Occupy Wall Street

Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries, unite!
Karl Marx

Conservatives hate it because it is a large leftist movement. Many New Dealers are still trying to figure it out; in the end, I suspect it will die out like so many movements (Read: Right Wing version is the Tea Party). However, a small part of me would like to see this “rally” promulgate categorical change. We are and have long been a greedy nation. American history has long been predicated on the notion of class conflict. The wealthy continue to exploit the have-nots. And, the have-nots have given in to much of the dreams and crimes of capitalism. The haves cheat, lie, manipulate, and con their way into power. The masses sit and watch in a passive manner.  As I have noted before, we live in a nation that was founded under the dreams and goals of capitalism. Exploitation was established the day Europeans arrived. And, in the end, we are all guilty of this. We buy big houses because our friends have a big house; we buy expensive gas consuming cars because it makes us seem to be elite; we keep a beach house or a country house because that is what the middle class is supposed to do. Though I am not guilty of any of these things, I am guilty of many others. The American dream of capitalism is the downfall of man kind. I like the way Richard Hofstadter defines the American origin.

In his historical intellectual work, Hofstadter brings a more revisionist and realist account of America’s historical figures. Hofstadter, much like historian Howard Zinn, taught and wrote history from the perspective of non elites: blacks, women, immigrants, workers, and the poor, who all had a voice in shaping the hitherto. Moreover, Hofstadter looked to end the romantic notions often used to describe the traditional white male hero of American culture (or WASP). Here is an example from his chapter on the founding fathers:

Democratic ideas are most likely to take root among discontented and oppressed classes, rising middle classes, or perhaps some sections of an old, alienated, and partially disinherited aristocracy, but they do not appeal to a privileged class that is still amplifying its privileges. With a half-dozen exceptions at most, the men who had considerable position and wealth, and as a group they had advanced well beyond their fathers.

One of the things Hofstadter writes about in his many works is that of economic elitism. He described the framers as men who created an oligarchy via the Constitution only as an instrument to protect their wealth and status; he questions the democratic nature of the founders and the Constitution. Moreover, he discusses history as an entity protected by the very men who used it to enhance their status.


2 thoughts on “Occupy Wall Street

  1. Sean, this is GREAT! Thanks man. I do try to reflect the thoughts of those that are in my academic and ideological position. I will check it out. I added your blog to my side bar as I frequent it.

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