Monday, September 17, 2012

Happy Birthday, Occupy

The theme today is Resistance. It's being practiced in New York City, as Occupiers have retaken Zuccotti Park and planned to form a human wall around the Stock Exchange.  It's being practiced in Chicago, where teachers are refusing to rubber-stamp a contract without having a chance to read it first. It's being practiced in Spain and Portugal, where thousands of people have rallied against the austerity being dictated to them by the very same financial cabal that destroyed the economy in the first place. It's being practiced in the streets of the West Bank where crowds of people are protesting the high cost of living in a region where the average wages are only $500 a month. And people in scores of Muslim countries have finally had it with the exceptional states of America's puppet regimes and occupations and drone strikes and military bases. And oh yeah, with cheesy movies dissing their religion.  

If there is one country on the planet where people aren't fighting oppression today, I wish somebody would tell me where it is. It's as though everybody suddenly woke up at the same moment in time and realized they'd finally had enough.

Quite a few experts in government and media appear to be in shock that these resistance movements have not met their official expectations and quietly caved. The paramilitary police forces broke up the Occupy camps but they didn't break human spirits. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has just found out that Chicago teachers are willing to keep schools shut a few more days in order to prevent him from closing down hundreds of them forever. His nefarious plan to privatize education and enrich his cronies has been exposed for the world to see.

The global upswelling of outrage is continuing. The contagion of mass revolts, first made apparent in modern times with the Arab Spring and later with the Occupy movement one year ago, appears to be entering yet another phase. As Cornell University historian Ziad Fahmy puts it in a DiscoveryNews piece, each new revolt provides a template for the possible, and chips away at the fear people might have had of speaking up and taking to the streets.

"When people are oppressed," he says, "they will revolt."


Bonnie said...

My constant prayer, or mantra, is "MAY ALL KNOW THE TRUTH".

Denis Neville said...

Yes, Happy Birthday OWS! Vive L'Occupy!!!

However, we still have a long, long way to go.

“Those Chicago teachers and NFL referees have something we don't have! They stole it from us.”

How is it that all those people in those billion dollar football stadiums, as well as the millions watching at home, feel they have more in common with “Jerry’s World” than they do with the locked-out NFL refs or those striking Chicago teachers?

Aaron Kuriloff and Darrell Preston, “In Stadium Building Spree, U.S. Taxpayers Lose $4 Billion.”

Where’s the shit storm?

Remember Aldous Huxley's Brave New World?

Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In Brave New World, people are controlled by inflicting pleasure.

Dave Zirin, “Out of Exile: On Visiting ‘Occupy USA’ with Dr. John Carlos,”

"I think the presence of John Carlos has been important for the occupy movement as well. It lends a sense of connectivity to struggles-past and the moral authority of a person who suffered but tells young people, 'I don't regret what I did for one solitary instant because it's about seizing your moment in time and not regretting that when you were called upon to stand up, you didn't do it. Trust me; those who didn't stand up in 1968 regret it today.' He also drew a direct line from the medal stand to Zuccotti Park at one of the occupy encampments, saying, 'There was no more important place to stand up in 1968 than the Olympic medal stage. And, given the economic injustice in the world, there is no more important place today to stand up than Wall Street.'"

Zirin concluded,“Hopefully, we will have more ‘Jocks for Justice’ raising their fists at our side.”

And more sports fans also raising their fists.

sara said...

The spirit of protest is not enough. Clear-minded political strategy has been lacking. The 1% smug posturing of the clueless Mitt has done more to frame the maldistribution of income than the street actions.
The popular atmosphere is charged with anxiety; '60s-style rabble rousing no longer inspires or consolidates a populist movement.
OWS folks humbly ask to be allowed rime to find their if this is a progressive pre-school world. Too bad.

Denis Neville said...


Great take down of the tin pot sociologist David Brooks!

“So, Mitt is a kind and decent man who pretends to be cold. This, from a cold columnist who pretends to be kind and decent.”

David Brooks wrote, “There are some government programs that cultivate patterns of dependency in some people. I’d put federal disability payments and unemployment insurance in this category.”

“As for the signs of your peculiar priesthood, we are willing to let you boast of these mean things, for we know it would be quite easy to shave, anoint, and clothe in a long robe even a pig or a block of wood.” - Martin Luther, “Concerning the Ministry,” Luther's Works

People like Brooks are hirelings, dumb dogs unable to bark, who see the wolf coming and flee or, rather, join up with the wolf.

Neil Gillespie said...

Karen@ "If there is one country on the planet where people aren't fighting oppression today, I wish somebody would tell me where it is."

Okay Karen, most people on Main Street USA are not fighting oppression. Other than a few fringe groups and malcontents, (very important nonetheless), most of America is either waiting for the second coming of Obama, or the anti-Obama, Mitt Romney. Both groups of supporters fail to see, or understand, the Obama-Romney duopoly.

Has it been a year since the first Occupy protest? Seems like a lot longer.

Occupy needs leaders, an agenda, and candidates for office, not unlike our "Tea Party brothers and sisters" (to quote Cornel West). Yes, our Tea Party brothers and sisters are in solidarity with Occupy in rejection of the status quo, the Washington duopoly. Together with the independents, who Romney has identified as his ticket to the White House, Occupy might actually accomplish something. Until then...

Great link to Truthout, but a new Occupy "calendric cycle on the order of the French Revolution" is the kind of talk that alienates Main Street USA. On some level ordinary Americans understand that even their declining standard of living is based in part on "the exceptional states of America's puppet regimes and occupations and drone strikes and military bases". In other words, even a marginal American working class lifestyle is enhanced by the sweat and suffering of someone else in a faraway hellhole.

Occupy also needs more focus. Truthout shows an agenda that includes the "fight against the expansion of fossil fuel extraction" and a "Debt Strike, an effort to organize a mass upsurge of debt resistance" To many on Main Street USA, these goals are mutually exclusive. The drill-baby-drill crowd sees increased domestic fossil fuel extraction as a way to reduce debt through energy self-reliance, instead of spending American cash on foreign oil. "In addition, a third, ecologically-themed action called Storm Wall Street featuring "polar bears on bikes and the Solar panel and Rising Sea Level Swimmer Brigade" will focus on connecting the dots between Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry and the climate crisis." Can Main Street America ever realistically connect those dots? The link to Glenn Greenwald shows how little America understands the rest of the world, and connecting the dots of U.S. foreign policy.

Happy Birthday Occupy!

John in Lafayette said...

Stopped in to write that your final line in your response to David Brooks today was spectacular; Karen Garcia at her absolute best.

"So, Mitt is a kind and decent man who pretends to be cold. This, from a cold columnist who pretends to be kind and decent."

Then I see Denis beat me to it. So while Denis (whose comments I always enjoy) has us in the Martin Luther King mood, I'll add one of my favorites, which is apt here:

"We must examine honestly the weaknesses of capitalism. In all fairness, we must admit that capitalism has often left a gulf between superfluous wealth and abject poverty, has created conditions permitting necessities to be taken from the many to give luxuries to the few, and has encouraged small-hearted men to become cold and conscienceless so that they are unmoved by suffering, poverty-stricken humanity."

John in Lafayette said...

Oops. I meant to say, "while Denis put me in mind of Martin Luther King..." Didn't mean to suggest he was actually quoting King.

Karen Garcia said...

@Denis and John,
Thanks! Don't you love concern trolls like Brooksie? I think he had to throw out his original column, probably lambasting the moochie teachers of Chicago, to get this latest gem out there.

horace said...

Do you truly consider yourself comrades with the mobs of Islamist reaction that have murdered an American ambassador? And for that matter the Arab Spring isn't just limited to "American puppets" just look at Syria or Libya last year.

horace said...

Incidentally if the Occupy Wall Street movement does wish to gain more steam, it needs to be as Michael Lind calls it a "National Liberal" movement and bring aboard working-class whites which many progressives dismiss as "fundies" or "rednecks". William Jennings Bryant would be a good role-model in this respect.

John in Lafayette said...

Horace: If I may speak for Karen here, when she says "people in scores of Muslim countries have finally had it with the exceptional states of America's puppet regimes and occupations," I don't think she's referring to "mobs of Islamist reaction." Who would argue that those mobs are puppets of the American government?

I think, instead, she's referring to people like Nouri al-Maliki, Hosni Mubarak, Pervez Musharraf, and Hamid Karzai.

No rational person would support violence in the streets, but there's a difference between taking to the street and rioting. The former gives us Martin Luther King (and the great majority of the Occupy movement), the latter gives us Benghazi.

Neil Gillespie said...

The Reporters Committee For Freedom of the Press reported at least five journalists were arrested covering the one year birthday of OWS.

"At least five journalists arrested during OWS protests
By Lilly Chapa — Sep 17, 2012 5:31pm

At least five journalists have been arrested in Manhattan while covering Occupy Wall Street protests marking the one-year anniversary of the movement.

New York City police said the department has arrested 146 people between Saturday and this afternoon. Those arrested include Hunter College student journalist John Bolger, economic journalist Mark Provost, illustrator Molly Crabapple and photojournalists Julia Reinhart and Charles Meacham.

The reasons for the journalists' arrests were not clear, although there were indications that at least one was swept up with other arrestees during the protests. A few of the arrested journalists reported their experiences through social media.

"I was arrested in NYC during an Occupy march this evening," Provost wrote on his Facebook page Saturday night. "NYPD was randomly grabbing people 3-5 at a time throughout the march."
Meacham said he also was unsure of the reason for his arrest.

"I was once again arrested for taking photos by [NYPD] Deputy Inspector [Edward J.] Winski who is well aware that I am a photographer," Meacham wrote on his Facebook page. "I was released four hours later, but never told what the charge was against me."

Bystanders said police arrested Reinhart because she did not have an NYPD press pass, although she had her National Press Photographers Association (NPPA) credentials with her.

NPPA lawyer Mickey Osterreicher said in an interview today that he is concerned about how the NYPD is handling the arrests of journalists.

"If the public is there, the press can be there," Osterreicher said. "Whether they’re press or public, they have a right to observe and photograph an arrest, and it says that in the NYPD patrol guide. Just being present and taking pictures while someone else is being arrested is not probable cause for arrest."

This is not the first time journalists have been swept up in Occupy Wall Street-related arrests. The treatment of the news media during Occupy Wall Street protests last November drew criticism and concern from many media advocates, including The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. In a letter to the NYPD, media organizations scolded the department, expressing their "profound displeasure, disappointment and concern over the recent actions taken against the media during the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations near and around Zuccotti Park.""