Observations of Occupy Norfolk: Solutions are not the Solution


On Thursday, Oct 6, Steve Batton and I went to Harbor Park to interview the score of people protesting something. Although they claimed their main point was to “stand in solidarity” with the Occupy Wall Streeters, they still were unclear, it seems, as to why their Comrades in New York were protesting.

Most of the people we talked to were congenial and non-confrontational, and reveled in debate rather than disorder. They insisted on their unity and community (being the “99%”), but also insisted that any opinions, even from those who organized the occupation (who refused to call themselves leaders), were their own and not representative of the opinion of the group. Perhaps this is why their goals were unclear. Pure communism is great until you want to accomplish something, then it needs someone to rise up and dictate equality toward his subordinates. Utopia may begin as a cacophony of motives and opinions, but it may only persist when the superior restrict, confine, or eliminate these inferior goals in accordance with their own agenda.  Such is the paradox of power and paradise: “When inferior, people enter on strife in order that they may be equal, and when equal, in order that they may be greater.”

Perhaps the most consistent complaint among them was the idea of “corporate greed.” However, they insisted that corporations are non-living, non-living, non-breathing, non-human entities. Such an ascription of emotion toward a non-organic, non-sentient being seems an oxymoron. Emotions and motives are reserved for the living. Additionally, they could not couple this dehumanized version of a corporation–which they admitted, according to their definition, could not properly own property–with their demands for taxation. Nemo dat quod non habet, that which has not cannot give.

Another complaint was that “five or six” banks are controlling the entire nation, and that the economic collapse was their fault, and their fault alone. Were these bankers operating within the confines of the law? If not, they should be arrested or fined; If they were, and it appears to be so, then they cannot blame the banks entirely, but the regulations they were required to operate under. In this point, they conceded, but still maintained a desire for money to be eliminated from politics. This is only as possible as eliminating all property (including self-propriety) from politics, since money is a medium and representation of property. The consequence of “eliminating wealth from politics,” in effect, actually concentrates all the wealth into the state, since they must be the sole arbiters of the distribution and use of property. This point was not well-received, but admitted.

At times, the discussion turned to non-corporate issues, and one gentleman who proudly identified himself as a Democrat, stressed that he would never vote for a Republican, no matter how much he agreed with the candidate. He later claimed that Herman Cain would never be elected because of the inherent bigotry within the Republican Party that would prevent Mr. Cain’s elevation due to his — ahem — “social standing.” I will say that when I confronted him with his own inherent bigotry of “party-ism” or “ideology-ism,” in that he would automatically distrust and fight against an individual simply because of social label, he humbly accepted his own hypocrisy and realized he was not perfect. He also admitted that his own criticism of Mr. Cain was as capable of being called racist, as he contended that Republican criticism of our present president could be called so.

However, beyond criticizing banks, politicians, corporations, and demanding that they each remain mutually exclusive, they had no solutions. One man even told me that they were not worried about solutions. All they wanted to do was identify problems. And he was completely serious when he criticized the Tea Parties for actually offering solutions to their grievances.

The irony was thick at Harbor Park, as these antagonists to the all-things-corporate drove up in their foreign and domestic cars, wearing Nike shoes, drinking water by Nestle and Aquafina, typing on laptops and iPads, talking on cellular phones, and operating within an incorporated city. A sign reading, “Human Need — Not Corporate Greed” seemed to miss that because of corporations and capitalism, human needs have been met on a much larger scale than at any point in all of history. Another sign read “Capitalism eats its young,” but did not realize that the expansion of capitalism has actually encouraged population growth, not discouraged it. The gap between rich and poor may be wider, but there are in the United States none so poor today as the truly impoverished two hundred years ago.

Finally, a seemingly unifying point was their frustration with “the 99%” not being able to influence national politics because of the undue influence of the remaining “1%.” I was surprised to receive total agreement in one question I asked in regards to this frustration. The question was, “Would you see, as a solution to your frustration, a more devolved form of government in which national politics–and those who may influence national politics–did not play such a large part in your everyday life; but rather decisions might be made on the community, local, county, and state level instead, of which you could have more influence?” The unanimous reply was affirmative.

It seems these anti-corporate protestors are also States’ Rights nuts…

One thing about a simple group not having any solutions, is that the clever may impute their own solutions upon them…


UPDATE: This article was linked on Occupy Norfolk’s Facebook Page where a lively discussion was taking place regarding the article. Several members recognized and accepted the merits of the article about the need for solutions; others did not agree with the premise and insisted the group is not about solutions (see comment I cut and pasted from their site below); but many others could only resort to ad hominem attacks.

After the administrators graciously allowed me to join their group, I got involved in the discussion to clarify what I thought were misconceptions about the article. This reply received mostly positive responses.

Unfortunately, the administrators of that site thought it necessary to remove all conversation regarding this post. There may be other reasons for their doing so, but in the absence of an explanation I will assume it is because my arguments could not be refuted and they could not handle the identification of their fallacies.