Occupy Wall Street Matters.
Look at the graph!
The Radical Rich: Moving From Romney to Re-Occupy | OurFuture.org
David Frum, a conservative and former George W. Bush speechwriter, gets it. Frum writes that “what makes it all both so heart-rending and so outrageous is that all this is occurring at a time when economically disadvantaged Americans have never been so demoralized and passive, never exerted less political clout. No Coxey’s army is marching on Washington, no sit-down strikes are paralyzing factories, no squatters are moving onto farmer’s fields.”
Beautifully said. Frum’s batting average dips slightly as he continues: “Occupy Wall Street immediately fizzled, there is no protest party of the political left.”
Occupy didn’t “fizzle.” It attracted massive support almost overnight. Within weeks it had dramatically transformed the national conversation. Democrats from the president on down were forced to address issues of economic injustice, at least rhetorically, instead of negotiating destructive (and pro-wealthy) austerity deals with the Republican counterparts.
But the powers arrayed against Occupy – in the media, in politics, and elsewhere – combined with the winter winds to force it into hibernation.
Frum’s absolutely right, however, when he says there’s “no protest party of the political left” – although I’d drop the word “protest” and make it simply a party, one that can win rather than just siphon off votes. That won’t happen without a mass movement.
That’s why it’s time to re-Occupy our country. In fact, maybe it should’ve been called “Re-Occupy” all along. It was, and it remains, a re-occupation – of our privatized public spaces and our privatized political discourse. Occupy, or something like it, is the only force that has a chance against the power of the Radical Rich.
Occupy Wall Street isn’t dead. Is it morphing into something new, Re-occupy Wall Street? What that is, I am not able to clearly define. No one can. A collection of individuals determined not to be co-opted by the existing political parties is bound to seek an independent course.
I like this piece by Richard (RJ) Eskow. I have seen it quoted many times in the blogs I read but I am using a part seldom quoted. I have spoken to wealthy individuals on a few occasions and Eskow is quite right, they are enraged at a nation in which their money goes to support the “entitled.” They go to enormous lengths to remain uninformed and their resentment can even fall on their employees (and the occasional waitress.) They burn with disgust at how others are not like them. They see themselves as virtuous, hard working and vital to the nation. The others they see as parasites. Whether or not, they follow Ayn Rand, they have the John Galt thing down perfectly.
This is a pretty incredible amount of hubris. The Classical Greeks would have been appalled. I am appalled. To whom so much has been given and so little asked, there is so little perception of being fortunate just persecuted.
Whether justice in this matter will be settled in this world or the next, is not something I am given to know.
14 Specific Allegations of NYPD Brutality During Occupy Wall Street – Conor Friedersdorf – The Atlantic
Of the 14, I have selected this one for this posting. I would like all of you to read Mr. Friedersdorf’s full article.
A member of the Research Team witnessed officers arresting a protester. A number of officers took the protester to the ground, and restrained him as he lay face-first on the street. The Research Team member heard the protester cry out, and knelt down to observe the arrest. She then witnessed an officer pull back his leg and kick the protester hard in the face. Another witness also saw the incident. Efforts to obtain the badge number of the responsible officer were thwarted by police, who refused to identify the officer and then took him away in a police van.
What Occupy taught the unions – Occupy Wall Street – Salon.com
Unions are in a death spiral. Private sector unionism has all but vanished, accounting for a measly 6.9 percent of the workforce. Public sector workers are being hammered by government cutbacks and hostile media that blame teachers, nurses and firefighters for budget crises. To counter this trend organized labor banked on creating more hospitable organizing conditions by contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to the Democratic Party the last two election cycles. In return Obama abandoned the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have made union campaigns marginally easier, failed to push for an increase in the minimum wage, and installed an education secretary who attacks teachers and public education.
You support the Democratic Party. You organize. You get your friends to vote. And then after speaking many fine words most eloquently, they forget you. They ignore you. They insult you.
Those are the friends of the 99%? Those are the friends of the Middle Class? These are the people you can depend on to defend public school, control bank fees and rein in the disastrous casino capitalism that has wrought havoc on the world’s economy?
The current belief of Progressives and Liberals is to vote for the lesser of two evils. May I point out that the lesser of two evils is still evil and you are making a deal with the devil, a devil who delights in betraying your interests.
Consider your options.
The knives are out. The corporations, the wealthy and their well paid minions (think of a crowd of Igors in an old Frankenstein movies) are going to portray the Occupy movement as anarchists and Marxists. An even casual reading of the news stories shows that as a lie. Can you find anarchists and Marxist in the movement? Of course you can; the same as you can find Klansmen and Christian Reconstructionists in the Tea Party and the Republican Party.
The question isn’t whether there are unpopular political beliefs in some participants of the movement but do they run it or is their influence the deciding factor in decisions. Neither of those things are true. I have no doubt that the primary motivations of Occupy Wall Street movement is the predominant influence the financial sector has in the government. There are also concerns for the decline of the middle class and the lack of penalties for those on Wall Street who did so much harm to the world economy.
Does this new documentary wish to identify millions and millions of Americans as closet Marxists?
The hit job on the movement is expected. All criticism of the 1% is answered immediately, often borderline slander and almost always lies. The crude right wing message machine will say anything to keep Americans divided and powerless.
We can do better.
Citizens United, which specializes in making documentaries with strong right-wing messages, is currently in production for a film about the Occupy movement, a spokesman for the group confirms to Salon.
I was reading this little snippet from Rousseau the other day, and couldn’t help but think of Occupy Wall Street although the passage refers to a simple government and the OWS movement is more of a pursuit of a better government, I still believe the passage is relevant.
This is from Rousseau, Book IV, Page 1, first paragraph of The Social Contract.
As long as a number of men gathered together regard themselves
as a single body, they have only a single will, which
is concerned with the survival and well-being of all of them.
In this case, the state’s machinery is all vigorous and simple
and its rules clear and luminous; there’s no tangle of hidden
agendas; the common good is always obvious, and only good
sense is needed to perceive it. Peace, unity and equality are
enemies of political subtleties. Simple straightforward men
are hard to deceive because of their simplicity; lures and
ingenious excuses don’t work with them—they aren’t even
subtle enough to be dupes! When among the world’s happiest
people we see a group of peasants gathered under an oak
to regulate the state’s affairs, and always acting wisely, can
we help scorning the sophistication of other nations, which
put so much skill and so much mystery into making make
themselves illustrious and wretched?
I’m not the only person to see Rousseau as being applicable to the Occupy Wall Street, there’s a fellow named Jason J. Campbell. His take is based on Rousseau’s A Discourse on Inequality. Please click on the link to see a very thoughtful, intelligent discourse on Occupy Wall Street and it meaning.
Image via Wikipedia
My buddy, Ethics Bob, has journeyed to the wilds of New York, in particular, the semi-encampment of Zuccotti Park, the home of Occupy Wall Street.
Here’s a little of what he has to say –
Zuccotti Park was a friendly place, surprisingly orderly, contrary to expectations from television. People sweeping, others staffing the free food tent, others reading or cheerfully chatting with visitors like me. There was a library, several pet dogs (apparently OWS is dog-, not cat-friendly) and a few baskets seeking donations. I saw lots of American flags and posters, but nothing ugly or much beyond run-of-the-mill progressive political ideas.
That’s been my perception as well, that Occupy Wall Street is replaying elements from previous eras of American Progressivism. Certainly, you can catch glimpses of the Grange, early labor organizers like Samuel Gompers and more than a little Chautauqua.
But there is definitely some new stuff here. These guys are very media savvy and, however, much disdain the fact attracts, the truth is that the Occupy Wall Street Movement is part and parcel of the demonstrations across the Arab World a few months ago. Citizen activism is catchy like the flu. And there is a lot of this flu going around. I expect to see more and more in Europe as their austerity budgets kick in.
Please go to Ethics Bob’s web site. I have provided several links. You should never rely on one paragraph to get the whole sense of his writing.
Beat the Press points out that Occupy Wall Street is against the redistribution that has already taken place. David Brooks wants to brand the movement as some form of socialist redristributionists but they are responding to changes in the laws that have made it ever more difficult for Americans to become educated, employed or secure in any financial sense.
They don’t want the rich’s money. They just don’t want the rich continuing to take theirs.
But this kind of criticism will continue. Every kind of calumny and insult will be directed against these Americans who dare to ask the questions that so many of those in power wish never to answer.
Best paragraph –
The country has been seeing enormous redistribution over the last three decades, but it has all been in an upward direction. For example, the government gave trillions of dollars of below market interest rate loans to the largest banks to save them from collapse. The big banks continue to benefit from a too big to fail subsidy.
‘I’d do it again,’ says police commander filmed pepper spraying the faces of women at Occupy Wall Street protest
Well, the raw courage of firing pepper spray into the faces of women safely behind a barrier and then quickly walking away once again demonstrates on the part of Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna, a monumental lack of understanding of police procedures and department guidelines.
Don’t give me any nonsense about police fearing for their lives or any other crap. I’ve seen the video several times. I teach courses in criminal justice and know police procedure. You do not quell crowds by pepper spraying peaceful protestors behind barricades. That is likely to provoke the crowd which could endanger other officers. It’s exactly the opposite of what you are supposed to do. It’s difficult to come up with any other interpretation than Anthony Bologna did not like the politics of the demonstrators and misused his authority to harm them to send a message. The worse interpretation possible is that he may have intended to incite the crowd to violence.
Two weeks loss of pay is a pretty thin penalty for this kind of action. I would go for six weeks suspension without pay.
I consider Ethics Bob to be a buddy. We often write about the same topics. Here is his take on the wall street protests.
From Ethics Bob,
Americans pay attention when a lot of people turn out. And so there’s lots of attention for “Occupy Wall Street,” or OWS for short. Thousands of people, mostly of the Millennial generation (born since 1982) are camping out in Zuccotti Park, just two blocks from Wall Street’s New York Stock Exchange.
The Right doesn’t like OWS: “I think it’s dangerous, this class warfare,” Mitt Romney opines. “Growing mobs,” snarls Eric Cantor. “Anti-American,” Larry Kudlow charges. “The beginning of totalitarianism,” warns Ann Coulter.
OWS comprises lots of people, diverse in temperament, opinion, and goals, but they are engaging in old-fashioned American protest, this one against corporate greed, social inequality, and joblessness.
Some dismiss them as incoherent, but that’s a mistake. They’re angry about the way our society has moved away from the American dream and toward greater and greater inequality. Like them or not, OWS is a growing force. Our country needs to take their complaint seriously. They may be as consequential as Tahrir Square. Or more. Or maybe not.