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Pictures of the Socialistic Present

The Leftist idea of the world seems to be that there are two kinds of people: good, intelligent, caring, compassionate, thoughtful ones – they call them the Left – and nasty, stupid, unthinking, thoughtless and avaricious ones, called the Right. And these latter have always been wrong about everything, throughout history. Name a Bad Man (as Sellars and Yeatman would have had it) at any time, and, no matter his beliefs or actions, you can be sure he was Right Wing. Even, in the early 1990s, the entire membership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

This very peculiar view of history – “We can’t be wrong because People Like Us are never wrong” – leads to an astonishing ignorance of history. Leftists are like children: unaware that millions of people in the past – and present – have encountered similar problems and attempted solutions similar to theirs which have failed, they’re constantly astonished when their grand theoretical Plans go awry. Simply telling them, “No, that won’t work” is useless. It wasn’t done properly before. It wasn’t done by us.

So in attacking the Occupy protests, I feel rather like the Executive Director of the Linux Foundation, Jim Zemlin*, who a few months ago opined that attacking Microsoft these days was “kind of like kicking a puppy” (given that it’s no longer the 800-pound gorilla it once was), because they’re undergoing the usual implosion that these utopian Leftist Schemes always do: running up against obvious obstacles that they’ve no idea how to handle. They’re not the Revolution, they’re very naughty boys.**

Take this insider account (via Hot Air):

On Sunday, October 23, a meeting was held at 60 Wall Street. Six leaders discussed what to do with the half-million dollars that had been donated to their organization, since, in their estimation, the organization was incapable of making sound financial decisions. The proposed solution was not to spend the money educating their co-workers or stimulating more active participation by improving the organization’s structures and tactics. Instead, those present discussed how they could commandeer the $500,000 for their new, more exclusive organization. No, this was not the meeting of any traditional influence on Wall Street. These were six of the leaders of Occupy Wall Street (OWS).

Gosh, who’d'a thunk it? The management of large sums of money is difficult, and attracts the avaricious and power-hungry. Who saw that coming?

But this is the bit that really reminded me of fanatical Leftists’ willful ignorance of history, Hot Air’s explanation of the “organizational” (I use the word loosely) structure of OWS:

The General Assembly (NYC-GA) nominally makes all the decisions through overwhelming consensus; it requires 90% agreement to approve any decision, including expenditures. Sound groovy? Well, not really; a minority of 11% can essentially block all action, and apparently often do.

See? Anyone could have told them that would happen. It’s a “problem” the EU “solved” with Qualified Majority Voting. It’s more or less the problem California has with taxation. Consensus politics doesn’t work because there is no consensus. That’s why there’s politics in the first place. And my God, OWS has terminal politics…

Daniel, a tall, red-bearded, white twenty-something—one of the six leaders of the teach-in—said that the NYC-GA needed to be completely defunded because those with “no stake” in the Occupy Wall Street movement shouldn’t have a say in how the money was spent.

… oh look, they’ve discovered something else the grown-ups already knew …

When I asked him whether everybody in the 99% had a stake in the movement, he said that only those occupying or working in Zuccotti Park did. I pointed out that since the General Assembly took place in Zuccotti Park, everybody who participated was an occupier. He responded with a long rant about how Zuccotti Park is filled with “tourists,” “free-loaders” and “crackheads” and suggested a solution that the even NYPD has not yet attempted: Daniel said that he’d like to take a fire-hose and clear out the entire encampment, adding hopefully that only the “real” activists would come back.

Hey, something we can agree on!

So, anyway, to get round this – gosh, there’s even a word for it – gridlock in their General Assembly (I’m sorry, but I can’t help thinking of a roomful of presbyterian ministers), they – some of them – decided to create a sort of Inner Council. ‘Least, that’s what they said it was for. You can probably guess the real purpose (remember that 500 grand?). The Spokes Council, they called it. Sounds like something to do with bicycles. I prefer “politburo”, but each to his own…

The main obstacle to the creation of the Spokes Council was that the NYC-GA had already voted against it four times. One audience member observed that no organization would vote to relinquish its power.

No! you don’t say!

Some of the strongest proponents of the Spokes Council responded that they had taken this into account, and were planning on creating the Spokes Council regardless of whether the NYC-GA accepted the proposal.

Or, presumably, else.

They claimed that, in the interests of non-hierarchy, neither the Spokes Council nor the General Assembly should have power over the other.

O-kaaay… I suppose the Chain – sorry, Tyres – sorry, Spokes Council would get the half-million smackeroos though, right? Because we wouldn’t want the General Assembly of the People to soil itself with such unseemly capitalist matters. Or something. Yeah, that’ll do. Unseemly capitalism. Yeah.

But there’s more. Oh hell, there’s more:

In the minutes of the teach-in on Saturday the 22nd, the leaders recognize that usurping power from the NYC-GA might make people uncomfortable. The Structure WG’s eventual proposal was to keep the General Assembly alive and functioning while the Spokes Council “gets on its feet.” Working Groups could still technically get funding through the NYC-GA, but the “GA may stop making those kinds of decisions because people [will] stop going… To officially take power away isn’t necessary,” especially because the NYC-GA works on the consensus model. A small group of people aiming to delegitimize the NYC-GA could easily attend each session merely to block every proposal. According to a member of the Demands WG, this is already occurring in several Working Groups.

To placate the rest of OWS, the Structure WG amended their original proposal and gave the NYC-GA power to dissolve the Spokes Council. This amendment is irrelevant, however, given the 90% majority requirement in the NYC-GA, and the ability of members of the Spokes Council to vote in the NYC-GA.

And they wonder why we libertarians want as little politics as we can possibly stomach. I feel sick just reading about it.

There’s even more over there, including downright censorship of their own number, but really nothing that anyone who’s ever been on a committee of anything couldn’t have told them would happen. OWS is nothing more than the church choir writ large, unwashed, and trespassing. It’s no surprise the CofE’s getting on so well with the London branch.

Assuming for rhetorical porpoises there there’s an afterlife, Eugen Richter must be in hysterics right now. “Oh, mein sides! Zey’re doing it again!”

(If you haven’t read Pictures of the Socialistic Future, seriously, do it now. It predicted it all. All.)

*Known to one and all as Zim Jemlin. Well, it’s hard not to.

**And girls.***

***And, according to them, other. That’s hilarious, by the way: by their own estimation, OWS is 81% white. According to a commenter there (or it may have been PJM; I can’t find it at the mo’), the racist Tea Party was 76% white by Gallup’s reckoning.


  1. john in cheshire says:

    Sam, I agree with your analysis completely. I have also found socialists to be deluded about their beliefs and their opinions on everyone else. I think there are two kinds of people, in general; namely, socialists and normal people. socialists really should consider if they maybe have some kind of mental defect that causes them to hold such outrageous views. In a normal world, they’d be consigned to the periphery of life where they could rant and agitate to their hearts desire, without inflicting their malign policies on the rest of us.

  2. Thornavis says:

    j i c. socialists really should consider if they maybe have some kind of mental defect that causes them to hold such outrageous views. In a normal world, they’d be consigned to the periphery of life where they could rant and agitate to their hearts desire, without inflicting their malign policies on the rest of us.

    They’d say exactly the same about you, which is where we came in. Socialists are probably just as normal as the rest of ie not very, what about those whose views change and move away from socialism, how did they suddenly acquire normality ? There’s daft opinions and credible opinions, mad beliefs and reasonable ones and where you or I or anyone else thinks the line is between those is largely subjective, as Sam Duncan points out there is no consensus. Anathematizing others because they hold the wrong opinions is common on the left but hardly unknown elsewhere and sensible reasonably balanced people don’t do it.

  3. Bod says:

    Well, in fairness, one of the differences between socialists and other people who hold ‘outrageous views’ is that socialism in its many and varied forms has been tried, and tried and tried again, throughout recent history, to the point where there are a lot of people still alive who either remember socialism being an utter bust, or remember people being killed by socialism.

    The same can’t be said for many other ‘outrageous views’ such as Classical Liberalism.

  4. Henry Crun says:

    You only have to look at Labour’s front-bench to see what a bunch of swivel-eyed hypocritical fuckwits make up the vast majority of socialists. I would even hesitate to call them socialists. You see, the political socialist doesn’t like people, and by people I mean ordinary working class folk. The political socialist loves telling people what to do, they love telling people how to live their lives and everything the political socialist does is for “the greater good”. To these people I say: Fuck Off!

    Political socialists are brilliant at spending money, as long as it isn’t theirs. And when that money runs out it is never their fault. The political socialist usually has a privelged background (cf. previous Labour government ministers – not many risen up from the ranks of the dirt poor).

    At the other end of the leftist spectrum is the Socialist Worker – the shiftless, bone idle and envious. Not prepared to work as that would be seen to be propping up capitalism but eager to strip that hard working of their earnings in order to support the socialist workers. All these people, the SW and the political socialists have one thing in common – they are all, to a man complete and utter cunts.

  5. Ian B says:

    Sam, excellent post.


    The same can’t be said for many other ‘outrageous views’ such as Classical Liberalism.

    That’s not really true. It has been tried. The US Constitution is a classical liberal document for instance. What we’ve learned is that as a political system it has a fairly short half-life before it decays into something else, such as oligarchy, socialism, etc.

  6. I feel like I’m a mouse walking into a room of hungry cats. But I’ll see if I can keep moving fast enough.

    First while I find that I agree almost entirely with your direct criticisms of the OWS movement – I’ve written about 150K words of said criticism. I do in fact have a problem with some of the basic premises they are being based on.

    While my thoughts in 2011 can hardly be called revolutionary or novel I do think there is some general truths that need to be at least talked about. These specific ideas that I have are coming from one who has the moniker of “moderate” hung around his neck, which I can admidt gets pretty fuckin heavy carrying around all the time. I seem to be in shit with everyone. With that being stated and feeling like I just admitted to overly frequent masturbation to my mother.

    Nontheless I often sit here in Vancouver, B.C late at night and wonder exactly what it is that causes people to become so idealogicaslly seperated? A simplistic question yes, but I still want to know why.

    When I look at the OWS/99% movement I believe in the core principles of what it is about, or at least what I think are the core principles. I know that I’m probably one out of three fools that tries very hard to rationalize that this is not in fact another phase of the never ending battle between the left and the right.

    I think the malaise goes much deeper than that. Unfortunatly this is where I agree with you 100%. While these “kids” actually have a chance at bringing into the light some economic issues that have indeed gone wrong with globalization they are I’m beginning to seem so absolutly dogmatic with their ideas that they will in fact most assuredly fuck everything up. I’ve had a chance to speak to a few of them and have learned that most of them don’t know the difference between a “Socialist” and an “Anarchist.” When I tell them that it doesn’t make sense that an Anarchist is spouting off sophist rhetoric about socialist values because an Anarchist is, in my opinion, a radical libertaria. I usually get, “huh?”

    What I think they should be pushing for is such things as making anatocism illegal for incomes below a specifc point, I used $250,000 a year. Anatocism should be abolished for home mortgages below a certain threshold as related to the value of the property sought, medium income level and property values of a home in a specific city. Things like allowing traders to short a nations currency makes absolutly no fucking sense to me. It adds nothing to the global economy but certainly makes traders, banks, investment houses very wealthy.

    Large multinational firms that own every facet of the development of a product should be broken up. What I mean by this is if they can bring a complex product to market without ever having to source outside of said company – they are too big.

    Banks should be partially nationalized. Look at what happened in Iceland this isn’t something that some left wing nut job made up – it’s real. A country with a GDP of 35Billion dollars, excellent infrastructure, affordable housing, etc. Their banks were nationalized and did little business outside of the country. In 2000 the banks are privatized and within 18 months borrow 100 Billion dollars. Fast forward to 2008, housing prices doubled or tripled, mass unemployment, etc.

    So where the OWS/99% movement has gone all wrong is they are now running off in a million directions thinking they can change the world entirely. All they needed to do was keep the publics eye on the tradable finance sector. This is truly the malaise that needs attention.

    It’s staggering to a simple man such as myself that 44 out of the 52 states in the U.S were in a deficit position as of 2010. Brokers, Traders, etc. on Wall Street publicly traded firms had a combined income of 130 Billion dollars. This ended up being 10 Billion dollars more than the deficit position of 44 states. Something is a little fucked up there don’t you think?

    Speaking of large multinational companies. Living in Canada it was reported last week that 66 Canadians hold as much wealth as 99.3% of the rest of Canada’s citizens combined. What does this mean to me as a moderate? It means I fill my car with gas – some money goes to these guys, I buy a pack of condoms, I wipe my arse, buy books for my kids, and somehow someway they are getting some of my money. This pisses me off not becuase I’m a left leaning, flag burning socialist. It pisses me off becuase I know that so much deregulation by douche bags with armies of lobbyists have made it so what used to be called “anti-competitive” is now “transnational”

    We live in a world where those of us in the middle class are driven and fooled by not so clever euphemisms. When there is healthy competition then there is a healthy economy. Here in Vancouver if I want to by electronic goods I have Best Buy or Future Shop as my choice – for the most part. Both stores products come from the same warehouse and their prices are almost always exactly the same.

    So do I think the OWS/99% movement is about socialism? I don’t think it started that way and I don’t think it was intended to go the direction it did. As I’ve mentioned I live in Vancouver the home of the city that started the OWS/99% movement. Many don’t realize it was AdBusters here in Vancouver that made the first shot across the bow.

    I sent them a letter saying shame on you for stirring the pot and not sticking around to serve dinner. We just ended up with a food fight by a bunch of morons that want to change the world – when I’m not even sure they can change their shorts.

    peace brother,

  7. Bod says:


    True dat, but classical liberalism’s scored nil points in the ‘killing fields’, ‘gulag’ and ‘genocide’ events.

  8. Philip Scott Thomas says:

    Wouldn’t it have been so much simpler if the Teenage Trots had just stayed home and read Animal Farm? Hell, Orwell worked through all this decades ago. At least then they’d have been warm and dry.

  9. Thornavis says:

    Philip Scott Thomas. Orwell is a strange character in many ways, he saw so clearly what was wrong with socialism and yet he remained a socialist to the end. I know there are those who think he would have rejected it had he lived but who knows. It’s a good example, I think, of how someone can be completely rational, clear headed and honest and totally wrong at the same time. Of course I would say that as I’m totally clear minded and honest myself, naturally.

  10. Lynne says:

    It’s amazing how quickly a leading faction of this socialist stupidity organised itself into a minority elite and shafted its comrades when a huge wad of cash was dangled before it. It’s so fashionably New Politburo…

  11. Simon Williams says:

    It’s so left-wing. Remember, the lefties get caught with their hands in the till and the righties get caught with their pants down.

  12. Paul Marks says:

    The U.S. Constitution is not the only classical liberal document – and other ones have proved less easy to twist.

    The words “general welfare” (as a spending power – even though they were not meant as a spending power) and “regulate interstate commerce” are (IN TWO CENTURIES) almost the only words the statists have found to use.

    Other (State level) Constitutions are more carefully worded.

    By the way California…..

    There is a myth (spread by the media) that the problem with California is that the people like government spending but are not prepared to accept high taxes.

    Actually that is bullshit – taxes in California are some of the highest in the nation.

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