As a non-partisan observing the “Occupy Wall Street” protests (merely the latest salvos in a long barrage of rhetoric about the economy and the culture), it strikes me that a couple of basic narratives about America and her citizens are coming to blows. While public policy based on these narratives does tend to (more or less) fall along party lines, the fundamental narratives themselves are (I believe) less constrained to party affiliation. The narratives might be compared and contrasted as follows:
|One Narrative||Another Narrative|
|Views the government as being the answer to most problems in society||Views individuals and private groups as being the answer to most problems in society|
|Believes that the government is the optimal provider for citizens in crisis||Believes that individuals, private organizations, and religious groups are the most effective providers for citizens in crisis|
|Views citizens primarily within the context of groups and classes||Views citizens primarily as individuals|
|Views citizens generally as helpless pawns||Views citizens generally as people able to make and deal with their own decisions|
Much of the “Occupy Wall Street” rage appears to be against the banks, who made loans to people who couldn’t afford them, but then got bailed out by the U.S. government. Now, I’m no apologist for the banks – many (not all) of them did undoubtedly get greedy and take advantage of uninformed borrowers. But if we’re looking to assign blame, it would appear to me that there are at least three parties to spread that blame among:
1. Certain members of congress, who threatened to sue (and/or regulate out of existence) banks who would not institute a policy of “affordable housing” for low income people. (Translation: Make mortgage loans to people who cannot afford a mortgage payment).
2. The aforementioned banks, who responded to the congressional blackmail by getting greedy (though, again, not all banks were guilty of predatory lending).
3. The borrowers, none of whom (at least as far as I can tell) was forced to sign the loan papers with a gun to their head.
The selective outrage displayed by the protesters is clearly targeted at people for whom passionate expression comes easier than critical thinking. It’s also clear that there are forces involved whose goal is to collapse the entire capitalist system, and replace freedom with totalitarianism. To that end, it appears they have no shortage of what Lenin derisively referred to as “useful idiots” to aid them in their cause.