Posted 10 years ago on Jan. 30, 2012, 11:55 p.m. EST by ckj221
This content is user submitted and not an official statement
Wall Street, the epitome of human greed. The stuff of legends and the source of nightmares. A force so powerful in American culture and indeed the world, that it has morphed into a symbol representing both the highest aspirations of commercial success and the basest impulses of rapacity and deception. Skyscrapers bedaub the area, the grey pavement camouflage the dull faces of the power that be, pacing across it. White collars, streaming left and right, furiously trying to make an extra buck on that falling stock. Double breasted suits and single-breasted suits merge in a sea of balding heads, sprinkled with their secretaries scuttling along on their hind legs. Golden buttons, designer cufflinks, Charvet shirts and Hermes ties add to this plethora of vanity.
What role does this place have in one’s community? The catalyst for one’s conversion to bestial forms. Empathy has succumbed to apathy, selflessness eradicated for acquisitiveness. “Better be a pig satisfied, than a human dissatisfied,” are stamped on the depilated heads. Countenances so frustrated, so consumed with ire at that lost capital on the Exxon Mobil stock, whilst 80% of the world earn less than $10 a day, or 1/3 less than $2. Democracy is slowly chipped away by what Wall Street regards as its high priest, Capitalism. In principle, the central institutions of society are under autocratic control. Any half decent Political Science student will tell you that this resembles a fascist regime. In this case, however, it is economic fascism, perfectly allowed in this day and age, as the power brokers fully support the purloiner of more and more cash into less and less hands, thus centralising and narrowing power.
It is clear with each person that passes me, they don’t see this place as our only home; they see it as an infinite resource and an infinite garbage can, in which their uncontrolled experiment can run astray. The herd are cogs in their engine, put in place to run factory machines, pump petrol and wait tables. The middlemen in history, no motive, no place. Capitalism’s Cerberus, advertising, has the herd chasing cars and clothes, working jobs they hate, so they can further subsume needless materialistic possessions.
As they pass each other, large Colgate smiles ridden with porcelain incisors, greet one another as they converse, comparing and contrasting the accumulated wealth for the day, plotting how else they can corrupt modern Capitalism to project the values of Wall Street. I stood still, solemnly dissecting this milieu. It is ironic for all the ethics society strives for and for all the faults found in corporate principles, Occupy Wall Street. As I weaved in and out of the small community a few weeks back, they passed around recreational drugs even though it is wholly looked down upon by society, and for a group meant to be representing the “99 %” they did a good job of it with their iPhones, and high-end cameras and video equipment. Nevertheless I find this movement honourable and brave – a necessary critique of the growing political power of Wall Street as well as of arrogant, violent and unaccountable ruling elite. Its other downsides, however, make it a direct course for an implosion. The movement does not involve the actual victims of Wall Street’s duplicity – namely coloured people, the persons ensnared in absolute poverty, those people who’s possessions have been repossessed etc.
Those I interviewed completely lacked the ability to converse comprehensively and had a sad ineptitude at hammering home one, coalesced message. Their discrepant intentions resembled a schizophrenic’s Christmas wish list. The difference lies with an organized protest and a public rant. In 2009, conservative protesters disrupted town halls to voice their concerns about the government, following several reforms targeted at healthcare. The Tea party activists aimed their complaints to the state, whilst Occupy Wall Street seemingly wants to divide the country.
My eyes eventually veered to a brown heap of a mess. Flies circled above him, bathing in his heinous fetor. He sat there with his dog, calmly stroking him whilst purveying the scene. He had a long thick beard, probably an oasis for vermin. Greying hair streamed down his disheveled face. He stared at the ground, whilst scratching bits of dirt caked on his hands. When he looked up he didn’t have a look of desperation, but more rather, of a person who felt complete. The man gazed at the sky, soaking in the sun’s rays, whilst paying homage to his surroundings. This man proved to be the absolute antithesis for what this location stood for, and a victim of the system it thrives on.
Me? Long hair, sandals, a red t-shirt and baggy trousers. This air has tendency to make one stand out in Wall Street, as the Esquire crowd swirls around. Any glances shot my way were either encrusted with intrigue or filled with a condescending look, at this intruder. At first, I started questioning whether it was a good move coming here in such attire in the first place? Subsequently, curiosity overwhelmed me. Why were they so hostile to someone merely dressed differently? Was it because I didn’t conform to their ideals in their own world? Inquisitiveness morphed into compassion, as I understood their patronisation.
Appearance and mannerisms dictate first impressions here in Wall Street. They saw, they perceived, they reacted both physically and emotionally I’m hoping. Who were these autarchies of society? What drove them to separate themselves with the majority of society in order to best influence the way we see the world around us? What caused them to be such hollow husks merely necessitating, incessantly garnering more and more small, green pieces of linen, cotton, paper or whatever the hell it is all made of? Why dissipate altruistic human characteristics for self-absorbed desperations? Did someone not get enough affection at home? Too little attention from their consumerist wives, constantly needing to drown themselves, filling an insatiable hole with more and more possessions. What makes it more interesting and ironic, is that these same workers formed the cogs of the crux that drove the American economy, an economy which forms the society they’re in – the same society whose dictated fashion sense ostracised me, for just simply being. I tried clearing my head. But I would keep looping back to my previous mind set, every time I approached a businessman for an interview. Each time I made a move, people would scurry past, with their eyes glued to their screens. They were completely unwilling to even take a glance in my direction. I strolled back towards Bowling Green Park, to soak in what a certain Charging Bull had to offer. The colossal, bronze-coloured figure loomed in front of me. Put there as a symbol of “the aggressive financial optimism and prosperity that Wall Street provides America.” Through critical dissent, one may perceive that it also fuels Imperialistic and Totalitarian jingoism that acts as an undercurrent to the American hegemony. I reminisced about the first time I visited this area, when Occupy Wall Street was still taking baby steps. The sense of community was vivid, despite the varying demands. It proved a stark contrast to today. Guitars replaced with blackberries, singing superseded by corporate rhetoric and a communitarian vibe dashed for the incessant competitiveness of Wall Street.
When I returned, things proved to be a different story. I wore smart trousers, a white shirt and slicked back my hair. The first person I approached, gladly accepted to answer a few questions. I asked the corporate worker about his views on Wall Street, Occupy Wall Street and Capitalism on the whole. He gave an unnecessarily long-winded reply stating that the wealth gained from such a position here is unparalleled. He also claimed that the consumers’ abilities to regulate the market and its economic growth make Capitalism a better candidate than socialism. He called the protesters “1% logic, 99% bull.” After a few short exchanges, the man hurried off, saying he had a meeting to catch. His response was nothing less than predictable. I had wanted to objectify my views by garnering information from someone on the inside, but that proved to be wishful thinking.
Ipso facto, in my eyes, Wall Street is a one-way ticket for a rollercoaster ride of emotions, which I just had to take a leap out of, for fear of falling down into their rabbit hole of rapacity. Wall Street doesn’t seem to have changed much since 2008. Banks haven’t been broken up, they haven’t been downsized, and they have been bailed out and sternly asked to change their behaviour. I faced worse discipline at boarding school, when I was 8, than these titans of industry had suffered. This sort of punishment doesn’t eradicate greed. If anything it inveigles more of the same characteristics to be carried out in the future, only in a more guileful manner.
A homeless man sitting on a box was begging for money. He continued for years, until a stranger came up to him and asked him what he needed? He said he wanted money. The stranger replied, “Have you ever looked in that box?” To which the vagrant replied, “No, it’s just an old wooden box, what good can it serve me?” The stranger stayed silent, and after a few moments the itinerant looked into the wooden box, and, to his amazement, it was full of gold coins.
What does one do at this point? Anarchists, left-wing agitators, corporate gimps and monolithic scenery have infested my consciousness – each and every single one of them trying to pave their own route to Nirvana. Maybe we should look inside our own boxes. Who knows what we’ll find? Salvation? Damnation? Who cares? At least it would be conclusive. With everyone sprinting around looking for answers to never-ending questions, I ask you this. Why run when you can walk? Then, why walk when you can lie down?