Free Markets, Free People

Should Liberal’s support Occupy Wall Street?

That’s the question the editorial staff asks and answers in an editorial written for the publication’s November 3rd edition.

The answer they give is a qualified “no”.  Qualified in that while they sympathize with some of the points raised (which they note ironically are similar to those raised by the Tea Party), they find the movement mostly too radical. 

Why?  Well here’s the reasoning that struck me as interesting:

One of the core differences between liberals and radicals is that liberals are capitalists. They believe in a capitalism that is democratically regulated—that seeks to level an unfair economic playing field so that all citizens have the freedom to make what they want of their lives. But these are not the principles we are hearing from the protesters. Instead, we are hearing calls for the upending of capitalism entirely.

Okay.  Liberals are capitalists.   Let that sink in.  How does one seek to “level an unfair economic playing field” and claim to be a capitalist, where an unleveled playing field is almost a prerequisite to its economic success.  That may sound odd, but it is capitalists who fund capitalism and they’re usually far and away richer than most of those who end up benefitting from the economic system.

The very people OWS is protesting.

Venture capitalists are usually found in the 1% the protesters are decrying.   While I agree that under law, the playing field should be equal, crony capitalism (which isn’t capitalism at all) should be ruthlessly discouraged and government intrusion in markets dialed back to zero.  I see neither of those latter two items on the liberal agenda.  And remember – capitalism doesn’t claim to have a “level playing field”, but what it does promise is to be like a rising tide and lift all boats to a different and higher economic level of prosperity.   Its record backs that claim.

So make what you will of the editorial’s claim about the liberal version of capitalism, however they are seeking to distance themselves from the OWS crowd because it seems to mostly represent those who anti-capitalist.  However flawed the liberal idea of what constitutes capitalism, they at least acknowledge its worth and the fact that it is the basis of our success.

As Daniel Foster says – “let’s hold them to this” and make sure to remind them the next time they go on an anti-capitalist rant or write approvingly of government intrusion in the markets.

Uber liberal Oliver Willis  rejects everything the New Republic says because, he claims, they’ve been wrong about everything in the past.  I assume that passes for “critical thinking” in WillisWorld.  Willis obviously finds the OWS platform, such that it is in all its anti-capitalist glory, to be pleasing enough in some form or fashion that he implies support.

In fact, I believe what the New Republic sees for the most part is a genuine but very small core of people who began this simply out of frustration and now have the usual radical, anti-capitalist, socialist A.N.S.W.E.R. professional protesters along with labor unions like the SEIU joining in and taking over the protest sensing a chance to again push their tired and failed agendas.

Dana Milbank gives an example on who or what has shown up at the Washington DC event in, well, less than impressive numbers:

But while the Occupy movement in the capital has invigorated left-wing groups — Code Pink, Veterans for Peace, Common Dreams, Peace Action, DC Vote, Community Council for the Homeless and a score of other labor and progressive organizations are represented on Freedom Plaza — it has not ignited anything resembling a populist rebellion. To swell their ranks, protesters recruited the homeless to camp with them.

Already, there are factions. While the Freedom Plaza group, calling itself “Stop the Machine,” prepared to storm the Hart building, an AFL-CIO group was planning a conflicting event on the plaza. A few blocks away, in McPherson Square, an outgrowth of Occupy Wall Street had established an encampment of a few dozen sleeping bags.

The Occupy movement is in the midst of being co-opted by the usual suspects.  And that will bring the usual results.  Rhetoric that most Americans will find offensive coupled with childish actions that will have those who tentatively support the movement drop them like a hot rock.  Right now, of the “99%” out in flyover land, only 36% support the protests.

Anyway, Daniel Indiviglio at the Atlantic pretty much agrees with the New Republic and gives a reason that is more closely aligned with the progressive view of “capitalism” as it defines and supports it and as I’ve always understood them to believe:

The sort of anarchist-socialist radicals that can be found at the OWS protests threaten the progressive view that there are times when it is sensible and morally righteous for the government to intervene and prop up the economy, an industry, or even specific companies, if that action is thought to benefit the economy on a whole. The difference here is that the radicals think the occasional need for a bailout proves that capitalism is doomed and should be shuttered, while progressives believe that bailouts can help capitalism to work.

When you realize what is at the root cause of the problems we now are fighting to overcome, you realize the progressive version of “capitalism” is a failure.   As usual, their instrument of change is the blunt force of government where one doesn’t have to convince, persuade or sell.  Just dictate and do.  That’s the antithesis of capitalism and markets.

I don’t think the word means what they think it means.

But don’t tell them … they really, honestly think they’re capitalists. 


Twitter: @McQandO

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19 Responses to Should Liberal’s support Occupy Wall Street?

  • The real problem with the OWS folks is that the jumped the gun (and probably jumped the shark).
    We are at the beginning of the inevitable cuts that are to come.  The Panic of 2008 is just the beginning.  It will get worse.
    To deny the budget and debt problems now is to procrastinate to a future that is worse.

    • At some point in the future the federal government is going to have to put austerity measures in place.  The current path of unsustainable debt is… unsustainable.  So when these cuts take place how much would you like to wager that the OWS crowd will be the ones protesting the cuts?

    • I am very worried about what is happening to co-opt the movement, especially with the Democratic politicians.
      “We don’t like Obama. We didn’t vote for Obama. The elections are political theater.

  • Illinois Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. told The Daily Caller on Wednesday that congressional opposition to the American Jobs Act is akin to the Confederate “states in rebellion.”
    Jackson called for full government employment of the 15 million unemployed and said that Obama should “declare a national emergency” and take “extra-constitutional” action “administratively” — without the approval of Congress — to tackle unemployment.
    “I hope the president continues to exercise extraordinary constitutional means, based on the history of Congresses that have been in rebellion in the past,” Jackson said. “He’s looking administratively for ways to advance the causes of the American people, because this Congress is completely dysfunctional.”

    “Continues to exercise extraordinary constitutional means” ?
    Does this mean that there is a rebellion ? … by the Tea Party ? .. or OWS ?

    • It’d probably help if Obama or Jackson could get someone to burn the Reichstag, errr, White House, while they’re at it… maybe teabagger just to make it look believable.

      You’ve already had some politicians wishing the suspension of elections only a couple of weeks ago.

      I mean really, do these clowns know how much they sound like the various psychopaths from about a century ago??? And they think the Tea Party is dangerous for America?

    • That ol’ totalitarian urge, got Jesse in its spell…
      that ol’ totalitarian urge that we know so well…
      Those icy fingers clutching at your spine…
      That same ol’ statecraft they had on the Rhine.

      Yep. You can see it bubbling to the surface.

  • “They believe in a capitalism that is democratically regulated”

    Well, that’s mob rule, and also why the Founder’s deliberately avoided a democracy.
    No wonder those jerkwaters are impoverished.

  • I guess its easy to call me anti-capitalist despite everything I’ve ever written. Did the oil industry pay for this post too?

    • Who called you an anti-capitalist, Ollie? Feeling persecuted? I said you used your usual “critical thinking” skills to wave off TNR’s objections.

      This particular whine sounds like self-labeling to me.

    • I guess its easy to call me anti-capitalist despite everything I’ve ever written. Did the oil industry pay for this post too
      >>> No, your money comes from Soros….

  • “that seeks to level an unfair economic playing field so that all citizens have the freedom to make what they want of their lives.”
    Unfortunately, that just isn’t true.
    “while progressives believe that bailouts can help capitalism to work.”
    Only a liberal/progressive would think that giving one party an advantage and destroying a market is leveling. Not to mention that capitalism nowhere says that anyone can “make what they want of their lives”. You have the freedom to attempt to make what you want of your life, subject to various constraints.
    A level playing field means that anyone starting with the same resources at the same time and making the same decisions will most likely have the same outcome.


    Shorter Eloi: Outlaw law.

    • That’s all right, seems the park owners are about to evict the nasty little proletarians.  They can’t set up tents, or even lay down on the ground or benches in the park under the new rules.
      I suspect we’re about to see a sudden surge in jail cell occupation in New York city.
      Occupy Coffee Shops!  Now!

      • Awww…
        Da puuur little Eloi are bumping their empty lil’ heads on reality…

        “If Bloomberg truly cares about sanitation here he should support the installation of portopans and dumpsters. #OWS allies have been working to secure these things to support our efforts.
        We know where the real dirt is: on Wall Street. Billionaire Bloomberg is beholden to bankers.
        We won’t allow Bloomberg and the NYPD to foreclose our occupation. This is an occupation, not a permitted picnic.”

        Really, really “occupational” foot-stomping and breath-holding-til-they-turn-blue begins in 4…3…2…

  • OWS is the start of a new social movement that will probably be around for some time and change America like the counter culture movement of the late sixties/early seventies. Stop laughing. It will, it will, it will! I decree it. Oh, how I lie awake at night dreaming of a mass movement like this to counter you dense righties. And finally it’s here. It just has to be.

    I really don’t think you understand – the tea party was a brief reactionary moment, but the future is what you see in every city around the country, the future is the youth. So don’t even start up with how the Tea Party has been around for a couple of years now and elected a bunch of people to Congress. Just shut up about that. Flash in the pan, I tell you.

    And don’t you dare bring up that I first said they were just a tiny minority of extremists who would never go anywhere, and then predicted that the Democrats would easily hold the House in 2010. Don’t bring that up, because it’s you that doesn’t understand. Not me. I understand everything. I’m a smart guy with an advanced degree, and that means I understand. And the fact that I occasionally predict small things wrong, well, OK, more than occasionally, yeah, yeah, and sometimes they’re big things… OK, OK, shut up, so I get a whole bunch of real big things wrong all the time, but still.

    I don’t think you realize how “20th Century” your thinking is — and how quickly it is about to pass. It’s going to pass, I tell you. Just like these giant magenta caterpillars in my basement with Sarah Palin’s face and ample bosom. Everyone assures me they will go away soon.

    As for wise, chin-pulling liberals using the term capitalism wrong, how many times do I have to tell you how we post-modernists on the left have the power to redefine terms any way we want to or need to so as to further the cause. See, we leftists know all about capitalism and markets. We know that markets don’t adjust themselves, there’s no reason to believe they do.

    Besides, you dense righties ought to be happy that we are redefining capitalism. The old version was a bunch of meanie corporate types who oppressed everyone and didn’t pay any taxes and were completely oblivious to their social responsibilities. In our definition, capitalists understand that they have to protect the environment, and be inclusive, and sponsor gay events, and stuff. Isn’t that much better?

    Probably not, to you Rand-obsessed ex-military basket cases around here. You probably think Hink Riordon or whatever his name is would be a great example of a capitalist.

    You should be more broad-minded. For example, you should come over to my blog and read all my posts about philosophers throughout history and the course I taught on them. Which I didn’t either crib from other sources. No, I did research, which is completely different. And since I was teaching a course and I have an advanced degree, it should be obvious that I’m much, much more qualified to understand philosophy than you grunt engineer types around here.

    Oh, and you can come read how I find deep philosophical insights in lyrics by shallow pop bands from the 1980s. Where else can you get that?