Is Occupy Wall Street a Socialist Movement

Op-Ed blogger Laura Armstrong of the Marietta Daily Journal, wrote a piece attacking the Occupy Wall Street protesters titled, “Don’t confuse anti-Wall Street ‘creeps’ with Tea Partiers.

As you can see from the opening ad hominem salvo in the title, you knew the piece was going to be chock full of fallacious arguments, so I offered some reasonable counters posting under the name, “My Thoughts” just to see if I could get any reasonable responses.

Here are the exchanges:

My Thoughts wrote on Tuesday, Oct 11 at 10:14 AM »

I think if you took a step back from your anger for a moment and contemplated the origins of the populist backlash, both the Tea Party from the right and the Occupy Wall Street Movement from the left, I think you’d find that both groups are manifesting their frustrations with the status quo. The Tea Party targeted the political status quo, while the OWS movement targeted the corporate status quo. So given that, do you agree with the taxpayer bail outs of AIG, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, etc. and the subsequent millions of dollars in “performance” bonuses their employees and executives received? Do you believe it’s the government’s job to bail out big businesses with American tax dollars? Without resorting to name calling or blanket political labeling which frankly doesn’t add anything substantive to the discussion, I’d be interested to hear your perspective on the fundamental ideological differences that separate the two groups.

As for the National Air and Space Museum protests, while a bizarre location choice, the rest of the story suggests that the group was incited to rush the building by a conservative blogger whose primary intent was to discredit the movement. The Washington Post reported yesterday that an editor from The American Spectator wrote in a blog post that he has since changed, that he was one of a “select few” protesters willing to storm the entrance to the museum and that he “may have been the only one” who made it inside. He wrote that members’ (of the protest) unwillingness to push their way into the museum showed “they lack the nerve to confront authority.” Hardly the spectator after all it would seem.

First response from Mr. WTF:

Mr. WTF wrote on Tuesday, Oct 11 at 11:18 AM »

To the libtards accusing conservatives of name calling and “blanket political labeling” — please explain how members of the congressional black caucus got away with (in the mainstream media) of calling the Tea Partiers racist, when absolutely NO evidence was ever brought forward, even after a $100,000 reward was offered for any kind of evidence. Do you remember your union thugs just weeks ago calling names and calling for the “taking out” of Tea Partiers? It goes on and on… For you to call this out as name calling is nothing but the pot calling the kettle black. You have no moral grounds to make this point. Your side is the worst when it comes to name calling. Your side has ruined the economy and your side is going to lose SO BIG in the coming election, no matter who the GOP nominee is.

Whoa! Nice confluence of red herrings and  straw men eh? Of course, I tried to refocus on the argument at hand.

« My Thoughts wrote on Tuesday, Oct 11 at 02:25 PM »

Mr. WTF, your enormous red herring aside, are you suggesting that Ms. Armstrong’s use of the word “creeps” and funny enough, “dweebs”, which she reckons are most likely “smelly” is somehow not name calling? Or jumping in to McCarthyism by dusting off classics like “socialists” and “Marxists”, or my favorite, “anti-capitalist sociopaths” which blends a political label and a psychiatric diagnosis, is not political labeling? Your own use of the term “libtards” suggests a fondness for otherwise meaningless labels, so I would imagine you would recognize one if seen in print.

Mr. WTF did not respond, but a new comment came in from axeman:

axeman wrote on Wednesday, Oct 12 at 01:56 PM »

Laura, while it’s true you may have gone overboard with your vent, and maybe you could have curbed some of the generalizations and name calling, but the essense of your column holds true, many of the protestors have no idea what they are protesting, the ones who do know are most definately anti-capitalist and some people are taking issue with your “McCarthyisms” but most anti-capitalist are generally socialist or marxist so “it is what it is” McCarthyism not withstanding…What I find humorous is most of these people are blogging,tweeting,facebooking and filming their protest on smart phones, tablets, blackberrys etc. all of which are products of capitalism at it’s finest…go figure…

Since axeman referenced my term McCarthyism, and sounded like a rational person, I assumed he would actually be interested in an intelligent discussion. And I was not disappointed. Thanks axeman for some thoughtful discourse!

« My Thoughts wrote on Wednesday, Oct 12 at 05:21 PM »

Axeman, since you sound reasonable I’ll ask you, does disagreeing with the spirit of TARP and the fact that the business recipients of taxpayer bailout funds used those funds to finance executive performance bonuses make one a socialist or “Marxist”? It would seem to me the opposite. Assuming a definition of socialism which is that the state owns industry, does not the entire TARP appear as a socialist construct? It would seem that anyone who supports government bailouts (i.e., the US government’s injection of tax payer capital) of banks (or any industry for that matter) would be the socialists in this scenario. In stark contrast to strict capitalists, such as myself, who would prefer to let the market punish the risk taking appropriately. However, that type of reason doesn’t get readers riled up and certainly doesn’t pit Tea Party against Occupy which seems to be the line that beneficiaries of the status quo are insistent upon drawing.

« Axeman wrote on Thursday, Oct 13 at 08:00 PM »

@ My Thoughts, I too do not agree with the TARP bailouts,or rewarding CEOs for failure and yes the market should decide who succeeds and who fails, a purely capitalist tenet. Also you are correct that government owning businesses is one part of the definition of socialism/Marxism, the protestors who hold these views are correct. I just haven’t really heard much of this point of view from the majority of the protestors. Also some of my angst with the protestors, which is based on interviews I’ve seen on TV as well as blogs I’ve read,is they either have no idea or can’t articulate what the are protesting, and then there are those which are patently protesting against capitalism and are anti- corporations in general, hence my comment about the devices and comforts they enjoy due to the efforts of corporations. Another problem I have with the majority of the protestors is they seem to be taking their anger out on the wrong parties. They should be protesting the present government which I feel has definate socialist tendencies. I feel most, not all, are misguided, misinformed and anti-capitalist. Actually, I have serious heartburn with radicals on either side of the political spectrum, I am afraid that if reasonable people, who I consider generally to be somewhere “in the middle”, do not come together and work together this country is in serious trouble. There is far too much acrimony and hatefulness on both sides, much of which I feel is fueled by the media, looking for stories and controversy…By the way, I did not intend to paint you as a Marxist or Socialist.

His argument is one with which I tend to agree.  Who is more culpable, the party receiving the hand-out, or the party giving it?  Stay tuned for more Occupy Wall Street – this movement has an Arab Spring feel to it and will continue to grow.


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