OWS From The WSJ And Volokh

Awright, so here’s the WSJ take in a nutshell:

Yet the Occupy Wall Street movement reflects values that are dangerously out of touch with the broad mass of the American people…The protesters have a distinct ideology and are bound by a deep commitment to radical left-wing policies…What binds a large majority of the protesters together—regardless of age, socioeconomic status or education—is a deep commitment to left-wing policies: opposition to free-market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth, intense regulation of the private sector, and protectionist policies to keep American jobs from going overseas…


Are you scared yet?  They’re a bunch of commies!

But Kenneth Anderson over at Volokh agrees, or seems to.

These guys are out on a limb.  Nobody really knows what to make of it all at this point.  The protesters may be lefties and say lefty things, but lefties have been around the whole time and haven’t been camping out in the US financial center for more than a month.

More than a month.

This blogger seems more connected on the ground – and less sure.

Today Bill Bonner, who we quoted favorably yesterday, is stealing my ideas again and likening the whole thing to the days leading up to the French Revolution, so plaintively captured by Dickens a few decades after the events.

Maybe.  I’m not sure one way or the other.

This much I do know, and have said many times.  Civil unrest of this kind – even in its peaceful stage – is an indictment of lawyers, judges and courts, primarily.  Almost any kind of individual grievance against any tangible legal entity with any legitimacy can be framed into a legal dispute.  But it is this process that has broken down, and has resulted in people taking to the streets in significant numbers, or at least in a significant way.

My experience with judges, and that of many other lawyers in the last two decades, can be summed up in the phrase I often toss off in an effort at humor:  the government wins, the bank wins, the insurance company wins.  We have lots of lawyers in the US, but relief for regular people in the courts, and even access itself to the courts, has become far too rare in practice.  I could give an informative account of just how and maybe I will later.  But for now it’s the fact of it.

Speaking for myself and from that experience, I find a developing murky brew of civil unrest in the US totally unsurprising.  It may have a dominant ideological component right now, but at base I’ll venture a guess it is not so much prompted by ideology as it is by a far deeper dissatisfaction not only with the state of things, but with the lack of meaningful opportunities for redress.

So yeah, Volokh and the WSJ are missing the point entirely.



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