Now here’s a little story I’ve got to tell
About three bad brothers you know so well
It started way back in history…
Approximately 236 years ago, give or take, some rabble-rousers in the US decided that they were sick of working their asses off to build a functional community in the face of constant (and ridiculously passive-aggressive) bureaucratic, administrative and economic manipulations. The thing was, these guys had worked hard to create something new, a society that flourished (even while it was still a satellite of a larger administrative agent), and was more classically democratic than anything that had come before.
Most significantly these long-haired, anti-establishment, ruffians recognized that a government that created loopholes and places of privilege for a chosen few, while allowing only certain people exclusive access to the means of wealth and production were obstructing the market economy upon which their success depended. This market economy, articulated in the 1600s by Adam Smith is the basis for capitalism and it cannot function in the face of monopolies, favoritism, tax loopholes, protectionism or any other artificial manipulations of the economy to benefit a small (say 1%?) few.
Suddenly, a few of those ne’er do wells got to thinking. And they thought, this is bullshit. Who were these malignant protestors who were demanding their government respond to them and address their grievances?
- Samuel Adams (incorrectly known as a brewmaster, actually a dilettantish maltster… bankrolled by his daddy, but still wrote in his thesis: “it is lawful to resist the Supreme Magistrate, if the Commonwealth cannot otherwise be preserved“)
- Ethan Allen (farmer, businessman, land speculator philosopher, writer)
- Patrick Henry (a failed businessman… who decided to be a lawyer)
- John Hancock (one of the richest men in the 13 Colonies – trustfunder!)
- Paul Revere (a prosperous silversmith and the first sensationalist journo in American history – see the Boston “massacre”)
Among a host of others, these men realized that the debt incurred by their great nation’s persistent axe-grinding (in this case with France in the French and Indian War, the 7 Years War) was going to be bankrolled in actuality by their own hard work. These guys were yeomen, working men who had made something of and for themselves. But they were told to forget about the money going back into their communities, to education, the general welfare… this money was going to bail out a debt ridden government, broken financial institutions and machinations of war.
[Sorry – I just had deja vu for a minute… Weird.]
Amidst their peers (including the likes of Benjamin Franklin’s son and the vast majority of their social equals), these guys dared to buck the trend.
One lonely Beastie I be
All by myself without nobody
After years of salutary neglect, under which the colonials had the opportunity to reap the rewards of their work and had become notably prosperous, they were suddenly not only unprotected from the fiscal reach of their government, the decisions of state were being made behind closed doors and without their consent. Thus these men decided that, for innumerable reasons (actually they did eventually enumerate them in the third part of the Declaration of Independence) they had to take a stand. They stood up against tyranny, market inequity, social injustice, a lack of any political voice, backroom dealmaking, protectionism, and the basic failure of a system they had believed in.* They occupied Boston Harbor. They occupied forts. They occupied state buildings. They occupied abandoned buildings. They threw things at officers of the law.
He told a little story that sounded well rehearsed
Four days on the run and that he’s dying of thirst
The brew was in my hand and he was on my tip
His voice was hoarse, his throat was dry he asked me for a sip
He said, “Can I get some?”
I said, “You can’t get none!”
Had a chance to run
He pulled out his shotgun
He was quick on the draw I thought I’d be dead
He put the gun to my head and this is what he said,
“Now my name is M.C.A. I’ve got a license to kill
I think you know what time it is it’s time to get ill
Now what do we have here an outlaw and his beer
I run this land, you understand I make myself clear.”
Interestingly, no one accused them of having too many goals or lacking a specific focus. Also, no one suggested they were hypocritically out there with own state-funded goods, (be it fancy knickers or a new iPhone) asking for handouts. No one questioned their methods, (and let’s face it, a few times those fellas got straight cray-zay.) No one blamed them for the failure in the system, which they had the courage to acknowledge.
A significant percentage of people at the time (some estimates say 20%) remained loyal to the
man system government. Those who got their information from Fox Hunt News and reacted with hatred and disgust at the rebels, were called Loyalists. Today the analogous cousins of the Loyalists are part of the 99%. But they believe that the current Gini coefficient exists because the 99% are lazy, want handouts and blame others for everything. Then, as now, those “Loyalists” fought hard to maintain the status quo. To protect what they had. To resist an uncertain future. And I get that, I can understand the fear. But that doesn’t mean I like it, condone it or think it is worthy of honor. They knowingly cling to a fucked up system only because they cannot envision an alternative.
We stepped into the wind he had a gun, I had a grin
You think this story’s over but it’s ready to begin…
History is kind to those who have the courage to demand change in the face of injustice. For people who do not understand what injustice looks like, it looks like this:
The Gini coefficient is a measure of the inequality of a distribution, a value of 0 expressing total equality and a value of 1 maximal inequality.
The people who understand that the Occupy Movement is multifaceted understand, fundamentally, that we live in an interconnected world. This is not about some guy who wants to get paid, but about a systemic disintegration of a true market economy – government bailouts for war hawks and energy companies and monopolistic banks. (BTW, why is everyone freaking out about Solyndra and not all the bank bailouts?) In a true market economy, when one area is artificially manipulated every area is at risk. This disintegration will lead to the destruction of all the services and tenets our society is built upon.
So, be careful when you cast aspersions upon those who are taking the time to organize and Occupy on your behalf – maybe because you are too busy to do it, maybe because you are too afraid… maybe because you still believe that money, jobs and opportunities trickle down? These
protestors people are, at the very least, bringing attention to a seriously broken machine. Just because you don’t like the way they look (we also have our modern-day John Hancocks –> Warren Buffet, who are willing to take heat from their own class-mates) don’t assume they know not of what they speak. Remember, now, as then, the power is in the yeoman. And more than likely, that is you.
In 1818, looking back on the dissolution of our bonds with a government that no longer had our interests at heart, John Adams reflected:
Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people….This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.
Watch out world.
And you might want to hang up that red coat of yours…