My guess is that the “occupiers” of Wall Street are on the cusp of an activist movement that will rival the Tea Party in influence: the right has its contemporary movement for underground men and the left now has its equivalent.
If things get really, really bad in America, I suppose we could see the two groups clash in the streets (as fascists and Marxists clashed in the streets of Weimar Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s). Though seemingly irreconcilable, what the fascists and Marxists of an earlier time agreed on was this: they both hated conventional parliamentarian and bourgeois democratic politics based in dialogue, compromise, and measured appeals to reason. Like today, partisans of the right and left regarded the existing system as corrupt and unworkable.
Of course, in Germany the economic stagnation and turmoil in the streets frightened people and, via elections, vaulted the farthest of the far right into power.
Here we go again?
I like Chris Hedges a great deal, and think that a lot of what he says makes sense, but the Occupy Wall Streeters and the Tea Partiers are both playing with what Freud characterized as psychological fire: they are implicitly calling on people to invest their erotic and libidinal impulses in movement leaders and erect their hate onto outsiders.
Chris Hedges is not the best of men, and the occupiers of Wall Street are not the freest of men, but they think that they are, and this is how mass movement psychology is energized and power gets gathered, often to mischief. As Chris Hedges gathers love and libido from the swelling crowds he’ll address over the coming year, I hope he keeps his head about him.
Occupy Wall Street is recto to the Tea Party’s verso.