Ron Paul Schism in Occupy Wall Street?
By Staff News & Analysis - October 14, 2011

SHUT UP about Ron Paul … I'm sick and tired of seeing these guys infiltrate OWS. You can be a part of us, but we definitely don't want Ron Paul as a leader. – Occupy Wall Street Forum/Poster OpenSky

Dominant Social Theme: The federal government's power must be controlled by the people and aimed at the corporations.

Free-Market Analysis: Among the not-so-private problems afflicting the generally hopeful movement of Occupy Wall Street is the schism between the libertarian wing and what might be called the "statist" element of the movement.

The Occupy Wall Street forum, offered at its website, is regularly alive with denunciations of libertarian Congressman Ron Paul and his presidential campaign. The thread topics (see above for one example) express resentment over the increasingly strident free-market voice within the movement.

In a sense, this exposes a larger, fundamental schism that explains why the other day we suggested that libertarians might consider abandoning OWS. DB is a libertarian paper; it is fairly clear to those who (attempt to) run it, that Occupy Wall Street is headed toward some choppy waters when it comes to resolving this fundamental issue of market versus state.

This problem is encapsulated by the two main "goals" of Occupy Wall Street as enunciated by one of the founding members of the movement, David DeGraw. According to DeGraw, the two goals of Occupy Wall Street are: 1) Break up the "Too Big To Fail" banks and the Federal Reserve, and 2) End the system of political bribery (campaign finance, lobbying, revolving door).

These goals, logically, are in opposition to one another. While we yesterday listed them among some generally hopeful signs regarding Occupy Wall Street (the Federal Reserve part anyway) the removal of the Fed would be accomplished with the blessing of the very establishment forces that OWS counts on to oppose the "corporatist taint" it so loathes.

Basically, what the "statist" wing of Occupy Wall Street hopes to do is to utilize the awesome power of modern government to enforce its viewpoint regarding social justice and equality. The point of libertarians, or some libertarians anyway, is that one plays right into the hands of the power elite by imposing this solution.

The elites will likely always have an advantage when it comes to government, as the elites constitute the wealthiest among the Western world's important actors. Even if one rid the world of the tyranny of central banking, certain elements of society would no doubt amass great wealth that they could bring to bear on the legislative process.

These entities, historically, have used wealth to build a hidden consensus in government to perpetuate their interests and, gradually, to disenfranchise everyone else. This process is mercantilism, and it is fairly unstoppable.

The only way to ensure freedom and social "justice" is to reduce or remove as many government processes as possible. Government is ever a corrosive force, one that George Washington called "dangerous as fire."

The libertarian wing of Occupy Wall Street would remove as much government as possible so as to reduce the possibilities of mercantilism. The statist wing of the OWS movement would use the awesome power of the government now in place to reduce manipulations of the elite. This isn't just observation; it's reality. Here's part of one comment in the thread regarding the excerpt above that encapsulates these views:

… Within my admittedly-finite understanding of OWS and its core issues, I can't support Ron Paul. His deregulatory push directly contradicts OWS's mainline goals. Ending the wars is a Good Thing, but the need for strong financial reform eclipses even that issue, at least insofar as my conception of OWS is concerned. Right-libertarianism is all about deregulation, and in addition to being the strongest American candidate of that school, Paul has shown a peculiar tendency towards goldbuggery that I believe will do nothing for the issues we face …

What matters, for OWS, is that I support increased financial regulation, and I really, really want it on a federal level. I don't think the Paulite-libertarian vision is compatible with OWS's generally pro-federal regulation, pro-tax goals, certainly no more than Obama's scarcely-supported campaign promises. I'm honestly sorry that there's a conflict here; in too many ways, we're feeling the same pain. If there's anywhere to build the bridge, I want it built …

I'll trust that you're arguing in good faith; trust me when I say I'm doing the same. The above is why I don't think OWS and Paulite libertarianism are, by default, compatible. I don't think either camp is ready to make the necessary intellectual sacrifice. Maybe some day…well, a guy can hope, even if he doesn't quite know what he's hoping for.

The wisdom of this commentator lies in seeing that the two parts of the movement are basically incompatible. Statists believe the system is OK as is, so long as they can use it to attack their enemies. Libertarians see the system as a monstrous, even genocidal, excrescence that must be trimmed back to a stub to eradicate the danger it threatens to all.

Why the statist element of Occupy Wall Street believes that the current federal system, with its endless ruin, incessant warring and systemic violence and corruption is somehow salvageable is something we are not prepared to answer. The only conclusion that DOES occur to us is that the movement from its start was in a sense controlled – and created as a kind of controlled opposition to the rising tide of free-market thinking around the world.

After Thoughts

We will repeat our earlier conclusion. If the movement continues to gain momentum and if the statist wing of the movement continues to gain strength, libertarian protestors ought to consider departing. Use the movement to bring free-market concerns to the fore (as Alex Jones has begun to do with his Fed protests) and also for the organizing ability and the publicity that the movement is imparting. Use it for what it is worth and then depart.

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