OWS and American society – a British perspective

I found an interesting conservative British view of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests in the Telegraph today. Here’s an excerpt.

The failure of the Occupy Wall Street movement and its descent into Lord of the Flies-style chaos, and in many instances thuggery and criminality, is emblematic of the dramatic decline of the Left in the United States.

. . .

Occupy Wall Street has been an act of desperation by the liberal Left, which now represents a small minority of Americans in terms of ideology. In many ways, OWS has been the antithesis of the Tea Party. It has failed to shape the political debate on Capitol Hill and has been driven by an anti-capitalist agenda that does not resonate with most Americans. In addition, while the Tea Party has been an unfailingly law-abiding movement, with tremendous respect for the police and the rule of law, Occupy Wall Street has descended into anarchy. In many ways, OWS is an anachronism, a wannabe 1960s-style protest movement in an America that has moved on. And it is above all a symbol of a Left in decline amidst an increasingly conservative nation that has had enough of the kind of big government, anti-free market policies the liberal protestors crave.

There’s more at the link. Recommended reading.

I find his reference to OWS as ‘a wannabe 1960’s-style protest movement in an America that has moved on’ to be intriguing. Looking at the ageing Baby Boomers (he names some of them in his article) who’ve overwhelmingly been the ideological and political motivating force behind OWS, it’s hard not to think he may have a point. Has OWS been the ‘last gasp’ of former hippies, hoping against hope to recreate the political and social momentum of 1967’s ‘Summer Of Love‘, or the anti-Vietnam War protests of the 1960’s and 1970’s?

I’d be interested to hear readers’ perspectives about that in Comments. What say you?



  1. I can only WISH it's their last gasp. But I fear the unproductive, unwashed and undesirable hippy is now a staple of the American left. Their despicable habits and thoughts are naturally appealing to all of their lazy ilk. They spend their indolent youth learning nothing useful and at a certain age become sentient enough to realize their life is going down the toilet and they become enraged. They're nothing but a drain on productive society.


  2. There is a lady at work that attended a similar thing in San Anonio. She and her husband are self-professed hippies (they are both from that era). I attempted to engage her in conversation about it, and she said don't confuse me and got angry. I'd say it IS based on the old hippies, if not being driven by them.

  3. It is a comforting argument to see it as the 'last gasp' of the 1960's, as that suggests that it will die out. However, I would argue that much of the political activism of all stripes, though the demographic makeup of OWS emphasizes it, has its roots in the post-modern relativism that arose in the post WWII era, which was also related to the 1920's Logical Positivism that arose in Vienna. That is to say, the abandonment of first-principles logic for the argument that morals, truth and knowledge exist only in relation to that culture or society. Therefore, truth is what you want it to be. Use this as a fundamental in teaching for two generations and you have the current public discourse.
    In historiography the 20th century is increasingly being seen as a era apart from the post-Enlightenment, 'Age of Reason', in which those writing political philosophy sought legitimacy by using Hume, Locke, Mills, Rousseau, etc. Or at very least being able to defend their argument by rhetoric and logic in the time honored tradition , as well as insults and dirty tactics. That era is generally seen as fading around 1900 or so.
    Nowadays, the concept of logic and/or fundamental principles isn't taught, so almost (NOT everyone, but close) throws insults alone. And it works, because people give the existence of the insult the same weight as the actual facts…they are, after all, relative.

  4. I think the frustration of OWS protesters is that their protest was definitely acknowledged, especially by the media, but they were perceived as childish hooligans by many, and not really taken seriously. Thus, you get a tantrum.
    Yes, I would like to see it end, but the left will just come up with something else before the elections and muddying the waters is their forte. So, who's up next?

  5. Judging by some of the people shown in photos of OWS events and giving talks, advice, "moral support," and other things to the OWS participants, I'd say yes, this is in some ways the last gasp of people trying to relive their "glory days." One young man from Florida got permission from his college professors to go to NYC and said quite candidly that the professors were reliving their youth through his activities. Zombie has photos from the OccupyBerkeley/San Francisco up at Pajamas Media and there are Che shirts, socialist reading material stands, Eldridge Cleaver for President posters and all the trappings of 1968-1973.

    Acairfearann is correct about the results of post-modernism on what is passing for political and social commentary from the OWS supporters. While OWS may fade away once winter really gets going, the blind emotions will linger. In some ways I understand a bit of the anger and frustration because I, too, finished a graduate degree just in time to watch the job market collapse and have been scraping by to an extent. But I was not told that getting any degree would automatically put me on easy street, and I knew that I would never match my parents' standard of living unless I won the lottery (still need to buy a ticket). They will keep raging and screaming and wondering why the strength of their feelings has not convinced the majority of the US of the rightness of their cause.


  6. As a boomer (born in 1952) I can't really say they are typical. The media at the time and in the present day hyped the hippies, but we weren't all sitting around getting stoned, and I get tired of youngsters these days thinking that was all we did; I was there,most you weren't. A lot of us were working, getting an education, and getting shot at in Vietnam. And all the Vietnam protestors were hot hippies; a lot of us just didn't believe Americans should be getting killed in a war that was none of our business.

  7. Woops

    "And all the Vietnam protestors were hot hippies"

    That should be "not" instead of "hot"; fat finger syndrome strikes again.

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