I was talking to a co-worker about Occupy Wall Street the other day. I guess I spend time in completely different parts of the Internet than he does, because he knew next to nothing about it and didn’t seem to understand why anyone would decide to participate in it. While I don’t think that everyone should be pissed off about the same things as I am, I was a little offended that he honestly had no clue what the big deal was. I mean, even if you’re okay with being oppressed by the Top 1% of super wealthy people who are allowed to control business, the government, and the citizenry, being completely ignorant about something like this happening is crappy on a human-being-with-a-functioning-brain level.
I explained the point of Occupy Wall Street to him (and to his credit, he didn’t disagree with the principle), and found myself saying that while I was interested in and ethically supportive of the effort, I was not a participant in any way.
First of all, I can’t afford to take off work and go down there. I admit that some people would think this makes me part of the problem, but I prefer to see myself as emblematic of the problem’s effects.
Second, it’s getting more and more difficult to see how a group of young people yelling slogans is going to affect any real change. This generation (that is to say mine, and maybe the one immediately beneath mine) wants a cause but, like the generations that came before it, seems clueless over how to achieve one. It’s the ailment of a coddled nation, because as poor as the 99% are compared to the 1%, we’re still far better off than countries capable of violently overthrowing their despotic leadership.
Most dishearteningly and pursuant to the above point, the people who have the power to make the decisions don’t give a shit about a bunch of poor people shouting in the street. The protestors of Occupy Wall Street are background noise, and not even that disruptive to someone in a soundproof office dozens of floors up.
Which I know is the reason behind Occupy Wall Street, and a damn good one at that. Today, a sign appeared in a window of the Chicago Board of Trade Building that read “we are the 1%.” Well. Thanks a lot, fuckers. It’s not enough that you make more, pay less taxes, and generally ignore the less fortunate, now you’ve stooped to actually taunting them with your obscene affluence. If you ever wanted to prove to anyone that you weren’t a disgusting pig, congratulations, you’ve failed.
But like I said, the people in that 1% don’t give a shit about anyone else. It doesn’t occur to them to do so. The past 235 years of this country’s existence has bred a ruling class of the most selfish people on the fucking planet who knowingly destroyed the economy because they were aware that they – and only they – would profit from it and remain immune to justice. This is sick and reprehensible to be sure, but the people high up in those offices don’t care. They have never cared. They will never care. They will look outside and see representatives of the 99% and laugh at their own gross fortune, and then they will make some peon make a shitty sign that proves their “worth.” Occupy Wall Street won’t convince these people to share the wealth, play fair, or reduce their absurd and degrading influence on people they wouldn’t deign to treat with respect under any circumstances, including full revolt.
This is not to say that I find Occupy Wall Street to be useless. Ultimately futile maybe, although I hope not. I sincerely wish Occupy Wall Street to have some sort of influence, not only on the white glove treatment of criminal financial institutions in this country, but also on politics and housing and the job market, not to mention the already achieved measure of proving the brutality of the police on anyone who dares to speak against the system in public, not to mention those poor who also happen to be racial minorities or women. We need to be super subjugated, didn’t you know?
I mentioned something to Graham not long ago about being poor, and he said that I really wasn’t. Um. I guess I’ve saved some money and have the ability to do things like go on vacation sometimes (if I wanted, but usually I choose to stay here and work because it helps me save more money), but it’s also ridiculously difficult for me to get any sort of loan, and if I didn’t already get health insurance from my employer, I’m certain that I couldn’t afford it on my own. So in my mind, I’m poor. I’ve been poorer before and will always be afraid of being poorer again, and because this country has engineered itself to discriminate against its poor, I am
afraid sure that I may always be this way. I agree with Occupy Wall Street because I know what it is to be truly poor, and because even if I didn’t, I like to think of myself as smart and unshitty enough to understand that this system is awful and destructive and needs to be changed, and that it’s a shame that while there are those who are willing to try, nobody seems to know how to change it.