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How I stopped worrying and learned to love the OWS protests
November 13, 2011 11:01 AM   Subscribe

How I stopped worrying and learned to love the OWS protests
posted by garlic (150 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's a great assessment of the movement and the surround culture in which it's taking place. I especially appreciated this:
The police in their own way are symbols of the problem. All over the country, thousands of armed cops have been deployed to stand around and surveil and even assault the polite crowds of Occupy protesters. This deployment of law-enforcement resources already dwarfs the amount of money and manpower that the government "committed" to fighting crime and corruption during the financial crisis. One OWS protester steps in the wrong place, and she immediately has police roping her off like wayward cattle. But in the skyscrapers above the protests, anything goes.
I've been wondering since they began when the Powers That Be will use the occupying army present in every Occupied city to try to break up this rabble who dare to speak against the system. It's been going on for a few weeks now, and it's turned ugly more often than it hasn't. Even when the mayors and others in power have seemingly supported the protests (much more than I expected, certainly much more than they support most mass protest movement), the apparent pressure to rid the streets of these people speaking their mind becomes overwhelming and eventually those with batons and riot gear move in and begin attacking unarmed people and arresting anyone who uses any kind of answering force in the face of the attack.

As long as it remains a crime to ever counter any encroachment by police forces in any way, we're going to find it difficult to shake the country loose from its current path. Maybe if enough people massed in movement against the system we'd find those threats falling by the wayside. Sadly, so many have bought into the system, even unthinkingly, that I'm not sure it could ever happen.
posted by hippybear at 11:12 AM on November 13, 2011 [46 favorites]


*surrounding

*grrrr* where is that edit window again?
posted by hippybear at 11:12 AM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


come on people, occupy spell-check.
posted by Think_Long at 11:16 AM on November 13, 2011 [20 favorites]


On Wednesday, November 9, Occupy Harvard began. The university is frequently accused of being an “academic gatekeeper,” but the administration and police response to the nascent protest movement has made this gatekeeping uncomfortably literal: Harvard Yard has been placed on indefinite “lockdown,” meaning two-level ID-checks at every entrance. Further, unlike its sister-movement Occupy Boston, the less-than-week-old encampment has been the object of flak from other Harvard students, who complain about the inconvenience.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:19 AM on November 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


A friend and I were going to walk across Harvard yard yesterday to get to his car. But there were police blocking all the entrances. We first guessed that somebody really famous was visiting, but when we asked one of the police, he said "Occupy Harvard". At first we thought "okay", but thinking further, we couldn't see why that meant that people couldn't cross the yard.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:20 AM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is an interesting article - thanks. I think it recognises that the OWS have some very ambitious ideals - that a lot of people feel that there are certain fundamental things about the way that America's government makes policy that need to be changed.

For example, I think a lot of people are turning against the anti-government tradition. They are starting to see that a helpful, empowering, functional government - a government in which they participate - can protect members of the middle-class as well as tax them. It can prevent the "over-mighty rich" from dominating and exploiting everyone else. It can also serve as an enormous source of opportunities for social mobility, a big employer and a Keynesian means of keeping wealth circulating in the economy.

Now, these are fairly big ideas and while they can be reduced to a point-by-point manifesto, or a programme for legal change, in many ways they are more a fundamental realignment of worldview.

At the same time, I think that saying that the OWS protests are just a fundamental rejection of modern society is way too nebulous. There are a number of specific problems and outrages - the criminal and reckless behaviour of the financial sector; the student debt racket; the fact that the current government is not doing enough to fix the 'jobless recovery'; the massive growth in income inequality that sees a few benefit enormously from the labour of the many etc. etc. These things can be fixed; they are more fixable than "change everything, change the whole system". So I think it's dangerous to go too far in the other direction (even if I'm sure that a lot of protestors do, in fact, strongly dislike the incredible, dehumanising pressure - the vicious squeezing of time and energy - that modern American capitalism puts on its workers at all levels).
posted by lucien_reeve at 11:21 AM on November 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


I am reminded of the increasing protests in the old USSR as basics like food and toilet paper began to be in short supply as they were increasingly shunted to that country's 1%. I am reminded of an image of a young man facing down an armed Soviet line and placing a flower into the barrel of one of the rifles. I am reminded that the greedy oligarchs appear to be inherently self-defeating as enough is never enough for such folk. I am reminded that drastic change can come at unexpected times.

not that the 99% in the new Soviet Federation are in any great shape these days ... just saying that when enough gets taken away from people eventually the people push back. Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:23 AM on November 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


@benito.strauss: I'm not sure if this is relevant in your case, but one thing I've noticed is that whenever a union strikes, the company or authority it is challenging immediately does everything it can to pass the inconvenience on to somebody else.

That way, they can say - "look at those people striking! it's all their fault! we're as frustrated by this as you [the public] are... we're on the same side against those striking jerks!"
posted by lucien_reeve at 11:24 AM on November 13, 2011 [16 favorites]


I'm still convinced that a lot of the problems being protested by the Occupy movement could be solved by comprehensive campaign finance reform. Remove the influence of money from elections, including all the inferred powers bestowed recently by the Supreme Court, and you'll find elected officials courting the common man and representing his interests instead of ignoring them for the sake of campaign donations from the über-wealthy and corporate interests.
posted by hippybear at 11:25 AM on November 13, 2011 [30 favorites]


With the local Occupy Portland camp being wound down (and the inevitable shutdown of any other such event) I wonder how the movement can keep its issues alive in the public's consciousness. I didn't pay as much attention as I should have to the events in Egypt and elsewhere, but didn't they take more than a month or two to accomplish their goals?

Perhaps if enough people keep going back to the parks every day (not necessarily to camp in tents, but lots of people -- a seemingly inexhaustible stream -- there every day) it'll be marginally harder to say "I guess they got what they wanted and are now satisfied with the status quo. Mission accomplished!"
posted by spacewrench at 11:27 AM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think you meant whirring.
posted by elmaddog at 11:31 AM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I didn't pay as much attention as I should have to the events in Egypt and elsewhere, but didn't they take more than a month or two to accomplish their goals?

Well, that plus the participation in such events were easily orders of magnitude larger than the Occupy movements have been in any single city.

While they're impressive in what they have achieved so far (when it comes to shifting the national dialogue), they truly haven't reached critical mass the way any of the Arab country protests did.
posted by hippybear at 11:34 AM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Harvard Law Professor Criticizes ‘Homeland Security Feel’ Of ‘Overreaction’ To Occupy Harvard
posted by homunculus at 11:34 AM on November 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


How is OWS being seen in the Mainstream Media these days? I heard the 'image' of OWS was getting worse after some of the unfortunate events at a couple of the camps -- which often have a lot of homeless people and so on.


Anyway, clearly OWS has had a big impact on the national dialog, at least as far as I can tell. People are talking about inequality, instead of just the budget deficit. And just look at bank transfer day, which pulled billions out of the for-profit banking system and into Credit Unions.
I didn't pay as much attention as I should have to the events in Egypt and elsewhere, but didn't they take more than a month or two to accomplish their goals?
Well, OWS isn't trying to overthrow the government, they have a much more diffuse goal. One that would take a long time to implement.

---

Also the whole idea of "Occupy Harvard" just seems kind of hilarious. Not really much of a "99%" place.
posted by delmoi at 11:36 AM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


To the black bloc "anarchists", F*** OFF! This is "Occupy", NOT "Destroy"

Also the whole idea of "Occupy Harvard" just seems kind of hilarious. Not really much of a "99%" place.

I think the 99% moniker really stopped making sense quite some time ago.
posted by Artw at 11:47 AM on November 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


We must keep the bank transfer day meme running, a few million pulling out their fund reduces the "too big to fail" institutions fee revenues. And there will be sympathetic billionaires who eventually move their funds into smaller institutions too.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:48 AM on November 13, 2011


Wall Street is also not a 99% kind of place.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:50 AM on November 13, 2011 [20 favorites]


which often have a lot of homeless people and so on.

That's the problem with the Canadian protests. While I think we have our share of inequality in this country (most notably the rich getting filthy rich off the oilsands, which should be considered as property owned by all Canadians) there is really no message to our protests. It looks for all the world an excuse to squat somewhere for a while under the guise of being an activist. It's a shame when any sort of movement such as this gets mixed up with the lowest-common denominator, and immediately alienates itself from any serious discussion. Issues of homelessness, drug abuse and mental illness are inextricably bound to protests such as this, in a way that I don't think the 'protesters' themselves are totally aware. There can be no useful discussion or protest when people who are so radically different from the system they are trying to change are spearheading the movement.

Initially I thought this might be different, as in the US it seemed (seems?) that the educated middle classes finally have had enough. When professional people get behind something, things tend to get done. Get lawyers angry and you'll get somewhere - and I don't believe for a second that a significant percentage of professionals who will always be comfortable are alright with what's going on at the moment. There simply hasn't been enough of a threat to anyone with teeth to be enough to sway the middle class away from their busy lives to stand at attention. But, that day may come and I'm heartened by the fact that there is a sense that the uneasiness extends beyond low income and unemployed people.
posted by jimmythefish at 11:55 AM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


People want to go someplace for at least five minutes where no one is trying to bleed you or sell you something. It may not be a real model for anything, but it's at least a place where people are free to dream of some other way for human beings to get along, beyond auctioned "democracy," tyrannical commerce and the bottom line.

Perhaps that's why Burning Man tickets sold-out for the first time last year ...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:57 AM on November 13, 2011


Also the whole idea of "Occupy Harvard" just seems kind of hilarious. Not really much of a "99%" place.

That's kind of the point.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:58 AM on November 13, 2011 [16 favorites]


~People want to go someplace for at least five minutes where no one is trying to bleed you or sell you something.
~Perhaps that's why Burning Man tickets sold-out for the first time last year...


So...One escapes being bled or sold to by dropping $200-300???
posted by Thorzdad at 12:03 PM on November 13, 2011 [13 favorites]


> Perhaps that's why Burning Man tickets sold-out for the first time last year ...

No, it was just the first year they decided to limit the number of tickets. It wasn't even the largest burning man ever.
posted by thetruthisjustalie at 12:06 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


This deployment of law-enforcement resources already dwarfs the amount of money and manpower that the government "committed" to fighting crime and corruption during the financial crisis. One OWS protester steps in the wrong place, and she immediately has police roping her off like wayward cattle. But in the skyscrapers above the protests, anything goes.


This makes me comfortable with my indignation.

Great post, thanks.
posted by hellslinger at 12:08 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is a good change the black block includes many undercover cops, Artw, certainly they've used that tactic before.
posted by jeffburdges at 12:12 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


More Matt Taibbi: Finally, a Judge Stands up to Wall Street
posted by homunculus at 12:18 PM on November 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Eventually the Occupy movement will need to be specific about how it wants to change the world. But for right now, it just needs to grow. And if it wants to sleep on the streets for a while and not structure itself into a traditional campaign of grassroots organizing, it should. It doesn't need to tell the world what it wants. It is succeeding, for now, just by being something different.
To digress and then return.

Last week, there was a march of 15,000 students through Central London, on the surface, they were protesting school fee hikes. More deeply, they were protesting against an increasingly-endangered social contract in which high taxes are accepted for the social offerings that have traditionally resulted.

At the deepest level, there was a statement made that is in common with the Occupy 'events'. And we can understand that statement by looking at where they marched from and to. They marched from University College London to the City of London. From their physical goal destination. To the destination of the most visible symbol of the beneficiaries of the broken contract.

Last year, the march was to Parliament and White Hall. However in the intervening time, it has become very obvious that the UK government is either unwilling to or incapable of mitigating their grievances. Thus, rather than identifying those in control of government policies as the target of their actions, they have identified the beneficiaries of those policies.

It's a fascinating -- and terrifying -- difference. Fascinating for all of those who respect Noam Chomsky's continued point that the big difference between Vietnam and Iraq was that the Vietnam protests began when the war went poorly whilst the Iraq protests started before the war began.

Terrifying for government and financial leaders. The former have been identified as irrelevant for the moment and the latter being called out from behind the curtain. Whilst society may be many things, ranging from distractible to obese, it is not obtuse to the true loci of power. If people are protesting the government, then the government has the power. If people are protesting the banks, then the banks have the power.

Back to the point about being specific about how it wants to change the world, we can make several observances.

1) The current Occupy movement is relatively passive, meaning they have not identified any active strategy for achieving goals. The movement in this moment (with the exception of Oakland), are camped outside Wall Street to make obvious a very brutal truth of the current economic reality. That Wall Street A) profited the greatest from the financially trickery that went on, and B) has suffered neither to the same degree as that profit would suggest, nor -- and more importantly -- in line with the rest of society.

Banks are arguing about the size of their bonuses, rather than if there will or should be bonuses. Meanwhile, communities are going bankrupt, people are dying from lack of funds to purchase prescriptions, and around the country, a lot of good people are making a lot of hard decisions. Note, most of these people had nowhere near the potential upside of the financiers yet seemingly unlimited downside. Inside those office towers -- for the lucky ones not laid off -- the champagne keeps flowing and the beach holidays continue.

Thus, we see that the inherent ask of the Occupy movement is for finance to share in their appropriation of the pain and suffering.

2) When we look at the age of many of the attendees, they are young. Perhaps similar to the students in the UK, they feel a contract was broken, but not in the same way. They never had to worry about funds for school -- those have been available via loans -- yet now they find themselves in a position where they have debt, yet there are no jobs. College has been seen in the culture as the way forward into a stable career and better life. All of the advertisements for student loans revolve around that very point.

Yet, here they are. Educated -- all mentally dressed up -- with nowhere to go. Yet, a record amount of cash is sitting on corporate balance sheets. Companies are not hiring. Banks are not lending to small businesses. So they literally are sitting there saying, "what would you have us do now?"

If the rules for the game become too untenable, many players simply cannot play. If there is no other game in town, they will sit and wait. What else do they have to do? They did not set the rules, for if they did, the rules would include them. Yet the rules are set.

In this moment -- and the timing is very important here -- in this moment, the people are saying, "we lost and you won," and it seems they are hoping the corporates and finance will realise that the current standoff will destroy America. Sadly, the timing seems to be against us based on all of the evidence suggesting that psychopathy is incurable.

3) Social media means this is a movement unlike that which has been seen previously. The people have come together and are figuring out what the areas of common interest are. Each story is unique, each person arrived for a different reason with a personal narrative. Yet, thanks to the interconnected nature of information, all of that background is being shared and processed and will become a common narrative.

The rise of social media indicates a societal shift toward collaborative problem solving. People are used to admitting their problems in the open (see AskMefi) and working on resolutions together. And that is exactly what's going on here. People felt there was something wrong, a few of them took it outside, and now there's similar movements all around the country and world.

The mainstream media and machinery of financial and political control are terrified by this development, for there is no playbook for them to fight or manipulate. It's the inversion to the war on terror. With the war on terror, enemies existed everywhere -- as cells -- and thus they were nearly impossible to combat because they had no formal agenda. So we were told.

Similarly now. These are decentralised movements of people that know something is wrong. As stated, they are now getting together to discuss exactly what is wrong -- and in the process, beginning to rebuild the social contract destroyed by the vitriol of contemporary American public discourse. They are sitting, and they are listening. Very slowly, these individuals are forming into a mass movement.

5) Perhaps the most telling moment of the London student protests last week was the permissions the protests were granted. There was a strict set of rules established with the police. One of the key rules being that the protestors would not be allowed to meet the Occupy LSE protests. It sounds a bit of a silly point that makes tremendous sense for crowd control practicalities.

But much more deeply, it would be a symbol of the Student Protests connecting with the Occupy LSE protests... and what would result? One big protest against the current form of state governance in the UK.

The media and corporations desperately want to keep these movements isolated. The students are protesting against fees. The Occupy protestors are protesting against bank bail-outs.

No. They're all protesting the same thing. That they've all been fucked out of their present and futures, and the people that fucked them continue having a nice big pot-latch, complete with private security in Land Rovers and full refrigerators.

Matt has hit on something exactly right here. There will be no escape this time. Last time it was false pre-tense for war (or a stolen election, in the US), then it was the mortgage crisis, then it was the financial crisis. And each time, government stood at the microphone and broke the bad news, shielding corporate profits. In return, corporations ensured government leaders had campaign money and nice post-service jobs in think tanks and at foundations. And it worked for a while.

But now, it is obvious. Government is at best ineffective and at worst, complicit. And the true pay-masters in the situation are the corporate titans.

Warren Buffett did a very funny thing when he asked to be taxed -- at least to the same level as his personal assistant. He showed in one stroke at how corrupt government has become, because the United States Congress and President could not get their shit together enough to tax one of the world's richest men, who was asking to be taxed.

What does that mean? That those two groups which purport to be the most powerful governing bodies in the world, simply are not. The true power lives elsewhere. But where?

For a long time, it was murky and shadowy. And now there are people camping in New York City and elsewhere who are determined to figure it out. They don't have a playbook. They don't need a playbook. And that is precisely why they have a very good chance of winning.

Consider the last 12 months. Berlusconi, Mubarak, Papandreou, Qaddafi. Corruption is quickly becoming untenable, for really it just muddies the waters between capital and labour.

And capital fucked up. It squeezed labour too hard -- to the point of labour having nothing left to lose. And now labour is camped out in a park, playing the hand-drums, whilst capital is terrified as to what this means. And perhaps that is how one can understand their relationship to Occupy Wall Street. If you are quite content for them to sit in the park, then you understand the meaning. If you need them to have an agenda, or a point, or anything else, it means you do not understand the meaning.

And if you do not understand the meaning, perhaps have a look at good old Qaddafi. It means payback is going to be a bitch.
posted by nickrussell at 12:20 PM on November 13, 2011 [151 favorites]


With the local Occupy Portland camp being wound down (and the inevitable shutdown of any other such event) I wonder how the movement can keep its issues alive in the public's consciousness.

I live in Oakland and it's been interesting watching how our local Occupy has become more and more radicalized with each wave of police raids. The mayor (a former protest organizer) seems reluctant to do anything, which has given almost free reign to the activists who see the widespread discontent with government in Oakland as a way to set a radical example for the rest of America's occupations. There will probably be another raid tonight on Occupy Oakland, but it seems like they have already decided on the next step.

This has not been talked about much in the media, but a group of anarchists here briefly took over a building a former non-profit building before being raided by police. Here is their statement.The Occupy Oakland GA then passed a resolution to support occupying foreclosed buildings, although they have no acted again since (there was supposed to be an 'autonomous action' last night, but it seems the building they targeted got bought by a non-profit earlier this week).

The tactic is spreading: Chapel Hill Anarchists Occupy Downtown Building.

What I see in my young peers is a lot of highly educated people who are completely disillusioned with the political process. Crippled with amazing amounts of student debt and no jobs or other options, but with a lot of free time to think about how "Change" didn't come from voting. The lack of specific demands on how to "fix" the economy isn't a surprise to me at all because people are fed up with everything.
posted by bradbane at 12:23 PM on November 13, 2011 [15 favorites]


That way, they can say - "look at those people striking! it's all their fault! we're as frustrated by this as you [the public] are... we're on the same side against those striking jerks!"
posted by The Whelk at 12:27 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


With the local Occupy Portland camp being wound down

Is this where I say how proud I am of Portland this morning? After and eviction notice and a potentially violent showdown with police, overwhelming pacifism prevailed. They've kept the camps for now, but that's not the biggest victory of last night. The biggest victory was the massive, peaceful demonstration that took place and the shockingly reasonable police reaction to it. It's a beautiful moment for these protests.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 12:42 PM on November 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


If Matt Taibbi isn't becoming our Edward R. Murrow, I don't know who is.

For an alternative view: Frank Miller addresses OWS (Warning: Frank Miller is Frank Miller Crazy)
posted by gwint at 12:42 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


When professional people get behind something, things tend to get done. Get lawyers angry and you'll get somewhere - and I don't believe for a second that a significant percentage of professionals who will always be comfortable are alright with what's going on at the moment.

You're right. Going to Wall Street is like asking Saddam to step down. He won't. Apply the pressure where it can help---to the indifferent people who agree in principle, but aren't really motivated to try to change anything. The enemy isn't the 1%, it's the X% who are content to let the 1% have it. Occupy suburban bedroom community housing developments and commuter train stations. (I'm only half-joking.)
posted by ctmf at 12:45 PM on November 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


Meanwhile, you're also invited to join the Silver Liberation Army, which gets some fiat currency diverted out of the mainstream into physical assets, which may or may not help you hedge against the outright theft of your remaining wealth by inflation.
posted by MikeWarot at 12:50 PM on November 13, 2011


ctmf makes a brilliant point.

Wall Street knows what keeps it in business and how it lives -- short-term survival instincts alone will prevent a meaningful response from within. And it would provoke a powerful response if subway stations were occupied. For once the protest occupies the personal space of the undecided, they will become decided very quickly as to whether they support or do not support this kind of action.
posted by nickrussell at 12:50 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I liked how occupy Vancouver had a kids area and programmes all day. It seemed a mellower, more inclusive space. When I brought my kids to occupy Toronto yesterday (in part to see the awesome yurt my union bought for them) I was disappointed to point out to my eldest that the demographics were almost entirely white men in their late twenties/thirties. It was not as "happy" a place, sadly, and there were no programmes although it was a Saturday afternoon. It did seem well run however.

As others mentioned, the more fragile members of society, the homeless/mentally ill, are very large part of who is there. That problem is being addressed in the GAs and through committee work. It reminds me of the geek fallacies, where an excluded group does does not want to exclude anyone. Which is great in a heart-warming way, but if my experience with collaborative consensus building is anything to go by, at some point, if you want to achieve things you need to focus on actions (usually by a small executive that has been empowered by the group) and save community building for another time. Right now they are split between what they want to accomplish and using a lot of energy dealing with individuals with mental/addiction issues who are looking for an inclusive community.
posted by saucysault at 12:51 PM on November 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


You're right. Going to Wall Street is like asking Saddam to step down. He won't.

That's exactly right . The Bankers are not going to step down but I don't think the point and message of OWS is really directed to the bankers. It's directed to the 99% who look at the protests and begin to think things like, "Hey there are others who feel the same as I do about this shitty economy" and "Hey maybe I'm not crazy and alone - look how many others feel the same way" and "Hey , maybe there's something I can do about it. Maybe I'll spend a couple hours here too".

I think that OWS is about countering the messages of Fox news and the Wall Street Journal and so much other media. I think it's about raising consciousness . I think it's about taking the very first step.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:52 PM on November 13, 2011 [11 favorites]


nickrussell:

I'd favorite your comment a thousand times if I could. Thanks.

Also, Frank Miller needs to be hit , and hit hard, in the pocketbook. Live by the sword, and all that.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:53 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think Frank Miller has gone a little crazy and has some chronic attention seeking problems, TBH. He's probably looking at the response to his rant with barely concealed satisfaction and muttering "Ha! See? I WAS RIGHT!"
posted by Artw at 1:01 PM on November 13, 2011


OCCUPY GOTHAM CITY
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:04 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The enemy isn't the 1%, it's the X% who are content to let the 1% have it.

But, but, I'm a hard worker, therefore I'll be a 1%er sometime! That's how it works, right?
posted by inigo2 at 1:09 PM on November 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


Jeffrey Sachs: The New Progressive Movement. As before in history, the moment has arrived when people just can’t take it anymore.
posted by homunculus at 1:09 PM on November 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


the apparent pressure to rid the streets of these people speaking their mind becomes overwhelming

I was waiting for the bus a few nights ago on the UW campus, and a contingent of something like 50-60 angry-looking, near-paramilitary-oufitted Seattle cops were on bicycles, following a group of twenty-thirty odd college-age kids who were holding up 99% signs and walking through campus. The police response to people exercising their right to peaceable assembly has been wholly disproportionate and troubling. But it can't happen here!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:16 PM on November 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


Warning: Frank Miller is Frank Miller Crazy

Holy batshitcrazy, old chums. Its like he thinks he's living life as the main character in one of his comic books.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:18 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


OCCUPY GOTHAM CITY

Don't be such a joker.
posted by jonmc at 1:19 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


*grrrr* where is that edit window again?

The 1% who can already edit their comments aren't going to just give the 99% an edit window. OCCUPY METAFILTER!
posted by homunculus at 1:21 PM on November 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


We must keep the bank transfer day meme running, a few million pulling out their fund reduces the "too big to fail" institutions fee revenues.

Doesn't it also reduce their deposit liabilities and overhead though? I've heard some people claim that if it weren't for laws requiring service, many banks would prefer not to serve small depositors at all.

I'm fully behind people taking their money and going where the fee structure is acceptable. I just wonder if this makes a real difference.
posted by weston at 1:21 PM on November 13, 2011


Hang on - is Frank Miller's problem that executive remuneration is our best weapon against "Islamicism", or is it that being angry at hippies is taking up time which he could otherwise spend being angry at Muslims, and angry rants by Frank Miller are the only things keeping America safe? Is Frank Miller's anger at Muslims a sort of psychic missile screen? Because I can't really see how people gathering in US cities would mean the terrorists had won.

All rather confusing.
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:21 PM on November 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


You're right. Going to Wall Street is like asking Saddam to step down. He won't.

Oh he stepped down in the end, though, didn't he just?

Occupy everywhere.
posted by spitbull at 1:23 PM on November 13, 2011


And what we really need is a mass movement to stop buying so much crap we don't really need.
posted by spitbull at 1:23 PM on November 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


And what we really need is a mass movement to stop buying so much crap we don't really need.

Give it a name and put it on a t-shirt.
posted by jonmc at 1:25 PM on November 13, 2011 [18 favorites]


Is this where I say how proud I am of Portland this morning?
And you are proud....why? Because a group of fairly directionless "protesters" (I use quotes because I've read many first-person interviews from Portland Occupiers stating that the camp was being infiltrated with homeless and runaways and other folks looking for a free meal and a place to sleep) defied an order to disperse and did so without mayhem or bloodshed?

Call me old and cranky and cynical, but quite frankly I envision the future of the Occupy Movement ending up like 99% of other previous "collectivism, we-are-all-one, down with the fascist corporations who prey on the lives of the people" movements....no matter what the initial intent, the whole thing ends up imploding. From Haight-Ashbury to the Weather Underground to the Symbionese Liberation Army to even the Peoples Temple and the Children of God, no movement has sustained or succeeded when it is so disjointed and disorganized. Just a few chinks in the OWS armor: No two protesters will give the same answer when questioned about their platform/goals or to explain exactly what they're protesting. Many don't seem to have any clue as to the Movement's specific beefs, they're just there to support their peeps. There have been many reports of sexual assaults in several camps, with the GAs in Baltimore, New York and Portland all suggesting such incidents to be reported to them (their specially-designed Sexual Assault Survivor's Support Team) before the police are consulted. All is not as united in The Cause as the Occupiers would have us believe. It will be interesting to see how the Occupy Movement is described in documentaries and text books 20 years from now.
posted by Oriole Adams at 1:28 PM on November 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


How is OWS being seen in the Mainstream Media these days? I heard the 'image' of OWS was getting worse after some of the unfortunate events at a couple of the camps -- which often have a lot of homeless people and so on.

Why does it matter if homeless are in the camps? In a way, being homeless is like a permanent, involuntary protest. They're still people, and their opinions still matter.
posted by JHarris at 1:37 PM on November 13, 2011 [23 favorites]


I've only been down to OWS a few times, and have only really made an effort to get involved this past week. I still have a lot of apprehension regarding the directionless nature of the movement. It's great that OWS provides a platform for people to voice their individual concerns, but cynic that I am, I have a hard time believing that's going to get anything done. That, and I am not a huge fan of the largely Rainbow Gathering nature of a number of the protesters—I'm young, and believe in protesting, and have fancied myself a hippie in the past, and I feel alienated by the crowd.

But I am trying to keep an open mind, and to see how I can fit into what's going on. As goes my pessimism: A lot of people down there might not be pragmatic, but that's precisely why, unlike me, they're willing to try things and take risks. Meanwhile, although I'm too chickenshit to step up and start something of my own, I have practical skills and tools that I can use to help others get the word out, and maybe launch their initiatives.

As goes the second count: the World Trade Center site is about a block from Zuccotti Square. This means that in addition to the tourists and protesters, there are hundreds of construction workers in bright yellow vests milling about. These are people who have seen their unions progressively weakened over the years, both by the government and by private interests. They are on and off furloughs, and I imagine their pension plans took a real shitty hit in 2008. If anyone falls kind of squarely into "the 99%," it's them. But I also imagine that, given that they're getting to work by 7 a.m. every day and busting their asses in the cold for hours on end, they want to take advice from a bunch of grungy hippies who don't seem to work for a living. I know that OWS has reached out to a couple unions, and the Zuccotti crowd was certainly more diverse in terms of race and age than I was expecting. But I would be thrilled to see more soccer moms and office workers and construction guys milling about the square. And so tomorrow, I am going to shower and dress reasonably tidy, and talk to a couple of the construction guys, just to see what they think. Because if my problem is that there aren't more run-of-the-mill middle class folks down there, and that there isn't enough outreach to the general public, one easy way to fix it is to show up and see what I can make happen.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 1:41 PM on November 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


From Haight-Ashbury to the Weather Underground to the Symbionese Liberation Army to even the Peoples Temple and the Children of God, no movement has sustained or succeeded when it is so disjointed and disorganized.

Well, it's done pretty well so far.

Just a few chinks in the OWS armor: No two protesters will give the same answer when questioned about their platform/goals or to explain exactly what they're protesting.

But they're still together, and still able to function as a cohesive group. Without a leader. That's pretty amazing right there.

There have been many reports of sexual assaults in several camps, with the GAs in Baltimore, New York and Portland all suggesting such incidents to be reported to them (their specially-designed Sexual Assault Survivor's Support Team) before the police are consulted.

Often these reports are used as a wedge to shut down the movement. Police are resorting to increasingly dirty tricks against these movements. Police moles don't seem unthinkable.

All is not as united in The Cause as the Occupiers would have us believe. It will be interesting to see how the Occupy Movement is described in documentaries and text books 20 years from now.

It's impossible to figure that out right now, because the story of the Occupy movements is on-going, and enlarging. If nothing else, these protests will be remembered in at least the same way as the Vietnam protests, the beginning of an awakening of many people's social awareness.

Some of the people down there will remember this as the best time of their lives. Honestly, I wish I could go.
posted by JHarris at 1:44 PM on November 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


From the article:
"We're all born wanting the freedom to imagine a better and more beautiful future. But modern America has become a place so drearily confining and predictable that it chokes the life out of that built-in desire. Everything from our pop culture to our economy to our politics feels oppressive and unresponsive. We see 10 million commercials a day, and every day is the same life-killing chase for money, money and more money; the only thing that changes from minute to minute is that every tick of the clock brings with it another space-age vendor dreaming up some new way to try to sell you something or reach into your pocket. The relentless sameness of the two-party political system is beginning to feel like a Jacob's Ladder nightmare with no end; we're entering another turn on the four-year merry-go-round, and the thought of having to try to get excited about yet another minor quadrennial shift in the direction of one or the other pole of alienating corporate full-of-shitness is enough to make anyone want to smash his own hand flat with a hammer."
A million times, this.
posted by JHarris at 1:47 PM on November 13, 2011 [22 favorites]


at this moment police are pushing peaceful protesters, dismantling camps, and threatening to use chemical agents
posted by Shit Parade at 1:50 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, on the other side of the political spectrum, there were scads of progressive pundits like me who wrung our hands with worry that OWS was playing right into the hands of assholes like Krauthammer. Don't give them any ammunition! we counseled. Stay on message! Be specific! We were all playing the Rorschach-test game with OWS, trying to squint at it and see what we wanted to see in the movement. Viewed through the prism of our desire to make near-term, within-the-system changes, it was hard to see how skirmishing with cops in New York would help foreclosed-upon middle-class families in Jacksonville and San Diego.

What both sides missed is that OWS is tired of all of this. They don't care what we think they're about, or should be about. They just want something different.


To be honest, this illustrates perfectly how, in my impression, OWS has essentially abandoned the '99%' message.
posted by Anything at 1:50 PM on November 13, 2011


sorry this is happening in portland, and is incredibly upsetting, i called the non-emergency dispatch of portland PD and they said they were following orders of the mayor.
posted by Shit Parade at 1:50 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


And you are proud....why? Because a group of fairly directionless "protesters" (I use quotes because I've read many first-person interviews from Portland Occupiers stating that the camp was being infiltrated with homeless and runaways and other folks looking for a free meal and a place to sleep) defied an order to disperse and did so without mayhem or bloodshed?

Um, yes. I'm proud to see a true act of nonviolent civil disobedience and a sane police reaction in a city I hold very dear to my heart, after watching the exact opposite of that happen in Oakland, another city I hold dear. I am proud of both "protesters" (as you call them) and police for keeping cool heads through a long night.

Finally, it's interesting to me that you use the word "infiltrated" when referring to the homeless and runaways in Occupy Portland. You can't be homeless and also a protester? Homeless people don't have the right to be frustrated with the system that contributed to their situation? From my experience spending time at Occupy Portland, the homeless are welcomed and taken care of, rather than rejected as they are in society at large.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 1:54 PM on November 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


And what we really need is a mass movement to stop buying so much crap we don't really need.

Give it a name and put it on a t-shirt.


Done.

Courtesy yours truly.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:56 PM on November 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


at this moment police are pushing peaceful protesters, dismantling camps, and threatening to use chemical agents

In what some might see as direct infringement of the First Amendment right to peaceably assemble.

I heard this piece on NPR on Friday about a previous encampment which was undertaken to change the system. The echoes and rhymes with the present day are remarkable. The differences are also stark, but it's not like encampments of protesters haven't been attacked by police or even the army before, even within living memory.

The system is entrenched and seeks to preserve itself. It's going to take a huge mass uprising or a lot of ugly incidents or both, the latter inspiring the former, before we see real change.
posted by hippybear at 1:56 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


But I'm beginning to see another angle. Occupy Wall Street was always about something much bigger than a movement against big banks and modern finance. It's about providing a forum for people to show how tired they are not just of Wall Street, but everything. This is a visceral, impassioned, deep-seated rejection of the entire direction of our society, a refusal to take even one more step forward into the shallow commercial abyss of phoniness, short-term calculation, withered idealism and intellectual bankruptcy that American mass society has become.
Well here's the problem. I would trust the movement and their potential high-profile allies like Krugman, Kristof and Spitzer to make sure that the criminals of the financial crisis are put to justice and to set up new rules so hundreds of billions don't just get swindled again, if that's what the movement set out to do. But I could never trust the movement to fix 'everything' that's wrong in this society.
posted by Anything at 1:58 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've read many first-person interviews from Portland Occupiers stating that the camp was being infiltrated with homeless and runaways and other folks looking for a free meal and a place to sleep

I love that the protestors are feeding and providing services to the people who are the most hurt by cuts to city budgets, yet this is brought up again and again as a way to try to discredit them.
posted by bradbane at 2:08 PM on November 13, 2011 [46 favorites]


But I could never trust the movement to fix 'everything' that's wrong in this society.

Yeah, and what are you doing to fix it? Something has to be done, however small, and by gum these people are out there trying something. You might respond "vote," well, nothing says these guys can't do that too.

Really though, the effect these protests will have is a lot more profound than whatever means will inevitably, eventually disperse them. The sense before was a shrug and a "what you gonna do?" Now, a lot of people who haven't heard their suspicions echoed much in the mainstream media have had their opinions validated. Even if the protests end tomorrow, because of that, it is just the beginning.
posted by JHarris at 2:08 PM on November 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I enjoyed Tom the Dancing Bug's recent take on OWS.
posted by fairmettle at 2:09 PM on November 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


Call me old and cranky and cynical, but quite frankly I envision the future of the Occupy Movement ending up like 99% of other previous "collectivism, we-are-all-one, down with the fascist corporations who prey on the lives of the people" movements....no matter what the initial intent, the whole thing ends up imploding.

"Young people speaking their minds; getting so much resistance from behind." Be sure to lift with your legs when backbiting, grandpa.

(I use quotes because I've read many first-person interviews from Portland Occupiers stating that the camp was being infiltrated with homeless and runaways and other folks looking for a free meal and a place to sleep)

Yeah, if there's ever a segment of society the economy doesn't touch, it's the homeless.
posted by rhizome at 2:10 PM on November 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


Criticisms are getting harsher and harsher these days in Canada, especially in Vancouver where only one (perhaps two) of our newspapers don't pander directly to the West End condo crowd.

They complain that $500,000 has been spent watching peaceful protesters bang on drums and feed/house people while 12 blocks away we have Canada's worst slum-zone. They complain that we have too many complaints while failing to address why so many people agree with us. Mostly though, I think the West Enders are complaining that the people who make them coffee in the morning are forcing themselves into a democracy which has long excluded them through party politics.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:11 PM on November 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Why does it matter if homeless are in the camps? In a way, being homeless is like a permanent, involuntary protest. They're still people, and their opinions still matter.
I didn't say it was a bad thing, but it's obviously going to increase the problem rate.
posted by delmoi at 2:15 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


But I could never trust the movement to fix 'everything' that's wrong in this society.

Strawman, don't you think? Why invent reasons not to trust them? And does "trust" play such a high-profile role in all of your political interests?
posted by rhizome at 2:15 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


The powers that be are spending a tremendous amount of money nation wide to quell these protests. If the protests continue it will bankrupt cities that are already struggling. By costing the system too much to support itself protesters will make it collapse.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:18 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I didn't say it was a bad thing, but it's obviously going to increase the problem rate.

The media will always find problems with the encampments when they want to. Doing as the Tea Party does, excluding people and harassing people that we think are diluting our image or hurting our reputation, will trample over the ideals of the movement.
posted by Slackermagee at 2:19 PM on November 13, 2011


live stream of occupy portland, the police will be firing tear gas very soon it seems.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:21 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


And does "trust" play such a high-profile role in all of your political interests?

Why? Of course. If I am to put in my time and effort and possibly my reputation in support of it, yes, I do need to be able to trust that it doesn't go to waste or, worse, end up harming me.
posted by Anything at 2:23 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


an image of a young man facing down an armed Soviet line and placing a flower into the barrel of one of the rifles

Um, actually that image was of a march on the Pentagon, on October 21, 1967. The protester with the flower was a guy by the name of George Harris. He died of AIDS during the Reagan administration.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:26 PM on November 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


I love that the protestors are feeding and providing services to the people who are the most hurt by cuts to city budgets, yet this is brought up again and again as a way to try to discredit them.

The protestors aren't feeding them, the largesse of those who donate funds to the movement are feeding them. They won't be able to rely on donations indefinitely.

And as far as the homeless and other disenfranchised types who have nowhere else to go, I'm not discounting their existence, I'm just saying if you put up a small tent community with warm sleeping accommodations and free food, these same transients would partake and join with your cause even if it was "We Stomp on Kittens!". That is to say, there are folks camping out with the Occupiers that are not particularly doing so because of the Cause, nor do they know or care what the Cause is.
posted by Oriole Adams at 2:28 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


And does "trust" play such a high-profile role in all of your political interests?

In fact I'm sort of curious as to why you even asked that question?
posted by Anything at 2:31 PM on November 13, 2011


So curious in fact that I appear to have already asked that.
posted by Anything at 2:32 PM on November 13, 2011


If the protests continue it will bankrupt cities that are already struggling.

do you really think a lot of those cities aren't going to go bankrupt anyway? - a few people protesting is nothing compared to the machinations of the financial elite as they squeeze the system dry
posted by pyramid termite at 2:42 PM on November 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


From TFA: The protesters, chirped Supreme Reichskank Ann Coulter...

I thought we didn't do this.
posted by gurple at 2:47 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm just saying if you put up a small tent community with warm sleeping accommodations and free food, these same transients would partake and join with your cause even if it was "We Stomp on Kittens!".

That is also meaningless. THIS protest exists, and whether they're hungry or not their interests are generally aligned with OWS. If there was no free food, would they still be there? Some of them would. It's impossible to say how many unless the food runs out -- and it's not like most of them have anywhere better to be.
posted by JHarris at 2:48 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


How many occupiers are in Portland?
posted by Think_Long at 3:04 PM on November 13, 2011


about 1,000, here is local live coverage
posted by Shit Parade at 3:06 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I am to put in my time and effort and possibly my reputation in support of it, yes, I do need to be able to trust that it doesn't go to waste or, worse, end up harming me.

That's kind of one of the things here, is that none of us can predict the future. I mean really, though, what's the real-world worry about harm, that OWS will wind up endorsing Michelle Bachmann or something?
posted by rhizome at 3:20 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


> a group of fairly directionless "protesters" (I use quotes because I've read many first-person interviews from Portland Occupiers stating that the camp was being infiltrated with homeless and runaways and other folks looking for a free meal and a place to sleep)

I can't speak to whatever interviews you're talking about, but having been at Occupy Portland last night through until about six this morning I can attest that:
- The "homeless and runaways" didn't "infiltrate" anything. The homeless and runaways were already there, and have always been there, in the parks and on the streets. They just weren't on TV before.
- The number of ostensibly homeless people I saw was an extremely, extremely small minority in a crowd populated by all ages, races, genders, and almost all economic classes.
- I assumed the location would be a beacon to the already-homeless, because why not, right? Free solidarity, protection, food, etc. But to my surprise even this didn't seem to be the case; the distribution of homeless sleeping in doorways etc across Portland was the same as it's ever been as far as I could tell; where you or I might have assumed they'd all have gravitated toward the encampments it hardly seemed to be the actual case that I could see.

From Haight-Ashbury to the Weather Underground to the Symbionese Liberation Army to even the Peoples Temple and the Children of God, no movement has sustained or succeeded when it is so disjointed and disorganized.

I don't know how to quantify "disjointedness" or "disorganization" so I don't know quite how we're comparing this to whatever we're comparing them to. From what I've seen there is a unity of vision and the movement isn't weakened by its 'leaderless' nature or its differences from other historical demonstrations.

Just a few chinks in the OWS armor: No two protesters will give the same answer when questioned about their platform/goals or to explain exactly what they're protesting. Many don't seem to have any clue as to the Movement's specific beefs, they're just there to support their peeps.

Everyone repeats this but nothing's convinced me it's anything but FUD. The same accusation could be thrown around when talking about any populist movement, it's not like there's some kind of demonstration census that can disprove it. Forbes (hardly an anti-Wall Street publication) did some actual polling and the results don't seem disjointed at all. Boots on the ground, I don't see this problem that you feel exists.

It will be interesting to see how the Occupy Movement is described in documentaries and text books 20 years from now.

That it certainly will.
posted by churl at 3:29 PM on November 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think we can already get a good handle on how it'll be referred to in Texas textbooks.
posted by JHarris at 3:32 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


OWS is, to my eyes, the first significant, self-sustaining nucleation of memetic vectors that significantly diverge from "the status quo" since the 1960s or so (the hippie movement). The summed vectors of protestor theses can easily be aggregated as "we grew up with Mr. Rogers and we want to live in his Neighbourhood." An egalitarian society of generous, kind, honest and friendly people who look out for each other while still respecting their individualities. We all grow up understanding Santa Claus was just a bit of behavioural leverage and few people have resentment about it. But just about everyone resents the fact that the "real world" is nothing at all like the friendly worlds of make believe that we grew up watching on television, learning about in school, and being told to conform to by our parents, teachers, elders and peers. Being a good citizen, being kind, being helpful, being friendly, all these things we were told were important are revealed, as we grow up, to be lies: the world doesn't work that way, and if you try to keep living those lies, you get steamrolled by people and companies who are more than happy to take advantage of your foolishness. And, of course, keep marketing it to us over and over in the form of movies, television and advertising.

Previous nucleations brought us suffrage, civil rights, and freedom of expression. It's too early to tell if this one will bring us campaign finance reform and/or something like a "Corporate Social Responsibility Act", but these seem to to be solidifications that might help ground the power that is energizing the vector.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:58 PM on November 13, 2011 [21 favorites]


I'm still convinced that a lot of the problems being protested by the Occupy movement could be solved by comprehensive campaign finance reform.

This is exactly the problem, but the solution is anyone's best guess. Lobbyists are everyone's favorite enemy, unless they're lobbying for something you agree with. And to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, like life, money finds a way. The way to stop this from happening is to seal the cracks before they happen, to prevent loopholes before they are ever possible.

Maybe it's just a matter of taking baby step after baby step and keep going. We can start by overturning the Citizens United decision, and march from there. Also, do western European countries have the same money in politics problem? If not, we can look at their laws and see what we can adapt for the United States. If some other country can in fact prevent money from politics, then so can we. Or we can at least start down that road, even if it takes us generations to finish.
posted by zardoz at 4:05 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


these same transients would partake and join with your cause even if it was "We Stomp on Kittens!"

Really? Really!? Just because you are poor and homeless doesn't mean you don't have opinions and values.
posted by R343L at 4:07 PM on November 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


I am reminded of an image of a young man facing down an armed Soviet line and placing a flower into the barrel of one of the rifles.

Maybe you're thinking of this picture (which was actually taken in the US, not the USSR). It served as a meme for protests elsewhere, a message about responding to violence with peace. It's a terribly hard thing to do - it's counter-intuitive - but it's very powerful in situations where the battle for public opinion is more important for the battle for any particular occupied place. There needs to be an alternative way of resolving these things besides the way things happened in Oakland.

Things really do look like they're heating up now in Portland (see the live feeds mentioned above), although not about to burst. After a standoff that lasted all night, and a temporary draw down as protesters and police left, many more are back now. You have a lot of tired people in the rain. Nobody can be enjoying this. I hope it goes as well as last night. Stay peaceful, Portland.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:08 PM on November 13, 2011


I've read many first-person interviews from Portland Occupiers stating that the camp was being infiltrated with homeless and runaways and other folks looking for a free meal and a place to sleep

A place to sleep? The monsters!
posted by formless at 4:14 PM on November 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


Re: twoleftfeet – Last night at Occupy Portland there were at least a couple guys handing out flowers to give to the cops. On my way out this morning, I swung past a small group of cops in riot masks and said, "Thanks – wish we could give you guys a raise." They laughed and wished me a good morning.
posted by churl at 4:23 PM on November 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


This is exactly the problem, but the solution is anyone's best guess. Lobbyists are everyone's favorite enemy, unless they're lobbying for something you agree with.

There are far more lobbyists for things I don't agree with than things I do. If we abolished lobbying entirely the net good would still be better than what we have now, and this is true no matter who you are. (In fact, some lobbying is not bad, even if I don't agree with it. It's just become way too outsized in influence.)

And to paraphrase Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park, like life, money finds a way.

This is because people need money to survive. If more were done for people to insulate them from the dire need for income, then money would diminish a bit in importance, because it couldn't be used as so strong a lever against them. The malign influence of money on the process would not go away, far from it, but it would be a start.
posted by JHarris at 4:31 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's going on in Portland right this second is very interesting, so I'm going to repeat the live link. The riot cops are there with tear gas, face masks down, tapping their batons, but the crowd just took a vote and decided to move somewhere else to avoid confrontation. They're trying to decide where to go to have an assembly so they can discuss where to re-occupy. This is happening without any obvious leader; it's being done by realtime consensus through voting.

The police don't have a similar collective decision-making process - they get get orders through radio or they make individual spontaneous decisions - and standing in front of an angry mob on very little sleep must be a nerve-wracking state of mind for individual spontaneous decisions. But It's harder for riot police to beat up on protesters when the protesters start a reputation for intelligently deciding to be nonviolent.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:33 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's just been announced that Portland State University will welcome the protesters. Portland may go the way that Seattle did... moving the occupation to a hospitable community college or university for the winter. I think it's a good idea, and I hope to see something like that in other cities.

Keep the protest alive in an educational environment. Because this is an educational process.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:49 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


David Brin presents a romanticized view of Athens in the pursuit of demolishing Frank Miller's romanticized view of Sparta.

You can see the logic - for all the faults of their democracy (most obviously, the witholding of the franchise from women, and the ownership of slaves in vast numbers), Athenian direct democracy has some points in common with the way Occupy has organized itself - and Frank Miller presumably sees the Occupy people as like the Helots, a populous but inferior race who need to be kept under tight control, lest they revolt and provide Spartamerica's enemies with a chance to attack a distracted foe.

Fun fact - according to Plutarch (a secondary source, it must be said) the Spartan Ephors declared an annual war on the Helots, during which time the Spartans could kill Helots without violating religious taboos against murder. That is, there was a literal as well as metaphorical war on the working class.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:31 PM on November 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


I hear a lot of people complaining that there are no concrete demands. To pack up the encampments and start acting like a normal protest. I think this is a fundamental understanding of what is happening and what could happen.

This is a creation of a counter culture. An inclusive counter culture that includes everyone who is disillusioned with the money funneling scheme called consumerism. Even the president calls us consumers in his speeches. No longer citizens.

The encampments are doing some radical things. Consensus decision making, providing food and shelter, peace keepers and free medical aid. If they can pull this off, they will spawn something long term and influential that fundamentally changes the world. Revolutionary, and if we do it right, it might actually be a relatively peaceful transition.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 5:39 PM on November 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


"If they can pull this off"

"If we do it right"

etc.,

if there are no concrete demands there is no "this" or "it" to pull off or do right.
posted by subversiveasset at 5:42 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Right now I think the demand is to let them excise their right to peaceful assembly and the use of public space to talk to each other and the larger public and figure out what they want.

Hey, I've got a great idea, they should totally incorporate as a corporation and take advantage of all those sweet corporate personhood rights! I bet they could get a bailout if they fail.
posted by saucysault at 6:08 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


*exercise

sigh, my comment would make more sense if I had bothered to proofread it before being dragged away from the computer by my toddler staging her own "occupy the living room past bedtime" event.
posted by saucysault at 6:14 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Goddamn, that's a powerful observation -- that there have been more arrests of OWS protestors than there has been of the criminals on Wall Street by a couple orders of magnitude. Massive police deployments, including severe beatings and life-threatening injuries, for a bunch of people that are daring to express frustration with the system, while the people committing fraud to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars snicker from their skyscrapers overhead.
posted by Malor at 6:18 PM on November 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


Fox Panel Bashes OWS As ‘Toxic,’ ‘Marxist,’ ‘Anti-Democratic And Un-American’
posted by homunculus at 6:31 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am reminded of an image of a young man facing down an armed Soviet line and placing a flower into the barrel of one of the rifles.

I think you mean this guy. You're thinking of "Flower Power", an iconic American photograph from the sixties.
posted by Phalene at 6:43 PM on November 13, 2011


You know why there aren't any demands? Because that implies negotiation. It implies, if forcefully, asking for something.

The OWS protesters aren't in the business, so to speak, of asking for something. They're not convinced of the legitimacy of the system we have now, for good fucking reason. You know what's anti-Democratic, Fox News? Regulatory capture! A hydra-like political duopoly, with two parties funded and controlled by the same people! And your screeching, incessant, pro-capital, ideologically incoherent, painfully sophistic, pro-cruelty, anti-rational thought propaganda.

The financial-political system we have now is blatant kleptocracy with a distinctly cruel and inhumane sensibility. There's good reason to question its legitimacy. And an illegitimate system deserves no respect, especially when attempts at negotiation are correctly perceived as totally futile. Billionaires are not (with a few notable exceptions) going to agree to share or sit idly by while their disproportionate and immoral social power is curtailed.

So, yeah, the OWS is not making demands. They want to make a new world, not ask for concessions from the grotesque farce that this one has become.
posted by clockzero at 6:46 PM on November 13, 2011 [28 favorites]


I find the anti-homeless but theoretically in support of OWS sentiments here appalling. You can't have a movement for economic justice, or claim to support a movement for economic justice, that excludes the economically worst-off, or fails to listen to their concerns and lived experiences. The assumptions displayed in these comments about motivations and about lack of political awareness and agency on the part of the homeless are blatant poor bashing.
posted by eviemath at 7:14 PM on November 13, 2011 [25 favorites]


So, one of the things that amuses me when I hear people, both here and in other media, complain about the vague and sometimes unfocused rhetoric from OWS et al. is that it often sounds like they've never had any interaction at all with actual local democracy, from city councils all the way down to anti-war groups.

I know I've bitched about it before, spending more time in a anti-Iraq Invasion group coming to a consensus about what toppings would be allowed on the pizzas than actually eating the pizzas. And serving on my housing co-op's board meant a myriad of ridiculous complaints, from getting upset about other neighbors painting their doors to allaying fears about forcing all the black people out. A few months ago, I went to a local parks workshop and was caught between people wanting to put a basketball court and swimming pool on 30 square yards of grass and a couple who wanted a huge statue to Bukowski ("Will it drink wine and vomit?" "That's a nasty rumor about him. He was frequently sober").

But part of that is that most people really don't have experience in autonomous government, don't understand how things function, and don't realize the vast amount of silliness that generally only requires a bit of patience to move beyond ‚ and that is magnified by using a consensus model for decision making. It truly does mean listening to everyone, even if their ideas are idiotic.

Another part of it is that people spend so much of their time in explicitly hierarchal organizations — mostly businesses — and so seeing these decision making processes bring out a lot of weird, ignorant judgment, fixating on the silly and ignoring both the serious results that can come of these assemblies, and the vast amounts of silliness and idiocy that come out in nearly every corporate meeting any company holds.
posted by klangklangston at 7:25 PM on November 13, 2011 [36 favorites]


Double seconding klang's comment. Also, a lot of that sort of negative experience with consensus-building decision making and actual democracy happens with participants who, themselves, do not have a lot of experience or practice with the process. In my experience, people get much better at focusing and not pushing their minor concerns on the group the more experience they have with consensus-based processes (for example, the more they've had to sit through other people who they didn't agree with doing the same thing, and realized how frustrating it is for everyone else). 'Course, skilled facilitation can go a long way toward keeping a consensus process on track and effective, while still ensuring that everyone's voice is heard and everyone's input is solicited.
posted by eviemath at 7:30 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apologies for a facebook link, but this open letter about the McGill University administration's response to recent student protests around tuition hikes, bringing in police who ended up violently arresting students, I think equally well applies to local politicians' responses to Occupy protests, and their use of police.
posted by eviemath at 7:33 PM on November 13, 2011


You know why there aren't any demands? Because that implies negotiation. It implies, if forcefully, asking for something.

The OWS protesters aren't in the business, so to speak, of asking for something. They're not convinced of the legitimacy of the system we have now, for good fucking reason. You know what's anti-Democratic, Fox News? Regulatory capture! A hydra-like political duopoly, with two parties funded and controlled by the same people! And your screeching, incessant, pro-capital, ideologically incoherent, painfully sophistic, pro-cruelty, anti-rational thought propaganda.

The financial-political system we have now is blatant kleptocracy with a distinctly cruel and inhumane sensibility. There's good reason to question its legitimacy. And an illegitimate system deserves no respect, especially when attempts at negotiation are correctly perceived as totally futile. Billionaires are not (with a few notable exceptions) going to agree to share or sit idly by while their disproportionate and immoral social power is curtailed.

So, yeah, the OWS is not making demands. They want to make a new world, not ask for concessions from the grotesque farce that this one has become.


[golf clap]

It didn't cross your mind that people use demands as a basis of co-operation in a political movement irrespective of whether those in power are willing to make concessions?

Jesus. Apparently any subject whatsoever can be turned into an excuse for a radical poseur cargo-cult activist rant.
posted by Anything at 7:37 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are far more lobbyists for things I don't agree with than things I do.

This can be fixed, if you're up to the task.

If we abolished lobbying entirely the net good would still be better than what we have now, and this is true no matter who you are. (In fact, some lobbying is not bad, even if I don't agree with it. It's just become way too outsized in influence.)

I have trouble believing there is any utopia on the planet where moneyed and powerful interests are not in control of the polity, regardless of laws used to assuage such fears. If you can't see the links, you probably haven't looked closely enough. One of the consistent, and most misguided ideas to come from OWS is the idea that money and power be kept from influencing the system. May as well ask for unicorn driven rickshaws to replace taxis in Manhattan. Not only is it never going to happen, this is one of the ideas that drives sympathetic realists away and hobbles the promotion of other worthy OWS issues. To say that money or power has corrupted the system is to completely misunderstand the nature of any political system. Money and power is the system.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:47 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's going to be so, so very interesting when, 25 years from now, most of these Occupiers will have married, had kids, bought houses and minivans, and they'll read the Time and Newsweek magazine 25th-anniversary retrospective of these OWS events. In those same future magazines (which won't actually be on paper, but the name will be the same), there will be stories about some other labor- and money-related protest, and the former Occupiers will wonder why the new protesters don't just go out and get jobs...?

Wait, sorry. I was thinking about the Summer of Love in 1967, and what it looked like 25 years later, in 1992, a couple of years before the world really changed. Not because of some dudes and dudettes in funny clothes. But how it always changes -- nerds diligently working on new technologies.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:50 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


eviemath, I hope I did not come off as poor bashing; what I have seen personally at the occupy events is some severely mentally ill people who are draining the resources of people ill-equipped to handle their complex problems. And the recent deaths/OD's/assaults have been used as an excuse to break up some sites as the community can not handle those problems on their own. The people at the sites who presented more "neurotypical" were wonderful though; one of the most important things anyone can do is use the privilege in their lives to reclaim basic rights for those unable to claim them for themselves.

I do think the mentally ill have a place in all parts of society but when consensus building as a group there is a point where making the personal political instead of recognising systemic problems becomes counter-productive. An inclusive environment should include everyone having the opportunity to speak, not letting one person with a personal agenda scream/rant over top of others speaking because they are not well enough to recognise others may have valid, but different, points as well.

And sadly, the optics DO matter. I had dinner a few nights ago with a large number of privileged left-leaning people. Although they supported many of the ideas they have heard from the occupy movement, as one of them remarked, "why is it the 1% you don't want speaking for you are articulating the concerns of the 99%?" They don't feel there is place for them in the movement because they are not radical enough.
posted by saucysault at 7:52 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I find it interesting that the word "theft" isn't mentioned by anyone other than myself when it comes to reasons to protest.

There were billions of dollars stolen, yes, stolen, in the traditional sense of the word... stuff that could be proven in court, beyond a reasonable shadow of doubt, if the Government weren't in the pockets of those they supposedly regulate.

The fact that this continues to escalate, and the derivatives bubble hasn't been mentioned at all, leads me to expect an even bigger pop at some point soon.

Unless aliens show up with working cold fusion reactors that can't be weaponized, We'll have 50% unemployment at minimum, and it will take at least an entire generation to get back to 1900 levels of prosperity.
posted by MikeWarot at 8:12 PM on November 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


rhizome: "Anything: If I am to put in my time and effort and possibly my reputation in support of it, yes, I do need to be able to trust that it doesn't go to waste or, worse, end up harming me.

That's kind of one of the things here, is that none of us can predict the future. I mean really, though, what's the real-world worry about harm, that OWS will wind up endorsing Michelle Bachmann or something?
"

No, just a waste of time ya see... Better to spend time arguing on the blue, surely that will create much more lasting change than going down to join a mass movement that has brought together people from unions, old vets, airplane pilots, Harvard professors, international philosophers and more. Better to joke and complain about dirty hippies and stinky homeless people...

Not that there aren't issues, any large body of people who form some sort of social organization will always, inevitably have issues -- because they're composed of messy, confused, non-omniscient creatures called humans who have desires, dreams, and sometimes those dreams clash, and sometimes they unite into something more powerful, and what we're seeing right now (well what I sure as hell hope we're seeing right now) is the process of emergence...
posted by symbioid at 8:24 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, one of the things that amuses me when I hear people, both here and in other media, complain about the vague and sometimes unfocused rhetoric from OWS et al. is that it often sounds like they've never had any interaction at all with actual local democracy, from city councils all the way down to anti-war groups.


Such an excellent point, it bears repeating. And it's true. If you only engage with any organization at the consumer end, you've been convinced that if it doesn't have an elevator pitch with five fast bullet points it's not worth listening to. Process has been all but lost, hidden behind a phalanx of PR reps and media managers. But this is exactly what it looks like - and should look like. Deliberative. Creative. Messy. Wrong sometimes. Flaky sometimes. Containing important gems.

I'm worried about winter. Specifically, what will happen to the demonstrations as the herd thins. It's not that I think the demonstrations are going to be where all the change happens, but they are an essential catalyst and each person sleeping out in last night's air (20s in Boston) is a representative for hundreds of us in support. They know they carry this symbolic weight - but there are, frankly, people who will and who have to leave when the snow starts to fall. What worries me about this is that camps with fewer people in them will find it much easier to make decisions, and a charismatic or energetic leader or two will find it much easier to cultivate a faction. After thinking this over after our visit to the encampment on Friday, I opened my New Yorker to read Hendrik Hertzberg, having got there well before me as usual:
For O.W.S., though, there is danger ahead. Winter is coming. The strategy of static outdoor encampments is straining the patience even of sympathetic mayors in cities like Oakland, where last week riot police stormed the site and a Marine veteran was left in critical condition. If the weather and the cops pare the numbers in the camps, it’s far from unimaginable that ideologues in the mold of the Old New Left—people for whom the problem is “capitalism” per se, as opposed to a political economy rigged to benefit the rich at the expense of the rest—could end up dominant. As it is, the Occupiers’ brand of romantic participatory democracy can too easily render their decision-making vulnerable to a truculent few. In the most notorious example, Representative John Lewis, the revered civil-rights hero, was prevented from speaking at Occupy Atlanta—not because the crowd didn’t want to hear from him (the great majority did, as they signalled, in the movement’s semaphore language, with raised hands and wiggling fingers) but because one man clenched his fists and crossed his forearms, thereby exercising a consensus-breaking “block.” A vegan filibuster, you might say. The pollsters tell us that Americans like O.W.S.’s essential message. They like the Occupiers, too—not as much as they like the message, but more than they like the Tea Party. But if the pressures of hypothermia, frustration, and correcter-than-thou one-upmanship converge to push them toward more provocative, less mellow forms of civil disobedience—“occupying” a nice warm state capitol building, for example—the messengers will mess up the message. And the public will cross its fists.
I'm not sure how to influence what happens here. It seems like it's time for some corollary meme to encampments to develop - living-room listening or discussion circles a la early Obama campaign, for instance. Or 99% forums at libraries. Teach-ins (I love the lecture series-es at the encampments. Fantastic stuff). Some form of grassroots-level community discussion in which - like the protestors - are not proselytizing for any ideology or stumping for any candidate, but looking straight on at the situation and talking about what it means for us. I don't have the concept but I am ready to try something.

I just hope the discussion expands. And for that, at least in a lot of North America, it has to come indoors as well as outdoors and come into the spaces of people who just aren't going to be part of encampments or marches, but who do get it, and do believe we need systemic change. There are plenty of such people and perhaps winter is really the time to mobilize this aspect of the movement. Otherwise, I fear it may fizzle, leaving us all even more dejected and powerless than before.
posted by Miko at 8:26 PM on November 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


Thanks for the clarification, saucysault.
posted by eviemath at 8:43 PM on November 13, 2011


when, 25 years from now […] the former Occupiers will wonder why the new protesters don't just go out and get jobs…?

The people I know who were radicals, or even progressively inclined, in the 60s mostly sound positively-disposed towards OWS today. Sometimes cautiously so, but they do see OWS as the kind of direct, populist attempt to improve the world that they liked before.

Wait, sorry. I was thinking about the Summer of Love in 1967, and what it looked like 25 years later, in 1992, a couple of years before the world really changed. Not because of some dudes and dudettes in funny clothes. But how it always changes -- nerds diligently working on new technologies.

Ask yourself: Why did it change the world in the particular way it did? The democratizing, decentralizing thrust of the Internet is entirely contingent on the way information technology was developed. It's not inherent in communications networks for it to go like this. The Internet came out the way it did because so many nerds working on new technologies had certain philosophies, ethea, ideals, and as they were making the myriad of tiny implementation decisions that, together, define how the technology will act, those ideals got woven into the infrastructure (and, if you'll recall the '90s and '00s, some had to be fought for every step of the way). And those ideals… a lot of them are pretty clearly descendents of ideological movements of the 60s. I'm not saying that the hippies were the true architects of the Arab Spring by way of Twitter; I'm saying that they promulgated certain ideas, made them widespread flora of the memetic soil, and without those ideas in the background as the Internet was coming together, it could easily have come together into something else entirely, and affected the world in a much different way.
posted by hattifattener at 9:00 PM on November 13, 2011 [16 favorites]


hattifattener, you just made me feel so much better about my mid-90s net utopianism. it's not all in vain.
posted by symbioid at 9:04 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Goddamn, that's a powerful observation -- that there have been more arrests of OWS protestors than there has been of the criminals on Wall Street by a couple orders of magnitude. Massive police deployments, including severe beatings and life-threatening injuries, for a bunch of people that are daring to express frustration with the system, while the people committing fraud to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars snicker from their skyscrapers overhead.

yeah, power kinda works like that. it has the resources to protect itself. that the wrong people are persecuted is both outrageous and completely unsurprising.
posted by ninjew at 9:10 PM on November 13, 2011


They just arrested some people at Occupy Tulsa. No shit.
posted by twoleftfeet at 9:25 PM on November 13, 2011


I'm still convinced that a lot of the problems being protested by the Occupy movement could be solved by comprehensive campaign finance reform.

Well that is a lovely dream that I'm sure a lot of people have had.

The other night I watched John Stewart interview Pelosi and she told the truth as if it didn't matter and then upon repeatedly seeing Stewart's look of consternation she applied the platitude response which only made Stewart realise he was talking to a bot.

At the start if the interview she is proud of the House having 40% approval rating under a Democrat vs the 9% under Republicans now. Stewart is like are you serious? You think 40% is a pass? and it's clear she does.

Then Stewart brings up the Volcker rule and how it was improved so impressively by the House that it was disowned by Volcker? And Pelosi says the Volcker rule was a very good idea and that's what we should focus on. And then she interrupts Stewart's probing to label it as something only Washington insiders are interested in. Stewart begs to differ and is bringing up Dodd-Frank as an additional example of good ideas gutted but Nancy wants to make sure Stewart isn't confused. She does NOT WANT to talk about laws but about ideas and core beliefs.

Stewart asks is Congress corrupted by money. Pelosi physically retreats from the table and then changes the subject to the supercomittee. It is just bizarre to watch.

What do I take from this exchange; obviously the supercomittee is made up of the MOST corrupted members of each party. Pelosi can't help revealing it when she feels threatened; You think Congress is corrupt don't look at me, look at the supercomittee.

I'm not from the US but it looks like you have no representative government. Your system is cooked and you got a banana republic.
posted by vicx at 9:42 PM on November 13, 2011 [14 favorites]


"May as well ask for unicorn driven rickshaws to replace taxis in Manhattan. Not only is it never going to happen, this is one of the ideas that drives sympathetic realists away and hobbles the promotion of other worthy OWS issues. To say that money or power has corrupted the system is to completely misunderstand the nature of any political system. Money and power is the system."

That's fairly well nonsense of a pernicious and vacuous sort.

What sympathetic realists are being driven away if they don't believe that money corrupts politics? Money amplifies the effects of factionalization, something that even the radical leftists behind the Federalist Papers warned against. And what would having these theoretical "realists" accomplish, if they don't agree with the basic premise that money in politics is corrosive and anti-democratic in its distortion of discourse and legislation?

This nonsense is pernicious because it seems plausible enough and appeals to laziness and apathy, and because it serve as a justification for the current unsustainable system. It also makes unsupportable claims about "the nature of any political system," justified in only the arrogance of cynicism — claiming that "money and power [are] the system" is as empty as saying that people are the system. It's simply the sort of thing you hear from conservatives who don't know what they're talking about and are uninterested in learning.
posted by klangklangston at 10:36 PM on November 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


To be fair, vicx, Stewart was being kind of an obtuse idiot during that interview. He continually interrupted Pelosi and played his over-used Incredulous Populist Comedian Anger card, which is super-boring when you have an actual high-ranking member of Congress sitting opposite you willing to answer questions. For someone who rightly makes fun of Herman Cain's three-page-bill speech, it was disingenuous of Stewart to complain that the Volcker bill was too long.
posted by migurski at 11:13 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Having visited Occupations and prOtests in several cities now, I can tell you there are lots of old people in this thing, it is not just youngsters.

The actual campers and marchers are but the tip of the spear...they are being supported by many many more people. Certain actions, like the "general strike" march in Oakland, will bring tens of thousands of people out in the streets. No doubt the winter will chill the movement for some months, but then it will come back even stronger.

The most interesting thing about the movement is its uneasy alliance between pro-capitalists and anti-capitalists. The latter are being very accommodating to the former, aware that soon the angry liberals will get educated and join the revolution. At the least, we are seeing the formation of a Popular Front.

As to demands, I quote the letter to OWS from the occupiers of Tahrir Square: "We are not protesting. Who is there to protest to? What could we ask them for that they could grant?"

As to the people who need the movement to be tidier and more coherent before they will get involved: this is not a commodity manufactured by others for you to consume, it is something you have to make for yourself.
posted by bonefish at 11:29 PM on November 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


It will be interesting to see how the Occupy Movement is described in documentaries and text books 20 years from now.

I think what's actually fascinating about the Occupy Movement is less what it might accomplish in the short term, but what it's doing for the political consciousness of participants who are going to go out and live their lives with that experience behind them.

Sure, some of the 60s protesters became middle-class baby boomers vaguely dissatisfied with their lives. But many of them went on to found organic food stores, become teachers and labor organizers, and otherwise incorporated their experiences into what they became. I know that for myself, the experience of the Wisconsin protests this spring was galvanizing politically in a way I had completely forgotten could happen. Many of the people involved have been turned into completely different people. We have two or three people in a small group here running for state assembly now who would never have remotely considered that level of involvement. At least one of them, I'm certain, is a shoo-in -- and I'm really jazzed thinking about what that is going to mean. When you see it happen to individuals you know, or barely knew, and who had so little political consciousness before, it's almost mind-blowing. That is surely happening to at least a subset of the Occupy Movementarians. Even if their local Occupation fizzles, they'll have made new local networking connections and discovered new skills and new leadership talent among themselves. The fruits of this will be felt in numerous unpredictable ways, for years to come.

Or we can at least start down that road, even if it takes us generations to finish.

Realistically, we must realize the struggle will never end.
posted by dhartung at 11:50 PM on November 13, 2011 [12 favorites]


... sometimes they unite into something more powerful, and what we're seeing right now (well what I sure as hell hope we're seeing right now) is the process of emergence...

That quote makes me reach back to my old systems theory years, "if a system reaches disequilibrium, it fibrillates -- and then it must die or change into a new form." It is not a stretch to say our world is in disequilibrium -- on so many levels. Why is it so hard to say that we simply don't know what is happening and we can't model anything yet? (And that we don't want to die?)

I believe this is what the Occupy mirrors - not knowing, not being able to even guess; just responding to the emergence of something very powerful. And the 'hints' and forces change every day (every minute).

I am one of the non-young people at Occupy. Also not-camping, but I am there. There are many of us. Each of us is different. Do not try to 'catagorize' us. Unity does not mean Uniform.

Yes, I dislike the ones in Occupy who use violent words and actions. But, I have to accept 'autonomy' -- that is, what they do, they do autonomously. They are not me; they are not Occupy. I do not have to stand next to them when they get clubbed by the police. We all make our own choices.

Yes, I worry about this high compassion for the homeless/impoverished in the Occupy camp -- because it also is extended to those who cause harm; yes, there are people who are predatory and dangerous in the camp. But then I have to ask myself ... aren't they, too, are a part of the world (unless I believe in capital punishment or exile for them)? I am watching to see how this will play out for the campers. I hope they do better than the rest of us have so far. I don't have any answers.

No, I am not interested in anything political anymore. It is all an illusion. I know there will be many who will work out the details of the next world - the ones who like rules and laws and politics and such. It will be a while before they can really begin. I am more interested in the *being-ness* of now -- I want to monitor the tone, the health. I check for resonance.

No, we are not going away. Camps may fall; arrests will be made, but more will come. Occupy is not one movement. There is more to come.

And so, for now, I am just watching the emergence. Hugs, applause and twinkle-fingers for those who try to live kindness, compassion, patience, trust, honesty, diligence and wisdom. Gentle questions and nudges for those stumbling along not quite living up to their ideals - we all drag some of the old ways with us. It isn't easy.

Occupy may be seen as a new world for the young, but it is built on the love of the grandmothers. We are on it.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:31 AM on November 14, 2011 [10 favorites]


People want concise demands from OWS? Ok, I can speak to that.

UNFUCK THE WORLD.
posted by loquacious at 1:58 AM on November 14, 2011 [14 favorites]


Also the whole idea of "Occupy Harvard" just seems kind of hilarious. Not really much of a "99%" place.

...unlike Wall Street?
posted by baf at 4:56 AM on November 14, 2011


It's going to be so, so very interesting when, 25 years from now, most of these Occupiers will have married, had kids, bought houses and minivans, and they'll read the Time and Newsweek magazine 25th-anniversary retrospective of these OWS events.

Part of the reason that people are occupying is that this isn't true, isn't it? There used to be a social contract that said if you went to school and generally behaved, you'd be able to get a job that would pay you enough to have a home and a family. Now, the 1% have discovered that they can get even richer if they destabilize employment and destroy the housing market.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:32 AM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Okay I promised myself I was going to stop thinking about OWS but I just want to make two comments here:

1. re: UNFUCK THE WORLD

When I see statements like this as protest goals and signs, I honestly can't tell if it's making fun of OWS (used sarcastically, such as "IT'S SIMPLE GUYS, ALL WE GOTTA DO IS UNFUCK THE WORLD HUR HUR HUR") or pro-OWS (such as earnestly "FUCK YEAH, UNFUCK THE WORLD! CUZ IT'S SURE FUCKED RIGHT NOW!")

When I have seen that as a completely earnest sign in a march or where-ever it makes me say "urg" and want to leave, because I know that the majority of people present are likely to agree with it, myself included, BUT- my thoughts are that the point of holding up a sign is to show it to outside people and gain credibility and agreement from their 'side'. I don't think it's a helpful statement that will a) bring attention to a problem that needs fixing or a goal that needs to be accomplished, and b) attract supporters of various political leanings who might feel the same way or start to think about feeling the same way. Which is how I personally gauge a good sign/slogan/statement. Which is very obviously not how general OWS-ers gauge them. Which is a big factor in why I've stopped going to the camp daily, because I'm not agreeing. (I really support any efforts made to talk me out of this.)

2. Whoever said their friends think OWS is not radical enough. What. It's the "system's fucked, overthrow it" stance that lots of people on the ground have that is turning off tons of people. Many of the individuals that are there have no desire to appeal to others or cross partisan boundaries. There's little desire to work with the existing political system - I floated the idea of setting up a voter registration booth with a number of people and not a single person there thought it was a good idea. One guy I talked to on the internet who wanted to work with me on it eventually backed out because he didn't think it would fly at the camp. More people thought it was a bad idea and wanted to argue with me about how it was against the philosophy of the movement. Sure, fine, ok, I'll go play somewhere else.

I also thought it might be a good idea to start a focus group on being more inclusive politically, i.e. some kind of outreach group that would talk to new people and tone down the radical and extreme liberal language in order to distill the message and possibly attract supporters. There's outreach groups for women, minorities, religions, etc, so why not political diversity? But in my experience most of the outspoken people there don't seem to want to move in a bipartisan direction. There's no way I would have found anyone to help me with it, or that an assembly would pass the formation of such a group. Granted, this was a few weeks ago, and maybe things have changed since then. But I'm back to doing nothing (as opposed to "showing up") and not really feeling any better about anything.
Fine, maybe my own goals for the movement are not in line with the movement. That's OK with me, I can try and find other organizations to get involved with. But there's definitely a political "type" there, and it's kind of blocking the traction of gaining the interest of any other "types."
posted by ghostbikes at 5:45 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anything: Well here's the problem. I would trust the movement and their potential high-profile allies like Krugman, Kristof and Spitzer to make sure that the criminals of the financial crisis are put to justice and to set up new rules so hundreds of billions don't just get swindled again, if that's what the movement set out to do. But I could never trust the movement to fix 'everything' that's wrong in this society.

Ask not what your country this movement can do for you - ask what you can do for your country this movement.

The goal of 'fixing everything' can be defined in more than one way, and I think the way you're defining it doesn't really mesh with the way OWS defines it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that you expect OWS to come up with a detailed and comprehensive party platform that addresses and fixes everything. You doubt their ability to do this (rightly so, imo), and you assume that you'd probably disagree with a number of specific details contained in said platform, anyway.

As an aside, this also seems to me to be a common mistake made by those criticizing the 'movement' for its lack of concrete, stated demands.

To me, 'fix everything', as it applies to the goals of the OWS, includes items like 'educate the public', 'shift the window of political discourse', 'unite the disenfranchised', 'spread the power of direct democracy' and 'get money out of politics'.

The point I would make here is that if the movement achieves success in a number of these areas, it will have moved this country closer to the goal of 'fixing everything'. In a sense, the movement is aiming not at the symptoms (e.g. prosecute the bankers) but at the roots of the problem.

Back to my first sentence - if OWS is about direct democracy and educating the public, that means you're invited to become active and help shape the movement via direct participation. I invite you to do that, rather than confine your 'involvement' to armchair quarterbacking.

To repurpose another famous quote: "you get the politicians political movements you deserve".
posted by syzygy at 7:17 AM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Anything:

[golf clap]

It didn't cross your mind that people use demands as a basis of co-operation in a political movement irrespective of whether those in power are willing to make concessions?

Jesus. Apparently any subject whatsoever can be turned into an excuse for a radical poseur cargo-cult activist rant.


Sure, that crossed my mind. But I think you're missing my point: the people in power, politically and financially, are clearly unconcerned with the well-being of anyone not in their socio-economic class, first of all, and second, the corrupt interlocking system of money and power they've created is lacking in legitimacy, so "asking" for anything is sort of ludicrous. Do you ask someone who assaults you to not hit you quite so hard? In other words, asking for and receiving "concessions" would legitimate an illegitimate power relation.

And I honestly have no idea what your phrase "radical poseur cargo-cult [!] activist rant" is supposed to mean. I'm not sure it means anything.
posted by clockzero at 7:23 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


dhartung: "Realistically, we must realize the struggle will never end."

Krugman recently mentioned that he came to this conclusion recently. It was depressing to hear, but it's true.

Really, while I hate to say it, it does go along with the fascist conception of "perpetual war"...
posted by symbioid at 8:42 AM on November 14, 2011


ghostbikes: Which is a big factor in why I've stopped going to the camp daily, because I'm not agreeing.

First, I'd like to thank you for showing up daily in the past. I can't, because I'm an expat, but I sincerely appreciate the efforts of those who do.

Then I guess I'd say the way to ensure that the movement remains controlled by a specific "political type" is if other political types don't get involved and stay involved. Or: democracy is messy.

Giving up on the movement seems to me akin to refusing to vote. Rather than giving up, I'd entreat you to find like-minded OWS supporters and work together with them - be the movement you want to be.

Whoever said their friends think OWS is not radical enough.

Take heart - I believe you misinterpreted what was being said here. The quote from saucysalt: They don't feel there is place for them in the movement because they are not radical enough.

I took this to mean that the left-leaning types were complaining that they felt there was no room in the movement for them because the movement is too radical.

I say, 'take heart', because I believe that there are other like-minded progressives out there who support many of the ideals of the movement, but who also feel the movement is, over all, too radical. The best way for these people to address this issue is to band together get involved in the movement. Offer a level-headed counterpart to the hot-headed idealism.

Write up some flyers about voting - include information from "Third Parties Don't Work" and pass them out. The entire "Who Rules America" website is a goldmine of statistics, studies and educational resources for budding progressives. Share links to it whenever you get a chance. Educate, band together with other progressives who are on your wavelength, stay involved and help shape the movement into something you want to be a part of.
posted by syzygy at 8:51 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was going to let it pass without comment, but I guess it needs to be responded to.

Realistically, we must realize the struggle will never end.

This is really not the case. These is reason to believe this fight will end, eventually. It's just not sustainable on their end. And stating that there will never be a true end to a fight is, in its own way, a justification for never trying to win it.

Some form of struggle will always be with us, but that's just the nature of struggle. A really bad thing, like slavery say, persists for a long time and is struggled against. Then, it's defeated, either gradually like the manoral system or in a sudden stroke, as did slavery. Once it's gone, over time it becomes unthinkable it could ever happen again. This is the progress of civilization, the long slow perfecting of man, the arc of the moral universe that bends toward justice.

Really, while I hate to say it, it does go along with the fascist conception of "perpetual war"...

No, it doesn't. Perpetual war ("We have always been at war with Eurasia") was an excuse used in Nineteen Eighty-Four for a ruthlessly authoritarian government to unilaterally justify its actions. There is no authoritarian entity here seeking to maintain power. Plus struggle is not the same thing as war; in a war, anything goes. Struggle can afford to be more measured and disciplined, and often must be, in order to remain true to the principles being fought for.
posted by JHarris at 9:13 AM on November 14, 2011


"radical poseur cargo-cult [!] activist rant"

For those who are confused by this line, I think I understand the phrase, as it actually made sense to me and made me laugh upon first reading it.

The phrase plays upon the ignorant imitations that pacific islanders did in forming the original cargo cults. They imitated the dress and mannerisms of the foreigners, believing that the act of behaving in the manner of those who they saw as more powerful, they would achieve the same powers. The comparison to many of the "radical" leftists of today who spout all the right words, but ultimately have no real understanding of the meaning, nor the original context of the phrases. Just because you talk like the other radicals does not mean you truly can know what you are saying, thus you are (hopefully) a poseur, not actually advocating the deaths of people for their differing beliefs. And actually, it should probably be the zealot, not the radical that we are focused on. Radicals actually have a plan most of the time, and actually do things like live the way they preach, etc, etc. A true Vegan is a radical. In politics, though, it's the zealot that is generally more of a threat. A zealot can repeat all the right phrases and dog whistles and get people nodding their heads when they hear the grand words and ideas being regurgitated verbatim, and once they start nodding their heads, it's easy to get them repeating the slogans, and once you have a good chant going, the crowd, en masse, stops thinking and simply repeats the words until, bam, you have a cult like atmosphere where any dissenting thought is ridiculed and pushed out and your cult can truly focus on it's true purpose (generally the will and whims of the leaders of the cult).

Of course, this is just what I get from the ridicule of OWS and many of the Occupy movements. The clear lack of understanding that the dangers of the radical (in reality, the zealot) is something that is hardwired in our being and is so easy (it seems at times, though in reality it takes some 'right place, right time' and motivation) to exploit to personal gain. "fool all the people some of the time" isn't just a pithy one liner. And the one thing that I can see is that people do not have a plan, and don't want a plan. A lot of people in OWS just want a fight, or just want to vent, or just want to relive that feeling they had at their first anti-(insert cause here) rally, or want to make everyday a day at Burning Man (I know I would love that). But realisticallly, this is going to come down to who has the biggest and farthest reaching influence. And baby, it ain't the radicals, or the zealots. It's going to come down to the marketers, the ones who studied how everything really works, and who know mass psychology and triggers and emotional narratives. They are going to win this fight, unless people fight back. I swear, I would love someone to invent the magic sunglasses from "They Live" so people could see the real world, with the simple narrative stripped away. I know Timothy Leary thought he had the answer for it, but sadly it was too much of a wild card to be effective. And people aren't machines. You can't just flip a switch and they'll suddenly realize how they are constantly lied to, and how they constantly lie to themselves, and that we, as humans, are hardwired in some ways to do this, but are also conditioned to this response and it can be changed and rewired, but you have to know what it is you are rewiring. The Buddhists and the Taoists kind of know it (if they are actually from a Buddhist culture, Westerners are kind of only getting the ritual, not so much the core, from my observations), and it's part and parcel with their "religion", if you can even call it that.

And I've gone on too long, and this is a silly little rant anyway (so I'll keep going). I agree with OWS (and have agreed with them since I can remember, decades before they started to gather in the streets), but I can also see why people dismiss them, or want to, or need to, because they see the same things happening to this movement that happened in the past. You are going to get some leaders from this movement, and some of them might be a Paul Krassner, or Anita Hoffman, but you will just as likely end up with a few Valerie Solanas' or (yes, yes, cliche, I know) Charles Mansons. And that is something that needs to be addressed. (And now, DAQ will perform a grand historical Godwin'ing of his own comment). Hitler did not rise to power because everything was hunky-dorry in German society. He rose to power because there was unrest, shittly economics, and horrible fiscal shenanigans going on (also, localized and slow media/fact checking stuff, but that's just a time and place issue). Most people thought his message had the right tone and emotional content and made them feel good to hear someone saying what they already thought. Echo chambers and all that rot. But OWS scares people (and me, frankly), not because of what they say that I agree with, but with what they say that EVERYONE agrees with. I question my own rationality constantly, because I know I am not always rational. But does everyone? And when everyone agrees with something, does that make it "right" (as in correct)?

So yeah. Don't be too harsh when someone calls it like they see it. A "radical poseur cargo-cult [!] activist rant" may seem like some kind of slight, but really it's asking you to check your rationality and whether you really mean to align yourself with ideals that really mean a violent overthrow of our society and our government, etc, etc. I joke about "first against the wall..." type things all the time, but you know who will likely be first against the wall? Anyone who doesn't agree with whoever emerges as a leader in this mess. And that's why a real Representative Democracy is a good idea, and direct democracy is simply the will of the mob, and it frightens those of us who don't like mobs, don't like being surrounded by other people and feel put upon in situations where the will of the many seems so horribly irrational and the will of the individual is subsumed by irrationality instilled by the mob.
posted by daq at 9:59 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Giving up on the movement seems to me akin to refusing to vote. Rather than giving up, I'd entreat you to find like-minded OWS supporters and work together with them - be the movement you want to be.

Absolutely agree. It might have to be transgeographic, too. It might not happen in the camps, but can still align with the movement in a way that is not necessarily place-based. Also, are there teach-ins/lecture programs at your camp? Because this is a way I see of having an extended chance to make an argument or a case for a particular methodology of change. I also completely agree that political change is absolutely what OWS needs to result in - that's everything from a change in who is registered (or allowed to register!) to vote, to who actually exercises that option, to who is elected, to how they can raise money, to the monitoring we do of them, to the legislation they enact. There actually is no way - no way at all - to change the balance of power, our representatives, our criminal justice or our economic policies without using the political system, local to national. There is no such way.

On the other hand, let's say a lot of people who are almost in support of OWS but can't quite connect are out there, as people seem to feel. Great, that's a ton of low-hanging fruit. How do you get those people together - again, maybe not physically - but how do you get those folks into a network for common action that doesn't involve, say, dismantling the capitalist state or living in a squat and dumpster diving for food? It may not be that we all need to be an in OWS encampment - it may be that the movement needs to develop arms that reach into a greater diversity of communities.
posted by Miko at 10:10 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


" There's little desire to work with the existing political system - I floated the idea of setting up a voter registration booth with a number of people and not a single person there thought it was a good idea."

Aww, man, that's a shame. It might be my biases talking, but I tend to think voter registration (and the subsequent voting) are almost always good things, if insufficient in themselves (I do get pretty annoyed with people who tell me that voting against prop 8 was all they needed to do in order to help LGBT equality). Which Occupy are you at? If you're at the LA one, I'll come down and support you.

Like someone upthread, I'd recommend making up some broadsheets or 'zines and handing them out. Give the people something to read, and you can get a more complex argument out than just by trying to do things through the general assembly.
posted by klangklangston at 10:11 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I am one of the non-young people at Occupy. Also not-camping, but I am there. There are many of us. Each of us is different. Do not try to 'catagorize' us. Unity does not mean Uniform."

One of the things that I think is kind of an interesting parallel is the other headline-grabbing decentralized protest movement — Anonymous. There's no one who speaks for either, really. Just a lot of individuals who all agree something is a problem and are doing something about it. (Caveat: I'm a total moralfag.)

I'll also say that it's kind of funny at work — I'm back working for Equality California, so am surrounded by young activists — that I'm one of the more conservative folks who works there. It's because while I'm a socialist (or social Democrat), I'm not nearly as anti-imperialist. But I'm more likely to condone self defense, especially against police brutality. There are several of my coworkers who think it's much more powerful to be seen taking a beating from the police than using any sort of force in resistance.

But then, I'm also reading Regis Debray's Revolution in the Revolution, to remind myself what really radical works look like. This is a book full of excoriating criticism for anyone to the right of Lenin, along with the self-righteous reification of revolutionary theory in the strict Bolshevik sense (hell, he's even still mad at Trotsky). By comparison, OWS isn't radical at all. They may be anti-capitalism and have some sympathy and potential for radicalization, but the number of people who would criticize Menshevik positions as corrosive to the revolution is vanishingly small.
posted by klangklangston at 10:34 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think the concept of "Perpetual War" in fascism was necessarily about war on an external front. Not to derail the thread - but for some reason I was under the impression that as a philosophical viewpoint there was this conception of "Eternal Struggle" not just between states but in society as a whole and in the inner human "spirit" or essence of being.

As opposed to a Marxist conception of a finalized Utopian Communist society, the Fascist says this can never be attained.

I'm obviously not an expert and my reading may be completely wrong, but in a sense, to me it is similar to the division of a greater and lesser jihad in the sense that both are struggles, and the lesser jihad is the violent state political social order, and the greater jihad is the jihad within. This struggle goes from all directions, from above and below -- the "Totality" if you will.

Again, if anyone has better information on this I'd love to hear. That said it's quite well known that Fascism as initially espoused was clearly not the Fascism that Mussolini ended up engaging in. That is not to defend the original conception of Fascism, either, but merely to point out that just like Communism became corrupted in the Soviet Union and Capitalism is corrupted in the US, Fascism was corrupted during Mussolini's reign. Hell, there were Nazis who opposed Hitler and had a more Socialistic element. Strains of Nazism that compared to Hitler were probably more like Mussolini's Fascism.

But I digress. Carry on with the topic at hand!
posted by symbioid at 10:38 AM on November 14, 2011


"radical poseur cargo-cult [!] activist rant"

daq Thank you for that info re: radicals vs. zealots -- and I agree, that the Zealot is definitely one of the things that has been evident in the movement here. I find myself having to back away in shock every once in a while. Then when I return I usually find that the effect of the zealot was dissolved, neutralized and people are moving on. He/she is not expelled, btw. I am still not sure how it happens, but each time it does, I feel like the experience was another 'vaccination' against this disease of following a 'voice'.

The clear lack of understanding that the dangers of the radical (in reality, the zealot) is something that is hardwired in our being and is so easy (it seems at times, though in reality it takes some 'right place, right time' and motivation) to exploit to personal gain.

Perhaps THIS is what the movement is really about? Recognizing the dangers in ourselves first? I am finding myself wrong on my fears -- over and over. I feared the violence, I feared the 'mob rule', I feared the 'exploitation' -- everything you have stated.

I have not stopped fearing (and thank you for Godwin'ing, because, god knows, I have always feared fascism of the Third Reich order in this country!). But here's the rub. OWS - Occupy is an open system.

Anyone can stand in the middle of Occupy and listen, talk, be heard, be respected, and contribute. You have to be a bit thick skinned and persistent. There is no central command, no welcoming committee, no front desk. You have to walk up and start talking to people -- pushing your way into their circle as though you belong there .... because you DO. You just have to enter as though you are entering a new country.

You see, the words "cargo cult" tweaked another image for me. I see so many people outside Occupy talking about what they want to bring to the movement, how they can improve it, what those people need to DO. It reminds me of the 19th century missionaries in the Pacific. Back then the smart ones (there were a few) learned very quickly that they had more to LEARN than to teach these 'backward' people. The others imposed their culture. Yes, it may have been with good intentions, but history has not viewed them well, and the loss of those cultures has just recently been seen as a global loss.

Another image: A well-meaning woman showed up at one of our marches and was talking to some of us about how she could contribute with her skills as a public relations specialist. She had great skills, amazing background ... and as she rattled off ideas about brochures, media contacts, PSAs, campaign ideas, networking and had three pages of printed material for us. I just went blank. I felt bad for her; it was as if she were speaking another language and didn't even know it. We just took her handouts and thanked her.
posted by Surfurrus at 11:15 AM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


There are several of my coworkers who think it's much more powerful to be seen taking a beating from the police than using any sort of force in resistance.

I'm one of those people, klangklangston. And, I like what Zizek said about Gandhi and Hitler: Gandhi was way more violent because he was demanding the destruction of a whole system; Hitler was just using one for his gain.

So, in that sense Occupy is violent -- and because of that, it requires a new way of being human -- to be able to do the kind of destruction envisioned. Of course, I believe that the destruction is actually an implosion and is going to happen IS happening with or without Occupy. And I have great concerns about the 'isms' to follow.

I am very glad people are discussing "what next", but I don't think any "isms" we have now are at all useful in the interim. Whatever we do to get ready for the future, I believe the most important piece is to throw away the damaging beliefs of our present -- starting with "the ends justify the means." It never does; it never will. If we cannot BE what we are working toward, there is no hope.
posted by Surfurrus at 11:26 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Surfurrus,
Thanks for understanding my own little brain droppings.

The one thing I am constantly reminded of when people talk about the OWS being an "open" movement, etc, etc, is from a Robert Newman show called "A History of Oil." He did this show several years ago and it's up on youtube so anyone who wants to watch it can go do so (link). The part that was important to me was towards the end, I believe. He talks about how he started trying to get involved with political committees and would go to the nearest Alpha leader type he could find and just start telling them all his ideas and how they should do this and that and some other thing. And each time the person would look at him and say "ok, cool, good idea. Go ahead and do that." And then it would confuse him, because they expected him to do something. And after several times talking to people about what they should all do something finally clicked in him. They were sayiing "Good idea, Go ahead and do that, and we'll show up." They didn't want to be leaders, they didn't want to be led, they wanted him to DO, and they would support him DOING something. It was that simple yet so strange and so against what our consumer/passive culture ingrains into us. You don't have to think, just buy X product and it will do it for you. In effect, there is this odd mentality that if you simply passively buy something and wear it to show you believe in something, that's all you have to do. But OWS seems to be much more about "everyone participate", writ large. I like it for that aspect. I fear it if that goes away.

And yeah, anyway. Brain has not unwound. More later, I suppose.
posted by daq at 12:05 PM on November 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Interesting coda to this discussion.

From cmtf last evening...
Occupy suburban bedroom community housing developments and commuter train stations. (I'm only half-joking.)
Quite the prognosticator:

[On Thursday] The protesters plan to march to Wall Street from their camp headquarters in a park two blocks away and then spread out across the city's subway system to tell the stories of disenfranchised Americans. [link]
posted by nickrussell at 2:16 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


>. . . it's extremely difficult to explain the crimes of the modern financial elite in a simple visual. The essence of this particular sort of oligarchic power is its complexity and day-to-day invisibility: Its worst crimes, from bribery and insider trading and market manipulation, to backroom dominance of government and the usurping of the regulatory structure from within, simply can't be seen by the public or put on TV. There just isn't going to be an iconic "Running Girl" photo . . .

Even if you can capture it in a visual, that won't be enough. A simple visual is just like a slogan - shallow. But the mention of visuals reminds me of the emphasis on visuals and spectacle in Chris Hedges' Empire of Illusion, which has a final chapter that I found very informative about how exactly how, historically, the US government has sold out to corporations, and while a simple rewind of each change might not be possible, it gives some substance as a starting point. I am sure other people know even better resources for understanding the mechanisms of the gutted US state and how they might be changed.
posted by Listener at 4:09 PM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Occupy Chapel Hill Anarchists Raided by SWAT Team...
:\

They knew it would happen, of course.
posted by symbioid at 7:22 PM on November 14, 2011


Occupy Chapel Hill Anarchists Raided by SWAT Team...

When public space is occupied, they use tear gas and rubber bullets. But when even long-abandoned private property is occupied, the regular guns and assault rifles come out.
posted by parudox at 10:02 PM on November 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think the concept of "Perpetual War" in fascism was necessarily about war on an external front.

SIGH. I like how you're comparing OWS with fascism when they're entirely peaceful, and the police, who are actually agents of the government are a hell of a lot more brutal than they are.
posted by JHarris at 10:19 PM on November 14, 2011


JHarris - I'm ON the OWS side, and I'm not making any sort of analogy, so please don't take my stances here on "perpetual war" and the issue at hand (dealing with an authoritarian order of finance capitalism) and the police state.

I was merely commenting on the issue of "the battle never ends" -- Paul Krugman posted his epiphany about this. I think it's relatively common. I was never trying to make some sort of analogy w/Occupy as "Fascists" (and I'd hope by now you 'd know this about me ;))

Anyways, hope that clears it up. I <3 Occupy and I want them to succeed.
posted by symbioid at 9:29 AM on November 15, 2011


Woman Gets Jail For Food-Stamp Fraud; Wall Street Fraudsters Get Bailouts
posted by homunculus at 12:52 PM on November 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


Update to this: Federal Judge Pimp-Slaps the SEC Over Citigroup Settlement
posted by homunculus at 1:09 PM on November 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Not sure of the best location for this, but since it made me love the Occupy folks just a little bit more, I chose this thread. I give you, Aquapy Lake Merritt--I can see these guys outside my office window. The banners have come down because the wind was catching them and the raft was spinning like a top. It looks kind of cold and miserable, but it is attracting attention and without hurting anyone--a good thing, I think.
posted by agatha_magatha at 1:33 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


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