During the last Presidential election, I believe it was George Will who said that America was choosing between their elites or our elites. For Will, their elites belonged to Obama and the Democrats while our elites were belonged to the Republicans. We should note that some elites belonged to both groups.
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This talk of elites tells us about our current political and economic systems and why OccupyWallStreet (OWS) is important. We really don't live in a democracy. Rather, we are ruled by elites. And the only difference between a "democracy" like ours and a totalitarian regime is that the former changes elites through elections while the latter changes elites through revolutions. Other than that, the elites rule and the people are expected to "shut up and sing" to borrow a title from Laura Ingram. Of course there is another difference between a democracy like ours and a totalitarian system. That difference is that we believe we are free because we vote.
However, a star has risen from the East. That star started in Egypt, Greece, and Spain. Then activists from the East came to New York to help OccupyWallStreet get started. And though its beginning was inauspicious, OWS just could become Time's People Of The Year. But we should note that OWS is merely a continuation of what we saw, and cheered for, in Egypt.
Much has been made about OWS's lack of both coherency and their "one demand." Those who make that claim have only shown their ignorance, an ignorance due to being blinded by ruling elites. OWS hasn't released a statement containing their "one demand" because they are living their demand. OWS has shown us how we can escape the tractor beam control of our ruling elites by becoming self-governed. And by making decisions the painful way, that is by listening to each other and coming to a consensus in their General Assembly, they have become a self-governing community rather than a community that is destructively ruled over by others.
It is because they have become self-governing that OWS has become what the rest of us are not: free. Their reliance on their General Assembly and their courageous standoffs with the police have made them, as Chris Hedges admiringly said, New York City's only free people. It is this freedom and the freedom they are advocating for the rest of us that has made OWS a real life Footloose. What we have are the kids sneaking out to dance while danceaphobic adults object in both anger and confusion. To those objecting adults, the kids have gone wild and are out of control. But we should note that "out of control" is relative. In short, OWS has changed the paradigm instead of having destroyed all order and thus the elites' paid attack dogs have only demonstrated their ignorance by showing they still believe that the world is flat.
But OWS is not only a real-life Footloose, it may be our Noah's Arc to save us from the flood of elite rule that exists today. That is because the way the elites are ruling us now is not only environmentally unsustainable, it is self-destructive. But since 9-11, Western elites, especially those from America, have convinced most of us that in order to protect us, they must be given more power and be able to act with impunity. What has helped make their case is that some of their targets are the scum of the earth making evil relative. But what has sealed the deal is that too many of us have traded liberty for prosperity and self-delusion, rather than security, while convincing the rest of us that we have bought some security.
As a result, we are sliding faster and faster down the slippery slope of Fascism. There are two roles to play in this kind of society. There are the wolves posing as shepherds and the sheep. Until recently, the sheep were happy to be oblivious because enough of them had been feeding in lush pastures. And many, especially the older sheep, want to maintain the same old same old. They want to believe that it is only the other group's shepherds who are wolves so all they have to do is find the right shepherds and things will be ok. But they are deceived and thus doomed.
The trouble with our emerging fascism is that the first concern of the ruling elites is to maintain the status quo regardless of the suffering they thrust on others. If after securing what they want they see fit in sharing their table scraps with the rest of us, they share but with ulterior motives. Thus the problem has become relying on elites in the first place. And this is what, however imperfectly, what OWS has freed itself from by relying on consensus rule and its General Assembly. Thus, the more we follow OWS's example, the more we can free ourselves from the rule of others and the doom they bring.
There is a tradeoff with following OWS's example however. It means that we must trade some leisure for responsibility and comfort for hard work. Direct democracy can be both boring and demanding. However, its reward is freeing because instead of acting like children who must obey their parents, as we do when we submit to elites, we become adults and act more like adults by making our own decisions. Thus we find ourselves maturing and being stretched.
I have been at OWS twice but have not had the opportunity to participate in their General Assembly. But I have participated in a General Assembly meeting at Freedom Plaza ind D.C. with the October 2011 movement. It is freeing to express a minority opinion without fear of being attacked by elites. One gets a stronger sense of belonging when one's own opinions receive the same respectful hearing as the views of all others. And the decisions arrived at through consensus are easier to support than the decisions made for us by elites whose first concern is themselves.
Certainly the elites from both political parties see the self-governance practiced by OWS and the other occupy groups as their only competition. This is because in a two party system, the elites from each side only insure the job of the elites from the other side when their own inevitable failure comes to fruition. Thus if we really want a change from the rule and doom of elites, we will abandon their ship and insist on self-governance as those at OWS have done. And abandoning their sinking ship is something we must do to survive.
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