May 8, 2012

Occupy Wall Street Update #2

An OWS participant was recently arrested for terrorist activity in Cleveland.

This is more-or-less the sort of thing that I predicted in my previous update on OWS. The event does not condemn the entire movement down to its last, most innocent member as a group of terrorists, but it does say something about the character of OWS as a mass movement. This is to say, that if you chant for the overthrow of capitalism in particular and authority in general, you should not be too surprised if a few people in the crowd want to push the envelope a little farther than just shouting slogans at each other. Any outpouring of popular anger gives encouragement to those people who, for one reason or another, take a sheer delight in wreaking havoc. This is simply a fact.  I am not sure how creating panic around a Cleveland bridge would have brought down the capitalist system, but I’m pretty sure it would have given a great deal of emotional satisfaction to the perpetrators. Arsonists and bombers always enjoy their avocation.

OWS lacks any coherent visible leadership, and so cannot repudiate such actions. They seem to be a heterogeneous mass of the dissatisfied and disaffected, seasoned with the familiar teaspoon of the plainly antisocial. Non-violence is an attitude of some participants in OWS events, perhaps even of most of them, but not a characteristic of the movement as a whole.  Members of movement can no more claim their group is opposed to violence -- but embraces the New Black Panther Party and Anonymous -- than a person could claim not to be anti-Semitic but embrace the neo-Nazis and the KKK.

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