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Member since: Sat Nov 29, 2008, 02:55 PM
Number of posts: 17,671

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Winners and losers.

Two separate issues with the same common denominator: The abuse of the world economy to the enrichment of a few wealthy oligarchs, and the the abuse of public lands to the enrichment of a single cattle farmer. Both are abuses of the commons to the detriment of the people.

But the iconic images that record the events surrounding the controversy are very different. Who are the winners and losers in the images above? On the left there is a huddled mass of unrecognizable people defeated by a fat cop with an aerosol can. In the image on the right there is a lone individual defending a barricade.

Those in the image on the left have already lost the battle, but the image on the right shows a citizen taking charge of his fate and willing to die for his cause. If you didn't know the circumstances behind the images, who would you bet on to ultimately win? Who would you follow?

When a single rancher steals public resources for twenty years and the authorities finally move to end the outrage by arresting his cattle, people sympathetic to his cause, fraudalent though it might be, show up by the hundreds and make it perfectly clear they will do whatever is necessary to stop the confiscation. On the other hand the housing market is turned into a casino and millions of people lose their homes and are turned into the street. So what did those protesters do? They sat down in front of an office building and allowed themselves to get pepper sprayed. Given the millions of opportunities to show up at the point of the outrage - actual homes where people were being evicted - a gigantic groundswell of support would have been inevitable.

Since the OWS protesters focused their efforts on an abstraction, damaging to the public good though it might be, they were unable to make their message real to the people whose help they needed for meaningful change. Instead of a protest to defend the citizenry against a genuine threat they wound up doing performance art.

You don't have to show up with a gun to have an effective protest. But you have to show up willing to do whatever is necessary to stop the outrage. Beneath the abstract economics, media buzz, political mechanization and ideological posturing the conflict is the same as it was ten thousand years ago. People compete for resources; food, shelter, and energy. Look at the images above again. The most important players are not the idiot with the rifle or the OWS protesters cowering on the ground. They are the bystanders. Why didn't the huge crowd of people come to the aid of those kids instead of standing there watching the show? And why are those three people busy photographing that idiot with the rifle? The answer to those questions explain what happened to OWS and why the BLM backed down.
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