Thursday, September 29, 2011

Wall Street Occupied, Brain Cavities Vacant

In Manhattan, the 'Occupy Wall Street' protests continue to protest against whatever the hell it is that they're protesting against - capitalism, bailouts, Wall Street, 'corporate greed', et cetera.

The Last Psychiatrist is on fire on this one, nailing the motivation of a lot of the protesters:
Though narcissism demands the right to self-identify, narcissists are often unable to do so because they don't know what it is they want to be. Who am I? What are the rules of my identity? So people look for shortcuts, like modeling oneself after another existing character. But the considerably more regressive maneuver is to define yourself in opposition to things. "I can't tell you what I want for dinner," says the toddler, "but I am certain I don't want that. Or that. Or that. And if you put that slop in front of me I swear to God you will wear it." 
What do the protestors want? Can they articulate it meaningfully, not in platitudes or "people over profits" or "more fair income redistribution" soundbites? They can't tell you because they don't know. They can, however, yell at you what they don't like, and the louder they yell it the more they hear it themselves.
Exactly. These protests are all about righteous indignation by young people. I'd wager that if you asked the people there 'What, specifically, do you actually want to happen?', they wouldn't actually know. So you want to shut down Wall Street, huh? Okay, so do you want to prohibit all equity financing of companies? So how do people raise finance for large enterprises when they don't have pledgeable assets - wouldn't that make it really hard to create Google? Or do you just want to prohibit the trading of shares in secondary markets? In that case, won't entrepreneurs be reluctant to start businesses, knowing that they have to run them forever and their holdings in the company will be completely illiquid? And if you shut down markets, how will people share risk - how should wheat farmers hedge their exposure to wheat prices when the futures markets close? What's that, you say? You have absolutely no God damn idea?

To make the protests even stupider, when a bunch of people want to protest with sensible complaints (no more bailouts of major banks), they attract the usual rabble of professional protesters with moronic complaints (end capitalism!), thereby ensuring that the overall message of the protest will be
a) vague and unfocused, and
b) at least half comprised of stupidity.

So Joe Public turns on the TV, and just sees the usual rabble of stupid signs and unwashed hippies that turn up at WTO meetings and the G20 summits, and dismisses them as a bunch of punk kids.

This is all so incredibly predictable that you have to assume these people haven't really thought this through, or just aren't interested in enacting any change. I'm betting on the latter - they are simply in love with their own sense of self-righteousness, and the protests are merely a prop for this.

The Last Psychiatrist continues here:
But when the oppressive entity is so poorly defined (e.g. Wall Street, “the banks”, corruption) these protests always and without fail turn into protests against the police. Idiotically, in the minds of the protestors, the police are standing in for the banks. So all their antagonism and vitriol is turned against police officers who would probably rather be doing anything than babysitting the hipsters attending their social media drum circle.
This became more apparent when one of the protesters got maced, apparently without any provocation, and it was captured on YouTube.

As a matter of practicality, having a bunch of unarmed girls get maced on camera has been immensely valuable to the protests. It inevitably generates a good deal of middle class sympathy for them, which (because of the vagaries of human psychology) tends to spill over into support for their cause. Watching the video above reminded me of a post by the War Nerd on the value of martyrs in guerrilla warfare:
The value of a dead body only came along with modern guerrilla warfare and the notion of martyrs, because guerrilla wars tend to start off with some kind of suicidal attack like the ones the Muslims staged in Southern Thailand a few years back. They stood around waving machetes outside fortified police barracks and got mowed down. What you do then is take the bodies home, make a big fuss over them, stage giant funerals—funerals are very, very important in guerrilla culture—and generally talk them up. Since most of these guys are barely trained or untrained, they’re not worth much alive—like those KLA men who were totally uselsss as live fighters—but they can be valuable as Hell once they’re dead. It’s just a much easier job, lying still in a coffin. Not nearly as easy to mess up as your basic L-shaped ambush, which is a very tricky thing. Hell, the average recruit can learn to be a good corpse in a tenth the time it takes to make a decent live guerrilla fighter.
Substitute 'dead bodies' for 'maced girls' and 'funerals' with 'protests about police brutality' about it's eerie how well that rings true.

Heckuva job, Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna! You manage to be both needlessly brutal against peaceful protesters AND promote their stupid cause at the same time.

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