"We are the 99%."
Rarely does a slogan perfectly capture the zeitgeist, the ethos and the pathos, each word a passionate announcement of a popular uprising. And neither does this one.
It is, however, an important piece of propaganda. It sounds like the enemy is Wall Street, but observe that the slogan doesn't point to an enemy, it defines the group. The slogan is a twist on an old fascist standby: select a minority enemy, and create an impression of opposing unanimity. Once done, the leaders of the group have the powerbase to do what they want, making it impossible for anyone in the rest of the 98% to disavow this madness. When it all goes down you will be too terrified, or too busy, to dissent.
Take a look at the website, see which one you are.
I very, very much empathize with this woman, but her aside, what if I don't believe education is they key? What if I think there should be no such thing as student loans at all? What if I think that it, not Wall Street, is a far greater enemy of civilization? Do I get to be in the 99%? Do I get a choice?
Here are some of the demands of #OccupyWallStreet:
- Restoration of the living wage.
- Free college education
- Begin a fast track process to bring the fossil fuel economy to an end
- One trillion dollars in infrastructure
- Open borders migration
Never mind that these demands are internally inconsistent, mathematically impossible and downright weird. ("Bank to Bank Debt and all Bonds and Margin Call Debt in the stock market including all Derivatives or Credit Default Swaps, all 65 trillion dollars of them must also be stricken from the "Books."" Really? You want that?) What's important is that most of the 99% don't want all those things, or even most of those things.
Grant me that when Naomi Klein is invited to speak for the 99%, at least 45% are looking at each other like, wtf, who let Linda Tripp in here?
Do you think that when the movement becomes powerful they will represent the guy making $533000 as well as the guy making $0? How about the $250k and the $5k? All the way to the median income of $30k, but-- surprise-- that $30k guy most definitely does not want anything to do with an open border policy and guaranteed living wage and abolition of the death penalty. Oh, your plan is to exclude all of the states that have >2 right angle borders. Hmm.
They exist in a quantum superposition of multiple eigenstates, but the moment they make an official demand the whole thing will collapse into a single state and everyone will hate it.
Which is why any demands are quickly disavowed, "There is NO official list of demands," they emphasize on the site, and yet the point isn't the demands, the point is the "they." The point is to pretend that there aren't any official demands, attract the largest possible base-- who doesn't hate Wall Street?-- and then make demands. "'They?' You mean the loose affiliation of Trader Joe's shoppers at OccupyWallSt?" No, I mean the guys who can say this:
This content was not published by the OccupyWallSt.org collective, nor was it ever proposed or agreed to on a consensus basis with the NYC General Assembly.
They say they have no leader which means it's pointless. If they do get a leader, science suggests it will naturally be a man with a long ring finger and some psychopathic traits; all I know is that they will simultaneously count me amongst their numbers even as they ask me please to die. Or kill, depending on how much power they get.
What you don't realize about those pictured as "the 99%"--what they have in common is not that they are young or college educated or indebted or white females, but that they were willing to put a picture of themselves on the internet, fully of the belief that they stand for something worth being pictured for. Bad move.
You think marching on Wall Street gives you power, a voice; but it is a wholesale surrender to the media, you have signed a waiver allowing them to use your image any way they want, and they will tell the rest of us what to think of you and titrate our exposure and emotional responses, all while feeding us with marketing for the very things that got us into our predicament. The income disparities, the education pyramid scheme, the personal and public debt, the anxiety, brought to you by Revlon and the makers of CNN.
Take a guess which side Fox, MSNBC, John Stewart chose. How did you know? Wrong: it isn't their "bias" because it doesn't matter what the protestors want, it's because they predictably transmorph the protestors into what they need them to be.
"Marching gets our message out." No it doesn't, it gets CNN's message out. "We don't watch CNN, we use the internet." Yet given the infinity of the internet you still surf the same 5 websites, looking for and finding exactly what you want, like a baby playing peekaboo in a mirror over and over and over and over and over and over and...
You are the 98%, you are totally without any access to the machinery of power and worse, much worse, you plug yourselves into the machinery of media and become a slave.
"That's why I don't watch television!" Well, a) you mean TV dramas, and 2) it's because you're not a 45 year old woman, the target demo of TV. But maybe you're proud that you skip the commercials and avoid the "mainstream media", you don't want to be part of the corporate consumerist machine and good for you, yet your independence is why Whole Foods knows you'll buy anything wrapped in brown and you already have a subscription to The New Yorker, which has a curiously large number of ads for mental institutions. If you're reading it, it's for you. The New Yorker is also at the checkout counter in Whole Foods, along with Rolling Stone and Psychology Today and not along with Sports Illustrated and The Weekly Standard. You think you shop at Whole Foods because it has better quality food? It's because of those magazines. Even the neocons who shop there-- they don't shop at Acme-- shop there because of the branding: liberal=organic, so the more left wing magazines and the more dred locks the more it has reinforced the "liberalism" and therefore the "quality," and so you go, "reluctantly", shaking your head at the crazy commies stocking the store as you hand them 3x more than anything is worth. "Would you like to donate $1 to help Ethiopian refugees?" Son of a bitch, this apple is delicious.
If you hold a protest and you aren't throwing rocks it will fail. I'm not telling you to throw rocks, I'm explaining why your march won't work.
The reason "peaceful protests" don't work anymore is because now the protests are slower than the media coverage. When they threw the tea in Boston Harbor it was urgent, immediate, and by the time the press could interpret it it had already been digested by the public. But now even before the protest reaches critical mass the media, whose agents outnumber the protestors 100 to 1, has packaged and produced it, like a reality show, and by the time Naomi Klein got there I had already been told to expect someone like her. Do you see? She had already appeared before she got there. Yes, I can take pride in thinking for myself but if I'm going to be honest, all I'm doing is reacting to what I'm told. I was once going to write something about what Amanda Knox's innocence revealed about our earlier media prejudices, and then I realized I still have no idea if she's innocent or guilty, only that the media tells me she isn't. And then I wondered, why do I even care if she is guilty or innocent, why do I even know her name, what's that got to do with me? Because the media decide not just truth and falsehood but existence and non-existence. #OccupyWallStreet never stood a chance, come one person, come ten million people, it doesn't matter, the only people who have any power are people like her:
and she is stronger than all of you. Close your eyes: do you remember anyone else?
You can agree or disagree, but you must do it with her, not with the folks holding signs. And by her I don't mean her, of course, she doesn't get to decide what she thinks, either-- her producer tells her, and so on up the chain.
Late at night as I'm drinking my eyes blind I hear the protesters regularly complain that they are not getting enough media coverage. They are protesting Wall Street, and they want more Wall Street coverage? You lose.
Those protesters are based in a world that is built on rules. Because of this, they will never be as strong, or as fast, as the media that exists outside those rules. "Hey, stupid, what's that? a sign? TOO SLOW, we have a thousand satellites and a harem of reporters, from beautiful blondes to ugly intellectuals, we control the whole thing. You even put a hashtag in your official name because your only voice is twitter. Bless my heart-- twitter! How absolutely precious. Don't forget to rock the vote!"
"We are the 99%. We want to cut the umbilical cord from fossil fuels and consumerism." Easy, but then what? There are two ends to that cord, something has to nourish you and all that's left since you can't afford what you were told you needed is the placenta of the political-media machine. "Get out the vote" is truly terrible advice, the only way to win is not to play. If you're at the protest and a guy comes around asking you to register and it's not for a handgun, punch him in the face. He's your enemy.
"We need a third party!" Come on, do you think the media will allow you to have a third party? John Anderson, Ross Perot, Ralph Nader-- they let them through to "show" third party candidates aren't any more serious than Howard Stern when he ran for governor. Poor Ron Paul pulls in more people than porn but he can't get a break, sorry buddy, 100 years too late for your kind. There's a difference between what you need and what you want, and the media will always, relentlessly give you what you want. Do you know why you have such poor candidates every single election? Because you want them, you want someone you can easily judge for some sexual indiscretion or because they called latinos chicanos. "Well, that matters to us!" Then you got what you asked for.
The media will have data mined the culture and chosen for you two cans of Campbell's Chicken Soup, and then encouraged a public debate about which can is a better representation of the spirit of the country, the one on the left or the one on the right. "Well, that matters to us!" I know.
The protests will fail. They will eventually be co-opted by the pre-election media orgasmia, branded as either this team or that and assigned a leader no one would have ever picked, ever, ever. The Tea Party may have started with Rick Santelli but they soon got Sarah Palin, figure that out. Half of you will vote, all of you will complain, and nothing will change until the day we are buying fake iPads with real yuans, hey, who's the balding guy on the 20? And the 50? And the 100...? And the reason it will fail is that you don't want it to succeed. You are still holding on to the mercantilist, zero-sum economic delusion that tariffs and gold standards and less money for Wall Street means more money for you, and then you can go back to living like it's 1999 again. You can't. It's over.
Of course Wall Street has excessive profits, but just as your life has been an inflated delusion of easy credit, so has theirs; yes, they have received an obscene share of that fake money, and ten-twenty years ago maybe you could have redistributed that fake money, but that ship has sailed. Now, the moment you take it away from them it ceases to exist, poof, it's gone. It's fine if you want to do it to punish them, I get it, it's the right thing to do and Glass-Steagall and all that, but it won't help your situation one bit.
$3.6T out, $2.4T in, those are the numbers, and in case you want something on letterhead here's the CBO saying taxing the rich would get us $450B over ten years. Ten years! Double the taxes, triple the taxes, it makes no difference, it's over. The only way out is a massive tax on wealth; cold fusion; a war; a new media; or inflation. Inflation has the side benefit of pushing you into a higher tax bracket and we'll all get to see what a $1000 bill looks like.
"We are the 99%." Stop it. There is a 1%, fighting another 1%, and while both of those megalomaniancs dominate the media coverage the other 98% has no recourse, no representation, no allies, and no savings. If you're over forty 2007 was the best you will ever have it, make sure you backup your photos, it may not get worse than this but your only hope for growth is the next generation so you better change your expectations and your priorities. If you want to eat something other than canned goods and insects when you're 80 you better prepare your kids now, work them harder in math and get them to read better books, make some kind of/all kinds of a sacrifice for them, because the only thing keeping you from the hellacious Medicare funded nursing homes and the Social Security that will not exist is them, the 17 year olds you are screaming at for drinking too much of the whisky you are hiding in the bathroom.
And in 2030 don't tell me "the young should respect their elders," in the oldest of days the elderly were revered not because the young were respectful but because in those days if you made it to 60 you were a goddamn superhero. "Whatever the hell this guy did in his life," Johnny said to Timmy, "I'm copying. How in Sutekh's name did he not get eaten by a hyena?" If the hyenas had slacked off maybe those youth wouldn't have been so respectful. Pray you don't find out.
Are you listening to me? Or were you looking at the woman in the red dress?
You are the 98%, and you are too slow.
The Dumbest Economic Collapse In History