I have heard both conservatives and liberals alike discuss how the protests are made up of “regular people” and “kooks.” “Good people” who want to change the system and “socialists” who want to change the capitalist system. There are good moderates and then there are the radicals.
I am one of the radicals, although I find it difficult to call myself radical. Is it really so radical to look around at America and think that there is something fundamental that needs changed? Is it really so kooky to think that we need more than a routine tune-up?
I think that these Wall Street occupations and protests scare a lot of people. That’s fair. I understand that. I think that in fear, people look to moderate things, reach some sort of consensus, and move past it. This has been the case historically. Take the civil rights marches as an example. The white power structure worked hard to give protesters just enough to make them get off the streets. Then, they often did not follow through on the negotiated agreements. But they were always willing to bargain to get people off the streets because protests make the public nervous. From my understanding of the history, the problems was that in many cases, the civil rights groups would only win symbolic victories. These were important, of course, symbols are meaningful.
At one point in our nation’s history, it was radical to believe in the total abolition of slavery. It was radical to believe that black people and white people were equal. There was a time when it was radical to believe that a woman was intelligent and responsible enough to be counted as a voting citizen. This was an extreme position. There were periods of time when questioning the forced removal of Indian tribes was way out of the mainstream. As recent as fifty years ago, you might have been called a “kook” if you believed that the civil rights protesters were doing the right thing.
I count myself a contemporary kook. I have no chip on my shoulder, although I understand if you do. I’m not angry, although I sympathize with you if you are. I simply believe that the status quo is not okay, and I don’t think we should look for quick fixes to get people off the streets so that we can go on with business as usual. Let’s ask ourself if there is something fundamentally wrong with the status quo.
I am a kook. I am a socialist. I believe in equality for all. I believe in a responsible society that equally distributes its resources while at the same time promoting freedom and individual responsibility. I believe it is possible if we make it so.
Power to the people.