Jonah Goldberg

Brian Phillips is the head of communications for the NYC General Assembly, the group primarily responsible for occupying Wall Street. I learned about him while listening to National Public Radio's "Morning Edition." According to NPR, Phillips is "an ex-Marine with a bachelor's in computer science. Today he is wearing a sock on his head."

"My political goal," Phillips says, "is to overthrow the government."

Note: That's not some random nut job pulled from his Lyndon LaRouche desk or tricked-out refrigerator box/time machine. That's the communications director for the whole shebang, and his goal is to overthrow the government.

Now, he's not advocating violence or dictatorship. No, he just wants the government to work on the same non-hierarchical, consensus-based, extremely deliberative form of direct democracy that they're using down in Liberty Plaza. How that would work for some 300 million Americans remains a bit of a mystery.

An even bigger mystery is what these people want. There are many demands floating around, but the only official list isn't of demands at all but of wide-ranging grievances. Grievances about the "system," if not about carbon-based life itself, are the one unifying sentiment to this movement.

Some of those grievances are entirely valid, even bipartisan. Conservatives have been complaining about bailouts for "too big to fail" institutions for several years now. It's how to remedy those grievances where the debate lies.

For instance, among the more popular demands is debt forgiveness -- for everything from student loans to, well, everything.

A widely circulated "proposed list of demands" calls for "Immediate across the board debt forgiveness for all. Debt forgiveness of sovereign debt, commercial loans, home mortgages, home equity loans, credit card debt, student loans and personal loans now! All debt must be stricken from the 'Books.'"

Even if you break the crazy pill in half and simply talk about forgiving all mortgages and consumer credit, we're still probably talking about the utter destruction of the global financial system. U.S. mortgage debt alone is roughly equal to our entire GDP.

The reason I bring this up is that I think this is extreme.

"Extreme" is a funny word these days. It's often used by mainstream news outlets to describe the tea parties and the tea-party-friendly caucus in the GOP.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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