Article 43

 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

wall-street.jpg

“The economic anarchy of CAPITALIST SOCIETY as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the EVIL."
- Albert Einstein - Why Socialism, 1949

In the poverty-ridden big city where I grew up, abuse of the welfare system was pretty common.  Some families would have five or ten kids, and bums for parents who sat on their fat asses all day, never looking for a job - sucking the system dry, thanks to our government and taxpayers like you and me. 

Just like the welfare folks did and do today, the Wall Street bankers are no different.  They’re taking advantage of the system - a system created and run by government.

I’m all for the Occupy Wall Street movement insofar as it enlightens us that the growing inequality between the haves and have nots is a problem with government.

Lets not loose focus where the ultimate problem is.

Some of us have been WAITING a LONG TIME for Americans to rise up and REVOLT against the way THINGS ARE GOING in this ONCE-GREAT country of ours.

WHAT MATTERS is that we TAKE IT BACK, while we STILL HAVE A COUNTRY TO TAKE BACK.

It won’t happen unless “We The People” take over from the ruling class.

That means “Occupying The White House.”

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Thousands of protesters to ‘Occupy Wall Street’ on Saturday

By Julianne Pepitone
CNN
September 16, 2011

Egyptians did it for democracy. So did people in Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria. Now, activist groups are hoping Americans will launch their own uprising—in the form of thousands of protesters descending on Wall Street this weekend.

OCCUPY WALL STREET is a “leaderless resistance movement” spearheaded by activist magazine Adbusters. Organizers want people to swarm into lower Manhattan on September 17 and set up camp for two months, then “incessantly repeat one simple demand.”

What’s that demand? They haven’t decided yet.

The plan is to crowdsource the decision. Protestors are set to meet and discuss the issue at the iconic Wall Street Bull statue at noon Saturday, as well as at a “people’s assembly” at One Chase Manhattan Plaza at 3 p.m.

The protestors’ demand will likely be focused on “taking to task the people who perpetrated the economic meltdown,” says Kalle Lasn, the editor-in-chief of Adbusters.

“The demand could be some stupid lefty thing like ‘overthrow capitalism,’” Lasn says. “We’re hoping it’s something specific and doable, like asking Obama to set up a committee to look into the fall of U.S. banking. Nothing extreme about that.”

Lasn says editors at Adbusters, which has a worldwide circulation of 100,000 readers, are angry that leaders in the financial sector “had not been brought to justice.” Their inspiration came when pro-democracy uprisings broke out in Egypt on January 25 and quickly spread to other countries.

“We thought, why isn’t there a backlash here?” Lasn says. “We need to shake up the corporate-driven capitalist system we’re in. To do that, we needed something radical.”

Adbusters posted a call to action on its blog July 13—originally asking for 90,000 people to join the protest—and word spread quickly around the Internet. A total of 74 cities around the world are participating in “solidarity actions,” and the event’s official site will stream live shots of those events. The Wall Street headquarters is planning yoga classes, tai chi and music.

Last month, cyberactivism group Anonymous released a video in support of the protest.

“It gave us a nice bit of street cred, some mystique. We lefties need a lot of mystique,” Lasn says with a laugh.

That mystique is what drew Josh Dworning, a 20-year-old college student, to shell out $300 for a 24-hour train ride from Florida to New York.

“I heard about the protest through StumbleUpon, and I just really agreed that there’s widespread discontent with the banks and corporations,” Dworning says. “I’m no crazy radical, just a student who believes in something.”

Dworning is planning on sleeping in a tent near Wall Street on Saturday night, and he’s “planning on staying as peaceful as possible”—though he’ll be on alert, because “there’s always the chance that someone can get a little too angry and throw a brick or something.”

That’s what scares Dworning’s mom, Jeanne Molle, who says she’s “a nervous mother watching her son get involved in a large-scale event in the world’s largest city.”

Lasn is hoping safety won’t be an issue. A “Gandhi-like peaceful protest” is the only way the event will work, he says, though he acknowledges that central control is impossible over a group that organizers hope will swell to 20,000. And “there is a question of legality” around setting up tents and barricades, he acknowledged.

The New York Police Department says it is prepared to deal with any situations that arise.

“The NYPD is aware of various protests and we have planned accordingly,” Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told CNN.

In a September test run of the occupation, nine people were arrested for disorderly conduct, and later released without being charged.

“It takes a lot to rise up and reform the global economic system,” Lasn says. “And maybe this time we fail. But if we do, we’re just setting the tone for the next revolution.”

SOURCE

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Why There Are Protests On Wall Street: Their Actions Impoverished More Than 60 Million People

By Zaid Jilani
Think Progress
September 18, 2011

Today, over a thousand demonstrators began protests as a part of a campaign they are calling “Occupy Wall Street.” The protesters intend to engage in long-term civil disobedience to draw attention to Wall Streets misdeeds and call for structural economic reforms. CNN Money covered the start of the campaign. WATCH IT.

As demonstrators converged on Wall Street - with police blocking them from reaching the New York Stock Exchange much of the news media paid little attention to the protests. Meanwhile, much of the conservative punditry has taken to mocking the demonstrations, with conservative Twitter users lambasting the “hippies” in New York City. CNN contributor and RedState blogger Erick Erickson labeled the protesters as “profoundly dumb.”

Certainly, debates about the tactics and strategy behind an anti-Wall Street campaign are warranted. But in a country where much of the populist energy has been absorbed by a movement that compared expanding access to private insurance to “death panels,” it’s worth reviewing why Americans and others should be protesting against Wall Street.

While many of the conservative defenders of Wall Street may be quick to portray protests against the American financial establishment as driven by envy of its wealth or far-left ideologies, the truth is that people have a very simple reason to be angry because Wall Street’s actions made tens of millions of people dramatically poorer through no fault of their own. In 2010, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank conducted studies of the effects of the global recession caused largely by Wall Street financial instruments that were poorly regulated by government policies - and found that the recession threw 64 million people into extreme poverty:

The International Monetary Fund estimates that the global economy contracted by 0.6 per cent in 2009 and the implications of this have been severe for many. Economic growth in developing countries was only 1.7 per cent in 2009 compared with 8.1 per cent in 2007. However, if China and India are excluded, the economies of developing countries actually contracted by 1.8 per cent. The World Bank has estimated that an additional 64 million people will be living in extreme poverty on less than US$1.25 a day by the end of 2010 as a result of the global recession.

And nearly three years after the start of the global economic crisis where taxpayers in multiple countries were called upon to save the financial industry - most of the banking elites top executives remain virtually untouched. There have been almost no high-profile convictions for fraud and related financial crimes, banking profits continue to soar, and unemployment not just in the U.S. but globally remains very high.

Given these facts, the question is not why more than a thousand people demonstrated on Wall Street yesterday. The question is, why aren’t even more people in the streets of the financial district in New York City?

SOURCE

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New York Police Brutally Attack Peaceful Wall Street Protesters

AmpedStatus
September 20, 2011

As it started to rain last night, peaceful protesters at Liberty Park put up some tarps to protect video equipment. The NYPD used this an excuse to violently attack the protest camp and make several arrests. As the crowd chanted “the whole world is watching,” the police came in and brutally threw several protesters to the ground. One of them had a tooth knocked out. Thus far several other injuries have been reported.

HERE’S A VIDEO of the incident.

SOURCE

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Occupy Will Be Back

By Chris Hedges
TruthDig
June 18, 2012

In every conflict, insurgency, uprising and revolution I have covered as a foreign correspondent, the power elite used periods of dormancy, lulls and setbacks to writeoff the opposition. This is why obituaries for the Occupy movement are in vogue. And this is why the next groundswell of popular protestand there will be one - will be labeled as “unexpected,” a “shock” and a “surprise.” The television pundits and talking heads, the columnists and academics who declare the movement dead are as out of touch with reality now as they were on Sept. 17 when New York Citys Zuccotti Park was occupied. Nothing this movement does will ever be seen by them as a success. Nothing it does will ever be good enough. Nothing, short of its dissolution and the funneling of its energy back into the political system, will be considered beneficial.

Those who have the largest megaphones in our corporate state serve the very systems of power we are seeking to topple. They encourage us, whether on Fox or MSNBC, to debate inanities, trivia, gossip or the personal narratives of candidates. They seek to channel legitimate outrage and direct it into the black hole of corporate politics. They spin these silly, useless stories from the ғleft or the ԓright while ignoring the egregious assault by corporate power on the citizenry, an assault enabled by the Democrats and the Republicans. DonԒt waste time watching or listening. They exist to confuse and demoralize you.

The engine of all protest movements rests, finally, not in the hands of the protesters but the ruling class. If the ruling class responds rationally to the grievances and injustices that drive people into the streets, as it did during the New Deal, if it institutes jobs programs for the poor and the young, a prolongation of unemployment benefits (which hundreds of thousands of Americans have just lost), improved Medicare for all, infrastructure projects, a moratorium on foreclosures and bank repossessions, and a forgiveness of student debt, then a mass movement can be diluted. Under a rational ruling class, one that responds to the demands of the citizenry, the energy in the street can be channeled back into the mainstream. But once the system calcifies as a servant of the interests of the corporate elites, as has happened in the United States, formal political power thwarts justice rather than advances it.

Our dying corporate class, corrupt, engorged on obscene profits and indifferent to human suffering, is the guarantee that the mass movement will expand and flourish. No one knows when. No one knows how. The future movement may not resemble Occupy. It may not even bear the name Occupy. But it will come. I have seen this before. And we should use this time to prepare, to educate ourselves about the best ways to fight back, to learn from our mistakes, as many Occupiers are doing in New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and other cities. There are dark and turbulent days ahead. There are powerful and frightening forces of hate, backed by corporate money, that will seek to hijack public rage and frustration to create a culture of fear. It is not certain we will win. But it is certain this is not over.

“We had a very powerful first six months,” Kevin Zeese, one of the original organizers of the Occupy encampment in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., said when I reached him by phone. “We impacted the debate. We impacted policy. We showed people they are not alone. We exposed the unfair economy and our dysfunctional government. We showed people they could have an impact. We showed people they could have power. We let the genie out of the bottle. No one will put it back in.”

The physical eradication of the encampments and efforts by the corporate state to disrupt the movement through surveillance, entrapment, intimidation and infiltration have knocked many off balance. That was the intent. But there continue to be important pockets of resistance. These enclaves will provide fertile ground and direction once mass protests return. It is imperative that, no matter how dispirited we may become, we resist being lured into the dead game of electoral politics.

“The recent election in Wisconsin shows why Occupy should stay out of the elections,” Zeese said. Many of the people who organized the Wisconsin occupation of the Capitol building became involved in the recall. First, they spent a lot of time and money collecting more than 1 million signatures. Second, they got involved in the primary where the Democrats picked someone who was not very supportive of union rights and who lost to [Gov. Scott] Walker just a couple of years ago. Third, the general election effort was corrupted by billionaire dollars. They lost. Occupy got involved in politics. What did they get? What would they have gotten if they won? They would have gotten a weak, corporate Democrat who in a couple of years would be hated. That would have undermined their credibility and demobilized their movement. Now, they have to restart their resistance movement.

“Would it not have been better if those who organized the occupation of the Capitol continued to organize an independent, mass resistance movement?” Zeese asked. They already had strong organization in Madison, and in Dane County as well as nearby counties. They could have developed a Montreal-like movement of mass protest that stopped the function of government and built people power. Every time Walker pushed something extreme they could have been out in the streets and in the Legislature disrupting it. They could have organized general and targeted strikes. They would have built their strength. And by the time Walker faced re-election he would have been easily defeated.

“Elections are something that Occupy needs to continue to avoid,” Zeese said. The Obama-Romney debate is not a discussion of the concerns of the American people. Obama sometimes uses Occupy language, but he puts forth virtually no job creation, nothing to end the wealth divide and no real tax reform. On tax reform, the Buffett rule - that the secretary should pay the same tax rate as the bossis totally insufficient. We should be debating whether to go back to the Eisenhower tax rates of 91 percent, the Nixon tax rate of 70 percent or the Reagan tax rate of 50 percent for the top income earners - not whether secretaries and CEOs should be taxed at the same rate!

The Occupy movement is not finally about occupying. It is, as Zeese points out, about shifting power from the 1 percent to the 99 percent. It is a tactic. And tactics evolve and change. The freedom rides, the sit-ins at segregated lunch counters, the marches in Birmingham and the Montgomery bus boycott were tactics used in the civil rights movement. And just as the civil rights movement often borrowed tactics used by the old Communist Party, which long fought segregation in the South, the Occupy movement, as Zeese points out, draws on earlier protests against global trade agreements and the worldwide protests over the invasion of Iraq. Each was, like the Occupy movement, a global response. And this is a global movement.

We live in a period of history the Canadian philosopher John Ralston Saul calls an interregnum, a period when we are enveloped in what he calls ԓa vacuum of economic thought, a period when the reigning ideology, although it no longer corresponds to reality, has yet to be replaced with ideas that respond to the crisis engendered by the collapse of globalization. And the formulation of ideas, which are always at first the purview of a small, marginalized minority, is one of the fundamental tasks of the movement. It is as important to think about how we will live and to begin to reconfigure our lives as it is to resist.

Occupy has organized some significant actions, including the May Day protests, the NATO protest in Chicago, an Occupy G8 summit and G-8 protests in Thurmont and Frederick, Md. There are a number of ongoing actions - Occupy Our Homes, Occupy Faith, Occupy the Criminal Justice System, Occupy University, the Occupy Caravanthat protect the embers of revolt. Last week when Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, testified before a U.S. Senate committee, he was confronted by Occupy protesters, including Deborah Harris, who lost her home in a JPMorgan foreclosure. But you will hear little if anything about these actions on cable television or in The Washington Post. Such acts of resistance get covered almost entirely in the alternative media, such as The Occupied Wall Street Journal and the Occupy Page of The Real News.

“Our job is to build pockets of resistance so that when the flash point arrives, people will have a place to go,” Zeese said. “Our job is to stand for transformation, shifting power from concentrated wealth to the people. As long as we keep annunciating and fighting for this, whether we are talking about health care, finance, empire, housing, we will succeed.”

“We will only accomplish this by becoming a mass movement,” he said. “It will not work if we become a fringe movement. Mass movements have to be diverse. If you build a movement around one ethnic group, or one class group, it is easier for the power structure and the police to figure out what we will do next. With diversity you get creativity of tactics. And creativity of tactics is critical to our success. With diversity you bring to the movement different histories, different ideas, different identities, different experiences and different forms of nonviolent tactics.”

“The object is to shift people from the power structure to our side, whether it is media, business, youth, labor or police,” he went on. “We must break the enforcement structure. In the book Why Civil Resistance Works, a review of resistance efforts over the last 100 years, breaking the enforcement structure, which almost always comes through nonviolent civil disobedience, increases your chances of success by 60 percent. We need to divide the police. This is critical. And only a mass movement that is nonviolent and diverse, that draws on all segments of society, has any hope of achieving this. If we can build that, we can win.”

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 09/21/11 •
Section American Solidarity
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