Monday, October 17, 2011

Occupy Monterey Peninsula (California’s Central Coast) held its first meeting last Saturday, and I attended my first protest rally. I’m very proud of the young people that organized the rally, and of the 200 people in attendance. They were patient, non-violent and smart about the issues. I was embarrassed that it was my first in-person involvement in a group rally . . . but glad I finally showed up.

The parallels with Imaginepolitik were clear: both the fictional story and the OWS movement use the tool of mass protest in multiple cities to attempt to take back democracy from a short-sighted, cannibalizing corporatocracy. Capitalism isn’t the problem. But when the power of money begins to manipulate industries, society and government policies to bring its owners more power and more money, capitalism is no longer simply an economic system. It becomes an oligarchy or fascist state, where a few conglomerate corporations and individuals control economic life.

The capitalist system is based on competition, voluntary exchange and informed, equal exchangers. No society has every experienced this ‘pure’ equilibrium. In this country and in many others, competition exists only between job seekers. Voluntary exchange nowadays is being able to choose between buying something and doing without. Informed exchangers assumes everyone has a law degree from a top-ten law school. And equal exchangers exist only at the local garage sale.

I still feel uncomfortable participating in a group. I still can’t bring myself to join a political party. The group and its other individual participants will have different views and solutions than I have. They have different lifestyles, different priorities. But the sooner I admit that I can’t compete with corporate America by myself, the sooner I’ll recognize these people as my allies and our only hope of retaking our democracy. So it’s time I join the chorus.

“What do we want?”
“When do we want it?”


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