If Apocryphal Gandhi was right, it seems like we’re approaching the pivot point between stages two & three. Not “news” (I hope to post more later), just links to some interesting pieces a little outside the spotlight. Chris Hedges at Truthout provides a useful explanation of the ground-level organization in Zuccotti Park, via a 22-year-old artist/waitress named Ketchup:
… “People were worried we were going to get kicked out of the park at 10 p.m. This was a major concern. There were tons of cops. I’ve heard that it’s costing the city a ton of money to have constant surveillance on a bunch of peaceful protesters who aren’t hurting anyone. With the people’s mic, everything we do is completely transparent. We know there are undercover cops in the crowd. I think I was talking to one last night, but it’s like, what are you trying to accomplish? We don’t have any secrets.”…
“So it’s 9:30 p.m. and people are worried that they’re going to try and rush us out of the camp,” she said, referring back to the first day. “At 9:30 they break into work groups. I joined the group on contingency plans. The job of the bedding group was to find cardboard for people to sleep on. The contingency group had to decide what to do if they kick us out. The big decision we made was to announce to the group that if we were dispersed we were going to meet back at 10 a.m. the next day in the park. Another group was arts and culture. What was really cool was that we assumed we were going to be there more than one night. There was a food group. They were going dumpster diving. The direct action committee plans for direct, visible action like marches. There was a security team. It’s security against the cops. The cops are the only people we think that might hurt us. The security team keeps people awake in shifts. They always have people awake.”
The work groups make logistical decisions, and the general assembly makes large policy decisions.
“Work groups make their own decisions,” Ketchup said. “For example, someone donated a laptop. And because I’ve been taking minutes I keep running around and asking, ‘Does someone have a laptop I could borrow?’ The media team, upon receiving that laptop, designated it to me for my use on behalf of the Internet committee. The computer isn’t mine. When I go back to Chicago, I’m not going to take it. Right now I don’t even know where it is. Someone else is using it. But so, after hearing this, people thought it had been gifted to me personally. People were upset by that. So a member of the Internet work group went in front of the group and said, ‘This is a need of the committee. It’s been put into Ketchup’s care.’ They explained that to the group, but didn’t ask for consensus on it, because the committees are empowered. Some people might still think that choice was inappropriate. In the future, it might be handled differently.”…
Mike Konczal at Rortybomb “Pars[es] the Data and Ideology of the We Are 99% Tumblr“:
… Let’s bring up a favorite quote around here. Anthropologist David Graeber cites historian Moses Finley, who identified “the perennial revolutionary programme of antiquity, cancel debts and redistribute the land, the slogan of a peasantry, not of a working class.” And think through these cases. The overwhelming majority of these statements are actionable demands in the form of (i) free us from the bondage of these debts and (ii) give us a bare minimum to survive on in order to lead decent lives (or, in pre-Industrial terms, give us some land). In Finley’s terms, these are the demands of a peasantry, not a working class.
The actual ideology of modernity, broadly speaking, is absent… no demands for cheap gas, cheaper credit, giant houses, bigger electronics all under the cynical ”Ownership Society” banner. The demands are broadly health care, education and not to feel exploited at the high-level, and the desire to not live month-to-month on bills, food and rent and under less of the burden of debt at the practical level.
The people in the tumblr aren’t demanding to bring democracy into the workplace via large-scale unionization, much less shorter work days and more pay. They aren’t talking the language of mid-twentieth century liberalism, where everyone puts on blindfolds and cuts slices of pie to share. The 99% looks too beaten down to demand anything as grand as “fairness” in their distribution of the economy. There’s no calls for some sort of post-industrial personal fulfillment in their labor – very few even invoke the idea that a job should “mean something.” It’s straight out of antiquity – free us from the bondage of our debts and give us a basic ability to survive.
Roger Ebert, in his Sun-Times blog, muses on “Tea and Empathy“:
… The two party system is broken, Ralph Nader has been telling us for years. Yet his disastrous attempts at forming third parties have resulted mostly in damage to his own cause. Now what we are seeing, I believe, is the formation of two New Parties within the shells of the Old…
It seems to me that your politics can be defined by whose side you are on. Tea Party members are mostly on their own side. They believe they should pay lower taxes, or none. If we can’t pay for health care, tough luck. The Occupation forces, who seem more affluent and might benefit more from lower taxes, are on the side of those being exploited by an unregulated Wall Street.
What other OWS/Together links, stories, news, data should be front-paged?
It is a peasants’ revolt, because what we are fighting against is the last attempt of the feudal aristocracy to re-establish itself.
And I hope Zuccotti park is not Frankenhausen.
Demographically speaking, until the industrial revolution the peasantry was the working class.
Anne, Hedges is at TruthDig, not TruthOut, unless he posted it both places.
Here in NW Arkansas, this sorta went viral in the state. The
protesters are cater corner from a BofA and I believe that was the target of the protest. Someone also put it up at TotalFratMove and some of the comments there are pretty disgusting.
Also, too, can someone tell me how to link to an article by highlighting a word or two in the body of my post so I don’t have to copy and paste the whole url?
Sure. Type your text in the comment box, highlight the word or phrase that you want to make as a hyperlink, and then press the “link” button right above the comment box and enter your url in the dialog box.
Berlin police find new firebomb, fourth day in a row.
@SensesFail: Cool. Thanks. Tried it with the above post. It worked.
To answer AL’s question with a suggestion, might I suggest either a] a social bookmarking service like delicious.com or diigo.com or such where you could bookmark a number of links, provide short commentary on each, hit save, and then once a day the links would be posted automatically at a certain time; or b] a sidebar widget that automatically feeds through various occupy-related headlines around the web.
The first is very easy to set up. The second, I don’t have as much experience with, but I’m sure some site is collecting all the stories, and you could grab the RSS feed. One of our intrepid web g33ks could set that up.
The ideology of modernity is that material progress is perennial, that tomorrow is always better than today.
The ideology of post-modernity, to the extent there is one, is the opposite. The generation on the street right now are the children of the generation that realized they would not have a better life than their parents.
What else should they be doing?
Just wanted to say, apropos of nothing,that in Shakespearean usage (and presumably the peasant usage of the time) “occupy” meant to have sex, as when in a long list of double entendres, Mercutio says he has come to the end of his tale and meant indeed to occupy the argument no further, and I’ve gotten a big kick out of thinking there has been a conscious Shakespearean under-the-radar meaning to Occupy Wall Street (Fuck Wall Street) from the beginning. Doesn’t work so well for the rest of the movement, I guess, except as an old hippie remembering make love, not war, I could go for occupy together.
That the protesters are using the ancient language of peasant revolts is not surprising. We are no longer an industrial society but a post-industrial society, and it would appear that post-industrial societies are cursed with the same exact income and social inequalities as pre-industrial societies, so yes we have become a new form of peasantry, thrust into a semi-unfree status due to crushing and neverending debt.
I would slightly tweak that, in that I consider that my children can have a better life than I did, I can have a better life than my parents, but in different ways, and only if it is allowed to happen, which it is not, because some people are determined to keep flogging dead horses.
@wilfred: I don’t think the choice has to be better/worse but can be better/different. One of my worries about the current economic situation is that many think we can “grow” our way out of it. That kind of post-war cowboy economics is no longer possible since we no longer have massive untapped resources (oil, water, etc.) or unlimited sinks to put our garbage in. The better/worse scenario leads to a Mad Max kind of dystopia. The better/different scenario requires re-thinking what constitutes the “good life”. And no, I’m not suggesting we all find a little plot somewhere and live off the land, since that is not possible.
Has someone here been suggesting that they go do something else? For the most part, even the critics of OWS on B-J have been supportive of the protests themselves. The criticisms were related to “how to” not “whether to” protest.
I don’t think the difference between the tea partiers and the OWS has anything to do with affluence (Those who identify with the Tea Party are wealthier than average) so much as it has to do with age. The Tea Party mostly made up of people who enjoyed the full-bloom of post-war prosperity and are determined to cling on to it until they breathe their last breath. Almost all Americans in their 20s, unless they themselves work for the Wall St. beast, are going to have a significantly lower living standard than their parents and even, in some cases, their grandparents. They are saddled with massive amounts of student debt, will always have to worry about paying for their health care, and will never be able to retire at 65, spending their golden years playing golf in a retirement community paradise.
I’d say most people under the age of 55, maybe 60 is in that boat at the moment. Unless something turns around, and turns around hard.
I refer to material betterment. Personally, I’m far to the left of anything I’ve heard come out of the protests so obviously agree that betterment can and should mean something other than material acquisition. The consicous replacement of advancement with betterment as a life objective is what will ultimately result in a better state. For that to happen, the current illusion has to die its natural death – which is what’s happening, I think.
When I say “what else should…” I mean as an historically determined action, not that anyone is suggesting otherwise.
@beltane: the difference is the teabaggers are top down and the owies are bottom up.
the teabaggitry has LEADERS, has fundage, has a political caucus and even a presidential candidate or four.
education mortgages are the new sub-primes. its just that college students are brighter than joe and jill sixpack.
@wilfred: the souless rapacious “freed” market is what you are refferrin’ to i presume?
this is the “freed” market in action– well… plus the 14 trillion taxpayer dollahs American expensed on the GWOT.
a bad investment IMHO.
america, the teabagger pauper nation.
Ivan Ivanovich Renko
History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme.
The US, and later the CSA were societies built on slave labour… that is, peasants tied to the land to do the labor as the aristocrats ‘protected’ them– and reaped the benefits.
Today’s teahadis we’ve long known as neo-confederates; but instead of a planter aristocracy they bow before “the job creators,” the wall-street/CEO class aristos.
The peasants just want a decent life for themselves and their children; the lords want wealth and power. Same as it ever was.
@arguingwithsignposts: Yes, it is really the “Silent Generation”, the pre-Boomers, that are the driving force behind the Tea Party. These are the people who were a little too young to remember the Great Depression or WWII but who were to old to be drafted in Vietnam. They were fortunate enough to have mostly experienced the best of all worlds (if they are white, that is), and yet they manage to show very little appreciation of this fact.
The Boomers will have the worst time of it of all. High expectations in the first half of life followed by likely poverty in old age. The younger people, at least, have the time to adapt to the new reality.
@Ivan Ivanovich Renko:
“In Fourteen Hundred and Ninety-two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue…”
@Ivan Ivanovich Renko: that is a falsehood.
Our current dilemma as a nation results from the founders desire to give self-representation to the Noble Yeoman Farmers.
But the constitution is actually an error-correcting code.
Democracy and the demographic timer will fix the problem eventually.
I’m encouraged about how quickly the Occupy protests travelled across the country, and how quickly the protests, using the Gandhi model, went from being ignored to being mocked. Now the fighting begins. I assume the battle will start with the police in the physical Occupy locations, but unlike feudal days, the protesters can use the internet as a force multiplier and that’s where the rest of us Olds come in. We surround them. Suck it, Beck!
@Samara Morgan: (rolls eyes) Every problem will be fixed by the passage of time eventually. That’s little solace and less use to the people who want a better life now.
Ironically, I would say it’s only Tea Partiers who had the benefit of union backing or governmental jobs who are golden-yearing it right now. The woods are full of people screwed out of a corporate pension, or laid off in their peak earning years, or had their 401K dissolved.
Time was I thought I’d been a romantic fool to have left the corporate world in the mid-80’s for the uncertain seas of freelance whatever. But not any more. From what I hear, their landing was all the harder because it wasn’t supposed to happen.
@Joey Maloney: these are particular AMERICAN problems.
what renko said is the master/serf problem is unsolvable by time.
in America at least, that problem will be solved by the demographic timer.
One of the concerns I have about OWS is the messaging from the wacko’s on the other side. I am starting to see pictures and signs calling them the “flea party” and other less printable names. From what I see on TV for the most part the people being interviewed look like they showered that morning and are reasonably clean. But it seems there is no effort to disupte that characterization ( at least if the conservative members of my facebook page are to be believed) that OWS protesters are shitting in the street and on American flags.
@Skippy-san: your concern is duly noted.
If the conservative members of your page are anything like my American cousins, they will be mocking the dirty hippies and worshipping Kock dick unti their heads roll into the basket. And they will smirking their WSJ editorial-page smirk the whole way down. So fcuk what they think, and fcuk disputing their lies and mis-characterisations.
@Skippy-san: Have you ever heard the term DFH aka Dirty F*cking Hippie? The right has been using this characterization since 1968 (it is always 1968 as far as conservatives are concerned) and they will still be using it a hundred years from now.
One thing you should learn in life is to never, ever, believe what conservative friends on Facebook say.
Take comfort in the fact that this is part of the “then they laugh at you” part of the process, which means the protests are working as hoped. Everyone’s waking up to them and what they might mean, and that’s already a win of sorts. Remember, the protesters don’t have a whole network devoted to promoting them – it’s the opposite.
Ketchup, via the linked article:
“So, anyone who is not apparently a white man gets to jump stack.”
“Jump stack,” in this context, means to speak and be heard first. I have a bit of a problem with this. Yes, I’m a white man. Yes, I’m privileged as a result of societal forces beyond my control. I do object to being lumped in with all white men, though — we have our own stories to tell!
Not that it matters, since I ran off to Australia a couple of years ago, but…
Last night the emperor of New York City, Michael Blloomberg, visited the “Occupy Wall Street” protest for the first time. His purpose was to announce that on Friday protesters would have to vacate Zuccotti Park to allow city sanitation workers to begin cleaning the site. Bloomberg alleged that unsafe and unsanitary conditions in the park posed a threat to public health.
OWS representatives disputed these claims, noting that protesters have already mobilized their own sanitation crews. More pointedly, they expressed concerns that should protesters voluntarily leave the park, they will not be permitted to return. Despite Bloomberg’s assurances, they fear that city officials will “discover”some serious problem in the park or invoke an obscure ordinance to prohibit or delay further access.
This is the very scenario that I feared would occur in a comment I posted on Monday:
This is OT, is some ways, and also exactly why we’re in the fix we’re in. Ari Shapiro of NPR is tweeting about the size and elevation of Timothy Geithner’s umbrella.
I know, its Twitter, I get that he’s having a bit of fun. But really. It reflects an obsession with petty fairness, or whos-on-top, or g*d knows what, that is utterly immaterial.
If you can’t be with the one you love, honey …
Paul in KY
@marv: Didn’t know that. Thanks for the info.
Paul in KY
@Samara Morgan: I don’t think your opinions are ever ‘humble’ ;-)
Paul in KY
@Joey Maloney: In the long run, we’ll all be dead (forgot who said that, maybe Adam Smith).
@Paul in KY: I think it was Keynes.
@Paul in KY, @schrodinger’s cat: Yep. Keynes is whom it’s usually attributed it to.
Ivan Ivanovich Renko
The biggest reason the US doesn’t have a social safety net worth a shit is because of “welfare queens driving Cadillacs” and “young bucks buying t-bones with food stamps.” IOW– we don’t do welfare ’cause the niggers might get some of it.
Paul in KY
@JGabriel: And Schrodinger’s cat (wherever you are), thanks for correction on my quote.
@Ivan Ivanovich Renko: the reason the US no longer has a safety net is because of the collapse of the White Patriarchy Social Cohesion Model when balcks and women got to vote, and because Hayek was wrong.
The welfare state doesnt lead to serfdom…. or even to soc1al1sm…… it leads to secularism.
Local southern churches were the enginges of civil and social welfare in the south….until women and blacks got the vote.
Then the federal government had to intervene to deliver social and civil welfare.
But federal welfare is cheaper than church “charity”…..no membership dues.
Politicized megachurches have since emerged like pustulant cancers across America– why? a reaction to the disenfranchisement of american protestant xianity.
Oddly enough, exactly the agenda of the Year of Jubilee.
Me again about my daughter. She has a blog, http://www.plutocracyfiles.com/ that’s covering the protests.
On 10/11, she did an interview with Jeff Madrick, an economist who wrote The Age of Greed, and she has video of that interview at her blog. It’s pretty good. I’m her mom, so I can tell she’s a bit nervous, but that will all clear up with experience, I think. And, beyond that, really good questions . . . and interesting answers, of course.
Dave Winer developed an awesome feed site for #OWS news:
It’s an aggregation of news feeds and twitter feeds that link directly to stories about the occupy movement. Comb through the news section and the picture section.
They are saddled with massive amounts of student debt, will always have to worry about paying for their health care, and will never be able to retire at 65, spending their golden years playing golf in a retirement community paradise.
Other than the student debt you just described me to a T. And I’m early boomer, not a 20 something. And not even close to being alone in this mess. The student loan debacle should be a crime, in that most of our children will never be able to overcome it’s legacy. Hell, my sister, who would have been 69 this year, still owed student loans when she passed away.