imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

Beyond the Occupation

by Mark Gabrish Conlan/Zenger's Newsmagazine Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011 at 11:17 AM
mgconlan@earthlink.net (619) 688-1886 P. O. Box 50134, San Diego, CA 92165

Occupy Wall Street and its sister movements, including Occupy San Diego, have dramatically changed the terms of political and economic debate in the U.S. Before they arose, it looked like the only choices the American people would be given to understand the disaster that has befallen them in this nation's economic collapse was the mild pro-corporatism of the Democratic Party and the ardent, Ayn Randian pro-corporatism of the Republicans and the Tea Party. What's more, so far the Occupy protesters have shown an ability to learn from the Left's past mistakes, pattern their movement after the American Revolution (as the Tea Party did) and junk the hideously unworkable process of consensus decision-making.

by MARK GABRISH CONLAN, Editor

Copyright © 2011 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved

“When Adam delved and Eve span,

Who was then the gentleman?”

— Slogan of the Peasants’ Revolt, England, 1381

Until early September, when the members of what became Occupy Wall Street first hit the streets of New York’s financial district, staging marches from a campground on a private park whose owner had given them permission to be there, it looked like the whole concept of economic class as a political issue was as dead in U.S. politics as free silver. Earnest commentators filled the pages of liberal and progressive publications with sober articles documenting how the richest 1 percent of Americans had slowly increased their share of the nation’s wealth until they now control 50 percent of it all — and the nation yawned. Republicans instantly denounced any hint of a proposal to tax the rich as “class warfare,” motivated solely by envy on the part of social “losers” who could be rich themselves if they’d only worked harder, saved more, been more “worthy.” (Actually most rich people, now as in 1381, got that way by coming out of the right womb.) Democrats, anxious to appear on the side of the working people but scared shitless over anything that might stop the rich from contributing to their campaigns, basically ignored it altogether. And the rag-tag remnants of an American Left pretty much confined themselves to talking about it … to each other.

Then came Occupy Wall Street, a movement consciously patterned after the “Arab Spring” protests that brought down the governments of Tunisia and Egypt, and all of a sudden the phrase, “We are the 99 percent,” became part of U.S. public consciousness. No longer is political debate in the U.S. trapped between a Democratic Party which once — because a mass Left pressured them to do it — gave us a minimum wage, Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and the legal recognition of labor unions, and is now killing all those advances with the death of a thousand cuts; and a Republican Party and a Tea Party which joyously and proudly want to get rid of the social safety net, the labor movement and any government taxation or regulation of corporations in one fell swoop. While it’s unclear what the future holds for the Occupy movement — whether they’ll remain as resourceful and intelligent as they’ve been so far in coping with police repression, media ridicule and their inability (so far) to affect the political process or whether they’ll repeat the mistakes made by previous attempts to revive the U.S. Left — they’ve opened the dark sky of American politics, economics and media propaganda with a simple message: a free society cannot remain so if its wealth, income and political power are brutally concentrated at the top of the economic scale.

Occupy protests have spread not only nationwide, but worldwide. The nations of Western Europe, which American progressives once looked to as models of social democracy, have become as repressive as the U.S. Their so-called “socialist” or “social democratic” parties are now no more radical than the U.S. Democratic Party, and the Right-wing regimes currently in power in all Europe’s major economic powers — Britain, Germany, France, Italy — as well as the nominal “socialists” currently running Europe’s worst economic basket case, Greece — offer nothing but “austerity,” code for slashing the size of government, making workers poorer and impoverishing their people for the sake of their bondholders. The determination of the upper classes not only to enrich themselves and impoverish their people but root out any discussion of social justice has gone so far that it’s creating a backlash. People — not enough people to make a difference politically, but enough to put the ideas of redistribution and the social responsibility of the well-to-do back on the table — are rising up, just as they did in England in 1381, in France in 1789, throughout Europe in 1848, in Russia in 1917 and in the Arab world earlier this year.

The Occupy movement is often criticized for not offering a specific list of demands. That’s taking one of the great strengths of the movement and calling it a weakness. Occupy is not a top-down hierarchy like the various Tea Parties, which though they have genuine, committed grass-roots support (which we ignore at our peril) have been designed largely by their wealthy funders and whose agendas and slogans have been supplied to their activists like recipes in a cookbook. Naomi Klein, a strong supporter of Occupy, got it right when she told MS-NBC that Occupy was “not a movement, but a moment” — a moment of awareness that there has got to be a better way to run an economy, a nation, a world, than to base all decisions on profit, greed and exploitation. Occupy shouldn’t be making demands yet because we’ve been told for so long that capitalism is the end of human history — that “there is no alternative,” as former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher put it — that we have only the foggiest ideas of what a non-capitalist or post-capitalist economy and society should look like.

When Occupy Wall Street expanded and new Occupy movements started springing up across the country, including in San Diego, I worried that they would repeat some of the mistakes that have hamstrung previous attempts to revive the U.S. Left. They’re avoiding, or working their way away from, some of them — like the insane obsession with so-called “consensus decision-making” that has made many Left organizations not only unworkable but actively unpleasant and soul-draining. Occupy Wall Street began as a consensus organization but quickly worked away from that model and set up a so-called “super-committee” to plot direction and strategy — risking the alienation of some ultra-Leftists for whom any resort to representative democracy is a denial of their principles. It also seemed to have dawned on Occupy that the reflexive anti-Americanism of many U.S. Leftists has cut us off from the strategy used so effectively by the Tea Parties of linking their struggle to the American Revolution. At the end of September Occupy Wall Street issued a “Declaration” (published here in full on page 13) consciously modeled on the U.S. Declaration of Independence, complete with bullet points listing the abuses uncontrolled corporations have loosed on the American people.

The biggest issue Occupy will need to address, and hasn’t yet, is its relationship to the electoral system. This has become a pitfall for generations of American Leftists, and Occupy confronts it at a dangerous juncture in U.S. politics comparable to the situation in Germany in the early 1930’s. The deepening economic crisis, the power of the corporate media in general and the Right-wing media of talk radio and Fox News in particular to shape the way many Americans perceive that crisis, and the failure of the Democrats’ half-measures to get us out of the slump have created the strong possibility of a total Republican takeover of the U.S. government — of which they already control half, the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court — in the November 2012 elections. If they win the presidency (quite likely, though by no means assured, since presidents running for re-election on a piss-poor economy usually lose) and take the Senate (virtually a mathematical certainty since the Democrats will be defending 23 seats and the Republicans only 10), the result will be a sweeping transformation of the U.S. into a Right-wing country — from the USA to TPA, Tea Party America — comparable to what Hitler and the Nazis wreaked on Germany in 1933.

In my analysis — and I know most Occupy participants would almost certainly disagree with me — it is absolutely crucial for America’s future that we unite, vote and campaign straight down the line for Democrats in 2012. We should do that without any illusions that the Democrats are our friends, but with the full awareness that the Republicans are such dastardly enemies, not only of the 99 percent but of the earth itself, that in the short term at least, we need to keep what Noam Chomsky calls “the reality-based wing of the ruling class” in power. We shouldn’t hang back from criticizing especially egregiously corporate-friendly Democrats and challenging them in primary elections. But we should give up any notion of not voting at all — or voting for alternative parties, which in the U.S.’s winner-take-all election system means the same thing — in the present emergency. Given that the Republicans are committed to wiping out all controls on corporate power, ending organized labor, privatizing virtually all government functions and getting rid of the welfare state, and their “drill, baby, drill” assault on the environment will virtually ensure the end of the earth’s ability to support the human species, we have to bite the bullet and accept that in the current crisis, any Democrat is better than any Republican.

In the medium term we can debate reforms we can demand from the political system, including a Constitutional amendment to end the idiotic fiction that corporations are “persons,” worldwide taxes on financial speculation, a return to the upper-bracket income tax rates of the 1950’s and 1960’s, an end to corporate subsidies and tax loopholes, restoration of the Glass-Steagall Act and other New Deal-era legislation that severed consumer banks from investment banks, reform of the labor laws to make it easy for workers to organize, and aggressive antitrust enforcement literally to cut the giant corporations down to size. In the long term we can work out the models by which humanity can grow beyond capitalism — and throughout this process we must do the work on ourselves to grow beyond our own individualistic, competitive urges and, in a saying of Gandhi’s that’s become an obnoxious cliché, “be the change that we wish to see in the world.”

Twelve years ago, in November 1999, a Leftist movement swept through the streets of a major American city — Seattle — with a simple demand: an end to unfair “free trade agreements” that enriched corporations and greased the skids on which they sent American jobs overseas. It was killed by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the wave of repression that followed. Occupy could likewise be killed by a Republican sweep of the November 2012 elections and the even more intense repression against it likely to follow. But if it can hold on, learn from its mistakes and build for the future, Occupy has a chance to break the corporate-capitalist stranglehold on America’s and the world’s imagination and begin the process of moving away from economies and societies based on greed, individualism, monopolism, imperialism and a capitalist system that rewards humanity’s worst traits and punishes its best.

Report this post as:

LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 1 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
An Alternative Action Fred Snider Sunday, Oct. 23, 2011 at 3:46 PM

Local News

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety A08 10:29PM

Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man A08 9:50PM

Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes A08 9:48PM

Paraphysique de l'autorité A08 12:11AM

Two Podcasts on fbi corruption A06 10:13PM

Fbi assassins assault & try to kill DAVID ATKINS A06 7:29PM

EPA Head Scott Pruitt: Of Cages And Sirens A06 2:15PM

The Shortwave Report 04/06/18 Listen Globally! A05 4:25PM

Nicaraguas Conflic with native Peoples on the Caribbean Coast Near Bluefields in Decade80 A05 12:14PM

Millions Boycott The Sponsors Of Laura Ingraham A05 11:36AM

THE CONSERVATIVE THREAT A05 6:51AM

The US, the Dollar, IS and Saudi Arabia A05 3:34AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy