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The Professional Protester

Contrary to their own claim that they represent the 99 percent and the media's ceaseless hype, OWS is about as representative of ordinary Americans as your average professional protester. Which is not very. 

Even opponents of the Tea Party could not seriously claim that it was a movement of professional protesters, but that's exactly what OWS is, leavened with assorted hippies, homeless people and bored students and aging radicals along for the ride.

useful-idiotThe professional protester is the left's answer to everything, built around a core of far-left groups and community organizations that use local protests as a form of blackmail, these are the people who show up at everything from anti-war rallies to budget meetings with variations of the same tired agenda.

The rioting and anti-semitism are hardly a surprise. The professional protester contingent has its anarchists who can be counted on to start smashing things at the wrong time and groups who run the gamut from supporting Hamas to believing that Jews are actually reptilian space monsters in disguise.

Big unions who have their own paid non-union picketers to come out and shout slogans or hand out leaflets targeting whatever business has run afoul of the bosses this week, who don't believe anything they're saying, but are also much less likely to start screaming racial slurs or otherwise embarrassing their union employers. (No health care benefits of course, this is a strictly freelance arrangement.)

The left can turn out numbers, but their core runs the gamut from Communists to the LaRouchites who will show up to every rally and claim to be ordinary people who are fed up with the banks, the wars and the Queen of England. And those rallies don't get big until they draw out every aging radical and bored college student, and when they do, they still have to contend with with the core.

Fortunately the media sympathetically avoids any mention of the ugly big tent that these protests draw on, presenting them as just plain ordinary folks. And when the violence happens, it's always the fault of the police, not of the perfectly nice bomb throwers who believe in overthrowing the government and putting up reeducation camps for everyone.

The anti-war rallies overseen by radical Communist groups, that even other Communists think are radical, were always described as gatherings of grandmothers, veterans and people who love puppies and hate wars. OWS is getting the same loving treatment from media corporations who know the truth but refuse to tell it.

Rallies were easier to manage than encampments, which are permanent rallies where no one is supposed to go home and no one really knows what to do. Combine the Battle of Seattle with Woodstock and you get Occupy Whatever Place You Happen to Feel Like Occupying. The rapes, disorder, assaults and hygiene problems should surprise no one. It's only a generation that never heard of Altamont that couldn't see where this was going.

Back in the Soviet days the chain of command was easier to manage. Dozens of front groups reported back up a chain of command that stretched all the way to Moscow and took orders from there. The Communist party was a ruthlessly controlling organization and its members were quite good at getting people to do what they wanted. The closest thing to Moscow now is D.C. and the administration is too chaotic to properly control itself, let alone the protesters.

That leaves the tidal wave of professional protesters, many of whom have their own agendas, quite a few of whom have mental problems, and very few of whom are good at taking orders. There are too many organizations in the mix and too many people showing up for someplace to sleep, free food and a chance to be on the news.

In a crowd at a rally, the professional protester doesn't look all that bad. Sure he might be snapped brandishing a sign about aliens, WTC 7 or the Jews-- but the picture won't show up anywhere besides a few conservative blogs, and the organizers will disavow any connection to them. But stick those people in one place and try to use them to build a miniature society and you run into major trouble.

OWS's problems are passing the point where the media can continue covering them up, for the same old reasons that the professional protesters have always been dysfunctional. Despite their big talk, even far-left groups with the same ideological heritage can't get along with each other. There are more Trotskyist splinter groups than there are Daily Worker subscribers. The further left you go, the more divisions pop up. Your average liberal has a basic set of positions, but further to the left there are purity tests on top of purity tests.

The USSR solved those debates with mass purges of most of the people who actually made the revolution happen. OWS can't do that, not without the NYPD stepping in. It can't even kick out the non-ideological "parasites" who just want a meal, a place to sleep and maybe do some stealing. There is no real leadership, just experiments in leadership, that like most hierarchies end up creating an inner group that makes all the decisions, but who lack the power to enforce their authority.

Its only goal is simple enough, to stay put and keep soaking up the headlines, but even that is proving to be too much for a movement that has all of the radicalism, but none of the discipline. The left succeeded in weakening the West at the behest of Moscow, but it also weakened the population it was to draw its next generation of activists from. The old disciplined radical willing to make sacrifices nd even die for his cause is now a distant memory.

That is what makes the decline of OWS more than just a case in study in the folly of the personal protester, but a metaphor for the dysfunction of the left. The professional protester is the true believer, the foot soldier of the left's causes, always there to agitate for the pre-approved agenda. His job is to bridge the disconnect between the leftist elites and the general public by maintaining the facade of activist democracy with the squeaky wheel getting all the grease.

This form of the professional protester is the dominant form, the one that eventually evolves into a community organizer. And it's no coincidence that OWS is closely tied in with the backers of the Community Organizer in Chief, and its own facade of activist democracy is another form of the same sham.

It's an old game in urban politics. An activist group endorses a politician and demands a health care center. The politician solicits the funds for the health care center which operates under the aegis of the activist group. A budget crunch approaches and there's talk of cutting funds to the health care center. That's when the activist group shows up, along with members of the local health care workers union and whatever shills and patsies they can scare up outside the politician's office to demand that he find the money to keep it open. A week later the politician announces that the money has been found thanks to the dedicated activism of the activist organization.

Look closely and OWS is a less disciplined form of the same game, the real purpose of which is to raise the profile of both sides while drumming up press coverage. Anyone familiar with urban politics already knows how it works. But not everyone understands the game. Some suckers think the community organization are really fighting for them and others think that they can actually change things with their protests.

This entire arrangement marks the fusion of leftist activism with the political machine until there is no telling the two apart. This is the origin point of Obama's career, it's the game being played down in Zuccotti Park, but not everyone there understands the game. Most don't.

OWS has a core purpose, to finally launch a grass roots challenge to the Tea Party while kicking off the reelection campaign with its class warfare theme. But a lot of the professional protesters have a different game in mind. The anarchists want to smash things, the homeless want to camp out, the drummers want to drum, the hippies want to recreate a lost paradise and a whole lot of people just want to be on TV or complain about their student loans.

Activist democracy is easier to fake when it's narrowly targeted, but kick it off as a national movement and it melts down. That's where the difference between the Tea Party and OWS lies. The Tea Party is a genuine grass roots movement which has rallied around a common agenda. It's not a movement of professional protesters and assorted dilettantes, but people who actually have a specific cause that they can rally around without hand signals and human microphones.

The professional protester is the left's attempt to hijack representative democracy and the rule of law, but it's also where its efforts melt down. The radical political machine that needs them to play at being the intermediaries between the 99 percent and the 1 percent in Washington D.C. is broken. If it wasn't broken, then it wouldn't need them.

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