It could be argued that revolutions are caused by ideology, oppression, want, or some combination of these. But real, broadly impactful motivations tend to be concrete, touching the lives of the masses. This leaves us two of the three: oppression (perceived or real) and want (perceived or real). Ideology, on the other hand, is often if not always the excuse or language used to address the other two conditions.
The Tea Party was the first notable mainstream (yes, [[Tea_Party_movement#Membership_and_demographics|mainstream]]) movement of our generation, and was born not of want but oppression. The recession had not quite begun, and it was not the mortgage crisis, but the government’s response to it that spearheaded its creation. There was a deep sense that something was wrong in politics and the general public could no longer keep quiet. It was “Taxed enough already” rather than “not enough jobs” or “people are starving”.
A counter-movement of sorts, the [[Coffee Party]] was also not about want, but about the same thing — addressing a general disenfranchisement of the general public in political affairs. The main difference is that the Coffee Party wanted different solutions (Progressive versus more Conservative ones) and put blame on apathy and special interests instead of government itself. Both views have merits as it takes two to tango, but that’s for another discussion.
Now that things went from bad to worse, not to the surprise of Tea Party followers, and the Coffee Party stepping up redirection of blame from the people who made the failed policies toward the ones who benefited. This seemed to be fertile ground for the “99%” — the [[Occupy movement]].
Without going into its international origins and scope, it suffices to say that it is based on want. Income disparity is the key issue, and borrows the argument from Coffee and Tea that an elite unduly influence or even control the machinations of government. But it is quite telling that the target of scorn is defined by personal income rather than any actual wrongdoing — it’s about personal envy and want, not social justice. Laughably, the government is treated as the innocent bystander. However noble it is packaged, or right they are about the existence of some powerful elite, it would be dishonest that [[class conflict|class warfare]] isn’t at it’s heart. The Spaniard who is attributed as being the founder of the movement claims to have been inspired by the [[Jasmine Revolution]], but this must only be in hopes of similar effectiveness, and not by its goals, values, or ideological tenor.
My concern about these new American protests is that they are fighting for advantage under the name of fairness. They know something is wrong or unjust and in the words of someone who lost their long held job, “someone has to pay.” On closer examination, these are reactions to economic woes and pleas for better times. It is as if all talk of fairness or justice is only the romanticized means toward the more immediate end.
However, forcing fairness never brings economic justice; this only works in reverse, where justice can bring about fairness. That is why every revolution focused on economic “equality” ends in some degree of totalitarianism and fascism. The revolutions that bring about positive change both ideologically and in real life are not actualized through social planning, but a removal of the mechanisms for social planning that always devolve into injustice. But we may never learn, or even be able to teach such distinctions to the masses.
To the educated, history makes this clear, though we forget or pretend the vote is still out. Look at any socialist or communist revolution — always fueled by the angst of the hungry or out of work — and see the unsustainable result of temporary prosperity bought with pawned-off economic freedom. Their bankrupt emotional economic philosophies are rationalized desperation, and little more. We’ve even been conditioned over a century to think of a “working class” as nearly synonymous with those who neither work nor pay taxes, and it aint the 1%. America has borrowed an out-dated subconscious lexicon from Marx and Engles that didn’t fall forever as it should have with the Berlin Wall.
These are not forced comparisons, or even comparisons but a simple recognition of what is being parroted. Socialist, Communist, and even Neo-Nazi organizations and their members feel right at home with the Occupy goals and may already be hijacking the movement the same way the Randians and Republicans do what they can to herd the Tea Partiers. Most of these demonstrators don’t seem to have any awareness that this is the path they are on, or where it leads.
This is why I am not impressed with the rioters in London, the Unions in Wisconsin, or the Occupiers of Wall Street. They are at the opposite end of the spectrum from the Jasmine Revolution and the American Revolution. The question will be if we can be pacified with dollars instead of opportunities and rights. In the East, the House of Saud or any Parliament or Congress can’t keep protesters quiet with social programs and other scraps. They want freedom, while we are more worried about survival (or rather entitlement to higher economic status) to the point of forgetting what we once held dear. No wonder the people of the Middle East consider even the poor among us hedonistic.
Plainly put, the cost of peace and prosperity should not be liberty, and liberty should not be mistaken for material “rights” or gain. We have to decide what to fight for, not just pick a fight because we’re scared or angry. We have to recognize the thinly-veiled Marxism and all its tread-bare assumptions about the cause and cure for social injustice.
But I don’t think this will end well. If the Occupiers don’t evolve into something that makes more sense, it will either fail and be a blow to the power of the people in general, or will succeed and impose a far worse end. Even being a citizen of a nation born of revolution, I have the wisdom to appreciate and admit that not all revolution is good. And the current drive for change in America, though well-meaning and well-founded, is not good unless we are careful about what we are really asking for … because we just might get it.