“The kick that the left really needed “ are the words of one of the protesters. These are high hopes that will not be realized. Who are these Occupy Philly people? What do they stand for? Who do they represent? Let’s take a look. In the video below there are two interviews with participants in the Occupy Philadelphia movement and a Karl Marx impersonator that performed there. These are the first three parts of the video after the brief introduction. I recommend watching them before reading on. The second half of the video isn’t as relevant to this article as the first half is and can be viewed later.
For the most part what one sees in these interviews is a complete lack of understanding (deliberate misrepresentation?) of what capitalism is and what it has achieved. Every time it, capitalism, is criticized the criticism is that the government intervenes on behalf of the corporate elite. While this is true it also misses the essential point that capitalism is about markets free from government interference. What they are criticizing is actually the corporatist system that we have today, a system that more closely resembles fascism than anything else.
In the first interview Brandon of Philly Socialists talks about how our economic system is the same capitalist system now as it was two hundred years ago, a rather strange point of view. How can one miss the fact that the vast majority of the alphabet soup of regulatory agencies that we suffer under now was created in the twentieth century? How can one not see the vastly larger share of Gross Domestic Product that the government now absorbs? There were very few regulatory agencies in the early days of the republic, often no central bank, and very low levels of taxation. There were also no Robber Barons and a growing economy based much more on local businesses than today. While not perfect it was better than, and a far cry from, our present corporatism.
Rich, a registered nurse, is in the second interview. He advocates protectionism, an idea long ago debunked. (See “Protectionism and Communism”) More importantly Rich claims that the regulation of the medical profession is an illusion. That it is really the corporate elite that writes the rules for their own benefit and controls the regulators through the political process. Up to that point he’s right, but to claim that this means that there is no regulation and that this represents too little government involvement in health care is way off base. Pro business regulation is still regulation. The government is heavily involved, it’s just not doing what it is supposed to do. This is not a problem that is fixable, this is the nature of the beast. The ruling elites will always control the regulators. The only solution is a free market in health care. That means no government regulation or licensing.
Lastly, we come to the Karl Marx impersonator. He repeated the canard that the problem with the free market is the government intervening on behalf of the elites. In a conversation after his performance he acknowledged that that is not actually a free market but what the crowd thinks it is, therefore, his use of the term free market. An interesting admission. Very enlightening was his praise of the Paris Commune of 1871. My impression is that this is the model they’re trying to emulate in the Occupy Movement.
All of this leads to a few conclusions about Occupy Philadelphia. Since, fortunately, 99% of the people aren’t socialists what we really have here is the .01% claiming to be the representatives of the majority when in reality they are only helping the 1% that rule over us. They are completely ignorant of economics and, therefore, don’t understand why things are going wrong. They cling to the view that government can be made to work if only…whatever, but it’s not that way. In advocating empowering the government so that it will become the “dictatorship of the proletariat” they only play into the hands of the 1% they claim to oppose. Why is the left always so willing to allow itself to be played? They should know by now that the elites will always control the government.
In the end Occupy Philadelphia only manages to discredit itself by presenting stale old statist ideas that have been proved time and again not to work. I ask them to step aside and let those with real solutions, the advocates of liberty, take the lead.