Protesters arrested at Wall Street rally
That's the feeling that I got listening to a representative of the organizers of today's protest on Wall Street. Capitalism has not been so unpopular since the 1960s, or maybe the 1930s or maybe even the early 20th century, when terrorists stalked Wall Street.
Four marchers were arrested at the protest. I suppose the fact that people who think Wall Street bankers are greedy bastards in suits were taken into custody is not a surprise. However unpopular bankers may be right now, the police still work for the powers that be.
Today's gathering was called "The March on Wall Street: Bail Out The People Not The Banks." Organizers ambled through the narrow streets of New York's financial district, past the offices of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), American Express (AXP) , the New York Stock Exchange, the Federal Reserve. Their noise could be heard in nearby offices.
Another march is scheduled to be held tomorrow. It coincides with the assassination of Martin Luther King.
To say that the protesters are skeptical of the value of government intervention in the free markets is an understatement. Why, they ask, is the government spending trillions of dollars to prop up the financial system?
"The other potential motive for big government expenditures during a time of grave economic crisis like during the 1930s is the motive that's of most interest to us," the organizer's Web site says. "That motive is fear of workers rebelling. At the point that mass anger, organization and struggle has reached the critical point, stimulating the economy takes a back seat to trying to stop a revolution."
Think that sounds radical? Consider that one of the groups behind the march is the Workers World Party, a Trotskyite/Marxist-Leninist organization. Its goal of fighting for a " for a socialist society - where the wealth is socially owned and production is planned to satisfy human need" is pretty clearly spelled out on its web site.
Free market conservatives and other admirers of capitalism should not be alarmed quite yet. These are small fringe groups whose ideologies have been widely discredited. But people who are struggling might find it appealing to join forces with the critics of capitalism.
If the economy does not improve significantly over the next year or so, fringe groups like the ones involved in today's march may become more and more popular.