Latest post on Left Futures

What Occupy Wall Street should tell the political right

I guess the biggest problem the political right on both sides of the Atlantic has with the Occupy Wall Street movement is the sudden realisation that not everybody in America thinks the way that they do.

Those that habitually refer to liberals as ‘the far left’, and nonsensically insist that Obama is some kind of ‘Marxist’, lack the vocabulary even to describe a layer of the population that advances demands well beyond the confines of mainstream liberalism.

Much of the commentary that emanates from the US – both from bloggers of the more excitable stripe to the sober observers populating mainstream newspaper op-ed pages – works on the assumption that only a limited range of ideas has any traction.

Politicians can place themselves anywhere on a spectrum running from the pro-business wing of the Democrats through to libertarianism, the religious right and the Tea Party. Anything else can, by definition, can have no widespread appeal.

Yet  what is obvious in the pictures from Zuccotti Park – not to mention the events in Wisconsin earlier this year – is that this is not the whole story.

Yes, the protestors are still few in number. It may well be, as the Mail Online website argues, that many of them are dirty hippies who crap on police cars. It may even be, as Telegraph blogger Dr Tim Stanley maintains, that the Okies from Muskogee will win out in the end.

But as a Briton who has been lucky enough to travel fairly extensively in the US, my advice to the right would be not to write off what is happening as a bunch of privileged college kids letting off steam before getting a haircut and a day job.

Touring the Deep South and the Mid West a few months back, it was immediately apparent that much of Middle America is hurting, and it is not a given that the Tea Party will represent the exclusive articulation of that pain. In many conversations, my interlocutors were clear that they wanted government to do more for them, and not less.

That doesn’t necessarily entail a swing to the ideas of the left, even in the cultural sense witnessed in the 1960s. But it may well mean that for the first time in decades, the free market right will no longer have things all its own way.

Comments are closed.

© 2022 Left Futures | Powered by WordPress | theme originated from PrimePress by Ravi Varma