But my initial impression was that it would not be taken very seriously by the Citibanks and Goldman Sachs of the world. You could put 50,000 angry protesters on Wall Street, 100,000 even, and Lloyd Blankfein is probably not going to break a sweat. He knows he's not going to wake up tomorrow and see Cornel West or Richard Trumka running the Federal Reserve. He knows modern finance is a giant mechanical parasite that only an expert surgeon can remove. Yell and scream all you want, but he and his fellow financial Frankensteins are the only ones who know how to turn the machine off.
That's pretty close to my initial reaction (although the idea of Cornel West running the Federal Reserve kind of gives me the willies). So I was interested in what changed for him. I found myself resonating with this.
We're all born wanting the freedom to imagine a better and more beautiful future. But modern America has become a place so drearily confining and predictable that it chokes the life out of that built-in desire. Everything from our pop culture to our economy to our politics feels oppressive and unresponsive. We see 10 million commercials a day, and every day is the same life-killing chase for money, money and more money; the only thing that changes from minute to minute is that every tick of the clock brings with it another space-age vendor dreaming up some new way to try to sell you something or reach into your pocket.
I say YES to being tired of a culture like that!!!! But that particular feeling takes me inward to explore how I can break out of that money chase rather than to blame Wall Street for luring me in. Taibbi doesn't go there.
That, to me, is what Occupy Wall Street is addressing. People don't know exactly what they want, but as one friend of mine put it, they know one thing: FUCK THIS SHIT! We want something different: a different life, with different values, or at least a chance at different values...
People want to go someplace for at least five minutes where no one is trying to bleed you or sell you something. It may not be a real model for anything, but it's at least a place where people are free to dream of some other way for human beings to get along, beyond auctioned "democracy," tyrannical commerce and the bottom line.
Far be it from me to question someone who wants to get away from the money-grind for a few minutes. I'm all for that. But at some point don't we have to grow up and face the fact that we don't know what we want and do something more than say "FUCK THIS SHIT! We want something different?" That's what two year-olds do...and its where the REAL struggle beings.
Perhaps this is the beginning of that effort on the part of OWSers to grow up and realize that it takes more than simply wanting something different - and feeling entitled to get it (a sure sign of privilege if you ask me). What it takes is deciding what you DO want and then engaging in the long-haul struggle to get it - often out of the spotlight. I'll be interested to see if any of that happens.