Judge's Chambers: Some in 'Occupy Movement' want revolution but they should be wary of where that leads

The various "occupy" demonstrations (Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Detroit, Occupy Lansing, et. cetera, ad nauseam) have become the flavor of the month for a number of national columnists.

Eugene Robinson opines that, "the Occupy protests may grow into something very big."

Ditto Georgie Geyer.

DeWayne Wickham joins the chorus, saying that, "a street demonstration in New York City . . . threatens to engulf the nation." And Mary Sanchez suggests that Herman Cain "just doesn't get it" when he tears into the Wall Street protestors.

So, occupation has become hot, for a number of reasons.

First, we are at the end of a news cycle, that period known as the "dog days." According to Webster, the dog days are the end of summer. But the second meaning is "a period of stagnation or inactivity." During such periods, according to hard-bitten reporters, even dog bite stories make the local news

And thus it is today for the political pundits of the chattering class. Elections are a year away, the Republican debates are notably boring, the President is here, there, and everywhere seeking support for a jobs bill that neither the Republican-controlled House nor the Democrat-controlled Senate will take up, the public generally ignores our burgeoning national debt, economic stagnation is rife, and the overall mood is gloomy.

Truly, these are the dog days. But now something new, exciting, and trendy-lefty is developing right before our eyes. Is it any wonder that columnists, desperate for something to say, want to assign cosmic significance to the Occupy-fill-in-the-blank movement?

Secondly, and less cynically, I think the Occupy people have gotten at least one thing right. Wall Street was the epicenter of the financial meltdown of 2008-2009.

Billions of dollars sloshed their way through the Wall Street money machine, producing nothing, a thin slice of financial buccaneers at the top raked off obscene amounts of that money, and when the whole house of cards began to collapse, with banks threatening to topple like dominoes, the government bailed them out with money that the rest of us suckers pay in taxes.

Remarkably, no major figure in all of this has yet gone to jail. Noam Chomsky suggests that the Wall Street gangsters are not only too big to fail, they are too big to jail.

Regrettably, and for once, he may be right.

I note that the address of the U.S. Department of Justice is 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C. (only blocks from a certain white building).

Perhaps with a little visible nudging from the Occupy folks, the Justice Department might start issuing some subpoenas and returning some indictments.

But I suspect this is not really what some in the Occupy movement want. The far left fringe of these groups is not interested in reform. Rather, it wants a revolution. Indeed, one of the signs that shows up frequently in the newscasts boldly proclaims that, "This is the revolution."

I very seriously doubt that this is so. But remember, I might say to the young man carrying that sign, that revolutions tend to eat their participants.

Danton, Robespierre, and Saint-Just, leaders of the French Revolution, all finished their careers with a brief, fatal assignation with Madame la Guillotine. Many who made the Long March with Mao Zedong ended up in Chinese prisons or in the grave. Stalin systemically eliminated great numbers of those who helped make the Russian Revolution.

And, the second act of a revolution is often a brutal dictatorship.

Napoleon, Stalin, Mao, Castro, and Pol Pot were all the beneficiaries of a violent revolution.

It is one thing to spend a night or two in a tent in a park somewhere. It is quite another to bring down a whole system of government without having the slightest idea of what would replace it.

It's what is called being on the wrong side of history. I might ask that young man, is this really where you want to be during the second act of your revolution, when the dog days of summer end and a long, hard winter of repression comes on?

William C. Whitbeck was appointed to the Michigan Court of Appeals in 1997 and reelected to six-year terms in 1998, 2004, and 2010.

His current judicial term expires January 1, 2017.

Published: Mon, Oct 24, 2011

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