“Capitalizing on this support is the central issue facing OWS, and its ability to do so will depend on myriad factors, including the behavior of plutocrats, politicians, and police. (In terms of presenting shocking and morally clarifying imagery, the recent pepper-spraying incident at the University of California, Davis, struck many as reminiscent of Bull Connor’s goons dousing civil-rights protesters with fire hoses in 1963.) But it will also depend on which of two broad strains within OWS turns out to be dominant: the radical reformism of social democrats such as Berger, who want to see a more humane and egalitarian form of capitalism and a government less corrupted by money, or the radical utopianism of the movement’s anarchists and Marxists, who seek to replace our current economic and political arrangements with … who knows what? ‘My fear is that we become the worst of the New Left,’ Berger says. ‘I don’t want to live in a fucking commune. I don’t want to blow shit up. I want to get stuff done.’…

“What Obama may not understand so well is the degree of frustration inspired by him specifically among the protesters and their prime movers. Or the extent to which OWS and its energy is, as one liberal strategist puts it, is ‘the rotten fruit of Obamaism’—an army of young people, many of them inspired and mobilized by his campaign in 2008, who feel betrayed by his performance since he has, er, occupied the Oval Office.

“‘He cheated,’ says Husain, who volunteered for the campaign on the belief that Obama could be a transformative president. ‘He ran on a platform he never intended to push. He made promises he never intended to keep. I was just amazed in his inaugural speech how little transformative there was. And then Tim Geithner—what the hell was that? And then the bailouts. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out what was going on. It was a continuation of the same bullshit.'”

***

“A third dynamic widening income disparities is in some ways the most inconvenient of all: the collapse of intact families. The explosion of out-of-wedlock births and of children living outside of two-parent households has widened economic disparities of all kinds, including income.

“The reason is straightforward. The role that human and social capital plays in helping a person generate income in an advanced economy has increased over the last half a century. And over that same time, the primary institution for inculcating human and social capital has badly weakened.

“Social scientists routinely find that individuals raised in intact families are generally better equipped to thrive in the economy. Today’s 99% is teeming with tens of millions of Americans who were not raised in a stable home environment, and their earnings potential is compromised as a result.

“The problem of family breakdown doesn’t lend itself to easy fixes. And its cultural roots run quite deep at this point. But it’s a safe bet that in the several months they occupied Zuccotti Park and other public spaces, not one new idea was raised by Occupiers that would help arrest this driver of increasing income inequality.”

***

“The persistence of certain features of utopian socialism over 200 years is impressive. Only the dress codes and gadgets change. If Charles Fourier emerged from a wormhole at the Occupy Wall Street D.C. tent city in McPherson Square in Washington, he’d feel right at home. The very term ‘occupy’ or ‘occupation’ is an attack on private property. So are the theft and vandalism widely reported at Occupy Wall Street locations. The smells, the assaults, the rejection of the conventional in favor of the subversive, and the embrace of pantheistic spirituality flow logically from the utopian rejection of middle-class norms. The things that Mayor Bloomberg found objectionable about the encampment in Zuccotti Park​—​that it ‘was coming to pose a health and fire safety hazard to the protesters and to the surrounding community’​—​are not accidental. They are baked into the utopian cake…

“An intellectual, financial, technological, and social infrastructure to undermine global capitalism has been developing for more than two decades, and we are in the middle of its latest manifestation. Occupy Wall Street’s global encampments are exactly the sort of communities David Graeber had in mind when he wrote about the Zapatistas. The occupiers’ tent cities are self-governing, communal, egalitarian, and networked. They reject everyday politics. They foster bohemianism and confrontation with the civil authorities. They are the Phalanx and New Harmony, updated for postmodern times and plopped in the middle of our cities.

“There may not be that many activists in the camps. They may appear silly, even grotesque. They may resist ‘agendas’ and ‘policies.’ They may not agree on what they want or when they want it. And they may disappear as winter arrives and the liberals whose parks they are occupying lose patience with them. But the utopians and anarchists will reappear​—​next year’s party conventions will no doubt be a flashpoint​—​and it is wrong to coddle, appropriate, or dismiss them. They must be confronted, not only by law but by ideas. The occupation will persist as long as individuals believe that inequalities of property are unjust and that the brotherhood of man can be established on the earth.”

***

“Chatting to some Occupy protesters this morning, I was struck by how wide of the mark were the beliefs they attributed to me as a Right-winger. In the interests of deeper understanding, here are ten things which – trust me – most of the Tory scum I hang around with think. Obviously, I don’t expect to turn my Leftie readers in a single post; still, they might get a clearer idea of what we actually believe…

“What has happened since 2008 is not capitalism. In a capitalist system, bad banks would have been allowed to fail, their profitable operations bought by more efficient competitors. Shareholders, bondholders and some depositors would have lost money, but taxpayers would not have contributed a penny…

“Those of us who believe in small government are not motivated by the desire to make the rich richer. We’re really not. We are, in most cases, nowhere near having to pay top rate tax ourselves; our most eloquent champions over the years have been modestly-paid academics. We believe that economic freedom will enrich the country as a whole. Yes, the wealthy might become wealthier still, but we don’t see that as an argument against raising living standards for the majority…

“Talking of fairness, let’s remember that the word doesn’t belong to any faction. How about parity between public and private sector pay? How about being fair to our children, whom we have freighted with a debt unprecedented in peacetime? How about being fair to the boy who leaves school at 16 and starts paying taxes to subsidise the one who goes to university? How about being fair to the unemployed, whom firms cannot afford to hire because of the social protection enjoyed by existing employees?”

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Strong content warning.