The two best pieces I’ve read on the “Occupy” movement come from liberal faux-rock magazine Rolling Stone, and National Review editor Rich Lowry. Rolling Stone’s Jeff Sharlet attempts to spin the movement into something positive with ‘Welcome to the Occupation,’ but in the end still concludes that it’s a directionless mish-mash. Lowry’s ‘The Left’s Homegrown Terrorists’ has some of the hardest hitting commentary I’ve seen to date — he doesn’t mince words, and the moral clarity with which he speaks cuts deep. Really deep. Put the two together and you can only conclude that when directionless malcontents get desperate they have a propensity to get dangerous and scary (e.g., Greece’s Golden Dawn Neo-Nazis).

First, let us revisit Jeff Sharlet’s ‘Welcome to the Occupation.’ (Read the whole thing if you want to know what role Greek anarchist Georgia Sagri played in the movement’s inception.):

“Twice I woke up. Once when a squat woman with dreads down to her knees shuffled by with a broom…and a second time when a deranged man, top-heavy like a bulldog, punched the air above my head, daring anyone to take a shot at him. The occupation’s security, thin-limbed men with walkie-talkies, spread their arms out like birds and surrounded him. “We love you, man,” they said, over and over, containing but never touching. Finally he fled; the scene was too strange for the conventional crazy.”

In one short paragraph we see all of Occupy. There is the “peace-love-dope” contingent — and then there is the “angry deranged man punching the air” wolf pack. He can either roam alone, or in packs of five. The common denominator is that they are all really weird. And so, for every group of directionless hippies who have no long term strategic objective or a coherent plan of action beyond “love” there is one angry malcontent. Sometimes they punch their air, and somethings they seek to destroy property, be it windows, cars, or bridges.

And that is where Rich Lowry comes in:

The Cleveland Five are a sad-sack collection of wannabe terrorists if there ever was one. The amateurish young men who plotted to destroy a bridge outside Cleveland last week give the impression of needing the attention of a guidance counselor as much as a federal prosecutor.

But there’s no mistaking the seriousness of their attempted act. They allegedly planted what they thought were live bricks of C-4 underneath a well-traveled bridge connecting two suburban Ohio communities and repeatedly tried to detonate them. …

The Cleveland Five are the pathetic sons of Occupy — rootless, underemployed, drunk on a sophomoric radicalism, alienated from the American system of democratic capitalism to the point of lawlessness. One Occupy leader told the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer that Wright — a drifter with no known address and a vaguely checkered past — struck him as altogether “stereotypical.” …

Blowing up a bridge is like smashing a window — a favorite pastime of the anarchists at Occupy protests on the West Coast — only on a much larger and more hazardous scale. The spirit of nihilistic destructiveness is the same.

As is the flouting of laws and authority. This tendency isn’t limited to anarchists but is at the heart of Occupy. Writing in The Nation, Michael Moore imagines “nonviolent assaults” (whatever that means) on Wall Street and “wave after wave of arrests” in an attempt to shut it down. The romance of confrontation with the police is more central to Occupy than any specific agenda item. The movement welcomes a “diversity of tactics,” which means accepting the masked anarchists who are delighted so long as stuff gets, in the charming words of Wright contemplating his bridge, “f–ed up.”

Rich Lowry shows us that it is much better to set off charges of intellectual explosives than it is to try and purchase them from FBI informants to blow up bridges. When he says “rootless, underemployed, drunk on a sophomoric radicalism, alienated from the American system of democratic capitalism to the point of lawlessness,” he has thrust a verbal bayonet through the heart of the movement and twisted it for good measure.

The drifting mess that is ‘Occupy’ is what you get when you build a movement on the machinations of anarchist Yalies like David Graeber, as Rolling Stone’s ‘Welcome to the Occupation’ points out.

If you lie down with dogs (and homeless men in Zuccotti Park) you will wake up with fleas. If your movement lies down with anarchists, it will wake up with ammonium nitrate residue on its fingers and face and down its pants. (Mix in a little radical Islam and you might find a non-metallic underwear bomb in there.) A better option would be to take a shower, get a job — any job — and become a productive citizen.

Long story short: It’s going to be an interesting year.

Related: Katherine Ernst takes down “Occupy” over at City Journal (You can be the judge if we’re related or not.)

9 comments

    1. The Tea Party has a very focused message: Limited government, less spending, lower taxes.

      Occupy has no coherent message. If Rolling Stone couldn’t figure it out (a magazine with an editorial board that wants nothing more than to befriend them), they’re lost. If their answer is to grow the government, it’s not an option … since we’re $16 trillion in debt and counting.

    2. The Tea Party may have had a focused message to you, but to biased observers like myself, these were the messages we heard: Limited government, Obama is the Joker, poor people are lazy, less spending, keep government out of my Medicare, Obama is a witch doctor, lower taxes, Obama is Hitler.

      The Occupy Wall Street crowd seems more concerned with keeping private sector greed in check rather than growing government. I’m hearing these messages: Hold the bankers responsible for the recession accountable, repeal Citizens United, make the top 1% of Americans pay their fair share of taxes, bring back Arrested Development.

      If Rolling Stone couldn’t get those points across, then they, along with other so-called “left wing” media, are less biased than myself for failing to actively promote those ideals.

    3. Odd that you’re not concerned with public sector greed. The federal government is the one that has us $16 trillion in debt. The federal government bailed out banks and companies for their bad decisions. Look at the Congressman and Senators who go to Washington, DC and only a few years later have turned into multi-millionaires. How? They, unlike the private sector, produce nothing. They do not create funny TV shows like “Arrested Development” or laptops or computers or clothing. They just take your money, and at the end of the day the United States is further in debt. Debt that can not last because you can not outrun the accounting forever.

      Also, please tell me what “fair share” is. Be specific. In your perfect world, what tax rate would businesses and individuals pay? What would make you sit back and say, “that’s fair”?

  1. I’m pretty concerned with public sector greed too. I support a federal amendment to ensure all congressmen, senators, and presidents make no more than minimum wage so we can get some real civil servants in there as opposed to career politicians. “Fair share” could mean a 39% income tax rate on the top bracket, which many of the Occupiers are calling for when demanding the Bush tax cuts expire. I wouldn’t be entirely opposed to the idea of a 50% tax rate like Reagan had for most of his term.

  2. You neglect to mention that Reagan actually was able to cut marginal tax rates from 70 percent to 50 percent, and the economic boom that followed. When you cut tax rates, tax revenue usually goes up… For the federal government to take 50 percent of what anyone makes, in my mind, is highway robbery. Regardless, I applaud you for actually putting numbers down to discuss. Most people just hem and haw about “fairness” and when you press them they give you more platitudes.

    The U.S. doesn’t have a revenue problem; it has a spending problem. Tax “the rich” at 100 percent and it won’t make a dent in our $16 trillion of debt and promises in entitlement spending. Even Obama’s “Buffett Rule” by his own admission won’t do a thing to solve our debt problems. It’s all just a ruse to make gullible people go, “Yeah! Stick it to the rich guy! Yeah! Yeah!” when at the end of the day it will do nothing to better their life. How’s that 800 billion of “stimulus” working out for everyone? All those “shovel ready” jobs? Oh well. More cash thrown into a black hole. Sad.

    1. Reagan still had that whooping 50% tax rate. It seems like a lot, but the income gap today is even greater than it was 30 years ago. The guy who just won France’s election proposed a 75% tax on income over a million Euros. One of his rivals on the left was running on 100% for all earnings over half a million dollars.

      You’re right that a slightly higher tax rate would only bring in a fraction of the revenue we need, but it would still make a bigger dent than cutting the paltry funding given to NPR and Planned Parenthood.

      We need to stop believing that the world still works according to a manufacturing economy. Our unskilled labor jobs will continue to be taken by the Chinese, robots, and eventually, Chinese robots. We need to create more businesses by legalizing gay marriage, marijuana, and prostitution.

      If I’m not mistaken (crazier things have happened) we have the highest percentage of incarcerated citizens in the world and a military 100 times the size of the second most powerful. That’s a whole lot of spending that could be cut without much difference to our security, but Republicans and even some Democrats go nuts at the thought of making any cuts to defense.

  3. This is an interesting debate but I would like to point out that we do not need to abandon manufacturing we need to get better at it. In order to compete we need innovation. Douglas was also right about the tax rate with Reagan it was high but he did bring it down (Rome was not built in a day). I would also like to point out that no one can define “fair” that is why it was used so much. What is fair to you may not be fair to me. For example should I have to pay more in taxes than a person that made 45K because I earned 120K last year? What if I worked twice as many hours or I risked more of my assets to earn that money, is it fair?
    Dr. Ben Carson has a great point if 10% was good enough for our creator why does the government need more.

    1. I was actually rather impressed JoeSix put forth some numbers to discuss. That almost never happens. In a weird way, I’d be able to work with him as a politician, as to most people who scream about “fairness” and then shift around because defining it boxes them in to certain intellectual corners. Now that time has gone by we can see how the French responded to the whole “tax the rich at 75%” idea. Hinte: Not well.

      JoeSix lost me when he started talking about an economy based, in part, on legalized prostitution. There’s probably a libertarian argument that I could accept (even if I don’t agree with it morally), but I don’t know the way he went about it would win over very many people. Let’s concentrate less on prostitution and pot and more on science and technology…

      Dr. Carson’s “HSA account from birth” was pretty darn good in terms of health care as well. I really liked that and a close friend of mine in the medical profession gave it a thumbs up, too. It’s a shame that instead of asking, umm, doctors for advice, politicians seemed to favor the tried-and-untrue “more regulations on top of regulations.”

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