In light of the current Congressional impasse over federal government subsidies of student loan interest rates, it would seem to be a prophetic fulfillment of the statement that “they have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right” (Occupy Wall Street Declaration, NYC General Assembly, September 29, 2011, “New Politics,” XIII (4), Winter 2012, p.9).
Graduate students pursuing degrees due to the scarcity of employment for college graduates are now no longer able to receive federal subsidy for interest on direct loans; only unsubsidized loans are available. Interest rates, if determined by market forces of “corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality” (ibid), may double.
St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church, morally condemned all forms of loan interest: “To take usury for money lent is unjust in itself, because this is to sell what does not exist, and this evidently leads to inequality which is contrary to justice” (“Summa Theologica,” Pt. II, II Q. 78, Art. 1).
The City University of New York, founded as City College, implemented free education for all students at one point, yet now charges tuition and fees which are financially burdensome for working and middle-class students. If the bill is not paid on time, the Registrar at Queens College, for example, in a stroke of arrogance, cancels the student’s registration.
The Communist Manifesto (Karl Marx & Frederick Engels, 1848) is correct public policy: “Free education for all children in public schools” (No. 10).
Occupy Wall Street is ideologically correct that America is a corporatist political economy, with corporations wielding political power not by the people, of the people, and for the people. OWS, a nascent counter-hegemonic movement, although thoroughly dialectical in ideology to this Fascist order, needs organization as a Social Democratic political party independent of Republicans and Democrats in order to effectively achieve adaptive social and economic reforms within the American corporative hegemony.
Contrary to Leninist focus, socialist revolutions are not inevitable historical processes since, according to the Italian Communist Party founder Antonio Gramsci, the function of the dominant hegemony naturally adapts and incorporates alternative ideologies.
But the Chinese “Tao Te Ching” said, “the right means in the wrong hands become the wrong means.”
OWS appears to be the wrong hands.
Joseph N. Manago