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By Glenn Greenwald | Wednesday, September 28, 2011 It's unsurprising that establishment media outlets have been condescending, dismissive and scornful of 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 just the nature of protests that take place outside approved channels, an inevitable byproduct of disruptive dissent: those who are most vested in safeguarding and legitimizing establishment prerogatives (which, by definition, includes establishment media outlets) are going to be hostile to those challenges. As the virtually universal disdain in these same circles for WikiLeaks (and, before that, for the A few hundred demonstrators protesting against corporations Iraq War protests) demonstrated: the more effectively adversarial it march from nearby Zucotti park to Wall Street, Tuesday, Sept. is, the more establishment hostility it's going to provoke.
20, 2011, in the Manhattan borough of New York.
Nor is it surprising that much of the most vocal criticisms of the Wall Street protests has come from some self identified progressives, who one might think would be instinctively sympathetic to the substantive message of the protesters. In an excellent analysis entitled "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 like the 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 NewRepublicish eagerness to prove one's own Seriousness by castigating anyone to the left of, say, Dianne Feinstein or John Kerry; for such individuals, multiterm, proIraqWar Democratic Senatorplutocrats define the outermost leftwing limit of respectability. Also at play is the jingoistic notion that street protests are valid in Those Bad Countries but not in free, democratic America. A siginificant aspect of this progressive disdain is grounded in the belief that the only valid form of political activism is support for Democratic Party candidates, and a corresponding desire to undermine anything that distracts from that goal. Indeed, the loyalists 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 his frequent deviation 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's favorite candidate in 2008 was Barack Obama, whose administration led by a Wall Street White 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 Wall Street's own Mitt Romney in the Wall Street cash sweepstakes this year, Obama is still doing well); one of Wall Street's most faithful servants is Chuck Schumer, the money man of the Democratic Party; and the secondranking Senate Democrat acknowledged when Democrats controlled the Congress that the owners of Congress are bankers. There are individuals who impressively rail against the crony capitalism and corporatism that sustains Wall Street'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) wellintentioned tactical and organizational critiques of the protests: there wasn't a clear unified message; it lacked a coherent media strategy; the neohippie participants 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 professionally organized or effective. Some of these critiques are ludicrous. Does anyone really not know what the basic message is of this protest: that Wall Street 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, criticizing protesters for the prominence of police brutality stories is pure victimblaming (and, independently, having police brutality 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 those structural 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 read Schopenhauer: 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 these criticisms 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's allowed is to assemble with the permission of state authorities and remain roped off in sequestered, outoftheway areas: the Orwelliannamed free speech zones. Anything that is even remotely disruptive or threatening is going to be met with aggressive force: pepper spray, mass arrests by highly militarized urban police forces, and aggressive prosecutions. Recall the wild excesses of force in connection with the 2008 RNC Convention in Minneapolis (I reported on those firsthand); the overzealous prosecutions of civil disobedience activists like Aaron Swartz, environmentalist Tim DeChristopher, and Dan Choi; the war being waged on whistleblowers for the crime of exposing highlevel wrongdoing; or the treatment 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 of this) are likely to bring Londonstyle unrest and worse to American soil; it was just two weeks ago that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned that the unemployment crisis could trigger "riots." Even the complacent American citizenry welltrained in learned impotence and acquiescence to (even reverence for) those most responsible for their plight is going to reach a tipping point of unrest. There are numerous weapons of surveillance and coercion that have been developed over the last decade in anticipation of that unrest: most of it justified in the name of Terrorism, but all of it featuring decidedly dualuse domestic capability (illustrating what I mean is this chart showing 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 it this 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 are suffocating them, to bully those who consider such challenges into accepting its futility. And it works. In an excellent essay 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 a minor nuisance. They'll stream back to prove their resolve. And they'll get pepper sprayed and beaten down again. And again. I admire these kids. They're off their asses. Agitating. Arguing. Providing a living example. There's passion and feeling in their dissent. They're willing to be punished. It's easy to mock them, but how many of you would take their place? . . . . Yet I have doubts. The class war from above demoralizes as much as it incites. Countless people have surrendered. Faded from view. To demonstrate or occupy corporate turf doesn't seem like a wise option. 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 institutional stability. It's also natural that this cohort won't be wellversed (or even interested) in the high arts of media messaging and leadership structures. Democratic Party precinct captains, MBA students in management theory and corporate communications, 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.
So, yes, the people willing to engage in protests like these at the start may lack (or reject the need for) media strategies, organizational hierarchies, and messaging theories. But they're among the very few people trying to channel widespread anger into activism rather than resignation, and thus deserve support and encouragement and help from anyone claiming to be sympathetic to their underlying message. As Perrin put it: This part of Michigan [where I live] was once militant. From organized labor to student agitation. Now there's nothing. Shop after shop goes under. Strip malls abandoned. Legalized loan shark parlors spread. Dollar stores hang on. Parking lots riots of weeds. Roads in serious disrepair. Those with jobs feel lucky to be employed. Everyone else is on their own. A general resignation prevails. Life limps by. Personally, I think there's substantial value even in those protests that lack "exit goals" and "messaging strategies" and the rest of the platitudes from Power Point presentations by midlevel functionaries at corporate conferences. Some injustices simply need anger and dissent expressed for its own sake, to make clear that there are citizens who are aware of it and do not accept it. In Vancouver yesterday, Dick Cheney was met by angry protests chanting "war criminal" at him while he tried to hawk his book, which prompted arrests and an uglyforCanada police battle that then became part of the story of his visit. Is that likely to result in Cheney's arrest or sway huge numbers of people to change how they think? No. But it's vastly preferable to allowing him to traipse around the world as though he's a respectable figure unaccompanied by anger over his crimes anger necessarily expressed outside of the institutions that have failed to check or punish (but rather have shielded and legitimized) those crimes. And the same is true of Wall Street's rampant criminality. But for those who believe that protests are only worthwhile if they translate into quantifiable impact: the lack of organizational sophistication or messaging efficacy on the part of the Wall Street protest is a reason to support it and get involved in it, not turn one's nose up at it and join in the media demonization. That's what one actually sympathetic to its messaging (rather than pretending to be in order more effectively to discredit it) would do. Anyone who looks at mostly young citizens marching in the street protesting the corruption of Wall Street and the harm it spawns, and decides that what is warranted is mockery and scorn rather than support, is either not seeing things clearly or is motivated by objectives other than the ones being presented.
Pasted from <http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/09/28/protests/index.html>
Why Establishment Media & the Power Elite Loathe Occupy Wall Street
By: Kevin Gosztola | Tuesday September 27, 2011 Over the past ten days, hundreds of people have occupied Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan in New York as part of Occupy Wall Street. Citizens have faced down a city that has fortified Wall Street with blockades so corporate criminals responsible for the economic collapse in 2008 can avoid confrontations with angry, passionate Americans. Citizens have camped out and held daily marches in the face of a massive police presence, which has sometimes been very intimidating as individuals have been arbitrarily picked off and arrested. And last weekend, the police corralled them into an area near Union Square and proceeded to make a number of violent arrests; eighty to one hundred were arrested on Saturday. The organizers, who pride themselves in being “leaderless,” have sought to bring together a diverse crowd of various political persuasions. They have rallied behind the slogan, “We are the 99%,” to show they will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the top 1% in America. They have rallied against banks that engage in tax dodging while at the same time foreclosing on Americans’homes and charging exorbitant interest rates on student loans putting young citizens in deep debt. They are rising up against increased unemployment and war against the poor in America. And they have used what is known as the General Assembly process to make decisions, which democratically gives all people present an opportunity to influence the continued organization of Occupy Wall Street. Traditional media have characterized the plurality of voices and the number of issues the occupation is seeking to challenge as a weakness. Establishment media has been openly condescending. Ginia Bellafante’ report in the New s York Times has generated significant attention for her focus on the fact that some “halfnaked woman” who looks like Joni Mitchell to her is the leader of this movement of “rightly frustrated young people.” Bellafante accuses the protesters of lacking “cohesion” and “pantomiming progressivism rather than practice it knowledgeably.” NPR reiterated NYT’ s focus on the “scattered nature of the movement” in its coverage of the occupation (and tellingly used a photo of a man holding a sign that reads “Satan Controls Wall St”). Local press have treated the occupiers as if they are a tribe or a group of nomads focusing on occupiers’behavior instead of trying to understand the real reason why people are in the park. Liberals have shown scorn, too, suggesting the occupation is not a “Main Street production” or that the protesters aren’ t dressed properly and should wear suits cause the civil rights movement would not have won if they hadn’ worn decent t clothing.
The latest show of contempt from a liberal comes from Mother Jones magazine. Lauren Ellis claims that the action, which “says it stands for the 99 percent of us,” lacks traction. She outlines why she thinks Zuccotti Park isn’t America’s Tahrir Square. She chastises them for failing to have one demand. She claims without a unified message police brutality has stolen the spotlight. She suggests the presence of members of Anonymous is holding the organizers back writing, “It’s hard to be taken seriously as accountabilityseeking populists when you’re donning Guy Fawkes masks.” And, she concludes as a result of failing to get a crosssection of America to come out in the streets, this movement has been for “dreamers,” not “middle class American trying to make ends meet.” First off, nobody in the last week can claim to be reporting on Occupy Wall Street and genuinely claim it isn’t gaining traction. Ellis conveniently leaves out the fact that Occupy Wall Street is inspiring other cities to get organized and hold similar assemblies/occupations. Second, if the protesters did have one demand, does Ellis really think that would improve media coverage? Wouldn’t pundits then be casting doubt on whether the one demand was the appropriate singular demand to be making? Third, socalled members of Anonymous are citizens like Ellis and have a right to participate in the protest. It is elitist for Ellis to suggest Occupy Wall Street should not be allinclusive. And, finally, there is no evidence that just “dreamers” are getting involved. A union at the City University of New York, the Industrial Workers of the World, construction workers, 9/11 responders and now a postal workers and teachers union have shown interest in the occupation. The Middle Needs to Rise Up Nothing captures the disapproval the establishment has for the people in Zuccotti Park like the conversation on “Real Time with Bill Maher” last Friday. Centerright establishment pundit John Avlon had nothing but a smug grin and atrocious centrist political talking points for musician Tom Morello and filmmaker Michael Moore. He and former Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman provided an example for why Americans are so frustrated with American politics: Maher: You have to wonder what will make people rise up? Avlon: I’ve been there.It’s a couple hundred [minimizing what is going on with a smirk] Harman: The people in the political middle rise up and demand that people in Congress get some work done.Where are they? Moore: How would you have them rise up? Write a letter to the editor? Harman: No.They have a vote… Moore: Uhhuh.And who do they vote for? Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dummer… Harman: No, I think there are a lot of good people in Congress but it is a broken place. Maher: If you mean like centrist Democrats, I think they’re the problem.Like the Democrats have 53 senators… Like forty of them are good but it’s people like Mary Landrieu—Jim Webb came out against Obama’s taxing the millionaires plan.It’s those centrist Democrats who are really corporatist Democrats, who work with the Republicans—That’s what cockblocks everything in this country. Avlon shakes his head – couldn’t be more wrong he says Harman: Working together is what Congress used to always be.We can disagree with each other but to get something done you have to work together… Maher: Who works together? It’s those Max Baucus Democrats with the Republicans.That’s who works together. Morello attempted to set people like Avlon and Harman straight: Morello: …A lot of people who put [Obama] in office put [Obama] in office to fight for them—to fight against the Tea Party, to fight against this bullshit in Congress, to fight against the sonsofbitches who are attacking the working class and the poor in this country.And he hasn’t done any of that [Avlon wags finger at Morello, shakes head “no. ”] At the same time, I’m not waiting for him.I’m with the people in Madison.I’m with the people occupying Wall Street.That’s what my music is about.And I know Michael knows this too – when progressive, radical or even revolutionary changes happen, it’s always come from below.When women got the right to vote, when lunch counters were desegregated, it was people you do not read about in history books who stood up in their time for what they believed in.
Avlon: But, Tom, all these changes happen when good ideas are adopted by reformers. Politics is really not divided between left and right. It’s radicals and reactionaries and reformers and that’s why the center matters. We got a divided government. The only way you can get anything passed is if you try to reason together. That’s the core idea of our government. It’s broken down. The hyperpartisanship, the polarization of the two parties, that’s hurting our country because it’s stopping us from solving… Avlon is an example of why many Americans do not support Occupy Wall Street. They understand that Occupy Wall Street wants to have an impact on the system and force the system to respond to the occupation’s demands, but they see protesters do not want to work within the system and lobby members of Congress and sign petitions and find out what piecemeal reforms representatives and senators think they can manage to deliver without jeopardizing their re election campaigns. They are afraid of people power or “too much democracy.” Managers of Democracy First, Citizens After People like Avlon and Harman fear people power or acts of rebellion because they choose to be managers of democracy rather than citizens. And, actually, media and the elites aren’t the only ones who think like this. Numerous politically engaged Americans operate like managers of democracy in America because they believe “purism” on issues will create gridlock and prevent anything from being done. They despise making urgent demands of power because they believe Washington is only and has only ever been capable of incremental reform. To them, making demands and refusing to budge places an unacceptable burden on President Obama and legislators.
Photo: Screen shot of “Real Time with Bill Maher”
Demonstrations are demeaned because everything is supposed to come back to the political process. The truth is, corporate executives and business managers are and have been constantly protesting. They just do it in the halls of power instead of in public squares. Corporate executives, business managers and free market ideologues have worked to avert any changes to the status quo. They have aggressively turned opportunities for change into chances to leverage power over government so they can reap huge financial or monetary advantages in the long run; for example, the watereddown financial and health reform bills. The Myth of the American Dream Compounding the contempt for grassroots struggle in America is the unwavering confidence in the myth known as the American Dream. The American Dream rests upon the idea that all Americans can prosper if they try hard enough. In its most perverted form, it cons Americans into believing they could not only prosper but be rich one day. This was discussed on “Real Time w/ Bill Maher” Friday night too. MAHER: Do [Americans] really think everyone can be rich? How can that really work? Who would do the things for rich people that allow them to be rich people if we are all rich? MOORE: 400 Americans have more wealth than 150 million combined HARMAN: I don’t think we can all be rich. I agree with that. But look at who is rich and how young people who are colossally inventive can become the billionaires? MAHER: So anecdotal. HARMAN: Have polices that promote innovation and enterprise in this country. AVLON: This is part of the American character. Right, this is the idea. It’s not just anecdotal. It’s Google. It’s the guys behind Google. There’s dozens and dozens and hundreds — This is the story of America. There are two things going on here. One, eighty percent of Americans always think they are middle class and that’s a good thing. The problem is we have seen the middle class get squeezed for around four decades now. And the average CEO’s salary is around $9.6 million while the average family of four still makes 50 [thousand?] … Avlon concludes, “You can’t dismiss the idea of the American Dream because people live it every day and that’s what animates our country.” But, as Moore responded, “That dream is a nightmare for most people” these days. Progressive leader Van Jones has kickstarted a movement called Rebuilding the American Dream. The movement aims to stand up to right wing attacks on unions and the middle class in America. It is a feel good movement and also
politically safe. It gives upset Americans the opportunity to get involved in a wellorganized advocacy venture that is likely to work with power. The more people who get involved in advocating for changes, the more people who elect representatives in city, state and federal government, the more likely America is to see the American Dream “restored.” No person participating in Occupy Wall Street will talk about some mythical American Dream that has been held over Americans to pacify them. They understand this country has owners and like comedian George Carlin said there is a club and they “ain’ in it.” They are out planting the seeds of rebellion and for many it is either annoying because they t think it will divert and suck off too much energy and fail or, worse, lead to a confrontation that sparks riots. They Fear Encouraging Occupy Wall Street Will Lead to Riots Here is how CNBC covered the history of “civil unrest” or protest in America earlier this year: On January 25, 2011, the people of Egypt took to the streets in unprecedented numbers to protest the government of President Hosni Mubarak, who has kept the nation under a state of emergency for three decades. The riots have continued unabated into the month of February, and it’s anybody’s guess when the disorder will end. The United States has endured its share of civil unrest as well. Some riots have been carefully planned in advance to protest government policies, and some have begun spontaneously in communities plagued by poverty and unemployment. But while riots start for many different reasons, they usually end the same way, with mass arrests, loss of life and damage to public and private property.
To establishment media and the power elite, Occupy Wall Street can only be ineffective or destructive. CNBC has nothing but scorn for the Arab Spring. CNBC and other media organizations care little about the “moral imperative to fight,” as writer and journalist Chris Hedges puts it. They do not see the consciousness of America awakening as a positive development because it will put additional pressure on government. They see Occupy Wall Street as a movement exacerbating political polarization in America, which is why they advocate for mobilizing people in “the middle.” They want to see disgruntled Americans demobilize and channel their energy into more controlled arenas like electoral politics. “Power Elite Will Define Whatever You Do as Failure” Hedges has cautioned occupiers, “The power elite will define whatever you do as failure.” The future of Occupy Wall Street and any future act of rebellion or resistance to economic, political and social injustice depend on understanding this truth. The growing threat to power Occupy Wall Street poses does not rest upon its critique of the financial system or its ability to show the world how the security state of America squelches dissent. It lies in its ability to convince Americans that people have the power, that if they abandon fear and cynicism and step out into the streets they will find community and hope. The power of Occupy Wall Street is, as Hedges also said, the movement’ ability to “break the kind of atomization or s isolation that enables fear.” It is the ability “to endure frightening situations and know someone is standing next to you” and be around people, who have “empathy toward you,” that will create the kind of rebellion in America necessary to
challenge the power of Wall Street and other corporate and special interests putting not just this country but the entire planet at risk. Criticism of Occupy Wall Street is just a way for establishment media, the power elite and those who believe in their views to defend their ideology on how politics is supposed to work. It is their way of affirming their conviction that at some point the children need to leave the streets and the grownups must be allowed to work in peace. It is also part of the culture; expressing support for “hippies” or a “plurality of voices” preaching against capitalism will not win friends and influence people in the Beltway. And so, they will make criticisms whether there is evidence to support what is said or written.
So, move forward and let the elites and establishment media come to the realization that the people outnumber them and they are on the wrong side of history. Instead, remember the words of the late people’ historian Howard Zinn: s What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many— where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
Pasted from <http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2011/09/27/why-establishment-media-the-power-elite-loathe-occupy-wall-street/>
The Revolution Begins at Home: An Open Letter to Join the Wall Street Occupation
By Arun Gupta September 28, 2011
What is occurring on Wall Street right now is truly remarkable. For over 10 days, in the sanctum of the great cathedral of global capitalism, the dispossessed have liberated territory from the financial overlords and their police army. They have created a unique opportunity to shift the tides of history in the tradition of other great peaceful occupations from the sitdown strikes of the 1930s to the lunchcounter sitins of the 1960s to the democratic uprisings across the Arab world and Europe today. While the Wall Street occupation is growing, it needs an all out commitment from everyone who cheered the Egyptians in Tahrir Square, said “We are all Wisconsin,” and stood in solidarity with the Greeks and Spaniards. This is a movement for anyone who lacks a job, housing or healthcare, or thinks they have no future. Our system is broken at every level. More than 25 million Americans are unemployed. More than 50 million live without health insurance. And perhaps 100 million Americans are mired in poverty, using realistic measures. Yet the fat cats continue to get tax breaks and reap billions while politicians compete to turn the austerity screws on all of us. At some point the number of people occupying Wall Street – whether that’ five thousand, ten thousand or fifty s thousand – will force the powers that be to offer concessions. No one can say how many people it will take or even how things will change exactly, but there is a real potential for bypassing a corrupt political process and to begin realizing a society based on human needs not hedge fund profits. After all, who would have imagined a year ago that Tunisians and Egyptians would oust their dictators? At Liberty Park, the nerve center of the occupation, more than a thousand people gather every day to debate, discuss and organize what to do about our failed system that has allowed the 400 richest Americans at the top to amass more wealth than the 180 million Americans at the bottom. It’ astonishing that this selforganized festival of democracy has sprouted on the turf of the masters of the universe, the s men who play the tune that both political parties and the media dance to. The New York Police Department, which has deployed hundreds of officers at a time to surround and intimidate protesters, is capable of arresting everyone and clearing Liberty Plaza in minutes. But they haven’ which is also astonishing. t, That’ because assaulting peaceful crowds in a public square demanding real democracy – economic and not just s political – would remind the world of the brittle autocrats who brutalized their people demanding justice before they were swept away by the Arab Spring. And the state violence has already backfired. After police attacked a Saturday afternoon march that started from Liberty Park the crowds only got bigger and media interest grew. The Wall Street occupation has already succeeded in revealing the bankruptcy of the dominant powers – the economic, the political, media and security forces. They have nothing positive to offer humanity, not that they ever did for the Global South, but now their quest for endless profits means deepening the misery with a thousand austerity cuts. Even their solutions are cruel jokes. They tell us that the “Buffett Rule” would spread the pain by asking the penthouse set to sacrifice a tin of caviar, which is what the proposed tax increase would amount to. Meanwhile, the rest of us will have to sacrifice healthcare, food, education, housing, jobs and perhaps our lives to sate the ferocious appetite of capital. That’ why more and more people are joining the Wall Street occupation. They can tell you about their homes being s foreclosed upon, months of grinding unemployment or minimumwage deadend jobs, staggering student debt loads, or trying to live without decent healthcare. It’ a whole generation of Americans with no prospects, but who are told to s believe in a system that can only offer them Dancing With The Stars and pepper spray to the face.
Yet against every description of a generation derided as narcissistic, apathetic and hopeless they are staking a claim to a better future for all of us. That’s why we all need to join in. Not just by liking it on Facebook, signing a petition at change.org or retweeting protest photos, but by going down to the occupation itself. There is great potential here. Sure, it’s a far cry from Tahrir Square or even Wisconsin. But there is the nucleus of a revolt that could shake America’s power structure as much as the Arab world has been upended. Instead of one to two thousand people a day joining in the occupation there needs to be tens of thousands of people protesting the fat cats driving Bentleys and drinking thousanddollar bottles of champagne with money they looted from the financial crisis and then from the bailouts while Americans literally die on the streets. To be fair, the scene in Liberty Plaza seems messy and chaotic. But it’s also a laboratory of possibility, and that’s the beauty of democracy. As opposed to our monoculture world, where political life is flipping a lever every four years, social life is being a consumer and economic life is being a timid cog, the Wall Street occupation is creating a polyculture of ideas, expression and art. Yet while many people support the occupation, they hesitate to fully join in and are quick to offer criticism. It’s clear that the biggest obstacles to building a powerful movement are not the police or capital – it’s our own cynicism and despair. Perhaps their views were colored by the New York Times article deriding protestors for wishing to “pantomime progressivism” and “Gunning for Wall Street with faulty aim.” Many of the criticisms boil down to “a lack of clear messaging.” But what’s wrong with that? A fully formed movement is not going to spring from the ground. It has to be created. And who can say what exactly needs to be done? We are not talking about ousting a dictator; though some say we want to oust the dictatorship of capital. There are plenty of sophisticated ideas out there: end corporate personhood; institute a “Tobin Tax” on stock purchases and currency trading; nationalize banks; socialize medicine; fully fund government jobs and genuine Keynesian stimulus; lift restrictions on labor organizing; allow cities to turn foreclosed homes into public housing; build a green energy infrastructure. But how can we get broad agreement on any of these? If the protesters came into the square with a predetermined set of demands it would have only limited their potential. They would have either been dismissed as pie in the sky – such as socialized medicine or nationalize banks – or if they went for weak demands such as the Buffett Rule their efforts would immediately be absorbed by a failed political system, thus undermining the movement. That’s why the building of the movement has to go hand in hand with common struggle, debate and radical democracy. It’s how we will create genuine solutions that have legitimacy. And that is what is occurring down at Wall Street. Now, there are endless objections one can make. But if we focus on the possibilities, and shed our despair, our hesitancy and our cynicism, and collectively come to Wall Street with critical thinking, ideas and solidarity we can change the world. How many times in your life do you get a chance to watch history unfold, to actively participate in building a better society, to come together with thousands of people where genuine democracy is the reality and not a fantasy? For too long our minds have been chained by fear, by division, by impotence. The one thing the elite fear most is a great awakening. That day is here. Together we can seize it.
Pasted from <http://www.indypendent.org/2011/09/28/revolution-begins-at-home/>
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