a full record of this pivotal moment in history.
Really, I should have learned my lesson by now: The bigger the build-up to a protest, and the more grandiose the promises, the louder the sound of the bellyflop onto the dustbin of irrelevancy.
In other words: “Day of Rage” was a massive FAIL.
This photo essay includes photos from all three protest sites (NY, SF and LA) integrated together, to give you the feel of the fizzled revolution as a whole.
In New York, a disappointing crowd of only about 1,000 people (a mere 5% of the predicted attendance) gathered around Manhattan’s Wall Street to protest against capitalism. But right off the bat, the protest’s completely mixed message was glaringly apparent. Half the protesters wanted more government (as exemplified by this satirical “capitalist pig” cutting the “social safety net”)…
…while the other half wanted less government, an attitude succinctly summarized here as “FUK DA GOV.”
So — which is it?
Over in San Francisco, where a mere 90 protesters showed up (OK, 100 to be generous), the exact same self-negating mish-mosh of a non-message prevailed; half the protesters, such as these “US Uncut” activists leading the march, wanted more taxes and more of a welfare state; while the other half…
…wanted to “Decentralize everything,” which is the polar opposite of a state-controlled economy.
Basically, the distinction is between communist theory and the anarchist approach.
In American politics there are two strong currents of anti-capitalist thought: Marxism/communism/socialism versus Anarchism/far-left-libertarianism. The problem is that these two ideologies are fundamentally at odds; one advocates hyper-centralization of political and economic power, while the other advocates hyper-decentralization.
In earlier times, the communists and the anarchists hated each other; they are natural enemies. But in recent decades they have formed an uneasy and deeply unstable alliance; since they both hate the status quo of American capitalism, they feel they ought to band together and smash the system as a unified front, and worry about how to pick up the pieces later.
But the Day of Rage revealed that this alliance can never succeed, because it can never offer a consensus philosophy; it’s impossible to draw the sympathy of the great masses when you offer two completely divergent philosophies as your “unified message.” In truth, there is no unified message, and there never can be; that’s why the “Day of Rage” organizers couldn’t even decide on what their one single demand would be at the protest.
I feel this is a turning point in the anti-capitalist movement; the failure of the much-hyped Day of Rage proved that the communists and the anarchists never will be able to smooth over their differences, and the far-left will necessarily fracture in two. The anarchists will break free of their socialist bedmates and drift more toward honest extreme libertarianism and anti-authoritarianism; while Team Marx will no longer feel the need to temper their collectivist message with a bunch of dishonest slogans about freedom and independence.
The Los Angeles Day of Rage crew made the peculiar decision to hold their event in the city’s Olvera Street, the touristy Mexican-themed pedestrian marketplace near the site of the original Spanish settlement. Despite all the promotional hoopla, a completely humiliating 20 people showed up.
But none of the organizers bothered to find out in advance that September 17 was Fiestas Patrias on Olvera Street, “the largest Mexican Independence Day celebration in the State of California at the birthplace of Los Angeles; Placita Olvera. 200,000 attendees expected.” Oooooooooops!
As a result, the tiny protest was completely overwhelmed by the non-political festival-goers. And, irony of ironies, the fiesta was packed with corporate sponsors, who set up glitzy and well-attended promotional tents all along Olvera Street. So much for the anti-corporate message!