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One of the most iconic images of Occupy Wall Street, and perhaps the Occupation Movement in general, may well be those New York City cops guarding the golden-toned statue of the “Charging Bull” in Bowling Green Park near Wall Street and the New York Stock Exchange. When Occupy Wall Street was initially conceived by AdBusters, often a vital source of iconic images, the Charging Bull was depicted with a ballerina on its back and a mass of protesters and tear gas in the background. During the summer leading up to the September 17 occupation of Liberty Park there was talk of focusing some of the protest on the Bull. This no doubt led the police to finding themselves nursemaids to a statue while actual criminals looked down from boardroom windows far above the street.

A corresponding image of a fully dressed matador on top of an NYPD squad car, taunting the Charging Bull with his cape, along with rodeo clowns by the Bull (the matador escaped), reinforced the symbolism of the statue. All this attention to the Charging Bull, meant perhaps by its creator to represent the bull market and the bullishness of market capitalism, begs the question: what’s with the bull? Beyond what we’ve already described, and in the spirit of New York City’s fabled lexicon, one might say there is a wealth of bullshit coming out of Wall Street. But deeper than the obvious exists an iconic symbol that goes back thousands of years, a symbol loaded down with meaning as old as time.

Regardless of whether one happens to be religious, whether one is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan or whatever, the Holy Bible contains stories and images that have permeated cultures through the ages. In fact, when this writer was in advertising school in a previous life, the Bible was recommended as a secular source for time honored quotes and concepts. In any case, one of those images and concepts that made its way into our collective psyche over the years was that of Moses coming down from the Mountain to find his people worshiping the Golden Calf. You probably know where this is going now: the Golden Calf grows up to be either a Golden Bull or a cash cow.

The fact that a developed representation of the Golden Calf has made its way to the New York Financial District speaks volumes about the values and priorities of those who ply their trade on or about Wall Street, and by extension, within the capitalistic economy as a whole. The struggle between materialism and ethics, between the worship of gold on the one hand, and the worship of a higher power (whatever it be) or high ideals on the other, is alive and well in the 21st century, in the boardrooms and on the streets. We should not be confounded by the brutal greed and selfishness of the banksters and corporados. The denizens of Wall Street and its environs worshipping the Golden Calf and blowing off concepts like “Thou shalt not steal” and “Thou shalt not covet any thing that is thy neighbor’s” is simply business as usual. What is surprising is the fact that they erected the Golden Calf in plain sight for everyone else to see.

– d.o.

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