18 Oct I Recant: Confessions of an OWS Opponent
Yet, clever people fall for far more dangerous ideas of the exact same form. In Philadelphia, a group of remarkably intelligent men came together to form a government. These men had seen full-grown governments before, had in fact just freed themselves from one. Yet here they were, feeding and nourishing a small baby government, playing with it, considering it so cute and adorable that they just had to have one.
-Joshua Katz, “Don’t Buy a Tiger“
My previous piece was an attempt at a polite hatchet job on the OWS movement. That was hypocritical and wrong. I apologize, more to my friends who read it and agreed than to the OWS types who (like the rest of the world) remain largely unaware of the existence of ZeroGov.
I stand by my criticism of the unfocused nature of the protests. I agree with the sentiment of frequent ZeroGov commenter mot, who wrote:
““They ask evil to protect them from evil….” That’s the old Biblical example of trying to cast out Beelzebub in the name of Beelzebub. It simply doesn’t happen.”
And I still oppose the sentiment of this young man and those like him who, rather than being upset that the fruits of their labor has been wrongly appropriated by those in power, instead demand a share of the spoils.
But these protests are, so far, spontaneous order without coercion or force (although there are some disturbing omens that the will of the many might soon be imposed on the few). Until force is used, until laws are imposed and enforced, these protesters are absolutely doing the right thing. The protesters are respectfully using and maintaining the “occupied” property. This is anarchism in action by any reasonable definition: that no person or group imposes its will on another.
I am still worried that OWS, like the Tea Party before it, will be co-opted by new or existing powers. I do not like the rumblings of a coherent demand for increased regulation instead of the removal of existing Protectionist, Corporatist and Crony Capitalist government policies. I do not like the near-complete absence of anti-war sentiment among the protesters on the Youtube videos and articles I’ve seen.
But popular anger at a system of power that has done harm, I like. Spontaneous order and cooperation without coercion, I like. And so I hope and pray that this movement does not coalesce into Soviet communism, Nazi fascism, or American imperialism. I hope that anger at the powers that be, anger at the tax collectors and Apparatchiks and banksters does not devolve into a cult of personality around the elites who make false promises.
I hope, that is, that my last essay was wrong.