When the British government decided to tax the American colonists to pay for the French and Indian War, the colonists were distraught. They immediately protested what they regarded as taxation without representation. They wanted the king and his ministers to understand that this was intolerable.
At first the colonists used time worn channels to make their views known. They petitioned the king’s representatives and sent emissaries to London to argue their case. But eventually, after they got no action, they became insurrectionists. Some literally threw tea into Boston harbor to make their point.
In the end, of course, they engaged in full-scale warfare. By that time, however, the goal was independence, not reform.
Today we see the Wall Street occupiers referring to themselves as protestors. But are they? Or have they too turned into insurrectionists and/or revolutionaries?
The modern tea party movement is very much in the protest mode. Its adherents began by attending political town hall meetings to make their grievances known. Then they held rallies to voice their objectives. More recently, they have focused on electing representatives favorable to their cause.
All of this is normal political activity. It entails operating within the system to influence the decisions of the legitimate government. But what of the Wall Street crowd. Are they merely sending messages? Or do they intend to tear down our society and substitute something else?
By their own admission the Occupiers hope to destroy capitalism. They regard our economic institutions, not our political ones, as unacceptable. To this end, they have sought to disrupt the operations of the stock market, banks, and even the port of Oakland. This might be described as a protest, but it is much more.
Yes, the Occupiers want to be heard. Yes, they want people in power to listen to their message and be influenced by it. Indeed, if this entails being so outrageous that they cannot be ignored, they are prepared to riot and even to defecate in the streets.
Yet they hope to do more than be heard. They literally intend to intimidate people into submission. Essentially, they mean to undermine the system such that it can no longer function. In other words, they are well on their way toward an economic insurrection.
Mind you, they have no idea as to what would follow if they succeed. Sadly, their aspirations, such as they are, are a romantic hodge-podge of impractical dreams.
Nonetheless, they are out in the streets and on the march to storm the private homes of their enemies. Plainly, this sort of behavior must not be confused with free speech. It is not about protesting. To the contrary, it has passed over the line into proto-rebellion.
No, this is not full-scale revolution. But if they thought they could get away with it, this is what many of the Occupiers would seek.