It was when Mars (anger, militancy) opposed Neptune (confusion, pretense) as it was turning direct, just before November’s Full Moon, that the tide began to turn.
After being caught with their pants down for a few weeks, the media seems to have found its voice as regards the Occupy movement. Editorials condemning the encampments are coming out thick and fast. Mayors who were on the fence are caving in to city councils suddenly all up in their tough-guy boots. Reporters are furrowing their brows with sympathy as they listen to shop owners complaining that the presence of protesters downtown is scaring customers away from their designer soaps.
An article on the front page of yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle seemed intended to psychologically prep the public for today’s eviction of the tent city. The photo they chose to accompany it featured a scruffy, barefoot camper looking down from his perch in a makeshift tree house, wearing a malevolent Charles Manson-like grin.
What rationale are our city fathers using to justify their shift to strong-arm tactics? It seems they are concerned about health hazards among the Occupiers. This was suggested not so much by empirical evidence, because there wasn’t any, but by troubling associations some folks at City Hall have with camping equipment.
Funny thing: during Tahrir Square, you didn’t hear many complaints about hygiene.
Another historical parallel we might draw is that of the tent city that sprang up in San Francisco after the quake of 1906. Back then, every park and public space was covered with survivors cooking stew over campfires in front of ragged lean-tos.
But unlike the Occupiers in Oakland last month and in New York this morning, the squatters in 1906 weren’t cited for violating zoning laws. They weren’t dragged out of their tents by police and beaten with batons. In fact, I imagine the officers did all they could to help them. After fires, floods and power outages, people tend to see past the rules. Zoning ordinances mean little in a crisis.
What is being overlooked by those who are protesting the Occupy protests is that what’s happening right now is a real-time, world-scale, bona fide crisis.
Unconsciously, of course, everybody knows this. The movement’s middle-class foes, clinging to the shreds of their American Dream, wish the protesters would just go away. But their discomfort comes from being reminded of the ugly truths to which the occupiers are calling attention. Those who have seen Walker Evans’ Depression-era photographs may look at the new tent cities and shudder, seeing the Hoovervilles of the 1930s. The parallel is valid.
With Pluto in Capricorn (financial infrastructures) being inflamed by Uranus in Aries (militant rebellion), demonstrations against economic injustice have sprung up from East London to Johannesburg, from Rio de Janeiro to New Zealand. Europe is an economic war zone. The governments of Italy, Ireland and Portugal have been toppled; in Greece there is rioting in the streets. In Somalia and other African states the bloodshed is fueled by mortal poverty. In India there are fifteen suicides every hour due to financial despair.
In the USA, unregulated tycoons and untaxed corporate billionaires stockpile ever greater stores of wealth while unemployment and homelessness soar. Young people stagger out of school under the weight of obscene amounts of debt from student loans, while their college administrators award themselves sky-high raises.
Here in liberal Northern California, elected officials affect a solemn sincerity when explaining their policies towards the Occupiers. The other day, before the cops routed the tents, the mayor’s spokes-flack seemed especially ambivalent in front of the cameras. The official eviction announcement was prefaced, as usual, with a statement about how much “we sympathize with them” (always them); and ended, as usual, with a stern reminder that they are breaking the law.
Elsewhere in the news we heard that Chevron’s third-quarter profits were more than double last year’s, and just shy of an all-time record for any quarter.