The multiple incidents of sexual assault in the Occupation tent cities are as ugly as they are inevitable. The absence of theft, assault and other forms of attacks is not a natural phenomenon, it is the outcome of a system that protects individual rights. The Occupy tent cities are not concerned with the rights of the individual, but with the grand collective right of the "99 percent" to demand private property on behalf of the government. And collectivist movements are notoriously unconcerned with what happens to the individual.
Rape is a symptom of a larger loss of rights. When rape becomes widespread, as in South Africa, it can mean that the society is now lawless and the weak are preyed upon, it can also mean that a society has been conquered from the outside and the conquerors are looting the conquered, as Muslims are doing in Sudan or Sweden. Either way it means the end of a consensus on enforceable individual rights.
Between the tribalism of Islam and the totalitarian hierarchy of OWS or the USSR or any leftist system, the Western world has carved out an imperfect space of individual freedom by leveraging the free market that OWS is busy denouncing.
If OWS thinks the 1 percent is bad in the United States, try the 1 percent in Medieval England, the USSR or Egypt in the present day. The 1 percents over there were and are a good deal worse with much more power and few rights for the commoners that needed respecting. And for all the working groups, the occupiers have not managed to come up with anything that works any better than the system they are denouncing.
While the left has consistently tied the redistribution of power to the
redistribution of wealth, the United States Constitution redistributed
power as widely as possible and then let the free market take care of
the redistribution of wealth. The system has worked well enough that half the world would like to move to the United States, not because it has a wealth of natural resources, plenty of countries have that, but because it actually is the land of opportunity.
The free market difference extended economic power to individuals, rather than groups. The less regulated the marketplace was, the less use there was for the hereditary power of a nobility. It wasn't the radicals who really put an end to the crown and scepter. That's the difference between America and France, where the bourgeois revolution of businessmen and militias led to an independent republic, while the French Revolution of lawyers, nobles and their ragged mobs paved the way for more chaos and the return of the crown in various other forms.
Almost a century after the French Revolution, France was being ruled by the Second Empire and the Napoleonic Dynasty. Around the same time the United States had put an end to slavery and was enjoying nearly eighty years of uninterrupted rule under the world's second-oldest written Constitution. There's the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie which managed to roll out a system of government that could be scaled from a portion of one coast to half a continent, survive a civil war and two world wars.
Women's rights are yet another example of radical activism not translating into freedom. French women were vocally and passionately involved in their liberation movements and despite all the declarations and slogans, not only was France one of the last countries in Europe to give women the right to vote, but it did so only belatedly in 1944. The reason has an obvious overlap with what is going on at OWS.
It is no coincidence that the growing political power of women correlated not with radical politics, but with their growing economic power. Individual rights have always followed the trajectory of free market rights. Only individuals within a group that achieves wealth can achieve any meaningful equality. That's the difference between Asian-Americans and African-Americans.
Without the industrial revolution, it is doubtful that women would have had a national right to vote or that there would have ever been a civil rights movements. But the revolution multiplied the value of the individual worker and made occupational flexibility possible. It is only through this that women came to be viewed as more than a subset of the family and workers as more than subsets of the plantation.
The American colonist began the process with the exploitation of a continent full of available land putting him outside the remnants of the old landholding system. The American manufacturer and inventor continued it by making development of agricultural and eventually even non-agricultural products into a massive industry in which everyone could participate. None of this was glamorous or ideal, but it worked. It worked so well that we are all the beneficiaries.
Private land ownership and labor mobility made individual rights possible. It also made rape into a crime against an individual, rather than a crime against a family or a society. And this is important. In a tribal system, rape is a crime against a woman's guardian. In a totalitarian state, rape is a crime because it disrupts public order. In neither of these is it a crime against the rights of an individual.
Muslims don't view rape as a crime because they don't recognize women as having individual rights. Tribal belonging yes, rights no. The hierarchy, whether it's the USSR or OWS or any other similar monstrosity sees it as a crime against public order, and their goal is to maintain that order in the name of the larger cause. But that order can be maintained by suppressing rape or by suppressing reports of rape. Totalitarian systems usually practice a measure of both, manufacturing the illusion of order by suppressing crime and reports of crime, depending on the level of incompetence of those in charge.
The free market offers the real equality of achievement, while Obama and OWS promise subsidized equality. How well does subsidized equality work? Go look at the economic position of African-Americans, particularly after the subsidized mortgage implosion. Subsidized equality exists at the mercy of a hierarchy while the free market provides breathing room from hierarchies.
There is no equality without independent power and the essence of the free market is independent power. That's an independent power that many have forgotten they even have, manipulated by governments and corporations into misusing it or selling it cheaply.
The collectivists offer the subsidized equality of their hierarchy, which is tyranny with a slogan. Not only can't they promise equal rights to the country under their system, they can't even practice it in their own encampments. If OWS's raped women are expected to keep their mouths shut for the sake of the movement now, what can the whole country expect under an OWS system?