October, 2011

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Occupying Wall Street

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

I honestly don’t know how many people read this blog and quite honestly, given how infrequently I post, I’m not all that surprised. But I do want to say this:

The Occupy Wall Street movement that is slowly gaining steam in New York City is the change that I have been anticipating for much of my lifetime.

I have warned that a ‘revolution’ is coming. But on the other hand, I have called for change. I admit I have vacillated between embracing a world where the corporate agenda has lost its influence and ‘selling out’ to secure my economic future.

The revolution is upon us. It won’t be a Storming of the Bastille sort of revolution- or so I still hope. It’s going to be organic and more peaceful a la Gandhi; it will be in the numbers of participants, rather than in any violence that the change will take place.

Indeed, it will gain moral strength with every act of violence committed by those defending the status quo. Sadly, the defenders of the status quo is the role the New York Police Department is fated to play out.

REAL, deep and profound change doesn’t happen with a convenient sound bite or even a speech.

It happens because people vote with their feet. It may seem that what they are doing is unfocused right now. But as people slowly realize that their economic interests are being compromised by forces beyond their control and that all they have to do is stop what they’re doing and assemble to be counted, the momentum for change will accelerate.

We are not yet anywhere near a critical mass for spontaneous ‘revolution’ but I cannot help but keep my eye on this movement. Hell, I might even get on a plane and fly to New York to go see what is happening for myself. Seriously. This is the real thing.

Are we at all surprised it’s happening now? The largest demographic in the American population is the kids of baby boomers. They are unemployed, endebted and mad as hell. They see their parents retirement dreams vaporized. Their futures appear condemned to a losing battle against organizations that get rights but bear no responsibility for their actions. They see injustice everywhere and they have the time on their hands to affect the change they need to rebalance the wrongs.

And they make their flower-power parents look like kids making daisy chains in their sophistication and connectedness. To the establishment, they are truly dangerous and the first management tool to diffuse their frustration is extinguishment: to simply ignore them.

Clearly that is not working.

I have said many a time to people that I don’t believe that the China we are seeing right now is going to last: China has a history of being a very insular society- and the disparity between the rich and the poor is going to unleash a revolution that will inevitably turn China in on itself.

However, despite wishing for change on our shores, I did not see this coming- and I must say I am relieved to see it happening: The People of the United States are starting to wake up. They are starting to realize that no matter what they do, they lose in any equation that involves the government and corporate interests; that the economic disparity has become untenable, that they ARE the government so they can do something about it.

They are starting to foment and beginning to recognize the wisdom of the revolutionary values that made the United States the democratic and economic shining light for the rest of the world. There is hope for all of us after all.

For decades, I have not been able to reconcile two very different futures with the present reality: Is it going to be a socialist revolution or an Orwellian corporate agenda? Neither seemed possible as Americans are absolutely anathema to the former and yet the latter is completely unsustainable.

Today I realized there is a third way: The de-corporatization of capitalism in the United States: the return of the small-town shop-keeper. It is the kind of capitalism that actually employs people. It is small and it is humanist. It is simple and it is a more modest form of economic well-being that made the United States a great and prosperous country. And that modest strain of capitalism is about to begin anew.

The ‘Great Burnt Souffle‘ of American Corporate Capitalism is collapsing as the inflated paper value of the American economy slowly diminishes to the actual value of the destroyed assets that exist there today.

To get to that real value, it is going to take ten years. Using the words of the outgoing regime, we are going to experience ten years of “stagnant growth” while inflation eats up debt and the market absorbs trillions of dollars in paper losses.

But swing the pendulum will and out of the ashes of this gargantuan collapse is going to be America’s “new economy”: small, local, very hands-on but one that is above all, solid and tangible. Hard work will reap rewards; a person’s word is as good as a contract. Where “stagnant growth” will be seen to be an anachronism, if it is not viewed actually as a good thing.

Derivatives will be a long-forgotten term as economics will once again become a simple equation of supply and demand. Suppliers will have personal relationships with their customers. They will ask after their families because they will actually care. They will have to if they want their customers’ business.

And consumers will be careful with their money because they will have to be. There won’t be a lot to spare. But what money there is, will be hard currency- the foundation of a renewed, stable, and durable economy.

It is an economy and civil society where the middle class once again reigns and the corporate elite is shuttled off to Nantucket to live out their days reminiscing of personal business jets and far-flung beach-front resorts they can no longer afford.

If you believe my prediction to be naive and romantic, hold up a mirror: your belief reflects just how jaded you too have become in a world that is corrupted beyond recognition. Believe that this change is possible and this change will become possible.

Change is coming. Finally. And once again, the United States will be the democratic and economic shining light for the rest of the world.

If you are in the United States of America, will you be ready?

If you are on the outside as I am, how far are you willing to go to follow their lead?