Let A Thousand Flowers Bloom

Creative Loafing in Atlanta covered an Occupy demonstration in Woodruff Park and recorded this strange incident.

Congressman John Lewis visited the Occupy Atlanta rally at Woodruff Park last night approximately 45 minutes after its planning session, or General Assembly, started. Despite saying he did not want to speak, the civil rights icon was invited to address to the crowd. When the topic of allowing Lewis to speak was presented to the group, “Joe” … held up his arms to “block” Lewis from speaking.

“Joe” said he was against Lewis speaking because the movement is “not about one individual” and that it has been built on the idea of “no hierarchy.” The crowd decided the congressman could speak after the General Assembly, but Lewis had to leave for a previous engagement.


Just how strange the incident was is not apparent without watching a video of event. The dynamics of Occupy’s democratic process brings up memories of another “mass movement” that took place 45 years ago, which was controlled ironically, from the very top. That movement was the Red Guards.

The Red Guards really consisted of dupes who were enlisted by one faction of the Chinese Communist Party to make war on another faction of the same party. When the Red Guards had finished serving the purpose of their secret masters they were shot down like dogs by the Chinese Army and those leaders who survived were arrested and executed en masse.

There was a little bit of the Red Guard movement about the Occupy movement which the Huffington Post suggested had the tacit support of President Obama. The demonstrations were primarily directed against the rich — like the Wall Street rich — people who were only lately President Obama’s chief financial backers and supporters.


The transformation from “President Goldman Sachs” to the chief critic of Wall Street is reminiscent of the a power struggle within the Big Tent. Certainly the dismissal of John Lewis by the chanting Atlanta Occupy group recalls the moments when the Chinese Red Guards would put dunce caps on Communist Party veterans.


One of the creepiest things about the Occupy Atlanta video is the manner in which the crowd appears to act as a single organism, repeating word for word, like students in an elementary school literacy class, the sentences intoned by men holding the megaphones. The participants appear to think this behavior is not only entirely natural, but laudable. One wonders whether any of them are aware how much this resembles the eerie scream of the Pod People as shown in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and if they were aware, whether they had any residual consciousness outside the group to worry about it.

While it is often argued that people innately desire freedom, history provides plenty of evidence to support the contrary view: that people desire slavery. Many people want nothing more than to surrender their lives to a group of individuals who will tell them what to do; who will remove the uncertainties and anxieties of life; and who will promise them a secure, if subsistence future. That need for ‘security’ is the attraction of the welfare state, which rejects the variability of outcomes inherent in the exercise of freedom for a supposed equality of expectations.

There are at any rate more than enough people who would trade freedoms they do not want for promises that the trains will run on time. If the history of the 20th century is anything at all, it is the saga of those who would create a single order lasting a thousand years in preference to a society of individual disorder with governments lasting only a few years. Like “Joe” said: it’s not about the individual; and even if “Joe” were really called Myron, he might still prefer to be the anonymous “Joe”. The desire to become one of the masses is a very deep psychological urge.


Same old song
Just a drop of water in an endless sea
All we do
Crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see

Dust in the wind
All we are is dust in the wind

But where there are slaves — where there are the masses — there is inevitably a slave-owner. Like a necessary dual to the phenomenon of willing slavery there arises the Great Helmsman, the Locomotive of History, the Man of Action. the Duce, the Fuhrer. The uber individual man-god is the historical flip side of historical slavery. Maybe “Joe” will eventually figure that out. But if the Red Guards are any historical guideline, the light bulb will come on a long time too late.

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