The Real Meaning of Occupy Wall Street
Feel the moment, forget about where this is heading (photo by Adam Lempel):
It doesn’t matter if Occupy Wall Street brings no practical changes to the world. It doesn’t matter if it fails to halt the onslaught of global corporate capitalism. If humanity does indeed annihilate itself through nuclear holocaust or climate collapse or the next boom-bust cycle—which will likely be even bigger and worse than the sub-prime mortgage crisis, as power is now more concentrated than before— we’ll at least know that we spoke the truth when it mattered. That we took a stand for what was right. Even against all odds. Even in the face of ridicule and state sanctioned brutality.
We live in a world ruled not by Orwell’s Big Brother, but by the forces of “free markets,” a euphemism right out of 1984’s Ministry of Truth, a misnomer in a sea of big lies pushed by the corporate state. For it is not a world of genuinely free markets described by Adam Smith that today’s corporate capitalists have imposed on the world. It is the antithesis. It is a system of concentrated power, carefully crafted to enrich the privileged few beyond comprehension, at everyone else’s expense.
There are no truly free markets. There is only monopoly. It oozes out of every dimension of society. From the two political parties, both of which belong to Wall Street, to the six corporations which control the mass media, to the few insurance conglomerates that conspire to kill 45,000 Americans and bankrupt a million others every year while they fatten their pockets, to the handful of oil corporations that dictate imperial policies, and ultimately to the dozen or so banks that control over 60% of the nation’s GDP.
There is no escaping. Nowhere to hide. No time to waste. The only thing to do is defy. Resist. That’s the real meaning of Occupy Wall Street. You see, when I’m not there with the protestors at Liberty Square I feel I belong there. Every minute I spend there is an act of rebellion, full of meaning and purpose.
Every day people come to share their personal stories. A former trader of Treasuries on Wall Street who requested anonymity came to talk candidly about how deeply corrupt and fraudulent the system he once served truly is. As he puts it, “Wall Street is rife with toll collection, zero-sum gaming, and organized crime.” They contribute nothing to society, as “securities firms make the most precisely when they do the least,” extracting huge payoffs for meaningless transactions that can be made only through these firms. Furthermore, the obscenely lucrative salaries divert the country’s talent away from other occupations, luring top graduates to business schools and companies like Goldman Sachs, which “ultimately hurts our nation.”
When he quit his job of twelve years he approached the SEC in the hopes of correcting the wrongs he had witnessed. He had expected to approach an audience eager to hear his tales of wrongdoing and systematized rape. What he found shocked him. Nobody cared. He couldn’t get anyone to listen. They were all too busy preparing for the jobs they would attain on Wall Street after they finished serving the public.
A man named Federico once thought he had attained what all those men believed would one day be in their grasp. The American Dream. He had made millions of dollars. He had started a family and bought a home. And then the sub-prime mortgage bubble burst. The depression dried up his business, pushing him to untenable levels of debt. Before long he found out that Bank of America owns his house. He had never been aware of any transaction between himself and the mega-firm. But he has been made aware that the big bank intends to take what the law has awarded it.
And therein lies the real story of the American Dream, as Frederico laments. Just another big illusion among a massive cesspool of lies. Just another bubble, artificially inflated by Wall Street and the rest of the parasites who gain from pushing Frederico and his daughters, along with over six million other families, out of their homes. The law exists to serve corporate power, never to protect the weak, the poor, the innocent. Just ask black America how kind the law has been to them. Or the Indians. Or finally, Muslims.
A Navy Seal who requested anonymity and served in Afghanistan came to occupy Wall Street and protect his people from their real enemies. Not the terrorists. But the oligarchs sitting in those towers in the Financial District. Those towers. So tall, intimidating, mechanical, exclusive. Bloomberg and Bush and Obama and all the criminals who really run things seem to be sitting there, plotting to increase their power and hold on to it at any cost; regardless of the lives lost or ruined.
The Navy Seal told me a tale of woe. He witnessed the corpses of little Afghan girls. They had just been raped, tortured and murdered by CIA officers who were fucked up on drugs. “When my guys told me about it,” he says, “I couldn’t believe it. But they [CIA officers] had really raped little girls, beating them up, you know, and bruising em. I had seen two teenage girls beaten up so bad, that their bodies gave up and died right there. The rest of em, we took em; we got em out of there.”
You can see the pain and suffering reflected in his eyes as he recounts the horror. The agony it must have been to see such innocent young creatures freshly stamped out of existence in such a gruesome manner. To the Navy Seal, those CIA officers are emblematic of the true agents of destruction. It is not those individual men who encapsulate all that is despicable. They merely reflect the system they serve. The real culprit is the corporate state, which has unleashed a cycle of imperial, criminal wars of aggression that will not stop until the empire collapses on its own weight, and brings the rest of the world down with it.
This may very well be the bleak future we face. But on the side of every woe there is truth and hope. It is in Liberty Square where such magnificent things can be found. It is here, in the public square, in the heart of the financial capital of the world, that a former Wall Street trader can come to speak honestly about what really transpires inside those towers. It is here that Federico comes whenever he has time to hold up his bill of foreclosure for all to see.
He feels the power of truth in resistance. He shows his tale of woe to the world. And the world is watching. And people are listening. For once, people care. For once life is about more than making a buck. For once strangers show genuine compassion. For once people have gathered to give voice to a cause greater than any celebrity or company. To participate in this revolt; to soak in the intoxication of defiance; this is what it means to be alive.
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Tagged with: 6 millions foreclosures • American Dream • Bank of America • bankrupt 1 million a year • banks control 60% of nation's GDP • CIA officers torture and rape Afghan girls • corporate coup • defy • foreclosures • former Wall Street Treasuries trader • kills 45000 a year • monopoly • Navy seal • Occupy Wall Street • organized crime • resist • towers in the Financial District • veterans at Occupy Wall Street • what it means to be alive
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