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Chomsky publishes new book, Occupy
May 7, 2012 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Noam Chomsky has released a new book -- Occupy -- through Zuccotti Park Press. In Occupy, Chomsky discusses how a real democracy would work, how we can separate money from politics, and why everyday Americans are deciding to protest.

AlterNet recently posted an extensive interview with Chomsky, who claims America and Europe are committing economic suicide. Chomsky's focus on the OWS movement comes at the same time as coverage on the alleged Cleveland bridge bombing conspirators' close association with Occupy Cleveland.
posted by GnomeChompsky (245 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite

 
What right does Chomsky have to occupy Occupy?
posted by Nomyte at 12:53 PM on May 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Occupy Wall St is all over the place, dude. It'a what we need when oppression is all over the place, dude.
posted by fuq at 12:57 PM on May 7, 2012


You can count on Noam Chomsky to make a 128 page pamphlet.
posted by charred husk at 12:59 PM on May 7, 2012 [22 favorites]


I think the OWS Cleveland bombing plot was just some advance viral marketing for the upcoming Batman movie.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:00 PM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's all over
The place
Dude
Occupy Occupy
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:00 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not sure how the Cleveland gang plot ties into Chomsky's book at all, it's not mentioned in the interview.
posted by T.D. Strange at 1:00 PM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


In the US, first of all, the electoral system has been almost totally shredded. For a long time it’s been pretty much run by private concentrated spending but now it’s over the top. Elections increasingly over the years have been [public relations] extravaganzas. It was understood by the ad industry in 2008 -- they gave Barack Obama their marketing award of the year.

That award thing is actually true, sadly enough.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:01 PM on May 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


Actually, I just noticed there is a 18 page version. I can only imagine what the other 110 pages say.
posted by charred husk at 1:02 PM on May 7, 2012


I'll note that in that that Cleveland Pain Dealer story linked to as 'close association' in the FPP, it frequently mentions 'leaders', and it is my understanding that the Occupy movement has no leaders. And an article written and linked to about one statement in an hour long meeting (which was posted online, I assume, for purposes of transparency) which most likely features a group discussion in hopes of reaching a consensus... makes both the article and the FPP, if you'll pardon the pun, misleading.

I am not disputing that bad situation that this branch of the Occupy movement may be in, but will additionally note that the person who is listed on the lease to their warehouse should be, in America, innocent until proven guilty. The government may have an iron clad case against him, but the court of popular opinion does not make one guilty, and certainly does not before any actual trial has begun.
posted by Catblack at 1:08 PM on May 7, 2012


Actually, I just noticed there is a 18 page version. I can only imagine what the other 110 pages say.

Boring stuff about democracy and values... I recommend more hard hitting journalism and opinion pieces from CNN, like "Ridiculist: 911 Marijuana Calls" or perhaps, from Fox News, "The Wife, the Lover, and the Sugar Granny". They are very short, and more entertaining, and best of all, they are entirely free of news.

After all, who needs to listen to people warning of injustice and inequality when you can crack some jokes about bongs and Doritos or mock political enemies?
posted by deanklear at 1:12 PM on May 7, 2012 [48 favorites]


In a real democracy, a digital copy of this book would be free
posted by crayz at 1:14 PM on May 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Anyways, that's a good interview with Chomsky but noone who would be helped by reading it will do anything but snark. RTFA day was last week yo.
posted by fuq at 1:16 PM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I guess I thought it was earlier this week.
posted by kingbenny at 1:18 PM on May 7, 2012


Luckily, every day is Snark Day at MetaFilter.
(yes, i am aware of the irony of this statement coming from me.)
posted by entropicamericana at 1:27 PM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


In Occupy, Chomsky discusses how a real democracy would work, how we can separate money from politics,

So it's sci-fi, then?
posted by Edison Carter at 1:28 PM on May 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


If I could ask Chomsky one question, it would be, "Who do you think is doing it right?"

Singapore*? Scandinavia? Would he even have an answer, or is just a professional critic?

At least Roger Ebert tells me which movies I should watch.

* I have this feeling that if we put Chomsky in charge, we'd get caning in the best case, and a reign of terror in the worst case.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:34 PM on May 7, 2012 [11 favorites]


That’s standard practice. Every popular movement that they want to denigrate they pick up on those kind of things. Either that, or weird dress or something like that. I remember once in 1960s, there was a demonstration that went from Boston to Washington and tv showed some young woman with a funny hat and strange something or other. There was an independent channel down in Washington – sure enough, showed the very same woman. That’s what they’re looking for. Let’s try to show that it’s silly and insignificant and violent if possible and you get a fringe of that everywhere.

I see good old Noam has been reading metafilter.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:35 PM on May 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Whatever you do, don't ask Noam about Cambodia.
posted by docgonzo at 1:38 PM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]



If I could ask Chomsky one question, it would be, "Who do you think is doing it right?"

Singapore*? Scandinavia? Would he even have an answer, or is just a professional critic?

At least Roger Ebert tells me which movies I should watch.

* I have this feeling that if we put Chomsky in charge, we'd get caning in the best case, and a reign of terror in the worst case.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:34 PM on May 7 [+] [!]


He devotes a great deal of time to suggesting alternate ways of doing things, I'm not sure how you could read him without being struck by it all.

Capitalism is a global system though, and there aren't a lot of modern day counterpoints. He's sitting somewhere on the left, between liberal and anarchist, and he's a staunch critic of entrenched authority and limits on human freedom. Do some digging and you'll figure it out pretty quickly, he's not shy about his politics.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:39 PM on May 7, 2012 [17 favorites]


For $600/month, that's not a bad-looking warehouse.
posted by box at 1:40 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I could ask Chomsky one question, it would be, "Who do you think is doing it right?"

Singapore*? Scandinavia? Would he even have an answer, or is just a professional critic?

Should think he'd have no problem with that one; clearly he's not going to point to states that are more or less integrated into the global system of capital, but he does frequently point to various popular and democratic initiatives around the world he sees as being on the right track.
posted by Abiezer at 1:41 PM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


If I could ask Chomsky one question, it would be, "Who do you think is doing it right?"

That's kind of simplistic, don't you think? There are countries that do some things right and other things wrong, often at the same time. It's not like there is any one correct, binding, satisfactory answer that Chomsky (or any thoughtful person, for that matter) could give to that question that wouldn't probably involve a laundry list of conditions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:41 PM on May 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Actually, in context, Jesus Christ. Isn't' the entire article about what he thinks real democracy looks like. This is from the header above:

"Noam Chomsky has released a new book -- Occupy -- through Zuccotti Park Press. In Occupy, Chomsky discusses how a real democracy would work, how we can separate money from politics, and why everyday Americans are deciding to protest. "
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:42 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Because we are lazy capitalists busy ignoring the plight of the workers, I have used advanced technology to make wordle of speech for you.
posted by nickrussell at 1:42 PM on May 7, 2012


y'all know those stooges from cleveland were pissed at occupy because of the movement's commitment to "non-violence", right?
posted by liza at 1:43 PM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Chomsky is 83. When my grandfather was 83, he was dead, and the year before that he thought he was fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific all over again.
posted by item at 1:47 PM on May 7, 2012


> In a real democracy, a digital copy of this book would be free

I'm sure it will be, shortly after the first paper copies are delivered.
posted by scruss at 1:47 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Noam is, ahem, a bit disingenuous:

LF: They tried to beat back the sit-in strikes back in the 1930s. What we forget is entire communities turned out to support those strikes. In Flint, cordons of women stood between the strikers and the police.

NC: Go back a century to Homestead, the worker run town, and they had to send in the National Guard to destroy them.


OK, the Homestead Strike wasn't a strike, it was a lock-out. Yes, the plant owners deliberately intended to break the union, and after 30 days of negotiation, they started a lock-out.

However, it was what came after that was historic. The workers took over the entire town. The plant was sealed off, there was a blockade of the river entrances and newcomers to the town were interrogated at train stations. If they didn't like your story, they forced you out of town. Henry Clay Frick, the exec in charge of the plant, was nearly assassinated by an anarchist from outside the city.

The state militia was finally called, not to break a strike, per se, but to return the town to a law and order.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:54 PM on May 7, 2012 [5 favorites]




This is the best interview I've seen of Chomsky in a while, but unfortunately it's mostly just a bunch of things most of us already believe with a handful of asserted opinions presented like fact. (Not unlike MetaFilter, natch.) For example, saying that there's no real economic reason why tuitions are going up is silly — everything from the distortions in the labor market that require degrees for jobs where the skill level doesn't justify it, to the competitive increase in student amenities, to the decrease in state funding (tied to decreasing state revenues, as well), to the rise of the CEO university president model. He can argue that those reasons aren't necessary or aren't sufficient, but just asserting it shows that either he doesn't know, doesn't think his audience knows, or doesn't care.

Likewise, I would have enjoyed seeing him respond to the pretty reasonable critiques of the direct democracy form of Occupy — that it's susceptible to hijack by extremists, that the consensus model actually retards action, that the revolutionary versus reformist factionalization means that ideological purity and "diversity of tactics" ends up alienating a lot of moderate support for the small steps that have to occur before the big ones… Instead, this was a pretty softball interview from someone who just gave Chomsky the general prompts to talk about the same stuff he always does.

I think it's worthwhile for folks who haven't ever read Chomsky, and that goes out on far fewer limbs than he generally does (I always tend to think that he overestimates the ability of institutional interests to be effected, especially by describing institutions in anthropomorphic forms) but I'm not gonna buy the book for fear of more general lefty tedium with none of the answers to questions that I've got.
posted by klangklangston at 1:56 PM on May 7, 2012 [28 favorites]


He devotes a great deal of time to suggesting alternate ways of doing things, I'm not sure how you could read him without being struck by it all.

Oh, in the interview he tosses out several small-scale examples. I'm talking large-scale, governmental stuff.

That's kind of simplistic, don't you think? There are countries that do some things right and other things wrong, often at the same time.

Then who's doing it the best? I wonder a) if he ever gets asked this, which says a lot about his interviewers, or b) if he ever provides an example himself. "You know, I think Lower Slobovia has a good model to look at..."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:57 PM on May 7, 2012


In "Occupy," Chomsky presents his latest thinking on the core issues, questions and demands that are driving ordinary people to protest.

You know who's driving people to protest? Chomsky, in his sweet custom van.
posted by Frank Grimes at 2:00 PM on May 7, 2012 [16 favorites]


No hate for Chomsky, politically. I had a close friend who was studying speech pathology and my original exposure to him involved his... verboseness. So the idea of a "pamphlet" amused me.
posted by charred husk at 2:02 PM on May 7, 2012


Chomsky always talks about alternative ways of getting things, he rarely talks about the process to get there. Reading the article, he talks about dismantling large portions of the capitalist system.

That’s a step forward but you also have to get beyond that to dismantle the system of production for profit rather than production for use. That means dismantling at least large parts of market systems

He spend the beginning of the article talking about how half the country is crazy religious wingnuts:

The US is a country [in which] eighty percent of the population thinks the Bible was written by god. About half think every word is literally true.

I don't see how both of these realities can be affected. The Arab spring and the 60's only worked because of the demographic realities (huge youth boom). If over half the country disagrees with you, and many of them are armed, it's not a revolution, it's a civil war. And frankly, given the support for measures like those he mentioned, I don't think his side would win.
posted by zabuni at 2:03 PM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


not to break a strike, per se,

Cute..

he tosses out several small-scale examples. I'm talking large-scale, governmental stuff.

In this context, I think you are at cross purposes. Chomsky wants to replace "large-scale" with as much "small-scale" as possible.
posted by Chuckles at 2:03 PM on May 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


Chomsky wants to replace "large-scale" with as much "small-scale" as possible.

Yeah, exactly. Asking an anarchist what modern nation-state or capitalist economy he'd model his government after is wildly missing the point.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:06 PM on May 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


When I think of all those wingnut commenters we've had lately and how they claim Metafilter is full of liberals, all I need is a thread like this to remind me how full of crap they really are.

Cool Papa Bell: Who do you think is doing it right?

The answer may well be no one. Just because someone isn't doing it better doesn't mean it can't be done better. The founding fathers would tell you that.

Cool Papa Bell: I have this feeling that if we put Chomsky in charge, we'd get caning in the best case, and a reign of terror in the worse case.

Well at least you didn't say the SS, jeez! Although the circumstances leading up to the French Revolution were varied, they are not unfamiliar to us modern-day serfs. But he's never mentioned any impulses to cut people's heads off, at least not literally, and whacking people with canes doesn't seem his style either.

Chomsky is 83. When my grandfather was 83, he was dead, and the year before that he thought he was fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific all over again.

If you are angry enough you live forever. (Although truth be told, being a shrieking undead wraith is not a choice most people would make.)

But I kid -- strong passion for a cause helps to clear out the cobwebs. I'm not surprised a lot of elderly people fall into dementia, after an entire lifetime in which the world has told them PRODUCE OR STARVE. Once the whip is taken away I can easily imagine the horse becoming morose.
posted by JHarris at 2:06 PM on May 7, 2012 [7 favorites]


Call to the dock Thomas Paine, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nelson Mandela.
Aung San Suu Kyi, and Nelson Mandela spent a lot of time in jail, and Paine would have been if the british had gotten their hands on him.
posted by delmoi at 2:06 PM on May 7, 2012


Then who's doing it the best?

I'm certain Chompsky could go down a list with you of countries that are better than the US in specific respects, but I think if you're looking for a "top three" list like Roger Ebert would give you — well, how to get and defend human rights and civil liberties is perhaps a complicated issue that doesn't render down easily to a simple two-thumbs-up gesture.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:12 PM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


and Paine would have been if the british had gotten their hands on him.

As it turns out, Paine was imprisoned in France during the Reign of Terror and nearly had his head lopped off.
posted by Rangeboy at 2:12 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]




You can count on Noam Chomsky to make a 128 page pamphlet.
posted by charred husk


He's not without a sense of humor about this.

I heard an interview in which he said that on car trips when his kids were growing up, he'd start talking about some point of interest and they'd say: "Please! Only the five minute lecture!"
posted by jamjam at 2:20 PM on May 7, 2012 [6 favorites]


Indeed from this very interview: "There was once an interview with Jeff Greenfield in which he was asked why I was never asked onto Nightline. He gave a good answer. He said the main reason was that I lacked concision. I had never heard that word before."
posted by mek at 2:27 PM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Catblack: ...Cleveland Pain Dealer...

Helloooo new wrestling name
posted by jason_steakums at 2:38 PM on May 7, 2012 [20 favorites]


but the court of popular opinion does not make one guilty, and certainly does not before any actual trial has begun.

The court of popular opinion, however, determines your ability to advance your agenda.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:39 PM on May 7, 2012


NOW IF HE COULD TURN SOME attention to the challenges to his language ideas, ideas which have been mainstream and not to be questioned. Culture as well as genes we are being told do in fact make language possible and thus it is not all embedded and universal.
posted by Postroad at 2:40 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Chomsky: Mario Draghi the president of the European Central Bank had an interview with the Wall St Journal in which he said the social contract’s dead; we finally got rid of it.

I think this is this article: Q&A: ECB President Mario Dragh. Chomsky, I think, is mischaracterising what Dragh said (my emphases):

WSJ: Which do you think are the most important structural reforms?

Draghi: In Europe first is the product and services markets reform. And the second is the labour market reform which takes different shapes in different countries. In some of them one has to make labour markets more flexible and also fairer than they are today. In these countries there is a dual labour market: highly flexible for the young part of the population where labour contracts are three-month, six-month contracts that may be renewed for years. The same labour market is highly inflexible for the protected part of the population where salaries follow seniority rather than productivity. In a sense labour markets at the present time are unfair in such a setting because they put all the weight of flexibility on the young part of the population.

WSJ: Do you think Europe will become less of the social model that has defined it?

Draghi: The European social model has already gone when we see the youth unemployment rates prevailing in some countries. These reforms are necessary to increase employment, especially youth employment, and therefore expenditure and consumption.

WSJ: Job for life…

Draghi: You know there was a time when (economist) Rudi Dornbusch used to say that the Europeans are so rich they can afford to pay everybody for not working. That’s gone.


Or in other words: the social contract is already broken, before any changes resulting from pressure from the markets, because the old cannot be sacked while the young cannot find jobs. This isn't fair, and is the result (in the eyes of Draghi) of the labor market policies enacted by the social contract.

The social contract, in other words, has failed young people. So the contract is already broken. That's different from the crowing that I infer that Chomsky imputes to Draghi.
posted by alasdair at 2:43 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


That’s standard practice. Every popular movement that they want to denigrate they pick up on those kind of things. Either that, or weird dress or something like that. I remember once in 1960s, there was a demonstration that went from Boston to Washington and tv showed some young woman with a funny hat and strange something or other. There was an independent channel down in Washington – sure enough, showed the very same woman. That’s what they’re looking for. Let’s try to show that it’s silly and insignificant and violent if possible and you get a fringe of that everywhere.

I see good old Noam has been reading metafilter.


I think the point is that there needs to be a working response to that. Like it or not, they need to avoid things that distract from their message. The more they do not look like the people they want to convince, the easier it will be for those opposed to the message that income inequality is a huge American problem to avoid discussing income inequality.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:43 PM on May 7, 2012


At least Roger Ebert tells me which movies I should watch.

that's one of the problems with america right there - many of us no longer know the difference between politics and entertainment
posted by pyramid termite at 2:48 PM on May 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


NOW IF HE COULD TURN SOME attention to the challenges to his language ideas

My speech pathologist friend was a passionate Chomsky hater... but she knew nothing of his political ideas. I sometimes like to imagine some wingnut show taking callers to bitch about Chomsky and having someone go off about generative grammar.
posted by charred husk at 2:49 PM on May 7, 2012 [15 favorites]


I think the point is that there needs to be a working response to that. Like it or not, they need to avoid things that distract from their message.
I assume you think they should hire security guards to beat up anyone who looks or acts funny, right?

Whatever. All protest movements have their batch of crazy people. There were no shortage of them in the Tea Party, and the republicans swept to victory in the mid term elections regardless.

An argument that says a protest movement should control every single person who associates themselves with it or fail, is an argument that every protest movement with more then, say, a couple hundred people, will fail.
posted by delmoi at 2:56 PM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ironmouth: I think the point is that there needs to be a working response to that. Like it or not, they need to avoid things that distract from their message.

I'm not sure: perhaps demonstrations simply have no effect unless they turn violent and either (1) effect actual revolution (which is hard if you're not in the capital city, and I don't want a revolution!) or (2) demonstrate civil unrest and a loss of control by the state over either populace or its own agents, which might enable one side of the argument or the other to force through changes (e.g. the violence inflicted on civil rights marches by the police in the South.)

I think of the 1950s marches by CND, or the huge march against the Iraq War in London. Smart, peaceful, not eventually effective.
posted by alasdair at 2:58 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The snark directed at Chomsky here is telling. I don't agree with everything Chomsky says; in fact, far from it. But I would rather listen to Chomsky than any one of Obama's apologists, or Romney's. At least I know he isn't bought off by Goldman-Sachs. It's really a weird thing in America when people like Chomsky get marginalized, little-by-little, until they are made almost laughing stock by those who would profit more by sifting through to their best ideas, than discounting them, altogether.

Another good example is Ralph Nader, who deserved not to be POTUS, but who at least deserved to be included in the 2000 debates, to deconstruct the scaffolding of corporate power relationships that have taken America into a tailspin. Now, just like Chomsky, Nader is made a laughingstock.

Another example is Jim Hightower, from Texas. A guy with off-center, but very, very good insights into some of the deception that we are made victims of.

America has been completely dumbed-down when people of the caliber of Chomsky, Nader, and Hightower become easy cheap-shot snark victims from people who have no insight except what they seem to have gotten off their last Google search.
posted by Vibrissae at 3:03 PM on May 7, 2012 [51 favorites]


Draghi: In a sense labour markets at the present time are unfair in such a setting because they put all the weight of flexibility on the young part of the population.

Mark these words! WEIGHT of flexibility. Mirabile dictu!

After having my ears smashed for decades by the relentless economic bible thumping that flexibility = more jobs = more employement, that's a change!

Now finally somebody in the top echeleons admits candidly that flexibility bears a weight (doh! uncertainity of wage vs certainity of mortgages and all kinds of bills).

WHOA! It only follows that people that could be fired -on the spot- for whatever reason (or lack thereof) ought to earn a lot more than people that can't be fired at will!

But, people that can be fired easily often are people who are also easily replaced
1 hence their salary must be less than the salary of people who can't be fired as easily 2 who must therefore be given an higher salary
3 but as they can't be fired as easily, they ought to receive less than people who can be fired easily.

Catch 22:
Easily fireable = easily replaceable => poor pay.
Not easily replaceable = not easily replaceable -> long contract => poor pay.
posted by elpapacito at 3:06 PM on May 7, 2012


Ironmouth: I think the point is that there needs to be a working response to that. Like it or not, they need to avoid things that distract from their message.

I'm not sure: perhaps demonstrations simply have no effect unless they turn violent and either (1) effect actual revolution (which is hard if you're not in the capital city, and I don't want a revolution!) or (2) demonstrate civil unrest and a loss of control by the state over either populace or its own agents, which might enable one side of the argument or the other to force through changes (e.g. the violence inflicted on civil rights marches by the police in the South.)


I think Gandhi and MLK might disagree with you on that. They seemed to have plenty of success.

As for violent revolution, count me opposed.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:06 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can count on Noam Chomsky to make a 128 page pamphlet

Yeah, it's so much longer and harder to read than the latest Manga series. Gee, my job application was just turned down...oh, wait....!
posted by Vibrissae at 3:07 PM on May 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


I wish there was a +5 favorites button, Vibrissae.

It's okay to disagree with Chomsky; I often do, quite sharply. But there is enormous thought behind everything he says, real depth, from the old days when you had to know things, when you couldn't just spend five minutes on Wikipedia and sound knowledgeable. There is far too much intellect and integrity behind those ideas to just dismiss them without respectful consideration.

It doesn't mean he's right; it does mean he's worthy of respect.
posted by Malor at 3:10 PM on May 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


Whatever. All protest movements have their batch of crazy people. There were no shortage of them in the Tea Party, and the republicans swept to victory in the mid term elections regardless.

Yeah, but they only need turn out self ID'd conservatives (regardless of their actual beliefs) to win. We need moderates to win. Its simple numbers. There are large numbers of people who ID as conservatives but agree with the FDR style-Democratic policies. The minute you tell them that they hate God, are for gays or spit on the flag, they will vote for a Republican. That's why you get those numbers I point out in all of these threads.

The key is to move the ball on gays as a personal choice issue (we are winning), treat people's religion as their own business, and show them people who they would feel comfortable talking to in demonstrations based on economic ideas. That and push the economic angle every time--don't be afraid to say tax the rich. Avoid anger.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:12 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The minute you tell them that they hate God, are for gays or spit on the flag, they will vote for a Republican.

because we all know that progressives all hate god and spit on the flag, don't we? - (i won't dignify the idea that someone shouldn't be for gays with a response)

oh, and moderates have been winning - and things are still sucking
posted by pyramid termite at 3:21 PM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nader is made a laughingstock

In my experience, when people bring him up, they're not amused.
posted by Trurl at 3:27 PM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


After watching the entire May 4th 2012 Occupy Cleveland General Assembly that was posted on UStream, I'm pretty sure that if the accused bomber lived in that warehouse, the only thing he is guilty of is a botched suicide.
posted by HappyHippo at 3:35 PM on May 7, 2012


how to get and defend human rights and civil liberties is perhaps a complicated issue that doesn't render down easily to a simple two-thumbs-up gesture.

It seems to be perfectly amendable to two-thumbs-down gestures...
posted by anigbrowl at 3:41 PM on May 7, 2012


amenable
posted by anigbrowl at 3:41 PM on May 7, 2012


either one works.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 3:45 PM on May 7, 2012


There are large numbers of people who ID as conservatives but agree with the FDR style-Democratic policies. The minute you tell them that they hate God, are for gays or spit on the flag, they will vote for a Republican.

Then I wish Democrats vigorously advocated FDR-style policies. Doing so might shift the debate away from areas dominated by Republican framing narratives.
posted by audi alteram partem at 3:46 PM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, but they only need turn out self ID'd conservatives (regardless of their actual beliefs) to win. We need moderates to win. Its simple numbers.
Who's "we"?

Anyway, this is an argument you trott out again and again, but in this context it makes no sense. OWS is not the democratic party. Their opponent is the wallstreet banks, not the republicans. Goldman Sach's public approval rating has been measured around 4%.

So what you're saying makes no sense. It kind of seems like you think OWS's goal is to get more democrats elected. I don't think that's the case at all. Obviously they're fans of people like Elizabeth Warren, who is a democrat - but are probably not fans of people like Chris Dodd or Chuck Shumer.

Anyway, your spiel about how we (I assume meaning 'liberals') need self-described "moderates" to win elections, is based on assuming that that people who call themselves "moderates" do so because they want polices that are mixtures of republican and democratic proposals. Or want republicans and democrats. There's no reason to think that's true. Most African Americans, for example, consider themselves "conservative", but almost always vote for the Democrats. What ideological label people use to describe themselves doesn't necessarily mean they're using it the same way a beltway pundit would. "Moderate" does not mean "Agreess with Joe Lieberman"

This has been explained over and over again, yet you keep repeating the same thing.
posted by delmoi at 3:48 PM on May 7, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think Gandhi and MLK might disagree with you on that. They seemed to have plenty of success.

Not every single march was a complete controlled success for MLK Jr. They also had the benefit of no digital cameras, blogs, etc. to make every little tiny thing a HUGE ISSUE WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE MOVEMENT
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:50 PM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am totally envisioning a D&D campaign that runs through the grounds, rooms and steam tunnels of MIT where the ultimate boss is a shrieking undead Chomsky who keeps his soul locked up in an autographed photo of Harry S Truman.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:53 PM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah, but they only need turn out self ID'd conservatives (regardless of their actual beliefs) to win.
Actually I found the stats on this. A plurality of African Americans ID as "moderate" but, as we know almost always vote for the democratic party. More African Americans ID as "conservative" then liberal, and the same thing is even more true for Hispanics.

So by your "logic" increased turnout among blacks and Hispanics would be good for the republican party.

Obviously that's wrong.

And again, this has been pointed out many, many times.

And you know what else. It's a derail. it has nothing to do with the topic of the thread. It's only tangentially related to OWS and Noam Chompsky. Why are you wasting everyone's time with the same fucking points that have been pointed out as wrong over and over again?
posted by delmoi at 3:54 PM on May 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


It seems to be perfectly amendable to two-thumbs-down gestures...

Chomsky's political speech may be critical, but I don't think it boils down to your simplistic reduction, at least from what I've read. But then I agree with the gist of the other individual here who noted that a drive-by-snark community like Metafilter is probably not a great place to discuss his work intelligently or critically, so I don't know whether it is worth it to get into this particular derail in more depth. There just isn't any there, there, when the baseline for discussion is "Why doesn't Chomsky smile more?" "Why doesn't he sound more like a Hollywood movie critic?" And this is all ironic, anyway, because it is this lack of political sophistication that is basically at the foundation of the problems with policy and the failure of democracy in the United States. Everyday Americans just don't care to engage truthfully and in good faith with any criticism from left-wing intelligensia, whatsoever. Turn up the volume on FOX News, sure. But when anyone left-of-center speaks out, then we suddenly have a problem.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:57 PM on May 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


I think Gandhi and MLK might disagree with you on that. They seemed to have plenty of success.
There was plenty of violence from people who agreed with MLK in general. When he was assassinated there were riots in 100 cities in the U.S.

The recent Egyptian revolution had plenty of violence. People were throwing rocks, and eventually Molotov cocktails. It wasn't directed military violence, but it was essentially a long, violent riot. About 846 people were killed, and 6,000 injured.
posted by delmoi at 4:00 PM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


We never sold ANYTHING in Zuccotti Park. If this publisher really wanted to embody the spirit of my former home, he would either charge nothing at all or donate all of the proceeds to a radical anti-capitalist horizontal organization.

Anything else is just making money off of occupy. Chomsky or no Chomsky.
posted by willie11 at 4:00 PM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Likewise, I would have enjoyed seeing him respond to the pretty reasonable critiques of the direct democracy form of Occupy — that it's susceptible to hijack by extremists, that the consensus model actually retards action, that the revolutionary versus reformist factionalization means that ideological purity and "diversity of tactics" ends up alienating a lot of moderate support for the small steps that have to occur before the big ones…

I'll bet Chomsky would ask why you have those assumptions. Power structures rarely respond to reformist change.

We tried that in 2008. We elected Obama to end Guantanamo, to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to end the blatant disregard for civil liberties, to expose crony capitalism, and to make everyone start playing by the rules again. Instead, he provided more troops to Afghanistan, is assassinating more people in Yemen, and is overseeing the continued increase in secretive, unaccountable governance and further militarization of domestic authoritarianism. On top of that, his entire financial team is comprised of the figureheads who designed our doomed economic system during the Clinton Administration.

The people who own our society will do whatever is necessary to continue owning it. In 2007 they told Congress there would be complete anarchy if they didn't hand over trillions of dollars, and now you're telling me that I need to be worried about direct democracy damaging society? In what situation could direct democracy possibly do more damage, or lead to more inequality, or lead to more injustice? These things can be imagined, but it's tough to espouse pragmatism if you are fanciful in your descriptions of the shortcomings of direct democracy.

Just consider this: New York City is run by a billionaire mayor who cares more about park rules than about financial fraud. He's violated the rights of hundreds of thousands of people with stop and frisk, and the DOJ under Obama hasn't said word one about it. That power structure cannot be changed with a vote for the soft option of pragmatism that has been baiting Democrats for years. It's going to take voting and a demonstration of the power of public will, not just another marketing campaign funded by the corporations that are busily dismantling our country.

Obama, and most Democrats, are compromised political figures who cannot make real change. Their re-election is dependent on the power structures that the Occupy movement is against. True enough, we're stuck in a two party system, and I trust that the Occupy Movement will mix in pragmatism with challenges to power, because I trust people generally when they aren't motivated by greed and power. I'll vote for Obama because at least his platform is within the spectrum of sanity, but I will continue to support Occupy and alternative media. No future can be made without principles, or without a leader who is capable of caring more about principles than about re-election.

And I think that's ultimately the force driving the Occupy movement. The working and middle classes are tired of paying for the mistakes, the hubris, and the complete failure of our government to address our concerns. We are tired of paying for wars and bailouts and begging for basic medical care and education. We are tired of a news media that has as much coverage of the Kardashians as it does for public protests. We are tired of the assumption that unelected capitalists with unlimited access to our government, unlimited control of our media, and unlimited resources when compared to the rest of us should be allowed to run our society without our input.

We want to live in a democracy again, and it's perfectly within our rights to demand it after we asked nicely. If you're telling me that we don't deserve that right because we may make some mistakes, I'll just have to disagree with you.
posted by deanklear at 4:01 PM on May 7, 2012 [28 favorites]


Noam Chomsky is like the photographic negative of Ayn Rand, stylistically inverse but also identical, both prolix like food poisoned fire hydrants, charismatic, cult-centric. Together they twine into the political double helix of the American eccentric and discontent.
posted by shivohum at 4:05 PM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


That award thing is actually true, sadly enough.

You are inferring the rest is not?

In a real democracy, a digital copy of this book would be free

Uh, I'm pretty sure it is. After all, this is the Internet, no? (I admit the generic name makes it harder to find ...)

I think file-sharing links are frowned upon here anyways.

Anything else is just making money off of occupy. Chomsky or no Chomsky.

Not if, you know, they're not making a profit.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:13 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


GnomeChompsky

Eponyppropriate.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:15 PM on May 7, 2012


We elected Obama to end Guantanamo, to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to end the blatant disregard for civil liberties, to expose crony capitalism, and to make everyone start playing by the rules again.

Well, you might have elected him to do those things. I suspect that a fair number of the 69 million other people who elected him may have had other motives.
posted by Etrigan at 4:21 PM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


You are inferring the rest is not?

No, sorry for the lack of clarity. I was surprised and also saddened to learn about the award, is all. It isn't an award that I would expect a public servant at that level to accept, without openly questioning the premise behind it. It says a lot about the active role of advertising and ad dollars in breaking democracy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:23 PM on May 7, 2012


Noam Chomsky is like the photographic negative of Ayn Rand, stylistically inverse but also identical, both prolix like food poisoned fire hydrants, charismatic, cult-centric. Together they twine into the political double helix of the American eccentric and discontent.
Yes, and one is an idiot and the other isn't.
posted by delmoi at 4:26 PM on May 7, 2012 [14 favorites]


When I think of all those wingnut commenters we've had lately and how they claim Metafilter is full of liberals, all I need is a thread like this to remind me how full of crap they really are.

No, it's really full of American-style liberals, as in Phil Ochs singing "Love me, love me, love me. I'm a liberal."

Liberals hate radical ideas. The liberal position is that the capitalist system just needs redirection. Chomsky pretty much says "the rot's all the way through. The only way to rebuild is to tear down and start over."

Liberals don't want to hear that. They don't want the institutions propping them up to be destroyed. Therefore, American liberalism is a position of quiet cynicism, where the goal is to win the center. "I love the US military! Yay capitalism-- we're so not communists! Vote with us, people too numb to pick a side!" If you thought like that, you'd want to marginalize anyone perceived as radical and/or polarizing. If centrists thought that liberals listened to Chomsky, the centrists might get turned off and not vote for people like President Obama-- who do very little to make things better but play for the right team.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:28 PM on May 7, 2012 [10 favorites]


shivohum: Noam Chomsky is like the photographic negative of Ayn Rand, stylistically inverse but also identical, both prolix like food poisoned fire hydrants, charismatic, cult-centric. Together they twine into the political double helix of the American eccentric and discontent.

As delmoi said. Also, Rand is a hateful apologist for rich people lording it over us, and a source for much of the evil in our world. And Rand's followers are a who's-who of important rich people in the U.S., while Chomsky is mostly read in universities.

It is not true that one side is a mirror image of the other.
posted by JHarris at 4:35 PM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


Chomsky is 83. When my grandfather was 83, he was dead, and the year before that he thought he was fighting the Japanese in the South Pacific all over again.

The More You Know♒★
posted by odinsdream at 4:44 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Liberals hate radical ideas.

What? Since when? All the liberals I know listen carefully to radical ideas and try to evaluate them charitably. Liberals were radicals once, too, and a lot of ideas that started off as radical have since been labeled liberal.

Of course, it helps that the word 'liberal' means something substantive and has a history, while anyone who wants extreme change, no matter of what sort, can call themselves a radical. You can be a radical egalitarian or a radical elitist, a radical white supremacist or a radical anti-racist. You can even be a radical Republican!
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:50 PM on May 7, 2012


All the liberals I know listen carefully to radical ideas and try to evaluate them charitably

In my experience, they neither listen carefully nor charitably evaluate even the decision to withhold votes from the Democratic Party.

Though I suppose to them, that passes from the radical to the treacherous.
posted by Trurl at 5:03 PM on May 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


"I'll bet Chomsky would ask why you have those assumptions. Power structures rarely respond to reformist change."

And I'd say, "Because some of those reasons were barriers to my fuller participation in my local Occupy movement, and also, why are you answering questions with a question?"

"We tried that in 2008. We elected Obama to end Guantanamo, to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to end the blatant disregard for civil liberties, to expose crony capitalism, and to make everyone start playing by the rules again. Instead, he provided more troops to Afghanistan, is assassinating more people in Yemen, and is overseeing the continued increase in secretive, unaccountable governance and further militarization of domestic authoritarianism. On top of that, his entire financial team is comprised of the figureheads who designed our doomed economic system during the Clinton Administration."

Wait, you voted for Obama to end the war in Afghanistan even though he said he'd increase funding and troops there? And it's Obama's fault that he did what he said on that? Further, you voted once on the promise of reform and because you didn't immediately get it, the whole system is too corrupt to salvage?

Sounds like you put very little work into a strategy that you didn't bother to research and then are responding to the failure of that by doubling down on things that sound emotionally validating but have no real chance of success — and you still didn't bother to answer the questions.

"Just consider this: New York City is run by a billionaire mayor who cares more about park rules than about financial fraud. He's violated the rights of hundreds of thousands of people with stop and frisk, and the DOJ under Obama hasn't said word one about it. That power structure cannot be changed with a vote for the soft option of pragmatism that has been baiting Democrats for years. It's going to take voting and a demonstration of the power of public will, not just another marketing campaign funded by the corporations that are busily dismantling our country."

Just consider this, you condescending, hectoring ass: Not only do I generally agree with the underlying points here (and thus resent being told to consider something that I'm already pretty familiar with), none of it is really substantive in any meaningful way. It's a wanky liberal comment, the equivalent to a Republican nattering away about individual responsibility, apple pie and mother in response to complaints about the free market's failings. Not a single word of this addresses anything that I said, no matter how puffed up you feel about your lecture.

"Obama, and most Democrats, are compromised political figures who cannot make real change. Their re-election is dependent on the power structures that the Occupy movement is against. True enough, we're stuck in a two party system, and I trust that the Occupy Movement will mix in pragmatism with challenges to power, because I trust people generally when they aren't motivated by greed and power. I'll vote for Obama because at least his platform is within the spectrum of sanity, but I will continue to support Occupy and alternative media. No future can be made without principles, or without a leader who is capable of caring more about principles than about re-election. "

Blah blah blah. You beg the question over what real change is, you make some empty appeal to principles and you again fail to note that there are actually pretty reasonable critiques of the general way that Occupy functions in relation to their ability to achieve some of the stated goals. I'm glad that you still support Mother Jones or whatever, but I don't really care because it's not really relevant to what I said. (Do go donate to American Prospect and maybe they can last another month.)

"And I think that's ultimately the force driving the Occupy movement. The working and middle classes are tired of paying for the mistakes, the hubris, and the complete failure of our government to address our concerns. We are tired of paying for wars and bailouts and begging for basic medical care and education. We are tired of a news media that has as much coverage of the Kardashians as it does for public protests. We are tired of the assumption that unelected capitalists with unlimited access to our government, unlimited control of our media, and unlimited resources when compared to the rest of us should be allowed to run our society without our input."

I'm glad that you can parrot out a compelling statement of support for Occupy as a movement, and I hope that you're down in the trenches on a day to day basis, but outside of stump speeches actual organization has to happen to return Occupy as a movement to the position of having a visible and positive progressive impact in this country. Further, aims like that are great, but disconnected from a lot of what is being done to actually achieve them.

"We want to live in a democracy again, and it's perfectly within our rights to demand it after we asked nicely. If you're telling me that we don't deserve that right because we may make some mistakes, I'll just have to disagree with you."

If you're wondering why I treat you like an idiot, this was the nut graph. I say, "Likewise, I would have enjoyed seeing him respond to the pretty reasonable critiques of the direct democracy form of Occupy — that it's susceptible to hijack by extremists, that the consensus model actually retards action, that the revolutionary versus reformist factionalization means that ideological purity and "diversity of tactics" ends up alienating a lot of moderate support for the small steps that have to occur before the big ones," and you respond by trotting out an if/then that has nothing to do with it — if I'm telling you that you don't deserve the right to demand democracy? Well, I'm not. I would tell you that democracy isn't a panacea or unalloyed good, and that there plenty of morons on the left (fewer, I think, than are on the right, but still a good many), and that the specific organizational principles adopted by many of the general assemblies will end up being less effective than other options, and yet many people involved don't have an intelligent understanding of the tradeoffs required by different forms of organization. But really, my questions were there and all you want to do is give me some idiotic strings-swelling speech about deserving to wander around in balaclavas and pretend it's progress.

So knock off the bullshit that everyone who has maybe some concerns about what Occupy is doing, what it might do, and how it does it, is an enemy and put some goddamn critical thought into something you support rather than using all of your brain to attack imagined ideological foes.
posted by klangklangston at 5:35 PM on May 7, 2012 [60 favorites]


Here's a little more Noam Chomsky (white people rap)
posted by fuq at 5:35 PM on May 7, 2012


Of course, it helps that the word 'liberal' means something substantive and has a history

Substantive? The position has slid so far to the right that Richard Nixon would be considered liberal today.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:36 PM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


When was the last time one of Chomsky's theories actually worked outside the lab?
posted by humanfont at 5:39 PM on May 7, 2012


When was the last time one of Chomsky's theories actually worked outside the lab?

There's a lab?
posted by JHarris at 5:49 PM on May 7, 2012 [4 favorites]


When was the last time one of Chomsky's theories actually worked outside the lab?

Okay, let's run the test now, nice and easy does it...
posted by ovvl at 5:54 PM on May 7, 2012


There's a lab?
In the secret underground bunker that the Mondragon Cooperative dug in the Pyrenees; they're running anarcho-syndicalism 10.3 LTS right now, I believe.
posted by Abiezer at 5:57 PM on May 7, 2012 [13 favorites]


Also, Rand is a hateful apologist for rich people lording it over us, and a source for much of the evil in our world

And Chomsky was an apologist for the khmer rouge.
posted by empath at 6:31 PM on May 7, 2012


In my experience, they neither listen carefully nor charitably evaluate even the decision to withhold votes from the Democratic Party.

You might just be late to the party. A lot not only listened, but actively acted on the idea in 2000, splitting the vote, and discovering the Hard Way what terrible consequences followed.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:44 PM on May 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Chomsky bakes bread because the circus patrons gotta eat, Hoss.
posted by vozworth at 6:56 PM on May 7, 2012


I just dropped in to point out that the learned Dr. Chomsky made a factual error during the interview when he said "Take say, Martin Luther King. Listen to the speeches on MLK Day – and it’s all “I have a dream.” But he had another dream and he presented that in his last talk in Memphis just before he was assassinated. In which he said something about how he’s like Moses he can see the promised land but how we’re not going to get there."

In fact, the quote Chomsky is mis-remembering is "And I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man."

Which means something completely different.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:34 PM on May 7, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey upthread , Got your link. uh.
posted by kuatto at 7:34 PM on May 7, 2012


i like that he seems to have avoided becoming quite as authoritarian as other people on either end of the spectrum
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 7:49 PM on May 7, 2012


And I'd say, "Because some of those reasons were barriers to my fuller participation in my local Occupy movement, and also, why are you answering questions with a question?"

I answered with a question and a statement: "Power structures rarely respond to reformist change." Additionally, questions in response to questions are a perfectly valid part of debate, as you know and use later in your same tirade.

Wait, you voted for Obama to end the war in Afghanistan even though he said he'd increase funding and troops there? And it's Obama's fault that he did what he said on that? Further, you voted once on the promise of reform and because you didn't immediately get it, the whole system is too corrupt to salvage?

Sounds like you put very little work into a strategy that you didn't bother to research and then are responding to the failure of that by doubling down on things that sound emotionally validating but have no real chance of success — and you still didn't bother to answer the questions.


The assumption was that we would leave once bin Laden was dead. But instead of leaving, we're setting up a puppet government similar to what we installed in Iran. And don't forget my other reasons for voting for Obama. For instance, he said this on the campaign trail:
Understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain, when I'm in the White House, I'll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I'll walk on that picket line with you, as president of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that someone's standing in their corner
What has he done to show support for unions that wasn't also done by WH Bush? What has he said about police violence that has been used to suppress the Occupy movement, or about police violence in general?

Just consider this, you condescending, hectoring ass: Not only do I generally agree with the underlying points here (and thus resent being told to consider something that I'm already pretty familiar with), none of it is really substantive in any meaningful way. It's a wanky liberal comment, the equivalent to a Republican nattering away about individual responsibility, apple pie and mother in response to complaints about the free market's failings. Not a single word of this addresses anything that I said, no matter how puffed up you feel about your lecture.

I was demonstrating how engrained the power structure is. You can agree, or disagree using some form of argument, or you can call me names. I don't wonder why you chose the latter.

Blah blah blah. You beg the question over what real change is, you make some empty appeal to principles and you again fail to note that there are actually pretty reasonable critiques of the general way that Occupy functions in relation to their ability to achieve some of the stated goals. I'm glad that you still support Mother Jones or whatever, but I don't really care because it's not really relevant to what I said. (Do go donate to American Prospect and maybe they can last another month.)

You call my principles empty, but you can't demonstrate why. You have a lot of clever assertions, and a snarky hatred of everyone who slightly disagrees with you, but that's a poor substitute for a discussion. I think the recognition of the compromised nature of American politics due to corporate influence is exactly what we're talking about, because it's one of the reasons your critiques are missing the point. People in the Occupy Movement do not trust the current power structure, so why do you keep asking a variant of that question as if you care? You believe the system works, and they believe it does not.

If you're wondering why I treat you like an idiot, this was the nut graph. I say, "Likewise, I would have enjoyed seeing him respond to the pretty reasonable critiques of the direct democracy form of Occupy... you respond by trotting out an if/then that has nothing to do with it... the specific organizational principles adopted by many of the general assemblies will end up being less effective than other options, and yet many people involved don't have an intelligent understanding of the tradeoffs required by different forms of organization.

But really, my questions were there and all you want to do is give me some idiotic strings-swelling speech about deserving to wander around in balaclavas and pretend it's progress.


The guy in question, Noam Chomsky, has been thinking and writing about direct democracy for longer than most people reading this have been alive. There are a lot of people in the Occupy Movement who aren't wondering around in balaclavas pretending that it's progress. They can, and do, make decisions based on the effectiveness those decisions will have. They're just as smart as you. For real.

So knock off the bullshit that everyone who has maybe some concerns about what Occupy is doing, what it might do, and how it does it, is an enemy and put some goddamn critical thought into something you support rather than using all of your brain to attack imagined ideological foes.

I don't consider you an enemy. I just consider it somewhat ridiculous to believe that the organizational structure of occupy could be worse than the actual injustice already happening in the existing power structure.

And that is critical thought I have put into something I support instead of using all of my brain to launch into childish name calling.
posted by deanklear at 8:03 PM on May 7, 2012 [5 favorites]


And that is critical thought I have put into something I support instead of using all of my brain to launch into childish name calling.

That's a pretty rich statement coming from someone whose first contribution to the thread was essentially "HOW DARE YOU ACCUSE NOAM CHOMSKY OF WRITING TOO LONG YOU MUST LOVE FOX NEWS."
posted by Etrigan at 8:26 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, that is a pretty rich statement.
posted by mek at 8:56 PM on May 7, 2012


[Seriously work on wrapping up the name calling and the weird aggressive personalizing of your arguments from this point forward, thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:31 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the post. I'm a bit sad he wasn't interviewed after the French and Greek elections, and the potential compromise on tuition in Quebec (where students are actually voting on an offer from government), as I would have liked to see that explored as well, and how they relate to Occupy.
posted by chapps at 10:16 PM on May 7, 2012


Oh, and in case US folks can see that link on the Quebec students' "maple spring", democracy now covered it today as well.
posted by chapps at 10:18 PM on May 7, 2012


Fighting capitalism for only 7 to 27 cents per page!
posted by dethb0y at 11:19 PM on May 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I answered with a question and a statement: "Power structures rarely respond to reformist change." Additionally, questions in response to questions are a perfectly valid part of debate, as you know and use later in your same tirade."

OK, so how is that an answer to this? "Likewise, I would have enjoyed seeing him respond to the pretty reasonable critiques of the direct democracy form of Occupy — that it's susceptible to hijack by extremists, that the consensus model actually retards action, that the revolutionary versus reformist factionalization means that ideological purity and "diversity of tactics" ends up alienating a lot of moderate support for the small steps that have to occur before the big ones."

(That's leaving aside that for your statement to be true and significant, you'd have to use a definition of "respond" that's either laughably narrow — the power structure certainly has responded to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a reformist change enacted through the legislative and executive apparatuses of the US government — or disingenuous about the chances of successful non-reformist, i.e. revolutionary change. So even if you think that's an answer, it's not a good answer in any coherent sense. Sorry.)

"The assumption was that we would leave once bin Laden was dead. But instead of leaving, we're setting up a puppet government similar to what we installed in Iran."

Obama's policy was "finishing the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban" by sending more troops in his campaign. While you may have taken Osama Bin Laden as a proxy for all of the fighting in Afghanistan, that was not what the president campaigned on.

"Understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain, when I'm in the White House, I'll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I'll walk on that picket line with you, as president of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that someone's standing in their corner
What has he done to show support for unions that wasn't also done by WH Bush?
"

Make labor-friendly appointments after one of the most controversial pro-labor suits in years forced Boeing to deal with its local union in good faith, but avoided a possible court decision that would gut the NLRB. (One of many things.)

But why are you so desperate to talk about Obama when my question was regarding local organizational structures of many Occupy encampments? I mean, Christ, is this what you're like at cocktail parties? "Sure, Tyrion's a vengeful imp of dubious morality, but at least he didn't use drone strikes."

"I was demonstrating how engrained the power structure is. You can agree, or disagree using some form of argument, or you can call me names. I don't wonder why you chose the latter.""

You were demonstrating nothing save the fact that you read MetaFilter — every single thing you mentioned has been discussed to death here before. Not only did you not demonstrate that "the power structure" is "engrained" (sic), you didn't demonstrate that it was relevant in the least. Instead you responded with a bunch of cliches and handwaving. If you don't know an answer to the questions, it's perfectly OK to say that.

"You call my principles empty, but you can't demonstrate why.

No, I didn't bother to explain a statement that was pretty self-evident. You said, "No future can be made without principles, or without a leader who is capable of caring more about principles than about re-election. " You didn't define any principles; from this statement all that matters is "principles' in general, and they're contrasted with "re-election." So, fine, reductio ad absurdum, Hitler had principles. He made a future. It's as tautological as saying that we can't succeed without a leader who's against bad things.

You have a lot of clever assertions, and a snarky hatred of everyone who slightly disagrees with you,

No, I have a thin tolerance for bullshit, and no real reservations about calling it out when I see it. And I don't hate you — I just think that you're grandstanding in a particularly facile way and wish you'd stop it.

but that's a poor substitute for a discussion.

Well, then, maybe when I ask about specific organizing principles adopted by many Occupy camps, don't demand Obama's labor bona fides.

I think the recognition of the compromised nature of American politics due to corporate influence is exactly what we're talking about

No, it's what you're talking about. Because it's all you can talk about, apparently.

because it's one of the reasons your critiques are missing the point. People in the Occupy Movement do not trust the current power structure, so why do you keep asking a variant of that question as if you care? You believe the system works, and they believe it does not."

Well, except that many of the folks at the Occupy camps believe that quite a lot of the system does work, thanks. That things like banking are broken doesn't mean that the answer is to have all decisions made by twinkling. That our health care system is broken doesn't mean that we have to smash the state — plenty of European countries have at least moderately functional health care systems and got there without perfectly participatory democracy. When I took the subway to the camps, I thought, "Man, it'd be nice if the metro gave free transfers for trains," not "Transit is intractably broken and only banning cars can fix it."

"The guy in question, Noam Chomsky, has been thinking and writing about direct democracy for longer than most people reading this have been alive. There are a lot of people in the Occupy Movement who aren't wondering around in balaclavas pretending that it's progress. They can, and do, make decisions based on the effectiveness those decisions will have. They're just as smart as you. For real."

Sure, yeah, and that's why I would be interested in his answers to the questions I posed. But way to make weird appeals to authority instead of, you know, bothering to think about the questions, I guess.

"I don't consider you an enemy. I just consider it somewhat ridiculous to believe that the organizational structure of occupy could be worse than the actual injustice already happening in the existing power structure."

What the hell are you on about? Of course that's ridiculous — it's not even a coherent statement and it doesn't have anything to do with what I've been saying. You're the one making those specious comparisons, unbidden.

And seriously, that's the bar you want to set? Occupy camps just have to be organized so that there's less institutional injustice than in the entire rest of the world?

"I wish we had more than just leeks to eat. Maybe we should go to the grocery."

"I just think it's ridiculous that you're even comparing yourself to starving Somalians, dying because of insufficient oil."

"Wait, what?"

"Oh, you don't think that's a problem? I guess some of us just care about the world."
posted by klangklangston at 1:03 AM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


The social contract, in other words, has failed young people. So the contract is already broken.

That didn't just happen, you know, wasn't some unavoidable natural process. What ECB President Mario Dragh talks about: the flexibility of employment for younger people as well as the high youth employment in countries like Spain (25 percent) is part and parcel of the economic policies enacted by those countries since the 1980ties.

Dragh talks as if it's the fault of those workers who are still protected by employment laws and strong unions that those who are not now suffer the worst effects of the economic crisis but a) that crisis was not caused by either set of workers, but by the failed policies of neoliberal government and capitalist greed and b) the reason young workers are unemployed in much greater numbers than their older counterparts is due to the flexibility forced on them by people like Dragh, who always insisted that this flexibility was needed for a modern economy.

And it was, as it has enabled the capitalists to shove the costs of the crisis onto the backs of the working classes. In other words: bankers and CEOS get their bonuses, employees get fired.

And now Dragh is trying to get you and him to fight, trying to turn a capitalist crisis into a generational conflict, where it's not the bankers who scarved up billions in unearned bonuses selling dodgy and criminal mortgages and other thrash to people they knew couldn't afford it who are the villains, but those greedy bastards who've worked their whole lives with the assumption that they could retire at sixtyfive with a good enough pension to not need to subsist on catfood.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:07 AM on May 8, 2012 [10 favorites]


responded to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, a reformist change enacted through the legislative and executive apparatuses of the US government

You do realize there were more than a few race riots in the USA before that reformist change was finally made, right? Over the course of like, a hundred years? Chomsky draws our attention to the populist action at Resurrection City that was ongoing when MLK was assassinated. I can easily imagine you personally attacking any individual involved in that action with the same gusto as you have for deanklear. Those reformist actions you love so dearly don't leap fully-formed out of the ether, they are the result of a lot of blood, sweat and tears from people on the street.
posted by mek at 1:11 AM on May 8, 2012


I think Gandhi and MLK might disagree with you on that. They seemed to have plenty of success.

If you think either of them engaged in peaceful protest, you've bought the myth rather than the reality of what they did. They always get trotted out by concern trolls about how "we" must make sure "our" protest is nice and safe and respectful, when what they did was anything but, even though no McDonalds windows were smashed in.

Consider how Gandhi disrupted the British salt monopoly in India for example, by refining his own salt from seawater, how an incredible threat that was to the financial wellbeing of the British raj.

Furthermore, it's only in hindsight that either MLK or Gandhi was deemed respectable and an example for future protestors: people hated them and everything they stood for.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:24 AM on May 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


And Chomsky was an apologist for the khmer rouge.

No, he wasn't. And that's slander or libel (never could decide which is for written and which is for spoken speech).

What Chomsky said at the time, when it wasn't clear yet whether or not the reports coming from the country were true or not, was that it was always a good idea to be skeptical of any reports about atrocities committed by enemies of the US, as reporting on them is often wrong and driven by propaganda (remember the Kuwati incubator story from the first Gulf War) and also that these atrocities needed to be put into context, that is, that we should not forget that what happened in Cambodia (and Laos) would not have been possible without the undeclared war the US had been waging on these countries for over a decade.

Also remember that once the Khmer Rouge were ousted by the Vietnamese, the US was more than willing to keep recognising them as the true representatives of Cambodia, Killing Fields be damned. And that was under Carter, patron saint of liberalism.

So you gotta ask yourself, why be more enraged about the political philosopher with no power other than his words who might have said something inappropriate about the Khmer Rouge than about the people who actively supported them when their evil was undeniable to everybody?
posted by MartinWisse at 1:36 AM on May 8, 2012 [11 favorites]


I can't get over that they want $5 for an 18 page pamphlet. That is not exactly an affordable price for something so slight, not matter what words of wisdom it may contain. I'm going to assume this is because it will enable them to hand out other stuff free and pay their staff, not because they're giving Chomsky a cut, because that would be depressing.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 1:57 AM on May 8, 2012


Furthermore, it's only in hindsight that either MLK or Gandhi was deemed respectable and an example for future protestors: people hated them and everything they stood for.

Yes, exactly. The FBI was constantly following and hounding MLK, Jr. And he was assassinated! We're really supposed to believe that everyone liked him because he was nice enough and that if we were "nice" enough too we'd be accepted. It's nonsense.

Anyone who wants an excellent picture of both MLK, Jr. and the culture surrounding the end of his life and his dead should pick up Hellhound On His Trail.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:10 AM on May 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


After watching the entire May 4th 2012 Occupy Cleveland General Assembly that was posted on UStream, I'm pretty sure that if the accused bomber lived in that warehouse, the only thing he is guilty of is a botched suicide.

HappyHippo, would you mind clarifying what you mean here for those of us who haven't watched the entire GA stream?
posted by mediareport at 4:10 AM on May 8, 2012


The FBI was constantly following and hounding MLK, Jr. And he was assassinated!

The point of non violence isn't to make your enemies like you.
posted by empath at 4:33 AM on May 8, 2012


Which wasn't what the young rope-rider was saying anyway.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:35 AM on May 8, 2012


>Just consider this, you condescending, hectoring ass

Really? deanklear is the hectoring ass?

The reason there is so much hate for Chomsky is because most Americans are incapable of stringing together a thought process which involves even the mere possibility that American is not in fact an "exceptional" nation. This is not a conscious choice. This is a testament to the msm's ability to "manufacture consent" and propagandize otherwise intelligent people to the point where they will believe the ludicrous.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:09 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Really? deanklear is the hectoring ass?

No, of course not. Condescending was mentioned.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:18 AM on May 8, 2012


A 128 page summary of Chomsky views's sounds exceedingly promising. I've ordered the book, thanks!
posted by jeffburdges at 6:22 AM on May 8, 2012


The reason there is so much hate for Chomsky is because most Americans are incapable of stringing together a thought process which involves even the mere possibility that American is not in fact an "exceptional" nation.

Thanks for giving us an example of condescension for reference.
posted by empath at 6:22 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I just dropped in to point out that the learned Dr. Chomsky made a factual error during the interview when he said "Take say, Martin Luther King. Listen to the speeches on MLK Day – and it’s all “I have a dream.” But he had another dream and he presented that in his last talk in Memphis just before he was assassinated. In which he said something about how he’s like Moses he can see the promised land but how we’re not going to get there."

In fact, the quote Chomsky is mis-remembering is "And I've looked over, and I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I'm happy tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man."


I suspect that might be a transcription error: I'd be surprised if Chomsky didn't know that the Israelites made it to the Promised Land, but Moses didn't.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:24 AM on May 8, 2012


Thanks for giving us an example of condescension for reference.

It's not condescension, I myself am often a victim of the same phenomena i described above. Luckily I have many non-American friends around to smack me upside the head when it happens.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:26 AM on May 8, 2012


[There's a current Metatalk about how folks are interacting in this thread; please go ahead and use that for complaints/observations about specific posters.]
posted by taz at 6:26 AM on May 8, 2012


You know, whatever one feelings about Chomsky it is possible to not like him and not be a moron. I really don't like how he fights in linguistics disagreements for one, and his tactics there have all the hallmark of crushing a butterfly on a wheel, which is disappointing, especially as he has a ton of power in academia.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 6:27 AM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


And Chomsky was an apologist for the khmer rouge.

As MartinWisse mentions, this is one of the most egregious falsehoods repeated about Chomsky. The man cites the Khmer Rouge over and over again as a prime example of a brutal, murderous regime, but because he points out that it'd be wise to, y'know, apply objective scholarly methodology to examining claims about their atrocities, he's gotten this bizarro reputation for being their apologist. You can't just decide the KR assassinated Lincoln and made popsicles out of the blood of Cambodian peasants just because somebody says they did, even if those "somebodies" are Cambodians.

I've met one of the most prominent Khmer critics of Chomsky's position on the KR--listened firsthand to his claim of a victory over Chomsky in a debate--and from my perspective, he definitely falls into the "anything anybody claims about the KR is TRUE GODDAMMIT" camp. Unfortunately, the deference he's afforded as a former prisoner of the KR seems to fuel this echo chamber.
posted by Rykey at 7:14 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The man cites the Khmer Rouge over and over again as a prime example of a brutal, murderous regime, but because he points out that it'd be wise to, y'know, apply objective scholarly methodology to examining claims about their atrocities, he's gotten this bizarro reputation for being their apologist.

But that was after the truth about what was happening came out(that he criticizes the khmer rouge). Don't you know that context and chronology mean nothing to Chomsky haters.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:34 AM on May 8, 2012


I think Gandhi and MLK might disagree with you on that. They seemed to have plenty of success.

If you think either of them engaged in peaceful protest, you've bought the myth rather than the reality of what they did. They always get trotted out by concern trolls about how "we" must make sure "our" protest is nice and safe and respectful, when what they did was anything but, even though no McDonalds windows were smashed in.

Consider how Gandhi disrupted the British salt monopoly in India for example, by refining his own salt from seawater, how an incredible threat that was to the financial wellbeing of the British raj.

Furthermore, it's only in hindsight that either MLK or Gandhi was deemed respectable and an example for future protestors: people hated them and everything they stood for.


Its fine to strike without violence. Violence loses out. That's what these guys did. I'm also not suggesting that you not be hated.

I'm suggesting that finally, once and for all, you play to win rather than to feel good about yourselves. And playing to win means doing things that are hard. Like dressing in your Sunday best.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:01 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm suggesting that finally, once and for all, you play to win rather than to feel good about yourselves. And playing to win means doing things that are hard. Like dressing in your Sunday best.
Now this is some high-quality condescension.

Disagreeing with you about tactics is not the same as "playing to feel good about yourselves".
posted by cdward at 8:19 AM on May 8, 2012


I'm suggesting that finally, once and for all, you play to win rather than to feel good about yourselves. And playing to win means doing things that are hard. Like dressing in your Sunday best.

Yes, thanks. We finally get it. The difference between srs business and masterbation is dressing like we are going to church. You've told us this approximately 143 times so far and we will all take it under advisement since you are obviously a big supporter of Occupy's goals and only have the movement's best interests in mind.
posted by stagewhisper at 8:19 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm suggesting that finally, once and for all, you play to win rather than to feel good about yourselves. And playing to win means doing things that are hard. Like dressing in your Sunday best.
Now this is some high-quality condescension.

Disagreeing with you about tactics is not the same as "playing to feel good about yourselves".


My point is that so much emphasis on "do what makes you feel good" as a protest tactic means that you're gonna run into problems. What MLK and Gandhi had were disciplined movements. When the guy whose name is on the lease gets caught in a bombing plot, well, not so much.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:21 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm suggesting that finally, once and for all, you play to win rather than to feel good about yourselves. And playing to win means doing things that are hard. Like dressing in your Sunday best.

Yes, thanks. We finally get it. The difference between srs business and masterbation is dressing like we are going to church. You've told us this approximately 143 times so far and we will all take it under advisement since you are obviously a big supporter of Occupy's goals and only have the movement's best interests in mind.


Why don't you address my argument? Do you think that Occupy would have greater success in convincing others if they didn't work to avoid being classed with those committing property damage in political protest?

But the truth is, many occupy activists and most of the general public are turned off by acts of property damage committed as a form of protest. Black Bloc tactics have been criticized by some Occupy Seattle activists and Chris Hedges claims it is responsible for chasing the 99% away from the Occupy Wall Street movement.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:27 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth your version of the Indian Independence movement conveniently leaves out all the violence that happened. I suggest reading some books on the subject before holding court on how peaceful the Indian independence movement was. Yes Ghandi's movement was peaceful, but he didn't exist in a vaccum and his movement wasn't singularly responsible for the British "quitting" India.

Sorry for the derail, but I've seen you use this example several times in occupy threads and it's a bogus example. That doesn't mean your point is necessarily incorrect it just means you need to find a different example to support your case.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:30 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why don't you address my argument? Do you think that Occupy would have greater success in convincing others if they didn't work to avoid being classed with those committing property damage in political protest?

Sorry, I didn't realize you wanted me to address an argument about OWS being clear that they don't approve of property damage (the majority of OWS people already *do not* fwiw) rather than the argument that they should dress as though they are going to church because I am not a mind reader.
posted by stagewhisper at 8:36 AM on May 8, 2012


Do you think that Occupy would have greater success in convincing others if they didn't work to avoid being classed with those committing property damage in political protest?

It's a leaderless, bottom-up anarchist movement, which means that the tactics of blowing up bridges are just as valid as making some signs. There's no one around that has the authority to say any different.
posted by empath at 8:37 AM on May 8, 2012


"Chomsky draws our attention to the populist action at Resurrection City that was ongoing when MLK was assassinated."

From your link: "The same month thousands of poor people of all races set up a shantytown known as “Resurrection City.” The city was closed down in mid-June and the economic bill of rights was never passed."

(While I've argued before for the idea that violent revolutionary action/rhetoric was part of what made reform possible, by the stated aims of '60s and '70s American revolutionary movements, they were far more failures than the civil rights act, and more to the point one cannot honestly argue that reform rarely succeeds while simultaneously holding that revolution succeeds more often.)

"The reason there is so much hate for Chomsky is because most Americans are incapable of stringing together a thought process which involves even the mere possibility that American is not in fact an "exceptional" nation. This is not a conscious choice. This is a testament to the msm's ability to "manufacture consent" and propagandize otherwise intelligent people to the point where they will believe the ludicrous."

Seriously? I said that the interview was mostly boilerplate Chomsky, with little that was controversial in the meat, but enough lazy asides (the educational costs example) that it felt like he got softballs that didn't really require his expertise, and I gave some questions that I would have liked to have him answer because I would be interested in his perspective — specifically his perspective on the limitations of the forms of self-organization that many of the Occupy camps chose to engage in and possible ameliorations thereof. I asked in part because I participate in the local Occupy meetings sometimes, and have heard similar complaints from people who participate in other camps.

In return, I got a lecture on how, like, the power structure, man, it's totally rotten, and if I could just see that, I'd stop worrying about how my local meetings go.
posted by klangklangston at 8:40 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why don't you address my argument? Do you think that Occupy would have greater success in convincing others if they didn't work to avoid being classed with those committing property damage in political protest?

Sorry, I didn't realize you wanted me to address an argument about OWS being clear that they don't approve of property damage (the majority of OWS people already *do not* fwiw) rather than the argument that they should dress as though they are going to church because I am not a mind reader.


The problem is that just saying that isn't doing enough. You have to police your people.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:41 AM on May 8, 2012


Ironmouth your version of the Indian Independence movement conveniently leaves out all the violence that happened. I suggest reading some books on the subject before holding court on how peaceful the Indian independence movement was. Yes Ghandi's movement was peaceful, but he didn't exist in a vaccum and his movement wasn't singularly responsible for the British "quitting" India.

Sorry for the derail, but I've seen you use this example several times in occupy threads and it's a bogus example. That doesn't mean your point is necessarily incorrect it just means you need to find a different example to support your case.


So, am I to take it then that you are in favor of violence to advance the aims of the 99%? Because I highly suspect that very few Americans of any stripe agree with you.

Please let me know if I'm getting this right. In the end you are either for or against violence.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:43 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seriously?

Yes seriously. I wasn't addressing you directly with that part of my comment, but I can see how you would think so given the context. I should have been more clear. I was addressing the anti-chomsky rhetoric on display in the thread(ie cambodia comments ect.) in general not you specifically.

In the end you are either for or against violence.

I see. So you support the dismantling of the U.S. system of military bases around the world whose main purpose is to facilitate the projection of violence wherever our rulers see fit? It's amusing to see the black and white system you construct when it suits you, but when the subject is obama or the american military's actions everything's grey.

Please let me know if I'm getting this right.

Again I can only suggest that you read a few book on how the attainment of Indian Independence from Britain actually transpired.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:50 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's interesting that discussion of violence in this thread has focused more on protester violence and violent response to protesters than on the structural violence of poverty inflicted by the governmental and economic institutions that perpetuate grievous income inequity in our nation.
posted by audi alteram partem at 8:54 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


"I wasn't addressing you directly with that part of my comment, but I can see how you would think so given the context."

Fair enough. I generally disagree with your statement — I tend to disagree with anything that requires an invisible motivation to explain opinions and renders a great swath of legitimate criticism as disingenuous — but as it wasn't directed at me, I'm not going to bother arguing someone else's feelings.

"Please let me know if I'm getting this right. In the end you are either for or against violence."

I disagree with this too. I tend to be against violence because it's really rarely effective and has a really high cost. But there have been plenty of moral strategies of violence, from WWII to Matewan. I just tend to think that non-violence is more sympathetic generally, and even that has gradations — I think it's more sympathetic to get beaten, but entirely moral to fight back against an unjust beating.
posted by klangklangston at 9:05 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's more sympathetic to get beaten, but entirely moral to fight back against an unjust beating.

Compare the reaction to kids getting pepper sprayed by cops and just taking it were basically heroes, imo. Compared to the anarchist jack-asses vandalizing stuff and breaking into buildings.
posted by empath at 9:09 AM on May 8, 2012




Compare the reaction to kids getting pepper sprayed by cops and just taking it were basically heroes, imo. Compared to the anarchist jack-asses vandalizing stuff and breaking into buildings.

I respect the pepper-sprayed kids' reaction and also disdain "anarchists" who needlessly destroy and vandalize, but I read the nonviolent protest that ended in the pepper-spraying as a tactic to draw attention to the issue at hand, not a moral statement about the use of violence (although I could be wrong about that). I realize that's kind of your point--that it's often more "heroic" to remain nonviolent in the face of violence-- but that says nothing about the morality of the use of violence (particularly with regard to self-defense) per se.
posted by Rykey at 9:21 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of course they didn't take the pepper spray to make a statement about violence. They happen to make a statement about violence through their action, but that wasn't the point. Strictly in a practical sense, they did more to help the movement, just looking at the press reaction and what happened afterwards.
posted by empath at 9:29 AM on May 8, 2012


invisible motivation

All motivations are invisible...at least until we learn how to decode the electrical and chemical signals that constitute human consciousness. That of course assumes that consciousness is a thing that can be studied by reductionist science.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:48 AM on May 8, 2012


That is a *great* interview, thanks for posting it, homunculus.
posted by stagewhisper at 9:49 AM on May 8, 2012


My point is that so much emphasis on "do what makes you feel good" as a protest tactic means that you're gonna run into problems. What MLK and Gandhi had were disciplined movements. When the guy whose name is on the lease gets caught in a bombing plot, well, not so much.

'Course, had there been an internet in India, 1938 or the Deep South, 1961, there you would find that era's Ironmouth patiently explaining that of course,while fully understanding that Gandhi or MLK have legitimate grievances, the way to win broad mass appeal is to be respectful and polite and not to be so radical. Or, to quote a certain convienently dead patron saint of moderatism:

I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fan in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that the present tension in the South is a necessary phase of the transition from an obnoxious negative peace, in which the Negro passively accepted his unjust plight, to a substantive and positive peace, in which all men will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with an its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured . . . "

Can you tell who MLK is talking about here yet?
posted by MartinWisse at 9:50 AM on May 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


stagewhisper, that was just part 2. Here's the first part: Former Labor Sec. Robert Reich on Clinton’s Errors of Crippling Welfare to Repealing Glass-Steagall
posted by homunculus at 9:52 AM on May 8, 2012


It's interesting that discussion of violence in this thread has focused more on protester violence and violent response to protesters than on the structural violence of poverty inflicted by the governmental and economic institutions that perpetuate grievous income inequity in our nation.

Same as it every was. Compare the sympathetic treatment the aristocratic victims of the terror get with the silence about their own victims in the years and centuries before the French revolution.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:53 AM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I personally don't think they have any obligation to be polite, or not be radical. I only think that for practical reasons, they should never initiate violence or vandalism.

Provoking a violent response from the state, however is a perfectly valid tactic.

I personally think Occupy is a complete clusterfuck and a lost cause at this point, though. The groups that latched onto that label need to back off and reorganize with some real leadership and someone who has the moral authority to speak for (and to) the movement.

Chomsky isn't that guy, and I don't know who is.
posted by empath at 10:15 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with an its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be cured . . . "


I'm telling you to dress like MLK's people did. Also not to toss feces in a Bank of America and not to smash windows and to make sure that there is enough policing that the guy who signed the lease on the place you are occupying isn't planning on blowing up a bridge. You know, MLK and his people never smashed windows. You appear to think that African Americans of the time were doing that against Bull Connor. No. They were marching and sitting in lunch counters.

Just saying we're not violent isn't enough, because they are going to use it against you whether or not you were for it. So you have to find an effective way to put a damper on that bullshit. Remember, you're supposed to be actually representing 99% of the population. So I'd market to that many people. Huge numbers of self-described Conservatives think that taxes need to be raised on the rich. Don't let them get distracted by the superficialities by playing into them. Play to win.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:36 AM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I believe that violence is often mistaken for radicalism. In a society thick with violence--police violence, violence in intimate partnerships, and the violence of poverty--peaceful action is, IMHO, the more radical choice by far. This is a common mistake among those who mistake pacifism for passivity.

Civil disobedience is just what it says -- civil. It is absolutely not passive, but instead seeks to highlight resist and dismantle injustice without repeating injustice.

Also, to those who think a leaderless movement must accept any and all points of view, I simply think this is an incorrect understanding of consensus process. The Occupy movement has been decidedly peaceful, and I personally thought one of the most radical and amazing things they have done is to openly push peaceful process, prioritize means as well as ends.

In this I think Chomsky is correct -- Occupy has two parts: one is about policy (stop bailing out banks, for e.g.) and the other is about building community. Building community does not equal smashing stuff and use of violence, in my opinion. Use of violence has lasting impact for those involved, even when their cause is just. Even when they act in self defense, and the violence is justified. This has to be weighed out carefully.

My personal take is that the Black Bloc dismantles solidarity and community in their use of violence. Sure, one can find situations where violence is justified, but using violence and provoking police violence at a demonstration puts the most vulnerable people (i.e. people of colour, poor people, migrants) at risk, hide their faces and do not stand up for their actions, and this is a violation of the principles of solidarity.

In what I consider a contrasting example of property destruction that was well thought through, completely peaceful, and furthered the movement, in the UK in 1996 three women disarmed a Hawk fighter with ordinary household hammers and were acquitted because they had prevented the greater crime of the plane being used in East Timor. No one else was at risk of being harmed, or of being implicated. The women could show they had used every available means to protest prior to breaking the law. They took every possible step to show they were peaceful when arrested. They never hid their faces or shirked responsibility for their actions.

I met one of them when she spoke in Victoria, and she was very insistent about the pacifism of the action, and that it was ultimately proven lawful.
posted by chapps at 10:47 AM on May 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm telling you to dress like MLK's people did.

That's all fine and good, but again you are acting as if MLK's movement was solely responsible for the gains of the civil rights movement, and conveniently leave out the Black Panthers, Malcom X, and the Nation of Islam. I'm not advocating for violence I'm just pointing out that your examples ignore the larger context of what was happening in the country at the time, and what actually happened in reality; not in your utopian construction of how protests and protest movements should proceed.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:56 AM on May 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


the Black Panthers, Malcom X, and the Nation of Islam
All snappy dressers though, it must be conceded.
posted by Abiezer at 11:10 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Malcom X, and the Nation of Islam

Notoriously snappy dressers.

Cornel West gets it.

I think it's okay to say that, as a practical matter, dressing sharply takes backseat to the methods and strategies the Occupiers have chosen. (It's hard to look snappy when you're sleeping in a tent.) But this is precisely the triumph of one tactic over another; generally speaking, ruling out a tactic that has worked in the past in favor of a strategy that has yet to ripen is a going to generate some criticism.

On the other hand, I'm perfectly willing to admit that the future is unpredictable, that a tactic's past success or lack thereof is no evidence of what will work in the future, and that Occupy might come up with something new that works. I hope it does.

If it doesn't, though, the Monday-morning quarterbacking is going to be much worse than this.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:11 AM on May 8, 2012




"In this I think Chomsky is correct -- Occupy has two parts: one is about policy (stop bailing out banks, for e.g.) and the other is about building community. Building community does not equal smashing stuff and use of violence, in my opinion. Use of violence has lasting impact for those involved, even when their cause is just. Even when they act in self defense, and the violence is justified. This has to be weighed out carefully. "

I thought that was a pretty good point from Chomsky, yeah, and I think your point is a good one too — the social and personal costs of violence are really high, and tend to be underestimated (especially in righteous anger). I think you're also correct in pointing out that violence is often confused for radicalism — which leaves aside the question of whether radicalism is productive or necessary (certainly many radicals believe it is) and instead focuses on the tactics of that radicalism, where some tactics are much more alienating than others.
posted by klangklangston at 11:42 AM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm telling you to dress like MLK's people did.

Naah, you're just concern trolling. And you would've been doing the same to MLK as well, but he's dead, so no longer a threat. We know that, because at the time MLK was being accused of being a commie, a womaniser (with the FBI even wanting to go and blackmail him with it), filthy, a corruptor of youth, a rat, a filthy disease carrying agitator and everything else that you can think off that has been said about the Occupy movement now, or about any other radical movement in history.

He was blamed for anything bad that happened, not praised for his restraint. You harp on about the people who sat down at lunchroom counters without being aware that these were attacked and beaten up, then arrested for disturbing the peace, called violent agitators in the process by exactly the same kind of people as you.

And you know what? The people who did actually sympathese with MLK, who could see the injustices in the American South, those saw through all that nonsense, saw that if some Black teenagers rioted and set fire to the local general store owned by mister Pearce, that was just a minor thing compared to the general injustices afflicted on all Black people, not something to be dwelled on and worried about.

For anybody who actually takes "try being a little bit less of a damn, dirty hippy, you damn dirty hippy" consider also the experience with the antiwar demonstrations in the UK in February 2003. Two million marching in London, tens of thousands more elsewhere in the country, in a protest that the Daily Mirror (!) of all newspapers fully supported. It was about the most mainstream, peaceful, polite demonstration ever.

And completely dismissed by the people in power.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:46 AM on May 8, 2012 [14 favorites]


MartinWisse kicks so much ass in this thread.
posted by JHarris at 11:57 AM on May 8, 2012


In general, it's always a bad idea for leaders/spokespersons of any political movement to get into a will you condemnaton: your job is not to police your fellow activists or win the approval of the political/media establishment (which you won't get anyway), your job is to press your own cause.

And people always overestimate how much Jane Q. Public cares about that sort of vandalism or property damage; nobody complained when Fred the Shred's windows were thrown in, but I know quite a few people who were disappointed he hadn't been roughed up a little.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:58 AM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which doesn't mean violence is always or even mostly justified, it's just that we should be aware that completely legitimate movements have used violence and not just in self defence either.

The world is better of for having had the Dutch, American, French and even Russian revolutions, even if there's much to criticise in each of them.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:01 PM on May 8, 2012


He was blamed for anything bad that happened, not praised for his restraint. You harp on about the people who sat down at lunchroom counters without being aware that these were attacked and beaten up, then arrested for disturbing the peace, called violent agitators in the process by exactly the same kind of people as you.

Yes, but they were wrong. The Black Bloc actually are violent agitators. And they have been welcomed into the occupy movement.
posted by empath at 12:09 PM on May 8, 2012


The world is better of for having had the Dutch, American, French and even Russian revolutions, even if there's much to criticise in each of them.

So how many millions of people should die to make the world a better place, in your point of view? Because I count millions just between the French and Russian.
posted by empath at 12:10 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Two million marching in London, tens of thousands more elsewhere in the country, in a protest that the Daily Mirror (!) of all newspapers fully supported. It was about the most mainstream, peaceful, polite demonstration ever.

What I would argue is missing in most mass demonstrations is that they show up 12 noon and go home at 5. This is very little inconvenience and takes not much commitment to participate -- though it does take lots of work from the organizers, no doubt about that. It could be equally mainstream and peaceful, but refuse to go home, be more disruptive to business as usual.

Sorry to keep bringing up the Quebec example, but this video has three organizers of the demos discussing why they think they are succeeding at organizing the largest and most prolonged student strike in Canadian history. ... a strike which has resulted in the provincial government making changes to their proposed tuition hikes.

For those who are unfamiliar with student organizing in Canada, they also make veiled reference to national student organizing, which is a reference to the Canadian Federation of Students, a group many Quebec student organizations recently abandoned. The CFS organizing style is more akin to old style unionism, and electing a rep to go to a major meeting and make key decisions, and then keeping folks on message.

The Quebec demonstrations are an interesting counterpoint to those who think decentralized organizing is less successful. It is also indicative of some big debates about how best to organize for justice.

Who knows what it will achieve, but concessions on tuition increases and a seat at the table where savings are sought is more than my student demos achieved.
posted by chapps at 12:24 PM on May 8, 2012




Who knows what it will achieve, but concessions on tuition increases and a seat at the table where savings are sought is more than my student demos achieved.
posted by chapps at 12:24 PM on May 8 [+] [!]


The strikes are teaching a generation of university kids that they can make the world listen to them by acting together, without relying on votes, letter writing, or elected leaders. It's very much a grassroots uprising. The most exciting thing about that isn't the impact it has on tuiton, it's the lessons and empowerment that rise out of it. The protesters are asserting that it's their university, and that government dictates in the name of austerity or otherwise will only be accepted with their consent.

That's a real breeding ground for radicalism right there.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:32 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


If someone has bothered to learn anything, at all, about the civil rights movemetn of the 50s-60s-70s they would know that it wasn't MLK's movement and MLK wasn't the boss of the movement. If you think the civil rights movement was not a huge mess of conflicting factions just like OWS is today and just like every progressive movement has always been you are ignorant.

I remember a story an old civil rights organizer told. MLK had come to present and train with their group but they ended up telling MLK to go home because he was taking control away from the original organizers and the group members by virtue of being MLK. He said to King "You want a leader-centered group and that won't work, we want group-centered leadership" and so that group stopped being associated with MLK.

In case you were wondering, I am not completely opposed to violence, but I would only support violence that strategically contributes to meaningful and democratic reforms/social change to empower marginalized and oppressed people.

However, at this time, there is no type of violence that would effectively advance social justice more than it would legitimize the police and cause negative public perception,

therefor, I am not in favor of any sort of violence that has been done or is currently being planned. The Black Bloc on May Day was a joke. I would support them if they were engaging in some violence that actually threatened the establishment/status-quo instead of justifying NYPD training and confirming what everyone already wanted to believe about OWS. It seems like they just ran around being assholes. They *are* violent agitators and I could accept that if they were actually helping but really they are empowering the police and stereotypes about anarchists. That's my problem with the Black Bloc. They are tactically and strategically harmful to any movement the way they are now.
posted by fuq at 12:35 PM on May 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Naah, you're just concern trolling.

It'd be great if we could not accuse people of false pretenses here.

Ironmouth is right: politics is intensely cultural, and people will turn away from a movement perceived to be benefiting people unlike or opposed to them. The thing the civil rights tactics did - not perfectly, of course, but enough to convince enough people - was to be as normal as possible.
posted by downing street memo at 12:35 PM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


It'd be great if we could not accuse people of false pretenses here.

Which I'm not; the sort of thing Ironmouth has been doing in this thread I've seen dozens of times elsewhere; they may be perfectly sincire, it's still concern trolling.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:41 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey, let's not underestimate the work that the violent, radical wings of the civil rights movement did. Groups like the Panthers tend to get swept under the rug for political purposes, but they were quite effective in some areas.

As with Ghandi, these revolutions had plenty of violence, but we shy away from that and concentrate on these peaceful leaders like somehow they rose out of a vacuum and overthrew governments and social orders just by believing really, really hard in what they wanted.

Sometimes pacifism is a luxury for the comfortable and safe. Institutions inflict violence on a daily basis, but we tell the oppressed that they'd better work within the system and be gentle about their revolutions. It's a depressingly condescending, liberal sentiment.

And for the playful segment of our rant:

Phil Ochs tells it with biting, acerbic wit, and Nina Simone had a thing or two to say to the Beetles about violence and revolution.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:47 PM on May 8, 2012


we tell the oppressed that they'd better work within the system and be gentle about their revolutions

There is nothing gentle about non-violence, and it is distinctly not working within the system.
posted by empath at 12:51 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Occupy (and many others) don't agree with me, but that's okay, I'm a historian and doing my typing from the behind the safety of a computer. I agree with them to the extent that I discourage violence, but where I tend to part ways is in that I think that's a tactical decision and not a moral one. Violence has been effective in the past, and we conservatively and consistently downplay its role.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:52 PM on May 8, 2012


I pretty much agree with you fuq, but just wanted to point out that the black block has been engaging is vandalism/property damage, *not violence* and that's a very important distinction. Do I think that an idiot or two who identifies themselves as block block members might do something violent in the future? Perhaps, since at least a handful of them seem less like principled activists than adrenaline junkies on an aggro rush.

For everyone else in the thread saying we need to "police" the other activists, contrary to empath's assertion that OWS welcomes these behaviors though, it's a concern within the larger OWS movement and strategies for combatting/discouraging that specific type of behavior are being discussed in an ongoing basis. However, as MartinWisse alludes to above, that's not going to be the only (or primary) focus of our attention because it's a sideshow OWS doesn't need to let agitators hijack the focus of where all of our energy and brainstorming should be directed.
posted by stagewhisper at 12:54 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


As with Ghandi, these revolutions had plenty of violence, but we shy away from that and concentrate on these peaceful leaders like somehow they rose out of a vacuum and overthrew governments and social orders just by believing really, really hard in what they wanted.

Also remember they won because God smiled on them, they acted really nice, and they dressed well.
posted by stagewhisper at 12:57 PM on May 8, 2012


When you notice that your movement has adopted its own default accusation universally applicable against any critics ('petty bourgeois', 'concern troll'), you might want to stop and take a careful look whether you've started going downhill.
posted by Anything at 12:58 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Good idea!

We looked.

We aren't.




But thanks for the reality check, Anything!


:)
posted by stagewhisper at 1:02 PM on May 8, 2012


When you notice that your movement has adopted its own default accusation universally applicable against any critics ('petty bourgeois', 'concern troll'), you might want to stop and take a careful look whether you've started going downhill.

[Looks at America]

... "Hippy", "radical", "agitator"...

...

Oh, I think you might be right.
posted by fuq at 1:04 PM on May 8, 2012


they may be perfectly sincire, it's still concern trolling.

No. Concern trolling is pretending to be affiliated with a cause, but undermining it by expressing "concern" that their tactics won't work.
posted by downing street memo at 1:06 PM on May 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


The term "Concern trolling" originated at Daily Kos was originally specifically conservatives making attacks on Democratic policies under the guise of offering advice on political tactics to Democrats, for example Karl Rove saying something like "If Democrats want to win elections, they should stop waging class war on the wealthy and instead focus on giving tax cuts to job creators" or what have you.

On metafilter, it's just thrown around at anyone who disagrees with anyone about anything.
posted by empath at 1:15 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


There is nothing gentle about non-violence, and it is distinctly not working within the system.

Here we agree, but that's not how it's sold by those wanting to uphold the status quo. Time and again we have people like Nelson Mandela or MLK or Gandhi who were seen as dangerous terrorists and far too radicial even for those who supposedly supported their cases, leaders of a huge and diversive movement, part of which was non-violent, part of which was not, who once they've been safely neutralised become sort of patron saints for those who want to co-opt the fuzzy feelings of their causes without the messy reality behind it. Once these people are no longer a danger, because they're dead, or co-opted themselves, we tend to tell ourselves these stories about how their struggles were actually jolly nice and everybody could see the rightness of their causes but sadly there were just a few radicals on both sides who spoiled it for everybody and before you know it out pops the Whiggish view of history as one of inevitable progress leading to the pinnacle of civilisation that needs no improving on, where ever we are today.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:25 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Concern trolling is pretending to be affiliated with a cause, but undermining it by expressing "concern" that their tactics won't work.

And this doesn't fit certain people in this thread because?

How is "you should all dress up nicely to be taken serious" not concern trolling.

On metafilter, it's just thrown around at anyone who disagrees with anyone about anything.

Really? Haven't seen it much used elsewhere on MeFi and I think I'm the only one making that argument here and only at one specific person who I argue is engaging in this. I don't want to make this thread all about them, but sometimes the shoe fits even if it is cast about widely.

And that's the whole egg eating, as we say in Dutch.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:30 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well said. It's really interesting to study these things, and read the writing of the people involved and compare it to popular beliefs. It opened my eyes to a lot of things during my BA way back when. I don't think it diminishes anything that they did, but it really challenges your assumptions about how big things get done, and what's really going on during these social movements.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:32 PM on May 8, 2012


[At a certain point the arguments about is-it-or-isn't-it-concern-trolling really need to move to Metatalk if folks want to have them. I think we've reached that point and then some. Otherwise, flag what you think is problematic if it needs flagging, and otherwise step around it and keeping have a conversation that doesn't respond to it if you think it shouldn't get a response.]
posted by cortex at 1:36 PM on May 8, 2012


we have people like Nelson Mandela...
Co-founder of Umkhonto we Sizwe, no less. Here's him speaking to them when the ANC suspended the armed struggle.
posted by Abiezer at 1:45 PM on May 8, 2012


vandalism/property damage, *not violence* and that's a very important distinction.

Interesting stagewhisper, I consider property damage and vandalism violence; violence against technological objects (in the "Technology is society made durable sense") so I called the Black Blocs vandalism violence, and I still think are cases when property destruction and vandalism are necessary, and that are always more appropriate than violence against humans. I am have a much harder time thinking of when violence against people would be strategically appropriate for a progressive movement that authentically values humanity and freedom.

So, if there were to be a form of violence that I would believe is a valid tactic for progressive social change it would be more likely to be violence against material objects, property damage and vandalism, and unlikely to involve violence against humans or animals. (Not counting instigating violent action from state actors with non-violent civil disobedience.)
posted by fuq at 1:49 PM on May 8, 2012


re: violence versus property destruction.

The reason that people insist on distinguishing these is that they are not the same. Physically assaulting someone is not the same as breaking a store window, and it's very important to distinguish between them. That isn't to say that either is intrinsically good or bad.

When people say, "vandalism is not violence," what they're expressing is that their levels of tolerance are different for the two. It becomes especially pertinent in conflicts between two groups, with different levels of tolerance or power.

For example: Protesters frequently do not feel that feel that rubber bullets, tear gas, boots to the face, or whatever are a proportionate and appropriate response to their refusal to disperse or the breaking of a window. To their mind, the physical assault on a body is dramatically worse than refusal to obey orders or damage to property.

It's important to differentiate between property destruction and violence because that framing can be real important to the perception of the movement and its methods and goals, not to mention the behaviour of law enforcement agents.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:42 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am have a much harder time thinking of when violence against people would be strategically appropriate for a progressive movement that authentically values humanity and freedom.

Oppressive systems often exert a daily toll upon the oppressed population. When you feel that your group is suffering from a daily toll, it becomes much easier to justify a brief, violent push back against your exploiters. If you think that the government would rather have you killed or arrested than allow you to threaten the status quo, then you start to consider taking up arms.

There are plenty of situations where physical force would be, and has been, justified historically. Look at any genocided population and tell me you wouldn't prefer they'd been able to push back. Nobody was terribly upset on this forum when Kim Jong Il died or when Ghadaffi fell. For most people the discomfort doesn't seem to be with violence, it's with violence that's being employed outside of the control of the state.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:51 PM on May 8, 2012


Physically assaulting someone is not the same as breaking a store window, and it's very important to distinguish between them.

You can also distinguish between punching someone and kicking them. It doesn't mean that its a particularly meaningful distinction. If you smashed the windshield of someone's car with a brick while they're standing in front of you, I wouldn't expect them to react much differently than if you punched them in the face.
posted by empath at 2:51 PM on May 8, 2012


Ah, Ghandi! But he wasn't just peacefully massing his supporters in public squares, making speeches, then going home. Through a process of civil action he and his followers were making India ungovernable.

My grandmother was there at the time (we're British). She said it was clear to everyone that we weren't going to last. If you drove out of your house, an Indian would lie in the road in front of your car. If you got on a train, Indians would hang on the communication cord to stop the train moving. They had finally decided to get shot of us, and there was nothing we could do about it. They had the numbers and the power. I don't think the Occupy movement is in the same position.
posted by alasdair at 2:52 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]



You can also distinguish between punching someone and kicking them. It doesn't mean that its a particularly meaningful distinction. If you smashed the windshield of someone's car with a brick while they're standing in front of you, I wouldn't expect them to react much differently than if you punched them in the face.
posted by empath at 2:51 PM on May 8 [+] [!]
\

I'm suggesting that the distinction is meaningful to someone, and that's why we keep having this discussion. It doesn't mean that you have to agree with them, but you should try to understand why they are interested in distinguishing between the two.

With that said, saying that they're indistinguishable is somewhat difficult to accept, even with an entirely open mind. If I had to choose between a rock to the teeth and a rock to my car window, I know which I'd choose. We're all capable of distinguishing those, whether we feel that the two warrant distinct reactions is up to the individual. (Or in some cases the law or popular consent.)

I'm not trying to convince you that the two need to be treated separately, I'm trying to explain to you why there are two sides to this argument, and why it keeps coming up. We could all stand to be a bit more understanding of each others' situation and views.
posted by Stagger Lee at 2:57 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would also prefer to get kicked in the ass than to get punched in the nose. If you attack someone's property or threaten to, they are going to attempt to physically stop you, and they'd be justified in doing it.
posted by empath at 3:07 PM on May 8, 2012




I would also prefer to get kicked in the ass than to get punched in the nose. If you attack someone's property or threaten to, they are going to attempt to physically stop you, and they'd be justified in doing it.
posted by empath at 3:07 PM on May 8 [+] [!]


I'm not sure that anyone has ever suggested otherwise.
posted by Stagger Lee at 3:08 PM on May 8, 2012


I think the problem such as it is comes from attempting to, IMO, redefine "violence" in the common English sense. Google define puts it as "Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something." ; Merriam-Webster has "exertion of physical force so as to injure or abuse (as in warfare effecting illegal entry into a house)" as the first, etc.

So when people here sometimes get upset at people referring to property damage as violence, I feel like they are using their own definition of the word and then getting upset when others don't share it.

The distinction between violence against property and violence against persons is a good one, I just think either a different word or a phrase is needed to avoid this issue which seems to keep coming up.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:13 PM on May 8, 2012


I'm not sure that anyone has ever suggested otherwise

Then people who think that destruction of property is a valid tactict thats meaningfully different from physical violence against people are not thinking things through. If you engage in an activity which justifies a physical, even violent response, then you basically just earned yourself a beating with nothing to show for it. You certainly haven't gotten much of the public on your side. There are plenty of ways to provoke an unjustified violent response from an oppressive state besides smashing store windows.
posted by empath at 3:18 PM on May 8, 2012


The problem is that we're talking about broad social movements without orders from the top, so there's no publicity agency or central command here. You can't just issue a memo. People will, as individuals, do as they please. I think that it calls upon all of us to communicate as clearly as possibly, and to try to understand what other people mean, rather than getting indignant about the way they're saying it.

My personal issue with the usage of "violence" is that it's frequently used by the media in a way that obscures what's actually going on. "Violent protests," can mean a lot of things, to a lot of different people.
posted by Stagger Lee at 3:19 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


And yeah, in the context of most protests I don't think that property destruction is a terribly effective tactic empath. I'm more of a "shut down the means of production" kind of guy though.
If it's a spontaneous outpouring of frustration, I get that, but that makes it all the more unfortunate when people get hurt for it.
posted by Stagger Lee at 3:22 PM on May 8, 2012


The good news is, it won't be long before the "dress better and people will listen" argument becomes irrelevant, because well-dressed people--average Joes and Janes--will have immediate, pressing concerns that bring them out into the street to protest. The bad news is, well-dressed people--average Joes and Janes--will have immediate, pressing concerns that bring them out into the street to protest.
posted by Rykey at 3:33 PM on May 8, 2012


You certainly haven't gotten much of the public on your side.

The "support" of the "public" (those are both very vague terms) is not always necessary, or even useful. It's certainly not the only goal here.
posted by cdward at 3:34 PM on May 8, 2012


The good news is, it won't be long before the "dress better and people will listen" argument becomes irrelevant, because well-dressed people--average Joes and Janes--will have immediate, pressing concerns that bring them out into the street to protest

The recession is over, and has been for a while. What do you imagine is going to happen?
posted by empath at 3:36 PM on May 8, 2012


The problem is that we're talking about broad social movements without orders from the top, so there's no publicity agency or central command here. You can't just issue a memo. People will, as individuals, do as they please.

"We're innocent because we were just following orders" has now been replaced with "We're innocent because we can't give people orders."

So, Occupy has its own version of Sinn Fein now? "We don't directly control those people that would do violence, but since we kind of agree with them anyway..."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:41 PM on May 8, 2012


The recession is over, and has been for a while.

Really? I must not have received that memo. *checks bank balance* Neither did my bank!
posted by entropicamericana at 3:44 PM on May 8, 2012


The recession is over, and has been for a while. What do you imagine is going to happen?

The usual thing that happens after a nation's manufacturing economy turns into a financialized economy, its debts become massive, and it overextends itself militarily for protracted periods.
posted by Rykey at 3:48 PM on May 8, 2012


"We're innocent because we can't give people orders."

Well, yeah. "We didn't do anything to cause this" is pretty much the definition of innocent.

Or are you guilty of everything that people who associate with you do? Are Muslims collectively responsible for 9/11?
posted by cdward at 3:51 PM on May 8, 2012




"We're innocent because we were just following orders" has now been replaced with "We're innocent because we can't give people orders."

So, Occupy has its own version of Sinn Fein now? "We don't directly control those people that would do violence, but since we kind of agree with them anyway..."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:41 PM on May 8 [+] [!]


Whoa there. You took my quote entirely out of context.
I was discussing communication. Ironically.
posted by Stagger Lee at 3:51 PM on May 8, 2012


The recession is over, and has been for a while.

For now. Capitalism doesn't seem to get along for long periods without a big fuck-all collapse of some sort. Things aren't looking particular good after the "recovery" but maybe you aren't in the human services sector so you don't know how fucked things will quickly become if the economy collapses much more. There's not going to be a safety net to buffer the cyclical Capitalism crashes soon. The recession might be over but the damage is still there and no where close to being repaired. The Holy Roman Empire is over too, and has been for a while.
posted by fuq at 3:53 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, if your political agenda depends on apocalyptic prophecies coming about, I'm sure you have bigger things to worry about than the black bloc.
posted by empath at 4:07 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Really? I must not have received that memo. *checks bank balance* Neither did my bank!

Yeah, that's not the way recoveries work.
posted by empath at 4:08 PM on May 8, 2012


I'm telling you to dress like MLK's people did.

That's all fine and good, but again you are acting as if MLK's movement was solely responsible for the gains of the civil rights movement, and conveniently leave out the Black Panthers, Malcom X, and the Nation of Islam. I'm not advocating for violence I'm just pointing out that your examples ignore the larger context of what was happening in the country at the time, and what actually happened in reality; not in your utopian construction of how protests and protest movements should proceed.



Either you think violence is a moral response to our current situation or you do not. There is no such thing as "half violence." Either you think it is (1) morally ok; and (2) useful to the movement or you do not. There is no grey area of blowing up a bridge.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:21 PM on May 8, 2012


My personal issue with the usage of "violence" is that it's frequently used by the media in a way that obscures what's actually going on. "Violent protests," can mean a lot of things, to a lot of different people.

You can't act as if you are in a vacuum and that its the media's problem. Its Occupy's problem, because you can't control the media. The movement has to police itself because you cannot rely on the media or your opponents to be "fair."

Smashing shit is 100% violence.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:23 PM on May 8, 2012


vandalism/property damage, *not violence* and that's a very important distinction.

I share with the posters above that it sure is hell violence, and if you think that 99% of America agrees with you, you're wrong.

Smashing shit is just weak-ass. Weak. It says I have no argument and will make no attempt to be civil.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:26 PM on May 8, 2012



You can't act as if you are in a vacuum and that its the media's problem. Its Occupy's problem, because you can't control the media. The movement has to police itself because you cannot rely on the media or your opponents to be "fair."

Smashing shit is 100% violence.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:23 PM on May 8 [+] [!]


I addressed that a couple points up, please don't snipe the parts you like and pull them out of context. I'll show the same faith in return.
posted by Stagger Lee at 4:28 PM on May 8, 2012


The "support" of the "public" (those are both very vague terms) is not always necessary, or even useful. It's certainly not the only goal here.

I thought Occupy was the 99%. What is it now, the 0.99%?

What other goal could there possibly be? To impose a totalitarian government by force? I do not understand. Chomsky is right in saying that there are policy goals here. We live in a democracy. If you want your policy goals enshrined (Glass-Stegall, higher taxes on higher income brackets) then you have two choices. Establish your own dictatorship or get a very significant amount of the people to agree with you.
posted by Ironmouth at 4:57 PM on May 8, 2012


So how many millions of people should die to make the world a better place, in your point of view? Because I count millions just between the French and Russian.
So I assume you think the US should have stayed under the British Crown, rather then fighting the revolutionary war? After all: people died. The French Revolution was clearly a clusterfuck, though. I guess it makes a big difference when your oppressor and the people who support them live on another continent or across town.

Still, I'm surprised to see people claiming that not even monarchy should have been opposed. I guess we can say that if people like you got to decide, we'd still be living under the boot-heel of a divine-right hereditary king.

I don't think people are advocating for OWS to go violent. But it's just historically inaccurate to claim that only totally passive protesting works. What do you think would have happened in Egypt if all the protesters had just gone limp when the police came, instead of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails?

There are two separate issues here: one is what OWS should do - obviously not get violent. The other is historical accuracy. I don't even care that much about OWS at this point, but it's just annoying to see history distorted by people over some bullshit political argument. It's just false to say that violent protests or riots can't cause political change. In Egypt we all saw a decades long run by a dictator overthrown by protesters who stood their ground, in some cases violently, against riot police. The state media made the same complaints about the protesters that people made about OWS here. And this all happened last year and it was streamed live on Al Jazera's website, FFS!

The thing is, though the Egyptian revolutionaries considered themselves "Non-violent". And certainly they weren't running around shooting people. But they absolutely were doing what many people would consider "violent" if it happened in the US at an occupy protest (Certainly if you say "Smashing shit is 100% violence." then they were 100% violent, although they themselves disagree)

There is obviously a huge gradient of things that protesters/rioters/revolutionaries might in terms of "violence" On the one hand police claimed that kids in California who linked arms were "violently resisting" because they were forcing the cops to be violent (sort of a "stop hitting my hand with your face" line) -- On the other hand, the Egyptian revolution called itself non-violent, even though the protests featured people tossing Molotov cocktails at each-other and over 800 people died (with 6,000 injuries)

Again, this is not about what OWS should or should not do, it's just the truth about what's happened in the world, like it or not. I do think OWS lacked any kind of coherent way of coordinating itself, and as a result was essentially taken over by wide-eye'd idealists.
Ironmouth is right:
Oh please. According to him Occupy Wallstreet is all about "Fighting for White Privilege". The guy is not a "supporter" of OWS. (He was 'paraphrasing' Slavoj Žižek, who was actually talking about the middle class and said nothing about race)

He's a partisan democrat who wishes OWS had done nothing but register voters and campaign for democrats.
When you notice that your movement has adopted its own default accusation universally applicable against any critics ('petty bourgeois', 'concern troll'), you might want to stop and take a careful look whether you've started going downhill.
The whole point of Concern Trolling is that the person doesn't actually claim to be opposition. They're giving you "Helpful advice". Calling them a concern troll is simply pointing out that they are, in fact, the opposition and that pretending otherwise is obnoxious.

It doesn't help that the 'suggestions' made are actually not even possible. Saying "OWS should do X" when "X" is obviously impossible, is functionally no different then saying "OWS should fail". So why not just say that instead of wasting people's time? I think there's a good chance OWS will fail, but it's not because they didn't all dress like bankers or employees at Target (the store) - That was one suggestion I recall seeing: OWS should all wear khakis and polo shirts. Politically, anything is going to be difficult when your opponents spend billions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions alone, and unknown amounts on astroturfing.

But what I've always said is that OWS's main goals: regulation of wallstreet and getting money out of politics are widely popular. The vast majority of the public supports OWS's goals. Nothing OWS has done has made Goldman Sachs more popular, or made more people agree with the Citizens United decision. So in that sense I don't even see how it's possible for OWS to fail in terms of whether or not people agree with their main goals, or at least their initial goals. But since it's started it seems like the people left over are generally wild-eye'd idealist types, rather then mainstream people who just want to see wall street reined in.
posted by delmoi at 4:59 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


The problem is that we're talking about broad social movements without orders from the top, so there's no publicity agency or central command here. You can't just issue a memo. People will, as individuals, do as they please.

Bullshit. MLK and his companions created an incredibly disciplined group of protesters who did not fight back. They worked for years on that with workshops and the like. Why would anyone support you if you are going to call for a march and then when some fools start smashing shit say "people will, as individuals, do as the please." Seriously this is 100% how you lose support, lose members, and fail to get your policy goals enacted--because people make the argument about how those around you are acting.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:00 PM on May 8, 2012


But what I've always said is that OWS's main goals: regulation of wallstreet and getting money out of politics are widely popular. The vast majority of the public supports OWS's goals. Nothing OWS has done has made Goldman Sachs more popular, or made more people agree with the Citizens United decision. So in that sense I don't even see how it's possible for OWS to fail in terms of whether or not people agree with their main goals, or at least their initial goals. But since it's started it seems like the people left over are generally wild-eye'd idealist types, rather then mainstream people who just want to see wall street reined in.

I think that last sentence says it all.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:01 PM on May 8, 2012


What other goal could there possibly be? To impose a totalitarian government by force? I do not understand. Chomsky is right in saying that there are policy goals here. We live in a democracy. If you want your policy goals enshrined (Glass-Stegall, higher taxes on higher income brackets) then you have two choices. Establish your own dictatorship or get a very significant amount of the people to agree with you.
Again, as far as I know the "broad policy goals" of OWS are already supported by most people. This is why your arguments about turning people off make no sense. OWS is not trying to get elected to anything, as far as I know. Now, obviously there are lots of people in OWS and they all want different things - who knows what the average protester today wants compared to what their main goals were when the whole thing got started.
posted by delmoi at 5:01 PM on May 8, 2012


The movement has to police itself

social and political movements aren't governments and do not have police power - they have no way of preventing individuals from becoming violent, anymore than they can enforce a dress code - they can ask and persuade - but they can't compel people

you're presumably a sensible person and should know this - but you're more interested in holding people up to what are impossible standards - controlling everyone's behavior who agrees with them - so they will be seen as irresponsible failures who should have just stayed home and written their congressperson letters, typed in standard business letter form, and signed in blue or black ink

MLK and his companions created an incredibly disciplined group of protesters who did not fight back.

but they failed to stop the riots and the other turbulent things that happened in the 60s - and this was not their fault

i don't know how effective the "occupation" can be, really - but i think that's more of a function of what they're up against rather than their failure to prevent certain people from acting out violently, or not dressing in business suits

as if dressing formally is going to convince factory rats like myself that they are on "my side" - in fact, just the opposite
posted by pyramid termite at 5:07 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Occupy might fade away. But it has already achieved an enormous thing. It has installed a meme in society.

The 99% meme is awesome. What better liberal/populist rallying cry has come along in... what 30 years? 40? The teabaggers didn't even come close.

The insidious garbage I see creeping into the debate is this whole violence thing in the first place. How did we get around to where we're splitting hairs about what sort of violence Occupy is advocating. Who the hell framed this debate? Who's calling for violence of any kind?

If someone had thrown something at Captain Pepper Spray, which side would you have been on?
posted by Trochanter at 5:19 PM on May 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


My grandmother was there at the time (we're British). She said it was clear to everyone that we weren't going to last. If you drove out of your house, an Indian would lie in the road in front of your car. If you got on a train, Indians would hang on the communication cord to stop the train moving. They had finally decided to get shot of us, and there was nothing we could do about it. They had the numbers and the power. I don't think the Occupy movement is in the same position.
Yeah. It's funny how people keep saying OWS needs to act more like Gandhi, when clearly they have no idea what actually happened there. What OWS is doing is similar to the kind of civil disobedience that was going on in India.

Anyway, there is a huge difference between what you can "do" when society as a whole mostly agrees with you, and when you need to make your case. African Americans couldn't have "Out Voted" white people, they needed to make common cause with them. On the other hand, Gandhi didn't really need the average British person to want to live under his rule, he only had to get them to leave.

Again, who knows what the average protester thinks. OWS is a movement, it's not an organization with a specific agenda. My impression was that they were for wall-street reform, and reducing the influence of money in politics. Those things were and are still supported by most of the population.

Which is why the argument is so confusing. It seems so unrealistic to imagine that people would start loving Goldman Sachs, start being in favor of more corporate money and lobbying in politics and so on. So why does it matter if people "like" OWS? They don't have to "like" them to support their goals, they just have to like Wallstreet less and for now, that still seems to be the case.
you're presumably a sensible person and should know this - but you're more interested in holding people up to what are impossible standards
Yeah. That's another aspect of the argument that seems totally illogical. You're demanding that people do things that are not possible. How can you even argue against something that doesn't make sense? Other then to point out it doesn't make sense?
posted by delmoi at 5:23 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those things were and are still supported by most of the population.

This is probably true (although I imagine it depends on how you word the question).

I don't think there is any consensus on HOW to achieve those goals, though. In fact, there was plenty of anti-Wall Street sentiment in the Tea Party, but their ideas on how to fix it are pretty far from what I tend to heard from OWS.

So I guess the question is --- if the goal is generally accepted, but there is no agreement on a solution --- and OWS has no solution/agenda --- how much does it really help?
posted by wildcrdj at 5:25 PM on May 8, 2012


Either you think violence is a moral response to our current situation or you do not. There is no such thing as "half violence." Either you think it is (1) morally ok; and (2) useful to the movement or you do not. There is no grey area of blowing up a bridge.
This is exactly what's false. By that standard, Ghandi was violent. And since you're also responsible for the people who agree with you MLK was violent. The Egyptian protests were obviously semi-violent, you could see it right on TV. But like those two, and like OWS, they called themselves non-violent.
posted by delmoi at 5:26 PM on May 8, 2012






>Either you think violence is a moral response to our current situation or you do not. There is no such thing as "half violence." Either you think it is (1) morally ok; and (2) useful to the movement or you do not. There is no grey area of blowing up a bridge.

But if it's done by an f-16 or cruise missile there is boatloads of grey to go around isn't there. You seem to have no problem using violence against defenseless peasants who have never attacked our country. Any moral problems you do have are overpowered by the greater good, our moral exceptionalism, and other platitudes that come straight out of the neocon playbook. That is why people think you are a concern troll...because you wear it on your sleeve. Of course the other sleeve is rolled up with a "yes we can tattoo" showing clear as day to throw people off. So I guess if you want people to stop accusing you of being a concern troll you need to change your shirt.

>Bullshit. MLK and his companions created an incredibly disciplined group of protesters who did not fight back. They worked for years on that with workshops and the like. Why would anyone support you if you are going to call for a march and then when some fools start smashing shit say "people will, as individuals, do as the please." Seriously this is 100% how you lose support, lose members, and fail to get your policy goals enacted--because people make the argument about how those around you are acting.

For the last time, the goddamn point is that MLK wasn't the leader of some monolithic entity that "won" the civil rights movement. There were many factions and many methods all of which converged to bring about a perfect storm in the country that the oppressed African-Americans and white oppressors couldn't ignore. Violence was part of this perfect storm whether you admit it or not. The fact that you cannot seem to grasp this basic historical fact makes me seriously doubt that you are arguing in good faith. But in retrospect I'm wasting my time as anyone with a highschool reading level who reviews the thread will be able to see that.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:48 PM on May 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


For example, saying that there's no real economic reason why tuitions are going up is silly — everything from the distortions in the labor market that require degrees for jobs where the skill level doesn't justify it, to the competitive increase in student amenities, to the decrease in state funding (tied to decreasing state revenues, as well), to the rise of the CEO university president model.

I wanted to question some of these.

distortions in the labor market that require degrees for jobs where the skill level doesn't justify it

You could argue that there's a very simplistic "because they can" economic reason for this, but would the company be negatively effected if it weren't allowed to apply these strictures? Would there be any cost to the overall economy if we just decided that companies had to justify their education requirements?

So, is this a "real" economic reason for tuition increases? Is it a "sound" economic reason for tuition increases?

the competitive increase in student amenities

What is the real economic reason universities even have to operate on this model? Probably because of:

the decrease in state funding (tied to decreasing state revenues, as well)

Is that a "real economic reason" for high tuition costs? Or is it just plain old anti-taxman politics?

And as to the rise of the CEO university president model, is that economics or more of the creeping influence of finance into every area of the economy?
posted by Trochanter at 9:20 PM on May 8, 2012


See, I have a lot more trouble with the sentence that immediately follows the one K objects to:

There’s no real economic reason for that. It’s a technique of control and indoctrination.

To me that's the dicey, you-can't-just-throw-that-out-there one.
posted by Trochanter at 10:18 PM on May 8, 2012


The recession is over, and has been for a while. What do you imagine is going to happen?

The recession is only over in the most narrow possible meaning of the word: unemployment is still rampant in the US, local and state governments still have to cut spending, while the UK just re-entered recession (with more than a few economists suspecting it never actually left it) and the Eurozone is slowly being dragged under by the collapse of the southern economies and the "save the German bankers" policies of the EU. The BRIC countries might still be barrelling along but are worried too and the less said about Japan, the better.

You know how bad it is in southern Europe? People are leaving Portugal to find jobs in Angola. It won't be long before Africa asks for stricter migration controls on European people....
posted by MartinWisse at 11:01 PM on May 8, 2012


Bullshit. MLK and his companions created an incredibly disciplined group of protesters who did not fight back. They worked for years on that with workshops and the like.

Yep, and in the press at the time they were still being portrayed as wild eyed commie race agitators out to undermine the American way of life and sap our precious bodily fluids. And any violence, whether directed against them, done by Black people defending themselves or by more radical groups like the Panthers (though their violent reputation is also overrated) was held against MLK.

Which is exactly what you also see with OWS, or with the anti-war movement, or the four students murdered at Kent State, or with any other protest movement as depicted in the status quo supporting media.

You can never control everybody, not even when you're MLK. The press will always find a damn, dirty hippy to bash but -- and here comes the good bit-- those damn, dirty hippies were right.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:27 PM on May 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Any moral problems you do have are overpowered by the greater good, our moral exceptionalism, and other platitudes that come straight out of the neocon playbook."

This is a straight-up ad hominem attack, just for anyone writing a textbook. If those "platitudes" (or precepts) are valid, then it doesn't matter if neo-cons affirm them, and you can certainly reason from them in different ways and reach different conclusions than the neo-cons did. That's "Hitler was a vegetarian" level stuff.

And for all the high-falutin' bullshit you want to talk about how insulting people breaks the guidelines, calling someone a concern troll repeatedly and supporting it with a bunch of ad hominem attacks is pretty obnoxious.

Disagree with Ironmouth's points if you should, but at least treat him honestly.
posted by klangklangston at 11:48 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


[Yes, drop the concern troll stuff, and drop all the personal attack stuff, everyone. Talk about the arguments presented, talk about the topic, talk about related issues, but stop talking about members personally in this thread. Memail or Email each other if you need to keep going there, but stop it here.]
posted by taz at 12:28 AM on May 9, 2012


This is a straight-up ad hominem attack, just for anyone writing a textbook.
It's not really an ad hominmen on anything Ironmouth said in the thread. He was simply pointing out the inconsistency. Ironmouth doesn't seem to have a problem with violence in other contexts. An Ad Hominmen has the form "You say X is logically true, you are a bad person, therefore X is logically false". Without the "Is False" a statement is not an example of an Ad Hominem.

AElfwine Evenstar was pointing out that Ironmouth's statement was inconsistent with his other comments in other threads, which is true.
posted by delmoi at 2:46 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


It won't be long before Africa asks for stricter migration controls on European people....

I know this is meant tongue in cheek (or, at least, I hope so), but, still, this sort of hyperbole doesn't help anyone. Immigrants are aiming for some of the old colonies, true, but the comparisons aren't helpful, because they serve to minimize what African migrants suffer just to get to places like Europe. (And by saying that I do not intend to minimize the suffering of people in the collapsing economies, either.)

As for the argument over violence, I think it bears repeating that for citizen violence to work it has to have a mass support among a large body of people. That support can be created, but it is usually only there when enough people have their backs truly against the wall or governments go one step too far. The 1916 revolution in Ireland is a good example: the leaders thought there would be a widespread rising if they supplied the first spark. There wasn't: most people in Dublin were just upset at the widespread destruction of their city. It was only after the English started shooting people that the mood changed, and it was that mood change that enabled the success of the Irish War of Independence. Likewise, the UK managed to pretty much create the modern IRA due to their actions in Northern Ireland in the 1960s and 70s; after you start shooting people at civil rights marches as with Bloody Sunday, then people will turn to violence as their only option.

So, yes, you can force change via violence, but it's not a simple process, and it will only generally occur after a number of people have died due to some shocking act by the powers that be, and even then it can falter and descend into urban rioting with no large scale changes effected, which is what basically happened on and off in London and other English cities over the 18th and 19th centuries (and with the last UK riots). And you will fail if there is no widespread body of people who will supply comfort, supplies, etc to those fighting and if there is no organization. For better or worse, Occupy does not have that widespread support. Maybe one day it will, maybe it won't, and I doubt any one can predict that as it's hard to know what flashpoints will turn into long-lasting movements for change (no one thought Russia would end up with a revolution, for example, while there were a hell of a lot of signs that France in the 18th century was heading for a massive upheaval). Widespread economic dissatisfaction is being funnelled into a variety of channels in Europe and North America at the moment, and unless most of it ends up being funnelled in one direction, I can't see there being much traction gained.

Lastly, I have to agree with people that whatever leadership the Occupy movement needs, Chomsky isn't going to be it, nor people like Chomsky, no matter how good their arguments and how well-composed their prose. MLK was a master orator and had the charisma to match his oratory. Look at the videos, read the speeches and you see why he was such a threat and was so potent a force and scared the TPTB. *mutter, mutter* Why don't they teach rhetoric like they used to... *mutter, mutter*
posted by lesbiassparrow at 3:55 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


whatever leadership the Occupy movement needs, Chomsky isn't going to be it, nor people like Chomsky, no matter how good their arguments and how well-composed their prose.

True, but he's not supposed to be. He's an intellectual, a hyper-wonk who provides the data and the analysis, not the front-line guy putting that knowledge to use. The other side of the coin, though, is that the people who are cut out to lead couldn't get anywhere without guys like him to inform their philosophies and policies.

Seriously, I'm not a professional Chomsky cheerleader. Though I do admire the man and his ideas.
posted by Rykey at 6:10 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Look at the videos, read the speeches and you see why he was such a threat and was so potent a force and scared the TPTB. *mutter, mutter* Why don't they teach rhetoric like they used to... *mutter, mutter*

I think the problem is less the lack of effective orators and more the lack of effective fora and access to audiences. The news media that most people see deal almost exclusively in incredibly reductive soundbites and near-useless interviews.

Protests like Occupy ask us to expand our national dialogue, but the narrative manufactured by the media pays only minimal attention before moving on to stories more amenable to their business interests, and we the people are too tired, factionalized, ignorant, preoccupied with eking out a living and/or disillusioned to sustain that dialogue ourselves.
posted by audi alteram partem at 7:44 AM on May 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


In Flint, Tea Party and Occupiers carry guns, hate taxs, embrace and use solar power...

Protests like Occupy ask us to expand our national dialogue

Name three concrete examples, because this sounds like bullshit to me.
posted by clavdivs at 8:18 AM on May 9, 2012


I think the problem is less the lack of effective orators and more the lack of effective fora and access to audiences.

I don't know much about MLK's access to media, but I'd suspect the mainstream media wasn't rushing to cover his speeches or his arguments. Social movements rarely start with good access to any form of media or fora and against huge opposition from entrenched media. I'm not saying this devalue the opposition and difficulties that the Occupy movement faces, but just to point out that what it is facing is nothing new.

Take the subject of this post: Chomsky's pamphlet costs $5, which is a lot of money for some people and it's explicitly aimed at activists - the people who probably need the least convincing and are the most on board with his views; it's also not available online yet. I know that Occupy media is not just pamphlets like this, but this seems to me to be symptomatic of their flailing in reaching out to a wider group. And even when I have watched people give speeches at various events, the speakers are nearly always bloody awful, not just in presentation but in the rhetoric they used. Unless you were already part of the movement you weren't going to get on board with it. People have always been tired and ground down and the media has never been all that keen to cover anything new and radical, but it can be done and has been done from movements from the Chartists to civil rights, but hitting the right note is a craft and that craft takes not just enthusiasm but discipline and training.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:19 AM on May 9, 2012


...the media has never been all that keen to cover anything new and radical...

I agree. However, when King did get access to media, he got access to a media that afforded more discussion of complexity than our media today. Compare this King appearance on Meet the Press to what passes for interviews on Meet the Press now in terms of time spent on an interview.

I too haven't been greatly impressed by Occupy speakers, but there are important structural differences between the way we enact civic discourse today and the ways it has been enacted in the past. Another example: word counts in newspapers today (those that are left) are minuscule compared with those of 19th century papers. Today we have prolific bloggers that evoke some of the qualities of earlier partisan presses in America, but I wonder about who has access to those blogs and the extent to which those who do are engaging different views or insulating themselves in echo chambers.

None of this discounts the need for effective speakers. I just don't want to understate the challenges to delivering effective speech.
posted by audi alteram partem at 8:57 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Name three concrete examples, because this sounds like bullshit to me.

I was thinking in abstract terms: any protest asks for people to pay attention to some cause and, perhaps, act on some issue.
posted by audi alteram partem at 9:00 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


"It's not really an ad hominmen on anything Ironmouth said in the thread. He was simply pointing out the inconsistency. Ironmouth doesn't seem to have a problem with violence in other contexts. An Ad Hominmen has the form "You say X is logically true, you are a bad person, therefore X is logically false". Without the "Is False" a statement is not an example of an Ad Hominem.

AElfwine Evenstar was pointing out that Ironmouth's statement was inconsistent with his other comments in other threads, which is true.
"

You either misread me or AE, or are mistaken on the term — the ad hominem asserts that e.g. American exceptionalism is false because neo-cons believe it. That is textbook ad hominem fallacy, much like dismissing vegetarianism because Hitler was a vegetarian.
posted by klangklangston at 11:15 AM on May 9, 2012


And do note that I have no real desire to argue for American moral exceptionalism, just that the dismissal was insulting bullshit.
posted by klangklangston at 11:16 AM on May 9, 2012


A Gallup Poll taken shortly after the shootings at Kent State revealed that 58% of the respondents believed the responsibility for the deaths lay with the demonstrators; only 11% blamed the National Guard. As the author of a book about the shootings would later write, "These were the most popular murders ever committed in the United States."
posted by mek at 3:16 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Protests like Occupy ask us to expand our national dialogue -- audi alteram partem
Name three concrete examples, because this sounds like bullshit to me. -- clavdivs
1) A focus on income inequality in the mainstream media that wasn't there before - the major "debate" in washington and on TV was cutting the deficit

2) There was a lot of talk about Occupy on CNN in the early days - they'd bring Cornell West and some other guy to talk about it.

3) Shortly after Occupy started Obama changed student loan repayment rules to make it so people who already had loans wouldn't.

If those don't count define "national dialog" and "expand" I think it usually just means whatever people are talking about on TV. I don't really think there is an actual "national dialog", rather you have an "talking head topic of the week" Most of the time, those come from republican and democratic activists pushing some agenda. But it doesn't always need to.

For example, after Obama was elected, he decided to take questions from the internet. When a question about marijuana legalization was asked, it lead to a lot of discussion about it on TV, actually.

One thing to remember is that talking heads and TV journalists are pretty lazy. If you hand a story to them, they're way more likely to run it then if they have to do the work themselves to discover it. With OWS, all they had to do was head down the street to interview people. It was a spectacle and made for good TV, and it was super-easy to cover. So for a while, it actually was on TV quite a bit.
posted by delmoi at 6:15 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


American exceptionalism is false because neo-cons believe it. That is textbook ad hominem fallacy, much like dismissing vegetarianism because Hitler was a vegetarian.

True, if my point had been to argue that american exceptionalism is false, but what I was in fact doing was pointing out Ironmouth's inconsistency.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:41 PM on May 9, 2012


Then what was the point of mentioning neo-cons at all?
posted by klangklangston at 7:17 PM on May 9, 2012


Then what was the point of mentioning neo-cons at all?

The point is that when someone espouses views that are of a neoconservative nature other people may note that they are in fact espousing neoconservative views.

For example when I argue in favor of gun ownership I am not going to be offended if someone associates my view with conservatism, because that is in fact normally a conservative position. Now they would be wrong to label me a conservative, just as I would be wrong to label Ironmouth a neoconservative. Notice I didn't do that. What I did do was note that his justifications for the use of violence in Iraq and Afghanistan are exactly the same justifications that are used by neoconservatives.

I don't see why you're getting bent out of shape over this. Also notice I didn't really make any truth claims about neoconservatism. You kinda made that part up. And since we are mentioning fallacies I will see your ad hominem and raise you a strawman. Listen I agree with you for the most part so I don't see why we are even arguing.

And just to be clear, I am not calling Ironmouth a concern troll. I was merely noting that I can understand why others might, and do, view him as such.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:58 PM on May 9, 2012


I can see how you could have interpreted my comments the way you did, though, give the way this thread has gone. So no hard feelings.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:01 PM on May 9, 2012


1) A focus on income inequality in the mainstream media that wasn't there before

HUH, well I will be... not taken in by that

this statement is predicated on the fact that this subject has not been covered in the media in such great numbers before.

2) There was a lot of talk about Occupy on CNN in the early days - they'd bring Cornell West and some other guy to talk about it.

citing the supporters/ founders is rather like self-promotion.

) Shortly after Occupy started Obama changed student loan repayment rules to make it so people who already had loans wouldn't



would'nt what?

One thing to remember is that talking heads and TV journalists are pretty lazy

So this is why the countries fucked-up, is it fucked-up?
the media is a dinosaur living on half-truths; lazy seems to default button for their own fear or what have you.

For example, after Obama was elected, he decided to take questions from the internet. When a question about marijuana legalization was asked, it lead to a lot of discussion about it on TV, actually

Ah yes, the media president, Barry the Pius, what horsecock. States rights have led to pots decrim statis. While Barry was talking, states were doing.
posted by clavdivs at 7:56 AM on May 12, 2012


addem. I hate the media, thus my bias. I learned about Occupy on my own and did more to inform myself then any media could. Thats the problem, the reliance on media for even rudementary information has become, well...fucked up?
posted by clavdivs at 8:03 AM on May 12, 2012


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