After articulating a series of government demands, a number of which (free education starting at three months) could do a lot of damage, leaders of the tent protests appear to have abandoned their radical Marxist insta-solutions and instead formulated demands closer to reality.
The protesters have finally come to understand that damage done over a period of years cannot be fixed in a month or even a year. This is no small feat for students whose professors teach that a mere few demonstrations can bring about magical solutions.
But even the new demands are confused and detrimental. "The nation demands social justice," the protesters cry. First of all, if you're speaking in the name of the "nation," you're distorting facts because the nation does not have a single will. Second, social justice, like the equally lofty ideals of equality and the brotherhood of nations, is beautiful as a concept and impossible as a reality. No one can define it or explain how to achieve it. And no one, certainly, can estimate how much it will cost, and whether this cost (invariably high) is worth the benefit derived from its implementation or from the feeling that we are "doing the right thing."
For several years now, there has been a prize offered to anyone who can define social justice. No one has claimed it yet because it's impossible to find a single definition for something that every person perceives differently. Everyone's needs are different. Deep divisions over the concept of social justice and over what people think their needs are is the reason behind the whole unfortunate enterprise known as politics. The goal of politics is to find a balance between different needs, a nearly impossible task that is best left to the free market.
The protesters are distorting history. "In the past,' they say, "the state of Israel thrived in spite of all its difficulties due to the social contract between the government and its citizens." With all due respect to these likable young people, they don't know what they're talking about. What social contract? Are they referring to the political tyranny of the political, bureaucratic and "cultural" elites who robbed the weaker classes, destroyed their culture and offered crumbs to new immigrants while they lived off the fat of the land? How can it be that these educated young people don't know their history?
On top of the phony nostalgia for a phony past in which a social contract supposedly existed between the government and people, the tent dwellers are distorting the present. "For decades now," they claim, "Israeli governments have adopted an economic policy of unrestrained privatization that exalts the free market above all. This economic policy ... has turned the lives of an increasing number of citizens into a struggle for survival." Unrestrained privatization? What does "unrestrained" mean beyond a demagogic slogan? Was there ever true privatization in Israel?
Privatization means selling off public assets that politicians (and the Histradrut labor federation) ran in a negligent, wasteful and corrupt manner, because their goal wasn't to run a business but to exploit their assets for political purposes. Real privatization leads to decentralized ownership, resulting in increased competition and productivity, reduced prices and growth of consumption and employment.
Did privatization that meets this definition ever occur in Israel? Of course not. Here, government and Histadrut assets were sold after their directors wasted billions in taxpayer money and went bankrupt. Instead of selling these assets to the wider public, politicians sold them to their cronies at bargain basement prices. With the help of this phony privatization process and abundant credit they got from nationalized banks, these cronies became tycoons. Rather than be decentralized, ownership was concentrated in the hands of a few families. Instead of increasing competition, the government choked it. The tent dwellers want to feed us a lie that what happened here was real privatization because they seek to bring back socialism by instilling a hatred for the free market.
Bringing back socialism means turning Israeli citizens into tenant farmers for politicians and robbing them of the liberty provided to every worker by the much-maligned free market. It means that bureaucrats will bestow justice, equality, employment and personal security to helpless little citizens using tax money they appropriated from them.
Is this the vision the young people seek? Do they dream of politicians and bureaucrats taking care of all their needs? Is this their idea of a revolution?