Posts Tagged ‘corporate greed’

Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party, and the Ethics of Mass Action

October 17, 2011

Massive demonstrations have a place in society: many people get more attention than a few. And if you want to make a point make a splash. The more people the more splash. But they’re ethically troublesome.

I’ve written recently about the twin dangers of mass demonstrations: the cover that a lot of peaceful people can give to wrongdoers, and the potential for an incendiary clash of wills with the authorities. Fortunately America has escaped both dangers in the case of the Tea Party demonstrations, and—so far—in the case of Occupy Wall Street, the latter only when cool heads in New York government prevailed on Brookfield Properties, the owner of Zuccotti Park, to call off their plan to expel the demonstrators.

Rome wasn’t so fortunate, as the Occupy Wall Street movement spread there and erupted in violence (Photo).

Many in the Occupy Wall Street crowd have stated their intention to stay indefinitely. That’s especially troublesome. One- or two-day demonstrations can be policed and controlled, and with forbearance on all sides can end peacefully. But where there’s no time limit impatience and irritability can build up and inevitably lead to confrontation, and usually ends in violence.

America is a nation of laws, and when the laws don’t serve the country well it’s up to the lawmakers to change them. And the lawmakers must be able to operate without being under threat of violence—no matter how much you may want to brain Eric Cantor (just to name one lawmaker). (more…)

Take “Occupy Wall Street” complaints seriously, don’t use force to disperse them

October 13, 2011

Americans pay attention when a lot of people turn out. And so there’s lots of attention for “Occupy Wall Street,” or OWS for short. Thousands of people, mostly of the Millennial generation (born since 1982) are camping out in Zuccotti Park, just two blocks from Wall Street’s New York Stock Exchange.

The Right doesn’t like OWS: “I think it’s dangerous, this class warfare,” Mitt Romney opines. “Growing mobs,” snarls Eric Cantor. “Anti-American,” Larry Kudlow charges. “The beginning of totalitarianism,” warns Ann Coulter.

OWS comprises lots of people, diverse in temperament, opinion, and goals, but they are engaging in old-fashioned American protest, this one against corporate greed, social inequality, and joblessness.

Some dismiss them as incoherent, but that’s a mistake. They’re angry about the way our society has moved away from the American dream and toward greater and greater inequality. Like them or not, OWS is a growing force. Our country needs to take their complaint seriously. They may be as consequential as Tahrir Square. Or more. Or maybe not.

Of course there’s always a danger when a mass of people congregate. Large numbers of peaceful people can give cover to wrongdoers bent on looting or mayhem, as in the recent London riots, or in the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles in 1992, which started as a peaceful protest but left 53 dead (more…)


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