Letter from Wall Street

October 3, 2011

In Letters To Finkelstein

I went down to Liberty Park yesterday, a lively scene despite rain. Did you hear about the NYT reporter arrested on the bridge this weekend? She confirms that police ushered demonstrators onto the roadway before arresting them. I’m sensing a shift in mainstream attitudes — even my eight-five-year-old mother-in-law was cheering us on — she’s a traditional, principled liberal.

What strikes me about “Liberal” is the fluid meaning of the term — I for one don’t use it as an insult (though many Leftists do). It’s unclear how many contemporary liberals see themselves as proponents of personal liberty — i.e., as standing with the tradition of John Stewart Mill. In so far as liberals care to identify with their own political philosophy, how much do they actually know about it? ”

“Goldman Sachs runs the world.” Period. The Clintons? (Bill gave us NAFTA and Hillary signed the “Partial Birth Abortion Ban.”) Their are virtually no nationally prominent liberals in the Democratic Party now. To me, this should signal a renewed bond between the Left and those principled liberals who have been estranged from party politics. Hell, I’d settle for modest reforms and am willing to eschew ideology.

One of the things that awes me about the OCCUPY WALL STREET demo is the way demonstrators have bodied forth their agenda in practical terms. They’ve actually built an anarcho-syndicalist society, a mini-world that functions according to an ethos of mutual aid. Before we critique their “vague agenda,” let’s acknowledge that they’re struggling in a highly decent fashion.

The cops are starting to sympathize… Now THAT’S interesting!