Investigative journalist Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now!” headed down to the park on November 16th, where the Occupy Wall Street Movement had located, just as police were literally breaking up the camp. As she looked around at the debris of democracy, she saw a broken bookcase in a pile. It was a remnant of a community library, also known as the People’s Library, that had over the last couple months accumulated over 5000 donated books. As she looked around, a book laying on the ground caught her attention, “Brave New World Revisited,” by Aldous Huxley.
Amy writes in her report: “As the night progressed, the irony of finding Huxley’s book grew. He wrote it in 1958, almost 30 years after his famous dystopian novel, “Brave New World.” The original work described society in the future where people had been stratified into haves and have-nots. The “Brave New World” denizens were plied with pleasure, distraction, advertisement and intoxicating drugs to lull them into complacency, a world of perfect consumerism, with lower classes doing all the work for an elite.”
“Brave New World Revisited” was Huxley’s nonfiction response to the speed with which he saw modern society careening to that bleak future. It seemed relevant, as the encampment, motivated in large part by the opposition to the supremacy of commerce and globalization, was being destroyed.”
Huxley wrote in the book: “Big Business, made possible by advancing technology and the consequent ruin of Little Business, is controlled by the State—that is to say, by a small group of party leaders and the soldiers, policemen and civil servants who carry out their orders. In a capitalist democracy, such as the United States, it is controlled by what Professor C. Wright Mills has called the Power Elite.” Huxley goes on to write, “This Power Elite directly employs several millions of the country’s working force in its factories, offices and stores, controls many millions more by lending them the money to buy its products, and, through its ownership of the media of mass communication, influences the thoughts, the feelings and the actions of virtually everybody.”
Arundhati Roy was born and lives in India. She has worked as a film designer, actor, and screenplay writer, and is the author of numerous books. She speaks about the desire of many to embrace the “American way of life”.
“Today, we know that the “American way of life” – the model that the rest of the world is meant to aspire towards – has resulted in 400 people owning the wealth of half of the population of the United States. It has meant thousands of people being turned out of their homes and jobs while the US government bailed out banks and corporations – American International Group (AIG) alone was given $182bn.
The Indian government worships US economic policy. As a result of 20 years of the free market economy, today, 100 of India’s richest people own assets worth one-fourth of the country’s GDP while more than 80% of the people live on less than 50 cents a day; 250,000 farmers, driven into a spiral of death, have committed suicide. We call this progress, and now think of ourselves as a superpower. Like you, we are well-qualified: we have nuclear bombs and obscene inequality.”
Roy sees the Occupy Movement as a “re-awakening” of our imagination and a way to imagine a system that includes:
• “An end to cross-ownership in businesses. For example, weapons manufacturers cannot own TV stations; mining corporations cannot run newspapers; business houses cannot fund universities; drug companies cannot control public health funds.
• Natural resources and essential infrastructure – water supply, electricity, health, and education – cannot be privatized.
• Everybody must have the right to shelter, education and healthcare.
• The children of the rich cannot inherit their parents’ wealth.”
Firman DaBrander is Chair of Humanistic Studies and Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Maryland Institute College of Art. In a recent article on commondreams.org, he spoke of the philosophy and influence of Ayn Rand, the mother of extreme elitism, individualism and capitalism. She has had a great influence on politics and economic policy through her followers, particularly in the United States.
He notes, “In a 1967 article entitled “Requiem for Man,” Rand issues a scathing rebuttal to Pope Paul VI who dared suggest that capitalists must be mindful of global wealth disparity and the sufferings of the poor, and recognize a social obligation to help the unfortunate (the Vatican has notably issued similar remarks in a recent statement on the global financial crisis). Rand slams the Pope for urging us to show brotherly love to poor third world “savages.” To the contrary, she declares, when civilized man “discovers entire populations rotting alive in such conditions” he should not feel pity, but “a burning stab of pride” for “the achievements of his nations and his culture…” Amazingly, Rand fails to acknowledge how much the civilized nations have prospered at the expense of the global poor thanks to imperialism. “
He concludes by saying, “I’ve long wondered why—or how—Rand’s disciples conveniently, miraculously, ignored her heinous conclusions. It’s time Rand was seen for what is is—no glossing over it. Clearly, it’s not acceptable for our political leaders to be associated with her thought.”
So when we see protests around the world and wonder, what is going on?
Naomi Klein, is an award-winning journalist, syndicated columnist and author of the New York Times and #1 international bestseller, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Naomi spoke to Occupy Wall Street on October 7, 2011.
“We all know, or at least sense, that the world is upside down: we act as if there is no end to what is actually finite — fossil fuels and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions. And we act as if there are strict and immovable limits to what is actually bountiful — the financial resources to build the kind of society we need.
The task of our time is to turn this around: to challenge this false scarcity. To insist that we can afford to build a decent, inclusive society — while at the same time, respect the real limits to what the earth can take.”
This is a massive global movement calling for justice of all kinds – environmental, economic and social justice.