Skip

West Coast Port Blockade
December 13, 2011 10:30 PM   Subscribe

On Monday, the Occupy Wall Street movement disrupted ports in its West Coast Port Blockade.

Several larger participating occupations were Oakland, Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego, Seattle, Tacoma, and Vancouver (previously). There were solidarity marches is various non-costal cities and Denver blockaded a Walmart distribution center.

There were significantly fewer participants than on November 2nd, but deliveries were interrupted and many longshoremen stayed home, effectively shutting down several ports for a shift or two. America’s port truck drivers issued an open letter on occupy the ports via cleanandsafeports.org.

Al Jazeera asks "Is it time to occupy the highways?"

Relevant twitters : #Dec12, #portshutdown, #ows, #occupyoakland, #occupyla #occupyportland, #occupyseattle, #occupyvancouver
posted by jeffburdges (210 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
At the Port of Houston, the police erected a tent around protestors who were chained together while they arrested them.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:34 PM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]




So TV shows scruffy, collegey upper middle class kids blocking blue-collar, union guys from working, and this helps how?
posted by msalt at 10:51 PM on December 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


msalt, you might want to read the open letter.
posted by flaterik at 10:55 PM on December 13, 2011 [24 favorites]


I forgot the Occupy Houston tent video "protestors being handled in private"

Also, Scott Olsen led nearly 1,000 people marching back to the Port of Oakland on Monday evening.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:55 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


SFGate had some interesting write-ups on the Oakland events from other perspectives—during the blockade ("I don't even know what their movement is. All I know is, I'm losing a day's wage."), post-blockade ("The people doing the shutdown are looking at the big picture, and they made their point, but I hope they never try that stunt again."), and the next front, foreclosures ("We are in possession of this house and planning on not going anywhere," said one Occupier after being informed that a local couple had invested their savings into a months-vacant property currently in escrow).
posted by red clover at 10:57 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Occupying a WalMart distribution center? finally a protest I can get behind. fuck WalMart. if you're angry about wealth disparity and unemployment in this country you definitely should be mad at a giant corporation that has ravaged our manufacturing base.

i'm wondering if the people occupying the ports can see the irony in their protests. you should be protesting to stop the arrival of goods that were made somewhere else for far cheaper, thus eliminating their need to be made here.
posted by ninjew at 11:00 PM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Unions in Vancouver have withdrawn their support for Occupy Vancouver port blockade.

The B.C. Federation of Labour, whose union members work at the port, said earlier this week it didn’t support the blockade.

Union president Jim Sinclair said while the union supports the wider Occupy movement, it didn’t believe blockading the port to be a good way to engender public support.

posted by KokuRyu at 11:01 PM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


fuck WalMart.

I like Wal-Mart because, as a single-income household, it helps stretch our dollar. Same for a lot of other low-income families out there.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:02 PM on December 13, 2011 [5 favorites]




flaterik: read it. Doesn't change anything, though. A vaguely appointed committee of 12 is upset about their non-union trucking jobs. OK. That doesn't change the incoherence of this action.

How about something positive and more economically targeted, say a Free Geek style collective in some area other than computers, say bicycles? Or, if you want to defy police, how about fixing up foreclosed houses and helping carefully selected homeless families move in?

Here in Portland, on NPR news, the best rationale an Occupy spokesman could give was "well, we got on TV, so that was cool." Not really, unless the mass public agrees with your action. Shutting down the ports is not exactly comparable to challenging segregation at a lunch counter or on a bus.
posted by msalt at 11:12 PM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't know what comes after the port shutdown. And that's ok.

The ILWU workers in Oakland went home with pay once it was determined that crossing the picket lines would cause a health/safety hazard. The truck drivers, yeah they lost a days pay. I fully support a strike fund for those guys the next time that was a failure on the movement's part.

But don't tell me that a one day Occupation is the cause of the truck-drivers hardships. We didn't cause their ongoing indentured servitude.

But what we did was show people all over the country how easy it is to put a thumb on the carotid money artery of the ones who did.

That's what we accomplished. Planting that seed in the consciousness of the disaffected.

And while there were scruffy, collegey upper middle class kids at the Port of Oakland, there also were parents with children, elders, sound trucks bumpin dubstep, Hip hop groups singing "I ain't Oscar Grant / You don't gotta shoot me in the back!", hardcore bands playing, and us in the "bike bloc" rollin quickly from gate to gate as rapid-response.

Just sayin.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:13 PM on December 13, 2011 [25 favorites]


I like Wal-Mart because, as a single-income household, it helps stretch our dollar. Same for a lot of other low-income families out there.

This prisoner's dilemma stuff sounds all fine and good in a college classroom, but after you have kids and a job and vet bills and all that sort of stuff, just going to fucking Walmart to pick up some cheap milk and eggs gets real attractive.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:14 PM on December 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


Yes, because actions which are rational to the individual can still have a negative collective outcome.
posted by mek at 11:18 PM on December 13, 2011 [31 favorites]


Several larger participating occupations...

Occupy Tacoma looked to be about 30 people and they decided to do an informational picket rather than trying to shut anything down. They mostly had signs that said "Occupy Tacoma Supports Port Workers" and the like.

Thanks for the 12 reasons to shut own the Port of Oakland link. I've been trying to figure out the motive for shutting down the ports beyond a general blow to commerce. I think a couple of the reasons are crap but it was nice to see something.

The main problem I have with these shutdowns is that they hurt the workers far more than they hurt the companies they're intended to. You would have to shut down the ports for a long time to make a dent in Goldman Sachs and the like; longshore and truckers not so much (though I am curious how a strike fund for truckers would work).
posted by The Hamms Bear at 11:25 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


sound trucks bumpin dubstep

Ok, the movement has gone too far.

Seriously, I can't think of current genre of electronic music more white and middle class than dubstep.


Occupy Wubstreet!
posted by formless at 11:27 PM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Can't we all just settle, calm down, and just sit here for a minute, think about things, forget about our troubles, the economy, entrenched political machinery, brutal wars, just for a second, maybe a little longer, we could sleep under the stars, just for a change, get away from routine, have a little rest, a rest from the bills, the job applications, the chores, we could set up camp, watch birds, talk, think things over,-- Oh shit cops!
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:27 PM on December 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


but after you have kids and a job and vet bills and all that sort of stuff, just going to fucking Walmart to pick up some cheap milk and eggs gets real attractive.

The fact that we live in a society that people like you have no other choice but to shop in a place as destructive and wretched as Wal-Mart is a big part of why we occupy,

Because while Wal-Mart fucks over nearly everyone who deals with them somehow, six Walton family heirs control more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans. We're at what, 300M total?

The fact that the system is so abusive and so stacked is why we occupy. The only thing they care about is the money. So we fuck them in the money. Choke them off, if only for a day. Only message they'll hear. But we showed them how easy it was. We caused the port operators and their Vampire Squid owners millions of dollars in lost revenues.

Easy. Bring music and snacks, and it's even fun.

They political system is bought and paid for and voting makes not the least lick of difference. No one is listening, no one in power is inclined to change the things that make the few so obscenely rich while screwing over so many.

Hella Occupy Everywhere.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:30 PM on December 13, 2011 [58 favorites]


I've gleaned from the accounts that broadly speaking this round of blockades depended largely upon the longshoremens' unofficial support.

Any organized labor that doesn't recognize the benefits in flexing its muscle might be bought. Hey Jim Sinclair!

As an aside, American unions should consider refusing to transport anything for BAE Systems. Such a selective protest might make a particularly influential muscle flexing.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:35 PM on December 13, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ok, the movement has gone too far.

Seriously, I can't think of current genre of electronic music more white and middle class than dubstep.


The #OO L.R.A.D. played the classics when we marched up to support Occupy Cal.

I don't much like dubstep either. I was bumpin Danko Jones, The Commitments, The Getback at my gate.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 11:37 PM on December 13, 2011


sound trucks bumpin dubstep, Hip hop groups singing "I ain't Oscar Grant / You don't gotta shoot me in the back!", hardcore bands playing,

That's a great way to win over the general public scruffy, collegey upper middle class kids. And lose elections.
posted by msalt at 11:38 PM on December 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


This prisoner's dilemma stuff sounds all fine and good in a college classroom, but after you have kids and a job and vet bills and all that sort of stuff, just going to fucking Walmart to pick up some cheap milk and eggs gets real attractive.
"Yeah this prisoners dilemma stuff sounds all fine and good in a college classroom but after you and your associates have been picked up with 10 pounds of Bolivia's finest ratting them out gets real attractive."

I don't really understand people whining about OWS messing up people's day. The banks and corruption in DC mess up someone's day every day. The idea that you can have major social change without inconveniencing anyone is insane. Do you really believe it's possible to reform society with a "Free Geek Collective" whatever the fuck that is?

If you don't think OWS should be doing this, what should they be doing instead? And more importantly why aren't you doing it? I have a lot more confidence in anyone actually doing something then a bunch of nit-pickers on the internet complaining about other people not doing it "right", and worrying about "image" - OWS isn't running for office.
Hip hop groups singing "I ain't Oscar Grant / You don't gotta shoot me in the back!", hardcore bands playing,
That's a great way to win over the general public scruffy, collegey upper middle class kids. And lose elections.
Like I said, OWS isn't running for office. Also I hadn't realized that shooting Oscar Grant had been politically popular in Oakland, do you have some polling to back you up here?

I just saw this video of a talk by Lawrence Lessig about what he think needs to be done. He proposes a constitutional convention, basically as a way around getting congress to act.
posted by delmoi at 11:40 PM on December 13, 2011 [51 favorites]


But what we did was show people all over the country how easy it is to put a thumb on the carotid money artery of the ones who did.

What effect did this have on share prices? You seem very certain of its significance so I would like to examine the numbers.
posted by anigbrowl at 11:45 PM on December 13, 2011


> I don't really understand people whining about OWS messing up people's day. The banks and corruption in DC mess up someone's day every day. The idea that you can have major social change without inconveniencing anyone is insane.

Man, I totally had my ride home work (at my new job I just started after taking longer than I thought leave from my last job) interrupted by the Occupy Portland protests that resulted in this photo. But by inconvenience, I mean I had to walk to the #20 bus line to get a ride home, because the lightrail which was blocked by the protestors the police had pushed into the street had to stop until the line was clear.

But I was glad for that delay. Some people were grumbling, but whatever, an accident on I-84 here makes everyone's day worse than something like citizens demanding a responsible government.
posted by mrzarquon at 11:48 PM on December 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


I felt the same mixed feelings as many about the Occupy the Port protests and I'm very supportive of the movement overall (I was at Occupy LA the night of the eviction deadline). It just seemed like a wrecking ball tactic when I feel something more laser precision-like is more effective and likely to engender support. Compare:

Occupy the Ports (wrecking ball) hurts Goldman Sachs a (teeny) bit but most definitely hurts workers and small business more than anybody else. I worked in logistics for a bit before grad school and most of my day was spent helping small business owners figure out how they were going to get their goods into the country through the ports of LA/Long Beach, how much it would cost to get them here, and most importantly WHEN they would arrive. I've witnessed firsthand how delays don't hurt the big corporations. They plan for stuff like port shutdowns or typhoons in China and have a nice cushion of money to make it annoying, but not a big deal. Small business owners? They would call me multiple times a day in absolute terror when there was a strike somewhere in India that had the potential of delaying their goods. For many of them a delay of a few days was make or break. These small business owners are the ones that are supposed to be offering the lions share of jobs, right?


Occupying Illegally Foreclosed Homes (precision) hurts the banks and really only the banks. Also, as long as the homeowner is a good candidate (not somebody who took out a 2nd mortgage to buy jewelry with no intention of paying anything back) it is hard for much of the public not to support something like this. Good PR! Stick it to the banks! Most importantly, continuing to change the dialogue which I believe has the most potential to actually make lasting change. A change in dialogue begets a change in policy, I hope.
posted by Defenestrator at 11:51 PM on December 13, 2011 [8 favorites]


This prisoner's dilemma stuff sounds all fine and good in a college classroom, but after you have kids and a job and vet bills and all that sort of stuff, just going to fucking Walmart to pick up some cheap milk and eggs gets real attractive.

Q.E.D.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:51 PM on December 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


Seriously, I can't think of current genre of electronic music more white and middle class than dubstep.

That's kinda funny, because it started 100% as black music in black clubs in London. It's only been the the last couple of years that white people had even heard of it. Did you think Skrillex and Deadmau5 invented it or something?
posted by empath at 12:00 AM on December 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


He proposes a constitutional convention, basically as a way around getting congress to act.

1) Have the present laws been followed? Are your courts free of corruption? If the present laws aren't followed and the courts are not corrupt - why will a new system correct these items?
2) What makes anyone think such a convention would not be controlled by the same forces OWS are Oing WS over?
3) The constitutional convention is called for by many Libertarians. (ya sure ya want to ally yourself with the pro CCers?)
posted by rough ashlar at 12:02 AM on December 14, 2011


Like I said, OWS isn't running for office.

Which is exactly the problem. The people who run this country are. You know why Obama has been stymied in so many ways? Because the Tea Party converted the attention brought by direct action (disrupting town hall meetings) into election wins for Tea Party supporting candidates. Even though most of them won primaries and lost general elections, it scared Republicans into uncompromising positions, because they know some Christine O'Donnel nutcake will beat them in the primary if they don't.

If the Tea Party had instead kept looking for for more government meetings to disrupt, Obama would be riding large majorities to unprecedented changes.

The first stage of OWS was a great success. People know the energy and anger is there. But if this keeps being about fighting police forever, a large majority will grow to hate the movement, the opportunity will be lost, and Republicans will increase their power. Which is exactly what happened with anti-Vietnam War protests in the late 1960s. Followed by -- Nixon, Ford, and Reagan.
posted by msalt at 12:09 AM on December 14, 2011 [10 favorites]


msalt, you assume that the economic situation today is stable like it was at the end of the 1960s. It's not. The antiwar movements fangs were drawn by the end of the draft. All the nice white college kids could go and get middle class jobs. Some minorities took advantage of that with affirmative action, though systematic problems with the economy meant African Americans as a whole did worse, economically.

The middle class after the 1970s had flat wages, but they made up for it with debt. No more of that on the horizon for most people, who are loaded up with housing, credit card and student debt.
posted by wuwei at 12:13 AM on December 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


What effect did this have on share prices? You seem very certain of its significance so I would like to examine the numbers.

This looks like G-S stock dropped around Monday. But I'm a bartender, so I have no real idea what the it truly implies.

No, #D12 was not a decisive blow to the 1%. Far from it. But this is not going to be an overnight struggle.

And if we are indeed looking at years, if not decades of struggle to reform the society that is so stacked against us and in favor of the already rich and powerful who stay that way by maintaining the status quo, then maybe its a victory for people to see how easy mass action is.

We can vote all we want, blah, blah, blah. What happened to the Public Option in the healthcare debate once Chicago Hope made it to the Oval Office? He seemed to be in favor of it on the campaign trail.

What? Are you telling me that once in office, politicians go back to their whoring ways and sell out the people who voted them in in favor of the river of money that flows from the corporations and their 1% masters? Shit, if I thought that were the case I'd lose close to complete faith in the electoral process and would be out blockading ports out of sheer frustration at seeing nothing but green lines of code dropping in every direction, no matter who I vote for.

:-\

As George Carlin said about so-called Freedom of Choice in America:
"Jellie beans? 32 varieties. Political parties? media outlets? Not so much choice. The important choices, the choices that matter, kinda already laid out for you. Your choice is paper or plastic."
I'm open to ideas about ways to fuck them in the money. Very big on foreclosure defense myself, went out on one that ended up being aborted the next day because th owner backed out.

La lucha sigue
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:14 AM on December 14, 2011 [14 favorites]


Mr Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey I like your style
posted by adamvasco at 12:19 AM on December 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


Which is exactly the problem. The people who run this country are. You know why Obama has been stymied in so many ways? Because the Tea Party converted the attention brought by direct action (disrupting town hall meetings) into election wins for Tea Party supporting candidates.
The tea party was bought and paid for by Fox News, the Koch brothers, and people who employed Dick Armey. Of course it was 'successful' it was an artifact of the current system. It was just a re-branding of the republican party that had been run into the ground by the bush administration.
2) What makes anyone think such a convention would not be controlled by the same forces OWS are Oing WS over
Lessig actually says it should be done by a randomly selected Jury.
posted by delmoi at 12:31 AM on December 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


(though I am curious how a strike fund for truckers would work).

Proposal goes before the Occupy Oakland General Assembly to the effect that:
-We acknowledge that the truckers, indentured servants among the most abused on a daily basis by the port operators and their Vampire Squid owners, will take a financial hit by a day (or more) of blockade. The ILWU workers get paid if the union arbitrator rules the pickets are a health/safety issue and they get sent home w/ no shift.
-We set up a Truckers Strike Fund, get back accounts, accountability boilerplate, blah.
-We solicit donations to the strike fund, explaining that it will go to help the truckers who take the hit worst.
-Truckers who suffered a financial loss submit a request detailing that they were shut out of a days pay due to the blockade preventing them from delivering/picking up an otherwise scheduled load
-Each trucker then gets 1/x of the total fund. Maybe not enough to cover a whole day's pay. But something.

Something like this would pass the OOGA with 90% easily. And Oaklanders not inclined to march would quite likely toss a few bucks at a "Help us cushion the truckers while we fuck G-S in the money hole" fund.

That's the high-level summary. I'm sure there are union folk out there already well-versed in how to operate a strike-fund.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:33 AM on December 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


You know why Obama has been stymied in so many ways?

Because even with a supermajority in the Senate, the things liberals want can't pass under our current system.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:39 AM on December 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


The antiwar movements fangs were drawn by the end of the draft. All the nice white college kids could go and get middle class jobs.

I don't think that's accurate (I've done research on this). First, nice white college kids had draft deferments, and joined the National Guard (George W. Bush) when they ran out. Second, the draft ended in December 1972, but public opinion was heavily anti-demonstrator as far back as the 1968 Democratic convention. Nixon ran as anti-war and anti-draft in 1968 but changed his position once the tide of opinion went against demonstrators. The war lasted until 1974.
posted by msalt at 12:40 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Because even with a supermajority in the Senate, the things liberals want can't pass under our current system.

Exactly the attitude that Fox, Koch, etc. want you to have, because it's doomed to failure. What do you think you're going to do? Win a military fight against the police? Jim Morrison and the Jefferson Airplane sang about the coming revolution in 1968, too. How'd that work out?

PS liberals never had a supermajority. A broad Democratic party including Ben Nelson etc. barely did.
posted by msalt at 12:43 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Each trucker then gets 1/x of the total fund.

During the early days of the occupation, at least one city's Occupy movement solicited donations explicitly for repair of the park they were camping on, and is now arguing over whether to actually turn over the money. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, I'd be skeptical about that last step.
posted by red clover at 12:52 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Exactly the attitude that Fox, Koch, etc. want you to have, because it's doomed to failure. What do you think you're going to do? Win a military fight against the police? Jim Morrison and the Jefferson Airplane sang about the coming revolution in 1968, too. How'd that work out?

PS liberals never had a supermajority. A broad Democratic party including Ben Nelson etc. barely did.


You asked what stopped Obama, the answer is the Senate in which liberals had already produced as much electoral success as they can. Nelson and Lieberman or not, you aren't using OWS to get better numbers.

A new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows that the "Occupy" movement has failed to capture the attention of a majority of Americans, indicating either ambivalence toward it or lack of interest.

So...good look using it to get 60 Senators.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:55 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


OWS' apparent strategy:

1. Disrupt daily life.
2. Massive media attention.
3. ????
4. POLITICAL REFORM!
posted by msalt at 1:08 AM on December 14, 2011 [7 favorites]




I don't think OWS is about electoral politics (a.k.a the Democratic/Republican merry-go-round). I believe that OWS is more about transforming the society we live in...

Talking about Obama or the Tea Party et al. is missing the point, IMO.
posted by nikoniko at 1:09 AM on December 14, 2011 [11 favorites]


Occupy the Ports (wrecking ball) hurts Goldman Sachs a (teeny) bit but most definitely hurts workers and small business more than anybody else.

Provably untrue. In a capitalist system, employment is an exchange of money for services. In such an exchange, the business owner, who is the one offering the exchange by virtue of controlling the capital, must thus logically receive at least as much value as that of the employed receives in pay, or else they would not employ them at that wage.
posted by JHarris at 1:13 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


OWS' apparent strategy:

1. Disrupt daily life.
2. Massive media attention.
3. ????
4. POLITICAL REFORM!


And the msalt plan?

1. Disrupt daily life.
2. Massive media attention.
3. Elect more Democrats, which will at best claw the party back to not as many seats as they had in 2009.
4. ???
5. POLITICAL REFORM!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:15 AM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


JHarris - Provably untrue. In a capitalist system, employment is an exchange of money for services. In such an exchange, the business owner, who is the one offering the exchange by virtue of controlling the capital, must thus logically receive at least as much value as that of the employed receives in pay, or else they would not employ them at that wage.

Huh? I'm not entirely sure how what you said refutes my assertion that truckers and small businesses are those most damaged from a port strike.
posted by Defenestrator at 1:20 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sure there are union folk out there already well-versed in how to operate a strike-fund.

posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 12:33 AM on 12/14


Seems like some Occupyers are pretty selective about how and when they want to use the expertise of the working people's movement.
posted by univac at 1:28 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


What is the alternative to relying on our elected officials? I, sitting at my computer desk typing on Metafilter and going to work and school every day cannot really enact political reform in the nitty gritty way. I don't have the time, I don't have the expertise, and I don't have the authority vested in me by being voted into office by a large group of people.

What can I do? I can talk about what I want to see from my government, I can protest when I don't feel we're governing ourselves properly, I can do my best to change dialogue and influence opinion. I can tell my politicans what I want. This may not sound like much, but I think it has power.

This whole "greater than electoral politics" thing does not make sense to me. Unless you have a (feasible!) grand new framework for governing this country of 200+million then the best shot we have is working with the electoral system that we've got. We may be able to enact change from within, but talking as if the cause is "greater" than the political system means that we'll be marching and protesting in circles on the periphery.
posted by Defenestrator at 1:36 AM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Exactly the attitude that Fox, Koch, etc. want you to have, because it's doomed to failure. What do you think you're going to do? Win a military fight against the police? Jim Morrison and the Jefferson Airplane sang about the coming revolution in 1968, too. How'd that work out?

PS liberals never had a supermajority. A broad Democratic party including Ben Nelson etc. barely did.
Then, What exactly is your plan? Can you explain how inaction is better then action? How would one go about getting needed changes implemented without actually doing anything?
Huh? I'm not entirely sure how what you said refutes my assertion that truckers and small businesses are those most damaged from a port strike.
Mathematically, a profitable employer must be hurt more, in dollars then their employees by a work stoppage. The problem with this analysis is that the marginal utility, for an individual, of a dollar decreases as you get more of them.
What is the alternative to relying on our elected officials?
So, what exactly happens if you can't rely on your elected officials? What should you do then? Just sit on your hands and accept the current situation as hopeless?
I can do my best to change dialogue and influence opinion. I can tell my politicans what I want. This may not sound like much, but I think it has power.
Can you give a recent example where that has been successful?
posted by delmoi at 2:09 AM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


and Denver blockaded a Walmart distribution center.

God damn I love Denver!
posted by hal_c_on at 2:18 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, what exactly happens if you can't rely on your elected officials? What should you do then? Just sit on your hands and accept the current situation as hopeless?

Get rid of them and elect new officials. Convince other people to elect the people you're voting for or supporting. If you don't want to do that what other option do you have aside from armed rebellion?

Can you give a recent example where that has been successful?

Repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell is one of many decisions that my elected (California) senators made based on the opinions in their state. People in California generally supported this action and a portion of them probably called or wrote Feinstein and Boxer to let them know. Boxer and Feinstein knew that if they voted to get rid of it they would be serving the interest of their constituents which also meant they would be more likely to keep their jobs.

This is just one example out of many. Public opinion is powerful. The Tea Party may have been co-opted by the 1%, but the only reason it has been (very) effective is because of the ideas that individuals hold. Politicians, ultimately, are at the will of the people. Whether these people are getting their ideas from the 1%, from Occupy, or from nobody because they don't care is something that we can influence.
posted by Defenestrator at 2:28 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell is one of many decisions that my elected (California) senators made based on the opinions in their state. People in California generally supported this action and a portion of them probably called or wrote Feinstein and Boxer to let them know.
You don't think it was also brought up by wealthy Hollywood campaign donors? That was an issue that had absolutely nothing to do with corporate power or economic justice. Bringing it up is almost a little insulting, like you're deliberately missing the point here. The problem is the control of government by corporations and the wealthy, and gay rights is almost completely orthogonal to that.

Again, give me an example of ordinary middle class/working class people demanding something from the government -- something opposed to corporate power and getting it.
posted by delmoi at 2:45 AM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Here is how you get change under our current system.

Go and make enough money so that politicians will listen to you in exchange for your money. Enough here is relative but you should have at least as much as your opponents on Wall St.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:52 AM on December 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


The International Longshore Workers' Union leadership weren't happy with Occupy
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/10/occupy-shutdown-west-coast-ports
posted by Bwithh at 3:24 AM on December 14, 2011


Always interesting to me how quickly the anti-OWS people are to occupy a thread, and how vociferous they are.
posted by maxwelton at 3:29 AM on December 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


I don't understand the assertion that these kind of actions are useless because they hurt the truck drivers and port workers. If that's the case, doesn't it show that the truckers are truly getting to the end of their rope?

Besides, what is the alternative? The whole system fucks over truckers and other workers on a daily basis. Independent contractor status instead of employment. At-will employment. Union bans. Shitty benefits that are only available to employed people - benefits that, when they are offered at all, are getting shittier by the day. Stagnant wages even in the face of massively increasing profits.

Bitch about the efficacy all you want; I think it really,really,really misses the point. My question is why isn't every working group doing this? I think the day is coming that they will.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:00 AM on December 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


Massive media attention makes networking a lot easier. Incidentally OWS has a large and loud presence on internet social networks.

Of course they don't know what the next step is; they're very busy looking for someone who does.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:00 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


My view is that people aren't hurting enough...yet. Or more to the point, there are enough comfortable middle- and upper-middle class folks to keep the status quo going for the time being. How long that will be, I don't know. Another few years? Another decade? Two decades? But the savings will run out. The incomes are going to fall. We will look back on these kinds of events as the beginning of something, a movement that hasn't defined itself quite yet, and hasn't reached a critical mass quite yet.

It will definitely happen at some point; the Democratic Party and the Republican Party will face a new challenger or two. Maybe we'll pour our energies into the Green Party and make it as legitimate as it is in Europe. But for now, there are too many people who are able to tune this out. But that won't last forever, and in our lifetimes we'll see some major upheavals. I just hope hope hope that we can change things for the better soon, without any loss of life.
posted by zardoz at 4:33 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had an argument right after the pepper spray incidents with a guy who said that pepper spray was a valid technique to ensure crowd compliance if you don't want to inconvenience Americans. He then went on to say, with a straight face, that in fact pepper spray was just as useful as water cannons.

That was an eye-opener. And of course this guy was a moderately-entitled sort with a cushy job and no immediate economic fears, for whom the specter of inconvenience was worse than anything the Occupy movement might stand for.

I assume that at this point each one of you has read King's Letter from a Birmingham Jail, especially the part where he says that white moderates were the worst thing for the civil rights movement because of their insistence that you could achieve change within a system without violence. Because guys, King is one of the guys responsible for a pretty major system upheaval, and I think we should listen to what he says.

But I also don't hear anybody talking about how part of the reason the system's broken is that when communication turned national with TV and then the Internet, we lofty-minded leftists assumed that good rhetoric would turn the whole country in our favor. We just assumed that our culture was so good that all the other cultures of the country would turn to us for guidance. Well, guess what, people either didn't know or didn't care about that culture, most of them still don't, and so it was easy to get a lot of them to turn against the "elites", the "ivory tower academics" who read the New York Times. Easier still because our response to people's ignorance is to still look down on them for being less rational and less informed than we are.

What the Republicans figured out is that there're a lot of smart, well-meaning people who're still ignorant, and that if you teach them the wrong information quickly enough, they'll listen to you when you tell them the other guys are disconnected from your culture and want to do you harm. If the other guys prove them half true (major disconnect), then they'll assume the rest is true as well.

Now I think this is backfiring, because as ignorant as all those good people are, they're smart enough to realize when shit's fucked up and they're looking for explanations. A lot of them have been again successfully diverted, this time towards the Tea Party. But the worse the country gets, the faster they'll start looking for other options. I like that Occupy Wall Street's at least making an effort to reach to the rest of the nation, because those voices are going to start sounding more and more rational to those people who've been somewhat in the dark.

How quickly the change happens I don't know. I hope it's fast, because if it's not then a lot people are going to hurt real bad. And I feel that these Occupy events serve to call attention to their message, and even if the message doesn't sell itself right away, at least people are hearing it, and thinking about it, and debating about it. The people it's got to convince aren't the people who're so well-off they see the election as a meaningful tool for change.
posted by Rory Marinich at 4:51 AM on December 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


That's what we accomplished. Planting that seed in the consciousness of the disaffected.

Everytime you do this and nothing happens, people call you scruffy college kids. They need more of a plan that doesn't rely exclusively on people showing up to do a one-day thing. As winter comes, fewer people will show up--giving the impression of a dying movement.

Also, actions which bring you into conflict with union allies fracture you, not the other side. Remember, it was the large-scale presence of the Transit Workers which juiced OWS in the first place.

Split the enemy, not yourself. Take the Tea Party--they opposed healthcare for the poor. So they showed up at places their opponents (Dem congressmen) were there to explain themselves--town halls. Why not do the same thing to GOP congressmen. Is there a thing somewhere where a new Walmart or other development is going in? Be there.

Mainly stuff where the people who you oppose are there to get the media's attention.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:04 AM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


This prisoner's dilemma stuff sounds all fine and good in a college classroom, but after you have kids and a job and vet bills and all that sort of stuff, just going to fucking Walmart to pick up some cheap milk and eggs gets real attractive.

This prisoner's dilemma stuff sounds all fine and good in a college classroom, but after you have mansions, yachts and porsche repair bills and all that sort of stuff, just going to fucking China to pick up some cheap labor gets real attractive.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 5:16 AM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


I was on board with the first few weeks of OWS (because, objectively, fuck the banks). But it's rapidly turning into "fuck commerce" - a caricature painted by early conservative commentary on the movement - and that isn't a message I can get behind. I suspect its the same way for a majority of people, too.

Also, LOL at the selective invocation of the voices and expertise of the working class. On one hand, they're an oppressed, false-consciousness laden, pitiful lot - "indentured servants", "disaffected", and their complaints of being inconvenienced at work worth annoying. But the second you need their expertise - such as the oh-so-boring details of setting up a strike fund - call in the hardhats!
posted by downing street memo at 5:22 AM on December 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


*worth ignoring. Sorry.
posted by downing street memo at 5:23 AM on December 14, 2011


furiousxgeorge, delmoi: Then what is your plan?

I offered several ideas at the beginning of this thread, in the 11th comment. Unlike you. Basically, create some ongoing economic or social service structures, using the energy of OWS to actually, you know, help people.

Whatever you think of their goals, Hamas has had a lot of success in the face of much more severe oppression by doing exactly that; taking care of people on the ground, providing answers to problems that the government and business can't or won't tackle.
posted by msalt at 5:38 AM on December 14, 2011


This prisoner's dilemma stuff sounds all fine and good in a college classroom, but after you have mansions, yachts and porsche repair bills and all that sort of stuff, just going to fucking China to pick up some cheap labor gets real attractive.

If Occupy Wall Street is going to be a movement that's about comparing single parents shopping at Walmart to having yachts and mansions it's going to be quickly consigned to irrelevancy, where it belongs. If you've got enough means to make your consumer decisions based on moral concerns, more power to you, you should do that. For a lot of people, though, this is not possible, and they've got to worry about supporting themselves first and foremost. To think otherwise is nothing more than privilege wrapped up in liberal talking points.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:45 AM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


To think otherwise is nothing more than privilege wrapped up in liberal talking points.

I really doubt that anybody thinks otherwise. Of course that's true. That's the problem.
posted by davidjmcgee at 6:04 AM on December 14, 2011


Shutting down the ports is not exactly comparable to challenging segregation at a lunch counter or on a bus.

There's a moment in the Aaron Sorkin TV dramedy Sportsnight, when a TV presenter is being dragged over the coals for apparently supporting the decriminalization of marijuana. He challenges his boss, who explains that he is going to apologize, because this is television and that's how it's done. He responds:
Yeah, well, sitting in the back of the bus was how it was done until a forty-two year old lady moved up front. I'm not very impressed with how things are done, Isaac.
At the end of the conversation, his boss says:
You know I love you, don't you? And because I love you I can say this: no rich young white guy has ever gotten anywhere with me comparing himself to Rosa Parks. Got it?
I'm absolutely alive to the irony that this line was probably written by Aaron Sorkin, but nonetheless it's not a bad rule of thumb.

I feel, however, that it may require the codicil "And negative comparisons of any political activist or protestor to Rosa Parks are unlikely to be productive or useful." It's like insisting that every high school basketball player should be able to dunk on LeBron.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:23 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


What effect did this have on share prices?

Acting as though share prices are of major importance to society is a large part of the problem. Why should anyone who didn't buy those shares care about their price? Why should the people who did buy them have so much power over everyone else's interests?


i'm wondering if the people occupying the ports can see the irony in their protests. you should be protesting to stop the arrival of goods that were made somewhere else for far cheaper, thus eliminating their need to be made here.

Isn't that just about what shutting down ports does, at least for that day?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:25 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Split the enemy, not yourself. Take the Tea Party--they opposed healthcare for the poor. So they showed up at places their opponents (Dem congressmen) were there to explain themselves--town halls. Why not do the same thing to GOP congressmen. Is there a thing somewhere where a new Walmart or other development is going in? Be there.

Both these things are happening now. A lot. GOP congressmen get talked to and Walmart's get protested (sometimes to limited effect) The Occupy movement is also doing something else on top of that. As things stand now, people who want to work within the current political system are still doing that. While there are many involved in the Occupy movement who think there is absolutely no difference between the Republican and Democratic parties (and in terms of economic justice, they have a point), there are also no serious liberals who think the current Democratic party isn't seriously better on many other issues and shouldn't have a vote cast for them the way things are. (Those who don't have incredibly short memories that don't stretch back to November 2000.) And many are working to make sure that happens. Those who care about different things are working a different angle. As is their right. It isn't an either/or decision (though sometimes I wish it was, because it would make my outside-of-work calendar a lot more free for drinking and watching TV rather than the bit of protesting and bit of politicking I manage to do.)

It's horrifying to me how much the anti-OWS discussions from 'well-meaning' people who 'agree with them in theory' sounds so much like the DLC/Clinton wing of the Democratic party in the early 2000s -- 'if we don't support Bush in regards to the war, we'll never win an election again.' For all his faults, thank God Obama (and Dean before him) even had a shred of integrity and held a then-unpopular opinion -- because if not, there wouldn't have been a party left for people to support once the blinders were removed. Hopefully, that is a cycle that will eventually happen again, but it's sad how quickly people forget.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 6:26 AM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Acting as though share prices are of major importance to society is a large part of the problem. Why should anyone who didn't buy those shares care about their price? Why should the people who did buy them have so much power over everyone else's interests?

The claim was made that the action in Oakland negatively affected Goldman Sachs. The best place to look for that adverse effect, in the short term, is share prices. No one was giving any undue weight to the price of stocks vis a vis society.
posted by downing street memo at 6:30 AM on December 14, 2011


Basically, create some ongoing economic or social service structures, using the energy of OWS to actually, you know, help people.

No accountability for the financial sector? No justice for the middle and working class? Let's just take what they left us, and build the infrastructure that we already paid for? Let's allow them to continue to control our society through straight fraud, corruption of our elected officials, and physical abuse from their militarized police forces as long as we're allowed the freedom to sort of do what we want when we aren't working our dead end jobs?

That brass ring you're grabbing for appears to be around somebody's finger.
posted by deanklear at 6:38 AM on December 14, 2011 [8 favorites]


msalt, your ideas don't matter unless you do something with them. The Occupy movement is actually doing something. They're actually making people think about income equality and the government backing of corporations, something that was for left wingers last year, even if you don't think they're making the perfect moves.

I'm not saying your ideas are bad - but they're only that. Ideas. Why not get that stuff started? It's not like there's one "protest slot," and OWS has taken it.
posted by ignignokt at 6:52 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


OWS blocking the unions from working = me confused.
Why didn't the unions support OWS in this action?
If the unions/workers aren't actively supporting this then isn't that a bigger issue then any protests?
posted by forforf at 6:56 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why didn't the unions support OWS in this action?

Legally they can't.
posted by gerryblog at 7:13 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Considering that one of the messages of Occupy Wall Street is that the people in office have many more incentives to follow corporate/monied interests than interests of the middle/lower classes, why is anyone surprised that the OWS protestors aren't expecting their elected officials to help them?
posted by dinty_moore at 7:15 AM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


If Occupy Wall Street is going to be a movement that's about comparing single parents shopping at Walmart to having yachts and mansions it's going to be quickly consigned to irrelevancy, where it belongs.

Do I have this right: Any statement made by anybody in any discussion about OWS is, for you, a statement by the movement itself, and therefore will condemn a movement that you already think deserves condemnation?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:18 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd agree with deanklear that your ideas sucks horribly, msalt. America's plutocrats are spectacularly effective at fracturing popular fervor against themselves along social safety net issues, mostly because Americans are fundamentally divided about social safety net issues. Americans fairly universally support reigning in the plutocrats however. Do you want the slogan "We are the 99%" or not?
posted by jeffburdges at 7:19 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


jeffburdges: I have no idea what you're trying to say.

deanklear; how does occupying illegally foreclosed houses prevent holding anyone accountable? How does shutting down a port do anything at all to combat "straight fraud, corruption of our elected officials, and physical abuse from their militarized police forces"?
posted by msalt at 7:23 AM on December 14, 2011


Do I have this right: Any statement made by anybody in any discussion about OWS is, for you, a statement by the movement itself, and therefore will condemn a movement that you already think deserves condemnation?

I said "if," meaning "if this attitude represents the movement as a whole, then it's irrelevant and should be ignored." It's conditional. I'm on the fence about Occupy Wall Street; I find the idea of a movement designed to address wealth inequality and the economic plight of the 99% appealing, but I don't like a lot of the places it goes, both in terms of tactics and policy. Part of the process of making up my mind about the movement involves figuring out what people in it believe, if the statement that I quoted represents the beliefs of Occupy Wall Street, then I can't support it. So, I guess the answer to your question is "no, you do not have it right."
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:24 AM on December 14, 2011


I said "if," meaning "if this attitude represents the movement as a whole, then it's irrelevant and should be ignored."

I still am uncertain as to why a random comment on a web page should be seen as even potentially representing the viewpoint of a movement it never claims to emerge from or represent.

Sorry, I don't think that's critic. Can we address what actual OWS actions and statements are, without ascribing new ones to them that come from unrelated sources?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:29 AM on December 14, 2011


cricket. Not critic.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:30 AM on December 14, 2011


I still am uncertain as to why a random comment on a web page should be seen as even potentially representing the viewpoint of a movement it never claims to emerge from or represent.

Sorry, I don't think that's critic. Can we address what actual OWS actions and statements are, without ascribing new ones to them that come from unrelated sources?


I wasn't responding to Occupy Wall Street, I was respond to Quonsar II; I don't see why I should focus on Occupy Wall Street when I'm talking to someone else. I placed my response in the context of a discussion of Occupy because Quonsar placed his offensive comment in that same context. I never said anything Occupy generally in my initial comment; I did clarify my general feelings about the movement in my second comment, but only with the intention of clarifying that I don't already hate it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:35 AM on December 14, 2011


fuck WalMart. if you're angry about wealth disparity and unemployment in this country you definitely should be mad at a giant corporation that has ravaged our manufacturing base.

The evidence seems quite different, KokuRyu has it right.

Wal-Mart has significantly driven down grocery prices in the United States, more than enough to offset their negative impact on wages. Their net impact is highly progressive - Jason Furman
posted by ripley_ at 7:37 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't really understand people whining about OWS messing up people's day. The banks and corruption in DC mess up someone's day every day. The idea that you can have major social change without inconveniencing anyone is insane

You're begging the question of whether this is a step towards "major social change," though. No one is saying that a day's disruption of the ports is too high a price to pay for a fairer or juster society. They're saying (and I agree with them) that there is no visible way in which this protest action is going to lead to any economic or political amelioration of any kind.

The only people who were demonstrably hurt by this action were workers (time sensitive goods are not, by and large, sent by ship). I don't see anyone at Goldman Sachs or BoA losing half a minute's sleep over this.
posted by yoink at 7:40 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wal-Mart has significantly driven down grocery prices in the United States, more than enough to offset their negative impact on wages. Their net impact is highly progressive - Jason Furman

This is the kind of shit that drives me right up the wall.

Sure they've helped - for people who still have fucking jobs. Cheaper prices to replace lost jobs is a shitty deal. Period.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:43 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's worth noting that the occupy movement has been looking at foreclosed homes for a while now - article from last week here. So, at least somebody in the Occupy movement thought that was a good idea.

(Incidentally, minor American history point of information: the Paris Peace Accords were signed in 1973, US Military involvement ended thereafter, and that was followed first by the Case-Church Amendment and then the War Powers Resolution, which together made it impossible for the President to send bombers into North Vietnam or troops back into South Vietnam without Congressional support that would not be forthcoming. That was all in 1973. Saigon fell in 1975. Unless you're splitting the difference, I think 1974 is specifically the year that the Vietnam war didn't end - it was the year it resumed, but without American military involvement.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:45 AM on December 14, 2011


And a P.S: even if you could demonstrate that this action had shaved .0001% off Walmart's annual earnings--so what? Because the OWS movement rigorously refuses to have any clear political goals or demands of any kind, what good is that supposed to do? If the protest were about, say, divestment from some particlar country or industry the Walmart's CEO could say "hmmm, they've demonstrated an ability to hit us in the pocketbook--we should thing about whether it will cost us more to comply with their demands or to continue to invest in Evilopolis"

But what is Walmart's CEO supposed to do or think in response to this action? Is he supposed to lobby Washington to "be less evil in general"? This is protest as reality TV show--as long as you're on TV, that's all that matters.
posted by yoink at 7:49 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


But what is Walmart's CEO supposed to do or think in response to this action? Is he supposed to lobby Washington to "be less evil in general"? This is protest as reality TV show--as long as you're on TV, that's all that matters.

The points will be made, and honed.

Until then, I think general, amorphous discontent is much more powerful ( and scary to the powers-that-be) than you think.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:52 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Because the OWS movement rigorously refuses to have any clear political goals or demands of any kind.

I like how this is still a meme, for some reason. You can say that they're bad/unattainable goals, but you can't say that they're refusing to have any goals.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:53 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wasn't responding to Occupy Wall Street,

You may want to go back and reread what you wrote, because you conveyed completely the opposite. You literally address yourself to OWS as your first statement.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:54 AM on December 14, 2011


It's worth noting that the occupy movement has been looking at foreclosed homes for a while now - article from last week here. So, at least somebody in the Occupy movement thought that was a good idea.

As I said above, I'm lukewarm about Occupy, but I'm not lukewarm about the idea of occupying foreclosed homes; I love it. I think it's exactly what needs to happen. Letting homes sit vacant is bad for everyone who matters, it's bad for the people who could be living in those homes, it's bad for their neighbors who face an eyesore that lowers their property values, it's bad for the people who might one day buy the house, but will have to repair all the damage that could have been prevented by having regular maintenance done on the house. The only people that benefit from having a foreclosed on home sit vacant are the banks, so it's an effective way of protesting directly at the bank, while also making life better for regular people in the area.

I also like it because it's a protest that can raise the right issues to people who might otherwise not think about them, namely middle class suburbanites. People who might not ever see an Occupy camp in the middle of major urban center, people who might not realize that concern about wealth inequality is something that implicates middle class homeowners as much as it implicates the poor. It also, if done properly, seems like it could appeal to people who don't like protesters generally. If you claim to represent the 99%, you need to realize that a lot of those 99% don't like people who live in tents and play in drum circles; it might not be fair of them, but they don't like those people. In the minds a lot of people (who aren't the 1%, aren't the enemy), people smoking pot and playing drums are hippies, they're irresponsible; but someone who moves in next door, mows the grass and cleans the gutters? They'll like those people.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:57 AM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


You may want to go back and reread what you wrote, because you conveyed completely the opposite. You literally address yourself to OWS as your first statement.

This is a dumb fight, and I should know better than to get involved with it, especially with you. I might still be in this thread, but I'm done with this nonsense.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:58 AM on December 14, 2011


Sure they've helped - for people who still have fucking jobs. Cheaper prices to replace lost jobs is a shitty deal. Period.

That's covered in the Furman paper. If you disagree with the results, I'd love to see citations instead of blind rage.
posted by ripley_ at 8:01 AM on December 14, 2011


That's covered in the Furman paper. If you disagree with the results, I'd love to see citations instead of blind rage.

Because it's not true. That paper is 6 years old.

There is no future in the Wal-Mart method. You cannot save your way to prosperity. It will not work in the long-term, and never has.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:05 AM on December 14, 2011


> Again, give me an example of ordinary middle class/working class people demanding something from the government -- something opposed to corporate power and getting it.

The prototype was the Vietnam protests. The U.S. military industrial complex was rendered impotent by some scrappy soldiers in southeast Asia and a large number (never even a majority--the peace candidate McGovern got smashed in the '72 presidential election) of domestic protesters.

Rory mentioned King's civil rights work and that is the other main recent example. The thing is, King died. It really needs to be a matter of life and death before the people go nuts, but when they do . . . we might want to be elsewhere.
posted by bukvich at 8:06 AM on December 14, 2011


I'm conflicted about the movement and some of its tactics, but I have to believe that part of the reason for that is if nothing else, the corporate mass media has successfully pivoted from not knowing how to "cover" OWS to being unified in a portrayal of the movement as a bunch of middle-class whiners with nothing better to do than disrupt the lives of ordinary folks trying to make a living. This is especially evident in the San Francisco Chronicle's coverage of Occupy Oakland, where the latest take is that most African-Americans in Oakland silently oppose the movement (without anything but anecdotal evidence to support the assertion). Since I'm not there in the trenches with the occupiers, I don't know. Like Bulgaroktonos, I'd like to find out more about what the movement's plans are going forward, whatever they are. I'm almost 100% certain that, all other things being equal, without what Occupy has already accomplished, that we would not have the current House GOP juggernaut trying to cram unrelated policy riders onto the payroll tax cut bill to make it look like they support it instead of just straight-out trying to deep six the payroll tax cut altogether. I'm glad to see that Occupy DC is doing things like protesting at a Tagg Romney-keynote Young Professionals for Mitt Romney reception/fundraiser tonight at the Lincoln (I'm assuming that's the Lincoln Center) and carrying a golden calf to Capitol Hill tomorrow morning.

Because the OWS movement rigorously refuses to have any clear political goals or demands of any kind, what good is that supposed to do?

Assuming your assertion is right (which I don't think it is), I'd rather be in support of a movement that refuses to have "clear political goals" than a movement (namely the GOP in coalition with the Tea Party and PACs like Americans for Prosperity) and its allies who have declared the 2012 election "the mother of all wars" and whose clear political goal is to nurture plutocracy and to dismantle the state. As Charles Koch says at his annual seminars, "We have to multiply ourselves. We need to clone ourselves a thousandfold." Well, so does Occupy.
posted by blucevalo at 8:15 AM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mayor Jean Quan is doing everything possible to make sure OO can't feed people. Now they're banning tables at the Oscar Grant Plaza vigil, not just tents. No info table, not kitchen distribution. I suspect standing in place for too long is on the list next.

Maybe she'll let us set up the Msalt memorial bike repair station. That's nice and safe and non-threatening to the established order.

OWS' apparent strategy:

1. Disrupt daily life.
2. Massive media attention.
3. ????
4. POLITICAL REFORM!


Actually... yes. This is a new kind of political protest, a new kind of movement, one that doesn't look like 20 century political movements. What we are saying is that the system is fundamentally broken, bought and paid for by corrupt money and corporate influence. And that we have seen not the slightest fucking hint that if we even elected people who supported us that they could get a damn thing done.

Msalt, you seem to be saying "How does OWS fit into a 20th century American political framework?"

What I'm saying is "This is something completely new in American politics; OWS is not an army with generals, it's a flock of birds with twitter and facebook and cameraphones. It's something we've not seen before. And it's only 2 months old.

You cannot solve a problem with the same mindset that created it. But then again, protest methods that were once new and unheard of have become standard practice.

Society is changing, and I contend the 21st Century will look very different socially from the 20th. The future is unwritten. Welcome to it.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:20 AM on December 14, 2011 [9 favorites]


You know why Obama has been stymied in so many ways?

Because he's not really a progressive but a right-of-center ruling-class corporatist not deep-down interested in doing what so many of us who voted for change and hope want?

Because one doesn't get to become president, no matter which of the TWO PARTY OPTIONS OFFERED TO US ON A PLATE, without being owned by the corporatocracy?

Because one can grow up mixed-race in America, be a lawyer/ scholar, serve as a community organizer, and still end up assimilated into the 1% and their mindset by the time one reaches the Oval Office?

Something like that?

In order to be stymied, one has to be trying in the first place.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:31 AM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is a dumb fight, and I should know better than to get involved with it, especially with you.

You made a comment, I responded to what it seemed like it meant, and now you're being a bit of a jerk. I suppose I am done as well.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:43 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


PBZM, I read your pieces. the 1962 example is interesting but very different. Like segregation in 1962, the HUAC in 1962 was widely reviled and discredited. (McCarthy had gone down 8 years earlier). so action against them was majority consensus.

All I see in your comments and the livejournal is a bunch of "Field of Dreams" handwaving -- if we protest, they will come. Maybe, but where? How would people even join in if they agreed? The twittering facebook flock is a small core of mostly 20-something people with a lot of time on their hands.

They might pull a rabbit out of their hat and achieve a bloodless coup, or force the government-industrial complex to its knees and surrender -- I guess. But that's a thousand times more naive than the electoral victory you ridicule.
posted by msalt at 8:45 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


All I see in your comments and the livejournal is a bunch of "Field of Dreams" handwaving

Maybe.

But loook around you. Things ARE that fucked. The Econopocalypse IS that bad. This IS the next Great Depression we're entering. The environmental problem IS that bad. The infrastructure IS that crumbling.

But you want us to campain real hard, elect good people, and hold them accountable by threatening them with non-re-election the next time? "No, really! Sell us out to the Banksters and we'll go vote for Nader! We'll Do it!"

I respectfully think that's crap.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:58 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Until then, I think general, amorphous discontent is much more powerful ( and scary to the powers-that-be) than you think.

LOL. No, I'm pretty sure it's actually a comfort to them. A disorganized enemy isn't a threat style dismissal.

I know of no business that has altered their forecasts for 2012 in response to OWS. The idea that being on TV, watched only by people outside of the 'ruling class' means anything seems silly to me. OWS isn't frightening any fat cats, it's just annoying people in the middle. You really think a business that is willing to lock out striking workers for months at a time is going to blink at a single lost shift?
posted by nomisxid at 9:04 AM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sure there are union folk out there already well-versed in how to operate a strike-fund.

Seems like some Occupyers are pretty selective about how and when they want to use the expertise of the working people's movement.


Yes, this self-organizing, non-hierarchical, 2-month-old movement needs to work more closely with organized labor. Natural allies.

But when we use the term "working people's movement" are we talking about the house-trained Big Labor officials, or the rank and file?

Mass, direct action is the tool of the rank-&-file. Strikes, work slowdowns, pickets, flexing the collective muscle.

Back-room deals with the corporate masters are Big Labor's tools.

I know who my allies are.

Hella Occupy Everywhere.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:19 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shutting down the ports is not exactly comparable to challenging segregation at a lunch counter or on a bus.
...
I feel, however, that it may require the codicil "And negative comparisons of any political activist or protestor to Rosa Parks are unlikely to be productive or useful." It's like insisting that every high school basketball player should be able to dunk on LeBron.


There's more than one kind of comparison though. Lack of comparability can be not just degree of quality (LeBron is a better basketball player), but of type (LeBron is playing basketball, your high school football player is playing football).

"Shutting down the ports is not exactly comparable to challenging segregation at a lunch counter or on a bus," because those are unjust laws.

A (peaceful) strike by the longshoreman themselves would be something different. Even if I disagreed with the reason they were striking, it would be an acceptable method of protest. (Though generally, "Strikes don't strike me.")
posted by Jahaza at 9:22 AM on December 14, 2011


PBZM, the problem is that a bunch of "let's get on TV!" disruptive stunts without thinking through the consequences are likely to turn most people decisively against OWS, and backfire horribly.

You think Obama is no better than Bush? That's naive. Supreme Court, and wars ending instead of starting, and some progress on health reform etc. even hobbled by fierce Republican opposition.

I guarantee you that a backlash-fueled President Gingrich would be 10 times worse than George W. Bush, because he's just as evil and far smarter, and 1,000 times worse than Obama.
posted by msalt at 9:25 AM on December 14, 2011


I like how this is still a meme, for some reason. You can say that they're bad/unattainable goals, but you can't say that they're refusing to have any goals.

That was one particular group who put forward a whole laundry list of proposals, not a single one of which has been formally adopted as a desideratum by Occupy protests. The fact that some of the people in these protests personally have very well-thought-out specific proposals to offer doesn't make the protests themselves a coherent political practice designed to bring about those ends. The fact is that the Occupy movement includes a vast array of not just diverse but actually incompatible and even hostile political movements. You have anarchists, socialists, tea-party-esque anti-government types and an awful lot of people who want pretty much exactly the system as it is currently constituted, they just want it to be working better (i.e., people who would be perfectly happy if the economy was strong and are only discontented because it's currently weak). This is why it's largely politically irrelevant. The big money boys will start losing sleep if they see coherent organization designed to realize specific goals. As long as the Occupy movement remains satisfied with what amounts to street theater, it's a sideshow.

Assuming your assertion is right (which I don't think it is), I'd rather be in support of a movement that refuses to have "clear political goals" than a movement (namely the GOP in coalition with the Tea Party and PACs like Americans for Prosperity) and its allies who have declared the 2012 election "the mother of all wars" and whose clear political goal is to nurture plutocracy and to dismantle the state. As Charles Koch says at his annual seminars, "We have to multiply ourselves. We need to clone ourselves a thousandfold." Well, so does Occupy.

Surely our only two options can't be joining the Occupy crowd and joining the Tea Party? What the Occupy people need to do is to take a long hard look at what made the Tea Party so effective, however. There's a reason that the Koch brothers are actually directly influencing legislation at the State and Federal level to suit their agenda while the Occupy people count it as a huge "victory" if they happen to score some coverage on Good Morning America. The Tea Party mobilized forces to directly influence the political process. Yeah, they did a little bit of street theater as well (standing around in funny costumes etc.), but they recognized that although that stuff gets you coverage, it doesn't get your agenda implemented. If only the Occupy people could be half as savvy.
posted by yoink at 9:30 AM on December 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


There's a reason that the Koch brothers are actually directly influencing legislation at the State and Federal level to suit their agenda while the Occupy people count it as a huge "victory" if they happen to score some coverage on Good Morning America.

Ah, how insightful. So all Occupy has to do is become the pawns in the hands of manipulative sociopathic billionaires if they want to succeed.
posted by Rory Marinich at 9:35 AM on December 14, 2011 [10 favorites]


LOL. No, I'm pretty sure it's actually a comfort to them. A disorganized enemy isn't a threat style dismissal.

I know of no business that has altered their forecasts for 2012 in response to OWS.


This is just the start, don't you think? And business forecasts aren't the most reliable bellweather; American business has been caught flatfooted plenty of times.

From personal experience, I can tell you that OWS has been pretty successful at starting the conversation. More and more people that I meet are pondering the questions. My personal "reach one, teach one" moments have certainly increased.

Glass half full, glass half empty, I guess.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:38 AM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


ut what we did was show people all over the country how easy it is to put a thumb on the carotid money artery.

This concerns me (truly, not trolly), because I've been waiting for some powers that be to start referring to the Occupy movements as terrorism. It would be word abuse, to date.

But disrupting shipping ports is getting a baby step close to legitimizing that kind of label.

And should the media ever get a firm narrative on the movements as in any tiny way terrorism-related... well, I fear that won't go well.
posted by rokusan at 9:39 AM on December 14, 2011


Yes, this self-organizing, non-hierarchical, 2-month-old movement needs to work more closely with organized labor. Natural allies.

But when we use the term "working people's movement" are we talking about the house-trained Big Labor officials, or the rank and file?

Mass, direct action is the tool of the rank-&-file. Strikes, work slowdowns, pickets, flexing the collective muscle.


See, the problem is that the college-educated liberals who run these "movements" aren't actually interested in the real opinions and thoughts of working-class people. Working people exist - in the minds of the intelligentsia of OWS and the like - as a convenient avatar, a rhetorical device on which to project your own ideas about how society should work.

I'm sure the people you were "hella occupying" just wanted to go to work, and make money to feed their families, yesterday. And, of course, the leaders of organized labor weren't too interested, either (funny how they're "corporate tools" when they oppose whatever the OWS tactic du jour is, but authentic representations of the working class when they agree). Now you're going to tell me that there were plenty of workers at the port shutdown, along with kids, families, a giant multicultural explosion of humanity, just having a great time. (As an aside, is there any protest-class trope more prominent than this?)

Like I said, I was on board when this whole thing was about banks, because of their super-outsized, ill-gotten, and unproductive influence on the economy. But ports? That's how people get cool stuff, that they want to have. And I suspect a message of "fuck commerce" just isn't going to resonate with anyone.
posted by downing street memo at 9:40 AM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


And I suspect a message of "fuck commerce" just isn't going to resonate with anyone.

We're not against commerce.

We're against filthy air and asthma clusters. We're against abusive conditions imposed on the people who work at the ports by those who own & control the ports.

We're not against commerce. Commerce amongst ourselves is what generates wealth. We're against the social operating system that says "Commerce must be mediated through a dehumanizing, Financialized/Corporatist filter, and the laws will reflect that."
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:50 AM on December 14, 2011


oh shit guys we lost another jaded internet smartass

how is the movement going to handle this

but seriously thank god the OWS is going on ports and shit now. unrestricted 'free trade' has broken the backs of the working class here and elegantly represents what is wrong with the current economic structure. sorry people are being inconvenienced. nobody seems to be quite as angry about the ongoing political and economic choices made by our leaders that hurt a lot of people a lot more than shutting down the ports for one day.
posted by beefetish at 9:54 AM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


We're against abusive conditions imposed on the people who work at the ports by those who own & control the ports.

Would those people whom you claim to speak for describe themselves in that way?

We're not against commerce. Commerce amongst ourselves is what generates wealth. We're against the social operating system that says "Commerce must be mediated through a dehumanizing, Financialized/Corporatist filter, and the laws will reflect that."

What does shutting down a port do to change this "social operating system"?
posted by downing street memo at 10:01 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is just the start, don't you think?

Not really, no. I suspect that OWS's biggest days are behind them, and that they will continue to marginalize themselves into obscurity.

But loook around you. Things ARE that fucked. The Econopocalypse IS that bad. This IS the next Great Depression we're entering. The environmental problem IS that bad. The infrastructure IS that crumbling.

They may be that fucked for some people, but not for the majority. Much like when I was out of work for 18 months during the dot-com bust period, I think there's a lot of projection of one's own despair onto others going on with OWS sympathizers. It's hard to face that even when your own life is going to hell, most people's lives are plodding along just like nothing has happened. That's not to say that the status quo is perfect and fair, but rather that most people are in a comfortable spot, and saying "hey, I've got some chaos over here with no path to a better future for you, only for me" and imagine that, those comfortable people aren't interested.

I don't know anyone who has starved to death during this recession. I honestly don't think a Big-Reset movement like OWS is going to have any sort of traction with middle americans until that is reversed. When everyone has at least one someone in their extended family who has been drastically and obviously affected, maybe. But now? The reality is that unemployed people don't make up the majority of the 99%.
posted by nomisxid at 10:02 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


but seriously thank god the OWS is going on ports and shit now. unrestricted 'free trade' has broken the backs of the working class here and elegantly represents what is wrong with the current economic structure. sorry people are being inconvenienced.

This is well and good (I don't think it's nearly as cut and dry as you say, but whatever). I'm saying you can't take on the mantel of "champion of the working class" and then say "sorry you were inconvenienced".

Defend your ideas on their own terms, don't lazily resort to claiming you speak for a constituency you don't actually speak for.
posted by downing street memo at 10:03 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's horrifying to me how much the anti-OWS discussions from 'well-meaning' people who 'agree with them in theory' sounds so much like the DLC/Clinton wing of the Democratic party in the early 2000s -- 'if we don't support Bush in regards to the war, we'll never win an election again.' For all his faults, thank God Obama (and Dean before him) even had a shred of integrity and held a then-unpopular opinion -- because if not, there wouldn't have been a party left for people to support once the blinders were removed. Hopefully, that is a cycle that will eventually happen again, but it's sad how quickly people forget.

OWS needs support. Not lumping potential supporters in with any sort of non-existent boogeyman.

As for Dean--I was for everything he was for. Except the part about how he led us all on because he was running for the office to be DNC Chair and not the presidency.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:07 AM on December 14, 2011


What does shutting down a port do to change this "social operating system"?

Jesus H. Fucking Christ, really? Are you really asking me if we flipped the right fucking switch to make things all better?

Sorry, rebooting society is a little harder than that. But we're trying.

And as I keep saying, what we succeeded in doing was proving how easy it was to do. How easy it was to coordinate.

National General Strike, anyone? I know where you can get an awesome T-shirt that funds a righteous cause to wear for that day. The Oakland General Strike was great fun.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 10:09 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


downing i wasnt at the ports because i was working overtime.....

i dont think that saying that globalization has weakened the bargaining power of "blue collar" (manufacturing / transportation / non-service) workers in developed countries is quite the same thing as saying that ows or i am "speaking for the working class", jesus christ
posted by beefetish at 10:11 AM on December 14, 2011


Ah, how insightful. So all Occupy has to do is become the pawns in the hands of manipulative sociopathic billionaires if they want to succeed.

Those manipulative sociopathic billionaires are crafting much of the legislation that actually frames how this country's business will operate going forward. The Occupy movement is getting column inches and air time--but then so do the Kardashians. Of course, the Occupy people get to feel really good about themselves and don't have to face the hard, demoralizing work of pushing a policy agenda forward through existing political institutions. Imagining a world in which everyone magically agrees with you is certainly more fun.

I'm quite sure the Koch brothers are delighted that so many of the people opposed to their political agenda are wasting their time in political theater rather than actually working to impede their efforts at bending the political system to their ends.
posted by yoink at 10:16 AM on December 14, 2011 [5 favorites]




This looks like G-S stock dropped around Monday. But I'm a bartender, so I have no real idea what the it truly implies

But I'm supposed to take you seriously when you rant about vamoire squids and fucking them in their money holes? It means nothing; you look at their price over a monthnor 3 months and it's apparent that GS is doing better now than a month ago. Why does the stock price matter? Because it's evidence with which to judge the claim that a port blockade actually hurts their bottom line significantly. If that's so, and you can truly put your thumb on their carotid artery, then it should be reflected by a much weaker stock price. It isn't.

No, #D12 was not a decisive blow to the 1%. Far from it. But this is not going to be an overnight struggle.

Hmmmm.

We can vote all we want, blah, blah, blah. What happened to the Public Option in the healthcare debate once Chicago Hope made it to the Oval Office? He seemed to be in favor of it on the campaign trail.

And he told you that reform was going to be a long slow process, which would take years, just like you are telling us now. As you have noted up thread, the details are rather more complicated and difficult.

What? Are you telling me that once in office, politicians go back to their whoring ways and sell out the people who voted them in in favor of the river of money that flows from the corporations and their 1% masters? Shit, if I thought that were the case I'd lose close to complete faith in the electoral process and would be out blockading ports out of sheer frustration at seeing nothing but green lines of code dropping in every direction, no matter who I vote for.

That's rich, coming from someone who makes a living selling intoxicants.
posted by anigbrowl at 10:24 AM on December 14, 2011


unrestricted 'free trade' has broken the backs of the working class here and elegantly represents what is wrong with the current economic structure

The technology that surrounds you and that you are using to read this is the #1 driver of economic change, not free trade. People keep getting automated out of jobs because many, many things can be done cheaper, faster, and more accurately with computers. Computers have literally become millions of times more capable over the last 25 years; how could this be anything but economically disruptive?
posted by anigbrowl at 10:49 AM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm quite sure the Koch brothers are delighted that so many of the people opposed to their political agenda are wasting their time in political theater rather than actually working to impede their efforts at bending the political system to their ends.

Yeah, it's really impressive to see how those who have money and corporate interests can manipulate a system that is designed to be easily manipulated by those who have money and corporate interests. Why can't those without money and corporate interests do the same!
posted by dinty_moore at 11:14 AM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why can't those without money and corporate interests do the same!

It's almost like they aren't even trying.
posted by nomisxid at 11:18 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's really impressive to see how those who have money and corporate interests can manipulate a system that is designed to be easily manipulated by those who have money and corporate interests. Why can't those without money and corporate interests do the same!

They're not manipulated. The people want this system. That's why they keep voting for it.

Convincing them it isn't in their interests is the way to go. The first step cannot be "stop being so stupid! I'm smart and you're dumb and controlled for voting for these evil people!"

Not going to sell a lot of people on that.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:28 AM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


They're not manipulated. The people want this system. That's why they keep voting for it.

Horseshit.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:35 AM on December 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


They're not manipulated. The people want this system. That's why they keep voting for it.

No, they voted for this guy:

"If we do not change our politics -- if we do not fundamentally change the way Washington works -- then the problems we've been talking about for the last generation will be the same ones that haunt us for generations to come."

"But let me be clear -- this isn't just about ending the failed policies of the Bush years; it's about ending the failed system in Washington that produces those policies. For far too long, through both Democratic and Republican administrations, Washington has allowed Wall Street to use lobbyists and campaign contributions to rig the system and get its way, no matter what it costs ordinary Americans."

"We are up against the belief that it's all right for lobbyists to dominate our government--that they are just part of the system in Washington. But we know that the undue influence of lobbyists is part of the problem, and this election is our chance to say that we're not going to let them stand in our way anymore. Unless we're willing to challenge the broken system in Washington, and stop letting lobbyists use their clout to get their way, nothing else is going to change."

"If we're not willing to take up that fight, then real change--change that will make a lasting difference in the lives of ordinary Americans--will keep getting blocked by the defenders of the status quo."

posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:37 AM on December 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


(And of course, on the other side they voted for McCain, another believer in campaign finance reform.)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:40 AM on December 14, 2011




Just in case this fire needs more fuel:-
Exclusive survey shows America's CEOs enjoyed pay hikes of up to 40% last year – with one chief executive earning $145m


Yeah! Let's therefore stop blue collar workers with stable jobs from doing them and making money!!!
posted by downing street memo at 12:16 PM on December 14, 2011


Yeah! Let's therefore stop blue collar workers with stable jobs from doing them and making money!!!

Yeah! Keep the train throttle wide open! The fact that the train has jumped the track is of no concern!!!
posted by Benny Andajetz at 12:54 PM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I attended an Occupy Longview (WA) that was full of joy in the early morning hours. Of course Longview has other issues at the port than just Goldman Sachs and Occupy Whatever.

The local ILWU President even brought us coffee.
posted by leftcoastbob at 2:27 PM on December 14, 2011


Yeah! Keep the train throttle wide open! The fact that the train has jumped the track is of no concern!!!

Somebody raises a concrete concern, and the response is to use an abstract metaphor that everyone will interpret in different ways.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:43 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


People keep getting automated out of jobs because many, many things can be done cheaper, faster, and more accurately with computers.

As Alan Turing foresaw in 1949 when he was still inventing the damn thing.
posted by msalt at 3:28 PM on December 14, 2011


It was a little obvious since "computer" was actually a common occupation at the time.
posted by mek at 3:33 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


He wasn't talking about "computers" disappearing, but large amounts of the office workforce , which is pretty impressive given they were just figuring out long term memory at the time. There had been calculating machines for many many years; he was building a generally useful, freely programmable device.
posted by msalt at 4:17 PM on December 14, 2011


Dear Occupy protesters and port blockaders:

I like you.

No, I love you. I think you're great.

You are good people and you are on the right side of the important issues. I think we probably agree about what we would like our society to be: I think we both want people to be free, to have opportunities, to have healthcare, to have agency and a meaningful voice in our daily lives, in our workplaces, and in the governance of our country and our communities. We want the rich to pay more to support our communities. Not because we want to take from them, but because we want them to refund what they have taken from us and from our neighbors and from our families. And that is not a tacit endorsement of the existence of rich people qua rich people. I love you and I appreciate what you are doing.

But.

I am concerned by what looks to me like a vilification of those who may question the wisdom of the tactic of blockading these ports at this time with this particular array of allies and non-allies.

I would suggest considering the possibility that simply taking a militant stand in support of a noble ideal may not be leadership.

That perhaps an action may be justified by its underlying ideals and intentions, while not being justified by its effects.

What will be the effects of the port blockades? Maybe a strike against the profits of global finance. Maybe an escalating sense of unrest, unease and instability in the minds of policymakers. Maybe increased attention to your movement, maybe more and more sympathetic eyes, maybe more stirrings of hope among the hopeless, disaffected and disfranchised majority.

And what else?

Maybe a growing distrust among institutions and organizations who share your same ideals. Maybe a pang of fear and insecurity in those among the public who may be warming to your rhetoric, but are not quite ready to support militant action.

I think the latter is the concern among many critics of the port occupation. It's my concern.

As an organizer, I've made mistakes, and I've been wrong before. I may be wrong now. But I think there's a soundness to the insights I've gained from my experiences trying to lead people to take collective action.

Such as this: it is better -- and I mean more effective, not necessarily morally or ethically better, though I can see how one could make that case -- to meet your audience where they are, and take them step by step to where you want them to be. That's more effective in the long run than taking a militant stance that they aren't ready for and risk alienating them forever.

It's slow, and maybe not as immediately satisfying. There may not be the immediate thrill of facing down a policeman's baton.

But I would suggest that, in the future, your movement's leaders (and there are in fact leaders, though their names are not well-known) try to evaluate potential actions not through the eyes of savvy, seasoned organizers like yourselves, but through the eyes of the majorities of our nation's working class communities, union members and non-members alike, who are not ready at this moment to lay their bodies before the gates of our economy.

But who may be ready, some day, with your patient leadership.
posted by univac at 4:35 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


univac: could you try to make that more condescending and patronizing? I'm honestly curious because I'm not sure it's actually possible.
posted by delmoi at 4:50 PM on December 14, 2011 [5 favorites]


But I also don't hear anybody talking about how part of the reason the system's broken is that when communication turned national with TV and then the Internet, we lofty-minded leftists assumed that good rhetoric would turn the whole country in our favor. We just assumed that our culture was so good that all the other cultures of the country would turn to us for guidance. -- Rory Marinich
The other problem is that lots of "lofty-minded" lefties are also, themselves, 1%ers and comfortable themselves.
Split the enemy, not yourself. Take the Tea Party--they opposed healthcare for the poor. So they showed up at places their opponents (Dem congressmen) were there to explain themselves--town halls. Why not do the same thing to GOP congressmen. Is there a thing somewhere where a new Walmart or other development is going in? Be there. -- Ironmouth
I've seen plenty of examples of politicians being "Mic check'd" But it's interesting (but not very surprising at all) that you're still trying to claim the only in the problem is GOP congress people, no responsibility on behalf of democrats at all. Thankfully OWS isn't so naïve.
I offered several ideas at the beginning of this thread, in the 11th comment. Unlike you. Basically, create some ongoing economic or social service structures, using the energy of OWS to actually, you know, help people. -- msalt
Uh yeah how does that help achieve the goal of getting money out of politics? Simply trying to provide social services to help people who have been screwed over by failed government policies is not a solution to those policies.

As far as occupying foreclosed houses, OWS is already doing that.
I feel, however, that it may require the codicil "And negative comparisons of any political activist or protestor to Rosa Parks are unlikely to be productive or useful." It's like insisting that every high school basketball player should be able to dunk on LeBron. -- running order squabble fest
Yes, everyone in OWS is rich and white and has it great! And no one in history since the 1950s ever had it as bad as Rosa Parks, so no one has any right to do anything like what she did, ever.

Nevermind that people are actually fighting for some of the same things King was in the 1960s, particularly an end to poverty. Nevermind that minorities are being hit much harder by the depressed economy! How dare anyone compare themselves to civil rights leaders! Getting foreclosed or losing your job is nothing like not being able to sit where you want on a bus!
Wal-Mart has significantly driven down grocery prices in the United States, more than enough to offset their negative impact on wages. Their net impact is highly progressive - Jason Furman
Only if by "progressive" you mean "deflationary" -- not that lowering food costs isn't a good thing, but there are a lot of other issues in play. Helping out the poorest at the expense of the working class isn't really "progress"
posted by delmoi at 4:53 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, everyone in OWS is rich and white and has it great! And no one in history since the 1950s ever had it as bad as Rosa Parks, so no one has any right to do anything like what she did, ever.

I have no idea if this is supposed to be a representation of what I think. Structurally, it seems like it should be, but it's so ridiculously off-beam, so demented, that it seems like it can't be. So, before I respond, could I just confirm whether this is your attempt to represent my one-percenter views. And, if so, could I just suggest you have another try before I have to take the time to explain it to you? Only I'm having a busy day.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:05 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have no idea if this is supposed to be a representation of what I think. Structurally, it seems like it should be, but it's so ridiculously off-beam, so demented, that it seems like it can't be.
Well, there is no way for anyone to know what you think if you don't say it. Here is what you wrote:

There's a moment in the Aaron Sorkin TV dramedy Sportsnight, when a TV presenter is being dragged over the coals for apparently supporting the decriminalization of marijuana. He challenges his boss, who explains that he is going to apologize, because this is television and that's how it's done. He responds:

Yeah, well, sitting in the back of the bus was how it was done until a forty-two year old lady moved up front. I'm not very impressed with how things are done, Isaac.
At the end of the conversation, his boss says:

You know I love you, don't you? And because I love you I can say this: no rich young white guy has ever gotten anywhere with me comparing himself to Rosa Parks. Got it?
I'm absolutely alive to the irony that this line was probably written by Aaron Sorkin, but nonetheless it's not a bad rule of thumb.

I feel, however, that it may require the codicil "And negative comparisons of any political activist or protestor to Rosa Parks are unlikely to be productive or useful." It's like insisting that every high school basketball player should be able to dunk on LeBron.
So you give us a fictional anecdote about a rich white guy trying to claim the mantle of Rosa Parks, with the implication being rich white guys shouldn't try to claim the mantle of Rosa Parks. But, if OWS isn't made up of rich white guys, then why bring it up?

Also, I didn't really understand what you meant with the last paragraph at all what is a "negative" comparison to Rosa Parks? What maps to "dunking" in the metaphor about LeBron James? Being oppressed?

Never-mind that had that discussion been between two actual people instead of Aaron Sorkin trying to make a point the other guy could have brought up the fact that the people most hurt by the war on drugs, the people most likely to be thrown in jail over Marijuana, are poor African Americans.
posted by delmoi at 5:14 PM on December 14, 2011


So you give us a fictional anecdote about a rich white guy trying to claim the mantle of Rosa Parks, with the implication being rich white guys shouldn't try to claim the mantle of Rosa Parks. But, if OWS isn't made up of rich white guys, then why bring it up?

Because I was referring to masalt's statement here:

Shutting down the ports is not exactly comparable to challenging segregation at a lunch counter or on a bus.

Does that help to make more sense, or do you need some more help? Because this combination of inattention and self-righteousness isn't doing you a lot of favors, and I think it would be good if you had a chance to pull yourself out of your own stall.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:24 PM on December 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


Don't blame me for the fact you can't seem to express your ideas.
posted by delmoi at 5:30 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


My point about the lunch counter sitins had nothing to do with moral equivalency. I'm saying that demonstrations and direct action rarely succeed in the U.S. Getting on TV news is not a win, it's a trap. Who's watching? 85% plus, it's people with good jobs sitting in their homes, comfy, after work. They see that while they were at work, some activists got arrested or fought with the police about something. Their sympathy is not naturally with the demonstrators. Maybe for you and your friends, you automatically go "Boo cops." Well, your friends probably don't watch TV news, do they? I don't.

Getting on TV is a way of making a pitch to comfortable, middle class, older Americans. But it's very easy for it to backfire, because the wilder your actions or clothes, the more TV will show you -- it's simply more entertaining, even without Fox News-type bias.

The only times it has really worked well for the left in recent years has been the fight against segregation, and the fight against apartheid in South Africa, because the moral issue was so clear cut, and the vast majority of Americans agreed. It's a good tactic to rally the broader public against a clearly defined hateful set of unfair laws in a small geographic area. OWS' fight is important and just and right, but it's not that kind of fight. it requires a different tactic.
posted by msalt at 5:45 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't blame me for the fact you can't seem to express your ideas.

Ah, OK - so you are in fact genuinely having problems reading, or are maybe in some form of altered state. Hopefully the latter, because then you will just have a sore head tomorrow. Let me help you out, my bewildered chum!

Msalt was the one suggesting that the OWS protests did not hold up to the standard of the civil rights movement. In this statement:

Shutting down the ports is not exactly comparable to challenging segregation at a lunch counter or on a bus.

My point was that holding up Rosa Parks, the paragon of modern protest, and saying that the OWS activities were not valid because not Rosa Parks-level was a busted rhetorical flush.

Obviously, if you didn't pay enough attention to the early part of the thread to see the post by msalt, and were also somehow unable to discern that very line of his quoted at the top of the post of mine which you took issue with, this is going to be confusing. I think everything is going to be confusing if you don't read the start of it, right? So, you are clearly pretty lost when you ask:

Also, I didn't really understand what you meant with the last paragraph at all what is a "negative" comparison to Rosa Parks?

But that's fine - I'm here to help. Let me walk you through this bad boy.

The "negative" comparison to Rosa Parks is - obviously - a reference to the negative comparison with Rosa Parks msalt drew - specifically, a comparison between OWS and Rosa Parks which was intended to provide a negative reflection on OWS. In the sentence:

Shutting down the ports is not exactly comparable to challenging segregation at a lunch counter or on a bus.

Which was quoted at the top of the post. And which I hope you have now managed to read.

Following on from that, the answer to the question:

What maps to "dunking" in the metaphor about LeBron James? Being oppressed?

is, again, I think pretty obvious to anyone who brought their A game, or indeed any game through to about Q. This is what is being said:

Drawing unfavorable comparisons between Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement and OWS is a) somewhat cheap rhetoric - because the Civil Rights activists, who heroically risked their liberty and personal safety to make America a better place - are being pulled out for no other purpose than as a rhetorical tool. Hence the reference to the scene in "Sportsnight", where that exact thing happened.

It is also b) setting an unrealistically high standard - because Rosa Parks is a paragon of non-violent protest. And, indeed, accounts of her protest are often somewhat mythologized. To take this iconic figure from the past and demand that the immanent, not-yet-narrativised OWS protests bear up in comparison with this legend is setting an unrealistic standard. It is like -
and you might want to try to focus on this bit - expecting a high-school basketball player (that is, a youthful participant) to dunk on (that is, perform better than) LeBron (or, for the purposes of the metaphor, any other totemic basketball player).

Hope that helps.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:58 PM on December 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


is, again, I think pretty obvious to anyone who brought their A game, or indeed any game through to about Q. This is what is being said:
Yeah, believe it or not, people are not psychic. They can't tell what you mean if you don't actually say it. Only one other person responded to what you wrote and seemed to draw the same conclusion I did. Like I said, your failure to communicate is your own fault.
posted by delmoi at 6:19 PM on December 14, 2011


This thread is a perfect example of why "progressives" will always lose, and why the right will always win: progressives tend to fight bitterly over what in reality are differences of opinion, while the right will find things they agree on.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:44 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


They can't tell what you mean if you don't actually say it.

I did say it. The fact that you are not on the ball enough this evening to notice msalt's original post, or to notice it being quoted at the top of my post, suggests that the issue is not what I am not saying. It's what you are not reading.

Only one other person responded to what you wrote and seemed to draw the same conclusion I did.

Actually, Jahaza is drawing a different conclusion entirely from yours, which again I think any competent reader would be able to discern pretty easily. Jahaza is saying that the difference between the OWS protest at the ports and the Civil Rights protests is their moral legitimacy. S/he understands the point I am making, but disagrees with it. S/he believes that the thing that makes the OWS protests unlike the Civil Rights protests, and thus makes unfavourable comparisons coherent and accurate, is that the Civil Rights protestors' acts of civil disobedience were justifiable, because violating unjust laws, whereas OWS closing the ports is not a morally justifiable action.

Again, you seem to be having trouble understanding or reading English, so let me remind you of what you actually said:
Yes, everyone in OWS is rich and white and has it great! And no one in history since the 1950s ever had it as bad as Rosa Parks, so no one has any right to do anything like what she did, ever.

Nevermind that people are actually fighting for some of the same things King was in the 1960s, particularly an end to poverty. Nevermind that minorities are being hit much harder by the depressed economy! How dare anyone compare themselves to civil rights leaders! Getting foreclosed or losing your job is nothing like not being able to sit where you want on a bus!
That's quite different from what Jahaza is saying, which is that OWS are not morally entitled to close the ports:
A (peaceful) strike by the longshoreman themselves would be something different. Even if I disagreed with the reason they were striking, it would be an acceptable method of protest. (Though generally, "Strikes don't strike me.")
Sort of different, isn't it? Yours is a series of wild rhetorical swings based on a comical misunderstanding, whereas Jahaza is understanding but disagreeing with the point I was pretty obviously making.

At this point, you don't seem to have any idea of what you or indeed anyone else are trying to communicate - you have in fact forgotten completely about OWS and are scrabbling around trying to insult me into submission rather than own up to what would have been a silly but not particular significant one-off reading fail brainfart, which you have now doubled down on. Your English Comp problems are not my problem, nor are they are a big problem currently facing the Occupy movement. If I were you I would get your toys back in your pram and try to get back ontopic.

Hope that helps.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:44 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


delmoi: there's an idea there, in my comment, and it is separate from my tone (or my perceived tone). What do you think of it - the idea?
posted by univac at 6:52 PM on December 14, 2011


univac: could you try to make that more condescending and patronizing? I'm honestly curious because I'm not sure it's actually possible.
posted by delmoi at 4:50 PM on December 14 [4 favorites +] [!]


Also, this is kind of the problem I was referring to. If everyone critical of a tactic - not even critical of your goals, but of a single tactic - is attacked and treated as an enemy, then there is a problem.

A movement's strength is built by winning people over, not just by having the right opinion.
posted by univac at 7:10 PM on December 14, 2011


Like I said, your failure to communicate is your own fault.

Most people here are patient enough to read through the thread in order and see what ROSF was saying. It was perfectly comprehensible and didn't need any further explanation in its original context. So from here it looks like you just got the wrong end of the stick and ran with it.

Maybe if you weren't so busy sneering at people at people you might find them easier to understand. For example,on pretty much every OWS-related thread where someone observes that the movement is not attracting much popular sympathy that it doesn't matter whether OWS (or any offshoot thereof) is popular 'because it's not running for election.' Each time it is pointed out to you that it does kind of matter, because popularity helps win the election of one's preferred candidates and the elected officials are the ones that get to make laws, you just blow it off, despite the obvious success that that the Tea Party types had at the last election.

Are the Tea Party types in Congress a pathetic joke? Sure. Can they safely be ignored? Well, no, because it turns out that they have control of the House of Representatives and therefore can hold the budget hostage whenever they get upset, which means they have a lot of political power. Gaining political power in a similar manner is a great deal more effective than playing at revolutions.

But according to you, popularity doesn't matter. What is it that you expect to happen? Some sort of mass awakening where everyone suddenly comes around to your point of view, or some collapse in the social order that lets us start over, or bitcoin suddenly become the official currency and replaces the US dollar? Call me a squishy moderate if you like, but Occupy increasingly resembles some sort of Manichean doomsday cult from where I'm sitting, with weird chanting and vague allusions to some kind of economic rapture. I mean, you're picking fights with people who people even when they agree with you.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:13 PM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oops!

...the movement is not attracting much popular sympathy that it doesn't matter whether...
should read
...the movement is not attracting much popular sympathy, you say that it doesn't matter whether...

posted by anigbrowl at 7:19 PM on December 14, 2011


On the other hand, there may be a Robespierre amongst the revolutionaries in this thread
posted by KokuRyu at 7:20 PM on December 14, 2011


Impossible - this time it's different, n'est ce pas?
posted by anigbrowl at 7:24 PM on December 14, 2011


This thread is a perfect example of why "progressives" will always lose, and why the right will always win: progressives tend to fight bitterly over what in reality are differences of opinion, while the right will find things they agree on.

Yes! We should be like the Right! Let's put our ear to the door and see if we can figure out HOW THEY DO IT:

..."CAIN!" "BACHMANN!" "PERRY!" "MITT!" "NEWT!"...

Um, yes. Phooey to you sir.
posted by JHarris at 8:01 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been on the other side of Delmoi "not understanding" that what I was saying was not the least charitable possible interpretation, but I'm having a hard time understanding why you would bring up Rosa Parks in this situation if you aren't trying to minimize the struggle of OWS in comparison.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:13 PM on December 14, 2011


I'm having a hard time understanding why you would bring up Rosa Parks in this situation if you aren't trying to minimize the struggle of OWS in comparison.

Because msalt implicitly referred to her:
Shutting down the ports is not exactly comparable to challenging segregation at a lunch counter or on a bus.
So running order squabble fest was responding and noting that neither positive nor negative comparisons were likely to be useful, but his illustrative anecdote involved a discussion of Rosa parks.

I'm not entirely sure, but I don't think running order squabble fest was trying to "minimize the struggle of OWS in comparison."

I, on the other hand, am happy to do that if you want...
posted by Jahaza at 8:34 PM on December 14, 2011


Jahaza is quite right. I didn't bring up Rosa Parks, furiousxgeorge. Look over there. Now look here, where I have already suggested that delmoi look over there. Now look over here. I'm on a horse.

Just in case this remains unclear: msalt brought up Rosa Parks, in this much-repeated line:

Shutting down the ports is not exactly comparable to challenging segregation at a lunch counter or on a bus.

My entire point was that putting Occupy in the balance against Rosa Parks and the Greensboro sit-ins was not useful, because - actually, I may as well just copy and paste myself explaining this to delmoi, right? This will be new content, yes?
Drawing unfavorable comparisons between Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights Movement and OWS is a) somewhat cheap rhetoric - because the Civil Rights activists, who heroically risked their liberty and personal safety to make America a better place - are being pulled out for no other purpose than as a rhetorical tool. Hence the reference to the scene in "Sportsnight", where that exact thing happened.

It is also b) setting an unrealistically high standard - because Rosa Parks is a paragon of non-violent protest. And, indeed, accounts of her protest are often somewhat mythologized. To take this iconic figure from the past and demand that the immanent, not-yet-narrativised OWS protests bear up in comparison with this legend is setting an unrealistic standard.
So, to recap:

1) I did not bring up Rosa Parks. I responded to msalt bringing up Rosa Parks and the Greensboro sit-ins. I quoted that in the post where Rosa Parks was first mentioned by name. So, even if you had come to this conclusion by inputting Ctrl/Apple-F "Rosa Parks", you could still have seen that if you had read the entire post. Not even the entire thread. Just that whole post. Come, as GOB would say, on!

2) My referencing of Rosa Parks was not "trying to minimize the struggle of OWS in comparison". It's amazing that you think that.

It was very explicitly calling into question the use of the Civil Rights movement as a rhetorical device. The comparison is the boss in Sportsnight telling the presenter that he is not going to be persuaded by a tangential citation - by someone with no involvement in the Civil Rights struggle - of Rosa Parks, because simply mentioning Rosa Parks does not confer moral authority.

In this instance, furthermore, comparing any current ongoing protest movement with the Civil Rights movement - which was hugely significant, ultimately successful and has been burnished by history into one of the founding myths of the modern United States - is not going to provide much useful information. There's no way to calibrate the comparison usefully.

God, and that was Sportsnight. Thank God I didn't go for The West Wing. It would have been like Scanners in here.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:14 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I did not say that you brought her up, did I rosf?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:50 PM on December 14, 2011


delmoi: there's an idea there, in my comment, and it is separate from my tone (or my perceived tone). What do you think of it - the idea?
Well, go ahead and try to implement it. If it works then it will be obvious that you were right, right?
Maybe if you weren't so busy sneering at people at people you might find them easier to understand. For example,on pretty much every OWS-related thread where someone observes that the movement is not attracting much popular sympathy that it doesn't matter whether OWS (or any offshoot thereof) is popular 'because it's not running for election.' Each time it is pointed out to you that it does kind of matter, because popularity helps win the election of one's preferred candidates and the elected officials are the ones that get to make laws, you just blow it off, despite the obvious success that that the Tea Party types had at the last election.
Well, like I said, the tea-party was supported and funded by the same rich donors who always support republicans. They had the support of and promotion on the most watched "news" network in the country. So it's not suprising they were able to win an election when most Americans were unhappy with their government.

That said, just how unpopular is OWS supposed to be? The most recent nationwide poll I found (from November 21st) shows
Americans have grown a bit more critical over the past month of the methods used by Occupy Wall Street protesters; however, their overall view of the movement and position on its goals have not changed. The majority of Americans, 53%, say they neither support nor oppose the movement, while supporters continue to slightly outnumber opponents.. They found 24% of Americans consider themselves OWS supporters, while 19% consider themselves opponents.
That was from Gallup, on November 21st. On the other hand this poll from PPP on November 16th shows 33% support the goals of OWS, while 45% say the oppose them (note the semantic difference, do you support the goals vs. 'are you a supporter')

I tried to find some more recent polling data and found this showing that in NYC a majority approve of OWS and in fact it actually has a higher approval rating then Bloomberg, which is cute, but obviously won't have an impact on national policies itself.

But that said, exactly how popular do you think OWS needs to be? Do you think Martin Luthor King could have won an election in 1960? I seriously doubt it.

The point here is 1) The most recent polling data shows that OWS has about 25-35% support, which is a lot. It's certainly enough to have a major impact on the democratic primary elections if that's what they want to do.

The question I would ask is, what level of support do you think they need? How many people need to agree with you before you can have a say in any kind of social change? Do you need majority support, or what?


Because the problem is that the 'moneyed interests' have a huge megaphone they can use to smear whoever they want. If OWS was as pure and virtuous as the driven snow, Newt Gingrich would still be out there saying they need to take a bath and get a job. Everyone on fox news would be slamming them, and so on.
But according to you, popularity doesn't matter. What is it that you expect to happen?
Were the bus boycotts in Alabama popular there? Did they work? In your mind, what caused them to be successful, if not popularity?

I think OWS could have a big impact on the democratic primaries if they organize well, but the problem is even if they do, you have no control over them once they're in office. Other then that, if they have enough people to cause economic problems then you're forced to negotiate. That's what happened in Montgomery, the bus system had to shut down due to the boycott and in order to re-open they had to acquiesce to the boycotter's demands. That seems to be part of what OWS is going for. The movement is obviously made up of lots of people with different views.

As for who brought up Rosa parks first, or whatever, it's kind of a derail at this point.
posted by delmoi at 10:01 PM on December 14, 2011


Furiousxgeorge: I did not say that you brought her up, did I rosf?


Look down. Now look up:

Furiousxgeorge: I've been on the other side of Delmoi "not understanding" that what I was saying was not the least charitable possible interpretation, but I'm having a hard time understanding why you would bring up Rosa Parks in this situation if you aren't trying to minimize the struggle of OWS in comparison.

I remain on a horse.

delmoi: As for who brought up Rosa parks first, or whatever, it's kind of a derail at this point.


It always was - a derail you caused by not reading the thread properly, and then trying some rather maladroit Internet bullying. I'm not expecting an apology - I've used the Internet before, ever - but perhaps the best way you could say sorry without typing those impossibly difficult words would be to read the thread before your next comment? I think it would help you, and the thread.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:05 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


That was a very ambiguous you, why would you assume it was directed at yourself?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:08 AM on December 15, 2011


That was a very ambiguous you, why would you assume it was directed at yourself?

If this is the mast you want to lash yourself to, sure - whatever I can do to help. I would assume that it was directed at myself because it came directly under an exchange involving me about precisely that subject, and because of the preceding words:

I've been on the other side of Delmoi "not understanding" that what I was saying was not the least charitable possible interpretation

Which seems remarkably likely to be a reference to delmoi's maladroit Internet bullying from here onwards, in which delmoi does indeed not understand (sentences), and comes up with an interpretation which, along with "bewildering" and "eccentric", is I guess also "uncharitable".

However, you now want us to develop the hypothesis that you were not addressing me. No problem. In which case, you were presumably either addressing somebody else, or asking nobody else, and just asking the question generally, right? Those are the two options?

So, who might you be asking? Well, there's msalt, who actually did bring Rosa Parks up. However, saying to msalt:

I'm having a hard time understanding why you would bring up Rosa Parks in this situation if you aren't trying to minimize the struggle of OWS in comparison.


Would be a tad odd, because he's already explained why he brought up Rosa Parks, and that's pretty much why - although minimize/contextualize/potato/potahto. Read that here. To be exact, the interpretation he gave of his intentions was to demonstrate that occupying the ports is not like Rosa Parks' bus protest or the Greensboro and other sit-ins because the moral issue was so clear cut, and the vast majority of Americans agreed with the Civil Rights movement. He doesn't think direct action and protests have worked in America, except in the case of the Civil Rights movement. I'm not sure I'd agree on that, but I think American History 201 would also be a derail.

However, a lot of fighty water had flowed under the bridge since msalt's last contribution, so I would have expected an msalt at the start of your question, which came right under my slow and simple explanation to delmoi of where he had gone awry. You'll notice that Jahaza came to the same logical conclusion that I did - that you were addressing me.

I guess you could be asking delmoi, who is indeed bringing up Rosa Parks, but given that your statement of confusion re: bringing up Rosa Parks is immediately preceded by:

I've been on the other side of Delmoi "not understanding" that what I was saying was not the least charitable possible interpretation

That would suggest that you feel that delmoi is not understanding himself - which at this point is perfectly credible, but seems like an odd way to put it.

If you just sort of got lost between the clauses of the sentence, though, that's no problem. In which case... you were asking a general question about why anyone would bring up Rosa Parks? Well, I think I've already given my impression of why msalt did - as a rhetorical device to support his contention that the port blockade is not a good use of protest. It's hard to imagine generalities when there is an actual specificity right there in the thread. I imagine that in a parallel universe it might have gone differently.

In any universe, I'd say it's theoretically possible to bring up Rosa Parks and the Civil Rights movement without seeking to minimize the protests - delmoi is currently bringing up Martin Luthor (sic) King, and is not seeking to minimize OWS by doing so, but rather to draw a direct equivalency between Dr King and OWS, on the grounds that both are a) good and b) popular, although not the kind of popular that wins presidential elections.

Anything else I can help with? Only I think that this is almost paradigmatically MetaTalk, at this point - what has actually happened is blindingly obvious, and has been for some time, the rest is just the long tail of people on the Internet not wanting to admit to a mistake, and it might be better to move any further questions over there.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:31 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey: And if we are indeed looking at years, if not decades of struggle to reform the society that is so stacked against us and in favor of the already rich and powerful who stay that way by maintaining the status quo, then maybe its a victory for people to see how easy mass action is.

We can vote all we want, blah, blah, blah. What happened to the Public Option in the healthcare debate once Chicago Hope made it to the Oval Office? He seemed to be in favor of it on the campaign trail.


I find it deliciously ironic that you link to Professor Domhoff's "Who Rules America" site, then immediately argue that we should ignore the political and electoral process, when Professor Domhoff argues the exact opposite.

From the article at "Who Rules America" entitled "Third Parties Don't Work: Why and How Egalitarians Should Transform the Democratic Party":

This document first explains why third parties cannot work in the United States. Then it explains how and why it would now be possible to transform the Democratic Party into a nationwide liberal-labor-left coalition, thanks to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, which forced the southern white racists who previously controlled the party into the Republican Party.

I'd encourage you to read the article. This is not the first time progressives have come together and said, "this time it's different," or, "the democratic party is impure - we need to start from scratch." Professor Domhoff shines a bright light on this naive mode of thinking and outlines the reasons that transforming the democratic party is the best hope for progressives, as well as outlining a strategy for accomplishing that transformation.
posted by syzygy at 4:04 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is it that you expect to happen? Some sort of mass awakening where everyone suddenly comes around to your point of view[?]

YES. This is how social movements work. Group A with a grievance makes themselves known with mass action. Group B says, "Hey, we realized have the same grievance. Let's fix this" and joins Group A. Like so:
A group of African-American church leaders announced Wednesday their intention to join ranks with the Occupy movement in the nation's capital, bolstering what some consider a mutual message of condemning income inequality and social injustice...

We are occupying until poverty is eradicated," pastor Jamal Harrison Bryant told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington, near where a core group of activists remains encamped.

The two groups plan to gather during a national "day of action" scheduled for January 16, set to coincide with the commemoration of former civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
The civil rights movement didn't succeed because they took a popular idea and made a movement out of it. They succeeded because they made their grievances known, and wouldn't go away until they convinced fellow citizens and lawmakers that racial equality was morally correct. They changed the morality of America for the better.

The Occupy movement has the job of convincing Americans that extreme wealth inequality is also morally incorrect. Regardless of your political persuasion, most people agree that the American working class is being sold out. One major group thinks it's the Democrats and government, another thinks it's Republicans and corporations, but most people are starting to realize that it's both parties being controlled by plutocrats who have as much access to cabinet level government as you or I have to the local school board.

That's morally unacceptable for a nation that it supposed to be a democracy. And I hope the Occupy Movement remains a thorn in everyone's side until it is rectified.
posted by deanklear at 5:38 AM on December 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


From the article at "Who Rules America" entitled "Third Parties Don't Work: Why and How Egalitarians Should Transform the Democratic Party":
I certainly think OWS should organize and promote primary candidates. But it actually may be too late in a lot of states for them to have any impact on the 2012 election. The new Hampshire primary is next month. I don't think OWS will be able to get itself organized in time enough for it to do recruiting, and it would also be up against the DCCC, which consistently goes for people it thinks can fund raise, mostly meaning the corporate types.
posted by delmoi at 7:05 AM on December 15, 2011


Mayor Jean Quan is doing everything possible to make sure OO can't feed people. Now they're banning tables at the Oscar Grant Plaza vigil, not just tents. No info table, not kitchen distribution...

Update: the info table is back. Interfaith tent is now the Interfaith Beach Umbrella. And Runningwolf's tipi poles come down at 10pm. Lake Quan around the historic Oak Tree till pretty soaked & muddy. The War on Tents continues.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:42 AM on December 15, 2011


Prof. Domhoff does in fact lay out a clear argument on why 3rd parties structurally don't work in America and I think he's right.

On the one hand, if it weren't for OWS raising a ruckus, Obama would never have made the recent speech he did. That's positive pressure on an elected Democrat. Good. The "Bully Pulpit" is one of the most powerful tools the President has.

OTOH, Obama seems poised to sign the NDAA which lawyers far less less radical than John Yoo interpret as allowing for the military detention of anyone anywhere, including American citizens and residents on American soil. Whole bunch of Democrats who talk progressive passed it.

Mayor Jean Quan has already labeled port blockades by community picket lines to be "economic terrorism". If I end up in a FEMA internment camp branded a terrorist...

My views of where we are now as a are strongly influenced by The Fourth Turning. I do believe that History, while it doesn't repeat itself, rhymes. And we've entered another crisis period in our societal cycle.

Thing about Fourth Turning crises, they tend to to involve a breaking down of the old order and establishing a new one. I think there's a non-zero chance I'll see the break-up of the United States before I die and I'm 42 & healthy.

The reason the Prophet Generation (equally demonstrated in both Hilary Clinton AND Newt Gingrich) didn't reboot society during the 60s was because that's not what 2nd turnings/"Awakenings" do.

The Crisis is the period in the cycle when societal reboots happen. And I believe that turn of the wheel is upon us.

I'm upbeat, because like Spring after Winter, after we weather this Crisis, we'll come out the other side into a new High. What the country looks like by then, I don't know. Maybe I'm a citizen of Cali-Cascadia by the time I die telling children what it was like back when one country made up of 50 states went from coast to coast.

Everyone has to come to a decision about where they stand.

I Hella Occupy.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:42 AM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


hey anigbrowl im just swooping in here real quick

while automation causes there to be fewer manufacturing jobs overall, the tendency for manufacturing and processing of raw materials to be done overseas where labor is cheaper and safety/labor/environmental standards are more lax or nonexistent also makes it difficult for manufacturing workers to collectively bargain, since they are now "competing" on a global market with wildly different labor/cost of living standards. not to mention that in some instances, like with smelting or food production, we are seeing problems in the products being created because of the lack of standards, cf shitty chinese/indian steel, chinese food additive horror of the week story (like chinese honey with antibiotics and lead in it)

and while i understand that actions like blockading ports and shit are not doing anything to fix this, i also got a lot of frustration and feel like nothing i do is going to stop people from doing what comes natural, and so i can understand wanting to just demonstrate and say HELLO. WE ARE HERE. THIS IS POISONOUS FUCKERY. YOU ARE HURTING US. yeah it isnt productive but how else am i supposed to respond to my masters pronging me in the nethers and rewarding a small group of people who destroyed the world economy because it seemed like a good idea at the time
posted by beefetish at 10:04 AM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whether the Tea Party was astroturfed by rich Republicans doesn't matter. (probably about 75%, I'd say, but there was some real anger there.) The Tea Party provided a template for how OWS can work, and they showed that elections do matter and do work.

First step, direct action to get public attention and show that there is public anger and energy. Done.

Second step, shift gears to organize -- forming groups, building email lists, having get-togethers, and stop pissing people off with your direct action. Build your movement brand and work it into every conversation.

Step three, vote out squishy moderates in your party in primaries. You only need to knock off a handfull, plus a few near misses. This drastically stiffens the backbone of the existing congresspeople and presidential candidates in your party.

You don't need Fox or Koch to do this, if you have genuine mass support.
posted by msalt at 12:34 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


You don't need Fox or Koch to do this, if you have genuine mass support.

Unless all of the media is owned by corporations who aren't too fond of your message. The fourth estate isn't journalism anymore. It's multinational corporations, and they don't care about the truth, or justice, or equality. They'll set all of that on fire to earn another dollar, and they are.
posted by deanklear at 12:40 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


With all due respect, that's defeatist BS. The most watched broadcast news outlet in the U.S. is NPR news. TV news caters to a dwindling rump of elderlies. Most journalism, whether by newspapers or not, is taking place on the Internet.

It also really doesn't matter. The press in the US has always been profit-making. "Multinational" is a red herring even when it's true. There are ways to get on profit-making news shows, and consequences of fitting into those ways. OWS is getting lots of coverage, some good, some bad, and we can shape that by our actions.
posted by msalt at 1:01 PM on December 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whether the Tea Party was astroturfed by rich Republicans doesn't matter. (probably about 75%, I'd say, but there was some real anger there.) The Tea Party provided a template for how OWS can work, and they showed that elections do matter and do work.

The Tea Party has achieved minor obstruction. As conservatives obstruction is part of their goals so that is okay, but dreams like abolishing Obamacare will simply never happen.

The OWS agenda is not minor obstruction.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:52 PM on December 15, 2011


I've never said OWS shouldn't *also* try to win primaries. But as I've said, if you look at the civil rights movement, there was also lots of direct action, protests, and so on and they definitely did things that caused economic problems.

As far as popularity 25/30% support in this country is quite a bit, more then enough to swing primaries if they can find candidates and get everything straightened out in a short period of time.
posted by delmoi at 6:00 PM on December 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


25/30% support in this country is quite a bit, more then enough to swing primaries

Unless OWS supporters keep announcing that elections are stupid and worthless and controlled by right-wing multinationals, so they don't vote and decide that the really cool thing to do is street actions that alienate most voters.
posted by msalt at 12:11 AM on December 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's rich, coming from someone who makes a living selling intoxicants.

Does it lighten your personal load to spent those every-so-heavy credibility points on ad hominem #FAIL?
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 2:25 AM on December 16, 2011




From Umberto Eco, Travels in Hyperreality, pp 159 Harcourt Brace 1990 edition.

"There is one thing that--even if it were considered essential--no student movement or urban revolt or global protest or what have you would ever be able to do. And that is to occupy the football field on a Sunday."

February 5, 2012 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. Occupy the Super Bowl!
posted by bukvich at 12:47 PM on December 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, THAT'S the way to make yourself popular. Alienate 169.2 million Americans who want to watch the game.
posted by msalt at 8:42 PM on December 16, 2011


msalt that is sort of Eco's point.

If the 99% had their shit together it is logically obvious that 99% of the 169.2 million television viewers would see the advantage to take advantage of the opportunity to address all our collective attention directly to the most pressing issue of our lives.

The converse is that extant bread and circuses are sufficient to maintain the status quo.
posted by bukvich at 10:04 AM on December 17, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow, could you be more condescending to the huge majority of Americans? If they had their shit together, they would want OWS to disrupt the big game they've been waiting for for months. That, in a nutshell, is exactly why Americans hate demonstrators.

I'll stick with Emma Goldman: If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution.
posted by msalt at 3:33 PM on December 17, 2011




Unless OWS supporters keep announcing that elections are stupid and worthless and controlled by right-wing multinationals, so they don't vote and decide that the really cool thing to do is street actions that alienate most voters.

Christ, are you just going to keep whining about this or ever address how they are actually supposed to achieve 60 liberal Senators?

(Whine, because you already know that it won't actually happen)
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:09 PM on December 17, 2011


Hey, check it out, just found a new poll, from December 15th 45% of americans say they support occupy wallstreet. 35% oppose. So, more people support OWS then oppose it. However, 49% disapprove of 'the way the Occupy Wall Street protests are being conducted'.

So clearly, this shows that people are still willing to support OWS even if they don't like the way they're being run. On the other hand it does show that people aren't happy with what OWS is doing.

But still, while people in this thread were bitching about how OWS was alienating people, it only got more popular.
posted by delmoi at 3:33 AM on December 18, 2011


That, in a nutshell, is exactly why Americans hate demonstrators.
[Citation required] Also, this was only happening in bukvich's imagination, it's not something OWS was actually doing.
posted by delmoi at 3:35 AM on December 18, 2011


Sweet ad hominem attacks delmoi and furiousxgeorge. (whining, bitching). Smootches.

Poll #s -- that seems about exactly right. As I've said, OWS started beautifully -- got people's attention, hit a crucial issue, struck a nerve. That's why I think its time to shift tactics.

Didn't someone say in passing that somewhere OWS folks ARE helping homeless families occupy illegally foreclosed houses, which was my suggestion? That's great. I'd love to hear more. How about, we focus on stuff like that -- which unequivocally helps everyone involved, even the banks -- and publicize that, instead of shutting down people's jobs?
posted by msalt at 10:15 AM on December 18, 2011


Didn't someone say in passing that somewhere OWS folks ARE helping homeless families occupy illegally foreclosed houses, which was my suggestion? That's great.

I don't support taking unlawful possession of private property any more than taking unlawful occupation of public property...but if they're going to go that route, then I think there's a right and a wrong way to do it.

The right way is exactly what you're describing: The protestors help homeless families occupy houses. In other words, run an OWS version of Habitat for Humanity. Fix the house as necessary, move the family in, set them up—including paying heat, electricity, etc. Then publicize how you've transformed a vacant, deteriorating property into a flourishing home, how without your actions the house would be blight and the family would be living in the cold.

The wrong way is, to my understanding, what they are in fact doing, and basically what OWS tried to do in New York yesterday: merely moving the same old tired "Occupation!!" tactic from public grounds (which isn't really defensible on First-Amendment grounds) onto private property (which isn't remotely defensible on First-Amendment grounds). "Occupying" foreclosed homes is not a great idea.

"Repurposing" them, on the other hand, could work in OWS's favor. I don't support it, but purely from the perspective of what some of them want (see above in this thread, e.g., "rebooting society") it's not a bad idea.
posted by red clover at 11:39 AM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oops, you forgot to answer my question but instead "complained" more.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:52 PM on December 18, 2011


I'm 110% in favor of OWS squatting and occupying homes being foreclosed. I think that would be an awesome way to spend the winter. If they wanted to do something that would A) get attention B) Fuck with the banks and C) Not piss off regular people.
posted by empath at 6:19 PM on December 18, 2011


For anyone who thinks we should "Occupy the Democratic Party so we can elect good people who will do good things", I suggest you peruse these diagrams. The same corporations that own the Republican party own the Dems, and no matter what the rabble who vote for them want, it's all bought and paid for and 99% of us can't afford a seat at the table where the decisions that matter are made.

Jan. 20th Bay Area Occupies are gonna shut down San Francisco's Financial District. Enough grains of sand, and the machine grinds to a halt.

Highly recommend you and your friends identify where your local 1% make money and (legally & non-violently) fuck shit up there on Jan 20th. Ask yourself How, with sheer volume of bodies declaring We're all gonna go here now, can we fuck our local 1% in the money hole? As they learned in Portland, 1 person has to walk on the street. 500 people walk wherever the fuck they want.

Fuck protest permits and free speech zones, the First Amendment is out protest permit, and the United States of America is a Free-Speech Zone. Bring your cameras to film the police. Bring snacks to feed yourself and your fellow occupiers, bring music to dance to.

Hella Occupy Everywhere.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 7:30 PM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


furiousxgeorge: you seem offended that there might be differences of opinion about tactics within OWS. I think you're missing kind of a key point of the whole movement.

"Dems and Repubs are all the same" is trite BS. The Citizens United case, the biggest setback in US democracy in 50 years, was a 5-4 decision along party lines. If people who thought Dems and Republicans are all the same had voted for Al Gore in 2000, it would have been 6-3 the other way.

How do you get to 60 liberal senators? Not by saying "That's impossible, let's fuck shit up instead." You get 60 by working your ass off for years and carefully planning strategy. You realize that the right wing will continue to do that whether you oppose them or not, right? They doing it right now and they are in the minority in the Senate. You, meanwhile, are trying convince liberals not to even vote.

Really, you read more like a police/right wing agitator infiltrating OWS than anyone trying to help.
posted by msalt at 7:40 PM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Re "piss[ing] off regular people," did you happen to watch 60 Minutes tonight? I suspect that in a majority of cases, OWS squatting in foreclosed homes would indeed piss off regular people (i.e., neighbors).

I thought Cleveland's solution was pretty interesting, as portrayed in the broadcast.
Across America, recession-fueled foreclosures and plummeting home values have left countless properties abandoned and vulnerable to looting. As Scott Pelley reports, the problem has gotten so bad in Cleveland, Ohio, that county officials have demolished more than 1,000 homes this year - and plan to demolish 20,000 more - rather than let the blight spread and render nearby homes worthless. ... To make the house next door, worth more instead of less, vacant land created by demolition is often given to the neighbors, and sometimes turned into fields or gardens.
To the extent that banks are doing fuck-all to improve the situation, I found this somewhat of a clever solution. The problem is huge and many of the options proposed (including "occupying" the foreclosed homes) address an aspect but don't solve anything. This idea is solution-aimed thinking.
posted by red clover at 7:49 PM on December 18, 2011


I agree with occupying foreclosed homes obviously, but that doesn't maintain a movement.

I agree that Democrats are preferable to Republicans, but joining or openly supporting an institution as corrupt as the Democratic party destroys your movement's credibility, witness the Tea party.

There is a simple truth that, if your talking about financial malfeasance and financial regulation, then the Democrats can and will swoop in to increase their representation in congress by picking up your talking points, fine great. You want them taking your talking points though, not giving you talking points, ala the Fox/Kock buyout of the Tea party.

In fact, you cannot actually campaign for Democrats. You must restrict yourself to the real issues, with only occasional attacks on particularly corrupt politicians. Yes, there will Republicans who defeat particularly corrupt Democrats too, but that's great too.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:59 PM on December 18, 2011


I found that "one person has to walk on the sidewalk, 500 people can walk wherever they please" article interesting, thanks PBMZ.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:15 PM on December 18, 2011


I suspect that in a majority of cases, OWS squatting in foreclosed homes would indeed piss off regular people (i.e., neighbors).

Depends on how they do it. Banks make lousy neighbors. As long as they keep up the property it should be fine.
posted by empath at 8:36 PM on December 18, 2011


The neighbors in the vicinity of the Occupied house at 10th and Mandela (in the image) seem to be down every time I go by.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 8:44 PM on December 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


What Empath said. An abandoned house is the worst. It deteriorates; pipes burst in the cold. Sometimes drug dealers or bored teenagers move in for a while and trash the place.

Yeah, I wouldn't recommend a big Occupy party with 200 people partying to dubstep/hardcore bands, but something like Habitat would be perfect. If you want to be an alternative to the current financial system, then be that alternative. Show a better way. Not a short term stunt to get on the news, but something that could actually work going forward. Homesteaders helped the lower east side of NYC immeasurably in the 70s and early 80s.

PBZM: That link is PERFECT. Exactly what I was hoping for. Thanks!
posted by msalt at 9:17 PM on December 18, 2011


You get 60 by working your ass off for years and carefully planning strategy.

What strategy gets you 60 liberal senators from a nation of 30% liberals over a matter of years.

Could it be...

MIGHT IT BE...

WOULD IT BE....first winning the people to your side before shifting all your focus to elections?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:58 AM on December 19, 2011


But for real...

Hey msalt, how do you win the Super Bowl?

You seem offended that there might be differences of opinion about tactics, you just work your ass off for years and carefully plan!

OK thanks for that valuable insight! The Lombardi is mine!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:03 AM on December 19, 2011


Insert careful plan to get the South to vote for pro-choice Democrats here:
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:05 AM on December 19, 2011


(as OWS liberals, they are also economic leftists and support gay marriage)

Remember, "Go plan it!" doesn't count as you suggesting a plan!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:09 AM on December 19, 2011












He always seems to know the right thing to say, doesn't he?
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:29 PM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]




Or, if you want to defy police, how about fixing up foreclosed houses and helping carefully selected homeless families move in?

Just saw this article about precisely this idea! Chicago Jewish Activists Help Homeless Family Take Over Foreclosed Home
posted by Salamandrous at 1:41 PM on December 27, 2011 [1 favorite]






« Older "Bob Shuter, suburban vigilante. Driven by rage to...   |   SpaceShipTwo Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post