October 22, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Finds Support in Some Unlikely Places

One way or another it's been an eventful week for protesters around the world, loosely gathered together under the "Occupy Wall Street" banner.

Amongst the usual suspects, last Friday Michael Moore spoke to Lawrence O'Donnell in an interview broadcast on MSNBC:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Amongst other things Michael said that:

We are not going anywhere. We are there until we have justice, and for people who say "What does that mean? What does everybody want?" what we want is a fundamental change. This is no longer about trying to get some bill passed, let's elect this Congressman or whatever. We've been down that road, and everyone's depressed by the way the political system is run, so until we get the money out of that system we're going to have to depend on really grassroots people demanding this change and making this change occur. and that's what's going to happen.

On Saturday Dr. Ben Mack, protege of Buckminster Fuller and a Facebook Friend of mine, marched in protest on the streets of Phoenix Arizona. Ben got gassed for his trouble. Amongst other things Ben said that:

I'm having trouble sleeping, I got tear-gassed earlier tonight, and I was 150 feet away, and it sucked. These protesters are braver people than me. Why don't they come with gas masks?

On Monday a leader in the Financial Times newspaper said, amongst other things, that:

The fundamental call for a fairer distribution of wealth cannot be ignored. What is at stake is the future of the American dream.

On Tuesday Michael Moore was invited to talk to Jeremy Paxman in an interview broadcast on BBC Television here in the UK. Amongst other things that Michael said this time around were:

There are new "Occupy" movements beginning in towns and cities every day, and now it's spread across the World. It's really touched a nerve. It may seem weird because you have a lot of young people there in the park. It's only "weird" in the sense that all movements for justice begin with people who are willing to be out there "on the edge" a bit.

Today the cover story in The Economist magazine puts it this way:

European social democracy promised voters benefits that societies can no longer afford. The Anglo-Saxon model claimed that free markets would create prosperity; many voters feel instead that they got a series of debt-fuelled asset bubbles and an economy that was rigged in favour of a financial elite, who took all the proceeds in the good times and then left everybody else with no alternative other than to bail them out. To use one of the protesters’ better slogans, the 1% have gained at the expense of the 99%.

The Economist's message to the "politicians [who] are already in something of a funk" may not find much favour amongst those occupying Wall Street, and other streets worldwide, but here it is nonetheless:

Braver politicians would focus on two things.

The first is tackling the causes of the rage speedily.Make sure the rich pay their share, but in a way that makes economic sense: you can boost the tax take from the wealthy by eliminating loopholes while simultaneously lowering marginal rates. Reform finance vigorously. “Move to Basel 3 and higher capital requirements” is not a catchy slogan, but it would do far more to shrink bonuses on Wall Street than most of the ideas echoing across from Zuccotti Park.

The second is telling the truth—especially about what went wrong. It is worth remembering that the epicentre of the 2008 disaster was American property, hardly a free market undistorted by government. For all the financiers’ faults (“too big to fail”, the excessive use of derivatives and the rest of it), the huge hole in most governments’ finances stems less from bank bail-outs than from politicians spending too much in the boom and making promises to do with pensions and health care they never could keep.

Do you suppose any common ground will be found amongst those seeking to replace capitalism with something better, such as Jacque Fresco, and those who believe that reforming capitalism is a more realistic objective, such as Bill Gates?

Will "Occupy Wall Street" one day become "Wall Street is Redundant"?

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Comments on Occupy Wall Street Finds Support in Some Unlikely Places »

October 25, 2011

Ben Mack @ 5:27 am

Jim, I'm grateful for your coverage. For the record, I am not in any way connected with the Occupy movement. I am simply a citizen reporter. To this end, I have sought to popularize my media, and my perspective. After having spoken with 4 reporters on Tuesday of last week, zero coverage of my perspective were covered, and the following day a police officer came by my house about something reportedly completely unrelated. I seek to serve the police officers in whatever ways I can. I am not a part of the illegal activities in Phoenix, whether perpetrated by protesters nor the local police. I simply stand by my right to report what I see and to peacefully assemble where not illegal.

My lawyer has reviewed this post.



Kasia @ 10:27 am

Once upon a time I was a dissident in the then communist Poland. I remember a street demonstration in Gdansk in 1988, the city of Solidarnosc. It was already after martial law was lifted but still a number of restrictions remained such as protests, strikes, demonstrations etc. This street demonstration was definitely forbidden. The event started very peaceful in the church, with lots of speeches, songs and one stand-up comedy act. All the important names from the opposition were present. After the event in the church the whole crowd moved to the most anti-communist parish in Gdansk, where Lech Walesa spoke to people asking them to stay calm and not to involve themselves in the demonstration. But the crowd ignored him. I can't say exactly how big the group was. Perhaps a thousand, maybe less than that. We started to walk and sing, shouting anti-regime slogans. I had my excellent Leica and I was shooting lots of photos most of the Communist security forces (ZOM), the photos of my life! The special police forces were everywhere incognito and in official uniforms. We marched through the small, beautiful streets of the old Gdansk. It was peaceful, inspired and refreshing, a wonderful feeling of freedom. Suddenly when we approached the Dlugie Podbrzeze street on Moltawa Canal, the ZOM set off into action. They started to hit people, they smashed my camera, a very young boy next to me was beaten in such a bestial way that he died a few days later in hospital. I had such luck, I am very tiny person, I could be beaten to death very easily. In the end of course, the communists were forced to give up.

In 1971 Leszek Kolakowski wrote an essay "Theses on Hope and Hopelessness" which suggested that self-organized social groups could gradually expand the spheres of civil society in a totalitarian state. And he was right. I hope the same will happen in the USA and in the other Anglo-Saxon capitalist countries. Ben I get the impression that you are kind of afraid, but I don't understand what of? You are a citizen of a democratic country, aren't you!? I had to leave my country, I had to say goodbye to my ambition to become a university teacher because of my engagement against the regime. But I don't regret it and never did.

Nico @ 12:03 pm

Kasia, I agree with what you say. However the US isn't that free anymore. Don't forget that.

Good Luck to everybody protesting!!

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