Unrest on Wall Street

To the Editor;
Many people probably ask themselves: What is going on with these protest marches?"
The protesters are unorganized and agitating against corporate greed and exorbitant money profits at the corporate levels, as well as displaying general dissatisfaction with government policies. The word "billion" rolls off announcers' tongues instead of the million we were used to. One billion is one thousand million, truly a staggering amount of anything, especially when it comes to money.
Every 110 years or so, revolutions seem to occur, aimed at the rich and powerful. In the past they have been successful and they likely will be again. Two examples: firstly - in 1789 there was the French revolution, which occurred in three phases. What was the underlying cause? The power and wealth of the French king, the nobility and the fact that the church owned about 40 per cent of the surface area of France as well as government corruption were the root causes. The citizens paid taxes through the proverbial nose and had next to no input into government. There was the unequal distribution of wealth. Politics favoured the wealthy. (Does that sound familiar?) So the ordinary burghers (99 per cent) finally had enough of the oppression of the other one per cent. The play "Les Miserables" is set in that time era. The result was a revolution with Dr. Guillotine having his invention tested about 18,000 times. Heads rolled, the King, Louis XVI, and his queen, Mary Antoinette (of "let them eat cake" fame), lost their heads. Much of the aristocracy and the rich went the same way. There truly was a resetting of that society, which was reflected throughout Europe and North America with the well-known phrase "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity".
Secondly: We are now in the early 1900s Russia. Marx and Engels were two philosophers which had promulgated communism. This philosophy was taken up by Lenin, Trotzky and others. It results in the Russian revolution of 1917. This again was not really a surprise. What were the underlying causes? Suppression of the ordinary people by the Tsar, the aristocracy, the rich and again corruption were the root causes. Again the taxation levels had reached unconscionable heights, corruption was prevalent and the general population was fed up. The masses revolted. What was the result? Since bullets were cheaper and more easily distributed than a guillotine, the Tsar and his family were shot to death. A great number of the aristocracy and the wealthy followed, many to concentration camps, to be never heard of again and were deprived of their wealth. So we had resetting of the Russian society with the attendant post-war difficulties. China and Cuba followed.
All revolutions, although starting from pretty pure motives, fail, because there are always people who get heavy with power and who put their own interests, usually centered on the principle of greed above everything else. That is one of the problems with communism and capitalism, but to this point in time we have not really found a good and workable alternative. Pure communism is too idealistic, while capitalism is founded on greed, exploitation and unbridled expansion, which is simply not sustainable on this finite globe on which we live. Enter the Wall Street upflarings, which interestingly enough are occurring now and keep this cycle of about 100 years alive. Again we are faced with similar conditions as occurred before the French and Russian Revolutions came about. The kings and queens do not have absolute power anymore so they are not really in the game, the aristocracy is also pretty well a thing of the past, but their power positions have been taken over by corporations, banks, the rich (aristocracy can be among that group now) and governments, which seem to cater to them. It is again the one per cent versus the 99 per cent as proclaimed by the Wall Street movement. Listening to the news of today, there is a general consensus that "nothing" will happen. However, we must not forget that the before-mentioned revolutions did not start with one or a few agitated groups protesting. It became a groundswell, which finally became a tsunami. It took some time to become a full-blown revolution. Modern electronic technology accelerates the dissemination of the idea of unrest and organization as never before (think Egypt, Libya and Syria!) There is an outcry for reorganization. Are we indeed looking at the beginning of a new Reformation? Comments!?
Frank N.T. VanderKley B.Sc., B.Ed.,LL.B