The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

For what it's worth

There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
I think it's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side

Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth

There's a lot in the news these days about the Occupy Wall Street and its clones around the country and the world. Overlooking the fact that these protests are happening only in the so-called "free world" and not in oppressive nations, the phenomenon is not all that unusual in history. I read a comment in the NY Times just the other day that recognized this. Here's what was written:

"The decline and fall of the Western World has happened multiple times in history. We see ages of prosperity and awesome growth with advanced civilization descend into eras of impoverishment, ignorance and dark ages. Those that have begin to try to protect their enclaves of affluence trying to isolate themselves from the increasing misery and impoverishment, trying to save themselves as the rest of the world descends into dark ages. Then the enclaves shrink because there is too little ability to find ways to replace the attrition of the wealth that had accumulated during the previous times of prosperity. "

It's not a bad analysis. Sometimes, when confined to a single nation, these result in the overthrow of the existing authority. This is what happened here in the U.S. (then the American colonies of Great Britain) but it is also what happened in Russia in 1917 and in China before and after WWII and Cuba in 1959. It's happened over and over throughout the world, most of the time resulting in a worse system replacing a bad system. The "haves" become the "have nots" and the oppression continues. The only change is in who is oppressed.

How will this incarnation turn out? I have no idea, I am no seer. But the forces of change are once again challenging the forces of status quo and the outcome will undoubtedly not please everyone. I suspect that there will not be a great change in the U.S., we tend to play at being revolutionaries but rarely gather enough followers to actually accomplish major change. The closest we came was the period leading to the Civil War and I do not see any issues which remotely approach slavery in importance.

Still, I see a period of upheaval that will last as long as the unemployment rate stays above, say, 6%. So hunker down, we have a ways to go.


The Chubby Chatterbox said...

You have a clear understanding of history and I can't find fault with anything you've said. Where I have a problem is with those who call the protesters unpatriotic or un-American. Those who criticize these protesters should march to the Jefferson memorial and read Jefferson's thoughts on what "he" thought people should do if a government fails to support their needs.

Sightings said...

I agree that Americans "tend to play at being revolutionaries" but as you suggest with For What It's Worth, the OWS crowd can't help but make us think of the anti-Vietnam war protestors of our day. They didn't change anything overnight (except causing LBJ to bow out), but the unrelenting pressure surely got us out of Southeast Asia sooner than we would have otherwise, and they brought about a sea change in people's attitudes toward the military, the government, and authority in general -- mostly for the better, imho.

And so perhaps OWS, if it grows, will have some effect on power in America, the distribution of wealth, the role of government. Nothing will change immediately; nothing will change drastically (and do we really want things to change drastically? I don't, I think democracy and capitalism need to be refined and regulated, not reputed). But over time things might change, and for the better. Or, at least, let's hope so.

Douglas4517 said...

I have not been to that memorial, are these words there?

"A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men
free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and
shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is
the sum of good government."

Douglas4517 said...

I went through a number of changes during that period, in terms of how I felt about the war.  I served during it, did a couple of tours in the Tonkin Gulf (I was in the Navy) and had a few friends that served "in country". After it was over, I felt we screwed up getting into it and screwed up getting out.

The Chubby Chatterbox said...

Actually, I was thinking of comments like "Every generation needs a new revolution," and "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

Douglas4517 said...

Thomas Jefferson has many quotes attributed to him. Some contradict. I like this one:

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can
prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the
pretense of taking care of them."

It seems appropriate when discussing people who want the government to wipe out their student loans.