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Why Occupy Wall Street

Why Occupy Wall Street

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Published by Ronald Pires
Three articles which help put the #OccupyWallStreet protest into perspective:
1) What's behind the scorn for the Wall Street protests? - By Glenn Greenwald | Wednesday, September 28, 2011 (Salon)
2) Why Establishment Media & the Power Elite Loathe Occupy Wall Street - By Kevin Gosztola | Tuesday September 27, 2011 (firedoglake)
3) The Revolution Begins at Home: An Open Letter to Join the Wall Street Occupation - By Arun Gupta | September 28, 2011 (Indypendent)
Three articles which help put the #OccupyWallStreet protest into perspective:
1) What's behind the scorn for the Wall Street protests? - By Glenn Greenwald | Wednesday, September 28, 2011 (Salon)
2) Why Establishment Media & the Power Elite Loathe Occupy Wall Street - By Kevin Gosztola | Tuesday September 27, 2011 (firedoglake)
3) The Revolution Begins at Home: An Open Letter to Join the Wall Street Occupation - By Arun Gupta | September 28, 2011 (Indypendent)

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Published by: Ronald Pires on Sep 28, 2011
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10/26/2011

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What's behind the scorn for the Wall Street protests?
By Glenn Greenwald | Wednesday, September 28, 2011
A few hundred demonstrators protesting against corporationsmarch from nearby Zucotti park to Wall Street, Tuesday, Sept.20, 2011, in the Manhattan borough of New York.
It's unsurprising that establishment media outlets have beencondescending,dismissiveandscornfulof the ongoing protests on  Wall Street.Any entity that declares itself an adversary of prevailing institutional power is going to be viewed with hostility by establishment­serving institutions and their loyalists.That's justthe nature of protests that take place outside approved channels, aninevitable by­product of disruptive dissent: those who are most vested in safeguarding and legitimizing establishment prerogatives(which, by definition, includes establishment media outlets) aregoing to be hostile to those challenges.As the virtually universaldisdain in these same circlesfor WikiLeaks(and, before that, for theIraq War protests) demonstrated:the more effectively adversarial itis, the more establishment hostility it's going to provoke.Nor is it surprising that much of the most vocal criticisms of the Wall Street protests has come from some self­identified progressives, who one might think would be instinctively sympathetic to the substantive message of theprotesters.Inan excellent analysisentitled "Why Establishment Media & the Power Elite Loathe Occupy Wall Street,"Kevin Gosztola chronicles how much of the most scornful criticisms have come from Democratic partisans who ­­likethe politicians to whom they devote their fealty ­­feign populist opposition to Wall Street for political gain.Some of this anti­protest posturing is just the all­too­familiar
 New­Republic
­ish eagerness to prove one's own Seriousness by castigating anyone to the left of, say, Dianne Feinstein or JohnKerry; for such individuals, multi­term, pro­Iraq­WarDemocratic Senator­plutocrats define the outermost left­winglimit of respectability.Also at play is the jingoistic notion thatstreet protests are valid in Those Bad Countries but not in free,democratic America. A siginificant aspect of this progressive disdain is grounded inthe belief that the only valid form of political activism is supportfor Democratic Party candidates, and a corresponding desire toundermine anything that distracts from that goal.Indeed, theloyalists of both parties have an interest in marginalizing anything that might serve as a vehicle for activism outside of fealty to one of the two parties(
Fox News
' firing of Glenn Beck was almost certainly motivated by hisfrequentdeviation from the GOP party­line orthodoxy  which Fox exists to foster).The very idea that one can effectively battle Wall Street's corruption and control by working for the Democratic Party is absurd on its face:Wall Street'sfavorite candidate in 2008 was BarackObama, whose administration ­­led by a Wall StreetWhite House Chief of Staff and Wall­Street­subservient Treasury Secretary and filled to the brim with Goldman Sachs officials ­­is now working hard to protect bankers from meaningful accountability (and though he's behind WallStreet's own Mitt Romney in the Wall Street cash sweepstakes this year,Obama is still doing well); one of Wall Street'smost faithful servantsis Chuck Schumer, the money man of the Democratic Party; and the second­ranking SenateDemocrat acknowledged ­­when Democrats controlled the Congress ­­that theowners of Congress arebankers.There are individuals who impressively rail against the crony capitalism and corporatism that sustains WallStreet's power, but they're no match for the party apparatus that remains fully owned and controlled by it.But much of this progressive criticism consists of relatively (ostensibly)well­intentionedtactical and organizationalcritiquesof the protests:there wasn't a clear unified message; it lacked a coherent media strategy; the neo­hippieparticipants were too off­putting to Middle America; the resulting police brutality overwhelmed the message, etc.etc.That's the high­minded form which most progressive scorn for the protests took:
it's just not professionallyorganized or effective.
Some of these critiques are ludicrous. Does anyone really not know what the basic message is of this protest: that WallStreet is oozing corruption and criminality and its unrestrained political power ­­in the form of crony capitalism and
 
ownership of political institutions ­­is destroying financial security for everyone else?Beyond that, criticizingprotesters for the prominence of police brutality stories is pure victim­blaming (and, independently, having policebrutality highlighted is its own benefit).Most importantly, very few protest movements enjoy perfect clarity about tactics or command widespread support when they begin; they're designed to spark conversation, raise awareness, attract others to the cause, and build thosestructural planks as they grow and develop.Dismissing these incipient protests because they lack fully developed,sophisticated professionalization is akin to pronouncing a three­year­old child worthless because he can't readSchopenhauer:those who are actually interested in helping it develop will work toward improving those deficiencies,not harp on them in order to belittle its worth.That said, some of these organizational/tactical critiques are valid enough as far as they go; the protests could probably be more effective with some more imaginative, concerted and savvy organizational strategies. The problem is thesecriticisms don't go very far ­­at all.*****There's a vast and growing apparatus of intimidation designed to deter and control citizen protests.The most that'sallowed is to assemble with the permission of state authorities and remain roped off in sequestered, out­of­the­way areas: the Orwellian­namedfree speech zones.Anything that is even remotely disruptive or threatening is going to bemet with aggressive force:pepper spray, mass arrests by highly militarized urban police forces, and aggressiveprosecutions. Recall the wild excesses of force in connection with the 2008 RNCConvention in Minneapolis(Ireported onthosefirsthand); theoverzealous prosecutions of civil disobedience activistslike Aaron Swartz, environmentalist Tim DeChristopher, and Dan Choi; the war being waged on whistleblowers for the crime of exposinghigh­level wrongdoing; or thetreatment of these Wall Street protesters.Financial elites and their political servants are well aware that exploding wealth inequality, pervasive economic anxiety,and increasing hostility toward institutions of authority (and corresponding realization that voting fixes very little othis) are likely to bring London­style unrest ­­and worse ­­to American soil; it was just two weeks ago that New YorkMayor Michael Bloomberg warnedthat the unemployment crisis could trigger "riots."Even the complacent Americancitizenry ­­well­trained in learned impotence and acquiescence to (even reverence for) those most responsible for theirplight ­­is going to reach a tipping point of unrest.There are numerous weapons of surveillance and coercion thathave been developed over the last decade in anticipation of that unrest:most of it justified in the name ofTerrorism,but all of it featuringdecidedly dual­use domestic capability (illustrating what Imean isthis chartshowing how extensively the Patriot Act has been used in non­Terrorist cases, and how rarely it has been used for Terrorism).In sum, there is a sprawling apparatus of federal and local militarized police forces and private corporate security designed to send this message:
if you participate in protests or other forms of dissent outside of harmless approved channels, you're going to be harmed in numerous ways
.As Yves Smith put itthis week:I’m beginning to wonder whether the right to assemble is effectively dead in the US. No one who is a wage slave (which is the overwhelming majority of the population) can afford to have an arrest record,even a misdemeanor, in this age of short job tenures and rising use of background checks.This is all designed to deter any meaningful challenges to the government and corporate institutions which aresuffocating them, to bully those who consider such challenges into accepting its futility.And it works.In an excellentessay on the Wall Street protests,Dennis Perrin writes:The dissident children were easily, roughly swept aside. Their hearts are in a good place. Their bodies aminor nuisance. They'll stream back to prove their resolve. And they'll get pepper sprayed and beatendown again. And again.I admire these kids. They're off their asses. Agitating. Arguing. Providing a living example. There'spassion and feeling in their dissent. They're willing to be punished. It's easy to mock them, but howmany of you would take their place? . . . . Yet I have doubts. The class war from above demoralizes as much as it incites. Countless people havesurrendered. Faded from view
. To demonstrate or occupy corporate turf doesn't seem like a wiseoption. You'll get beaten and arrested. For what? Making mortgage payments is tough enough.
Given the costs and risks one incurs from participating in protests like this ­­to say nothing of the widespread mockery one receives ­­it's natural that most of the participants will be young and not yet desperate to cling to institutionalstability.It's also natural that this cohort won't be well­versed (or even interested)in the high arts of media messagingand leadership structures.Democratic Party precinct captains, MBA students in management theory and corporatecommunications, and campaign media strategists aren't the ones who will fuel protests like this; it takes a mindset of passionate dissent and a willingness to remove oneself from the safe confines of institutional respectability.

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Warren Jason Street added this note
Essential reading for the revolution.
Jed Diamond added this note
A good analysis of what is going on with the "occupy Wall street" protests that you won't read in the mainstream, corporate controlled, media. Thanks for bring these to the Scribd community.
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