Author Topic: Occupy Wall Street: "It Is a Revolution"  (Read 2342 times)

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Offline solaris

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Occupy Wall Street: "It Is a Revolution"
« on: September 30, 2011, 19:12:23 PM »

NEW YORK, Sep 30, 2011 (IPS) - Since Sep. 17, hundreds of demonstrators in the Occupy Wall Street movement have transformed the quiet Zucotti Park in lower Manhattan from a place where Wall Street traders once relaxed during lunch breaks into a demonstration camp.

Participants from all over the United States have joined the movement that criticises the injustices of the capitalist system and calls for greater democracy and individual freedom.

Their base is right in front of the aptly named Liberty Plaza, former headquarters of NASDAQ and current office of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

"This is a democratic awakening," Cornel West, a prominent activist and Princeton professor, told journalists prior to speaking before nearly 2,000 protestors at Occupy Wall Street's General Assembly ( on Tuesday.

The protest was first called up in July 2011 by Adbusters and Anonymous, two groups of social activists, artists and hackers.

"We are trying to build the community and the culture we would like to see in the world," explained Isham Christie, film theory and philosophy student at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Centre and an organiser of the protest, calling it a "fight for a (fairer) world."

"People who feel alienated from the consumer society or don't have jobs or are homeless… can come here and be supported," Christie told IPS. "We are trying to build an alternative institution to what we see as the exploitative, oppressive capitalistic society that we live in."

"If only the war on poverty was a real war. Then we would actually be putting money in it," read the sign West held during Tuesday's demonstration.

"I'd really like the whole societal structure to change, the whole ideas of capitalism and the distribution of wealth. I'd really like to see that turn around to something where it honours more the actual people who are involved in the society," Turkish-born Gaye Ajoy told IPS. Ajoy, who moved from Florida to New York City just a few days ago, added, "I oppose the one percent of people who own the whole country and don't (care) about anybody else."

Ajoybelieves that the protestors' views are similar to the ideas of the counterculture movement in the 1960's and '70's and activists like Martin Luther King Jr. or Gloria Steinam.

West noted the diversity of demonstrators, saying, "It is sublime to see all the different colours, all the different genders, all the different sexual orientations and all the different cultures all together here at Liberty Plaza."

A popular movement

In comparison to the elitist structure of the banks and companies it opposes, the "Occupy Wall Street" movement does not have a hierarchy. Everyone can speak up or participate in discussions, and so everyone can take responsibility – or refuse it.

Brian Phillips, a 25-year-old Google consultant and field journalist from Washington state, arrived in New York only a few days ago and has already become the communications director for the protest. Like many others, he gave up his former civil life to participate in the movement.

"I was a community director in my home state, managing a four million dollar complex," Phillips told IPS. "I quit my job, I… hitchhiked all the way over here and I am here to stay and help these guys."

Communication, both internal and external, is one of the key elements of the protests. By using websites, webcasts, tweets and live streams, Occupy Wall Street stays in touch with other movements, both national and global.

"It's very, very, very important that we are connected to the internet," Phillips explained. "We need the world to see what we are doing and… to know what we are doing."

"Because we are broadcasting from Occupy Wall Street, which is (the) headquarters of the revolution, we have ten other cities around the United States starting to be occupied. We have Boston, Chicago, LA, Austin, Charlotte. We have a bunch of places starting up. It's going big – and it's increasing by size faster than we've expected."

Occupy Wall Street is also garnering more attention from both local and global media, thanks to the growing outrage and support from well-known figures including MIT professor Noam Chomsky and rapper Immortal Technique.

The fact that New York City police arrested about 80 people during an unapproved march to the United Nations on Saturday also helped attract media attention.

Still, Phillips refused to endorse their coverage. "The actual media companies – NBC, MSN, all those companies – they're not gonna report on us and they're not gonna tell the truth," the computer scientist told IPS. "They are not gonna tell the world what is really going on."

Global connections

Someone who wanted to know what was really going on in Zucotti Park was Bettina Schröder from Cologne, Germany, who is currently visiting New York and read about the protest on the internet.

"We knew that there was something going on, but we kind of ran into it," Schröder said. "We thought it was smaller, but it is nice to see that there are quite some people. Hopefully it will be more and more. It is just the beginning."

Martin Peutsch, Schröder's boyfriend, was especially satisfied with the protest's location. "Wall Street is the right spot, I think. A lot of Americans have suffered a great deal because of the banking crisis," Peutsch said to IPS.

"I think it is time to mobilize resistance and to show the banks in America that they cannot do whatever they want and then go on as if nothing has happened."

Schröder also saw a global aspect to the protest. "There are so many other movements in so many different countries. People have to speak up their minds – and I think it's really, really good," she said.

West, who compared the "U.S. Autumn" to the so-called Arab Spring, believed in the longevity of Occupy Wall Street, as long as protestors stay strong.

"I think we gotta keep the momentum going, because it's impossible to translate the issue of the greed of Wall Street into one or two demands," West stated.

"In the end, we are really talking about what Martin King would call a revolution - a transfer of power from oligarchs to everyday people of all colours. And that is a step-by-step process, it's a democratic process, it's a non-violent process – but it is a revolution."

By Christian Papesch



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Re: Occupy Wall Street: "It Is a Revolution"
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2011, 06:43:48 AM »
It's probably premature to call it a revolution. But it just might turn in to one. First, there will have to be a serious reaction against it on the part of the government of New York City, which happens to be run by nothing less than a plutocrat billionaire, Michael Bloomberg. (By the way, it's a pity that #OccupyWallStreet isn't demanding that Bloomberg step down - since he is such an obvious case of plutocracy). The test of whether this can turn into a revolution is how the protesters stand up to some heavy application of force. Will they (or replacements) come back for more after being clubbed and gassed en masse?

Offline Barbara

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Re: Occupy Wall Street: "It Is a Revolution"
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2011, 21:51:29 PM »
I don't know that demanding that a single person step down would have the same effect on Wall Street as it had in Egypt or Tunisia; there is no one person to blame because it's not an autocracy, but an oligarchy of corporations.

But, I agree there should be a coherent set of demands - perhaps repealing the bailouts (?) :-\


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Re: Occupy Wall Street: "It Is a Revolution"
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2011, 22:46:06 PM »
Barbara, Egypt under Mubarak was not an autocracy either. It was, and remains, ruled by the military. The demand for Mubarak to step down was both practical and symbolic. New York City - the largest city in and financial capital of the USA is ruled by plutocrats, and will likely remain thus post-Bloomberg - at least for a time. Having Bloomberg step down would be an intentional humiliation to show the world where power actually lies: with the people.

I completely agree with you that there should be a coherent set of demands - and the more concrete, the better. The extent to which a coherent set of demands emerges will mark the success or failure of the movement to articulate the will of the people.

Offline Barbara

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Re: Occupy Wall Street: "It Is a Revolution"
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2011, 22:05:30 PM »
I just got a link showing that Yahoo is censoring occupy Wall Street posts

Yahoo appears to be censoring Occupy Wall Street protest messages


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Re: Occupy Wall Street: "It Is a Revolution"
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2011, 12:03:31 PM »
Thursday 6 October 2011
by: Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | Op-Ed

Protesters from the Occupy Wall Street movement, the United Federation of Teachers and members of other unions at Foley Square in New York, on October 5, 2011. (Photo: Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times)

We're young; we're poor; we're not going to take it anymore. -Occupy Wall Street chant

Class warfare has once again entered the vocabulary of mainstream national politics, but this time with a strange twist. Right-wing politicians such as Paul Ryan and various high-profile conservative media pundits and corporate-funded think-tank spokespersons have made visible what ruling classes have long tried to bury beneath the discourse of meritocracy and the myth of the classless society - that is, the harsh consequences of class power, hierarchical rule and savage inequality.

According to the ruling elite, the real class war is being waged against the belief in free and unfettered markets, the reign of unchecked capital, a culture of individualism and happiness itself - in spite of the fact that it is precisely these beliefs that serve the interests of Wall Street elites who brought the world to the brink of ruin in 2008. Arthur C. Brooks, the president of the ultra-right American Enterprise Institute, says it all in defending the legitimating and empty ideology of the rich and elites in his comment: "Free enterprise brings happiness; redistribution does not. The reason is that only free enterprise brings earned success."(1) In this insipid comment, railing against inequality amounts to railing against earned success. But the secret order of politics that haunts this statement is a fear of democracy matched only by a hysteria that fuels an unabated belief in the virtues of a plutocracy and a disdain for democratic ideals.

The appeal to "earned success" and individual entrepreneurial rings hollow given the millions of dollars in bonuses paid to failed CEOs and hedge fund managers and an economic recovery that has only benefited banks. With CEOs taking in millions in salary and bonuses while major corporations are laying off thousands of workers each month, the assertion that an unrestricted market is the only mechanism ensuring one's hard work pays off appears both disingenuous and desperate. What Brooks willfully omits is that any society in which morality disintegrates into self-interest and cruelty is celebrated as a central element of a market-driven social order has nothing to do with either freedom or democracy.

As thousands of young people are marching against corporate power and rallying in protest against the symbols of Wall Street greed across the United States, the political and economic elites respond by engaging in a form of class warfare and clinging to the celebration of the shark-like culture of casino capitalism, revealing all too clearly their own criminal behavior and how it represents a major threat to American democracy.

Of course, ruling elites have had good reason in the past to discredit or neutralize the concept of class warfare because it made visible vast differences of power and inequality between ruling elites and corporations and just about everyone else, especially the working classes and poor. It also functioned to focus attention on the violence and social costs of ongoing class warfare waged by the rich, along with the human suffering and dire material consequences of such struggles. After all, historically, the concept of class warfare conjures up images of American workers fighting collectively and valiantly to secure fair wages, safe working conditions, decent housing and control over their own labor. And the costs were often high. The struggle for decent working conditions and basic economic and labor rights was often met with the brutal acts of violence on the part of employers, rogue detective agencies and the National Guard.(2) A few historical examples include the Ludlow Massacre in which the Colorado National Guard used a machine gun to fire randomly into the tent city erected by the striking coal miners. Nineteen people were killed.(3) The same script, involving state and corporate violence against workers and their families, also played out in different incidents in the Spring of 1920 in West Virginia in what is known as the Matewan Massacre and the Battle of Blair Mountain. Hoover-type thuggery also resulted in a government attack on what was known as the Bonus Army in the early 1930s in which the Army shot and wounded 55 veterans. These are just a few of the many and more well-known conflicts waged against working people to protect class privilege over the course of the 20th century.

At the current moment, class warfare has taken a different, if not more expansive, turn. With the triumph of finance capital and the emergence of a second Gilded Age, conscripted thugs, the police and National Guard do not constitute the vanguard or first line of class repression. Physical force, though hardly absent from scenes of protests, takes second place to the war being waged everyday at the level of policy, culture and politics. Labor now is viewed as a disposable population - pensions are decimated, increased health insurance costs are passed on to employees, unemployment benefits are slashed and jobs are outsourced so that capital can relocate "itself to wherever labor is most exploitable."(4)

With the advance of corporate and financial power, violence now comes in the form of corrupt legislation and a political ideology that strips government of its universal social protections; removes government oversight; builds on fear; decimates the power of unions; defunds public institutions; and expands the culture of cruelty, fraud and avarice through policies that perpetuate a crushing inequality.(5) Of course, this same movement expresses no opposition to "big government" when it promotes militarism, gives tax breaks to the rich, enacts laws that deregulate corporations and defunds valuable social programs.

Also See: Henry A. Giroux | Zombie Politics, Democracy, and the Threat of Authoritarianism

Meanwhile, a supine and hypertrophied mass media feed the general populace a toxic mix of propagandistic hate, racism, immigrant baiting and labor bashing. The power of the rich and their disdain for vulnerability are strengthened by these emotive discourses, along with the support of a gun culture and unthinking consumption of hyper-violence saturating various screen cultures. Scorn for public servants feeds an authoritarian populism and hijacks democratic language, ideals and social relations.

The dominant media are no longer the mouthpiece of the moral majority and the gatekeeper of the status quo - they are now firmly on the side of the ultra wealthy and the mega corporations. How else to explain the media's contempt for reason and critical inquiry as they turn news into entertainment and the call for balance into a form of anti-intellectual drivel? At best, the dominant media attempt to neutralize the issue of class inequality, making it largely invisible. At worst, they serve as active accomplices in promoting class warfare through their embrace of neoliberal values and refusal to engage any serious issues that might reveal the terrible human and social costs of the class warfare now being waged by the rich.

We have reached a moment in history when ruling class hysteria has reached an all-time high in its aggressive attempts to prevent the federal government from exercising any form of regulation that might make it accountable to the American people. At the same time, Republican class warriors and their corporate backers seek to hollow out the social state by labeling a government that provides social protections and works in the interest of the public good as evil, repressive and expendable. Robert Kuttner, the co-editor of "The American Prospect" gets it right when he argues:

    One of our major parties has turned nihilist.... Government itself is the devil.... Whether the target is the Environmental Protection Agency, the Dodd-Frank Law or the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are out to destroy government's ability to govern.... the right's reckless assault on our public institutions is not just an attack on government. It is a war on America.[6]

The most visible face of this war appeared with the economic crisis of 2008 in which Wall Street crooks packaged mortgage debts they knew would fail, implemented widespread fraud on the American public through the promotion of liars' loans and created a business culture that William Black has called "a criminogenic environment" - an environment that spreads fraud through the lack of regulation and the promotion of a compensation system that creates perverse incentives in which cheaters prosper, "markets become perverse" and honesty is treated as a liability.(7)

And while the historical circumstances producing modes of class warfare have changed, the basic contours of the struggle have been consistent and highlight an ongoing and unjust division between a bloated class of capitalists and financiers on the one hand, and the rest of society largely subject to the reckless policies of the rich and excluded from the vast wealth, resources and benefits enjoyed by the top one percent of American society on the other. Even a child's reading of history makes clear that class warfare neither is nor was about the rich being positioned as victims. It was more often than not about the use of fraud, violence and force on the part of the ruling elite to control the instruments and sites of power, extending from the workplace and financial institutions to local, state and national governments. Anything could be justified in order to secure their wealth, profits and privileges, even if such practices reproduced vast economic, social, political and cultural inequalities and deadly social costs. Historically, it is clear that class warfare often meant that ruling classes, elites, government officials and corporations did not hesitate to use violence to legitimate capitalism, while also maintaining the status quo and repressing any vestige of worker resistance - however just the demands of workers and other groups might have been.

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