Sympathetic Voices Addressing Concerns about the Occupy Everywhere Protests
October 9, 2011 8:54 AM   Subscribe

As the protests begun by Occupy Wall Street begin to spread and gain a foothold in the public consciousness, many question the movement's apparent unwillingness to focus its outrage into a coherent platform of demands. Meanwhile, others question whether the demographics of the protesters themselves are truly representative of the so-called 99 percent (previously). Why the lack of focus, and what is to be done to keep the movement growing and moving forward?

Here are a few sympathetic but nonetheless differing perspectives which speak to these issues in ways which I hope you will find thoughtful and well-informed.

"It’s impossible to translate the issue of the greed of Wall Street into one demand, or two demands. We’re talking about a democratic awakening." — Dr. Cornel West in an interview by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now

"Not everyone is waking up to the injustices of capitalism for the first time now; some populations have been targeted by the power structure for years or generations." — posted by pfm at crimethinc.com

“Think about the average 19-year-old college student at NYU who is white, and a 65-year-old African American bus driver. What it means to protest, the consequences and challenges and opportunities that a protest represents can all be very different.” — Andrew Grant-Thomas speaking to Janell Ross for The Huffington Post
posted by Scientist (545 comments total) 47 users marked this as a favorite

 
I guess the Wall Street protestors just lack the razor-sharp focus and carefully articulated demands that the Tea Party has. Or something.
posted by Rykey at 8:59 AM on October 9, 2011 [62 favorites]


It's easier to set the FOX News machine rolling when there is one message or one personality to target. A decentralized movement has more difficulty with goals or agendas, but is a tougher target for the government and its media, in turn.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:00 AM on October 9, 2011 [16 favorites]


I guess the Wall Street protestors just lack the razor-sharp focus and carefully articulated demands that the Tea Party has.

A few leadership conferences should get them to a "WHAR STOCK CERTIFICATE? WHAR" level of coherence.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 9:01 AM on October 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Anyone who thinks there is a lack of focus isn't paying attention. Maybe the discontent is a little broad, but the problems many of us face today aren't as simple as "end the Vietnam War." Its more like, "I am a single mom raising my son that my church told me to keep, working two jobs to pay for the babysitter, living with a friend because I can't get a mortgage, and my state disapproves of my lesbian relationship."
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:01 AM on October 9, 2011 [44 favorites]


LEGALIZE MUMIA!!!
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:02 AM on October 9, 2011 [20 favorites]


The people want to bring down the regime.

It's the exact same protest as in other parts of the world. Except they aren't talking about taking down the government, just breaking the corporatist control of it.
posted by hippybear at 9:04 AM on October 9, 2011 [23 favorites]


Recall the good old days when the Koch brothers told populist movements what to think...

There is a focus to the movement. I just don't think journalists are smart enough to figure it out for the most part.
posted by munchingzombie at 9:06 AM on October 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


Today's NYTimes editorial is a great and concise summary of what's going on. Almost makes up for Ginia Bellafante's nasty early coverage.
posted by oinopaponton at 9:07 AM on October 9, 2011 [17 favorites]


I think there's a very salient point here about a lack of focus. Compare this to MoveOn.org. That group started with a demand that could be encapsulated into just four words. ("Censure and move on."). From there, the organization grew.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:08 AM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I frankly think most of these people wouldn't be protesting next to each other if the cause wasn't vague. I was at Occupy Boston last week, and during the message meetings everyone stood up and spoke about whatever topic they're personally passionate about, and it could be anything from dismantling the Federal Reserve to Immigrant Rights to setting a barter economy in Cambridge. There was a very passionate contingent insisting that we not declare any official message, because it would affect the movement's growth.

Getting a group of liberals to agree on what's wrong is easy; getting them to agree on how to fix it is next to impossible.
posted by Peevish at 9:08 AM on October 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Also, I was at the Washington Square General Assembly meeting yesterday. There were people of all ages and races, peacefully gathered together because they all understood that the current financial system isn't working. As the Times editorial I linked to above says, it's not the people's job to legislate. What matters is the momentum.
posted by oinopaponton at 9:10 AM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Talk Of The Nation had an excellent half hour on the Occupy* protests on Thursday, with insightful commentary and reporting by Margot Adler. Here's the transcript which includes a link to the audio.
posted by hippybear at 9:13 AM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


The 9 Word Platform:

Medicare For All. End The Wars. Soak The Rich.
posted by Trurl at 9:14 AM on October 9, 2011 [54 favorites]


Were people this obsessed with finding a unified message in crowds before the focus on talking points as an essential political tactic?

To me, Occupy Wall Street is a bunch of people pissed off about the general balance of business and government. What each person in that mass thinks is up to them.

The larger point is that a bunch of people are pissed off.

The mass apparently doesn't need talking points, because it's building without them.




I think what people are really wondering when they grapple with what Occupy Wall Street is all about is when and how it will end. I have no idea. I don't think many people on the ground know. And that's the unknown that's scary to people who just want things to go back to normal.
posted by pokermonk at 9:14 AM on October 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


I suppose enforcing the existing laws would be a good start. Run an audit on every corporation worth more than a billion dollars, for instance.

The effort would be costly, but I think the federal government would recoup that investment.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:15 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, building a wall would be a good start.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:15 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting tactic to try and de-legitimize a movement. Syria should take notes...
posted by iamck at 9:16 AM on October 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


@oinopaponton
Fair enough, but one of the things people are protesting is a lack of trust in our politicians. I don't think anyone wants to leave it up to the politicians to write new legislation for fear that it'll be a slightly different version of the old. They may not be qualified to write the legislation themselves, but for starters they could say what they want new legislation to contain and what it must not contain.

My worry is that people are angry, and that anger isn't being focused on anything. During a march on the Federal Reserve building in Boston, someone started chanting "fuck the Fed," and eventually the whole crowd was chanting it. "Fuck the Fed" was not a principle determined in a general assembly, it was the opinion of some loud and angry protesters, but once a whole crowd chants it it's a slogan of the movement; to any onlooker wanting to join the movement, "Fuck The Fed" is a platform. Several people at Occupy Boston have said publicly that they don't believe the Fed should be dismantled, and I'm positive many have no opinion one way or the other. Same with the "smash capitalism" signs some protesters carry - in lieu of an official stance on capitalism, that sign will be seen by the media and anyone looking with interest at the crowd as being representative of the whole movement.
posted by Peevish at 9:22 AM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Well, building a wall would be a good start.

Around Wall St.?
posted by The Hamms Bear at 9:22 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know when you're a little kid and it's your sibling's birthday and people give you presents too? That's what I think of whenever I see the Occupy movement. That's probably real defeatist and jaded, but I think of a liberal 4 year old pointing at his conservative 7 year old brother's Tea Party transformer and shouting "I want one of those!"
posted by nathancaswell at 9:25 AM on October 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Occupy Wall Street: A historical perspective. How do the protests measure up to past movements in American history?
posted by homunculus at 9:26 AM on October 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think people attempting to pry apart the coalition are (willfully or not) missing the point of the "99%" slogan: Yes, a 19 year old white NYU student has precious little in common with a 65 year old black bus driver, but in terms of relations to power, both of them have much more in common than either of them do with the 1% that owns the country.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 9:26 AM on October 9, 2011 [100 favorites]


"The problem with Occupy Wall Street is that they don't have a single clear talking point I can sarcastically dismiss."
posted by Legomancer at 9:28 AM on October 9, 2011 [83 favorites]


Rep. Peter King (R-NY): Do Not Allow Any Legitimacy For Wall Street Protests, Or It Will Be Like 1960s Again
posted by homunculus at 9:30 AM on October 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


Wall Street will not change unless forced to by the government. The government will not force them to as long as Wall Street owns it. Wall Street will not stop owning it until corporate personhood is revoked and there is public financing of elections.

Or you could just emigrate.
posted by Trurl at 9:31 AM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Now repeatedly linked to, but the final paragraphs are gold
posted by The Whelk at 9:31 AM on October 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


Soak The Rich.

Soak? In what? Bathwater? Are we giving them a nice scrub too?

Can we please find people with better linguistic skills to come up with talking points?

Also, officially adding an element of class warfare doesn't seem a good strategy to me. There are plenty of other ways to define grievances with the current lopsided distribution of wealth and power, without painting every person who happens to have money as evil. And from a purely tactical perspective, if you shy away from all the money, you'll never get proper funding to make this movement amount to anything.
posted by CaffeineFree at 9:31 AM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't think the people who are confused about the purpose of the movement are willful in their confusion, for the most part. They live in a different socioeconomic class, which means they're distant from the concerns being expressed. Distance really does make it harder to understand people.

That said, it's very difficult to make even a sincerely confused person understand something when their income depends on their not understanding it.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:32 AM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


"...many question the movement's apparent unwillingness to focus its outrage into a coherent platform of demands" - Really? who are these "many."

The processes going on at Liberty Plaza are incredible and complex and engaging. Anyone who spends even just an afternoon there, and participates in a General Assembly, and makes even the slightest effort to engage with people there can't possibly walk away thinking there is an unwillingness to focus. There are dozens of working groups meeting throughout the day, they are reporting back to two General Assemblies a day, there are discussion groups and teach-ins facilitated by Naomi Klein, Slavoj Žižek, Eve Ensler, Chris Hedges and others.

People from all walks of life, from all classes, ethnic and cultural backgrounds and political positions are engaging with one another in the public square in a process of participatory democracy. The problem isn't that there isn't a focus, the problem is that most of the media who visit, stop in for an hour, ask us: "why are you here and what do you want?" - and then they leave and write it all up as armchair journalists.

If you're anywhere near NYC, come visit Liberty Plaza, stop by the Library and say hi to me - and if there's an occupation in your city - go participate. That's how you're going to find out what's going on there.
posted by jardinier at 9:33 AM on October 9, 2011 [38 favorites]


Occupy Atlanta Turns Away John Lewis because of their desire for the movement to remain nonhierarchical. Interesting.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 9:36 AM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


When you can make a good living by owning pieces of paper for 22 seconds at a time, but others can't, you are on the winning side of a tremendous divide in what society is offering you. It's natural that you would want to stay on that side of the divide, yet you would not like the people on the other side - who are protecting your ability to keep what you have - disappear. Neither would you like to benefit them by allowing them to have the same kind of living you do, because then you would not have so much.

It would make sense for ordinary people to say "we have two societies here, not one, and we're going to stop pretending we have just one".

"In all revolutions, the conditions which lead up to them is the desire of the many for equality, and the desire of the minority for effective superiority."
posted by jet_silver at 9:41 AM on October 9, 2011 [26 favorites]


They are currently occuplying the plaza outside the Westlake Center in Settle, which is a bit crap really.
posted by Artw at 9:42 AM on October 9, 2011


Today's NYTimes editorial is a great and concise summary of what's going on.

Paul Krugman's latest column is good too.

Confronting the Malefactors: Occupy Wall Street is starting to look like an important event that might even eventually be seen as a turning point.
posted by homunculus at 9:43 AM on October 9, 2011 [13 favorites]


Anyone who spends even just an afternoon there, and participates in a General Assembly, and makes even the slightest effort to engage with people there can't possibly walk away thinking there is an unwillingness to focus.

If you can't find out what's going on there without being there yourself, then this is too small to make a difference. Do you expect congress to go visit? Who are the people that really need to be addressed, and are they going to show up there on their own? How to you expect the message to spread to the rest of the 99% who don't live in NYC, met of whom can't afford plane tickets to fly there? If you can't get the rest of the country on board, how can yo expect legislative changes?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:45 AM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's funny how posters here keeping writing more or less "People keep saying OWS doesn't have a focus, but they do" ..... [silence]

Well look, I am infinitely supportive of the idea of occupying wall street, but like others here who've been out and talked with these people.... they. really. do. not. have. a. coherent. message

I've been hearing everything from "abolish the Federal Reserve, they're stealing all our money" to "without GM food we wouldn't need health care" to "take your money out of banks" to just lots of rambling incoherent ideas about who or what or where or why to even protest

Everyone understands what's happened in America over the last 3 years, over the last 30 years, is viscerally unfair. But I think the Tea Party started with that same visceral understanding. It's not enough to be angry, there ultimately needs to be some suggested course of action to fix these problems

My hope is people are still grasping to "see things as they are and say why," and will eventually move on to "dream things that never were and say why not?"
posted by crayz at 9:46 AM on October 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Soak? In what? Bathwater? Are we giving them a nice scrub too?

Can we please find people with better linguistic skills to come up with talking points?


That's a bit disingenuous, don't you think? You're clearly not having a hard time with the syntax or grammar, so I assume the three points aren't highbrow enough for you. Give Hitch some time and I'm sure he'll come up with something. As for me and most people I know, those three points are a damn fine platform.
posted by jwhite1979 at 9:46 AM on October 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think they should just settle on Smash The State for now and figure out the political platform later.
posted by empath at 9:50 AM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


In theory, it seems like folks who agree in general about the negative impacts of corporate influence and the plight of the poor and working class under the current system, but feel the current movement is lacking in focus and well-written talking points, could pitch in and help fill in some of those perceived gaps. But I guess maybe that's just crazytalk.
posted by snofoam at 9:54 AM on October 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


In theory, it seems like folks who agree in general about the negative impacts of corporate influence and the plight of the poor and working class under the current system, but feel the current movement is lacking in focus and well-written talking points, could pitch in and help fill in some of those perceived gaps. But I guess maybe that's just crazytalk.

I've spent about 8 hours so far interacting with OWS and the local movement trying to do just that, and wasn't planning on stopping. Are we not allowed to discuss it here too?
posted by crayz at 9:57 AM on October 9, 2011


I've spent about 8 hours so far interacting with OWS and the local movement trying to do just that, and wasn't planning on stopping.
posted by crayz

As snofoam said... it's crayz talk.
posted by hippybear at 9:58 AM on October 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


I've spent about 8 hours so far interacting with OWS and the local movement trying to do just that, and wasn't planning on stopping. Are we not allowed to discuss it here too?

Good point. I certainly didn't mean to begrudge someone doing both. My comment was targeted towards folks who might be inclined to sit on the sidelines and criticize because they don't feel the movement is up to their standards of organization or something.

Also, whatever you say is by definition crayztalk.
posted by snofoam at 10:01 AM on October 9, 2011


Bottom line: It's not a backseat driver, sit on the sidelines and complain kind of movement. If you see something you want to change, or you're unsatisfied with in how things are being done, then show up, address the general assembly and make a proposal. If you aren't in NYC or one of the other 1,099 cities where there are occupations going on now, create one in your own city. Walk down to your public square and call up your friends and start talking to each other.
posted by jardinier at 10:01 AM on October 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


I was thinking that the biggest bias in who is occupying Wall Street is a matter of who has the time to occupy Wall Street. I could go (if I lived in NYC), what with being unemployed, but no one else I know could. But I'm also not sure that I would go - I have people to help move, nieces to babysit, people to cook for - chores don't stop even if society is steadily becoming more unequal and things are getting worse every day.
posted by jb at 10:03 AM on October 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


The problem with the lack of demands, from my perspective, is that it makes this very easy to write off. The people gathered at these protests literally don't agree on anything (Really - there are apparently Tea Partiers at some of the rallies because they support the apparent 'anti-government' sentiments.)

This means that, in the end, there's no threat of any kind of action here, since there's no concrete action that these crowd could be mobilized to support. The minute anyone tries to rally these groups to any real change - to say 'Look at all these people who support X! Now make X a reality or suffer at the next elections!' - the whole illusion of coherence will disappear. This doesn't appear able to turn into a movement to support corporate audits, or universal heathcare, or maternity leave, or LGBT rights, or anything else I've heard mentioned in various interviews with people at the rallies. The second there's an actual campaign to support anything, big chunks of the crowd will disappear. The people who are saying "we can't make a list of demands, that will kill the movement!" seem to be acknowledging this.
posted by Wylla at 10:10 AM on October 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also, is the notion of needing to define a platform perhaps a divisive trap to some degree? I mean the 99% metaphor seems to be broadly inclusive by design. It seems like the movement is designed to bring changes that will help the majority of the population, who are suffering in various ways and to various degrees. I guess concrete demands need to emerge eventually, but is it so wrong to start by building a movement that is as inclusive as possible? It would seem like narrowing things down to specific policy goals right now might do more damage than good.
posted by snofoam at 10:10 AM on October 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


jb: I work full time 5 days a week and am also a full time graduate student, and I've managed to get down there almost every day and work at the library. Several of our other librarians have families and children and jobs and they've done the same. One of them drove overnight from Indiana just to spend a day helping us and she has a husband and kids. I realized, after doing this, how much of my in-between time I spent watching netflix and mindlessly surfing online. I've just replaced that with this. It's an incredibly human experience to be there. I've seen so many working folks there, like a single-mother I met the other night. She wasn't an activist, hadn't been to a protest before, but described how she and the other women in her office had spent the last 10 years feeling more depressed about their economic situations, and feeling like the forces working against her were just too large to tackle. She was brought to tears describing the optimism and hope she felt just from spending an evening at Liberty Plaza. If it sounds religious, it is - in the Deweyan sense of a "common faith" - the shared faith in the idea that we can imagine a better world and work together to create it.
posted by jardinier at 10:11 AM on October 9, 2011 [31 favorites]


I just posted this in another thread, but... I hope the protest expands and makes a purposeful effort to reach the millions of people who have traveled down the road of social movements before, who have a deep understanding of exactly what Grayson was saying, and have understood it long before the recent financial crisis. The Business Insider website posted a lot of great photos of the protesters (which I really didn't expect), but one struck them as weird, and me too -- but to me it showed an opportunity that I hope is not missed. This man probably has something to share, if people would only ask.

After the crisis, we all stepped at least one rung down on the ladder. The people who were already on the bottom rung, before the meltdown, what about them? The numbers are there, and there should be an effort to reach them.
posted by Houstonian at 10:12 AM on October 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


But I'm also not sure that I would go - I have people to help move, nieces to babysit, people to cook for - chores don't stop even if society is steadily becoming more unequal and things are getting worse every day.

Whether you go or not is your choice, but there are a lot of people involved at this point, and I would guess that some of them have made a lot of sacrifices to go because they believe in it.
posted by snofoam at 10:13 AM on October 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


There was a nice Planet Money where they explore that OWS is about participatory democracy / economics. People feel helpless and alienated from both politics and production. Like everyone else, they might just be projecting what they want onto the formless void.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:13 AM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


snofoam: I agree completely - the amazing thing about not limiting the movement that way is that everyone is welcome, everyone can come down and everyone has a place to speak. The discourse of the 99% vs. the 1% only 'others' an incredibly small number of people, actually far less than 1%. This is why when the cameras are off, the police officers there can be seen sitting down and talking to protesters about their pensions, and why the transit workers, and other unions are there, and why even folks from wall street stop by and talk to us about how to imagine a world where politics aren't controlled by money.
posted by jardinier at 10:14 AM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]



The problem with the lack of demands, from my perspective, is that it makes this very easy to write off.


It's political suicide to tie yourself to a narrow ideology. The vaguer the platform, the more the people will be drawn into the movement. Think Kennedy, Reagan, Obama, ::cough:: Klein ::cough::

It would seem like narrowing things down to specific policy goals right now might do more damage than good.

Amen.
posted by jwhite1979 at 10:18 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think it should be surprising that what appears to be a genuinly grassroots movement protesting economic injustice hasn't come up with a coherent set of demands considering the complexity of he problem and the fact that economic injustice hasn't seriously been thought about in this country since the late 1960's and early 1970's.

I think that people agree at a visceral level about the fundamental unfairness of how the economy is run, but without a common theoretical or historical framework to analyze the economy, what comes out is chaotic mix of demands, theories, and solutions.

The Krugman column is welcome, but I think there needs to be much more education of the public (teach ins?) about economics and political economy by people with an understanding of those subjects. Hopefully the protests provide a forum for education as well as a venue for venting frustration with the current economic order.
posted by eagles123 at 10:18 AM on October 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


My experience in Boston was that most people went to be heard, not to listen. I watched two people argue for a solid half-hour about whether or not declaring goals was a good idea, and neither seemed particularly interested in convincing the other or coming to a compromise - they just kept stating the same things over and over in the hopes that the other would back down.

Of course, my experience is very limited, and Boston isn't Wall Street, and the movement is still young here. But the best thing I think could come out of this is real discourse, which is precisely what was missing here.. I hope it's happening in New York. If I can get to NYC, I'll be heading straight there.

@jwhite1979 - sure, but I don't think vague platforms are going to make actual changes, they just win elections.
posted by Peevish at 10:20 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can we please find people with better linguistic skills to come up with talking points?

Presumably some of the protesters are English majors who couldn't find a job.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:30 AM on October 9, 2011


"Soak the Rich"

It doesn't take a lot of googling, guys.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 10:33 AM on October 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Also, is the notion of needing to define a platform perhaps a divisive trap to some degree?

BING BING BING BING
posted by dhartung at 10:40 AM on October 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


It's political suicide to tie yourself to a narrow ideology. The vaguer the platform, the more the people will be drawn into the movement. Think Kennedy, Reagan, Obama, ::cough:: Klein ::cough::

Just the fact that you can attribute a solid name means that there were leaders in those aforementioned movements, elections, campaigns, etc. OWS is a different beast, with no clear platform or leader.

Douglas Rushkoff recently compared OWS to the Internet, a sort of amorphous all-inclusive 21st century long-tail sustainable movement. According to him, this sort of new movement method is good. I'm speculating it might be more of a double edged sword.

Using his Internet analogy again, the 'net is good if you want to collect information from a large amount of viewpoints. But in actually focusing on one thing or getting your own voice heard, not so much. With so many voices, it's easy for one's own voice to be drowned out. In addition, crowdsourcing stuff is good for choosing a new vacuum or where to stay on vacation, but I don't think it's going to result in the best ideas rising to the top. More often than not, it's going to be those that have the loudest voices or are politically canny enough to get their voices heard first.
posted by FJT at 10:41 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


This whole "The 99% movement doesn't have any clear goal!" keeps being repeated like a mantra by the "liberal" newsmedia; whenever I hear it, it sounds like some paternalistic chiding like "It's nice that you boys and girls have all gotten together, but oopsie, you forgot your catchy slogan! You should all go home and try again before you embarrass yourself (seriously go home or you're grounded)"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:42 AM on October 9, 2011 [18 favorites]


Also, officially adding an element of class warfare doesn't seem a good strategy to me.

As Warren Buffett points out: Class warfare is already underway - and we're losing.
posted by Trurl at 10:42 AM on October 9, 2011 [22 favorites]


Trurl: "Soak The Rich."

...and to those that object to "soaking" the rich, well, I'm fuckin' waterlogged from the steady stream of piss that is "trickle-down" economics, at least the rich should get *wet*.

(personally I prefer "trickle-up" economics - let the nickel-and-dimers off with no tax burden, they'll spend all the pittance they make, and the economy will spring to life!)
posted by notsnot at 10:43 AM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ah yes, lack of focus. This explains why evolution keeps losing out in our talking-point obsessed public discourse. The complexity of the origin of species, even reduced to an abbreviated bullet point like "descent through modification," will never be as pithy as "God did it."

Maybe "Real Housewives of Wall Street" or "Occupy Wall Street WITH THE STARS" would capture public attention?
posted by xigxag at 10:45 AM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


They are currently occuplying the plaza outside the Westlake Center in Settle, which is a bit crap really.


Well, where should we occupy? Ballard?
posted by spinifex23 at 10:46 AM on October 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: It's easier to set the FOX News machine rolling when there is one message or one personality to target. A decentralized movement has more difficulty with goals or agendas, but is a tougher target for the government and its media, in turn.

You're talking as though every issue is easy for FOX News to handle. On the contrary, I would think issues like impunity in the financial industry are subjects that they would go out of their way to avoid. At present, OCW is still making it very easy for them.

As it stands, with all the multiple 'our one demand' smartassery, OCW's opponents can pick up for mockery whichever 'one demand' they can easiest get away with and ignore the ones that would otherwise be impossible to just shrug off.

Whose idea was it anyway to treat as a joke the idea of having a coherent message? Have the crowds been polled regarding whether or not they actually agree with that attitude?
posted by Anything at 10:47 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem is that capital owns the election process.

Our voting methods don't work because the way it is now requires entrenched and powerful parties to preselect a winner, while would-be reformers are just spoilers who ruin the second-best results. The solution is to have a runoff election, allowing everyone an open vote in both rounds (as recently mandated in California). Or, simply allow every voter to choose up to two candidates in a single election. Also, states could alter their congressional delegate laws to have representatives run statewide (instead of using districts) which is their constitutional right. In that case, voters would choose from a list for up to as many seats as are available, or simply cast votes along party lists if they want. No more Gerrymandering, and obscure interests or smaller parties will typically have fair representation.
posted by Brian B. at 10:48 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Uther Bentrazor: This whole "The 99% movement doesn't have any clear goal!" keeps being repeated like a mantra by the "liberal" newsmedia; whenever I hear it, it sounds like some paternalistic chiding like "It's nice that you boys and girls have all gotten together, but oopsie, you forgot your catchy slogan! You should all go home and try again before you embarrass yourself (seriously go home or you're grounded)"

The news media did not come up with this; the de facto leadership of this movement have themselves been proudly advertising their lack of clear goals in their own posters.
posted by Anything at 10:50 AM on October 9, 2011


Hey, spinifex, are you down there? I live out in Bothell and have two kids, but I was thinking of stopping by for a bit tomorrow and bringing in supplies. Is there anything y'all need?
posted by KathrynT at 10:51 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


So are we looking at a a semi-permanent tent city down there? Zucotti park is privately owned, how long before the owners politely ask them to leave.

There is a problem with not having any demands, officials will have to figure out what exactly it will take to make them go away. Will they accept throwing some CEOs in prison? What kind of reforms will they accept? If nobody can figure it out they may very well get nothing.

Not having any demands may well work out for the best, maybe they will strike so much fear that officials will randomly pass laws and throw people in jail till they disperse, that might be kinda fun to watch.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:57 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


personally I prefer "trickle-up" economics - let the nickel-and-dimers off with no tax burden, they'll spend all the pittance they make, and the economy will spring to life!

Isn't this how our tax system is already structured?
posted by hippybear at 11:06 AM on October 9, 2011


Or they can just wait until the neighborhood gets tired of and unsympathetic towards them, which will happen in a few months if the movement stagnates, at which point they can be teargassed into a fleet of vans with minimal repercussions.
posted by Anything at 11:06 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The average member of the 99% does not have access to media or the professionalized legislative and policy making processes that are require to bring about changes. Demanding a coherent political strategy could be seen as a bit elitist, especially considering that decades of organized social action, including getting an incredibly progressive President elected, have resulted in only what we have now.

Occupy Wall Street needs allies in power, it does need to be that power. It simply needs to ficus on it's sustainability. If the protests make it through the winter and grow ever so incrementally, I think the impact will begin to be felt. But this will not take weeks, it will take years and it's maybe time that we tried this long, slow, quiet burn as a strategy.
posted by salishsea at 11:08 AM on October 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


The Mau Mau uprising had this problem. They had a full-on guerrilla war in progress, but they had no specific incremental demands, and no representative to evaluate and accept concessions. They probably could have influenced change more rapidly if they had.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:09 AM on October 9, 2011


hippybear: Why do you think that the nickel-and-dimers (the people who make nickels and dimes, not huge dollars) have no tax burden?
posted by Houstonian at 11:13 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's pretty exciting to see this degree of potential influence not having seized on a particular goal yet, because there's always a chance that someone will spark them to focus on, say, removing the money from politics. Is that going to happen? No. So maybe just somewhat excited. I get the same feeling about anonymous, except they actually attack my preferred targets on occasion.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 11:14 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


@to sir with millipedes - Admittedly, I had never heard of that phrase before, and it didn't even occur to me that it could be a historical reference. Learn something new every day. I still find it an awkward phrase, but I blame ESL for that.

@spinifex23 - How about Pioneer Square, with all the homeless folks who have been forced to deal with the current system in the worst kind if way for far longer than the rest of us? </sarcasm> More seriously, how about the streets of Hunts Point? Or Medina? You know, where the money and power is you are attempting to protest against?

It's political suicide to tie yourself to a narrow ideology. The vaguer the platform, the more the people will be drawn into the movement.

While I can see that being as inclusionary as possible has the greatest chance of amassing large amounts of "supporters", I fear that this support will just be an illusion. The moment this newly formed movement will actually attempt to get anything done, all the differences will emerge and internal struggle will tear it apart. By taking a strong, defensible viewpoint with explicit demands, you may have less mass appeal, but the people who join your cause will be aligned with a much deeper willingness to keep fighting on to reach the common goal. I am certain there are people who can put this much more eloquently than me, but basically I am concerned that "If you try to be everything to everyone, you won’t be anything to anyone."
posted by CaffeineFree at 11:17 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or they can just wait until the neighborhood gets tired of and unsympathetic towards them, which will happen in a few months if the movement stagnates

As long as they are there buying stuff in stores and attracting visitors I'm sure the neighborhood loves them,It is mainly a commercial neighborhood that is like a ghost town after 9 or 10 at night. They are kinda tucked away, and there is no way they are causing as much traffic and noise as the ground zero construction.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:18 AM on October 9, 2011


Tea Party of the Left. Simple as that. Dissatisfied with something, mad enough to scream about it. When pressed, they have no answers or suggestions except to invoke their boogyman. They have the same faulty logic, where they presume the world works in the manner they *believe* it does despite any evidence to the contrary.

More or less, Wall Street doesn't have any money that someone didn't willingly give them.
posted by gjc at 11:18 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, where should we occupy? Ballard?

I dunno... somewhere with symbolic value that's not always full of hippies and homeless looking people anyway, to be brutally honest. Seattle is not really full of public locations that meet that criterea, I'll admit.

I dunno, maybe singing protest songs outside of a closed Borders *does* count, but I don't really see what Lush or the hotdog stand have done to deserve it.
posted by Artw at 11:19 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


More or less, Wall Street doesn't have any money that someone didn't willingly give them.

TARP.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:21 AM on October 9, 2011 [24 favorites]


If the protests make it through the winter and grow ever so incrementally, I think the impact will begin to be felt. But this will not take weeks, it will take years and it's maybe time that we tried this long, slow, quiet burn as a strategy.

This is a very salient point. OWS has been very fortunate so far - in the northeast the weather has been fairly warm and this weekend it was in the mid-80s. It's easy to walk on or observe when it's practically summer weather but that is going to change in a couple of weeks. A real test is seeing if OWS lasts as the temperature begins to drop.
posted by bittermensch at 11:21 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, spinifex, are you down there? I live out in Bothell and have two kids, but I was thinking of stopping by for a bit tomorrow and bringing in supplies. Is there anything y'all need?

While I thank you tremendously for the offer, I'm only down there in 'shifts', e.g. I stop in for an hour or so after work to hold a sign, and I hung out for a couple of hours yesterday before the Sounders match. (Yes, I protested in my Sounders shirt.) You may be able to ask on Twitter using the #occupyseattle tag to see what they need; that's where I've been getting most of my info.

I do know that they take monetary donations, and then they can buy what they need. They have a fundraising table down there, bu so far I think they only take cash. But, I could also see if that makes people wiggly. I'm going down in an hour or two, to do my daily sit, and I can update then.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:22 AM on October 9, 2011


Sadly the most apropos place for a Seattle occupation is probably the Bellevue Square Mall. We don't really have a financial district per se, but if protesters keep people from the Apple store and Nordstroms, they're really going to start raising some ire.

Tongue-in-cheek, but only a little.
posted by KathrynT at 11:23 AM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Houstonian: I hope the protest expands and makes a purposeful effort to reach the millions of people who have traveled down the road of social movements before.

I agree completely. The articles I linked in the OP (which nobody seems to have made any reference to, sigh...) talk about this probably more than they talk about "focus" or "coherency" or "demands". I now wish that I had made this a more explicitly central part of the post, because it seems to be a little under-discussed, to me. There are people out there in the 99% who have been down this path. There are people who remember the civil rights struggle, people who have been fighting the anti-globalization fight for decades now. People who have a deeper and more longstanding relationship with what it means to be a member of the powerless class, with what it means to be on the business end of big business and government, and they are under-represented in these protests. I am talking about Black America, Latino America, about the anarchists and the socialists and the environmentalists.

Why are they missing from these protests? There are lots of reasons. The articles I linked above addressed some of them: many of the people in these parts of society have intimate experience with what it can mean to stand up to police, in the form of memories of beatings and macings, arrests and tear-gassings. Many of them have spent their lives in a position where white, middle-class America seemed as irrelevant and/or oppressive to them as do the upper echelons of investment finance to the white, middle-class protesters who started this movement. Many as well have seen nonviolent protest ignored and ridiculed time and time again, and are frustrated by what they see as a recapitulation of failed tactics and a squeamish shying away from more agressive (and possibly more successful) strategies.

Whatever, this movement needs to somehow come to include these groups. There are veteran activists who have much to teach the new movement about what to expect and how to get results. More importantly, we are missing huge swaths of the population, precisely the parts of the population who have the deepest grievances and the most need for help and for societal change. 13% of whites in this country are living in poverty. For blacks and hispanics that number is double, 27%. (2010 Census Data, PDF) These segments of the population (black and hispanic) represent some 30% of America as of the 2010 Census. They should be there, their voices should be heard.

Once of the nice rhetorical things about the 99% movement is that it is by definition incredibly inclusive. A person is either a member of the 99% or the 1%, and almost anyone should immediately be able to tell which group they are part of. That the protests representing the 99% should be missing the voices of large swaths of the American experience is one of its greatest weaknesses at the moment, and something that will have to somehow be corrected if this movement is to really gather the kind of power needed to shake the halls of the oligarchy and bring real, fundamental, positive change to our society. How this is to be accomplished is a complicated question that has its roots in many of the very ills that the 99% movement is trying to combat. There are some serious hurdles here, and this is one that I think merits significant concern.
posted by Scientist at 11:23 AM on October 9, 2011 [16 favorites]


ACORN would at least protest outside banks in the business district.

(Actually we ended up kind of hating it when ACORN turned up, so maybe I shouldn't be throwing it out there)
posted by Artw at 11:25 AM on October 9, 2011


Tea Party of the Left. Simple as that.

From my perspective: Oversimplified as that.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:28 AM on October 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


Most of the TARP money has been paid back. And it was given willingly by the US government. If you have a beef with it, protest at the Capitol.
posted by gjc at 11:30 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or they can just wait until the neighborhood gets tired of and unsympathetic towards them

This is already being reported. In the NY Times: For Some, Wall Street is Main Street. People complain they don't have access to their park, and that some protesters are breaking things, and that the protesters use the facilities without purchases.
The speaker of the State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, a Democrat whose district includes Zuccotti Park, the site of the protests, said on Wednesday that the neighborhood had been burdened enough by the protesters’ takeover of one of the few parks in the area.

“I would suggest that they move their message to other parts of the city and state,” Mr. Silver said.
posted by Houstonian at 11:31 AM on October 9, 2011


The problem with the lack of demands, from my perspective, is that it makes this very easy to write off.

Wrong, it makes it impossible.

When have you ever heard of a huge group of people standing around in city after city, for no-perceived-reason (or one you can't identify), for weeks and months on end, and people just ignore it? Can you think of a single time that has ever occurred?
posted by rhizome at 11:31 AM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


The speaker of the State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, a Democrat whose district includes Zuccotti Park

No, he's not compromised at all.
posted by rhizome at 11:32 AM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


And for all the sartorial silliness that the Tea Party shares with OWS* I think it's actually quite false to say that the Tea Party was also similarly incoherent in their message. Cutting taxes and government spending was always the uniting core issue (regardless of how disingenuous it was after the Bush years), and they were willing to get behind candidates on that specific platform.

*I brainfarted the acronym OCW into an above comment for some reason.
posted by Anything at 11:32 AM on October 9, 2011


The problem with the lack of demands, from my perspective, is that it makes this very easy to write off.

Wrong, it makes it impossible.

When have you ever heard of a huge group of people standing around in city after city, for no-perceived-reason (or one you can't identify), for weeks and months on end, and people just ignore it? Can you think of a single time that has ever occurred?
posted by rhizome at 11:31 AM on October 9
How is that a good thing? If they are there for some reason, say so. Otherwise, it's just a big party.
posted by gjc at 11:34 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wall Street doesn't have any money that someone didn't willingly give them.

Willingly only as far as they're middlemen that you can't cut out.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:34 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem with the lack of demands, from my perspective, is that it makes this very easy to write off.
Wrong, it makes it impossible.

When have you ever heard of a huge group of people standing around in city after city, for no-perceived-reason (or one you can't identify), for weeks and months on end, and people just ignore it? Can you think of a single time that has ever occurred?

May 1968 in France and a gazillion similar failures ever since.
posted by Anything at 11:36 AM on October 9, 2011


From my perspective: Oversimplified as that.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:28 AM on October 9
Not based on the footage I've seen.
posted by gjc at 11:37 AM on October 9, 2011


When have you ever heard of a huge group of people standing around in city after city, for no-perceived-reason (or one you can't identify), for weeks and months on end, and people just ignore it?

They're called "the homeless".
posted by Artw at 11:37 AM on October 9, 2011 [26 favorites]


Willingly only as far as they're middlemen that you can't cut out.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:34 AM on October 9
In what way?
posted by gjc at 11:37 AM on October 9, 2011


When have you ever heard of a huge group of people standing around in city after city, for no-perceived-reason (or one you can't identify), for weeks and months on end, and people just ignore it? Can you think of a single time that has ever occurred?

Time to read up on the end of 'the sixties' - when protests lost their coherent foci and degenerated into a sort of theater advocating vaguely-defined 'revolution' and lifestyle changes.
posted by Wylla at 11:38 AM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think a lot of the opinions about the occupation fall in to the category of "no one cares what you think because you are only one single person".
posted by fuq at 11:38 AM on October 9, 2011


The last few lines from that NYT piece linked to above:

The country needs a shift in the emphasis of public policy from protecting the banks to fostering full employment, including public spending for job creation and development of a strong, long-term strategy to increase domestic manufacturing.

It is not the job of the protesters to draft legislation. That’s the job of the nation’s leaders, and if they had been doing it all along there might not be a need for these marches and rallies. Because they have not, the public airing of grievances is a legitimate and important end in itself. It is also the first line of defense against a return to the Wall Street ways that plunged the nation into an economic crisis from which it has yet to emerge.


So yeah, the protests seem valid even if their only accomplishment is to keep a spotlight focused on the dirty deals that continue to go down between Big Biz and Big Gov -- an ongoing reminder that we (the 99 percent) are being fucked with.
posted by philip-random at 11:39 AM on October 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


If they are there for some reason, say so.

You're being disingenuous if you're saying you have no idea what the big deal is. If you're saying that it's up to them to tell you it's about one or more specific things so you know how to feel about them, that's not their job.
posted by rhizome at 11:39 AM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


"House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Pa.) recently said he was concerned about the 'growing mobs' and criticized those who support them. He said condoning the demonstrations amounted to supporting the 'pitting of Americans against Americans.'

HuffPost's Zach Carter reports:
'I didn't hear him say anything when the Tea Party was out actually spitting on members of Congress,' Pelosi said, referring to a 2010 event on Capitol Hill in which a Tea Party protester spit on Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.)."*
Eric Cantor’s Breathtaking Hypocrisy On Occupy Wall Street.
posted by ericb at 11:40 AM on October 9, 2011 [16 favorites]


The coherent message is clear enough to me:


ENOUGH OF THIS SHIT.


(Which would make a good name for the movement too.)


I wandered around Liberty Square for a while yesterday, then spent an hour at Washington Square as things were just starting to get hopping. I saw a broad cross section of people, even if young people are the core of the occupation as such.

I think the whole "what are your demands?" riff is a cynical, canned response the media have dreamed up to dismiss this movement, along with the usual ad hominem attacks on the protesters as trust fund kids (on the one hand) or dirty fucking hippies (on the other). In retrospect, the movement's strategic ability to avoid being pinned down, or being identified with a few particular leaders, will be seen as ingenious, and will be replicated. And indeed it draws significant lessons from the revolutions of the Arab spring.

Regime change, consisting of the replacement of corporate ownership of the machinery of government with the restoration of a fair representative democracy. Funny how our media and politicians are all pro-democracy, except at home. And hey Peter King, are you the same guy who supported the IRA for many years after it had been clearly labeled a terrorist organization by the US government?
posted by spitbull at 11:41 AM on October 9, 2011 [19 favorites]


that the neighborhood had been burdened enough by the protesters’ takeover of one of the few parks in the area

There are a dozen or so "pocket parks" in that area. The only way they get used is by people eating lunch. It's not like kids go fly kites there. Zucotti park was developed as a concession by a real estate development company.

Does kinda suck if they have to hit the mcdonalds down there every day to use the bathroom, but that place is pretty sweet, they have a guy playing a grand piano and everything.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:41 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


what is to be done to keep the movement growing and moving forward?

The only thing required to keep the movement growing and moving forward is the continued erosion of the social contract that holds these energies in check.
posted by perspicio at 11:42 AM on October 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


It is not the job of the protesters to draft legislation

This is a point I keep making to people who want to be told what it's all about. It's not the protestors job to provide solutions, there are people whose job it is to enforce the law and to regulate industries, and they aren't doing that job. Banks are running out the statute of limitations on actual crimes that have put less politically-powerful people into prison for extended stays, to touch on one of my personal protest issues.
posted by rhizome at 11:43 AM on October 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Medicare For All. End The Wars. Soak The Rich Everyone.

The baby boomer generation ended the "a better life for my children" mentality. The rape and pillaging of America built around non-sustainable economic, domestic and military policies will end America as we know it.
posted by SirOmega at 11:44 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're called "the homeless".

Except that these ones aren't, right? Life isn't a comic book.
posted by rhizome at 11:44 AM on October 9, 2011


Or you could just emigrate.

And to where does one emigrate, in order to avoid trans-national corporatism? One of the chief attributes of corporatism is that it's a post-state power system. (Neither Exxon nor McDonald's is "American" anymore, except when the veil is convenient.)

This is what makes it powerful, difficult to grasp, and downright scary.
posted by rokusan at 11:45 AM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


They're called "the homeless".

Tompkins Square Park had a full blown tent city for years that was totally ignored.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:45 AM on October 9, 2011


In what way?

It is very, very difficult, if not impossible, to engage in any sort of investment activity without said middlemen taking their cut. Because they control access to the market, they can ensure that they get paid handsomely even when they haven't earned it.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:46 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


"In short, we're not touting the TAZ as an exclusive end in itself, replacing all other forms of organization, tactics, and goals. We recommend it because it can provide the quality of enhancement associated with the uprising without necessarily leading to violence and martyrdom. The TAZ is like an uprising which does not engage directly with the State, a guerilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen, before the State can crush it. Because the State is concerned primarily with Simulation rather than substance, the TAZ can "occupy" these areas clandestinely and carry on its festal purposes for quite a while in relative peace. Perhaps certain small TAZs have lasted whole lifetimes because they went unnoticed, like hillbilly enclaves--because they never intersected with the Spectacle, never appeared outside that real life which is invisible to the agents of Simulation." -- Hakim Bey, T.A.Z.
posted by ryoshu at 11:46 AM on October 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


The Ocupados (as Wonkette brilliantly dubbed them) seem unfocused in comparison to the Tea Party because the Tea Party was funded and professionally organized by Republican lobbying groups and aggressively, shamelessly evangelized by a Republican news channel. They had talking points, media contacts, spin masters, and storylines provided for them up front, which the folks on Wall Street have to put together themselves organically (if at all).

It reminds me of mathowie's unpleasant encounter with a financial industry shill. It's easy to find clueless Tea Partiers, but when featured in the media they're usually in the form of slick, telegenic, well-rehearsed spokespeople who knows how to dominate the conversation and flood it with calculated soundbytes. Ocupados, on the other hand, are generally smart, earnest, but unprepared to deal with the media at that level, just like any other regular person. Their concerns are valid, but without intense coaching and a centralized media strategy, they come off as inarticulate compared to right-wing PR specialists.

This recent interview with Tea Party toady Amy Kremer is a good encapsulation of the narrative being marshaled against the protests:
I don't know if I said it, but about the arrests, I mean -- we came together, you know, it's been peaceful, we've been completely peaceful. Last weekend alone in New York City there were 700 arrests! I mean, that is not representative at all of what this Tea Party movement is about. We are very focused, we know what we want to do, and, you know, maybe they'll figure out what they want to do.

But the thing is, you can't be mad at Wall Street. What Wall Street did was completely legal! Wall Street -- these people are protesting against capitalism, what America was made from. I mean, that's what America is. And they're protesting against capitalism? They want to take capitalism down? But yet, they're mad at the banks being bailed out? That's double talk out of both sides of their mouth! If they were, I mean, it's capitalism that would have allowed the banks to fail -- instead, Wall Street had an ace up their sleeve, they raced back to Washington and the money was pumped into there.

So, you know, what do they want? Do they want capitalism or do they want socialism? We want capitalism! We want to protect this great country and what it was founded upon, the Constitution, and we want Washington to live within their means.
Examined closely, this screed is repulsive and wrong. Wall Street is blameless because what they did was technically legal? Legal, by the way, because they bought the law... something she criticizes seconds later when it comes in the form of bailouts? Bailouts authorized by President Bush? And apparently the Ocupados are illegitimate because they were arrested... I guess she's never heard of the Civil Rights movement?

It's a confused, hypocritical mess. But it was delivered uninterrupted and with conviction by a soccer mom-type, and host Anderson Cooper offered only weak resistance with no fact checking. Unless the Wall Street protests can produce equally articulate spokespeople who can unleash a concentrated 90-second barrage of truth with conviction, they're going to be media underdogs and risk losing control of their own image.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:46 AM on October 9, 2011 [36 favorites]


(Really - there are apparently Tea Partiers at some of the rallies because they support the apparent 'anti-government' sentiments.)

This is perfectly appropriate. There are elements within the Tea Party that violently oppose TARP and the crony capitalism that comes from having the government's tongue firmly up Wall Street's asshole. This is a place where we can actually AGREE; let's not spoil it. Politics makes strange bedfellows.
posted by KathrynT at 11:47 AM on October 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


I wish that the points of the movement were better articulated. At present, the ambiguity has been easy for the media to latch onto as a point to dismiss and make fun of the OWS. And, just like every protest I have even been to, they seem to be looking for the people most likely to give them the silliest soundbites, and looking for the hippiest hippies to point the cameras at, so they can say "Look at these losers!"

And that's a shame, because there is a legitimate reason this is happening. People who did everything right are losing everything, and then being blamed for being irresponsible. You went to college? You bought a house? You had children? It's your own fault you're in trouble. You got downsized, outsized, plain old laid off, or fired because of at will employment laws? You lazy shit. You lost everything because you or someone in your family got sick or injured? See, there you go again, if you didn't have insurance, you shouldn't have gotten cancer.

Yet the truly irresponsible, the ones that destroyed the economy, nobody's calling them irresponsible. And they were, terribly shortsighted, irresponsible, manipulative, and downright amoral. But they are the ones who have entire media networks dedicated to lying to people so they vote against their own best interests. They're the ones who have enough money to influence policy. Their voice is big and loud, and they're wearing suits. And they're rich, so surely they NEVER made any bad decisions, because wealth is the ultimate sign of intelligence, creativity, and success, right?

But instead, we're pointing fingers at each other, Blaming people for decisions that they might have been manipulated or coerced into, or things that weren't decisions at all, instead of pointing the finger at the people who rigged the system against ... almost everyone.

But it's important for them to dismiss the losers and the hippies. It's vital that they pit us against each other. Because that is how they are able to continue to break down the systems that were put in place to protect us.

Besides, it's not like you can point your camera in the face of a corporation. Because they aren't people. Otherwise, they would be doing the things that people like them would do, like paying taxes and going to prison.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:48 AM on October 9, 2011 [28 favorites]


e4ricb --- I'm embarrassed to admit it (since I live in the state) but that wackjob Cantor is from Virginia, not Pennsylvania.
posted by easily confused at 11:49 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Occupy Wall Street In Washington Square: Egyptian Activist Mohammed Ezzeldin Speaks. *

* -- "New York City requires a permit for 'amplified sound' in public, something that the pointedly unpermitted Occupy Wall Street lacks. This means that microphones and speakers are banned ...

... But the protesters aren’t deterred one bit; they’ve adopted an ingeniously simple people-powered method of sound amplification. After the mic check, the meeting proceeds:

with every few words / WITH EVERY FEW WORDS!

repeated and amplified out loud / REPEATED AND AMPLIFIED OUT LOUD!

by what has been dubbed / BY WHAT HAS BEEN DUBBED!

the human microphone / THE HUMAN MICROPHONE!!!

posted by ericb at 11:49 AM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


e4ricb --- I'm embarrassed to admit it (since I live in the state) but that wackjob Cantor is from Virginia, not Pennsylvania..

Oops, you're right. I had a brain fart there.
posted by ericb at 11:50 AM on October 9, 2011


If they are there for some reason, say so.

You're being disingenuous if you're saying you have no idea what the big deal is. If you're saying that it's up to them to tell you it's about one or more specific things so you know how to feel about them, that's not their job.
posted by rhizome at 11:39 AM on October 9
They are the ones protesting. Of course it's their job to define their gripe. "End this war now!" or "40 hour work week" or "stop lynching us" is a protest. "Enough of this shit!" is a tantrum.

I understand completely how they feel. I do not understand what they want done about it. If there is a crime they know about, call the police/FBI/SEC.

(And I'm really not being obtuse or disingenuous. The financial meltdown was a shame and a tragedy for some, but there is very little evidence of their having been (much) criminal activity involved.)
posted by gjc at 11:50 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was at Occupy Boston on Friday. In addition to the really amazing Yom Kippur service, I was particularly impressed with the use of "people's mic" and also the General Assembly process (although I left before it was done - seems like those things could go on quite awhile). A group of black teenagers got up and talked about making the movement more inclusive and diverse. For the most part, I really liked and respected what was going on down there, and I am inclined to be forgiving of the issue salad in this case (unlike previous protests I've been to where there is supposed to be a unified demand, e.g. "end the war" and people still show up with "Free Mumia," "legalize pot," etc. signs), but I did kind of roll my eyes at the Ron Paul, abolish the Fed types (of whom there were definitely a few running around). I admit I went as a bit of a tourist on this first trip, but I'm interested in potentially getting more involved.
posted by naoko at 11:52 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


"A Lannister always incurs his debts"
posted by clavdivs at 11:52 AM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Occupy Wall Street In Washington Square: Egyptian Activist Mohammed Ezzeldin Speaks

Proper link to the YouTube video.
posted by ericb at 11:52 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The financial meltdown was a shame and a tragedy for some, but there is very little evidence of their having been (much) criminal activity involved.)

Of course there wasn't! Because the people committing what by any reasonable and sensible interpretation should have been crimes get to write the law! That doesn't make their actions any less inexcusable and corrupt; in fact, it makes them MORE so!
posted by KathrynT at 11:53 AM on October 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


There are elements within the Tea Party that violently oppose TARP and the crony capitalism that comes from having the government's tongue firmly up Wall Street's asshole. This is a place where we can actually AGREE; let's not spoil it. Politics makes strange bedfellows.

KathrynT - I agree that Amerians should all get along, but it does mean that just about anything that these crowds could be organized to do is dead in the cradle. While Tea Partiers and other groups in these protests may agree that they oppose 'crony capitalism', they can't agree on what that means. Many Tea partiers see reproductive health funding (gives money to the wealthy ladies at Planned Parenthood!), universal health care (pays off bog pharma and liberal doctors!), and public school funding (takes money from the working man to teach children the liberal agenda and pay off teachers unions!) as the main examples.
posted by Wylla at 11:54 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


In what way?

It is very, very difficult, if not impossible, to engage in any sort of investment activity without said middlemen taking their cut. Because they control access to the market, they can ensure that they get paid handsomely even when they haven't earned it.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:46 AM on October 9
Are you talking about transaction costs? Because those have been pretty well democratized. eTrade and all of that.

If you are talking about high frequency trading, the "middleman" argument just isn't correct. You sell at the price you wish to sell at, and you buy at the price you wish to buy at. It doesn't matter who the other party is.
posted by gjc at 11:55 AM on October 9, 2011


Of course there wasn't! Because the people committing what by any reasonable and sensible interpretation should have been crimes get to write the law! That doesn't make their actions any less inexcusable and corrupt; in fact, it makes them MORE so!
posted by KathrynT at 11:53 AM on October 9
What specific acts should have been crimes?
posted by gjc at 11:56 AM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wylla, I know, and I'm not saying "Can't we all just get along?" I wish that we could be focused enough to say "Yes, OK, fine! Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others, but can we please stop the practice of handing over hundreds of billions of tax dollars to assholes who are just going to masturbate with it and laugh?"
posted by KathrynT at 11:57 AM on October 9, 2011


The Ocupados (as Wonkette brilliantly dubbed them) seem unfocused in comparison to the Tea Party because the Tea Party was funded and professionally organized by Republican lobbying groups and aggressively, shamelessly evangelized by a Republican news channel. They had talking points, media contacts, spin masters, and storylines provided for them up front, which the folks on Wall Street have to put together themselves organically (if at all).

I remember when the Tea Party was first gaining momentum, and when people were going to Town Hall meetings so they could shout them down. It seemed like at every one, all over the country, they would interview someone.

It seemed like it was usually a woman, because she would always say "I was never interested in politics, before, I'm just a housewife and a Mom. But I read the Constitution..."

They ALWAYS said the exact same thing. But when pressed further, they didn't really know why they were there or what they wanted.

I think the OWS people and those who support them know why they are there. It's the same fear that the Tea Party latched onto. But unlike the Tea Party, it's not being funded by billionaires and lauded by news networks, who have a vested interest in manipulating people into fucking themselves over.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:57 AM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Jonathan Alter: Why Occupy Wall Street Should Scare Republicans.
posted by ericb at 11:58 AM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Besides, it's not like you can point your camera in the face of a corporation. Because they aren't people. Otherwise, they would be doing the things that people like them would do, like paying taxes and going to prison.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:48 AM on October 9
Of course they are people. Nothing can happen in a corporation without some human making some decision. Dehumanizing the "enemy" is never a good sign...
posted by gjc at 12:00 PM on October 9, 2011


Are you talking about transaction costs? Because those have been pretty well democratized. eTrade and all of that.

So, yes, Wall Street does get paid every time.

If you are talking about high frequency trading, the "middleman" argument just isn't correct. You sell at the price you wish to sell at, and you buy at the price you wish to buy at. It doesn't matter who the other party is.

And Wall Street gets paid every time.

But what I was referring to was more that fund managers whose job it is to make money are first in line to get paid, before their clients, even if they fail miserably at their job.

So, yes, Wall Street has figured out a way to take money for doing its job even when it's doing nothing closely resembling what it's being paid for.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:01 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


What specific acts should have been crimes?

It should have been illegal for them to take TARP money and not turn around and re-lend it out. It should have been illegal for them to act as banks, investment houses, and asset evaluators or whatever the right term is all at the same time. It should have been illegal for them to pile up fake money in the form of credit default swaps to an amount that probably exceeded the GDP of the entire planet, but we'll never know because there's no possible way to do the accounting. It should have been illegal for them to fuck the long- and medium-term American economy to jack up the balance sheets to justify zillion-dollar bonuses.

If you want me to be more specific than that, then, well, you can go take a long walk. I'm not an economist, and I don't believe it's my responsibility to draft out every niggling detail of how they should have behaved. I believe that's my Senator's responsibility, and my Representative's responsibility, and ultimately my GOVERNMENT'S responsibility. But just because I can't calculate out their bullshit to five decimal places doesn't mean I can't stand up and say "This smells."
posted by KathrynT at 12:01 PM on October 9, 2011 [49 favorites]


Herman Cain To Occupy Wall Street Protesters: If You're Not Rich 'Blame
Unemployed Wall Street protesters only have themselves to blame for lacking a job, so says Herman Cain.

The Republican presidential candidate insisted that the demonstrations were being 'orchestrated' to help President Obama.

'I don't have the facts to back this up, but I happen to believe that these demonstrations are planned and orchestrated to distract from the failed policies of the Obama Administration,' Cain told the Wall Street Journal.

The Tea Party favorite then argued that the plight of the unemployed was their own fault.

'Don't blame Wall Street, don't blame the big banks, if you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself. It is not someone's fault if they succeeded, it is someone's fault if they failed,' the ex-Godfather's Pizza CEO declared."
Romney Likens Wall Street Protests to ‘Class Warfare’.
posted by ericb at 12:03 PM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


ericb: "Jonathan Alter: Why Occupy Wall Street Should Scare Republicans."

Rep. Peter King Calls Occupy Wall Street Protesters 'Ragtag Mob,' 'Anarchists'
"We have to be careful not to allow this to get any legitimacy. I'm taking this seriously in that I'm old enough to remember what happened in the 1960s when the left-wing took to the streets and somehow the media glorified them and it ended up shaping policy. We can't allow that to happen."
posted by Rhaomi at 12:04 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


This might be a gross distillation of history, but:

The Civil Rights movement had two clear, actionable goals: desegregation and voting rights. It lasted 18 years, achieved success, and culminated in the Million Man March, the largest protest in US history.

I do not understand this idea that concrete goals will damage the movement. It seems to me there is a limit on how long a leaderless, goalless movement can sustain. People are angry, and I can't help but feel that if, a few months from now, they look around and see that they still don't know why they're occupying, they'll just go home, because they don't know what they're there to do. This petering out seems to be par for the course for every liberal movement of the last twenty years (the war protests spring to mind).
posted by Peevish at 12:04 PM on October 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


If you want me to be more specific than that, then, well, you can go take a long walk. I'm not an economist, and I don't believe it's my responsibility to draft out every niggling detail of how they should have behaved. I believe that's my Senator's responsibility, and my Representative's responsibility, and ultimately my GOVERNMENT'S responsibility. But just because I can't calculate out their bullshit to five decimal places doesn't mean I can't stand up and say "This smells." : OWS :: "I was never interested in politics, before, I'm just a housewife and a Mom. But I read the Constitution..." : Tea Party
posted by Wylla at 12:05 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, comparisons to the Tea Party seem wrong because the Tea Party was a strategic rebranding of ther Republican party with heavy corporate and political investment. As uch the actual people on the street prived to be a highly effective and useful tool. Occupy Wall Street, on the other hand, isn't particularly anyones tool - however that may mean that they aren't that effective either.
posted by Artw at 12:05 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


The financial meltdown was a shame and a tragedy for some, but there is very little evidence of their having been (much) criminal activity involved.

Wachovia was caught laundering drug money.
Banks were caught bribing local politicians to enter into interest rate swaps that cost tax payers millions of dollars.
Citi knowingly sold products to investors that were misrepresented.
Almost every major bank that made home loans committed vast counts of perjury with robosigning.
BofA stole homes from people.
Countless material violations of Sarbanes-Oxley by numerous financial institutions.

This stuff is well known across the internet, from Karl Denninger to Yves Smith. It's been covered ad nauseum on shows like Dylan Ratigan's. Yet people continue to say, "nope, nothing to see here."

There's plenty to see. Numerous laws were broken. But hardly anyone is going to jail for flouting the law. No one except the protesters.
posted by ryoshu at 12:06 PM on October 9, 2011 [68 favorites]


The Civil Rights movement had two clear, actionable goals: desegregation and voting rights. It lasted 18 years, achieved success

I wouldn't call the sudden flurry of voter ID requirements poll taxes "success," exactly.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 12:07 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


What specific acts should have been crimes?

Giving highest rating status to slice and dice mortgage bonds without performing demonstrable due diligence as to what the actual risk contained in them should probably be a crime.

As should be selling mortgages to people who obviously cannot afford them, simply to get them to sign on the line, knowing full well the mortgage will be sliced, diced, and sold before any of the risk you've built into the loan actually has any fallout.

I'm pretty sure that a lot of the more obscure financial instruments which allow organizations to bet on both sides of a risk and come out ahead no matter what should be illegal, but probably not criminalized.
posted by hippybear at 12:08 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


At my office, we have a housekeeping staff that comes through the floor several times a day to keep us from reverting to wild animals -- they clean the coffee bar, wipe up the toilets, and do many other things that I probably don't notice. I'm pretty sure they make $7.25/hour. They speak little English. They pay their sales and property taxes (a lot in a state with no income tax), and their income tax, in a low bracket -- 15% of the amount over $8,350, and 10% on the rest.

Our CEO takes home over $13 million/year, and a huge stack of stock which has risen spectacularly. His job is not as hard as the housekeeping staff. Most of his income is capital gains, so he pays -- I believe it's 15% on his capital gains.

What keeps the housekeeping staff from marching in the streets? I'm speculating, but I think a good guess is fear. They don't have much, but they have something to lose -- a very meager paycheck. Texas is a right-to-work state. Employers have the right to let you go for virtually any reason. We don't have unions, and even talking about unions or similar collectives is literally just not done. Businesses did a smart thing when they dismantled these workers' rights, because it gives you just enough to have something to lose.

This is true for our shrinking middle class, too.
posted by Houstonian at 12:09 PM on October 9, 2011 [23 favorites]


This stuff is well known across the internet

Exactly. Actual serious crimes for which other people have been convicted and sentenced to hard time. This is one of the many ways in which the government that US voters hired and pay aren't doing the jobs they were hired to do.

Is someone going to stand up and say that crimes-with-evidence should not be prosecuted? Is it this movement's job to tell you that that's the only thing they want? Because it isn't, but it's one of them.
posted by rhizome at 12:10 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think it's so funny that nearly every major political thread on mefi has boiled down to, "Well, nothing will change until there are actually people in the streets marching on Wall Street. Moaning and jabbering online won't do anything."

Then of course something like this comes along, and people realize how much cozier it is to moan and jabber instead of lean into it and help shape things. As safe as it is to hang back and observe and come up with endless excuses for not participating, I rather expected more of mefites (though I'm glad so many have seen this as the starting point as it truly may be).
posted by hermitosis at 12:10 PM on October 9, 2011 [42 favorites]


DailyKos regular Jesse LaGreca calls out the media on their treatment of the working class.
LAGRECA: Well I think the matter at hand is that the working class people in America - as you know, the ninety nine percent of Americans who aren't wealthy and aren't prospering in this economy have been entirely ignored by the media.

Our political leaders pander to us but they don't take action. They stand in the way of change. They filibuster on behalf of the wealthiest one percent. They fold on behalf of the wealthiest one percent. So the conversation we need to have is about the future, about what type of country we really want to be. And I think the most important thing we can do in our occupation is to continue to push the narrative that's been ignored by so many pundits and political leaders.
We have 9-15% unemployment depending on which metric you use. We've been at war with no results for a decade. The financial sector has bounced back and the rest of the country hasn't.

Paddy Chayefsky boiled it down better in Network with Howard Beale.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:11 PM on October 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Wylla, what's your point, exactly? You quoted me -- which you attributed to Occupy Wall Street, I notice, even though I live in Seattle and haven't even set foot into one of the protests, tsk tsk -- and then you quoted someone's paraphrase of a Tea Party member. Did you have some kind of point you'd like to make?
posted by KathrynT at 12:13 PM on October 9, 2011


Then of course something like this comes along, and people realize how much cozier it is to moan and jabber instead of lean into it and help shape things. As safe as it is to hang back and observe and come up with endless excuses for not participating, I rather expected more of mefites (though I'm glad so many have seen this as the starting point as it truly may be).

When the oligarchy is overthrown, not by protestors, but by the legions of brave cynics who refuse to do anything but complain about everything on the internet, you will regret that comment.
posted by snofoam at 12:21 PM on October 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


KathrynT, I understand your anger. TARP did exactly what you said it should, except from a different starting point. The banks that received TARP so they could KEEP lending money out, rather than just fail and take even more of the economy down with it. Banks are in the business of lending money. When they sit on money rather than lend it out, they are losing money. TARP wasn't meant to make anything better, it was meant to stop the worldwide depression that was imminent.

And I think you'll find that the people who did all of those other things came out worse in the end. I agree that Glass-Steagall shouldn't have been repealed.

Someone's example was Wachovia. They failed. They got punished- the owners of that bank lost all their money.
posted by gjc at 12:24 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is nothing like the Tea Party. The Tea Partiers rolled up in government subsidized scooters, called Obama the n-word or waved a gun around and then rolled home in time for a hot meal and some Fox News highlights of themselves. OWS is made up of people who are actually occupying some place. They are going without basic necessities in order to point out the wrongs of our system.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:24 PM on October 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


It isn't surprising that the OWS movement has no unified message: there are just so many abuses, so many things going wrong. These protests are incoherent in the face of an incoherent system. They mirror the lack of logic that has undermined their ability to prosper in peace.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:27 PM on October 9, 2011 [19 favorites]


one more dead town's last parade: Yes, they get paid. Are you saying they shouldn't? There is nothing that says you have to buy stock on the NYSE or through a broker. People do it because they perceive value in the service provided. As for the fund managers that get paid whether they win or lose, again, of course they do. They are employees. They get paid a LOT more if they are successful, so there is no incentive to not make money for their clients. And they get fired pretty quickly when they do fail.
posted by gjc at 12:30 PM on October 9, 2011


I guess I don't really see the protests as that different from the civil rights movement or gay pride marches-- it's just that the protesters aren't easily defined by one single characteristic like race or sexual orientation. The activists in the protests in the middle of the last century had explicit laws to target, but their real goal was acknowledgement as full citizens of the United States. It's a little harder to focus on a single target when the problem is that your country's taking advantage of and marginalizing you just because you're not insanely wealthy.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:31 PM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is nothing like the Tea Party. The Tea Partiers rolled up in government subsidized scooters, called Obama the n-word or waved a gun around and then rolled home in time for a hot meal and some Fox News highlights of themselves. OWS is made up of people who are actually occupying some place. They are going without basic necessities in order to point out the wrongs of our system.
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:24 PM on October 9
No more hypocritical than OWS protesters remaining customers of the companies they are protesting.
posted by gjc at 12:32 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The banks that received TARP so they could KEEP lending money out

But did they?

Someone's example was Wachovia. They failed. They got punished- the owners of that bank lost all their money.

Somehow I don't think anyone who was making decisions for Wachovia during that period is living out of a cardboard box or explaining to their children that they have to eat ramen for the rest of the month. What relief went to the people whom Wachovia screwed over? Or do we not care about them?
posted by KathrynT at 12:33 PM on October 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Clearly proclaim the one thing that needs to be fixed first and foremost, and you'll be drowned out by hundreds of people rushing to explain why that can't happen until X, Y, or Z happen first. But since everyone has differing ideas and priorities, and the media delivers them to the public via firehose, then a concentrated expression of general unrest is about as good as it gets.

Voices and priorities will emerge. It just takes time. The question at that point will be whether you stick with the devil you know (so much easier to feel wise and ahead of the curve!) or the devil you don't.

No matter how liberal or intellectual MetaFilter prides itself on being, it's incredibly obvious that most of us have built identities around that former way of dealing with social ills. Fortunately I think a lot of Americans have been doing some real soul searching over the last few weeks, and they are really done playing the awful shell game. It's going to be painful and people are going to get hurt or lose their jobs, or look foolish to others. That's what it costs. It's not something you can really participate in or understand from the comfort of your Slanket.
posted by hermitosis at 12:33 PM on October 9, 2011 [16 favorites]


@oinapaponton
A comparison with gay pride marches is legitimate if the goal of Occupy Wall Street is simply visibility, and that would be a worthwhile goal. But I don't know how much of OWS would call that their goal. As for the Civil Rights movement, as I said above: they declared very clearly that they wanted desegregation and voting rights in the southern states.
posted by Peevish at 12:34 PM on October 9, 2011


You might not be able to bring the focus of the movement down to a demand but you can bring the motivation down to one quote:

"Everything is corrupt and everything must go"

Also, given the shit people around the world have taken from corporations you could also go with "ODI TE".
posted by Slackermagee at 12:46 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


No more hypocritical than OWS protesters remaining customers of the companies they are protesting.

Keep going dude, you're almost to "they're all trust funders anyway."
posted by rhizome at 12:47 PM on October 9, 2011 [17 favorites]


Why #OccupyWallStreet Doesn’t Support Obama: His “Nothing to See Here” Stance on Bank Looting

1. Violation of REMIC (real estate mortgage conduit) rules
2. Consumer fraud under HAMP
3. Securities fraud by mortgage trustees and serivcers
4. Widespread risk management failures as Sarbanes-Oxley violations

"Between Bank of New York Mellon and State Street, these two institutions have stolen between $6 to $10 billion from tens of millions of Americans' retirement savings accounts."

I can do this all afternoon.
posted by ryoshu at 12:47 PM on October 9, 2011 [25 favorites]


Someone's example was Wachovia. They failed. They got punished- the owners of that bank lost all their money.

What? No they didn't. Wachovia was purchased on the cheap by Wells Fargo after having been carried through its period of failure by Citigroup and FDIC, probably at the orders of the government and the Fed. It remains an intact business within Wells Fargo to this day. It lost about $24billion in the third quarter of 2008, a sum which totaled about 5% of its total value going into the financial crisis.

The stockholders were saved directly by the governmental intervention which got Citigroup involved and ultimately led to Wells Fargo's purchase. If Citigroup had never gotten involved, Wachovia would have THEN failed and the stockholders would have lost everything. Since the bank was never seized into FDIC receivership, that failure never happened.

Despite Wachovia being actively involved in money laundering for drug traffickers, the most they've had in punishment is a $160million fine. Which for an organization as large as Wachovia, even after the crisis and even after being absorbed by Wells Fargo, is literally nothing.

There's plenty of real information about Wachovia and what happened to it during the financial crisis. But don't go around saying they failed and the shareholders / owners lost all their money. That's absolutely untrue.
posted by hippybear at 12:49 PM on October 9, 2011 [37 favorites]


A comparison with gay pride marches is legitimate if the goal of Occupy Wall Street is simply visibility, and that would be a worthwhile goal. But I don't know how much of OWS would call that their goal. As for the Civil Rights movement, as I said above: they declared very clearly that they wanted desegregation and voting rights in the southern states.

Visibility's absolutely one of the major goals (maybe the major goal) that everyone involved who I've spoken with can agree on. Definitely. As for the civil rights movement-- I don't want to say they were lucky for having such clearly-defined targets, but, you know, while institutionalized racism was the real problem, there were actual laws that could be repealed, and, more importantly, that your average protester could immediately understand. The mechanism that keeps screwing over the "99%" is way more complex and systemic, and is all the more complicated by involving non-government players.

There's obviously a problem with a lack of knowledge about how financial systems work at OWS (not with everyone-- there are plenty of economically-savvy people involved-- but it's just something a lot of people have never learned about in detail), but people do seem to be trying to educate themselves. As the movement gains momentum and more people learn to think and speak about exactly what's wrong with the financial sector and its intimacy with the government, hopefully some clear targets will arise. But for now, yeah, visibility is good.
posted by oinopaponton at 12:49 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Most of the TARP money has been paid back.

That's a red herring. The banks got billions in low-interest money that was supposed to be loaned out to small businesses in order to jumpstart the economy, but our fearless leaders somehow managed to not require that in the bailout law, so - surprise - the money disappeared into the same banks who caused the disaster, who then *decreased* lending to small businesses while managing to reset themselves in a smaller, more powerful grouping that is now earning record profits again:

But 10 of the 22 banks have cut their small business balances every single month since April. That list includes firms such as JPMorgan that are now posting monster profits. In the past seven months, JPMorgan's small business loan balance has dropped by almost $962 million, or 3.7%.

On Friday, JPMorgan Chase reported earnings of $3.3 billion in the last three months of 2009. JP Morgan said its compensation expenses rose 18% during the year to $26.9 billion, much of which will be distributed as bonuses.


How is that a success again, gjc? Fact: the "TARP was paid back!" stuff is mindless spin that ignores what really happened. Please stop dropping it as if somehow validates the bailout; it doesn't.

For what it's worth, NakedCapitalism has been on this for a while, posting a takedown of TARP apologists last October, with interesting links to things like a dissection of why TARP was being misrepresented as OUR ONLY SALVATION when it was arguably unnecessary. And there's this from the closing:

The bottom line on TARP is that almost no one has been held accountable. And almost everyone, even those most responsible, have kept their jobs, been promoted, been awarded huge bonuses, or have ridden off into the sunset with millions in ill-gotten gains. That includes Tim Geithner. He was president of the NY Fed from 2003-2008 and oversaw the crisis from start to finish. Because of the failures of people like Geithner, our entire monetary and fiscal order has been re-arranged to serve the interests of a few at the very top of the pyramid. Because of the actions (and inactions) of people like Geithner, the middle class has borne most of the risk associated with TARP and all the other bailout programs. And much of that risk is still with us, whether in terms of our currency, the national debt, or social and political unrest.
posted by mediareport at 12:51 PM on October 9, 2011 [37 favorites]


many question the movement's apparent unwillingness

Over on Wikipedia those are tagged as 'weasel words'.

It's patently obvious what the issues are, which is why those who are guilty try to float distractors. "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."
posted by Twang at 12:55 PM on October 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Today's NYTimes editorial is a great and concise summary of what's going on.

I have a rule against reading any political opinion piece that uses the term "chattering classes"* so unfortunately I didn't make it past the first sentence.

* or "chardonnay socialists" or "latte lefties". I believe it's important to help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—which doesn't include trivialising stereotypes aimed at demeaning wide ranges of people with diverse viewpoints.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:03 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Occupy Atlanta Turns Away John Lewis yt because of their desire for the movement to remain nonhierarchical. Interesting.

John Lewis: I support OWS protesters. Though the Atlanta group didn't ask him to speak, the civil rights hero calls it "grassroots democracy at its best"
posted by homunculus at 1:04 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I believe it's important to help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—which doesn't include trivialising stereotypes aimed at demeaning wide ranges of people with diverse viewpoints.

You do realize that "chattering classes" means the people who sit around and talk about politics professionally but who aren't actually involved in any meaningful way other than talking?

It may be derogatory, but it does describe an awful huge number of people who seek professionally to affect the process while remaining safely outside it.
posted by hippybear at 1:11 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


No more hypocritical than OWS protesters remaining customers of the companies they are protesting.

Speaking of which... Bank Transfer Day is set for November 5th. A good chance to get your money out of the big banks and into credit unions.

But perhaps more to the point, the system is set up in such a way that it's impossible to exist without being a client, in one way or another, of the corporations carrying out this perhaps-not-criminal-because-they-had-the-laws-systematically-changed-in-their-favor-but-really-should-be rape of American ideals.

Want to 'own' a house? Tough shit for you if you were foolish enough to trust the largest financial institutions in the country. Is your pay so low that the only place you can afford to shop is wall mart? Too bad, should have worked harder, sucker. And skipped on those kids while you were at it, since you're clearly such a loser. Do you have crushing amounts of student debt, which you can't bankrupt on because of the way the law was restructured for your particular form of debt? Well, stupid people shouldn't go to school, and you're clearly stupid since you either a) majored in anything other than business, and/or b) couldn't get a job in your field after you graduated into a melting economy. And now that you're drowning in debt, wages spent before they're even in your pocket, the only way to survive is through taking on more debt, with your shiny new Visa credit card.

These were not victimless crimes perpetrated by the banks. And you're blaming the victims here, gjc.

The message here is fuck this system that's been systematically fucking over everyone for the last twenty years.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:13 PM on October 9, 2011 [17 favorites]


99%: A soldier takes the fight to Bank Of America at Occupy Austin
posted by homunculus at 1:16 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Twang, I agree completely. If it isn't clear, I count myself as (a small) part of the 99% Movement. I visited Occupy New Orleans and I've been following things as best I can online and trying to get the word out within my small social circle. Nonetheless there are many who either sympathize with the feelings of the movement but are concerned by their lack of cohesion, or who use said lack as a canard to attempt to delegitimize the protests. You can see many of those people here, though I've somewhat heartened, on a personal level, to see more and more people cluing in to the truth of the matter, which is that this is a legitimate and intentional tactic.

The reason that the 99% Movement and OWS have not declared specific demands is twofold: one, this is a leaderless and inclusive movement, and there is no central authority to tell people what is or is not The Message. Two, and equally importantly, one of the founding principles of this movement is that the systemic problems facing our society can be traced to the unequal distribution of wealth and power, and that what is required is not some kind of minor course adjustment or even major structural reform, but rather a complete re-envisioning of the basic assumptions upon which our culture is based: the assumption that democratically elected rulers will represent the interests of the citizenry; the assumption that unending exponential economic growth is desirable, sustainable, or even possible; and the assumption that any economic system which treats workers as interchangable resources rather than individual human beings can ever allow for an equitable society.

If this sounds radical, it is. However, these principles are inescapably at the base of what the founding members of OWS envisioned when they set up their egalitarian, consensus-based model society opposite the symbol of capitalism and concentrated wealth that the world has ever known. Whether these principles will continue to inform discourse as the movement grows and changes is yet to be seen. Personally, I hope so. There were similar values in play in the very early stages of the Tea Party, but they were rapidly co-opted and captured by the ruling elite. Hopefully that will not happen here. I sincerely hope that the 99% Movement never decides to play ball with power, because once they adopt the rules of the existing establishment they will be forced to play within constraints which are built (and changed) according to the whims of established power bases. If that happens, the movement will lose much of its power.

The power of this movement lies precisely in its ability to exist outside of established interests. It is meant to represent the will and desire of every individual person in it, with all the glorious conflicting outpour of intention and imagination that implies. The message of the 99% Movement is simply this: You are not alone. If you see something that needs to be done, start doing it. If your fellow members think it is worthwhile, you will soon find all the help and support you need. After that, change is inevitable.
posted by Scientist at 1:24 PM on October 9, 2011 [15 favorites]


The OccupyHouston group tweeted that they did that, at least for the protesters that banked with Chase. They marched to the JPMorganChase building downtown (the tallest building in Texas, by the way) and closed out their accounts. They are doing it to other banks downtown next week.
posted by Houstonian at 1:29 PM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Not sure if it's been mentioned elsewhere, but http://occupyweb.org/ aggregates news about OWS from various sources. In other news, Mayor Bloomberg lays off 700 education workers and blames OWS for trying to destroy jobs.
posted by ryoshu at 1:36 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


> 'I don't have the facts to back this up...' Cain told the Wall Street Journal."

And this guy is the current GOP front-runner (on paper, at least). You couldn't make this shit up.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:37 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


or "chardonnay socialists" or "latte lefties".

So "the tax-hiking, government-expanding, latte-drinking, sushi-eating, volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving left-wing freak show" is a no?
posted by Houstonian at 1:40 PM on October 9, 2011


gjc: If there is a crime they know about, call the police/FBI/SEC. And I'm really not being obtuse or disingenuous. The financial meltdown was a shame and a tragedy for some, but there is very little evidence of their having been (much) criminal activity involved.

Sorry, but your insistence on there being a statutory crime is both obtuse and disingenuous. As has been said many times, its what's legal that is the real crime.
posted by JackFlash at 1:40 PM on October 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Bunch of Wall St. douchebags drinking champagne while watching the little people protest below.
(YT)

That is all.
posted by spitbull at 1:41 PM on October 9, 2011


So, who--precisely--are the 'rich' that need to be 'soaked'? Like, what's the income range ya'll are targeting? And in what fashion are they to be 'soaked'?

Because you do not, demonstrably, hate all rich people: there have been some celebrities down at party central, and lemme tell you first before you here it from someone else: those celebrities? Not poor. Not poor at all.

But I'm not poor either, although I sure as shit grew up with an intimate familiarity with ADC, and food stamps, and nasty ass peanut butter that comes in 72 oz cans. I've made 6-figures the last two years, and I've been self-employed since October 2008. I work my ass off and I take care of my retired mother. So if you sons of bitches are coming for what's mine, you best be ready to fight.
posted by gsh at 1:41 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


If we could actually investigate these people, we'd find plenty of statutory crime, and everyone knows it. Let's just start with the hookers and blow.
posted by spitbull at 1:42 PM on October 9, 2011


Six figures? You ain't even close.
posted by spitbull at 1:42 PM on October 9, 2011 [20 favorites]


So, who--precisely--are the 'rich' that need to be 'soaked'?

These people. You're part of the 99%, whether you agree with OWS or not.
posted by oinopaponton at 1:43 PM on October 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


You do realize that "chattering classes" means the people who sit around and talk about politics professionally but who aren't actually involved in any meaningful way other than talking?

Well, unless you're some kind of party hack, or actually in Parliament, that to me defines exactly what the role of any normal person is, in politics: to discuss & analyse policies & political issues.

And no, I don't see "chattering classes" as referring only to professional commentators. It's a broad brush that implies that it's somehow silly or wrong to even talk about the issues of the day, as if they're things that should be left to the experts: "quit your chattering & let the real men and occasionally women get on with the real work!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:46 PM on October 9, 2011


Koch Brothers Flout Law Getting Richer With Secret Iran Sales
posted by ryoshu at 1:48 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


gsh: You might be part of the 1%.

From an article written by an investment manager who works for the 1%: "When does one enter that top 1%? (I'll use "k" for 1,000 and "M" for 1,000,000 as we usually do when communicating with clients or discussing money; thousands and millions take too much time to say.) Available data isn't exact, but a family enters the top 1% or so today with somewhere around $300k to $400k in pre-tax annual income and over $1.2M in net worth."
posted by Houstonian at 1:49 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you can't afford your own politician, you're part of the 99%.
posted by giraffe at 1:49 PM on October 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'm bummed that I don't have time to read this whole thread-- have been staying at Zuccotti Park for a while now and need to run back (also feel way too crusty to be in this coffeeshop right now). Just wanted hop in and say: if you're in NYC, just drop by the square this afternoon/night. It's a beautiful evening, and even if you're completely unmoved by any of the political discourse/sloganeering/etc. and could not care less about any of the occupation's ongoing goals, it's just a really fun place to pass through. And if you don't stop by tonight, maybe Monday. Or Tuesday. Or sometime next week. Or November. Or as long as it'll take us.

and bring some Purell for me :)
posted by NolanRyanHatesMatches at 1:50 PM on October 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Bunch of Wall St. douchebags drinking champagne while watching the little people protest below.
(YT)

That is all


Hahah, that is Cipriani, the least "Wall Street" thing on Wall Street. It is mainly known for various high profile charity events, and luxury apartments for Hollywood a-listers. They are constantly blocking the street with black SUVs and paparazzi.

Kinda funny they are protesting Cipriani. They either have a great sense of humor or are totally clueless.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:51 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


KathrynT - there have been several comments in this thread suggesting that the vague, minimally informed statements made by Tea Party folks are somehow different from the vague, minimally informed statements made by supporters of OWS (please excuse me: I know you are in Seattle, but assumed you were speaking as someone who had actually participated in the protests at Westlake, which, while technically called "occupy Seattle", are part of the OWS movement).

My point is that the assumptions that you and many people who are OK with the lack of a platform for these protests seem to be making - that underneath, everyone involved really does agree on whatever you personally think the core issue is, and that any apparent disagreements are superficial - is not correct.

You and others have suggested that the vague statements made by those who disagree with you ("I don't really follow this, I just read the constitution") don't reflect real anger or real disagreement with you about anything important. Their views are written off because their organizations get funding and support from bad national sources. Meanwhile, you seem to believe that your own 'side's' vague statements ("I don't really understand economics, I just read the internet, and something stinks!") reflect a real, organic sentiment which will somehow eventually lead to concrete change or at least some agreed compromise everyone involved in OWS-related protests an agree on, once whoever you disagree with sees the light. (you'll eventually agree on, "abortions for some, tiny American flags for others?")

I think that this is incorrect, and that the interpretation given by other posters further up the thread - that both Tea Party rallies and OWS protests attract people with irreconcilable differences and fundamental disagreements around a shared sense of anger directed at too wide a range of causes and targets to result in concrete action, and that the Tea Party has done a better job of winnowing out outliers and coming up with a coherent platform and actionable demands - is the right one. This is why I think that OWS's lack of any concrete platform makes it ineffective at whatever it is that reasonable-sized portions of the group think they are trying to do.

(I was about to write that this bothers me because I agree with OWS and disagree with the Tea Party, and then realized that I can clearly say that I disagree with the Tea Party but have no idea what agreeing, even vaguely, with the OWS people would mean...)
posted by Wylla at 1:54 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry, but your insistence on there being a statutory crime is both obtuse and disingenuous. As has been said many times, its what's legal that is the real crime.
posted by JackFlash at 1:40 PM on October 9
Then you can't call them criminals. If you want something to be illegal, protest in front of Congress.
posted by gjc at 1:54 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Occupy Wall Street-style protests spread to Britain
posted by homunculus at 1:55 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


What? No they didn't.
[...]
But don't go around saying they failed and the shareholders / owners lost all their money. That's absolutely untrue.
posted by hippybear at 12:49 PM on October 9
I mean this with all sincerity: my bad. I thought they failed and it was an FDIC takeover.
posted by gjc at 1:56 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's an old video and they weren't protesting Cipriani, the march was simply pass by there. I know it's fun to be lulz maroons all the time, but the OSW people as a whole are the farthest thing from clueless, and I'm sick and tired of that meme. Some of the smartest people I have ever met have been heavily involved from the very beginning, or close to it.
posted by stagewhisper at 1:57 PM on October 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


@Houstonian: The latest census report on income seems to put the pre-tax number a bit higher, but the ballpark is probably right.

Regardless, the report itself is an incredibly interesting read.
posted by CaffeineFree at 1:59 PM on October 9, 2011


Oh I know, but I thought the on screen text as they passed 55 Wall about fat cats partying was hilarious. Fat cats may be partying, but they ain't at Cipriani.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:59 PM on October 9, 2011


Those cats look plenty fat to me. What's the going rate on charity ball tickets and a black SUV and driver, anyway?
posted by spitbull at 2:01 PM on October 9, 2011


"Between Bank of New York Mellon and State Street, these two institutions have stolen between $6 to $10 billion from tens of millions of Americans' retirement savings accounts."

I can do this all afternoon.
posted by ryoshu at 12:47 PM on October 9
An allegation that they deny. I can do this all afternoon too.
What relief went to the people whom Wachovia screwed over? Or do we not care about them?
posted by KathrynT at 12:33 PM on October 9
I feel bad for them too. Who did they screw?
posted by gjc at 2:01 PM on October 9, 2011


I mean this with all sincerity: my bad. I thought they failed and it was an FDIC takeover.

Maybe you're thinking of WaMu? It was seized by the government and immediately sold to Chase.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 2:02 PM on October 9, 2011


But I'm not poor either, although I sure as shit grew up with an intimate familiarity with ADC, and food stamps, and nasty ass peanut butter that comes in 72 oz cans. I've made 6-figures the last two years, and I've been self-employed since October 2008. I work my ass off and I take care of my retired mother. So if you sons of bitches are coming for what's mine, you best be ready to fight.

So you want the same social services that kept you fed defunded because you "work your ass off"? Because I, too, work my ass off and I don't begrudge hungry kids the piddling tax I pay to keep social services going. I wouldn't mind paying more, even.
posted by biddeford at 2:03 PM on October 9, 2011 [20 favorites]


gjc: I can do this all afternoon too.

But we really wish you wouldn't.
posted by Scientist at 2:04 PM on October 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


Wylia: "...directed at too wide a range of causes and targets to result in concrete action"

Your implicit assumption is that there can only be one "concrete action" (or a limited number thereof) in response to articulated "targets." We don't yet know what is possible. You are effectively dismissing them out of hand if you aren't provided a "coherent platform." Well, la de da.

gjc Then you can't call them criminals.

And he pops up to quibble with semantics. Further to your point, I offer Samir Khan.
posted by rhizome at 2:05 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Then you can't call them criminals. If you want something to be illegal, protest in front of Congress.

I have been and will continue to call the people who commit crimes, criminals.

Wells Fargo steals car, no one goes to jail.
Bank of America steals home, no one goes to jail.
Banks commit 10s, if not 100s, of thousands of counts of perjury, no one goes to jail. On this one, each individual incident could be prosecuted, but given the scope it wouldn't be too difficult to escalate it to RICO status.
posted by ryoshu at 2:06 PM on October 9, 2011 [15 favorites]


You and others have suggested that the vague statements made by those who disagree with you ("I don't really follow this, I just read the constitution") don't reflect real anger or real disagreement with you about anything important. Their views are written off because their organizations get funding and support from bad national sources.

When have I personally said that? I believe the Tea Party has real anger. I believe that they disagree with me about important things. I just also believe that they AGREE with me about some important things, and that trying to keep a movement ideologically pure is ridiculous and divisive.

and this: ("I don't really understand economics, I just read the internet, and something stinks!") is an incredibly uncharitable reading of what I said. I never said I don't understand economics, I said I'm not an economist. And I'm not. I firmly and heartily reject the idea that you have to be a 100% Ph.D. peer-reviewed Expert in a field, or else apathy and Two and a Half Men is the only reasonable option for you.

I'm not an expert, but I am informed -- as a sidebar, I don't know why getting informed via Internet sources is more impeachable than doing it via newspapers or TV. Telling people that they don't get to care if they can't articulate their anger to YOUR satisfaction is an effective trick, but it's morally and intellectually bankrupt.
posted by KathrynT at 2:06 PM on October 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


mediareport: it's not a red herring when people say they "stole" the money or that they "have" "our" money. They didn't steal it and for the most part they don't have it. And it wasn't meant to increase lending, it was meant to stop banks from failing. To give them a bigger reserve to draw from until the bleeding stopped. It worked and cost the taxpayers almost nothing. In the end, there might even end up being a profit.

Keep going dude, you're almost to "they're all trust funders anyway."
posted by rhizome


Context, dude. The post I was referring to claimed the Tea Partiers were hypocrites (which they are) and I replied with a counter example of how the OWS people are similarly hypocritical. I don't care where OWS gets their money. But if they are complaining that big business is ruining the country, I would expect them to not be helping that along.
posted by gjc at 2:09 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Isn't occupying in over 1000 cities and having the President and legislators acknowledge it, "protesting before congress"?
posted by josher71 at 2:09 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


It is also unfair to label some random people "Wall St. Douchebags".

Those cats look plenty fat to me. What's the going rate on charity ball tickets and a black SUV and driver, anyway?

Yeah I get it, some dude is drinking champagne! Get him! Focus people. Are we sure everyone going to a charity event is the enemy?

I'm down to picket Cipriani, they make it a nightmare to get to the Wall Street 2/3 stop for my commute home.

Before you get out the pitchforks, I may work for "Wall Street" but I don't make much more than a random programmer at Google.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:10 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Who did they screw?

By participating in the credit-default-swap shell game? ALL OF US.
posted by KathrynT at 2:10 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


An allegation that they deny. I can do this all afternoon too.

Madoff denied a lot of things too, but let's see if Harry Markolopos is correct or not. There are still the other half dozen or so issues I've brought up in this thread. There are clear violations of law that have not been prosecuted. That's one of the things OWS is upset about.
posted by ryoshu at 2:12 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


But if they are complaining that big business is ruining the country, I would expect them to not be helping that along.

Please explain how they can use any sort of telecommunications to further their cause without remaining customers of a big business.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 2:14 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've been close, on paper, to being a millionaire a couple of times in real estate. I could never seal the deal though because I'd have to talk to real people and tell them that I was there to help them while knowing that in a few weeks I'd be taking everything they owned. It's dirty.

Our banks and elected officials don't have to work one on one though. It makes ethics a theory that's easily dismissed and replaced by dollar signs.

Think Trading Places + The Devil's Advocate. We're all just pawns in their eyes.

I'm very proud and thankful to everyone showing up to the protests!
posted by snsranch at 2:15 PM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Then you can't call them criminals. If you want something to be illegal, protest in front of Congress.

I have been and will continue to call the people who commit crimes, criminals.

Wells Fargo steals car, no one goes to jail.
Bank of America steals home, no one goes to jail.
Banks commit 10s, if not 100s, of thousands of counts of perjury, no one goes to jail. On this one, each individual incident could be prosecuted, but given the scope it wouldn't be too difficult to escalate it to RICO status.
posted by ryoshu at 2:06 PM on October 9
Then just try being clear, or honest. Don't take my response to one person's comment and change its scope so you can try to win the internet.

Still and all, if there are crimes occurring and they aren't being prosecuted, your beef is with the government.
posted by gjc at 2:16 PM on October 9, 2011


Fat cats may be partying, but they ain't at Cipriani.

Really? I mean, the "douchebags" framing seems unfairly aimed, but it doesn't take much searching to find accusations of money laundering, union-busting and mob connections related to the Cipriani businesses. Seems pretty "Wall Street" to me.
posted by mediareport at 2:16 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Still and all, if there are crimes occurring and they aren't being prosecuted, your beef is with the government.


And that's true, but the beef is also with the corporate entities committing the crimes. These are not mutually exclusive.

I was just reading a random GA minutes from Houston, which contained this nice bit on a proposal that was made:
Group Proposals
– modify mission statement
* concern that current mission statement is not a real mission statement
* current mission: End corporate corruption of democracy
* proposed: change mission statement to goal
* proposed new mission statement: in solidarity with occupy wall street, in order to bring about a new society, we assert our rights to peaceably assemble, occupy a public space, create a process to instill justice and develop solutions accessible to everyone (possibly not perfectly quoted)
* objections: changing mission statement may confuse people; new mission statement is vague; asserts rights we already have; wants short, poignant, universal message; disconnect between the stated mission statement and goal; call for “new society” will scare the general public; we should find one common united thing (digressed into a call to end the fed); does not wish individual mission statement for occupy houston but wants to use a universal occupy movement mission, sees this as a waste of time; personal objection to the term “new society”, came to support objections to current society; one word proposal of “we” for new mission
* proposal fails; mission statement remains
So the mission remains:
"End corporate corruption of democracy."

Is that so hard to understand?
posted by kaibutsu at 2:19 PM on October 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Still and all, if there are crimes occurring and they aren't being prosecuted, your beef is with the government.

One aspect to the protests is pointing out just that -- the 1% is rich enough to buy immunity from prosecution. So, yes, thank you, we agree!
posted by KathrynT at 2:19 PM on October 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Consensus Achieved!
posted by Scientist at 2:21 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cipriani is a privately owned restaurant company based out of Luxembourg, as far as I know they has nothing to do with TARP or US banking scandals.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:21 PM on October 9, 2011


Still and all, if there are crimes occurring and they aren't being prosecuted, your beef is with the government.

Sure, there are problems with the government not investigating and prosecuting, but are you really suggesting that we shouldn't be upset with criminals? That's just bizarre.
posted by ryoshu at 2:21 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


gjc: Then you can't call them criminals. If you want something to be illegal, protest in front of Congress.

Congress doesn't write the laws. The average congressman couldn't even write a grocery list. Do you really believe the carried interest exemption, for example, was written by a congressman? Congress is just a puppet. The strings are pulled from Wall Street so you have to go where the real power is. Wall Street would be delighted if protestors could be distracted by directing their anger at congress. In fact, that was the entire purpose of the corporate funded Tea Party -- blame congress, blame government, just don't blame us. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."
posted by JackFlash at 2:22 PM on October 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Alan Grayson's standing ovation for explaining what Occupy Wall Street is all about. He says he'd be glad to be their spokesman, if they need that one voice to be heard.
posted by misha at 2:22 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


The champagne people is just a coincidence. There was a party there and they just popped out to see what was going on. A non-issue, but those people will have to live that image down. Wrong place at the wrong time, that's for sure!
posted by rhizome at 2:23 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bank steals car, government doesn't prosecute, therefore government! WTF?
posted by ryoshu at 2:23 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I believe that they disagree with me about important things. I just also believe that they AGREE with me about some important things.

Unless I seriously misunderstand your views, I don't think you're correct there - I think superficial similarities in the language you use to describe very different perceived problems is is not the same as agreement. I think that this view - everyone really agrees with me deep down - is part of what tends to drive the idea that coming up with any concrete platform for action is somehow going to 'kill the movement'.

I firmly and heartily reject the idea that you have to be a 100% Ph.D. peer-reviewed Expert in a field, or else apathy and Two and a Half Men is the only reasonable option for you.

Telling people that they don't get to care if they can't articulate their anger to YOUR satisfaction is an effective trick, but it's morally and intellectually bankrupt.


Wow, how's that for uncharitable, from someone who complained that I was 'uncharitable' for quoting her directly?

Rhizome - I agree that it's possible for OWS protesters to eventually splinter into a large number of smaller, more focused and effective groups further down the road. I would certainly be happy to support some of those groups if that happened.

The unfortunate thing is that, since there was no platform for these protests early on, none of those smaller, more effective groups, will be able to claim these protests as a show of support for their cause to get the changes they want made to happen. Protests that were 1/3 the size, but clearly for something would help the inheritor groups way more to say 'look how many support us!' They would also help those of us who are not comfortable supporting a vaguely-defined cause which includes disparate groups under its umbrella to get off the fence. As I said above, I can't 'support OWS' because I don't know in even the vaguest terms what that means I'd be supporting.
posted by Wylla at 2:24 PM on October 9, 2011


Big difference between what's legal and what's ethical or financial sound for the economy as a whole.
posted by snsranch at 2:26 PM on October 9, 2011


Who did they screw?

By participating in the credit-default-swap shell game? ALL OF US.
posted by KathrynT at 2:10 PM on October 9
How were any of us affected by the CDS shell game?
One aspect to the protests is pointing out just that -- the 1% is rich enough to buy immunity from prosecution. So, yes, thank you, we agree!
posted by KathrynT at 2:19 PM on October 9
That's BS and you (ought to know) it. Nobody can buy immunity. You can buy a lot of stuff, but once the Feds decide to go after you, you are pretty much screwed. They win something like 92% of their cases. If you have examples, I'd love to hear them because that would enrage me too. But I don't think that's happening.
posted by gjc at 2:28 PM on October 9, 2011


I think superficial similarities in the language you use to describe very different perceived problems is is not the same as agreement.

How many Tea Party people do you know? how many are you friends with? How many do you talk about politics with?

I'm not speaking of hypotheticals, or of people I see on the teevee. I'm talking about neighbors, friends, and colleagues. Actual human beings, actual Tea Partiers, whom I actually discuss these subjects with. There is real and violent agreement on many of these issues, and I think we on the left brush that aside at our peril.
posted by KathrynT at 2:29 PM on October 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


I may work for "Wall Street" but I don't make much more than a random programmer at Google.

Real laughter was produced on this day.

The unfortunate thing is that, since there was no platform for these protests early on, none of those smaller, more effective groups, will be able to claim these protests as a show of support for their cause to get the changes they want made to happen.

If those groups are truly "more effective," why are we even having this conversation? The one overarching goal of the OWS seems to be to drive the discourse to the left, and that is exactly what they are doing. They already have achieved some of their goals because we are talking about this stuff right now. Why haven't your "more effective" groups been able to achieve the same?
posted by dialetheia at 2:29 PM on October 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Protests that were 1/3 the size, but clearly for something would help the inheritor groups way more to say 'look how many support us!'

Bullshit. There have been hundreds of protests in the US over the last ten years that have been entirely ignored by the media, creating an illusion of consent for the current system. Remember those gigantic protests in the run-up to the Iraq war that scored a page-ten-in-the-corner report in the new york times? Yeah, I was there, and it didn't do shit. Small scale protests have been herded into 'free speech zones,' actively kept from being able to speak to people on the street, and suppressed in the media. As such, they've been unable to accomplish very much.

The fact that this large scale, general protest has finally gotten through shows that it is exactly what was needed.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:30 PM on October 9, 2011 [13 favorites]


Bank steals car, government doesn't prosecute, therefore government! WTF?
posted by ryoshu at 2:23 PM on October 9
Uh, yes? The bank made a mistake. They corrected the mistake. If you want that to be a crime, talk to the government.
posted by gjc at 2:30 PM on October 9, 2011


How were any of us affected by the CDS shell game?

The economy fell apart, remember? Because all the banks were failing? Because all of a sudden the CDS bubble collapsed?

If you have examples, I'd love to hear them because that would enrage me too. But I don't think that's happening.

How many people are in jail because of the robosigning perjuries?
posted by KathrynT at 2:31 PM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


The champagne people is just a coincidence. There was a party there and they just popped out to see what was going on. A non-issue, but those people will have to live that image down. Wrong place at the wrong time, that's for sure!

I just thought it was funny, I have seen the video posted a few times. I would bet money that those folks were tourists and that they got singles out as Wall Street Douchbags was funny.

Everyone knows Wall Street Douchbags are nowhere near Wall Street, they are somewhere in midtown.

but it doesn't take much searching to find accusations of money laundering, union-busting and mob connections related to the Cipriani businesses

Last thing about Cipriani, you can make the argument that they were extorted by the mob, which seems like is what happened, it isn't a crime to be a victim of extortion. Pretty common in the NYC restaurant business.

This is a red herring anyway (ironic since red herring is a standard Wall Street term for the warnings printed on prospectuses) lets focus on the real culprits.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:31 PM on October 9, 2011


"Oh, sorry, sir! I accidentally stole your car! Oops, please take the keys back! It was an honest mistake!"

Something tells me this wouldn't fly for your average car thief. And it's exactly the sort of thing that a bank would bank on; if they can get away with it one time out of five, and say their apologies scot-free the other four, then they've made the cost of a car.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:33 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


How were any of us affected by the CDS shell game?

Were you paying attention in late 2007 and early 2008?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 2:33 PM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Uh, yes? The bank made a mistake. They corrected the mistake.

. . . after the media was called. Do you think that would have happened without the media pressure? Do thieves normally get to walk scot-free if they give the property back?
posted by KathrynT at 2:34 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


And as support for my statement, see the end of the car theft article:

Wells Fargo did resolve this situation quickly once we reached out to them. Remember, the Department of Licensing may be able to sort out any title trouble. If that doesn't work, call me. We've been hearing of similar cases in the area.

This sounds like systematic theft of vehicles from unprivledged people without legal recourse, resolved with an apology once an individual case hit the media.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:38 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


So the mission remains:
"End corporate corruption of democracy."

Is that so hard to understand?


Ok, so now that we apparently are agreed on the mission statement, can we move on to come up with (actionable) ideas to answer the obvious next question: "How?"
posted by CaffeineFree at 2:38 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apples to oranges, losing money due to stupidity or even pure greed isn't a crime. We can talk about making it one though.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:40 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


gjc,

Uh, yes? The bank made a mistake. They corrected the mistake. If you want that to be a crime, talk to the government.

What the hell? Dude, how about we go protest in the motherfucking street instead?

Governments make the laws, people are the politics! This is about direct political action.
posted by kuatto at 2:41 PM on October 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


I like how people are trying to equate the Tea Party and OWS when the current Tea Party is mostly just using public malaise to try to reinforce the Bush/Reagan-style policies that got us in this mess. Early on, they wanted Ron Paul policies and some even wanted incitements of the people on Wall Street who ruined the economy, but the one Fox News and Dick Army created are more about coopting populist rage to perpetuate the systems that makes them so miserable.

If OWS really was so minor and inconsequential, why would the corporate media be wasting so much breath claiming it's aimless and misguided, especially as there's big stories going on, such as the looming threat of contagion of the Greek financial system? Right now, it does seem more like catharses than action, but it does seem like the start of what FreedomWorks and NewsCorp want to prevent.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:44 PM on October 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


once the Feds decide to go after you

This is what you buy.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 2:47 PM on October 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ok, so now that we apparently are agreed on the mission statement, can we move on to come up with (actionable) ideas to answer the obvious next question: "How?"

The people must not relent. The longer this goes on, the more political pressure we apply to our squirming elite, the more likely we can extract the changes that we desperately need:

Remove corruption from the democratic process! Put the people back in power!
posted by kuatto at 2:51 PM on October 9, 2011


How were any of us affected by the CDS shell game?

The economy fell apart, remember? Because all the banks were failing? Because all of a sudden the CDS bubble collapsed?

If you have examples, I'd love to hear them because that would enrage me too. But I don't think that's happening.

How many people are in jail because of the robosigning perjuries?
posted by KathrynT at 2:31 PM on October 9
1- The CDS market collapsed because the economy fell apart. If nobody is defaulting on credit, nobody has to pay out on the CDS. They did not cause anything.

2- The robo-signing thing is still ongoing, there hasn't been enough time for anyone who DID commit perjury to have been tried yet. The mortgage banks got caught, and people will go to jail.
posted by gjc at 2:54 PM on October 9, 2011


I meant indictments. Spellcheck and skimming are a bad combo.
posted by mccarty.tim at 2:55 PM on October 9, 2011


once the Feds decide to go after you

This is what you buy.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 2:47 PM on October 9
Who is selling that? Are there Feds on the take?
posted by gjc at 2:56 PM on October 9, 2011


1- The CDS market collapsed because the economy fell apart. If nobody is defaulting on credit, nobody has to pay out on the CDS. They did not cause anything.

Ponzi schemes work so long as there are new shills to be found. Thus, the ponzi scheme is not to blame.
posted by kaibutsu at 2:58 PM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


kaibutsu: the only problem with that is that Credit Default Swaps aren't a Ponzi scheme.
posted by gjc at 3:00 PM on October 9, 2011


The CDS market was structurally guaranteed to collapse eventually; the only question was who would be holding the potato when it came time for the market to shout 'drop!'
posted by kaibutsu at 3:00 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The supercilious, hair-splitting case made by OWS critics in this thread says the protests are working.

Sorry I called some douchebags the wrong kind of douchebag.
posted by spitbull at 3:00 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


gjc: Still and all, if there are crimes occurring and they aren't being prosecuted, your beef is with the government.

There are multiple beefs. MULTIPLE. BEEFS.
posted by JHarris at 3:01 PM on October 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


There is no market for CDS.
posted by gjc at 3:01 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you think the mortgage crisis wasn't illegal, then you don't really understand finance. Finance is about making money by lending money. You make money honestly by pairing investors with investments that match their desired risk profile. As a rule, high frequency trading outfits make money honestly by pairing investors with themselves and adjusting their spread to cover the risk. You make money dishonestly by falsifying the risk profile you report to investors, ala the crap mortgages. And that's fraud anyway you slice it.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:01 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


No, they were not a ponzi scheme, they were a mathematical generalization of a ponzi scheme. Also, you're calling out your own use of 'market' as a modifier for 'cds?' What kind of disingenuous game ar you playing here, bub?
posted by kaibutsu at 3:02 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The supercilious, hair-splitting case made by OWS critics in this thread says the protests are working.

Sorry I called some douchebags the wrong kind of douchebag.
posted by spitbull at 3:00 PM on October 9
And we are full circle: working at what? Starting arguments?
posted by gjc at 3:02 PM on October 9, 2011


Early on, they wanted Ron Paul policies and some even wanted incitements of the people on Wall Street who ruined the economy, but the one Fox News and Dick Army created are more about coopting populist rage to perpetuate the systems that makes them so miserable.

I've still not heard much about the Ron Paul era of the Tea Party. They certainly didn't take off until Fox News began flogging them every chance they got.
posted by JHarris at 3:03 PM on October 9, 2011


It's very interesting to read mefi discussion on this. I've attended occupy boston a few times (mostly hanging out in the signmaking tent, hi!) and occasionally on the internet contributing to my own (failing and pretty much unnecessary) wiki for covering the protests.

There are plenty of radicals there and plenty of idealistic "let's amend the constitution to prevent war forever!" voices and opinions.

But.

Being out there has put me in touch with some genuine hardworking people. I talked to a twenty- or thirtysomething guy who had no formal education, had worked in restaurants and bars, then realized he was an alcoholic, got sober, and had been trying unsuccessfully to find new employment since. We talked about our respective reasons for attending the gathering as we cleaned up the signmaking tent together and listened to the general assembly debates. His reasons for being there were seemed much more real than mine - I am someone who can afford to think of the protest as a side activity, and I can afford to go out to dinner and talk about it with friends afterward. This man saw it as something that had real potential to affect his own livelihood, his own future, and if he didn't speak for him, who would?

He found a huge piece of cardboard that was perfect for a big sign. We joked about how leaving it in the "blank signboard" box would mean someone would most likely screw up writing on it. I jokingly said "Well then I'll do it!" We both thought for a while and he came up with "If you can't afford to miss work to be here, you belong here" - because of his friends who agreed but couldn't afford to attend. I wrote it up but haven't been back yet to see the sign in action.

While I was sprawled out on the sidewalk writing up this huge sign in thick marker, a tall older man came by, and said in a thick accent that he had just gotten off work at a local laundromat. He asked if we needed any boxes for signboard, since they have so many and he wanted to contribute. We talked to him for a few minutes. He hung around for a while looking like he wanted to help us out, and I smiled at him, trying to hide my own anxiety about whether I should offer him some of the popcorn someone had been passing out earlier (oh, but that would seem so trite). He was still looking around at all the tents, signs, and people as he walked away.

The people who might see "If you can't afford to miss work to be here, you belong here" and identify with it, are the people that "we" are out there for. "we" being people like me, the "lucky" (read "employed") recent college grads who can afford to spend their spare time doing something that resonates with what they believe in. Or the lucky idealistic college student from an upper-middle class family who has time between classes, homework, and a part-time pocket-money job. Those of us that are there because we're lucky, we know we're lucky. There's a huge contingent of students who took on student loans because it's what they were told to do in high school, and they might be screwed. When they have the time, they're out there too. We're out there for the people who don't have time to be out there.

One of the signs I made on the first day I went to the protests has appeared in a number of photographs and marches (and not with me). Last I saw, it had been hung prominently outside the signmaking tent: "I can't afford my own politician so I made this sign." I went down to the park and made that sign after reading a comment proclaiming that right now "the protest is a wiki, it's only made up of what you add to it." I added my voice, and have since made some other signs that simply and clearly (I hope) advocate removing money and corporate influence from the political process, and people support it.

If any Boston mefites want to meet there sometime that'd be awesome
posted by ghostbikes at 3:03 PM on October 9, 2011 [37 favorites]


Who is selling that? Are there Feds on the take?

YES.

gjc, what you seem to not be getting is that there's an INSTITUTIONAL problem. You keep wanting to pigeonhole it into an individual problem. Our entire system of government is set up so that those with wealth can use it to wield undue influence not only into the structure of government, but also into the method of government. Either they get specific black-letter exemptions or deregulations written into the law, or else they just. . . don't get indicted when they manage to actually break the weak, limp laws they helped write.

If I walked into your house and started taking your TV, and you said "Wait, shit, cut it out, that's my TV!!" and I said "I don't think so, bro" and kept coiling up cables and readying my handtruck, and then you called the police and they said "I dunno. . . why would she be taking it wasn't her TV?" and then you called the news and they came to my house and I scratched my head and said "Well fuck, I guess it wasn't my TV after all! Here you go, dude," wouldn't you expect me to get slapped with some kind of burglary charge? Why did Wells Fargo not get slapped with a burglary charge when they did exactly the same thing?
posted by KathrynT at 3:07 PM on October 9, 2011 [14 favorites]


No, they were not a ponzi scheme, they were a mathematical generalization of a ponzi scheme. Also, you're calling out your own use of 'market' as a modifier for 'cds?' What kind of disingenuous game ar you playing here, bub?
posted by kaibutsu at 3:02 PM on October 9
Two different kinds of markets. The market as in the collection of buyers and sellers is what I meant. But there is no market like the NASDAQ or the CME for them, and as such, cannot be structured to fail.

CDS are not Ponzi schemes. They are insurance policies for credit/debt. Some of the companies trading in them may have been acting in bad faith, but the product is a valid one.
posted by gjc at 3:12 PM on October 9, 2011


HOW?

The answer is "remove corporate influences and money from the political process". "money and state" should be as separate as "church and state" (or as separate as church and state are supposed to be.)

will the corporately-influenced people in power lift a finger change this?

unlikely.

so we're in the streets yelling.
posted by ghostbikes at 3:12 PM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


The supercilious, hair-splitting case made by OWS critics in this thread says the protests are working.

Sorry I called some douchebags the wrong kind of douchebag


I may be a critic of calling random people douchbags, but I do it out of an interest in finding the real douchbags, not just pointing the finger at anyone with more cash than me.

So S&P? Moody's? Mortgage brokers who talked people into mortgages they couldn't afford? Who do we put in jail,surely not just anyone who drinks on a balcony when the protest goes by.

I don't think you are interested though, you are more interested in venting against anyone who happens to have a couple bucks to buy a glass of campaign and purging the thread of "critics" who are actually on your side but think it is counterproductive to go around calling people who may not have anything to do with Wall Street douchbags.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:14 PM on October 9, 2011


Some of the companies trading in them may have been acting in bad faith,

and if that's not a crime, it should be.
posted by KathrynT at 3:15 PM on October 9, 2011


Haven't read most comments yet.

Still, for those looking for a simple point to the OWS protests... how about this: the protesters are standing outside a wrongdoer's lair, yelling and pointing, in the hopes that the authorities will come and investigate. we have a small problem in that the wrongdoers control the authorities.
posted by Artful Codger at 3:19 PM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I find it useful to keep checking how often the same individuals keep posting the same line, in this case that Wall Street did nothing wrong, and how multiple the voices are that are broadly in sympathy with OWS.

If you're sticking up for the corporations who dodge tax, pollute the planet, exploit the low paid, eliminate unions, clearcut forests, rig elections and write laws to suit themselves, you are the 1% or their useful idiots. If you want companies to be regulated so they pay tax, pay fair wages, behave sustainably, and stay out of politics, you're in the middle of the 99%, not saying everyone agrees.

Maybe this is a Temporary Autonomous Zone as discussed above, and no manifesto will emerge. Maybe some charismatic leader will emerge. Maybe one of the General Assemblies will come up with a text so powerful, so clear, that it unites the bulk of the protestors and their supporters around it. Who knows?

But if you want it to succeed you won't achieve anything just posting on here about it - you need to take part. Contribute. Listen to others. Set your ideas out. Find the place you can be useful. Because if this isn't the start of a successful fightback it'll be even harder next time, and much of what we'll have lost in between will be irreparable.
posted by imperium at 3:19 PM on October 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


Should be a crime and is a crime are two different things.
posted by gjc at 3:19 PM on October 9, 2011


gjc, of course - and you're consistently missing the point. Companies have bought legislation that makes wrongdoing legal.
posted by imperium at 3:23 PM on October 9, 2011


Should be a crime and is a crime are two different things.

That's exactly my point! If it isn't a crime, why isn't it one? Answer: because the people who wanted to commit this crime had enough wealth and enough power to make sure it wouldn't be a crime.
posted by KathrynT at 3:24 PM on October 9, 2011


Maybe you aren't talking about me, but I'm not sticking up for corporations. I'm sticking up for having some god damned common sense. (And pointing out (and accidentally contributing to) misinformation.) I want there to be change! But I disagree completely with the "tactics" of the OWS people. Wall Street isn't the problem. Congress is. They are the only ones who can affect the change that we need. We would get a lot more change a lot quicker if these people would have focused on the source of the corruption and incompetence and decided to gather at the 435 congresspeople's offices instead of 1100 parks.
posted by gjc at 3:28 PM on October 9, 2011


The fact that crimes were or were not committed by banks and financial institutions may never be settled and THAT DOESN'T MATTER. It's just a talking point for why these protests have finally come about.

What does matter is that banks and large financial institutions can collectively afford to influence the government to support their own interests.

The unemployed and struggling people - VOTERS! - of America have NO WAY to do this. It seems like the only way to have effective political influence is to have and spend LOTS OF MONEY.

It's not about asking for handouts, it's not about determining which wall street CEOs to throw in jail, it's not even about corporate corruption or greed. It's about fixing the system to allow people to have a voice in the government regardless of how much money they can give to whoever. A vote just isn't cutting it when businesses can have influence by throwing their millions around.
posted by ghostbikes at 3:29 PM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


That's exactly my point! If it isn't a crime, why isn't it one? Answer: because the people who wanted to commit this crime had enough wealth and enough power to make sure it wouldn't be a crime.
posted by KathrynT at 3:24 PM on October 9


And that's exactly my point: the people who let that happen are worse than the people who did it. You can't blame a dog for being a dog. You blame the people who let the dog shit on your lawn. They are the ones who violated the public trust.
posted by gjc at 3:30 PM on October 9, 2011


It does seem like one of the main things the OWS movement should be working toward is comprehensive, radical campaign finance reform.
posted by hippybear at 3:30 PM on October 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


you are more interested in venting against anyone who happens to have a couple bucks to buy a glass of campaign

Interesting typo.
posted by dirigibleman at 3:33 PM on October 9, 2011 [25 favorites]


Dogs are non-sentient animals. Wall Street (et al) are conscious, sentient, clever human beings. Don't deny their agency by trying to pretend they're dumb.

The people who did it and the people who let it happen are both equally bad. That's one of the messages of these protests. It's like the guy who lives next to a meth lab and the local police won't do anything about it, so he puts a huge sign up on his own property saying "THIS IS A METH LAB! THE POLICE DO NOTHING!" The wrongdoers deserve to have their wrong actions called out, even if they couldn't have done it without accomplices.
posted by KathrynT at 3:34 PM on October 9, 2011


It does seem like one of the main things the OWS movement should be working toward is comprehensive, radical campaign finance reform.

YES!! and that right there is why I attend the protests. If enough people go who fervently work towards this, it has potential to become the main message of the occupation and make change.

or at least, make more change than has been accomplished without #ows, right?
posted by ghostbikes at 3:35 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Corporations and very wealthy individuals are paying politicians to convince voters to support policies that end up financially hurting voters. They've gotten away with it for a long time. The reason Wall Street is starting to freak out isn't that CEOs are afraid for their personal safety or that the protesters want to "destroy jobs" (come on, Bloomberg)-- it's because OWS is proof that the people at large are starting to catch on to what a sham the whole system is.
posted by oinopaponton at 3:36 PM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've remained Facebook "friends" with someone just so I can keep an eye on the Tea Party's latest flavor of crazytalk. This is the poll going around about the OWS:

"WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF THE PEOPLE PROTESTING ON WALL STREET AGAINST CAPITALISM?"

Puppets for Obama and Soros' and their new class war to bring down the country
73 votes

They are all the above and Obama supporters
25 votes

Nut jobs
16 votes

They are certainly exercising their right to assemble!
13 votes

Take their trust funds away !
13 votes

Brainwashed university students inspired by left thinking socialist professors
11 votes

SHOULD MVE OUT OF THE USA.
9 votes

Most have never had jobs. Just want everything from others' hard work.
7 votes

ALL OF THE ABOVE
60 votes
posted by HopperFan at 3:36 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


How were any of us affected by the CDS shell game?

I'm raising my hand here.

I worked for Citigroup. In IT, not in any of the major financial sections. And because of the CDS issues, and the loss of money in the corporation, I was laid off.

I have, since being laid off last year in July, been looking for work. I still haven't found it, despite phone calls to places, sending out a minimum of 5 applications/resume a day six day a week (I don't do it on Saturdays because I feel it'll get even more buried). I have had interviews with no callbacks about being rejected.

And I have been called and told, specifically and emphatically, that my previous employment with Citigroup is a disqualifying factor because the companies in question refuse to hire anyone with recent employment in certain companies in the financial service sector. Add that to the screaming asshatism of those who refuse to hire anyone who's unemployed (or recently so) and I'm just glad I got another 13 weeks of unemployment.

But yes. I am directly affected by the CDS failure to work in two ways.

And I'd love to change the laws, but especially after the Citizens United case, no one can afford to buy one, even if we all pitched in $10.
posted by mephron at 3:37 PM on October 9, 2011 [15 favorites]


We would get a lot more change a lot quicker if these people would have focused on the source of the corruption and incompetence and decided to gather at the 435 congresspeople's offices instead of 1100 parks.

You know, gjc, there's nothing stopping you from organizing your own series of protests. Since you care so much and all.
posted by KathrynT at 3:37 PM on October 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


gjc: Maybe you aren't talking about me, but I'm not sticking up for corporations. I'm sticking up for having some god damned common sense.

You're being an obfuscating jerk who came into this with your own sense of the rightness of his opinion, and are trying to push that as far as you can by sitting obsessively on the thread. I base this on the fact that in a 250+ comment thread, as of this writing you wrote more than one-tenth of them.

gjc: And that's exactly my point: the people who let that happen are worse than the people who did it.

I think you just blew up your own point, and pretty effectively.
posted by JHarris at 3:38 PM on October 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


It does seem like one of the main things the OWS movement should be working toward is comprehensive, radical campaign finance reform.

What makes you think that they aren't doing that? One of the signs that appears over and over again at the OWS protests is "Money out of politics." That's a pretty clear message.
posted by blucevalo at 3:39 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can't blame a dog for being a dog. You blame the people who let the dog shit on your lawn.

So what you are saying is that Wall Street millionaires are legitimately sociopaths who should probably be locked away from society for their own good.
posted by dirigibleman at 3:39 PM on October 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


You know, gjc, there's nothing stopping you from organizing your own series of protests. Since you care so much and all.
posted by KathrynT at 3:37 PM on October 9


Everyone who would show up is too busy partying on Wall Street.
posted by gjc at 3:40 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I never said they aren't doing that. Why would you take my statement to mean they aren't doing that? There are no words I've used which say they aren't.
posted by hippybear at 3:41 PM on October 9, 2011


Don't put words in my mouth, dirigibleman.
posted by gjc at 3:41 PM on October 9, 2011


First, gjc, stop talking about how the financial services industry works; you're embarrassing yourself in front of plenty of people around here who have actually made the sausage.

Second, the broader point here is that any sustained and large gathering of people has a larger than average potential for violence. While no one wants to talk about it, that's where this is going to end if it keeps up (the keeping-up part is no sure bet). Coherent talking points or no, you keep this many people together long enough with LE around, and you're going to get something nasty, far nastier than we've had since the 1960s.

And to be honest, I'm not entirely certain how I feel about that one way or the other.
posted by digitalprimate at 3:42 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here is what I think was done wrong.

Mortgage brokers, out of greed, preyed on people eager to buy homes. They misrepresented the risks perhaps falsified financial statements to make the loans seen more acceptible. This probably happened millions of times. Certainly people who committed fraud on a retail level broke the law.

Banks didn't look too closely at the applications. Whether this is a crime I don't know, do they have a responsibility to protect themselves and borrowers from default? Probably.

Someone had the bright idea to bundle these loans, and sell them.

In order to make these investments look like anything but a house of cards they get them AAA ratings. Whether this was a quid pro quo agreement with S&P or the ratings agencies were legitimately hoodwinked I don't know.

I think there was enough fraud to go around, there needs to be the political will to ferret this out. So far we have seen a sort of blanket amnesty, because everyone is guilty.


What would probably be best is throw people in jail for fraud, and meaningfull campagn reform.
Votes certainly don't matter if the only people who can attempt to run are financed by the very entities they are supposed to be policing.

Wall street, even if not guilty of specific crimes are guilty of destroying their own house out of sheer avarice. And ace certainly proved they cannot act responsibly.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:43 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Everyone who would show up is too busy partying on Wall Street.

Well, I guess you're probably best off badmouthing those folks who are actually trying to change something, then. That always helps.
posted by KathrynT at 3:47 PM on October 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


Digitalprimate, where exactly am I wrong? Unlike so many others in this thread, I'd like to see some facts to change my mind.

JHarris, thanks for keeping it classy and on-point.
posted by gjc at 3:48 PM on October 9, 2011


The Occupy Seattle folk need blankets, costs, hats, and socks, if anyone cares.
posted by spinifex23 at 3:49 PM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I never said they aren't doing that. Why would you take my statement to mean they aren't doing that? There are no words I've used which say they aren't.

Okay. Point taken. I misinterpreted your comment.
posted by blucevalo at 3:53 PM on October 9, 2011


As safe as it is to hang back and observe and come up with endless excuses for not participating, I rather expected more of mefites (though I'm glad so many have seen this as the starting point as it truly may be).

Metafilter is not the place to expect grand political organization. Mostly people just like to bitch and moan and share their crazy theories/pet peeves/half formed thoughts.

You gotta connect with your local peeps if you really want to get down in the trenches.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:54 PM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


JHarris, thanks for keeping it classy and on-point.

Thank you for doing the same.
posted by blucevalo at 3:54 PM on October 9, 2011


Awareness that the mortgages were crap went fairly high up the food chain, Ad hominem, enough so that smart investment houses completely outside the mortgage business noticed and started buying the CDSs. I donno if S&P itself is guilty of fraud either, but most who issued mortgage backed securities are guilty. You are engaging in fraud if you knowingly buy fake goods and resell them.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:55 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Digitalprimate, where exactly am I wrong? Unlike so many others in this thread, I'd like to see some facts to change my mind.

Unfortunately this thread is not about you. If you want to learn, listen more than you talk.
posted by hermitosis at 3:55 PM on October 9, 2011 [13 favorites]


Don't put words in my mouth, dirigibleman.

You compared Wall Street millionaires to creatures with little autonomy or agency to state that they are not to blame for their unethical and potentially illegal behavior, and that people shouldn't be mad at them. Since Wall Street millionaires are not, in fact, dogs, but human beings who ostensibly have real intelligence and moral agency, what am I supposed to take from your statement other than that these people are fundamentally broken in some way?
posted by dirigibleman at 3:59 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


You compared Wall Street millionaires to creatures with little autonomy or agency to state that they are not to blame for their unethical and potentially illegal behavior, and that people shouldn't be mad at them. Since Wall Street millionaires are not, in fact, dogs, but human beings who ostensibly have real intelligence and moral agency, what am I supposed to take from your statement other than that these people are fundamentally broken in some way?
posted by dirigibleman at 3:59 PM on October 9


Whatever dude. I said no such thing and you know it.

This is why we can't have nice things.
posted by gjc at 4:02 PM on October 9, 2011


Unfortunately this thread is not about you. If you want to learn, listen more than you talk.
posted by hermitosis at 3:55 PM on October 9


It was made about me when I got attacked from all sides. So, I think I'm done on this thread for a while. Enjoy your echo chamber!
posted by gjc at 4:04 PM on October 9, 2011


Agreed Juffburdges.

I work on the very periphery and saw at the time an uptick on MBS deals. Right before the bottom fell out we were seeing huge deals on the order of tens of billions of dollars. If a guy like me, with no college degree knew that this was strange then smart people must have known. I am a programmer and seeing the deals I was using as data gave me a strange nauseous feeling.

I worked for Citigroup. In IT, not in any of the major financial sections. And because of the CDS issues, and the loss of money in the corporation, I was laid off.

People forget about the 30k people at Bear, all the folks at Lehman, even the hundreds that got laid off from the tiny firm I worked at that went bankrupt because of all of this that are still pounding the pavement.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:06 PM on October 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


As a side note, I've heard from progressive activists that the presumptive (more based on media narrative than reality) focus on the demand to "End the Draft" made it easier for the '60s protest movement to get coopted and scuttled a lot of more systemic reforms.
posted by klangklangston at 4:12 PM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Where to start?

"More or less, Wall Street doesn't have any money that someone didn't willingly give them."

Except the entire infrastructure - both physical and financial - that allows the continued existence of the financial services industry. Have you noticed what happens to individuals who don't pay their taxes to support said infrastructure?

"There is no market for CDS." and "The CDS market collapsed because the economy fell apart. If nobody is defaulting on credit, nobody has to pay out on the CDS. They did not cause anything."

I'll presume the first statement was made in haste and that you do in fact understand that derivatives markets exist. The entire point of hedging a position via derivatives is that someone has promised to pay and the system will force them to pay if called. That is not what happened.

"Nobody can buy immunity. You can buy a lot of stuff, but once the Feds decide to go after you, you are pretty much screwed."

I'll do you a kindness and presume you've never read about who worked for whom prior to or immediately after leaving a position at a state or federal regulatory body.
posted by digitalprimate at 4:13 PM on October 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Argh! It is not "potentially illegal". It has been an illegal enterprise from top to bottom, start to cover-up. Google "control fraud". Read naked capitalism. Read Bill Black. Read anything not in corporate controlled media. That's why there is so much anger - the US no longer prosecutes the crimes of the oligarchy.
posted by dopeypanda at 4:30 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


It was made about me when I got attacked from all sides. So, I think I'm done on this thread for a while. Enjoy your echo chamber!

Good. Perhaps the conversation can move on from the attempts to reframe the issues behind the OWS protests into whether X is / is not / should be / shouldn't be a crime, and/or how to change the criminal law.

It's as if Bob Dylan had been singing "Blowin' in the wind", and somebody kept harping on about blowin in the wind not being a crime, and anyways, the wind blows regardless, and if you wanted to make it a crime, then petition Congress.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:30 PM on October 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


you are more interested in venting against anyone who happens to have a couple bucks to buy a glass of campaign and purging the thread of "critics" who are actually on your side but think it is counterproductive to go around calling people who may not have anything to do with Wall Street douchbags.
posted by Ad hominem


Metaeponysomethingsomething.

I'll take odds on the wealth of those folks sipping champaign at Cipriani, 10 to 1 they have more than "a couple of bucks." True, that doesn't make them douch(e)bags (mefi spell checker doesn't like either version). They had to work for that.
posted by spitbull at 4:33 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whatever dude. I said no such thing and you know it.

You said:

You can't blame a dog for being a dog. You blame the people who let the dog shit on your lawn.

What did you mean when you said that? Obviously I'm too stupid to understand your analogy. Who is the dog in this scenario? What do you mean when you compare them to dogs? If it's not as I stated above, then I clearly don't understand your metaphor at all.

I guess since you left the thread, I'll never know. Could someone else explain it to me?
posted by dirigibleman at 4:35 PM on October 9, 2011


How were any of us affected by the CDS shell game?

The thing about a global financial crisis is that it is GLOBAL. Everyone is effected by a recession.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:37 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Could someone else explain it to me?

I guess he meant that he sees no reason why people would act ethically in the absence of strictly enforced laws? Which is good to know, in case you ever end up in a situation in which you might need to rely on him.
posted by oinopaponton at 4:39 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah they are probably douchebags. Don't know why I even bother to defend them. Rich people that aren't me suck.
posted by Ad hominem at 4:39 PM on October 9, 2011


Could someone else explain it to me?

I think the point was that if you give a creature wiggle room, and they have the desire to see how much they can get through, they will go for all of it, so it's the responsibility of the dog owner to make sure the dog is trained properly and doesn't try to do things it shouldn't.

Also, in most communities there's a "clean up after your dog" thing, so if the banks are dogs, then the government should clean up after them. Which I suppose you could look at TARP as being.

I guess it really means "well, if Woody had gone right to the police we had meaningful campaign finance reform, this would all never have happened. But since there wasn't any, and won't be because it's too late, bend over and grease up."
posted by mephron at 4:43 PM on October 9, 2011


Parsing the Data and Ideology of the We Are 99% Tumblr
posted by blucevalo at 4:47 PM on October 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Upthread I was referring not to the people who work for corporations, but corporate personhood, the legal treatment of corporations as people, with the same rights as individuals. Of course people who work for corporations are human beings; corporations themselves are not and treating them like they are gives protection to individual wrongdoers and gives them disproporionate political influence.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:51 PM on October 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Romney's very happy to elide that distinction, though, as are all of the other GOP 2012 candidates.
posted by blucevalo at 4:56 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


How were any of us affected by the CDS shell game?

The thing about a global financial crisis is that it is GLOBAL. Everyone is effected by a recession.


Plus the fact that lots of banks outside the US were directly exposed to CDS losses when the time came, because they were buying the same debt packages as in the US - they were just slower to get into the game.

I'm also pretty sure it's worth keeping "global financial crisis" and "recession" separate, because while they're related, they're not the same thing.
posted by sneebler at 4:56 PM on October 9, 2011


Late to this thread. Yes, the "occupy" movement is disheveled. But that's OK. Remember, we're living in a country that has taken its privileges and freedoms pretty much for granted over the last 3-4 decades (financial and political). Consider "Occupy" like baby steps that will get iterated upon. Consider it the kindling. Americans are finally waking up from their slumber, because the money that buys politics has gotten way too bold. It's one thing to buy off a vote or two, but when it gets to *owning* the political system (or trying to), it's game over. We are on our way to new beginnings.
posted by Vibrissae at 5:12 PM on October 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Although this doesn't speak for all my friend Sam drew this picture as a starting point. At the end of the day it's really about how we want to treat one another and what sort of community, neighborhood and country we want.
posted by Sailormom at 5:18 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


CBS Sunday Morning had a good piece on the protests: Wall St. Protests: How Reform Happens [video | 08:14].
posted by ericb at 5:32 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cain: Wall St. Protesters Playing Victim Card
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain on Sunday accused anti-Wall Street protesters of playing the "victim card" - and suggested that those participating in protests nationwide against corporate greed and a lack of jobs are merely doing so out of "jealousy."
Cain, in an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation," argued that the recent protests against the financial sector were "anti-American," and that they were meant to be "a distraction" from the Obama administration's "failed policies."

Cain also posited that the protesters were being "encouraged to get together" by "unions and certain union-related organizations."

"It's coordinated to create a distraction so people won't focus on the failed policies of this administration," he told host Bob Schieffer.
posted by ericb at 5:34 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seasoned Activists Critique Wall Street Protests -- "Whether the energy of protesters can be tapped to transform the political climate remains to be seen."
posted by ericb at 5:35 PM on October 9, 2011


It was made about me when I got attacked from all sides. So, I think I'm done on this thread for a while. Enjoy your echo chamber!
posted by gjc at 5:04 PM on October 9 [+] [!]

Reading desperately to catch up with this thread and, Lordy! What a good feeling that comment gave me.

I think, plain and simple, that the one clear message that these folks should adopt is CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM. (I'll spare the flash tag, but I was tempted.)

To me, that's the only way things can change. For years it's been the elephant and the rhinoceros and the hippopotamus in the room.
posted by Trochanter at 5:39 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm also pretty sure it's worth keeping "global financial crisis" and "recession" separate, because while they're related, they're not the same thing.

Absolutely. I think one of the problems with this entire debate is that the elements, causes and effects are complex, deeply interrelated and and bleed into each other.

Frankly, the only this that actually helped me understand the big picture was this episode of This American Life: The Giant Pool of Money.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:44 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


gjc: But if they are complaining that big business is ruining the country, I would expect them to not be helping that along.

Oh please, now we have to throw the baby out with the bathwater? Are you supposed to have some credibility as someone who doesn't really think OWS is doing anything much effective to tell them a) what they're complaining about, and b) the best way to achieve the red herring you've assigned to them? It's not about "overthrow the system, dude," as much as that would be easier for you to think about. You do a disservice to your opponents by misrepresenting their arguments, inventing goals for them, and just generally condescendingly oversimplifying.
posted by rhizome at 5:50 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think, plain and simple, that the one clear message that these folks should adopt is X

Yeah, that's the counterpoint to the vagueness that some people are complaining about. "Just crystallize it for me, please. I can only process eight-word concepts." But your desire only brings the multitude of desired outcomes into relief. There are a lot of people with different ideas, how do we help as many as possible come to be?
posted by rhizome at 5:54 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


gjc: It was made about me when I got attacked from all sides.

Yeah dude, it's everybody else's fault that you took an indefensible position.
posted by rhizome at 5:55 PM on October 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm saying nothing else can happen until the campaign finance system is reformed. Think about it. As long as a politician can't be elected without accepting money from rich people, how can things change? How can we expect politicians to not be beholden to their patrons? How?
posted by Trochanter at 6:02 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Funny thing is that the employment and overall economic outlook for African Americans and Latinos have been dismal for decades. Then, no one really gave a shit. Now, the poor economic and employment outlook that has plagued some minorities is now hitting the majority population and they find their voice of outrage. Color me not surprised.
posted by RedShrek at 6:04 PM on October 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


As long as a politician can't be elected without accepting money from rich people, how can things change?

Well, there's this thing called "Occupy Wall Street..."

But dig this, you want campaign finance reform, I think Alan Greenspan should die in prison. How fair is it to settle on one? Right now The System committed crimes and The People are interrogating them by making them guess what it's all about. Once The System starts making changes without specifically being requested to, then we'll start knowing what they're willing to confess to. Currently, Obama is saying that his client is completely innocent.
posted by rhizome at 6:13 PM on October 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


There are only two real platforms worth having:

Tax the Rich
End the Wars
posted by Renoroc at 6:31 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]



You know when you're a little kid and it's your sibling's birthday and people give you presents too? That's what I think of whenever I see the Occupy movement. That's probably real defeatist and jaded, but I think of a liberal 4 year old pointing at his conservative 7 year old brother's Tea Party transformer and shouting "I want one of those!"


Wow, that's a pretty simplistic and short sighted way to view it. Do you dismiss all protests this naively?
posted by Liquidwolf at 6:32 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain on Sunday accused anti-Wall Street protesters of playing the "victim card" - and suggested that those participating in protests nationwide against corporate greed and a lack of jobs are merely doing so out of "jealousy."
Cain, in an appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation," argued that the recent protests against the financial sector were "anti-American," and that they were meant to be "a distraction" from the Obama administration's "failed policies."


Cain then proceeded to bridge his fingers, and shout "Smithers! My shoes are in need of a shine, and I'm already behind on todays firings! Release the dogs on those scallawags in hiring!"
posted by kaibutsu at 6:35 PM on October 9, 2011


I think the 'mission statement' above sums it up:
End corporate corruption of democracy.

Campaign finance reform is a part of that, certainly. The problem is that tying everything to one tactical horse will pull the steam out of the movement the second some progress is made on that single issue. Maybe three guys in suits go to jail and the bosses say, 'OK, we fixed everything! Now go home!'
posted by kaibutsu at 6:38 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


hippybear: it does seem like one of the main things the OWS movement should be working toward is comprehensive, radical campaign finance reform.

I agree 100%, and I've spent a good deal of time trying to drum up support for this idea on various ows-related discussion forums. One thing I've found heartening: it's an idea that just about everyone I've talked with can get behind, no master what their pet priorities are.

I'm a US expat, so I can't make it to any of the protests right now. I'm doing my best from afar to help raise awareness of the campaign finance issue and try to be an articulate 'representative' of the movement. I've also donated a couple of cold weather sleeping bags to the protesters in New York. I wish I could be there, and I wish these courageous protestors health and success!
posted by syzygy at 6:40 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain on Sunday accused anti-Wall Street protesters of playing the "victim card" - and suggested that those participating in protests nationwide against corporate greed and a lack of jobs are merely doing so out of "jealousy."

Cain is psychologically projecting his Wall Street jealously here, and also reveals how he holds back his own victimhood, all onto street protestors no less. Distrurbingly, this guy seems to be telegraphing a desire to make a lot more money in public office because he can't see any reason why someone would idealistically rally against an overpaid and inside corrupt Wall Street.
posted by Brian B. at 6:45 PM on October 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Chicago's 'Occupy' Protest Issues Specific Demands
Occupy Chicago, an independent group inspired by the New York protests, which take aim at corporations and the wealthy, appear to be the first in the movement to adopt official demands: Repeal the Bush tax cuts and prosecute "Wall Street criminals." At an open meeting Saturday in downtown Chicago, nine-tenths of the nearly 300 present voted to adopt those demands.
posted by dhartung at 6:49 PM on October 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


BofA to pay $11 million total to two fired executives.
posted by ryoshu at 7:04 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


There really are only two roads forward:

A) The trend in wealth inequality in America reverses; i.e. the rich get poorer and the poor get richer

or

B) The country faces increasing civil destabilization and unrest

If B is the road the country goes down, as seems likely, the question to ask is "Where will it stop?". This is not an issue of political or ideological position - it's something that will affect everyone. It is in the best interests of everyone, including Wall Street bankers, to make sure that we move off this path.
posted by jet_manifesto at 7:05 PM on October 9, 2011 [14 favorites]


gjc: " Wall Street isn't the problem. Congress is."
This reminds me of the joke where they bring Hitler to trial and his defense is "I was just giving orders."
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:10 PM on October 9, 2011 [27 favorites]


The Signs of Occupy Wall Street.

If you still think there's "no message" in OWS and you still think they're all a bunch of directionless soporific hippies, take a look.
posted by blucevalo at 7:42 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: it's everybody else's fault that you took an indefensible position.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:03 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Having just gotten back from Occupy Seattle, I have to say that it's the most thoughtful, well-organized, on-point protest I've ever been to in my whole life. People were broken up into work groups with trained facilitators to help with specific issues, both structural and philosophical. Then the speakers reported their progress to the group as a whole at the General Assembly meeting.

The "human microphone" effect is really powerful, and is a great way of engaging the group with the message. Because I'm a trained singer with a particularly loud shouting voice, the tactical group placed me on a platform as an amplifier, to bellow the message down the concourse half a sentence at a time. Unfortunately I had to leave partway through the GA meeting, but the part I was there for was run incredibly well, with a lot of thoughtful engagement and very little rambling.

The broad message is clear: the 1% have co-opted our democracy for their own gain, and are screwing the 99%, and it has to stop. More specific statements are emerging organically but not accidentally; the process I saw was very effective and deliberate, with a goal of creating focused but inclusive statements and goals.

Overall, the whole thing was SO different from the media spin that I'm seeing that I have to conclude that we are being lied to. This wasn't just a case of "Oh, it doesn't make a good soundbite" or "the news didn't really bother to do more than get a general impression;" the reality was a complete 180 from the media depiction. If you can, I would strongly urge you -- any of you -- to drop by a group and see them in action.
posted by KathrynT at 8:44 PM on October 9, 2011 [33 favorites]


shit happens fast in this fresh millennium, even close to home

One thing that's struck me over the past few weeks is just how brilliant a slogan "The 99 percent" is. It takes a complex and immense amount of corruption, injustice, cynicism, raw greed and gives it vivid, accurate form.

"Who's the enemy?"
"Those fuckers! The Patrick Bateman lookalikes on the balcony, brained on cocaine and champagne. Oh look, one of them's gnawing on a child's foreleg."
posted by philip-random at 8:56 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


First, on comparisons with the civil rights movement: there's a reason it's called "the civil rights movement" and not "the desegregation and voting rights movement," and that is that, while the movement most visibly and famously worked toward specific legal/policy goals in these areas, the overall aim was the much broader goal of eliminating racism and achieving true equality for blacks. Not everyone in the civil rights movement agreed on specific tactics or even what this end state would look like. Much like the OWS movement, which has a broad goal of addressing economic inequality.


Secondly, having read Paolo Freire's "Pedagogy of the Oppressed," I am super impressed with the organization and tactics of Occupy Wall Street - they are doing education for critical consciousness beautifully! For those of you who haven't read Freire, let me explain what I mean (warning: what follows is my personal interpretation; also, long - my apologies and appreciation for reading it all the way through).

Freire worked with peasants in Brazil (initially) on adult literacy programs. He made a connection between the economic and political oppression of the people he worked with and their experiences with education - the fact that they were illiterate as adults was of course related to their socio-economic status; but he also saw (literacy, in particular) education as a potentially empowering act. He noted that education as it was traditionally done at the time (more passive lecture-style, with all of the history, literature, etc. from the point of view of the oppressors - in both the economic and racial dimensions, in the case of the people he was working with) was disempowering, however - and postulated that this was directly related to the poor literacy outcomes from this educational system. He developed a different style of education that had significantly more successful literacy outcomes. But more than that, he saw his style of education as a crucial component in any revolutionary movement, or, if you prefer, any movement to end any oppressive system or structure (economic, political, cultural - given his context, he talked a lot about issues of colonization, of course).

Freire started with the basic idea that education was a shared endeavor, where the "students" had their own knowledge, competencies, intelligence and reasoning ability; and where the "teacher" was sharing some knowledge, but also learning from the "students" - and so had some expertise, but was not in a relationship of authority. The process he used was dialogical - have a dialogue/discussion between all participants (about topics of drawn from and of relevance to their own lives). As I see it, the ethical or philosophical idea underlying this approach is that of respecting individuals' autonomy: realizing that members of an oppressed group may need some education to understand their situation, but respecting their right to make their own decisions about their own lives without coercion (through force or propaganda), and without the paternalistic notion that some experts fully understand their lives and struggles and can better make the decisions about what is best for them.

That is, some argue against oppression/discrimination of various groups on the basis that it causes specific harms to people in that group; but may see the people being harmed as incompetent in some way, and in need of protection by noble members of a more privileged group - a noblesse oblige sort of attitude (though they may not admit this to themselves). Freire seems to realize that hierarchical structures that privilege different groups within society differently are the defining and necessary factor in all systems of oppression, so the only way to get rid of some systemic oppression is to get rid of the hierarchies involved; which means respecting individuals' autonomy. It's a philosophy of "the means shape the end" - you can't impose a participatory democracy on people through force or decree, that's a group decision-making system that they have to adopt themselves, since, by definition, it requires their engaged participation.


An issue in addressing any form of oppression is that not all members of the oppressed class have an understanding of the systemic root of the problems that they feel in their everyday lives, nor an idea of what to do about it. For example, from what I've heard from ordinary people who have been drawn to the Tea Party, they have the feeling that has been articulated by many people on the "We Are the 99%" tumblr that they've done all the things they were told they should do to achieve the American Dream, but somehow it hasn't worked out for them. Except instead of thinking about it that way and putting the blame on a broken economic system, they have been misdirected to blame immigrants and blacks and women and poor(er) people. Some people drawn to the Tea Party are definitely in the got theirs-pull the ladder up behind them camp, for sure. But there are others who are on the disempowered side of the economic divide, who are misdirectedly working against the interests of their own class.

Other members of an oppressed class realize full well the source of their oppression, but may not know what to do about it, may not feel empowered to do anything in their own interest due to being too busy just getting by, or may not be able to clearly express this feeling that they have, etc. (Eg. people on the tumblr, here on metafilter, other places who have spoken of We Are the 99% and Occupy Wall Street as helping them realize that they are not alone, and helping them find their voice.)

In any case, having a dialog and helping people to see the root of their oppression is important for building a movement to end that oppression, in Freire's model. As well, it ensures that any movement to end a systemic oppression is authentic - led by the needs of the oppressed group ("doing with") - and using the sort of participatory democratic means (rather than propaganda and more patronizing tactics - "doing for") that are necessary to achieve a non-oppressive outcome.

Participatory democracy also requires certain communication skills that are not necessarily taught or emphasized in a hierarchical, oppressive system where people are taught instead to follow orders from authority higher up in the hierarchy, and to give orders rather than work cooperatively as equals with people lower down in the hierarchy. Freire's dialogical method of education had the side effect of teaching communication skills for consensus-building and working together with others as equals.


With the general assemblies, with the lack of a defined agenda or list of demands by a central organizing group, with the lack of a defined central organizing group being an authority directing Occupy Wall Street, and with the teach-ins and discussions that I read about occurring at the occupation, it sounds like this movement is, whether consciously or not, using Freire's pedagogy to help the 99% see themselves as the oppressed economic class group that they are, which is an essential first step toward real, substantive and lasting change: toward an economic system that works for everyone, and toward a truly democratic political system - that enables input by everyone on all matters, including economic policy.

I think that, eventually, people should and will develop specific tactical goals out of this movement to address the identified problems of economic inequality and corruption of democratic governance. A much larger proportion of people (ideally, everyone) need to be able to give input and be involved in the discussion to generate the specific tactical goals that will bring about the desired end state, however. But most people in the US are still at the stage of figuring out that there is a systemic problem, not just a collection of individual problems. That's where OWS and it's particular structure (or seeming lack thereof to outside observers unfamiliar with the model) comes in. It seems to be (quite effectively!) doing the education that is necessary groundwork for building the sort of democratic movement that will be the necessary means to the end of democratizing economic power.
posted by eviemath at 8:57 PM on October 9, 2011 [28 favorites]


I'm sympathetic to a lot of the protestors' concerns. But do we really need the same tired knee-jerkl anti-corporate anti-capitalist ignorance that was discredited in Communist regimes throughout the 20th century?

Can't the protestors generally acknowledge the enormous good that capitalism and the market has done, be grateful for it, acknowledge the enormous power of competitive instincts and the urge to be successful, and also want to reign in the excesses? No, that would be asking for too much thoughtfulness I suppose.
posted by shivohum at 9:08 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, um, about that 99% thing... that would mean that going by user numbers there's got to be a couple of thousand Mefites in the 1%. Probably more, really, given demographics.

Up against the wall, motherfuckers!
posted by Artw at 9:11 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


But do we really need the same tired knee-jerkl anti-corporate anti-capitalist ignorance that was discredited in Communist regimes throughout the 20th century?

No. And I saw almost none of that when I was down at the actual protest. As we were forming up for the GA, a car drove by and the driver yelled "Capitalism works!" A protester yelled back, "This isn't capitalism!"

The message isn't "Corporations are bad." Hell, spinifex23 and I went and got a latte at Starbucks, and while we were there, we talked about what a positive force Starbucks can be. The message is, "A very small number of people in this country have control of an absolutely staggering amount of wealth, and they use that wealth and the power it comes with to pervert and distort our democracy long before We the People ever come in contact with it. That shit needs to stop."
posted by KathrynT at 9:14 PM on October 9, 2011 [13 favorites]


There is a way in which OWS is this generation's Human Be-In, this generation's Woodstock, minus the music, minus the drugs. I think it is more about connection than demands at this stage. We have moved beyond the 'non-negotiable demands' methods if the 60s and 70's.
One person made the point that it is easy to pick apart a movement which has specific demands.

The one thing I worry about is provocateurs. This was a HUGE problem in the 60's.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 9:15 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Parsing the Data and Ideology of the We Are 99% Tumblr

That was really interesting. Thanks for linking.

A picture I found from one of the pages linked above: "I'm 87 and mad as hell".

Something about how solemn the woman is (along with the man beside her), her age, and the sign's vibrant anger is powerful.
posted by meese at 9:30 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


The free flow of money in political discourse ensures that the 1% have an unfair voice, essentially overruling the 99%. Americans are living under an unfair economic system.
posted by kuatto at 9:33 PM on October 9, 2011


Eviemath, tl;dr but let me address one point: there's a reason a Brazilian 14 year old reads at the level of a Finnish 9 year old, and that reason is called Paulo Freire. So basing any argument on the merits of the pedagogy of the oppressed is like, no. Because there aren't any. That shit is pure Gramsci, borderline brainwashing.
posted by falameufilho at 9:34 PM on October 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


falameufilho, can you elaborate re: Gramsci? Also, I'm not sure I understand the comparison to the Finnish 9 year old? How are you able to make that comparison? It seems there are many conflating factors in such a comparison..
posted by kuatto at 9:53 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kuatto: that's a comparison from standadized tests. There was an article in the NYTimes about 6 months ago where I got that figure from, but maybe it said a scandinavian 9 yr old. Considering Finland is the top country in education in Scandinavia, it's probably the same. Brazil's education is one of biggest issues holding the country back, and when it with countries with similar GDP per capta, it fairs much worse. The reason for that is how ideology has invaded schools, where children are not taught anymore, but rather "agents in building knowledge" or some ridiculous mumbo jumbo like that.

For the Gramsci reference, wikipedia has a paragraph on it that, surprise surprise, mentions Paulo Freire.
posted by falameufilho at 10:05 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


StandaRdized

When it IS COMPARED with countries

Fucking iPad keyboard.
posted by falameufilho at 10:07 PM on October 9, 2011


It is an interesting point that Eviemath makes; the protesters are educating themselves (creating knowledge) even as this process unfolds.
posted by kuatto at 10:18 PM on October 9, 2011


I thought SNL scored a funny but on the nose point last night during it's Fox & Friends sketch.

guy1: Some people are saying that these Occupy Wallstreet hippies are no different than from the Tea Party. Is that true (BlondeLady) ?

BlondeLady: Of course not guy1. These hippies are Anarchists. The Tea Party just wants to get rid of the government.

(substitute guy1 and Blondelady for the real names)
posted by Bonzai at 10:20 PM on October 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


No, that would be asking for too much thoughtfulness I suppose.

Oh, but you're not too thoughtful to be snide, are you? Tell me, what are you standing up for when you define the concept of "success" in opposition to what you think the OWS protests are about?
posted by rhizome at 10:43 PM on October 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Any chance you could find that article, falameufilho? There aren't even 'criticism' sections in the wikipedia articles on Paulo Freire and critical pedagogy. I've found one tl;dr rant against critical pedagogy that offers no statistics.

In any case, I'd agree with eviemath's statement that "not all members of the oppressed class have an understanding of the systemic root of the problems", which doesn't really depend upon any particular pedagogical ideas.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:47 PM on October 9, 2011


I can't find it. I found this article, which leads me to think I saw the Brazil - Scandinavia comparison somewhere else. However, the linked article shows how abismal the situation is. But let me make something clear - the article I mentioned is n ot associating the low performance of Brazilian education with Paulo Freire, I'm the one making that association. I'm not alone in that though: other Brazilian commentators and columnists have written about it.

This article on City Journal associates the state of US education with Paulo Freire, which is surprising.

Anyway I didn't want to derail the thread completely. The Paulo Freire cult just leaves me on a really sour mood.
posted by falameufilho at 11:16 PM on October 9, 2011


So, um, about that 99% thing... that would mean that going by user numbers there's got to be a couple of thousand Mefites in the 1%.

The funny thing to me is that we keep paying for free MeFi accounts for anyone rich and famous who we want to join.

I mean... it's... but... well, it's funny.
posted by rokusan at 11:26 PM on October 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


gjc: And [the bailout] wasn't meant to increase lending, it was meant to stop banks from failing.

You can say that all you like but it's a nearly insane bit of revisionism. The promises that TARP and the other bailout billions would directly help Main Street through increased lending (to underwater homeowners, small businesses, etc) were loud and clear during the debate about the law, starting with Robert Paulson, and were key to getting many legislators to vote for the damn thing in the first place. The promises of stimulated lending continued with Tim Geithner, who repeated the assurances in the months after the bill passed to justify diverting most of the cash directly to the banks. The record is clear, whether you remember it or not.

Here's "bailout czar" Neel Kashkari in October 2008, ten days after the bill became law:

Let me begin with our strategy, which is clear and focused. Treasury is implementing its new authorities with one simple goal - to restore capital flows to the consumers and businesses that form the core of our economy. Achieving this goal will require multiple tools to help financial institutions remove illiquid assets from their balance sheets, and attract both private and public capital. Our toolkit is being designed to help financial institutions of all sizes so they can grow stronger and provide crucial funding to our economy...

Our goal is to use the multiple tools enabled by the TARP to attack the capital and troubled asset problem from multiple directions, so American families and businesses can get the credit they need.


And here's TARP special inspector Neil Barofsky, resigning in March 2011:

The act’s emphasis on preserving homeownership was particularly vital to passage. Congress was told that TARP would be used to purchase up to $700 billion of mortgages, and, to obtain the necessary votes, Treasury promised that it would modify those mortgages to assist struggling homeowners. Indeed, the act expressly directs the department to do just that.

But it has done little to abide by this legislative bargain. Almost immediately, as permitted by the broad language of the act, Treasury’s plan for TARP shifted from the purchase of mortgages to the infusion of hundreds of billions of dollars into the nation’s largest financial institutions, a shift that came with the express promise that it would restore lending.


Seriously, gjc, your comments in this thread have been full of certainty but have failed the reality test over and over again.
posted by mediareport at 11:58 PM on October 9, 2011 [14 favorites]


For the record, I'd be OK with protesting in Medina or Bellevue. But I'm not leading this shinding, and I'm only down there a couple of hours a day.

If we could take over the Bravern Mall, though, that would rule.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:16 AM on October 10, 2011


"Tea Party of the Left."

Ah yes, some Mefites watch FOX news it seems.

This is utter horseshit, of course. From what I can tell many of the protestors are young people who realize their economic future is bleak, thanks to mismanagement and outright fraud (packaging bad home loan debt so that any profit is privatized for banks and any loss is made public for homeowners and taxpayers in general, to name just one thing for which many bankers should be rotting in jails as we speak).

Many of the Teabaggers are white Americans over the age of 65, currently receiving full government benefits such as Social Security and Medicare, protesting any non-white person getting any form of government benefits.

"Keep the government out of health care" said the right-wing douchebag who is only alive because of the tax dollars that I spend.

I'm not going to argue that the current #OWS folks are all angels, but it's really fucking precious to hear people clutching their pearls about there not being a coherent message, while the Teabaggers dressed up like fucking rejects from colonial Williamsburg, took all the money they could from the Koch brothers, and went out to scream racist chants about our president and decry the very same government benefits they are receiving or plan on recieving, eventually.

The coherent message, btw, is that Wall Street needs to stop playing games with our collective futures and, oh yeah, when American tax-rates are at historical lows our economy falls into a ditch.

More simply, Paris Hilton can afford to pay her share.
posted by bardic at 2:16 AM on October 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


falameufilho, are you actually suggesting that an educational gap between rich, egalitarian Finland and relatively poor, unequal Brazil is all because someone wanted to hear what the poor had to say while teaching them rather than just delivering a pat lecture for them to remember?
posted by imperium at 2:35 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Those who wanted to cover the tea party only had to follow the instructions. It was just as easy and mindless as zapping some microwave popcorn, except this popcorn came with a phone bank that would hector you if you failed to follow the steps to the letter."
posted by muckster at 3:33 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


That shit is pure Gramsci, borderline brainwashing.

Say what? Do you know who Gramsci was or what he wrote, mostly while in Mussolini's prison system?

The 1% is here on Metafilter, spouting the same old derisive lies.
posted by spitbull at 4:13 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


The funny thing to me is that we keep paying for free MeFi accounts for anyone rich and famous who we want to join.

I believe one has the option of sending a postcard in lieu of $5, if the $5 is a burden.
posted by kaibutsu at 6:11 AM on October 10, 2011


Occupy Atlanta Turns Away John Lewis yt because of their desire for the movement to remain nonhierarchical. Interesting.

That's a disingenuous interpretation of the situation, at the least.
posted by odinsdream at 6:14 AM on October 10, 2011


"I can't afford my own politician so I made this sign."

I like that. I also like: Democracy Not Plutocracy

Many of the Teabaggers are white Americans over the age of 65, currently receiving full government benefits such as Social Security and Medicare, protesting any non-white person getting any form of government benefits.


I quoted this in a different thread from a link about Alabama's new, tougher immigration laws:
Zan Green, a tea party activist in metro Birmingham, said she was happy with the decision, saying citizens of foreign countries have benefited for years through welfare, entitlements, education, medical care and child tax credits.
That sums up the tea party stance to me: go after the powerless, make them the enemy, and blame them for the unfair tax structure.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:16 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The financial meltdown was a shame and a tragedy for some, but there is very little evidence of their having been (much) criminal activity involved.

Wow, the level of bullshit here is amazing. I recall you frequently bringing up this point in financial threads, and you've repeatedly been asked to do even the smallest amount of research. You can start by looking at the operation of MERS, which is a tiny, tiny slice of the problem. You can also watch Inside Job to get some other ideas for things to read up on.
posted by odinsdream at 7:17 AM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Tom Tomorrow skewers the media's inability to hear a coherent message. Hilarious.
posted by spitbull at 7:19 AM on October 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


For the Gramsci reference, wikipedia has a paragraph on it that, surprise surprise, mentions Paulo Freire. posted by falameufilho

Oh my goodness. Wikipedia, well then, case closed! It *mentions* Freire in connection with Gramsci! And we all know Gramsci was an evil brainwasher, right?

Antonio Gramsci is one of the most important Western Marxist political philosophers of the 20th century. His influence extends to virtually all of the social sciences, where his concept of "hegemony" (the amelioration of capitalism's worst effects through a social contract that requires the consent of the dominated to being governed) has been widely applied to understanding the modern "welfare capitalist" system, and in fact what we call "democracy" itself, by scholars far from the Marxist tradition.

You used his name like it was an obvious slur, the mere association of Freire's work with Gramsci being enough to condemn it as, what, totalitarian? The irony is rich, because Gramsci was a victim of a truly totalitarian state, and his main subject of inquiry was freedom.

You need to extend your reading beyond Wikipedia. It's making you sound dumb.
posted by spitbull at 7:25 AM on October 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


imperium: "falameufilho, are you actually suggesting that an educational gap between rich, egalitarian Finland and relatively poor, unequal Brazil is all because someone wanted to hear what the poor had to say while teaching them rather than just delivering a pat lecture for them to remember?"

There's not "hearing what the poor had to say while teaching them". It is rather "teaching the poor about Marx and class struggle in lieu of giving them a proper education and tools that would enable them to succeed in a modern economy". One of the saddest things is having a chat with an average Brazilian teenager educated in the public school system. He's not articulate, he doesn't know Portuguese, History or Math - but he can tell you why 9/11 was America's fault. That's the house Paulo Freire built.

spitbull: "You used his name like it was an obvious slur, the mere association of Freire's work with Gramsci being enough to condemn it as, what, totalitarian? The irony is rich, because Gramsci was a victim of a truly totalitarian state, and his main subject of inquiry was freedom."

You keep saying that Gramsci was arrested by Mussolini, as if that fact by itself is a badge of honor. One thing has nothing to do with the other. The fascists arrested and killed communists and vice-versa. After they are done with each other, they turn to us. Gramsci was arrested by a totalitarian state, and built an intellectual framework that was an alternative way to establish a totalitarian state - not through a bloody revolution, but by slow and steady domination of media, education, religion.
posted by falameufilho at 8:37 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


...framework that was an alternative way to establish a totalitarian state - not through a bloody revolution, but by slow and steady domination of media, education, religion.

Ironically, this quite neatly summarizes hegemony, the process that Gramsci theorized and critiqued.
posted by Tylwyth Teg at 8:43 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have only read one fairly short text by Gramsci, so it may not be fully representative of his goals, but the impression I got was that all he aimed for was to put forth a set of ideas and institutions to compete for the public's trust with capitalist ideas and institutions. How does that scheme deviate from how a democratic society is supposed to work?

I know Gramsci spoke in Marxist terms but from what I read he seemed to have rejected both Marx's analysis of how capitalism stays in effect and Marx's proposals for what to do about it. I'm as anti-Marxist as the next guy and I found what I read from Gramsci appealing for a large part because he didn't actually seem like much of a Marxist at all.

But again, I may well not have read something that would counter what I just said.
posted by Anything at 9:02 AM on October 10, 2011


Predictably, in his radio address over the weekend, Obama is conceding to include rich-people taxation in a tax-bill hustle that is scheduled for a vote tomorrow. Taxes being, of course, almost completely captured by the interests of rich people, and is the most malleable and reversible of changes. No word on closing loopholes yet, nor arrest warrants for Jamie Dimon and Lloyd Blankfein.
posted by rhizome at 9:09 AM on October 10, 2011


In academics, Marxist does not mean Leninist-Stalinist. It means someone who agrees with Marx's historical analysis of capitalism and who frames their research in terms of class and power. There are social democratic Marxist academics, and anarchist Marxist academics.
posted by jb at 9:53 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tim O'Reilly on OWS: "The smirk on the face of the Fox News reporter who was interviewing various participants said it all. "These people are easy to dismiss."

I couldn't bear to see him goading these idealistic young people into making bombastic statements (the reporter is a tool of AIG was one comment I overheard), so I stepped over and asked if I could speak to him.

I told him that I run a company with about $100 million in revenue, and that it isn't just kids who think that Wall Street bankers got away with a crime. There are a set of people who constructed a set of financial products with intent to defraud. They took our country to the brink of ruin, then got off scott free, even with multi-million dollar bonuses. I'll be interested to see if Fox runs my comments anywhere."
posted by ryoshu at 10:13 AM on October 10, 2011 [17 favorites]


In academics, Marxist does not mean Leninist-Stalinist. It means someone who agrees with Marx's historical analysis of capitalism and who frames their research in terms of class and power. There are social democratic Marxist academics, and anarchist Marxist academics.

I'm (vaguely) aware of that, but given how Gramsci's focus on cultural hegemony differs from Marx's materialist focus there seem to be, to my meager understanding, few commonalities left between the two. But I know way too little to really argue this, and it's not like that would be particularly relevant here either.

posted by Anything at 10:31 AM on October 10, 2011


Katjusa Roquette, it looks like you were right to be worried about provacateurs. Turns out the dude who stormed the museum in DC and shoved a guard / got pepper sprayed was an assistant editor at American Spectator who was deliberately trying to infiltrate and stir shit to make the movement look bad.
posted by KathrynT at 10:36 AM on October 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'm super impressed with Chris Hedges' Why the Elites Are in Trouble. He makes a powerful rebuttal to the claim that OWS has no coherent agenda:
The goal to people like Ketchup is very, very clear. It can be articulated in one word—REBELLION. These protesters have not come to work within the system. They are not pleading with Congress for electoral reform. They know electoral politics is a farce and have found another way to be heard and exercise power. They have no faith, nor should they, in the political system or the two major political parties. They know the press will not amplify their voices, and so they created a press of their own. They know the economy serves the oligarchs, so they formed their own communal system. This movement is an effort to take our country back.

This is a goal the power elite cannot comprehend. They cannot envision a day when they will not be in charge of our lives. The elites believe, and seek to make us believe, that globalization and unfettered capitalism are natural law, some kind of permanent and eternal dynamic that can never be altered. What the elites fail to realize is that rebellion will not stop until the corporate state is extinguished. It will not stop until there is an end to the corporate abuse of the poor, the working class, the elderly, the sick, children, those being slaughtered in our imperial wars and tortured in our black sites. It will not stop until foreclosures and bank repossessions stop. It will not stop until students no longer have to go into debt to be educated, and families no longer have to plunge into bankruptcy to pay medical bills. It will not stop until the corporate destruction of the ecosystem stops, and our relationships with each other and the planet are radically reconfigured. And that is why the elites, and the rotted and degenerate system of corporate power they sustain, are in trouble. That is why they keep asking what the demands are. They don’t understand what is happening. They are deaf, dumb and blind.
posted by overglow at 10:42 AM on October 10, 2011 [13 favorites]


Former Rep. Alan Grayson's clarfication of what the 'Occupy Wall Street' protests are about:
"They're complaining about the fact that Wall Street wrecked the economy three years ago and nobody's been held responsible for that. Not a single person has been indicted or convicted for destroying 20% of our national net worth accumulated over the course of two centuries. They're upset about the fact that Wall Street has iron control over the economic policies of this country, and that one part is a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street and the other party caters to them as well!"
posted by ericb at 10:48 AM on October 10, 2011


These protesters have not come to work within the system. They are not pleading with Congress for electoral reform. They know electoral politics is a farce and have found another way to be heard and exercise power.

That does not seem like a very relevant observation. Somehow I don't think 99% of Americans have quite that attitude.
posted by Anything at 10:49 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


gjc: CDS are not Ponzi schemes. They are insurance policies for credit/debt. Some of the companies trading in them may have been acting in bad faith, but the product is a valid one.

I was going to stay out of this pile-on, but I take issue with this. CDS, over-the-counter instruments and other derivatives add very little of value to the economy, but the current regulation and taxation structure makes them very attractive investment vehicles. Huge portions of the nations resources are being poured into what is essentially a giant game of poker, instead of into companies that hire workers. I could go into a long rant about the myth of the "financial revolution", but Satyajit Das has said it better.

What's extremely galling to most people is that, after the crash and public bailout of 2008/9 revealed to all that the "profits" in this industry were illusory, Wall St banks and funds still deny responsibility, still campaign against regulation, and continue to swallow way more of our economy's output than they're worth.
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:58 AM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Good lord, the comments on the slideshow here are depressing. Maybe 50% are about how a lot of the protesters seem to have Apple computers, and since Apple is a corporation this invalidates their whole agenda. Because people totally have the option to buy a computer that isn't made by a huge multinational corporation.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:29 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


You keep saying that Gramsci was arrested by Mussolini, as if that fact by itself is a badge of honor. One thing has nothing to do with the other. . . . Gramsci was arrested by a totalitarian state, and built an intellectual framework that was an alternative way to establish a totalitarian state - not through a bloody revolution, but by slow and steady domination of media, education, religion.
posted by falameufilh

For real? You really have no idea what Gramsci wrote, do you? Just another bad commie bogeyman like Stalin?

You're right, the fact that he was a victim of fascist oppression doesn't validate his thinking. The fact that he is one of the most important political theorists of the 20th century, whose work influenced the thinking of social scientists of all political stripes in very significant ways, is the point. He was neither a theorist of, nor an apologist for, any sort of totalitarianism. And for you to say he was is ignorant tripe.
posted by spitbull at 11:39 AM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


In fact, I'd say Gramsci provided the most cogent and scarily accurate predictive analysis of how Western capitalism has produced its own version of a totalitarian state.

And that's what OWS is about. To the extent Gramsci has had direct or indirect influence on the thinking of this movement, it has been salutary influence and has produced a correct analysis.
posted by spitbull at 11:41 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe the OWS goals should include the proper interpretation of Gramscian theories.
posted by rhizome at 11:44 AM on October 10, 2011


Looks like I should read some Gramsci, at any rate:)
posted by eviemath at 11:47 AM on October 10, 2011


Behind the GOP’s OWS backlash: By comparing the protests to '60s demonstrations, Republicans reveal their continued opposition to civil rights
posted by homunculus at 11:50 AM on October 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Maybe 50% are about how a lot of the protesters seem to have Apple computers, and since Apple is a corporation this invalidates their whole agenda.

Not to mention that it's the financial sector and corporate personhood that most people seem to agree should be put on blast, not business as a whole. Steve Jobs's questionable business practices aside, most (not all, obviously) are upset with corporations' outsize influence on politics, not business in general. It's cute that Wall Street thinks it's personally responsible for productive technological innovation, but whether or not the protesters own MacBooks is immaterial to the larger problem.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:51 AM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Traditional media seems terrified of covering this, actually, because of the kinds of questions that follow naturally from even the most cursory examination of what the protesters are up to. The girl on Bill Maher is a great example of this - her pathetic efforts to reframe the discussion when it's clear there is something to discuss relating to the protesters; this is repeated in all kinds of media.
posted by odinsdream at 12:12 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


spitbull: "In fact, I'd say Gramsci provided the most cogent and scarily accurate predictive analysis of how Western capitalism has produced its own version of a totalitarian state. "

If I am ignorant, and you, by opposition, enlightened, and that's what you believe in, well, sorry if I won't share your delusion, bub.

What Gramsci personally believed in matters little. Trotsky too was a nice guy, they say, at least in comparison with the others. Doesn't matter. The end result of this collective utopia is enslavement, regardless of your good intentions.

Gramsci created a method. That method is being used today to lie and deceit, and the ends are supposed to justify the means, because we're already on a totalitarian state that is lying and deceiving us.

I think I derailed the thread with this Paulo Freire / Gramsci business. We're gonna have to agree to disagree on this one.
posted by falameufilho at 12:14 PM on October 10, 2011


There is a movement in my town where local teens fill the Taco Bell to maximum occupancy (150 persons) and order food to show their continued patronage and approval of the low-cost Mexican-style food chain.

I am worried Maximum Occupancy will confuse and dilute the message of OWS.
posted by mccarty.tim at 1:15 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Trotsky too was a nice guy, they say, at least in comparison with the others. Doesn't matter. The end result of this collective utopia is enslavement, regardless of your good intentions.

This is like blaming Jesus for enslavement in the South. People distort philosophy to fulfill their own ends -- even today, the "abomination" of homosexuality is rarely put in context with the other abominations of eating shellfish or wearing blends of cotton and wool practically located on the same page.

Correctly, we should blame the people who commit the violence and promote bigotry, not focus on the documents or the philosophers they exploit to excuse their behavior. Given, I have not read much Gramsci first-hand, but if you're going to imply that he's responsible for enslavement, let's at least get a quote or two, and see if they are in context.

Further upthread you wrote:

Eviemath, tl;dr but let me address one point: there's a reason a Brazilian 14 year old reads at the level of a Finnish 9 year old, and that reason is called Paulo Freire.

I imagine if you asked Brazilians why their children aren't receiving a good education, they are going to mention government corruption, economic imperialism (domestic and international), and the reality of their history as a colony, not the contributions of Freire. And to compare Finland and Brazil as apple and apple is not just disingenuous, it's preposterous.

One of the saddest things is having a chat with an average Brazilian teenager educated in the public school system. He's not articulate, he doesn't know Portuguese, History or Math - but he can tell you why 9/11 was America's fault. That's the house Paulo Freire built.

And if I ask an American teenager why 9/11 happened, and they say it's because "they" hate our freedom, whom should I blame?

There's more to life than living up to some test scores. The fact that these kids still make it to school in the grinding poverty they were dealt says more about them for me than anything else. Give that Finnish child a tenth of the hardships, and do you honestly think you'd see similar results? We have orders of magnitude more wealth, but we're not doing orders of magnitude better when it comes to OECD rankings.

To sling the albatross around the neck of two leftists doesn't say anything about their philosophies. It says far, far more about yours.

And again, instead of addressing the root causes for the plight of our children -- little access to nutritious food, secure housing, clean water, or a just education system -- we're engaging in the petty historical ad hominem that has not only infected American thought, it's practically replaced it.
posted by notion at 1:33 PM on October 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


The 1% is here on Metafilter, spouting the same old derisive lies.

The link to City Journal tipped you off, eh?
posted by dhartung at 1:57 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


What I love about Occupy Wall Street is all of the fundamental issues about capitalism and consumerism that aren't even being addressed yet, but hopefully will be.

If I didn't know better, I might even put some faith in those Mayan predictions about 2012.

Occupy Wall Street's focus seems crystal clear to me: reduce the influence of corporate finance on the republic.

Or you could just emigrate.

That's an option for the 1%, not the 99%.

Weasel words, indeed ...

Don't be fooled by the complaints that the Occupy Wall Street movement hasn't got a clear set of demands. Everybody in a position of power knows exactly what the people want. They simply don't want to acknowledge it. Because, one issue at a time, the demands all boil down to one thing: we don't want you running the world any more. You're bad at it. Your motives are evil. The future you imagine is a vision of hell.

If I were in charge, I wouldn't want to acknowledge that, either.


- "What Are Your Demands," Ben Tripp.

So the mission remains:
"End corporate corruption of democracy."

Is that so hard to understand?


Not at all. It's obvious to everyone who isn't shilling.

The one overarching goal of the OWS seems to be to drive the discourse to the left

One and the same message as above.

It does seem like one of the main things the OWS movement should be working toward is comprehensive, radical campaign finance reform.

Another critical point. How can we possibly craft or ever pass campaign-reform when the corporate-supported judges have ruled that such legislation is unconstitutional? i think a big part of this movement starts with the Citizens United ruling. That may have been the final straw. I'm surprised no one (excepting mephron) is talking about that.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:59 PM on October 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Citizens United and also ALEC.
posted by stagewhisper at 2:02 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Related: Obama's Stealthy Payroll Plan: Raise Rich People's Taxes

Linking because I think the attitude behind this article, is, essentially, the attitude that is preventing real economic/tax reform. "What, you're giving tax cuts to the struggling middle class just so you can justify (stealthily!) putting higher taxes on the rich? Heinous!" Heaven forbid we initiate a system of taxation that makes sense.
posted by clavier at 2:11 PM on October 10, 2011


The class warfare the rich don't understand:
There have been rumblings in the corners of the Tea party movement for some time, but the minute president Obama announced that he was going to ask wealthy Americans to kick in a small bit more in taxes to help pay for some infrastructure improvements in his jobs proposal, the Republicans have been clutching their pearls and gasping for breath like Aunt Pittypat awaiting the arrival of the marauding Yankees.

GOP leader Rush Limbaugh called for the smelling salts, saying "If [Obama] would get all of this actually passed, it would represent perhaps a fatal blow to the US private sector ... I don't know how anyone could even argue about the fact that this is on purpose anymore. To boldly lie that it's not class warfare? It is class warfare. Specifically and purposefully class warfare."

Republican economic guru Paul Ryan dolefully declared, "Class warfare may make for good politics, but it makes for rotten economics. We don't need a system that seeks to divide people. We don't need a system that seeks to prey on people's fear, envy, and anxiety." Indeed. What could be more destructive to the average American than to ask the upper one per cent to kick in what amounts to tip money? The guilt they will feel at such unfairness is bound to create a profound spiritual crisis throughout the land....

The problem is that it's not at all clear that the people are willing to be the sin-eaters in this crisis. Having just lost their nest eggs, still reeling from debt, unemployed or career stymied they aren't anxious to sign on to austerity schemes that will make them even more insecure. Being required to do it on the orders of those who caused the problem in the first place - the same people who have recovered quite well and insist that they are far too valuable to waste their time paying for government - is not sitting well.

The polls show that large majorities believe the wealthy should pay more in taxes and that the social safety net should not be sacrificed on the alter of the deficit. They want the government to intervene to create jobs. Those sentiments have been stable throughout the crisis and yet the people's wishes are ignored. As a result they are becoming more and more disillusioned with the system. And they are starting to take to the streets.

It's too soon to know if the nascent Occupy Wall Street movement will grow or if it will have staying power. Who knows if the protesters will be able to endure the police responses or stave off the inevitable infighting. Perhaps it will break into sub groups or morph into something else entirely. But the focus on Wall Street alone should be enough to make the 1 per cent take pause and question their assumptions. When you have everyone from students to airline pilots looking to the same institutions as the source of their woes, it's time to take a look in the mirror (or a position in pitchforks.)...

"The top 1 per cent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn't seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 per cent live Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 per cent eventually do learn. Too Late." Joseph Stiglitz
posted by caddis at 2:50 PM on October 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


"If I am ignorant, and you, by opposition, enlightened, and that's what you believe in, well, sorry if I won't share your delusion, bub.

What Gramsci personally believed in matters little. Trotsky too was a nice guy, they say, at least in comparison with the others. Doesn't matter. The end result of this collective utopia is enslavement, regardless of your good intentions.

Gramsci created a method. That method is being used today to lie and deceit, and the ends are supposed to justify the means, because we're already on a totalitarian state that is lying and deceiving us.

I think I derailed the thread with this Paulo Freire / Gramsci business. We're gonna have to agree to disagree on this one.
"

Oh my Jesus, this is crazy-pants bullshit.

Gramsci didn't create a method — he described how the method of cultural hegemony already functioned. Comparing him with Trotsky is actually a weird echo of STALINIST propaganda, and arguing some sort of slippery slope fallacy just makes you look more deranged.

It's like you're saying that Hayek was the basis of the welfare state or that Franz Fanon created a way for France to rule Algeria, and then waving off with an "agree to disagree" when people call you on your nuttery. You're flat wrong, and don't seem to even have the requisite political theory understanding to know how you're wrong or understand why your assertions are so bizarre and laughable to anyone that's read Gramsci.

I don't mind bagging on Gramsci, by the way — his nonsense about recorded music and the mechanization of culture is a bit like reading anti-zeppelin propaganda written by barge owners — but you've so obviously got third-hand knowledge here that you're really only making yourself look dumb by repeating it.
posted by klangklangston at 3:03 PM on October 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


Related: Obama's Stealthy Payroll Plan: Raise Rich People's Taxes

The point here being that Obama signals, "don't worry guys, this is as bad as it'll get for you." Nothing about closing loopholes, and he's doing it nice and early so that the Administration gets to decide all by themselves what the level of imposition is going to be.
posted by rhizome at 3:32 PM on October 10, 2011


Republican economic guru Paul Ryan dolefully declared, "Class warfare may make for good politics, but it makes for rotten economics. We don't need a system that seeks to divide people. We don't need a system that seeks to prey on people's fear, envy, and anxiety."

Then why is that what we have? They call it class warfare, but if so, then class warfare has been raging from the top for some years now. Citizens United is only the latest cherry on that top.
posted by rhizome at 3:34 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, from my university studies of Gramsci, I had no idea what my brother falameufilho was talking about. I just assumed Gramsci had written some treatise on pedagogy that became an ignored minor work everywhere except Brazil.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:37 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Surely the anti-zeppelin propaganda would have been written by Black Sabbath.
posted by hippybear at 3:37 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


And I saw almost none of that when I was down at the actual protest.

Hrmm... I remember seeing an awful lot of seemingly indiscriminate anti-corporate signs when I walked around. Maybe I didn't look closely enough.

Tell me, what are you standing up for when you define the concept of "success" in opposition to what you think the OWS protests are about?

Success meaning unequal financial attainment. Some people are going to enjoy significantly nicer lives than others because they have more money. That's the way it is and that's the way it needs to be until resources are no longer scarce, because that motivates some very hard work that benefits society. The desire to make money and also to have more than your neighbor are normal human desires that capitalism acknowledges and harnesses.

Now, should society nevertheless smooth out some of the harshest inequities that result from this process? Yes. Should the political power of the extremely rich be contained somewhat? Yes. Should there be regulation that contains greed's excesses? Yes.

But the basic springs of capitalism work on, among other things, pride, a desire for status, a desire for comfort, ambition, and so on. The Tea Party doesn't seem to acknowledge the necessity of accommodating these motives.... and how much they've done us all in a market system.
posted by shivohum at 4:12 PM on October 10, 2011


The Tea Party

Ha! A Freudian slip if ever there were one.
posted by shivohum at 4:13 PM on October 10, 2011


191:1

My CEO makes $191 for every $1 I make. Want to find your ratio? Go to paywatch, and use the search feature on the left to find your company. Click How You Compare and enter in your pay and perks. After seeing the comparison chart, click How All Occupations Compare and find a job description with your pay.

The Dodd-Frank Act requires publicly-held companies to make the ratio public -- CEO-to-average pay within the company. The House is trying to repeal this part of the Act, as well as other parts.

What's your CEO-to-worker ratio?
posted by Houstonian at 4:16 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sign I saw at Liberty Square:

They Only Call It Class Warfare When We Fight Back.
posted by spitbull at 4:18 PM on October 10, 2011 [16 favorites]


Gramsci created a method. That method is being used today to lie and deceit, and the ends are supposed to justify the means, because we're already on a totalitarian state that is lying and deceiving us.

This is insane bullshit.
posted by spitbull at 4:20 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or you could just emigrate.

That's an option for the 1%, not the 99%.


There's, what, 12 million illegal immigrants in the US? Not to mention dozens of millions of legal immigrants? Do you think they're part of "the 1%"?

Actually it's a interesting point. What's the impact of the current economic situation on unskilled labor immigration? Do we have unemployed, uneducated americans emigrating in search of better work conditions (not to mention welfare and healthcare, if they choose to go to Europe?) If not, why not?
posted by falameufilho at 4:22 PM on October 10, 2011


This is insane bullshit.

Whatever, dude.
posted by falameufilho at 4:24 PM on October 10, 2011


...a bit like reading anti-zeppelin propaganda written by barge owners.

If I ever finish a novel, I want klangston to write the back cover blurbs.
posted by rokusan at 4:52 PM on October 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


falameufilho, you're so wrong about Gramsci it's astonishing you continue to debate this. klang got it exactly right: Gramsci didn't create a method — he described how the method of cultural hegemony already functioned.

I don't know where you're getting your spin on Gramsci, but if it's from actually reading him I'd be very surprised.
posted by mediareport at 5:04 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, it's really sad when someone like eviemath comes in and makes a really impassioned and thoughtful contribution to the discussion only to have someone like falameufilho come in and completely undo all of that effort with this irresponsibly inflammatory comment:


Eviemath, tl;dr but let me address one point: there's a reason a Brazilian 14 year old reads at the level of a Finnish 9 year old, and that reason is called Paulo Freire. So basing any argument on the merits of the pedagogy of the oppressed is like, no. Because there aren't any. That shit is pure Gramsci, borderline brainwashing.

tl;dr? really? and you have the gall to completely derail the thread like that? I'm having a really hard time "maintaining a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing on the issues....not at other members" but, come on. Your attempts to back up your assertions were so weak. I read one of the links you listed. It was written by a guy from the Manhattan Institute, a conservative, market-oriented think tank. Of course, he's going to hate Paulo Friere. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think you gave a single link to support your claims. Instead, you admit that you couldn't find any. Well, do everyone a favor next time and make more of an effort to build your case before you make such an outrageous claim. You'll make a much better impression and it will be a much better contribution than "whatever, dude"



Can't the protestors generally acknowledge the enormous good that capitalism and the market has done, be grateful for it, acknowledge the enormous power of competitive instincts and the urge to be successful, and also want to reign in the excesses? No, that would be asking for too much thoughtfulness I suppose.


Shivohum, it seems to me that the protesters aren't generally acknowledging anything except the fact that they are there, talking and listening to each other. You could probably find some if not many protesters who just want to rein in the excessive greed on Wall St. and not overthrow the whole system. (by the way, you wrote "reign in the excesses", another interesting slip, no?) But you're going to find a lot of other opinions as well. That's the thing. That's one of the basic topics of this thread. If you haven't already, go read the interview with Cornel West linked at the top. And to anyone else who hasn't read the interview please do so as well.



Here's a link to a Planet Money podcast that I think is relevant to the topic at hand. I think the part where they talk about how the protest is primarily a kind of democratic consciousness raising is insightful and in line with what Cornel West was saying.
posted by umamiman at 7:35 PM on October 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


I tried to step out of the debate but my will is weak. Yeah, let me make a couple of additional points about Gramsci, which is where I think we diverge:

1) No, I haven't read Gramsci, but I read a lot of stuff about his importance in "post-revolutionary" (this term is mine) communism. So, yes - secondary source etc, and a lot of it center-right to boot. If forced to summarize Gramsci in 30 seconds, this is what I would say: he pointed out that the view that the only thing holding back the masses from revolution was force is naive, and that was a whole cultural machine that "sold" capitalism to the ploretariat. That machine was composed of politics, media and religion. And hey - if you can't beat them, join them - the only way to revolution is by taking over that machine and having it propagate a message that speaks against the capital and for the revolution. So cultural hegemony is not a bad thing - when it's spreading your message. You got all riled up when I said Paulo Freire is pure Gramsci (as a slur), but guess what - I think Fox News and the Mormon opposition to Prop 8 also is. I don't believe that is completely off the mark, "insane bullshit" or whatever. It may be a simplification, sure. But I think where we really diverge on this is what because of what I say below on (2).

2) What I suspect is the real problem, and where we're not going to see eye to eye on this is this: I don't consider communism to be within the gamut of acceptable ideologies. It's (almost) universally accepted that being a fascist disqualifies someone from the debate, I include being a communist on the same group. And that's where the "comparison" I made above between Trotsky and Gramsci came from, it's not that they had similar interpretations of the dynamics of revolution or the origins of class struggle or whatever - no, I believe they diverged quite a lot. My point is: who cares about the beauty and poetry of their inner thoughts and desires. I certainly don't. Gramsci had an ulterior motive which was the ploretarian revolution, and that, for me, is bad by definition. And I think you see that as a point worthy of debate and a valid position to have.

So there you go. Sorry for the derail. As I said above, I fucking deplore Paulo Freire and I think he has caused irreparable harm to public education in Brazil and probably in other places. The application of his ideals in Brazil today is akin to child molestation.

Umamiman, I also provided a link to a NYTimes story, but it didn't have the specific figure I quoted.The other figures that ARE THERE show that what I said is probably not incorrect. And if you don't think an article from the City Journal is kosher, and state that by definition without rebating a single point the article makes, that's your problem, not mine.

Now it's true, I swear: I won't post in this thread further. Cheers.
posted by falameufilho at 7:51 PM on October 10, 2011


Some people are going to enjoy significantly nicer lives than others because they have more money. That's the way it is and that's the way it needs to be until resources are no longer scarce, because that motivates some very hard work that benefits society

Resources are not scarce. They are unevenly distributed.

the last time England had a subsistence crisis was the early 17th century. For Scotland, the last major famine due to poor harvests was just after 1745 -- the hungry times to follow and starvation across Britain (the working classes were severly malnourished c1900) was all due to unequal distribution of resources.

claims that we must have inequality because there just isn't enough to go around are either lying or ignorant.
posted by jb at 8:12 PM on October 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


(oh, there was also the potato famine in Scotland - but there was relatively good relief there, unlike Ireland.

but I believe that I have read that the last subsistence crisis specifically in Scotland were the famines of the 1690s)
posted by jb at 8:16 PM on October 10, 2011


The last time England had a subsistence crisis was the early 17th century.

It should be noted that while Ireland was starving to death in the potato famine, Ireland was exporting huge amounts of food. The English had plenty of food and just let the Irish starve out of pure genocidal apathy.
posted by empath at 8:17 PM on October 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


Eviemath, tl;dr but let me address one point: there's a reason a Brazilian 14 year old reads at the level of a Finnish 9 year old, and that reason is called Paulo Freire.
Yeah I have no idea who that Freire and Gramsci even were but that statement is so mind-bogglingly bizarre it's hard to comprehend. Finland is not only the a country that's smack dab in the middle of Europe it also currently has the best schools in the entire world with a country that's a developing nation. I would bet that if you look at things like the education levels of the average teachers in brazil, the funding levels, and so on you would find more then enough to explain the performance differences.

Really, you would need to look other countries with similar economic and background education levels.
posted by delmoi at 8:29 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


You could probably find some if not many protesters who just want to rein in the excessive greed on Wall St. and not overthrow the whole system.

All right, fair enough, but the ones who are blindly anti-corporate are often the most vocal and unfortunately are becoming the public face of the movement so far.

the last time England had a subsistence crisis was the early 17th century. For Scotland, the last major famine due to poor harvests was just after 1745 -- the hungry times to follow and starvation across Britain (the working classes were severly malnourished c1900) was all due to unequal distribution of resources.

I didn't say there weren't enough resources, in theory, to feed the world (supposing no corrupt political systems). People desire more than just to eat. Resources are scarce compared to human desire, which is infinite.
posted by shivohum at 9:13 PM on October 10, 2011


The application of his ideals in Brazil today is akin to child molestation.

Really? Child molestation? Really?

I haven't read Gramsci, so am not going to comment on your claims about his interests or goals, falameufilho, but one of the main points of Freire's pedagogy was to get people (specifically the adults in his adult literacy programs) to think critically about their situations while respecting their ability to analyze their situations themselves. He specifically argued against propaganda as counter to revolutionary aims.

I don't consider communism to be within the gamut of acceptable ideologies.... Gramsci had an ulterior motive which was the ploretarian revolution, and that, for me, is bad by definition.

Do you know what communism actually is? It refers to an economic system, but can be accompanied by a variety of political systems, ranging from very decentralized (libertarian communism) to pretty much totalitarianist (state communism). Why is the proletarian revolution bad by definition? Wouldn't this depend on the methods and the end goals of a particular proletarian revolution? The common theme of various proposals for proletarian revolution is to get rid of the class system that separates people into capitalist and proletariat classes - that is, replacing capitalism with a different economic system. But that could just as well include one of the many forms of market socialism as a more communist economic system. (Keeping in mind that the defining feature of capitalist economic systems is the existence of capital: the fact that people can profit off of ownership of the means of production and off of interest from making loans. Markets have been around far longer than capitalism, and can be found in many different economic systems.) I guess if you think that having an economic elite with pretty much all of the power, most people having their material needs met but economically insecure as well as alienated from their labor, and some people starving and homeless is not merely acceptable or ethically defensible, but an ethically positive or ideal situation...?

Ironically, this actually brings us sort-of back on topic from the derail. A number of opinion pieces arguing against the OWS protests that have been linked to in the various related threads here have taken the approach of nitpicking this 99% number. "We are the 99%" is a useful, strong slogan for people to get behind, but I see it more as a shorthand, not for splitting people up according to exactly how much wealth they have, but for distinguishing between people who have the ability to affect the direction of the US/world economy, and people who don't. This falls split falls pretty well, though not exactly, along wealth lines, so the slogan more-or-less accurately reflects the concerns about economic injustice and the link between economic power and political power that seem to be prodding more and more people to support and get involved with OWS or their local Occupy.
posted by eviemath at 9:30 PM on October 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


MetaFilter: No, I haven't read Gramsci, but I read a lot of stuff.
posted by klangklangston at 10:00 PM on October 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


the occupy boston livestream is pretty riveting right now. (1:45AM on monday night/tuesday morning here)
posted by ghostbikes at 10:47 PM on October 10, 2011


Word on the line is that BPD is trying to shut them down.

First they ignore you.

Then they ridicule you (falameufilho and his ilk, thinking they can do the usual slander job and be done with the pesky little people).

Then they fight you. (Boston cops, bring it on; your violence makes us stronger, as NYPD discovered, which is the only reason Bloomberg is now making nice.)

Then you win.
posted by spitbull at 10:50 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Global Revolution livestream has the Boston video feed and a couple of guys gathering information about what's going on.

This is fucking heartbreaking.
posted by cmyk at 10:53 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Occupy Boston camp 2 is being broken up right now.

Feeds: http://www.justin.tv/minorjive#/w/1889836192

http://www.livestream.com/occupyboston
posted by spinifex23 at 10:57 PM on October 10, 2011


some translations of Gramsci's work.

Cause, you know, people seem to want to argue about what he said and meant.

posted by Shit Parade at 10:57 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


And an Occupy Boston feed from inside Camp 2: http://www.justin.tv/superbranch#/w/1889888976
posted by spinifex23 at 10:58 PM on October 10, 2011


Occupy Boston IRC, real time updates.
posted by spitbull at 10:59 PM on October 10, 2011


(and sorry for not putting links in my post; things are going on fast and furious right now, and I think we're all intelligent enough to cut and paste a URL into a browser.)
posted by spinifex23 at 11:01 PM on October 10, 2011


I can hardly tell what's happening in those livestreams.
posted by meese at 11:02 PM on October 10, 2011


the Boston one i'm watching now has 9000 viewers... jeez. where are all these people?

I was out there earlier in the evening before the action started. I didn't stay because I don't really approve of their camp strategy - they started occupying a second segment of park that the police and city didn't want them putting tents on. They're making a big deal about "holding the park" and I really think they could have done just fine without being melodramatic about this.

but, if this turns out to be a positive influence on the protests... that's ok with me. i'll be back again after work tomorrow.
posted by ghostbikes at 11:02 PM on October 10, 2011


I wonder if Boston's mayor ordered that square cleared. Hard to see what's going on now, though.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:04 PM on October 10, 2011


http://twitter.com/#!/Occupy_Boston/statuses/123638323209179136
@Occupy_Boston
Occupy Boston
Cops are still beating and dragging away protesters. #occupyboston

Brave protesters. Video will be everywhere tomorrow. Boston will find out what NYPD already knows.

2AM fascist bullshit is what this is, thinking they are avoiding media scrutiny. Welcome to 2011, assholes.

And to think our resident right wing apologist is calling the protesters totalitarians.
posted by spitbull at 11:05 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


whoops, sounds like the boston overhead feed died, possibly due to a lack of power.

people on twitter were saying that cops were beating up members of veterans for peace, who are there tonight carrying flags. that sounds overly dramatic to me, but maybe some convincing footage will come out of this.
posted by ghostbikes at 11:07 PM on October 10, 2011


on the ground boston footage
posted by Shit Parade at 11:07 PM on October 10, 2011


There's now feed of stuff being tossed into city garbage trucks.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:08 PM on October 10, 2011


man they got those garbage trucks right in there! jerks!
posted by ghostbikes at 11:08 PM on October 10, 2011


on the ground boston footage

I <3 sousveillance.
posted by ryoshu at 11:09 PM on October 10, 2011


Roof cam is back online.
posted by spitbull at 11:13 PM on October 10, 2011


Global Revolution guys are saying that media is being removed from the scene.
posted by cmyk at 11:14 PM on October 10, 2011


Hearing that the cops beat up Veterans for Peace from several sources.

Way to go, patriots.
posted by spitbull at 11:17 PM on October 10, 2011


i'm going to bed and just going to hope that this was entirely staged by the mayor and police, all the protesters will be zip tied and taken directly to Good Time Emporium for some skee ball and beers, told "great job guys", and let go to come back tomorrow in full force.
posted by ghostbikes at 11:19 PM on October 10, 2011


I mean, they'll probably be ticketed, let go and then come back tomorrow in full force anyway. so there's that.
posted by ghostbikes at 11:21 PM on October 10, 2011


Now the Seattle encampment is being broken up.

Seattle Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/#!/saved-search/%23occupyseattle
posted by spinifex23 at 11:22 PM on October 10, 2011


How to donate to Occupy Boston. On my way to give $50.
posted by spitbull at 11:22 PM on October 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


BPD claimed in its statement that it would take plenty of video of itself and the protesters. I wonder if we'll see any of that.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 11:28 PM on October 10, 2011


Re: Seattle:

The police are there, and are ordering the OS people to leave Westlake Park, as the park is now closed. However, there's not enough police to do a massive sweep of the park, like what went on in Boston.

This is from KOMO 4 News.
posted by spinifex23 at 11:33 PM on October 10, 2011


some footage of the Boston arrests (youtube)
posted by Shit Parade at 11:41 PM on October 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Boston PD" is trending on twitter. up until now absolutely no protest related items have been listed as trending, due to very real and very frightening blocking of them by twitter.

I would very much like to hear from some people who know better than I do about the legality of breaking up public protests in this situation... is this legit? is this what normally happens if protesters don't have a permit?
posted by ghostbikes at 11:47 PM on October 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seattle feed: http://www.livestream.com/owsoccupyseattle
posted by spinifex23 at 12:00 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


According to this tweet they have bulldozers coming in to the Occupy Seattle. If true, that's insane.
posted by formless at 12:33 AM on October 11, 2011


Sorry, this tweet. Although, it looks like sarcasm. Sorry, my sarcasm meter was broken. Carry on.
posted by formless at 12:34 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Latest news from Seattle:

Move or Face Arrest.

They have 24 hours to move their encampment down to City Hall. So, by tomorrow evening.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:35 AM on October 11, 2011


Sounds like the police are making announcements in Seattle. It's not being taken well.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:36 AM on October 11, 2011


Washington Post reports 50 arrests in Boston.
posted by syzygy at 1:35 AM on October 11, 2011


Silent March in NY in support of the protesters in Boston - live stream:
http://www.livestream.com/globalrevolution
posted by syzygy at 1:57 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


MSNBC reporting 'about 100 arrested' in Boston.
posted by syzygy at 3:28 AM on October 11, 2011


[we seem to be back on track, but going forward, I suggest those wanting to discuss more Gramsci either take it to email, or make a separate post.]
posted by taz at 3:43 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


The video of the veterans for peace being arrested is chilling.
posted by odinsdream at 6:07 AM on October 11, 2011


AUDIO: Boston Mayor Thomas Menino talks about the Boston arrests

"Civil disobedience doesn't work for Boston - doesn't work for anyone"

"The time and place that we will have to end the encampent will come soon"


What a f$cking crank.
posted by syzygy at 6:49 AM on October 11, 2011


ThinkProgress: Boston Police Throw American Flag To Ground, Arrest Veterans, Trash Property To Protect ‘Green Space’ From 99%
Before the arrests and clearing of the park, the police surrounded it, lining up over a dozen paddy wagons along one side. They told members of the media to leave and not to film proceedings. After a five-minute warning to disperse, police moved in, first arresting the peacefully protesting veterans — who included a female veteran of the Iraq War, according to the Boston Phoenix — and then other Occupy Boston activists. According to Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, about 100 arrests were made.

The police then tore down the protesters’ encampment. Live feeds from onlookers showed Boston Police dumping dismantled tents, signs, and chairs into waiting garbage trucks, destroying the protesters’ property.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:49 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's spreading:
Tens of thousands of anti-Wall Street demonstrators have joined the protests in cities throughout the United States sparked by the Occupy Wall Street campaign in New York City. There were demonstrations of a thousand people or more in Los Angeles, Seattle, Indianapolis, Dallas, Houston and Austin, Texas.

There were protests in the hundreds in cities like Boston, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Louisville, Tampa, Las Vegas, Portland and Santa Fe.

In the state of Tennessee alone, there were protests in Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Murfreesboro and Clarksville.
I know Raleigh had a couple of hundred last weekend, but they are planning for a bigger turn-out next weekend.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:56 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is heart breaking: The Right Wing Version of We Are the 99% which boils down to "I can't get health insurance, I have to work 3 jobs, and I haven't had more than 4 days off in a row, but I don't whine, I suck it up."
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:04 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Have y'all seen John Carpenter's "They Live?" Remember when they bulldozed the homeless camp?

Yeah, that.
posted by spitbull at 7:55 AM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


syzygy: "AUDIO: Boston Mayor Thomas Menino talks about the Boston arrests

"Civil disobedience doesn't work for Boston - doesn't work for anyone"

"The time and place that we will have to end the encampent will come soon"


What a f$cking crank.
"

Civil disobedience worked in Boston before.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:08 AM on October 11, 2011


Civil disobedience worked in Boston before.

In fact, there's a whole movement named after it.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:13 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


police moved in, first arresting the peacefully protesting veterans...

I am saddened and outraged by their actions, in general, but I also have to shake my head in complete disbelief that they would start with the veterans.

Who planned this? Who thought, "Yes! The best way for us to get this under control is to start with those who offered their lives for our country, not those dreadlocked hippies"? This seems like it could be a PR disaster.

That video, with police breaking up the protest, while someone screams, "I am a veteran!" and then we see the American flag on the ground. It's like a movie -- a movie you leave thinking it had unrealistic patriotism and villains.
posted by meese at 8:18 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Who thought, "Yes! The best way for us to get this under control is to start with those who offered their lives for our country, not those dreadlocked hippies"? This seems like it could be a PR disaster.

I'm from Boston and I love it, but the city's major export might as well be BPD PR disasters.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:41 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wall Street's Private Police Force:
The corporations pay an average of $37 an hour (no medical, no pension benefit, no overtime pay) for a member of the NYPD, with gun, handcuffs and the ability to arrest. The officer is indemnified by the taxpayer, not the corporation.

New York City gets a 10 percent administrative fee on top of the $37 per hour paid to the police. The City’s 2011 budget called for $1,184,000 in Paid Detail fees, meaning private corporations were paying wages of $11.8 million to police participating in the Paid Detail Unit. The program has more than doubled in revenue to the city since 2002.
posted by odinsdream at 9:12 AM on October 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


Thank God the protestors didn't have blinking electronic lights, otherwise BPD would go terror squad.
posted by klangklangston at 9:21 AM on October 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Civil disobedience doesn't work for Boston - doesn't work for anyone"

STAY OUT OF MALIBU
posted by rhizome at 9:50 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


How much would it cost to hire a paid security detail for the Occupy Wall Street people? I'd throw down some cash for that.
posted by empath at 10:00 AM on October 11, 2011


> How much would it cost to hire a paid security detail for the Occupy Wall Street people?

I'm unclear what you're referring to. Do you mean to defend the protesters against the police?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 10:15 AM on October 11, 2011


'Occupy Boston' Facebook page.
posted by ericb at 10:53 AM on October 11, 2011


Suicide At Occupy San Diego.
posted by ericb at 10:54 AM on October 11, 2011


Occupy DC protesters arrested after unfurling banners in Senate building.
posted by ericb at 10:55 AM on October 11, 2011


LiveStream of the "Billionaire March" through, dunno, midtown? My NYC geography isn't that great...
posted by syzygy at 10:58 AM on October 11, 2011


Seven Snappy Comebacks for Those Lame Anti-"Occupy" Talking Points.
posted by ericb at 11:08 AM on October 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


... through, dunno, midtown?

It's the Upper East Side.

Occupy Wall Street Protests To Target NYC Millionaires' Homes.
posted by ericb at 11:11 AM on October 11, 2011


Wall Street Protesters Plan 'Millionaires March' to Tycoons' New York City Homes.
posted by ericb at 11:13 AM on October 11, 2011


Supporters have established a legal aid fund for the 129 people who were arrested in Boston.
posted by ericb at 11:16 AM on October 11, 2011


> How much would it cost to hire a paid security detail for the Occupy Wall Street people?

From the OWS General Assembly minutes for 10/4:

Tomorrow’s a big day for security. We’re going to present a proposal in the morning to contract an actual security firm. No charge, completely volunteer.
posted by nangar at 11:27 AM on October 11, 2011


I've learned from the encryption pledge drive meta thread that Android has an 'I'm Getting Arrested' app, which SMSs your friends, lawyer, etc. with one click.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:29 PM on October 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


We’re going to present a proposal in the morning to contract an actual security firm. No charge, completely volunteer.

This worked out really well at Altamont.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:56 PM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


> This worked out really well at Altamont.

Hey, every generation needs its "You're rendering that scaffolding dangerous!" moment.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:04 PM on October 11, 2011


I know Raleigh had a couple of hundred last weekend, but they are planning for a bigger turn-out next weekend.

Last Sunday was the first public planning meeting; it was pretty much what I expected - chaotic and interesting with lots of boring process that I still respected for the way it tried to be as inclusive as possible (it wasn't easy to be inclusive and actually get things done, as folks have noticed in other cities, but they damn well tried). I haven't been going to the planning meetings the group set up for this week, but the big event is the protest and "occupation kick-off" Saturday at 11am at the Capitol. We'll see how that goes. The cops were very low-key (and undercover, of course) Sunday; it'll be interesting to see how our Democratic governor Bev Purdue sets the tone for the response to Saturday's "occupation."

Me, I have a bunch of veggie burgers in the freezer I'm gonna make Friday night. I'm not gonna camp, but I can damn sure help feed the folks who are.
posted by mediareport at 8:41 PM on October 11, 2011


Anne-Marie Slaughter on Occupy Wall Street. [NYT]

In the past month, it has been odd to read Twitter and blog posts from the Middle East taking the Wall Street protests far more seriously than anyone here has .... But in this case, I am beginning to suspect that people abroad ... may in fact understand the fissures in our society better than we do ourselves.
posted by nangar at 1:54 PM on October 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


October 15th
posted by empath at 2:03 PM on October 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


"We are then 99%. The People are too big to fail!" -- occupyatlanta.org
Yup, that's the Atlanta I remember!
posted by jeffburdges at 2:49 PM on October 12, 2011


Tumblr becomes platform for Occupy Wall Street debate
"The blogging platform Tumblr -- which sits somewhere between Twitter and WordPress on the social media spectrum -- has become one of the more interesting places to watch the debate about the Occupy Wall Street protests unfold."
posted by ericb at 3:21 PM on October 12, 2011


Why Occupy Wall Street isn't about a list of demands
"A lot of lip service has been paid to the idea that Occupy Wall Street lacks focus. The critics ask: What's the goal of these protests? Everyone wants something different."
posted by ericb at 3:22 PM on October 12, 2011


Have y'all seen John Carpenter's "They Live?" Remember when they bulldozed the homeless camp?

Imagine what we could do with a crate full of those sunglasses.
posted by rokusan at 3:24 AM on October 13, 2011


I'm in Madison at the moment and the Occupy Madison camp is around the corner from my conference. I'm pretty impressed with their resolve and focus (although they're kind of lacking in the logistics department). Last night they rebuffed an invitation from MoveOn.org to join their march because MoveOn wouldn't call for the democrats to eschew corporate donations, and wouldn't approve an Occupy Madison speaker. They are crystal clear that their main goal is to get corporate money out of politics.

I stopped by there this morning on my way to get coffee and offered to buy coffee for the volunteer there. He said he couldn't take things personally meant for him; whatever donations had to be able to be used by the whole group.

I offered to make a supply run tonight, so we'll see how that shakes out. Like I said, their logistic skills are lacking (no spare socks??). But overall I'm impressed with them.
posted by desjardins at 8:48 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Corporate money out of politics, you say?
posted by empath at 9:01 AM on October 13, 2011


Corporate money out of politics, you say?

The whole "Ah but you can't support ANYTHING EVER DONE BY A CORPORATION!" thing is getting really, really tiring.

The protest is not anti-corporate. It's anti-corruption, pro-accountability.
posted by odinsdream at 10:00 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Ben and Jerry's is a corporate entity." Foreman points out. "Their primary interest is profit and giving away ice cream doesn't change or threaten that."

"Still, it's hard to say no to free ice cream," he adds.


The big problem in a nutshell. Hey, bread and circuses!
posted by mrgrimm at 10:47 AM on October 13, 2011


Matt Taibbi: My Advice to the Occupy Wall Street Protesters: Hit bankers where it hurts
posted by homunculus at 12:36 PM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Former SNL cast member and certified nut job Victoria Jackson goes to Occupy Wall Street.

Oh, THAT voice!
posted by ericb at 12:38 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I notice that one of the people on the Victoria Jackson video, and the guy in this video who is being interviewed by Fox both refer to "Jesus stuff" when the talk about looking out for the disadvantaged. I wish they would keep that up, make it a meme or whatever. It presents a strong argument against conservative Christians.
posted by Houstonian at 1:07 PM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, THAT voice!

Wow, she's getting rhetorically body-slammed. The interviewed protesters are doing an awesome job.
posted by odinsdream at 1:39 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Weird I just now realized Victoria Jackson ≠ Lucy from Twin Peaks. The world makes so much more sense like this.
posted by nathancaswell at 1:43 PM on October 13, 2011


Move over Boomers! The Millennial Generation Has Occupied Wall Street.

Occupy Wall Street: A New Generation, A New Kind Of Leadership.
posted by ericb at 1:54 PM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


OSW is getting cleared out by Bloomberg tomorrow at 7:00. Everyone is urged to arrive at the park at 6:00 to peacefully resist. See you there.
posted by stagewhisper at 2:37 PM on October 13, 2011


clarification: that's 6:00 A.M.
posted by stagewhisper at 2:38 PM on October 13, 2011


Bloomberg says it's to clean the park, and that everyone is to leave for 4 hours. After, they can return but cannot camp there. The protesters are doing a power wash and plan to resist.

I kinda think the city wants to shut this down before Oct. 15 when it goes global.
posted by Houstonian at 3:12 PM on October 13, 2011


Jesse Lagreca: DailyKos writer who schooled the FOX News reporter last week talks to Crooks & Liars.
posted by ericb at 3:13 PM on October 13, 2011


Another with LaGreca, on an ABC roundtable discussion. He starts at 4:20.

"The working class people have been entirely ignored by the media.... I mean, the reality is, I'm the only working class person you're going to see on Sunday news -- Sunday political news -- maybe ever."

That is followed by an audible gasp (smirk?) by Christiane Amanpour.
posted by Houstonian at 4:39 PM on October 13, 2011


Yeah, Bloomberg just wants to break continuity. Evil.
posted by rhizome at 5:41 PM on October 13, 2011


New OWS demand: No more not even trying to come up with a believable lie for why you're going to start busting heads.
posted by Trochanter at 7:41 PM on October 13, 2011


Time poll from Oct. 9 & 10 includes questions about OWS and it's positions and indicates fairly broad support. (Starts at question 11)

One thing I thought was interesting was that information about OWS seems to have broader penetration than information about the Tea Party: 39% of people said they didn't know enough about the Tea Party to have an opinion, only 23% of people said that about OWS. So despite having only been around for a few weeks and the Tea Party movements media advantages, OWS seems to have done a better job of communicating a clear message.
posted by nangar at 11:22 PM on October 13, 2011


"Occupy Sydney: V for Vague" - more of the same from the mainstream media.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:03 PM on October 14, 2011


Video: Fox News Host's Bizarre Attack On Occupy Wall Street.
posted by ericb at 1:01 PM on October 15, 2011


Random stuff about the OWS linked protests abroad.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:59 AM on October 16, 2011


We should probably start a thread on the Rome protests that got messy.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:07 AM on October 16, 2011


Wall Street's Private Police Force:

More in this new thread
posted by homunculus at 1:09 PM on October 17, 2011


Or not.
posted by homunculus at 1:10 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


A Protester’s Account of This Weekend’s Citibank Arrests
posted by homunculus at 1:13 PM on October 17, 2011


Wall Street's Private Police Force

How is this different from the widespread practice of hiring an off-duty cop in uniform to manage traffic at a private construction site or to work a security detail at Wal-Mart?

I'm not saying this isn't something we shouldn't be concerned about. I'm just trying to understand if this is different than how off-duty cops have been hired by private enterprises for a long time.
posted by grouse at 1:16 PM on October 17, 2011


Times Square Rally: 1 Marine v. 30 NYPD

Originally posted by The Whelk in a deleted thread.

Immense thanks Sgt. Shamar Thomas for calling out the completely batshit insane militarization of our domestic police force.
posted by odinsdream at 1:25 PM on October 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


How is this different from the widespread practice of hiring an off-duty cop in uniform to manage traffic at a private construction site or to work a security detail at Wal-Mart?

Lack of transparency is one serious problem with this. It's fairly obvious from context who hired a traffic cop to help manage a school or heavy lunch period.

It's a little less obvious if NYSE has an essentially permanent police force of its own, only "branded" as NYPD.
posted by odinsdream at 1:30 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Quinnipiac poll shows NYC residents broadly support/understand the message of OWS, and support OWS's right to maintain its protest.

By a 67 - 23 percent margin, New York City voters agree with the views of the Wall Street protesters and say 87 - 10 percent that it is "okay that they are protesting," according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Agreeing with the protesters views are Democrats 81 - 11 percent and independent voters 58 - 30 percent, while Republicans disagree 58 - 35 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Even Republicans, however, agree 73 - 23 percent with the protesters right to be there.

New York City voters say 72 - 24 percent, including 52 - 41 percent among Republicans, that if the protesters obey the law, they can stay as long as they wish.

A total of 72 percent of voters say they understand the protesters' views "very well" or "fairly well," with 17 percent who say "not too well" and 10 percent who say "not well at all."

posted by spitbull at 2:27 PM on October 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Pat Robertson on 'Occupy Wall Street': Obama is inciting revolt — "The match to the kindling is being provided by our noble president.”
posted by ericb at 2:35 PM on October 17, 2011


Occupy Wall Street Global Map is a Birds-Eye View of Discontent -- "One month after the first protesters showed up on Wall Street, similar movements have popped up in cities throughout the world — and many more are being planned or discussed."
posted by ericb at 3:14 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


How is this different from the widespread practice of hiring an off-duty cop in uniform to manage traffic at a private construction site

The gulf between the equivalent of paramilitary mercenaries defending people whose actions remain contentious (and, in some views, criminal), and an off-duty cop waving drivers through an intersection, seems a bit more vast.

Machiavelli couldn't foresee this kind of arrangement, exactly, but it remains problematic for more or less the same reasons. You have people who are skirting the edge of law, who are also more or less buying off the same people tasked to enforce it. The conflict of interest present here is not so evident at a traffic stop.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:18 PM on October 17, 2011


The other issue, on a more immediate, practical level, is that you don't (normally) have on-duty cops and off-duty hired cops at the same construction site. The OWS protest in NYC is still struggling with figuring out how to distinguish between police who are legitimately enforcing the city's authority and which ones are essentially just hired thugs for the NYSE; I suspect a lot of the videos you'll see of police entrapment-type behavior seems to be traceable back to this. NYSE cop tells you to do one thing, NYPD cop arrests you for it, or vice versa. It'd be like if the cop at the construction site waved you right through the red light and then his on-duty buddy wrote you a ticket for going through a red light.
posted by mstokes650 at 3:30 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also at this point in the thread we seem to be mostly past the folks saying, "Hey, OWS has no clear, coherent vision or plan," but I just wanted to say that after attending the GA in Boston on Saturday I was actually surprised to find that a lot of the protesters there were more concerned with that problem than I was.

If you're interested you can actually see the work they're doing on that subject here. In fact if you're speculating about the protests' organization based on what you've read in the media I'd encourage you to spend a little while poking around that wiki site and looking at the various working groups, etc.; I think you'll be quite surprised at how coherent and organized they actually are.

(If anything, I'm a little worried that the Boston protest, at least, will suffer from "Wikipedia syndrome", where the most-involved, always-there, super-dedicated folks form their little clique and make it harder for total outsiders to show up and get involved.)
posted by mstokes650 at 3:37 PM on October 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


OWS is planning a convention for July 4, 2012. There is a lot more info on some of the structural questions that tend to float around, and is generally a pretty eye-popping read.
posted by rhizome at 7:48 PM on October 17, 2011 [5 favorites]


"Anthony Bologna loses 10 vacation days"
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:58 PM on October 18, 2011


Former SNL cast member and certified nut job Victoria Jackson goes to Occupy Wall Street.

'Victoria Jackson goes to Occupy Wall Street' Spoof.
posted by ericb at 3:54 PM on October 20, 2011


Complaints that Occupy Seattle is being co-opted into an anti-police organization
posted by Artw at 4:08 PM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Of course, this is only possible because Occupy Seattle is such small potatoes, even compared to something like Occupy Portland. I observed an Occupy Seattle general assembly and there must have been fewer than 100 people there. The group that stays overnight is even smaller.
posted by grouse at 5:26 PM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Chinese web censors block terms related to "Occupy," to stamp out movement's spread in China
posted by homunculus at 9:23 AM on October 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Occupy Wall Street puts spotlight on police stop-and-frisk tactics: Protests over targeting of black and Hispanic men amid claims that NYPD commissioner says policy is used to 'instil fear'
posted by homunculus at 6:49 PM on October 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Video from this morning's Occupy Oakland raid. Tear gas, rubber bullets, sound cannons.
posted by stagewhisper at 7:18 AM on October 25, 2011


Dozens Arrested at Occupy Oakland as Police Raid Encampment, Tear Down Tents
posted by homunculus at 9:02 AM on October 25, 2011


DA won't prosecute Occupy Sacramento protesters
posted by homunculus at 9:04 AM on October 25, 2011


“Next thing I knew, we were tear-gassed.” An Open Salon blogger gives a firsthand report of the Occupy Oakland police raid
posted by homunculus at 11:55 AM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, for fuck's sake:
L.I. Couple Seeks Trademark For "Occupy Wall St."
"Pair sees protest's 'potential to be a global brand.'"
posted by ericb at 12:56 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, talk about Doing It Wrong.
posted by desjardins at 1:22 PM on October 25, 2011


Oh, for fuck's sake, again:
Real World: Occupy Wall Street? MTV Issues Casting Call for Protesters.

MTV Takes Second Stab at an OWS Reality Show with ‘True Life: I’m Occupying Wall Street’.

MTV's 'True Life' To Explore Occupy Wall Street -- "MTV embeds in Zuccotti Park to get real story in 'True Life: I'm Occupying Wall Street' airing November 5 at 6 p.m. ET."
posted by ericb at 1:23 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


A different form of Oh For Fuck's Sake: Drummers threaten to derail protests
posted by desjardins at 1:54 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ain't no shortage of financial office buildings in NYC, just make the drummers go elsewhere. Goldman Sachs is over by the river. Morgan Stanley is way up in midtown.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:54 PM on October 25, 2011


From the General Assembly minutes way back on Oct. 10, they were already having issues with the drummers.
If you’d like drummers to stop, you may (politely) ask them. (lots of spirit fingers)

This is a projector screen.

If you’re in front of me, please sit down.

Mic check: “I asked the drummers to stop, but they said it’s a sacred dance and won’t stop”

Is it ok?

We will continue.

I apologize in advance if anyone cannot be heard.

Mic Check – Drummers will stop in 10 mins.

Can we wait ten minutes? (lots of down fingers)
posted by Houstonian at 4:03 PM on October 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is not looking good, or looking quite good, from your point of view.
posted by zabuni at 9:34 PM on October 25, 2011


Republican economic guru Paul Ryan dolefully declared, "Class warfare may make for good politics, but it makes for rotten economics. We don't need a system that seeks to divide people. We don't need a system that seeks to prey on people's fear, envy, and anxiety."

Paul Ryan: Class Warrior for the Wealthy
posted by homunculus at 12:46 PM on October 28, 2011


Wall Street Isn't Winning – It's Cheating
posted by homunculus at 2:14 PM on October 28, 2011


The victory OWS has already won: The protests have helped shift the national dialogue from the deficit to the real problems Americans face
posted by homunculus at 2:15 PM on October 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


"The task is not just to understand the world but to change it. A variant to keep in mind is that if you want to change the world you'd better try to understand it. That doesn't mean listening to a talk or reading a book, though that's helpful sometimes. You learn from participating."

- "Occupy the Future," Noam Chomsky
posted by mrgrimm at 7:57 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who is Occupy Wall Street? After six weeks, a profile finally emerges.

"First off, Occupy Wall Street protesters are older than you think. On average, for every college 'kid' there's a 40-something in mid-career. And while 60 percent voted for Obama, 73 percent are unhappy with him

... nearly all (97 percent) of those surveyed disapprove of how Congress is handling its job.

... the average age is 33

... According to the online pay site wepay.com, its donation numbers show that the overwhelming online support comes from “average, middle-class donors,” says wepay.com CEO Bill Clerico. “The vast majority of those giving have incomes in the $50,000 to $100,000 range,” he says.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:01 AM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Walter White: I am the 99%
posted by homunculus at 4:27 PM on November 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Burn Wall Street, burn!
posted by homunculus at 9:42 AM on November 2, 2011


Keep Wall St. Occupied
posted by jeffburdges at 10:50 AM on November 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wall Street Traders Have Profited More Under Obama Than In Eight Years Under Bush
posted by homunculus at 5:53 PM on November 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Occupy Denver elects a new leader: Shelby, a Border Collie mix
posted by homunculus at 7:34 PM on November 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Occupy Atlanta Encamps In Neighborhood To Save Police Officer’s Home From Foreclosure
posted by homunculus at 7:36 PM on November 8, 2011


99 Percent Protests Against Bush And Cheney Indicate That Movement Is Not Forgetting Foreign Policy
posted by homunculus at 8:32 AM on November 9, 2011


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