Occupy Wallstreet Chicago: My experience and analysis.
When you have to run to the bathroom in desperation and see a toilet with plastic rim coverings surrounded by stains all around you that look like someone either died, or experienced massive bladder problems and misdirection, you know you are in Union Station. For many reasons, including time and money never well spent, I hate Chicago. When I finally figured out that not only had I walked the wrong way, I had taken the wrong street, and I wasn’t on Jackson. After about two hours of walking around and making it look like I had a purpose with my direct and forceful steps, I followed the drum beats and finally found the corner of Jackson and LaSalle.
I arrived in the eager expectation that I would see something controversial happen. I was hoping for yelling, screaming, shouting, lots of fist pumping and shaking, blood, and shocked Kent State looks on people’s faces. What can I say? I was hoping for a little bit of entertainment, because I wasn’t expecting 6 or 7 hours of protesting to not bore me. (I’ll admit it, I love controversy. It is one of the most entertaining concepts out there.) Protests are supposed to be a place where you can feel the energy in the air. It’s almost a kind of substitute for the concert atmosphere, except all the wannabe hippie hipsters there wouldn’t like the idea of a hardcore moshpit. Someone there told me there that moshpits were the creation of capitalists and the corporate machine, no joke. There were some “hippies” there to the point that it was almost like a scene straight out of Southpark with the college know-it-all hippies.
First off, I’m surprised there hasn’t been any cases of serious “nerd-rage” out, about, and around the corner of Jackson and LaSalle. I’m shocked that nearby residents haven’t mugged the protesters banging on drums throughout the night. Since I suck at breaking the ice and initiating conversation, it probably took me 15 minutes to talk to some of the scrunched up faces there.
People were angry. Even if they weren’t, they made sure to look at it. Some didn’t even know why they were angry, but it feels to good to smash on a drum, call attention to the protest and occasionally get reaffirming honks of support or middle fingers from nearby vehicles. Someone was going to pay.
When the Fox News folks showed up with their cameras, they were one of the first to pay. Some protesters near me made sure to drop plenty of F-bombs directed at them and two of them even jumped up and down with middle fingers extended in view of the camera. I guess there’s nothing like making a direct impression to the rest of the country watching about what kind of maturity level we are all at. Furthermore, it isn’t just Fox that deliberately misleads, its MSNBC, ABC, and CNN as well. It’s too bad that some people there had bought into the progressive nonsense that targets just the network they don’t like, rather then the networks who frame the news in a way favorable to the progressive agenda.
For all intensive purposes, the protesters were “trolled” hard the previous week. Even I’ll admit, those fliers that flew down with the words,” We are the 1%” were a badass idea. Well, when I got out my sign, I did get a bit of a “What are you doing here look?” from a few people, but that did go away shortly. What initially surprised me was the amount of media attention of all sorts to the protest which maybe had a 100 people there tops when I first arrived at the scene. I had the original perception that the protest was alot bigger. Its a bit odd considering alot of people thought the movement was either being ignored by the mainstream media or being hyped up and exaggerated by it.
The occupy movement is what people have made it out to be; a smorgasbord of people from varying political and philosophical ideologies who had gathered to protest the power that Wallstreet and the Financial sector have over our government and economy. Now this movement really is made up of alot of different viewpoints and ideology all across the spectrum. This is one overall picture of the movement that has been accurately portrayed. There were angry die-hard anarchists, socialists, libertarians, independents, people who protest everything, ect. essentially a lot of angry people who have have every right to be.
There were also signs like “Chicago Teachers Unions Supports Occupy” and “LGBT for the 99%”. I can only hope they don’t hijack the movement and turn into attempted political action and talking points. (Jesse Jackson showed up one night himself. That media hogging racist…) After talking to a lot of people there, particularly interesting to me was the surprising variety of groups there – everything ranging from radical Marxists progressives to independents and Ron Paul libertarians like myself.
Now the protesting situation in general there reminded me of Pokemon. You initially didn’t know much about it, but everyone else thought it was cool as hell and either had the trading card game, Red or Blue version for the gameboy, or had really creepy plush toys of Pikachu in their room. Either way who didn’t want to catch them all? No one wanted to be left behind who has something to protest about.
This movement is somewhat similar, thought not everyone there falls into that generalization. There are some people who really know why they are there. What particular irks me about this is that these people seem to be largely ignored by the mainstream media, especially Fox which has potrayed the overall amount of protesters as dumb-asses, which is far from the truth. There were however people who just showed up because “protesting is cool”, people who wanted to be apart of something, and the people there to make some noise with an almost ADHD like fury because they ” can”.
During some of the “educational” sit-downs that occurred throughout Saturday, I noticed that disagreement among protesters there was widespread. There was however agreement on the problem: The current economic problem, and who has benefited from it. What did however remain up in the air, was any kind of real agreement on how to fix the problem, the root causes that have led up to it, and how to turn the movement into a political force, something the neo-con elements of the Tea Party were able to do with the movement. Do be assured though, almost everyone of the protesters there wanted to end the Fed. (That’s most certainly a good sign.)
My initial perception concerning the movement still remains -There will be some major problems on the horizon concerning the ability to turn into a political force. Doing that could however cost the movement supporters, as its overall lack of direct organization and leadership is what constitutes part of its strength. Because of this it really does feel like a movement involving everyone under the sun from the overall populace. The moment it does gain an overall face, the movement will probably split off into different directions.
I personally showed up with a lot of disagreements with the more Marxist and progressive elements in the crowd which keep emanating out the woodwork- they literally had a donation box there. I did however have one thing in mind when I did come down; to show my support for those who recognize the current situation and problem in the country right now. It was my effort to show some solidarity. I am however very worried that this movement will be hijacked by the progressive elements who will most certainly turn into another supposed” grassroots” support group for the Democrat party. I do plan on going down again to protest, and this time, I’m going to take tons of pictures.
Note the “Progressive Stack” wasn’t implemented, which surprised me considering this is Chicago.
Anyway, around maybe 2 PM or so in the afternoon, if I remember correctly, we engaged in a sitdown across the street where the supposed leaders of the movement there made announcements. Some supposed “leaders” made announcements of various sorts, and they proudly introduced some sort of old African American speaker, an Civil Rights ex-icon of sorts who had been in some competition and situation involving the Olympics down in Mexico during the civil rights movement. No one including me, had heard of him, so they the introduction took a few minutes. Seriously, where these people who we are supposed to have some sort of respect for come from?
This ex-icon fellow went on a rant that included a fair amount of hostility toward the “right wing” and encouraged us in our protests and told us just how awesome Obama was, to keep supporting him, and to hate the evil republicans and the evil “right wing” who were blocking the great leader at every turn. He made sure to mention that all the resistance toward the president was because he was black. I kind of turned off my attention after he got to this point, as I’m sick of people looking at his race, first and foremost, instead of his policies and positions.
I thought to myself, “Great, just what the movement needs. More political pandering, divisive speech, and plenty of hate.” The word itself is losing the kind of connotation it used to hold because of the frequency of which people are misusing it. You can now just throw it around when you can’t actually point holes in someones position, so you just tell them they are a hater, and that their argument/position is now therefore invalid. It’s almost like the race card.
I just kept my mouth closed, stared on at him, and proudly stuck out my chest with my anti-Obama t-shirt on that I was wearing. That shirt turned a lot of heads. I made sure to wink at the heads that were girls that I thought were hot, even giving courtesy smiles and a wink here and there to the hippie like ones who hadn’t bathed in days. I did receive some compliments from some of the protesters on the shirt though, including one who informed me that he regretted voting for Obama back in 08. I even saw some signs demonizing Obama for not giving out enough handouts. The poor guy can’t win can he?
This speaker in particular irritated me, now that I think more about it. I love how some ideologues are so far in the progressive’s and democrat’s pocket that they can’t think for themselves and differentiate between the neo-cons and libertarians in the supposed right wing. I noticed he had absolutely nothing bad to say about the President who he portrayed as a messiah that we are all supposed to love, cherish, and respect. Maybe he should look further at the president then the fact that he is black. (Obama isn’t even black, just supposed civil rights advocates still have assumptions that are drenched in the racist principles of the “One drop of black blood rule.”)
Furthermore when did libertarians get thrown in with the right wing? Got to love how your political opponents can simply change the definition, demonize you, and throw you into some political wing. There are a lot of similarities between Dennis Kuccinich and Ron Paul. Its called an advocacy and support of the principles of liberty. But since people still can only look at things through party lenses, they get thrown into the perspective jokes of the two party system we currently have.
Later on around 5PM, the crowd of protesters seemed to quadruple to the point where it was hard to move back and forth on the sidewalks. Almost out of no-where, I noticed a set of large loud speakers which had the consistent phrase of “Tax The RICH!” barking from them. This seemed to be the agreed upon solution to the our current problem by the protesters who had control of the speakers.
“Tax, tax, tax the rich!” When a question was asked on the loudspeaker, this was always the response. World hunger? Tax the rich. Baby crying? Tax the rich. Girlfriend broke up with you after you only just “made out with that girl”? Tax the damn rich. It was as monotonous and bland as listening to Jet Li talk in Kiss Of The Dragon. It unfortunately made everyone there look they were a bunch of highschool kids protesting their schools recent new policies on bumping and grinding during prom dances. The calls for “Less Cuts, and more taxes!” seemed foolish, considering it seems half-assed to only demand taxes on the rich, while ignoring the obvious implications of a bloated and abused welfare state. It just goes to remind us of how easy it is to whip up people into a frenzy where they say things they really haven’t thought about, but just go along with whoever’s shouting at the time.
Something that comes to mind from this repetitive slogan/mind-numbing chant is the lack of common sense. The more you take from people, the less they have to invest in the products, services, hiring new/additional labor – the market. Politicians just don’t pass tax-cuts to look cool and stand out as a “man of the people”, they shockingly realize that usually cutting taxes spurs on consumer spending, thus benefiting everyone else in turn. It does however matter significantly of what kind of taxes they are cutting, whose taxes they are cutting, and who is eligible for said tax cuts. The current system seems to endorse specific tax cuts for corporations, banks, certain sectors and businesses in the industry that have made the right campaign contributions, ect. It is of course crony capitalism at it’s finest. The banks did rob us blind. They used the government to do it.
There were oh so many signs criticizing capitalism as if it was a concept from hell itself. I in particular couldn’t understand what was with all the signs hating on capitalism. This indicated that the majority of the protesters haven’t the slightest semblance of what true capitalism actually is. Crony capitalism and actual capitalism are very different things.
Greed does suck, but what sucks more is embracing the polar opposite which would put the power into the hands of a very few select greedy people. Human nature is very very greedy. True capitalism understands this and uses peoples greedy natures to exploit each other and create competition that directly benefits everyone, specifically the lower class.
Many protesters however did realize that corporations have vast influence and power in the political process and legislative action. They just fail to recognize true capitalism vs. the fake system of capitalism we have now.
Unfortunately the protesters are yet again succumbing to encouraging politicians to legislate insane economic policy for the sake of political pandering. Remember, politicians will do anything to get your vote, and its going to end up spiraling to the point when Peter will be all of us, and Paul will be those who made the most donations to their campaign.
One conversation in particular, I remember well. It was with a public school teacher. He was probably the only person there which I initially was turned off by. During this particular conversation, I remember, marching toward Grant Park and talking with a teacher in Chicago who kept trying to trap me in my words with a hidden amount of hostility behind his questions and answers, which I did resent. He dropped those words like “them” so much that I realized he essentially bought into that bogus democrat ideology of “the other side are evil.”
I kept thinking to myself, “Really?” as he lashed out at the other side for everything you could imagine. Once I told him that I was interested in dialogue with him, rather then debate of any sort, the conversation became much more cordial. I wanted him to realize that I wasn’t talking to him to point out that he was wrong in anyway, just that I was asking questions, Cartman style, to see if had thoughts things out and followed them to their logical conclusion instead of subscribing to party talking points.
I did however have an awesome conversation with a dude in Guy Fawkes mask. (Anyonmous FTW) who understood just how important freedom of speech is. He also understood something most don’t; the difference between equality and liberty and just how important liberty is.
Now, to a certain extent, alot of people there seemed to be asking for a handout. The most frequent request was for money of some sort, something I can Understand. There was one fellow there who kept insisting we should fork over money for batteries for his megaphone. “I need batteries. Someone should get me some.” It’s hard to really want to provide someone with batteries when they shout out unintelligible things with their megaphone in your general direction.
If anyone feels like going down to protest in Chicago and freezing their asses off, I’ve come up with a list of pro-tips:
– Make sure to bring a camera with you. A nice Iphone or Android phone with decent video quality that I only wished I owned will suffice.
– Cigars. Something to smoke. It feels good to be smoking around all those other people smoking. Solidarity eh? You’d be surprised by all the conversations that will be encountered by simply lighting up.
– Beverages. Be careful about how much you drink, and I’m not just referring to beer. There is almost no where in nearby locations where you can go to the bathroom without having to pay to use the bathroom. Part of the blame lies with the homeless who consistently try to shower in the bathroom as you hop up and down outside holding yourself.
– Ipod or Mp3. At some points you will want to just chill and listen to music as you hold up your sign. I personally chose Legend and The Acacia Strain to make sure I kept up my angry state of mind against Wallstreet.
– Bring two coats. You’ll probably need them when it gets colder later at night.
– Go ahead and march on Grant park if that happens when you are there. Just get out before the Police start arresting people when they won’t leave the park. Some of us couldn’t afford to get arrested and miss a day of work, but that doesn’t seem to matter to some protesters who don’t realize that some of their fellow protesters have bills and rent to pay.
– Point out the things you have in common with other protesters. There is strength to be attained in even the most vague displays of solidarity. Sure it’s hard to stomach some of the ideology that is spewed by some of the progressives there, but remember, they are there for several of the same reasons you or anyone else is.
– Ignore the temptation to be divisive because of political differences and biases and look at the overall big picture. Engage in dialogue and conversation. Sure, people might have reasons for being there that you or I think are dumb, but they are reasons nonetheless, and we should try to understand where people are coming from, not just dismiss them. There are people there with common sense, and they are your friends, neighbors, ect, even if they are demanding for insane governmental action that will just worsen the problem. If you desire to point out the problem with that, just carry that line of thinking to its logical conclusion. Also, ask questions. Lots of them.
– Don’t bring too much stuff with you. It really sucks when you have to carry around two bags of stuff and have to watch it like a hawk when you set it down.
I still have a lot of reflection to do on this whole movement. Don’t dismiss it off-hand like many conservatives have done. That pompous ass Gingrich needs to learn that people there at the Occupy were looking for jobs, and weren’t all lazy protesters who wanted handouts. Unfortunately, the extreme progressive elements appear to be hijacking the movement as I saw with some of the SJW types that were there.
I do tire of those who dismiss the movement right off the bat.
There is a lot more then meets the eye to Occupy. The only way one will learn this is to talk to and engage with the people at the Occupy Protests. Let’s for once not pull a Herman Cain and talk to people to see why they are upset and the reasons behind them, instead of “Get a job.” Also, lets hope that political hypocrites and fake witches like Pelosi and Obama don’t try to hijack Occupy and turn into a supposed political force for them. These people, myself included want answers, not hypocrites like Obama who take the most money from Wallstreet lobbyists in the history of any presidential campaign history, proceeds to advance their agenda, but then yet pretend to support the Occupy movement.