The Clarity of Simple
Truths & Justice for All
“During times of universal deceit, telling
the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
Few quotes, such as the one often attributed to George Orwell, could’ve been better tailored to express what the Occupy Wall Street movement is going through right now.
Whether he said it or not is irrelevant. But it does frame with accuracy and flair, the political risks and personal cost for those talking straight to power.
Last night’s raid of the Ground Zero of the movement that has since spread out globally, ordered by the Mayor of New York City and executed by the NYPD, only reinforced the old concept of history repeating itself, except that without the benefit of the farce.
The violent invasion of the Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, was, of course, no theatrical laughing matter. On the contrary, despite not having been so far as harsh or even lethal as elsewhere in the country, it was scary enough to remind everyone of infamous assault on the Bonus Army veterans camped at the Capitol lawn in 1932.
The parallels are impossible to miss and the columnist Frank Rich dutifully identify some of them in a recent article, including the miserable $1,000 bonus itself, owed to WWI veterans, which they still had to fought to receive, and the $2 billion bailout that banks and railroads received without delay.
BACK TO THE PAST
Then as now, the reach and breadth of the Great Depression’s profound impact on the American soul had not yet been completely understood. But it was already clear who was paying the price and who was standing to profit from it, and who between the two sides, was responsible for the whole debacle.
Today, it’s a tiresome cliche to quote Eric Arthur Blair, the Indian-born writer who adopted Orwell as his nom de plume, and compare notes on the nightmarish vision of his projected future, 1984, with our contemporary reality. Nothing could have prepared us, however, to the notion that, at the end of the day, we actually love some of the stuff he was so afraid of.
What he imagined would shock us to the bone, and jolt us to the awareness of our state of permanent enslavery, thus possibly compelling us to rebel and fight for freedom, is among of what we consider comforts of modern life.
YOUR ID FOR A NEW PHONE
Poor old George would have been so much more disappointed with us than he already was with the society of his time.
To use a quote again, this time from a brochure of a conference on modern interactivity in Texas next year: “Social media, digital databases (…) HD cameras and (…) face recognition software (…) we are entering into an unprecedented shift in the visual privacy of everyday people.”
No shift, big brother. And not only visually either. Even though we routinely decline giving our personal information to the corner grocer, we gladly surrender everything to online social media sites, which can easily retrieve every piece of info about you and your family and friends as if it were an open (face) book.
Your face, by the way, is plastered in many databases and, in the case of the forces that invaded Zuccotti Park, can and may be used against you, just like anything you may say if you ever get arrested also can. Unless you live under a rock, just smile; chances are, you are on TV.
WORLDWIDE CORP. INC.
And guess what? You’re most likely already taking your business to one or more of 1318 most influential companies in the world, identified by a trio of complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. They’re mostly banks, such as Bank of America, ING and JP Morgan Chase, and they’re very, very rich.
Not coincidentally, some of them are part of the roll call of companies that received government-sponsored, tax-payer bailout money, when their reckless mismanagement could’ve caused a catastrophic collapse of the world’s financial system in 2007. Or so we took their word for it.
Using mathematical models and algorithms, complicated to you but certainly familiar to them, the Swiss scientists came down to a core of 50 interconnected corporations that control about 60 percent of all wealth of the world. It’s not a stretch to conclude that they know, intimately, every single customer doing business with them. And that means you.
No need for surveillance cameras for this one. What they know about you goes way beyond your face and the name of your favorite pet. And since they’re all multinationals, their power is not bound by any particular government. So, it’s just you and them, buddy, and the shared array of credit cards and identifying numbers easily traceable back to you.
But we’re sure you’ve already thought about all of that before. So did the founders of the OWS movement, just to be on the same page. They also correctly identified another roll call that is part of this lack of accountability by the financial establishment: its facilitators.
We’re talking, of course, of a very familiar and special class of privileged citizens, who may have been instrumental for the glaringly disproportionate income distribution situation we’ve reached now: wealthy elected politicians.
YOU PICK THEM, THEY GET FAT
And for that, no one needs to consult theorists and mathematicians to come up with complicated models. All the facts, as most things are these days, if you know what you’re looking for, are easily found on the Internet. In fact, the site rollcall.com (duh) publishes annually exactly that: an updated list of the 50 wealthiest members of Congress.
Again, you’ll find many familiar names on such list, and some may even be, nominally, the representative of your district, whom you may have voted for recently. Even if you didn’t, he or she got elected based on the demographic representation of your region, so you were definitely included in the overall count.
And that’s how we all stand at this historical moment in America: the so-called ragtag bunch who’s been, unceremoniously harassed and wound up arrested for not resisting the forces of law and order, is actually telling the truth. And will be booked and respond for acts of civil disobedience to the fully extent of the law.
But the controllers of 60 percent of all wealth of the world, who are definitely not telling the truth, are in no danger of persecution or due process in court for their role in the near collapse of the system that ignited the unprecedented and widespread destruction of jobs and means of living of millions of people.
THE CENTER (AND TOP) CAN’T HOLD
This lopsided reality is the message, to paraphrase Marshall McLuhan, and those, specially in position of power and with the media microphone who pretend they don’t understand what the OWS is all about, are also definitely lying.
Up to a few years ago, notable capitalists and chiefs of enterprise and members of governments throughout the world, would freely invoke the Great Depression of the 1930s in the U.S., as the starting point of 75 years of political and economic stability that followed, due to the regulations and long-term social solutions the nation was forced to adopt then.
Then as now, millions faced not just the prospect of poverty and death in the streets of the world’s wealthiest nation, but also threatened to grind the economy to such a halt that even the richest 1% wouldn’t have any choice but, the horror, to care about the fate of their fellow citizens.
Then as now, they initially denied any responsibility and sent in the troops to attempt to crush the famished crowds of war veterans, unemployed, racially dispossessed and their children. And failed miserably at such an attempt, putting the nation as a whole at risk of moral and financial bankruptcy in the process.
So far, they’re still failing, and we’re all wasting precious time and lives and dreams and even our sense of what’s right and what must be done for the country. Will they wake up in time?
Because let’s not be naive, no progress will be made toward the future if those who control most of the resources of this nation won’t grow a conscience and fast.
WE DON’T NEED ANOTHER ZERO
Occupy Wall Street, as a civil movement and as a spontaneous First Amendment issue, is nowhere to have peaked. And violent repression and being regarded as a police matter or counting on harsh weather to stop it will never work.
Its ideals have already been taken by the American society, and the majority of Americans are fully behind its demands. If our past is what brought us here and made us what we have become, it’s way more powerful than those corporations, or rich politicians, or insensitive elected officials, or even the man who moved to the White House with the word “hope” packed in his suitcase.
We need to show the world that social justice and the rule of law still applies to everyone, as does the right to peacefully pursuit happiness and personal realization. That’s what needs to be reinstated as the core of our principles. The same principles dear to over 99% percent of Americans. The world is watching us. It’s time the world sees what we really are about.