Monday, October 31, 2011

Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street

Who will, in the end, more effectively stand up to oppressive elites: Arabs or Americans?

Mass murder to stop Occupy Wall Street patriots from protesting abuse of the population* by Big Finance and its political lackeys has yet to occur, but the pro-elite bias of mayors and governors is as clear in the West as it has been in the Mideast throughout the Arab Spring. And the police in the U.S., at least, seem eager to match the exploits of their Tahrir Sq. counterparts. A few heroes--one in NYC, one in Tennessee, two in St. Paul's Cathedral--are standing up, but they are isolated by the overwhelming indifference of government to the concerns of the people.

The issues are the same in the Mideast and the West. In both cases, moderate popular movements protesting injustice are being slapped down by the smug and comfortable elite. The big difference is that the Arab protesters have never tasted freedom, while the Western protesters can, mostly, just go back home with their jaded and naive neighbors who have been enjoying the good life far too long to be easily persuaded to fight back. From a political scientist's perspective, this sets up an interesting laboratory experiment: which population, Arab or Western, will more effectively challenge its oppressive elite?

From the viewpoint of the people involved, of course, the situation is serious, and everyone is "involved," whether they like it or not. The future of societies is being made. Democracy, at the level of "representative democracy" (trusting elected officials and courts) no longer works in the U.S. Now the question is whether or not real, personal, do-it-ourselves democracy can work. It has been so long since people have actually tried...

If Western peoples cannot bring themselves to make a serious effort to protect themselves from rapacious elites even in the aftermath of a decade of disastrous and corrupt military campaigns combined with and covering up for an elite-engineered financial disaster, then exactly what will it take to provide motivation? The longer Obama temporizes, the greater will be the chance that it will actually come to a Tahrir Square-level of police brutality. Is that what Americans require to persuade them to defend their rights?

Lacking a leader in the White House, we can only ask, "Where, oh where, is our Martin Luther King?"
Do you think the phrase "abuse of the population" above is just biased name-calling? A 2009 report by the Center for Public Integrity remains as relevant as it was when written:

The banks that funded the subprime industry were not victims of an unforeseen financial collapse, as they have sometimes portrayed themselves, but enablers that bankrolled the type of lending threatening the financial system....
The “Subprime 25” were responsible for nearly a trillion dollars of subprime lending, or 72 percent of all reported high interest loans. The “Subprime 25”, which are mostly no longer in business, were largely non-bank retail lenders that needed outside financing to make their subprime loans. So where did that financing come from? The Center’s study found that at least 21 of these Subprime 25 lenders were either owned outright by the biggest banks or former investment houses, or had their subprime lending hugely financed by those banks, either directly or through lines of credit. In other words, the largest American and European banks made the bubble in subprime lending possible by financing it on the front end, so they could reap the huge rewards from securitizing and selling mortgage-backed securities on the back end.  [Buzenberg 5/6/09.]

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