By Matthew Rothschild on October 07, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street protest is the spark of a great new mass movement for economic justice, for economic democracy.

This movement is finally answering the question, “How long are Americans going to continue to roll over and just take all this abuse?”

And the answer: “No longer.”

Michael Moore, in his movie “Capitalism: A Love Story,” singlehandedly put crime tape all around Wall Street.

But now hundreds and thousands of protesters are symbolically doing it, too. They recognize, as he did, that the bankers on Wall Streets are criminals who destroyed the economy and thereby robbed millions of Americans of their jobs and life savings. The slogan of the protesters, “We are the 99%,” is a perfect one because it emphasizes just how undemocratic and unfair our current system is.

The top 1% in our society has been gobbling up more and more of the nation’s income and wealth over the last few decades. This same 1% spends the lion’s share of campaign money to elect people to Congress and to state legislatures so they’ll pass laws that make the rich even richer. That’s how our system works today, and will work tomorrow, so long as the Citizens United decision stays on the books.

People around the country grasp this. That’s why these protests are extending beyond Wall Street to cities and towns around the country. I hope you’ll join one. This is a new progressive populism that’s not going away any time soon.

Mitt Romney calls this “dangerous class warfare.” He would. His net worth is $200 million, he’s already raised $2.3 million from Wall Street, and he believes corporations are persons. Ann Coulter calls this “the beginning of totalitarianism.” Actually, it’s the beginning of real democracy. And it’s about time.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Wall St. Protesters Show the Way"

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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