A wonderfully timely cartoon by Keith tucker at www.whatnowtoons.com. Check out the site as it has never been better. He is getting right on target lately!!
This is going to be quite a bit longer than usual, so you may prefer simply to print it out. Take your time with it, as I intend to shift focus soon to some funnier things. I enjoy seeing wall street and the media choke and moan, but that is fairly predictable.
Few realize the true significance of all this, and none are more in the dark than members of Congress and elected officials. It is fortunate for them that they have anticipated all of this by making sure that there are only two parties for people to choose from.
From Tunisia, to Egypt, to Yemen, to Wall Street, finally, people are getting together.
This movement has frightened quite a few people. I have even heard shouts, over the air, of “they are against capitalism!!!” Well, good morning America how are you?
What we have right now is not the capitalism attacked by Marx, or even that praised by Adam Smith. Far from it. What we have is a paper nightmare. We have numbers and digits flying all around the place and the notion of production is entirely foreign and alien.
There was a time when our system carefully saw to it that a sufficient number of citizens were surviving well enough to be somewhat content and willing to swallow the jingoism spouted by the press. That time has long passed and the number of disaffected in the world, including this country, has reached a critical mass.
But is it enough yet? Clearly not. Usually, the powerful are rather stupid in how they deal with masses of people, but Mayor Bloomberg was close to effective when he stated that the demonstrators were free to stay as long as they wanted, they had freedom of speech, etc., but please give them a chance to clean up the park. They said they would volunteer to do that themselves and that is where that issue stands.
More importantly, we need to look at the actions of our elected officials, the Congress, during all of this. They voted down a so-called “jobs-bill,” but overwhelmingly supported and passed an alledged “Free-Trade Agreement” with Panama, Columbia, and South Korea. In short, all that global capitalism holds dear. That agreement bears scrutiny to see how well it reflects the global capitalist view of things as opposed to the 99%.
Panama is a floating crap game, Columbia is our favorite military oppressor of dissident, and South Korea is an interesting concern all by itself. It is not that well known, but it is true, that South Korea cooperates with North Korea (remember the “axis of evil”?) so that they use North Korean labor, for pennies a day, paid to the government. The agreement, when all is said and done, will be one more NAFTA, exporting U.S. labor and further helping to weaken the Unions.
In the square, in occupy wall street, there are workers, now retired, whose entire retirement was simply stolen in the last spate of corporate bankruptcies. Contrary to popular opinion, bankruptcy is very profitable for major corporations.
So, here are the latest postings from the movement, following by a few from ZNET. [NB.: I assume ZNET maintains its position that is is interested in spreading ideas. If there is any concern from any of the authors that their capitalistic copyrights have been violated, they can contact me here and the offending passages will promptly consigned to the byte bin of digital history, or deleted.]
Here they are:
The resistance continues at Liberty Square and worldwide
Posted Oct. 13, 2011, 2:13 a.m. EST by anonymous
New Yorkers will gather outside the Kings County Supreme Court on Thursday, October 13 at 3 pm to raise awareness of the foreclosure auctions that take place there each week.
Every week in New York City, in all five boroughs, homes are put up for auction and sale. Speculators purchase homes at discounted rates and flip them. Banks buy back homes to balance their books, evicting the homeowners and letting the homes lie vacant.
Wall Street is the cause of this systematic displacement of New Yorkers. Wall Street bankers turned mortgages into “securitized instruments” and sold them for profit. Their greed demanded the creation of more and more mortgage-backed securities. Without blinking, they used predatory loans to lure homeowners into mortgages with impossible—and unseen—interest rates.
Occupy Wall Street and Organizing for Occupation (the group that led the eviction blockade at Mary Lee Ward’s Bed-Stuy home on August 19, 2011) have teamed up to raise awareness about the weekly auctions and to hold Wall Street accountable for the foreclosure crisis!
OCCUPY WALL STREET and ORGANIZING FOR OCCUPATION calls for an IMMEDIATE MORATORIUM ON ALL FORECLOSURES IN NEW YORK STATE until loans are made fair and sustainable!
Thursday, October 13, 2011, at 2:30 pm Kings County Supreme Court, 360 Adams Street, Brooklyn Rally in Columbus Park (next to Borough Hall) 2/3 and 4/5 to Borough Hall, N/R to Court Street, A/C/F to Jay Street
Organizing for Occupation web site: http://www.o4onyc.org
October 15th Global Day Of Action
Hi, we write you from the International Commission of Sol, in Madrid (Spain). We know that you have a lot to do in the USA, as we have here in Spain, but the 15O is coming and we need you to make a milestone in history out of it. It’s the great chance we expected to start a real global revolution! This is what we are doing, and could be wonderful if you join us:
Please spread the web page of the call http://15october.net/, the graphic material http://15october.net/spread-it/ and the videos http://15october.net/category/video/. And please send us your videos, banners, posters to email@example.com so that we can compile them and put them in common. Send all of this through your mailing lists, to all your contacts, but also to all your friends.
Explain to everybody that this is not just one mobilization. It’s more of “we are reinventing ourselves”. Tell the occupiers how the movement is popping all over the world that extend from the streets of the Middle East to Wall Street. Also tell the occupiers that over 650 cities have already confirmed they will do an event on October 15th . You can check in http://map.15october.net/ and if a city plans to do an event invite; tell them to add it to the map. http://map.15october.net/reports/submit Explain to them that 15O is the moment to wake up all of us together and especially tell them that it is in their hands to make it a success. It’s not any more about parties, organizations or unions. The call should come from all of the organizations and from the people of the world like you. There is a text that could be very useful to send this last message: “who are you?” http://map.15october.net/page/index/1
It would be great to tell your friends abroad to spread it through their countries. We need one revolution in each single city of the world.
For a further explanation about the mobilization and a more specific plan there is a document written by the international network takethesquare. http://takethesquare.net/2011/09/24/15th-october-whats-the-plan-15oct/
In order to promote and discuss the activities for October 15th, everyone is encouraged to participate and to organize local meetings to plan the details and discuss the preparation of the events for the 15th. There will also be a chat http://webchat.freenode.net/?randomnick=1&channels=15october&prompt=1 , an audio-chat (mumble: Download in http://mumble.sourceforge.net/ Host:tomalaplaza.net Port:64738, see the tutorial in http://takethesquare.net/2011/10/04/mumble-setup-walkthrough/) and a collaborative document pad http://titanpad.com/15october open to everybody, so during the 48 hours people from all the world will be able of talking about the ideas and activities decided in their squares with every other occupation in the world! All the channels will be open for everybody…just participate!
#OWS Stands In Solidarity With 100 Arrested At Occupy Boston
Occupy Wall Street would like to express our support and solidarity with both the people of Boston and the 100+ arrested at Occupy Boston last night. We commend them for their bravery in standing their ground at great personal cost to assert the right of the people to peaceful assembly in public spaces.
We condemn the Boston Police Department for their brutality in ordering their officers to descend upon the Occupy Boston tent city in full riot gear to assault, mass arrest, and destroy the possessions of these peaceful women and men. We condemn them for ordering this attack in the middle of the night. These people were not simply protesters holding a rally, it was their home, it was their community and it was violated in the worst possible way by the brutal actions of the BPD. Furthermore:
The Boston Police Department made no distinction between protesters, medics, or legal observers, arresting legal observer Urszula Masny-Latos, who serves as the Executive Director for the National Lawyers Guild, as well as four medics attempting to care for the injured. [emphasis mine]
These actions go beyond unconscionable, they’re unthinkable. If this was war, the BPD could be found guilty of war crimes:
Chapter IV, Article 25 of the Geneva Convention states that “Members of the armed forces specially trained for employment, should the need arise, as hospital orderlies, nurses or auxiliary stretcher-bearers, in the search for or the collection, transport or treatment of the wounded and sick shall likewise be respected and protected if they are carrying out these duties at the time when they come into contact with the enemy or fall into his hands.
Every day the actions of the BPD, NYPD, etc. continue to remind us that the police no longer fight to “protect and serve” the American people, but rather the wealth and power of the 1%. With each passing day, as the violence of the state continues to escalate, the myth of American “democracy” becomes further shattered.
THIS IS WHAT A POLICE STATE LOOKS LIKE
And we are what democracy looks like. We do not fear your power and we will continue to fight for a better world. We will never stop growing and each day we’ll continue to expand, block by block and city by city. We call upon others to join us, to take a stand against these ever encroaching threats to our liberty. We commend the brave actions of our sisters and brothers in Boston and condemn the BPD leadership. We call upon the rank-and-file police officers of this country to disobey such orders and remember that they protect and serve the people. You are one of us, the 99% and we’re too big to fail.
Occupy Wall Street Ends Capitalism’s Alibi
Occupy Wall Street
has already weathered the usual early storms. The kept media ignored the protest, but that failed to end it. The partisans of inequality mocked it, but that failed to end it. The police servants of the status quo over-reacted and that failed to end it – indeed, it fueled the fire. And millions looking on said, “Wow!” And now, ever more people are organising local, parallel demonstrations – from Boston to San Francisco and many places between.
Let me urge the occupiers to ignore the usual carping that besets powerful social movements in their earliest phases. Yes, you could be better organised, your demands more focused, your priorities clearer. All true, but in this moment, mostly irrelevant. Here is the key: if we want a mass and deep-rooted social movement of the left to re-emerge and transform the United States
, we must welcome the many different streams, needs, desires, goals, energies and enthusiasms that inspire and sustain social movements. Now is the time to invite, welcome and gather them, in all their profusion and confusion.
The next step – and we are not there yet – will be to fashion the program and the organisation to realise it. It’s fine to talk about that now, to propose, debate and argue. But it is foolish and self-defeating to compromise achieving inclusive growth – now within our reach – for the sake of program and organisation. The history of the US left is littered with such programs and organisations without a mass movement behind them or at their core.
So permit me, in the spirit of honoring and contributing something to this historic movement, to propose yet another dimension, another item to add to your agenda for social change. To achieve the goals of this renewed movement, we must finally change the organisation of production that sustains and reproduces inequality and injustice. We need to replace the failed structure of our corporate enterprises that now deliver profits to so few, pollute the environment we all depend on, and corrupt our political system.
We need to end stock markets and boards of directors. The capacity to produce the goods and services we need should belong to everyone – just like the air, water, healthcare, education and security on which we likewise depend. We need to bring democracy to our enterprises. The workers within and the communities around enterprises can and should collectively shape how work is organised, what gets produced, and how we make use of the fruits of our collective efforts.
If we believe democracy is the best way to govern our residential communities, then it likewise deserves to govern our workplaces. Democracy at work is a goal that can help build this movement.
We all know that moving in this direction will elicit the screams of “socialism” from the usual predictable corners. The tired rhetoric lives on long after the cold war that orchestrated it fades out of memory. The audience for that rhetoric is fast fading, too. It is long overdue in the US for us to have a genuine conversation and struggle over our current economic system. Capitalism has gotten a free pass for far too long.
We take pride in questioning, challenging, criticising and debating our health, education, military, transportation and other basic social institutions. We argue whether their current structures and functioning serve our needs. We work our way to changing them so they perform better. And so it should be.
Yet, for decades now, we have failed to similarly question, challenge, criticise and debate our economic system: capitalism. Because a taboo protected capitalism, cheerleading and celebrating it became obligatory. Criticism and questions got banished as heresy, disloyalty or worse. Behind the protective taboo, capitalism degenerated into the ineffective, unequal, crisis-ridden social disaster we all now bear.
Capitalism is the problem – and the joblessness, homelessness, insecurity, and austerity it now imposes everywhere are the costs we bear. We have the people, the skills and the tools to produce the goods and services needed for a just society to prosper. We just need to reorganise our producing units differently, to go beyond a capitalist economic system that no longer serves our needs.
Humanity learned to do without kings and emperors and slave masters. We found our way to a democratic alternative, however partial and unfinished the democratic project remains. We can now take the next step to realise that democratic project. We can bring democracy to our enterprises – by transforming them into cooperatives owned, operated and governed by democratic assemblies composed of all who work in them and all the residents of the communities who are interdependent with them.
Let me conclude by offering a slogan: “The US can do better than corporate capitalism.” Let that be an idea and a debate that this renewed movement can engage. Doing so would give an immense gift to the US and the world. It would break through the taboo, finally subjecting capitalism to the critiques and debates it has evaded for far too long – and at far too great a cost to all of us.
Richard Wolff is participating in a day-long teach-in at the Occupy Wall Street protest in Zuccotti Park, New York on Tuesday 4 October. This article is based on remarks he will be addressing there at 6pm local time.
Occupy This, Demand That
I am just back from a quick trip to Lexington, Kentucky. I had an unusual speaking engagement there, invited by groups that work to mitigate the pain and hardship of poverty and the economic crisis. Some of the people were grass roots activists. Some were poor and working people who relate to the projects. And some, very different in kind, were donors. The trip, you might imagine, was a mixed bag. But perhaps the high point was hearing from some folks working on Occupy Lexington, and hearing from them, as well, what they were beginning to hear about Occupy Louisville. They had many questions on the problems that arise in such endeavors. But the main thing for me was their energy, desire, focus and especially their awareness that what is needed is longevity. Kentucky? There is something happening here, there, and increasingly, everywhere.
Two things kept recurring in those discussions, and in some emails I have been getting from Greece and Spain. One concern involves demands. What do we want, now? The second concern is about occupation, per se. How long does it make sense to bring people to some central location – a location hard for many to reach and return to, and often quite distant from their daily lives, albeit brilliantly chosen to resonate widely, as in the Wall Street occupation?
Diverse thoughts are percolating on these matters. For example, what to Occupy is a question not solely in the Wall Street effort and emerging efforts around the U.S., but in Spain and Greece, too, who are much further along in the process. The inclination emerging is clear. Let’s keep the city square as an occupied zone, but let’s also diversify. For example, why not have occupations in parts of our city? Why not have occupations in our neighborhoods. And much more to the point, why not have assemblies in our neighborhoods?
So, once a week, the reasoning goes, or on whatever schedule turns out to make sense, everyone assembles from city wide, taking mutual strength and mutual aid. But afterward, most of those folks return to their own neighborhoods and work hard to create venues of discussion and resistance and then governance there, with their neighbors? When the Wall Street action started, there weren’t many people. Indeed, there are likely more people now from the Bronx and Brooklyn and so on, than there were at the outset, from the whole city. So why not start anew, creating feeder occupations?
The benefits are twofold. It is a whole lot of work, but it is work that reaches out to incorporate more people, and that, of course, is what’s needed. If this approach proves popular, once there are local occupations and assemblies, way more people can attend and, when they get together, they can arrive at plans for their locale that are manageable, and, most important, that can be implemented largely by their own efforts. The project starts to become one that is about taking over not a square in a city, but parts of society, as well as protesting and resisting.
I think from what I have heard, this is where things are headed in Spain, and perhaps Greece too. So why not get a jump on a trend that will be needed here as well. This isn’t to skip steps, though. First there is a city wide occupation to get numbers, confidence, and practices in place. Then, when ready, there is diversification and multiplication with subgroups developing local feeder occupations.
And what about demands? As with diversifying locales, this can be done too fast, of course. But it can also be done too slowly. At some point, coherence includes some degree of clarity. This is not least so people know what they are getting into. But it is also so people can start raising costs for elites that pressure desired outcomes.
Of course demands in one city may not be what they are in another, or even in one neighborhood and another. So a full program is not something that spans a state, much less the U.S. On the other hand, are there a few demands that do make sense throughout an occupation movement? Of course there are. In fact, anyone at the Wall Street Occupation, or other emerging occupations, could list many worthy demands. So how does one pick? Well, a good demand resonates and educates. A short list would sensibly address the issues most inducing people’s anger and desire. It would raise awareness, generate excitement, and create a context for seeking much more.
So what is making people angry? Based on hearing folks in many places, there are three main things. First, the economy – in particular budget cuts and unemployment. Second, the media that sucks the life out of reality to deliver pap, fear, and empty jargon. And third – war. It is good for less than nothing. It kills, maims, corrupts, and is an endless spigot draining energy and labor and resources to profit the few.
Others might have a different list, maybe better, and that’s what the assemblies are for: To talk about it. Think about it. And find out what resonates, and not just with those who have already turned out. It is even more important to resonate with those who are not yet involved. Remember that a list that means to serve the whole new occupation movement doesn’t need to address everything because each city, region, and neighborhood will add its own locally motivated and relevant features to fill out its local agenda. So what is needed for the whole is just a really good (not perfect) short list that inspires and informs.
How about then, as a try at some demands for the economy, just two: Fair and Full Employment and Budget Humanization?
Fair and Full Employment could go like this. Suppose demand is down, 25% below what output would be if everyone was working. One option to make labor match demand is for 25% to not work. That is fixing the crisis in a way that weakens working people and the poor. Here is an opposite option. Everyone works, but for only three quarters as long as folks were working before. In this way output matches demand but with full employment.
However, there is a problem. If working people suddenly work a quarter less than before, and they keep the same hourly wage, then they earn a quarter less than before. That would be pretty horrible. Okay, instead everyone works three quarters of the usual duration, but they do it for full wages, which means for one third more per hour.
Except, those who were earning a whole lot already, let’s say $100,000 a year or more, don’t need to get, nor do they deserve, an hourly raise. So they don’t get it. They work a fourth less hours and they also get a fourth less pay (so their hourly pay rate is unchanged). Now we have full employment and fairer work – because it is more justly remunerated, albeit not perfectly, yet.
When the economy picks back up, working people are stronger, not weaker, because they are all employed. So who loses? Well, the top twenty percent in income work less and also get less – which is hard to call losing considering their high incomes. But, the top two percent still profits but quite a bit less, because they are paying all that extra in wages relative to output. It is all good. It all moves in the right direction and paves the way to move further. Working people get more leisure. People who deserve it due to being underpaid get more income per hour, and also become more powerful. Owners lose income and power. This is the way to get out of a crisis while improving the lot of those who deserve improvement.
What about media?
Well, since current media sucks, any remotely thoughtful change is pretty likely to have some merit. But how about this? A media campaign, Press the Press, demands that every newspaper – from little towns to the Washington Post and New York Times – and that every radio station, and every TV station, all have to initiate a labor section of the paper or station – you know, like a sports section, or an obituary section, or a comics section, or the finance pages – which covers the situation and especially the desires and actions of workers on behalf of working people. More, the board in charge of the labor section is elected from the workforce in the relevant communities and the structure of decision making and payments for the workers in the labor section are what they, not the owners of the paper or tv station, decide – with the section’s overall budget the same as that of the sports section, say, or the financial section.
What about the budget?
Everyone knows what to do. Move some large percentage that is now spent on war and military boondoggles to socially beneficial uses like education, health care, housing, and infrastructure. This is materially good and empowering for those in need, and it is good for cutting back the war machine, of course.
Who carries out the new building, the new educating, the new infrastructure development? Here is a notion. We have a whole lot of largely young people in the military. We don’t call them unemployed, but there is a very real sense in which they are because their product is more harmful than it is beneficial. So cutting back the military by half – or more – includes an issue regarding lots of military bases. What are they to do? How about social projects? How about literacy campaigns? How about building low income housing, fixing leaks in homes, fixing infrastructure, putting up solar panels? (In fact, the first recipients of all this could be the soldiers doing the building.) You know all those ads about join the Marines, learn a skill. Let’s make it, learn a skill that is worthy of you – and not how to kill.
Okay, I admit, I am winging it. And I am not even going to try to polish the above – supposing I even could. There is no need to do that. The cleverness and wisdom circulating in the occupations, especially as they grow large enough and diversified enough to have demands, will have no trouble making a list like this
My main message is just that as with thinking about diversifying toward more local occupations that begin governing neighborhoods, thinking about having a short list of powerful and instructive demands is something worth considering.
Panic of the Plutocrats
It remains to be seen whether the Occupy Wall Street protests will change America’s direction. Yet the protests have already elicited a remarkably hysterical reaction from Wall Street, the super-rich in general, and politicians and pundits who reliably serve the interests of the wealthiest hundredth of a percent.
And this reaction tells you something important – namely, that the extremists threatening American values are what F.D.R. called “economic royalists,” not the people camping in Zuccotti Park.
Consider first how Republican politicians have portrayed the modest-sized if growing demonstrations, which have involved some confrontations with the police – confrontations that seem to have involved a lot of police overreaction – but nothing one could call a riot. And there has in fact been nothing so far to match the behavior of Tea Party crowds in the summer of 2009.
Nonetheless, Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, has denounced “mobs” and “the pitting of Americans against Americans.” The G.O.P. presidential candidates have weighed in, with Mitt Romney accusing the protesters of waging “class warfare,” while Herman Cain calls them “anti-American.” My favorite, however, is Senator Rand Paul, who for some reason worries that the protesters will start seizing iPads, because they believe rich people don’t deserve to have them.
Michael Bloomberg, New York’s mayor and a financial-industry titan in his own right, was a bit more moderate, but still accused the protesters of trying to “take the jobs away from people working in this city,” a statement that bears no resemblance to the movement’s actual goals.
And if you were listening to talking heads on CNBC, you learned that the protesters “let their freak flags fly,” and are “aligned with Lenin.”
The way to understand all of this is to realize that it’s part of a broader syndrome, in which wealthy Americans who benefit hugely from a system rigged in their favor react with hysteria to anyone who points out just how rigged the system is.
Last year, you may recall, a number of financial-industry barons went wild over very mild
criticism from President Obama. They denounced Mr. Obama as being almost a socialist for endorsing the so-called Volcker rule, which would simply prohibit banks backed by federal guarantees from engaging in risky speculation. And as for their reaction to proposals to close a loophole that lets some of them pay remarkably low taxes – well, Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of the Blackstone Group, compared it to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.
And then there’s the campaign of character assassination against Elizabeth Warren, the financial reformer now running for the Senate in Massachusetts. Not long ago a YouTube video of Ms. Warren making an eloquent, down-to-earth case for taxes on the rich went
viral. Nothing about what she said was radical – it was no more than a modern riff on Oliver Wendell Holmes’s famous dictum that “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.”
But listening to the reliable defenders of the wealthy, you’d think that Ms. Warren was the second coming of Leon Trotsky. George Will declared that she has a “collectivist agenda,” that she believes that “individualism is a chimera.” And Rush Limbaugh called her “a parasite who hates her host. Willing to destroy the host while she sucks the life out of it.”
What’s going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes
that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.
Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from explicit and implicit federal guarantees – basically, they’re still in a game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. And they benefit from tax loopholes that in many cases have people with multimillion-dollar incomes paying lower
rates than middle-class families.
This special treatment can’t bear close scrutiny – and therefore, as they see it, there must be no close scrutiny. Anyone who points out the obvious, no matter how calmly and moderately, must be demonized and driven from the stage. In fact, the more reasonable and moderate a critic sounds, the more urgently he or she must be demonized, hence the frantic sliming of Elizabeth Warren.
So who’s really being un-American here? Not the protesters, who are simply trying to get their voices heard. No, the real extremists here are America’s oligarchs, who want to suppress any criticism of the sources of their wealth.