Some advice from Lech Walesa for Occupy Wall Street…

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The freedom fighter and former President of Poland, Lech Walesa, has offered a thoughtful reflection concerning the protests occurring across the Arab world, Europe, and the United States.

Lech Walesa
former President of Poland


In a San Francisco Chronicle op-ed, Mr. Walesa sides with the protesters.  But, he also takes them to task:

What has struck me the most as I have followed the protests on television and in the social media is that the protesters generally know that the status quo should not be tolerated, but are a lot less clear and unified about what they want to replace it with.


What  idea that unifies the protesters?

In the United States, The Motley Monk would observe that there is little if any talk about God-given rights or inalienable freedoms.  Instead, the Occupy Wall Streeters talk mostly about “economic justice” for the 99% and rail against the evils being perpetrated against them by the 1%.  In this regard, Walesa observes:

Today’s protests seem more focused on the problems that are plaguing many of the world’s advanced economies, with little regard to the impact of government in creating these problems.  What is needed in addition are sound solutions that are mindful of both the effects of government powers and the importance of vital freedoms.  These solutions have to be earned through dialogue between bankers, entrepreneurs, public administrators, labor unions and social organizations….I do not support solely the idea of overthrowing those who are in power.  I support the processes that would lead to new orders guaranteeing individual liberty, democracy, civic virtue, equality and the rule of law.


Absent an inspiring idea to unify people, protests are just that.  Eventually, they peter out.  And then, they die as the protesters depart for their homes dejected that their once glorious “movement” failed under the oppressive weight of the powers they were protesting.  In the end, nothing changes because the protesters—who have legitimate concerns—stood against something but stood for nothing.  Mr Walesa observes:

While today’s protesters have many legitimate concerns, let me assure them that instead of either cronyism or greater government control, it is dialogue and solidarity leading to freedom that we should all strive for.

Let’s hope that the people can come together to solve our shared problems.  Otherwise they will have to contend with mere turmoil against the status quo without benefit of a clear, rational and productive alternative for a better future of freedom for all.


It might be beneficial for members of the Occupy Wall Street “movement” to read Lech Walesa’s biography.  He has a few lessons to teach them about hope and change:

Before you set out to alter the status quo, you ought to know how to replace it—and you need to be convinced, intellectually and in your heart, that the new system will actually be better.


Let the discussion begin…


To read the Lech Walesa’s op-ed, click on the following link:



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  1. I agree overall with the comments Mr Walesa has presented here. However, I think that perhaps he is missing part of the point. Perhaps through no fault of his own and being a “victim”, so to speak, of the media.

    There are a very clear set of propositions that have been put forth repeatedly and they have been consistently disregarded. The dialogue to which he refers has been consistently disregarded and that is why many people feel that either they have no choice or, like myself, this is the last best hope.

    Mr. Walesa writes that, “I support the processes that would lead to new orders guaranteeing individual liberty, democracy, civic virtue, equality and the rule of law.” What he seems to have not understood, is that on the ground, in the streets, in offices, homes and on line, this very process is happening. Because it is somewhat different from the old paradigm, and for some people they would have it be completely different, perhaps it is incomprehensible to some of the old guard. However, with all due respect, I do not understand how, given the quotes attributed to him, he can NOT support the OWS completely given that the processes he says he supports is precisely what is in motion.

    My perspective is that the combination of the people on the street and the rest of us hoping to move everyone in the “right” direction is going to reclaim this country, and in turn the world. If not, then he is absolutely right, and to some extent we already see it happening that, “protesters depart for their homes dejected that their once glorious “movement” failed under the oppressive weight of the powers they were protesting.”

    I am personally disgusted with my local occupation. Almost to the point of non-involvement with it. I see how the NY GA is evolving away from their horizontal structure, because it simply doesn’t work in large groups. (Something I’ve been saying for years, but only just learned has an academic name. Dunbar’s Number. Apparently I’ve been generous in setting the bar at 200. Dunbar set it at 150.)

    The movement is evolving. It is still nascent, but it is still the hope. It is still the only significant socio-economic potential out there to hit the reset button and that, my friends, is precisely what we have to do.

  2. The so-called movement is one over-hyped tantrum trumpeted by the state media to distract from the misery being inflicted by Obama et al.

    The occupy movement is of less practical use than your average bowel movement. Look at all the violence and rapes, for starters. And the anti-semitism and class hat

  3. It’s really a shame, t shaw, that you actually believe that instead of learning information. You obviously only listen to FauxNEWs.

    While there have been a small handful of the issues you mention, they have been blown way out of proportion, and are not representative of the movement as a whole. It certainly is not trumpeted by the state media. The media is denigrating it at every turn.

    Even the people supporting the Tea Party would recognize a great deal of overlap with the message of the OWS, if you would look beyond the line Fox News is spewing.

    Either way, what you won’t find is the kind of hatred that you put in your post, coming from me. God forgives and loves, right? And encourages you to do the same, I believe, yes?

  4. It’s really a shame, t shaw, that you actually believe that instead of learning information. You obviously only listen to FauxNEWs.

    Ooh, that’ll show us.

    With that lame, over-used and irrational line, you made dang sure that I’m not going to waste time on your ignorant claims.

  5. I’m astonished that anyone could suggest with a straight face that Lech Walesa
    doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The fact that this man has considerable
    reservations about the state of the OWS movement should give it pause.

    The OWS movement is not winning hearts and minds. Mr. Walesa and his Solidarity
    movement did win hearts and minds and swept away an entire totalitarian
    order, one that had spies and guns and total control of all media and transport
    and no scruples whatsoever. The occupy folks should stop bleating about the rest
    of us just not understanding them and take a deep, critical look at themselves
    and ask just why it is they repel so many honest people.

  6. I believe the movement is not only gaining hearts and minds, it has garnered world wide support. I live near a tiny city Poughkeepsie and OWS has grown to a 1000 person plus group! The generation X has a voice at last and it shouts out loud and clear that things must change. Maybe their goals seem scattered as they choose to be inclusive of all values but the main thing they want is a chance to make it on a level playing field. Did we forget how close to depression we were?

    God bless Em!

  7. Think about it.

    Is it “us vs. Them”?

    Is it contempt for democracy?

    Is it “He has more than me, the system must be destroyed.”?

    Is it rape and assault?

    What is it you want?

    It sounds to me like it is “Stick ‘ em up! We’v come for what is ours!”

  8. I live near a tiny city Poughkeepsie and OWS has grown to a 1000 person plus group!

    For the record, the conjoined urban complex around Poughkeepsie and Newburgh, New York has about 350,000 residents.

  9. That “tiny city” is also a staging ground for the main #OWS.

    I also found why all the video shots I looked at for that “movement” are shot so oddly– this is the “park” they’re “occupying.” (Odd in that all the shots are either focused on three tents, or are very tight zoom with the background of a brick house and some trees, or are oddly framed pictures of people standing in front of some sort of “stage”– it seems to be part of the park, but pulling back any would look over the road. “Occupy the basketball court” or “occupy that cute little park across from the United Way” just doesn’t have the same ring.)

  10. I stand by small city as Poughkeepsie has 32K residents. Why Newburgh was listed is beyond me. Newburgh is over 17 miles away and across a river. They may have their own OWS I do not get there too often. I suppose we could include Yonkers, Peekskill and Ossinging as well because they are on the Hudson river lol I suppose it was an attempt to show the movement is not as large as it is but that would only be a guess.

  11. Why Newburgh was listed is beyond me.

    Looking at the bird’s-eye-view map, it’s the same reason that people talk about “Seattle-Tacoma”– even though there are a lot of cities that are located in that glob, like University Place, and even enough open space for a decent number of small farms. It’s an “urban complex”– big blob of light, in terms of those cool “world at night” pictures. You don’t hit big open countryside between the cities, even if it spreads out so you can’t look in your neighbor’s windows.

  12. I stand by small city as Poughkeepsie has 32K residents

    That would be the population living within the muncipality designated ‘City of Poughkeepsie’. The population of Ulster, Dutchess, and Orange Counties sums to about 760,000. The Census Bureau identifies three ‘urbanized areas’ in those counties, which is to say three sets of dense settlement in excess of 50,000 people paying no mind to municipal boundaries. None of these settlements extend into Westchester County and certainly would not include Ossining or Yonkers, which are clearly components of metropolitan New York. Again, the most populous settlement delineated is the Poughkeepsie/Newburgh complex, which has about 350,000 people in it. It is geographically oddly-shaped: two strips of tract development one on each side of the Hudson River. If you have a complaint about that, you can take it up with the geographers at the Census Bureau.

  13. I have no problem. I said Poughkeepsie City and I stick by that. Why are you insisting on including “urbanized” areas-That makes no sense but maybe to suggest that 1000 in Poughkeepsie is a small gathering because 350K live nearby. Ok but what if those areas have OWS too? is it my job to find out for ya? Could you please tell me why you insist on putting the whole “urbannized” thingy in? Thanks

  14. Lol I assure you Po’Kip’see does not stand out on a Satellite image. You crack me up. This discussion makes no sense-please tell me why I must include the whole when my reference was to a city? Aww-nevermind I think we has beaten dis’s hoss da’ death!
    Go OWS!

    Glen from a small village of Wappingers just south of Potown

  15. Who am I going to believe, you or my lyin’ eyes?

    Given that, I’m rather doubting the accuracy of your “thousand people” claim, as well– I would guess the number came from their facebook page. (Now up to 1500 likes– although there’s no way to know if those are individuals or community pages.)

    Glen from a small village of Wappingers just south of Potown

    Same way that Fircrest is a small town near Tacoma…..

  16. That makes no sense but maybe to suggest that 1000 in Poughkeepsie is a small gathering because 350K live nearby

    Commuting and settlement patterns are not respecters of municipal boundaries.

  17. I am a Philadelphian and walked through and by the protests at least twice a week. I went by there this morning, only then discovering that the police had cleaned it up.

    Here are my thoughts, for what they are worth:

    1. It is no more fair to tar the various tent cities with the “rape and vandalism” brush than it is to tar the Tea Party as “racist and xenophobic.” Examples of such inhumanity exist in the camps to be sure but it is untrue to claim that those incidents are representative of even a small minority of the participants or experiences. As one who attended Tea Party Demonstrations in Philadelphia and have more than a passing experience with the OWS movement protest in Philadelphia, I can safely characterize ONLY Philadelphia’s iterations as “peaceful” and “minimally disruptive.” French barricades they weren’t.
    2. There is as large a gulf between the fundamental character of the Tea Party movement and the OWS movement as there is between the GOP and the Democratic Party. There is overlap but such is the nature of political discourse. To point to the overlap as evidence that movements share the same political space is misguided. At its core, the Tea Party movement is narrowly focused on limiting government through spending restraint. I can’t rightly say what the OWS movement is for. I listened to dozens of speeches through bullhorns over the last few weeks. Each speaker had his or her own agendas and, while most spoke well and with impassioned intellect, there was no unifying theme, no “call to arms” that the listener could focus on. Indeed, the “stop corporate greed” refrains were thrown in like sprinkles on ice cream – they were neither incorporated into any arguments, nor directed to any activity.
    3. The OWS movement, like all utopian “movements,” lacks any broader sense of its place in the polity. It isn’t a movement of “the people” for “the people” are not a bunch of retirees out to relive their youth, homeless looking for a meal and a place to stay, youth looking for their “identity,” or anarchists looking for yet another excuse to cause mayhem. It isn’t a movement of workers for it was merely used BY without being ORGANIZED by Labor. Labor… Now THAT is a movement. The OWS is nothing like that. It isn’t even like the Labor Movement in the early days, which is precisely the point… Utopian movements are useless and destructive precisely because they range so far and wide across the intellectual landscape that there is no way for a grass roots movement to form around it. In the end, the only way that the Left – for the OWS is, beyond any reasonable doubt, a Leftish project – to make any actual progress is to narrow in on a few closely related issues and direct them centrally. The distance from that model to the OWS movement is as clear an indicator as a man can have as to how daft and useless this project was.

    As I stated above, I hold the participants in no particular distaste. Each is probably as worthy as the next of respect but lets not pretend that the movement as a whole is other than a pointless blip on the radar.

  18. 1. It is no more fair to tar the various tent cities with the “rape and vandalism” brush than it is to tar the Tea Party as “racist and xenophobic.”

    1) a. You’re the first to do either, here; b. there’s a big difference between holding up a fake sign– or claiming you heard something that later cannot be found on any of the multiple tapes– to try to smear the other side, and actually committing rapes and vandalism. (and assaults, and public indecency, and so on; if they’re going to be willing to claim the numbers drawn there by a large population of victims and a large amount of freebees, they’re going to have to consider what sort they’re claiming)
    2) You are correct.
    The TEA party is built around a single goal-type ideal– stop taxing us so much. #OWS has a scapegoat– Wall Street/”the 1%”. Which seems to kind of be the Polish gentleman’s point.

    I do hold those that I know in distaste, basically because they’re continuing head-first down the same road that got them where they are– throwing themselves body and soul into a course of action with unsure goals but which an authority they respect has assured them is Right and Just and shows they’re Good People who will have great success. It didn’t work with the Magical College Degree in partying, so they’re looking for someone to blame and a reason to continue living as they have been.

  19. I surrender! I’m wrong.

    OWS will not last it will fade from history just like all democratic ideals. Civil rights, social security, union fought with blood rights like 40 hour week safety and fair wages,Medicare Etc. The right fought so hard against these things now it is magic degree kids who like to party. So sorry I’m on their side.

    Hey it’s yesterdays news why concern yourself with any comments?

    love live the ideals of the great society and the new deal.

  20. Flippancy does you no credit. Drama doesn’t either.

    There is much to take issue with you your response. I’ll settle on one issue alone, that civil rights come from protests like the Occupy Movement.

    Civil rights are grounded in the inherent rights granted us from God Himself. They are not a “gift” from society or a sort of “prize,” wrested from a government. This is the problem with flash-in-the-pan utopian movements – they assume that a single act of defiance will claim something that they long for. In reality, “claiming” civil rights is pushing back at oppression and that requires heavy lifting.

    It is hard work and it takes time to push back the forces of tyranny. It is costly too. Most importantly, it requires working in many conditions and with many tools.

    If you want to see what a successful movement looks like, American history is replete with them. Look to the Revolution itself if you want to see what dogged determinism and sacrifice look like. Want something less violent? OK. How about the Suffragette Movement? Want something dealing with obvious oppression? How about the Abolition Movement or the Civil Rights Movement?

    In each and every case, there was a determined, long term commitment to claiming what was already due – the God-given rights of Man. Compare that with the Occupy Movement and you will see that there is a huge gulf between them.

    Do you want to make a difference? Dig in and dedicate yourself to working with and outside the system for justice and opportunity. Push away no assistance, even if it comes from unexpected quarters. Accept that compromise is necessary and that “sacrificing the good for the perfect” is daft. Most of all, prepare to sacrifice for nothing worth having comes without sacrifice.

  21. Civil rights is indeed from the Lord yet many looked on as the dogs snarled and bit and they rooted for the police.

    Look I’m tired of trying to convince anyone that OWS is basically a cry against oppression. People are fixed in thought. This is my last post as there is little sense in beating my position into the ground. I am democrat and proud, A Cathloic and proud yet I have issues with them both.

    I see a hands on goverment that employs socail programs to help-others are for trickle down or private charity type of help. My main goal in life is to please the Lord by service to other. I dedicated my life to this as a worker in mental health and as avolunteer in nursing homes and prisons.

    I see service to the poor,sick and elderly (well I’m not to far from that myself lol) as the high ground and pleasing to the Lord. I see great gaps between the rich and poor which is ok if the fair share is carried-I make it my goal to make change. OWS wants change, yes they are scattered a bit in goals but my goodness what evil have they done that people hate them so?

    God Bless and I’m done

  22. see occupy Poughkeepsie on facebook


    Ever get the idea that someone isn’t even pretending to read the responses, just scans and responds to that?

    I think we disappointed him. Amazing how these “peoples’ movement” type things keep fizzling on contact with actual people….

    (If I had the time to actually set down and write a post, I’d do one about my family: just below median income, two small children, married, renting, both were military enlisted, I stay at home in part because there’s no job I could get that would cover child care, and we’re somehow the 1%? But then I’d have to go into the top 5 or ten % making 20-something % of gross income and “only” paying 30-something % of the taxes, and that always takes too much time. I need a button: “We are the 53%“.)

  23. You look for hatred but I’m not seeing it here. There is a fair amount of condescension and ridicule though; and why not? The Occupy movement is ridiculous.

    You mistake ridicule for opposition and that is part of the problem.

    Let me give you an example.

    My uncle didn’t graduate from high school. He thought he would do well with his music and he is, indeed, a fine musician. However, my aunt became pregnant and he took a job to support his family. He eventually earned a GED and has held no less than two jobs at a time for nearly fifty years. He is a good, honest, faithful man. Day in and day out, he works with no expectation of ever retiring. He is the kind of guy that drops everything to rescue an idiot nephew from a roadside at two AM, knowing that he has to be at work at four.

    He has about as much in common with a 22 year old, face pierced so completely as to have to resist the magnetic pull of the earth college kid as a Clydesdale does with a Jackrabbit. He is as similar to a comfortably retired Quaker protesting on a corner as freighter is to a Sunfish.

    Until you can reach him – a man with interests entirely matched to those you cry about – you have failed.

    My point – for I will not presume to speak for others here – is that the Occupy Movement is pointless and ridiculous because it pretends to speak for men like my uncle and yet doesn’t bother to offer a plan that would rouse him from his work to notice. He said it better than I can: “when an independent plumber gives up his day’s wages to walk around downtown, I’ll take notice.”

  24. My point – for I will not presume to speak for others here – is that the Occupy Movement is pointless and ridiculous because it pretends to speak for men like my uncle and yet doesn’t bother to offer a plan that would rouse him from his work to notice. He said it better than I can: “when an independent plumber gives up his day’s wages to walk around downtown, I’ll take notice.”


    This is the same folks who always protest– complete with the issues that happen when there are protests– for a “trendy,” ill-defined cause and those solutions offered by those who bother to offer them are the same as they were for most of the prior causes.
    In contrast, the TEA party was folks who never protest, for a goal that’s mocked by popular culture by a means that you just don’t get massive groups showing up in support of.

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