Top political books of 2011; Open Mike, Nov. 24 – 27 – The Arena | POLITICO.COM.
The Arena asks: What political issues are on your mind this weekend?
BENJAMIN: “OWS, the Tea Party, Guy Fawkes, and the call of John Galt”
I finally saw the film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged” and my curiosity was piqued. The novel is championed by conservatives and libertarians as a defense of capitalism and rugged individualism. But it’s equally vilified by liberals and progressives as simplistic, illogical, selfish and dangerous. As a film, it’s mediocre, but the theme of Atlas Shrugged speaks to our times.
The economic uncertainty roiling our nation should make the tea party and OWS fellow travelers and natural allies. Instead, the corporate media casts them as opposites, if not, adversaries.
Some tea party types have chosen the fictional John Galt as the iconic representative of their frustration with an intrusive (and in their view, illegitimate) big government. On the other hand, Occupiers -particularly anarchists – wear Guy Fawkes masks to symbolize their desire to overthrow the system.
The contrasts are immediate. Galt is a fictional hero, while Fawkes is a failed historical figure. Galt used non-violent passive resistance to call attention to his grievances. Fawkes was a co-conspirator in a violent terrorist plot to assassinate King James I, destroy Parliament and restore a Catholic to the English throne. They are decidedly different approaches to dealing with oppression.
Tea party rallies have been marked by high-minded, if not askew, rhetoric about constitutionalism, liberty and capitalism. Nationwide OWS protests have been marred by an incoherent message, sexual assaults and conflicts with the police.
What’s on your mind this Thanksgiving weekend?