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.
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.