Occupation Manifesto

“As scarce as truth is, the supply has always been in excess of the demand” – Josh Billings

We noted yesterday that we could not find a declaration of what the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd wanted or believed. As so often happens, someone found it for us and forwarded it along. We’ll reproduce it here shortly, with a lot of commentary, but first it seems useful to lay out some general principles for the discussion.

I am a Christian. As a Christian, I hold to the premise that all men are created “equal” in the sense that they are all created in the image of God, and that God is (as the King James puts it) “not a respecter of persons.” I further hold that a belief in this equality before God necessarily implies a belief in freedom. That is, if I am to deprive your freedom to rule your own life, then I am to set myself up as superior to you – which directly contravenes the notion that we are equal, a notion that I claim to believe.

Not everybody holds this view. We are not all Christians, we do not all hold to the same definitions of “human rights,” we do not all hold the same definition of equality (some find equality of “stuff” more important than equality in the eyes of God). These are all fine points to hash out, and each of us can certainly bring our own beliefs to the discussion.

I bring up freedom because freedom generally has to mean freedom for everybody. If you are free in some points but not others, then we would call you “nearly free” but not actually free. Further, if freedom is held as sacred for some and not others then we are not equal with respect to freedom. (Again, this only matters if you believe that freedom and equality go hand in hand … if you don’t, then it’s not really a big issue.)

And what freedoms do we claim to hold here in the United States? Speech, assembly, religion, press, and the like. Remember these freedoms as we go through the manifesto – you will perhaps find a not-so-consistent application of them (which may be quite intentional – again, we don’t all hold the same definition of equality).

As a secondary point I would also like to point out that the Occupy Wall Street crowd hopes to represent the impoverished and oppressed. To this end I will say that on a number of their complaints they are not nearly angry enough, or perhaps they don’t realize the actual depth of the crimes being foisted upon us.

That’s all “fine, well, and good” – history is replete with people who dreamed to defend the downtrodden and hadn’t a clue as to how to do it. We who follow the Lord need not be put off by their claims of justice and defense of the poor. If they are true, then their actions will be consistent with the truth. And if not, then time will bear it out.

I’ll put the text of the manifesto in italics, with my comments  in plain text [and in square brackets if inserted into a paragraph]. Before the manifesto, let me give you this thought from Proverbs 4:14-19:

“Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on. For they cannot sleep unless they have done wrong; they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble. For they eat the bread of wickedness and drink the wine of violence. But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.”

Now, the Occupation Manifesto …

_____________________________________

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights [now you’re talking brother], and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors [That sounds oddly like the Declaration of Independence, doesn’t it?]; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people [OK, this is a “nit,” but a democratic government derives is power from the will of the majority – 51% of the people], but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments [indeed]. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right [remember that, assembly is a right], to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.

WOW! Talk about starting off with a swing and a miss. Seriously? The Federal Reserve, at the behest of the wealthy, pumped more and more liquidity into the market and drove up a huge housing bubble. The wealthy prospered with asset inflation (they already had houses & lands) and the poor got CLOBBERED (they were always the last ones to get into the bubble). The market collapses because of this injustice and many, many poor were wiped out. The wealth was transferred from poor to rich. And somehow, the great sin of the whole thing was a bum foreclosure process? Holy cow! Are you people that myopic?

They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.

I mean, I hate to beat a dead horse, but that’s strike two. After the housing bubble collapsed, the rich decided that they hadn’t quite made enough and needed another $787 billion in direct payment from the taxpayers … and they got it. The crime here? That they also paid exorbitant bonuses? You guys can’t see the forest for the crap on your glasses.

What behaviors would you have the Wall Street tycoons undertake after such a massive bailout? I can give you my list. (1) Give me back my $787 billion! (2) Do whatever you want after that. Seriously, it doesn’t appear you’re that upset about the ripoff, just the gloating.

They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

You’re fighting last-year’s battle boys. “They” have done this? “They” have perpetuated inequality and discrimination? If any of you had ever been to a workplace in the recent past you might know it just doesn’t go down like that anymore. WE hire the best and brightest without a care in the world for the rest. YOU are the ones who obsess over this stuff.

They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.

I haven’t a clue as to the poisoning reference, though I will say that “poisoning through negligence” seems a bit silly. And the farm system currently produces huge quantities of food (feeding huge quantities of people) – that’s a good thing, isn’t it?

They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.

I have no reason to doubt any of that. They have certainly tortured and confined animals in various testing programs – and almost surely hide the practices for PR purposes.

They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.

I find that the “right to negotiate” is very much linked to freedom of association. Of COURSE you have a right to negotiate – but so does the other guy. Feel free to negotiate, but the other guy gets to negotiate too. If his negotiation strategy is to fire the lot of you and start over then that’s his decision. Freedom of association & all.

They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.

OK, enough already with the “education is a human right” nonsense. Education is not inherent to man. You have to be taught something by someone. If this is a human right then freedom is not. The person who teaches must also be free to determine what, how, and if they will teach. If their freedom violates your right to an education, then they are not free at all.

They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.

Umm, freedom of association, anyone? Somebody, somewhere is happy to have that job.

They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.

Here I think you cut off a little short. They have influenced the courts, the congress, the presidency, the governors, and every government entity under the sun.

They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.

Yep.

They have sold our privacy as a commodity.

Yep. They surely sold your phone numbers and email addresses when you signed up for the free samples.

They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.

What country is that?

They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.

Yes indeed. It is a sad state, but there is a clear cost-benefit tradeoff here. How much will it cost to recall versus “chance it”? It’s an icky feeling, but at least the math is clean.

They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.

A nail has been hit firmly on the head here … well, almost. Yes, they determine economic policies. But they have not failed at all. Oh, their policies haven’t really helped you or me, but they have helped the corporations immensely. So, perhaps this needs some rephrasing. “They determine economic policy, in spite of the fact that their policies deliberately strip us of our freedoms and subjugate us to their profit motives.” How about that instead?

They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.

May as well say they have paid for sex. The whores in congress are selling influence over the American people on every street corner in Washington DC. Question: who has betrayed the trust in this transaction? Have the corporations, whose goal is to make a profit? Or have the politicians, whose purpose is to defend the liberties of the people? The answer is pretty easy here guys, don’t think too hard.

They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.

The market is actually pretty fluid here. When those alternate forms become efficient compared to oil, they will blossom. I suspect we’re not that far off either. In my lifetime we may well see “green” energy sources that are actually efficient.

They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.

Tell me, friend, who are you to define “substantive”? I may agree with you on your definition – but the meaning of equality is that you don’t get to rule over me and tell me when I’ve made enough. Unless, of course, you draw your definition of equality from Marx.

They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.

I think the “faulty bookkeeping” is the best. Most people involved in faulty (fraudulent?) bookkeeping try to cover it up – by definition.

They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.

Indeed. They try very hard to silence the voices of freedom.

They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.

It is not the corporate responsibility to assess guilt. The courts had better do their job.

They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.

If you’re referring to American imperialism, then sure. Maybe we should pull back the forces some, eh? You’ll find a lot of support for that amongst the Tea Party as well.

They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.

I don’t disbelieve it, and it doesn’t help our standing as a country.

They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

_____________________________________

I think there are some good grievances in here. I think there are some that don’t go nearly far enough, or that miss the point. What I don’t find are solutions. Now why is that? Why would someone list off these grievances without mentioning a solution?

If the proposed solution is to “create a process to address the problems we face” then I suspect you’ve missed the boat. This process won’t address anything. In a democracy, the will of the majority carries the day – and you are nowhere close to a majority.

Perhaps it is more sinister though. Perhaps the “solution” doesn’t need to be discussed because it is known with a wink and a nod. Such is the case with communists everywhere.

The beautiful horror of these pro-democracy movements is that they believe, they honestly believe, that if they can just topple the current “ruling class” then things will be better. If they can just take power for themselves, and whatever god-man they elevate to leader status, then wise and benevolent rule will flow to the masses and we’ll all be happy again. They never push this as a means of freedom. No, it’s just a move of control from one tyrant to the next. But Stalin killed just as many as Hitler, and Mao out did them both.

My point is that “the 99%” (as they are calling themselves) want “power to the people” – but not all the people, just a simple majority that they hope to collect and enforce their will. They want “democracy” – but only as a means to control. Democracy cuts both ways though. What if the theocrats on the right stood up a government that executed fornicators and homosexuals alike? They could easily do so “in the spirit of direct democracy.” Would this make the 99% happy? I doubt it.

They want democracy when it serves their purposes, and defense of their rights when it doesn’t. They want freedom for them, but not freedom for everybody else. But freedom has to be freedom for everybody, or it’s just a convenient talking point and not worth much else.

If they can’t defend my freedom to get up in the morning, go produce whatever I wish to produce, trade with whoever I wish to trade, and consume in whatever manner  I wish to consume (e.g., a free market) then they don’t support freedom or equality at all.

Look, I get it, they’re mad. I’m mad too. I’m fed up with this nonsense, the corporate rule in Washington and the subjugation of freedom to their profit demands. But the Occupy crowd seems to have their focus in the wrong direction.

They’re angry at “the rich” and “the corporations” for manipulating the system to their advantage, but they don’t at all seem to lash out at the government that sold them this authority. Nor do they understand that the only solution that can work is to deprive government of its power over the people. Until you do that, you’ll never see corporations “play nice” – they can make far more money by buying influence.

That’s a hard solution to grasp though. It’s a solution that requires you to be equal with everybody else (i.e., you don’t get to be more virtuous and righteous than everybody else and tell them how to live their lives in a good and wholesome manner – you just have to let them be free, the same as you).

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