Monday, October 17, 2011

Push Comes to Shove - Tehrir on Wall Street

Yes…I know I have not posted in a long while.  Two things have blocked my way – the first of which is arriving at a new post in Central Asia (otherwise known as the 12th Century) and the second – there is simply too much going on.  And, yes – I intend to continue with the view and post that we are now part of a multi-polar, pre-1945 world.

Then there is the Occupy Wall Street movement which took a cue from Europe and has gone viral world-wide.  It is a good sign, but I would suggest that the inspiration is drawn from the frustration and anger that resulted in the Arab Spring which began in Tunis and quickly spread to Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria and Libya.  In other words, almost every country in the Arab world with a long history of the elite taking and everyone else giving.
The results have been dramatic, if not the least from a foreign policy point of view.  The street demonstrations have altered the political dynamics in the Middle East with a ripple effect stretching from Moscow to Washington.  Ankara is aggressively pursuing what it rightly sees as a huge opening to extend its influence and project its soft (and perhaps hard) power.  Washington is learning that the regional governments are not so quick to follow its lead and Moscow and Beijing simply don’t want this sort of thing spreading – hence their veto of sanctions against Syria.  But now, many of the same dynamics that sparked the revolts against the establishment in the Middle East have ended up on Wall Street.  Good.

Unlike the tea party clique which is funded and supported by industrialists, banksters and the right wing noise machine in the US, the OWS movement is founded on middle class frustration and anger at those who game the system, refuse to pay their fair share of taxes, expect taxpayer funding to save them from their own gross mistakes and in general suck the country dry creating an ever widening gap between the wealthy and everyone else.   The movement reflects the frustration of ordinary citizens in Europe who despise the IMF and its policy of beggaring the general population with the only solution to the Eurozone crisis it has in its bag of tricks – cuts in spending (a sublimely idiotic way of addressing a low growth problem).  The bureaucracy in Brussels has not come up with a single plan that does not hurt the ordinary person on the street.
The status quo of government run by the banks, Wall Street traders, and industrialists like the Koch brothers is no longer functioning. It is debilitating Europe and America, leaving the playing field to others, China in particular, to do as they please both economically and politically.

Back in my law school days, the son of my professor in real estate law wrote (perhaps self-published) a book titled “When Push comes to Shove”.  It was largely devoted to the then disaster known as Vietnam but targeted those elites who got the US mired into that particular civil war and concluded that those elites weren’t listening.  Some severe shoving was in order.  That has and is happening in the Middle East.  In the US it may only be beginning, but one can only hope that the movement becomes strong enough to topple the old order – one way or another.  Push comes to Shove.

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