Sunday, October 16, 2011

This Is What You Have To Do -- Shame Them

You have to shame the shit out of them so that they stop; and they will stop, if they are shamed enough by the People.

This Marine, Sgt. Shamar Thomas, shames the NYPD for what they have been doing to unarmed citizens, namely brutalizing and fighting them. "There is no honor in this! Why are you doing this?"

And the officers, for once, even the white shirts, were knocked down several notches. It's not just that one of their peers was haranguing them. A Marine has moral authority in the militarized police culture. And the police had no escape from what he was saying. "There is no honor in this!"

That simple statement works a lot better than all the chants of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" themselves.

It's been clear all along that many officers in the police forces of many cities simply hate what they are being ordered to do. I read today that some of the Chicago police officers who performed the mass arrests at Grant Park last night expressed the fact that they are very sympathetic to the Occupations. In Sacramento it has been reported that at least three of the arresting officers had tears in their eyes last night, I would say due to the shame of what they were being ordered to do. And not too long ago -- though it seems like years given the upheaval of our present times -- I posted a video of a grandmotherly San Franciscan haranguing the BART cops at one of the Downtown transit stations, bringing another officer to tears.

Believe it or not, that video was in August. Of this year. And it feels to me like it was so long ago.

Shame is what works on Authority out of control. It's not quick, and it's not perfect because not all of Authority is susceptible to shaming, but almost always there are enough people of authority who can be moved by shame, or the fear of shame, that they can be persuaded to change their ways.

Ideally, there will be mutinies. It's happened before. And once there are mutinies by the forces arrayed against the People, that "change" we keep saying we want will happen. It could be tomorrow, it could take months or years. Persistence is the key.


  1. That was amazing. That guy was heroic in the moment. Heroic. And, yes, he did shame them almost to silence. You could see it on their faces.

    This thing has legs. Worldwide. People are waking up from their docility and they don't like what they see. Even mainstream writers are getting it:

    No system that allows 400 human beings to hold as much wealth as the bottom 150 MILLION human beings in that nation is defensible. Not even close. As in, there is no valid argument to support such a system.

    We've decided that in order to preserve the "rights" of people to become richer than Pharaoh, we willingly sacrifice the lives of tens of millions to poverty, homelessness, hunger, bankruptcy, etc. etc.

    It's obviously far more sane, logical, rational to sacrifice the "rights" of a few to get richer than Pharaoh, so that NO ONE goes hungry, is homeless, or in poverty, etc. etc.

    I mean, the choice is not even tough. It's not controversial. It's just humane.

    We can meet the needs of everyone, or we can meet the desires of the few while sacrificing the many. Our way sacrifices the many on the altar of the few.

    No mas!!!

  2. Persistence is the key, but shame is the emotional tool that brings down oppressive systems non-violently. It's not the People's righteous anger that does it -- though that's necessary; it is the oppressors' shame at their own actions that collapses the system.

    That's what we're not yet prepared for. I keep hearing "We're closer than we think." But what does that mean? And are we ready for 'victory?'

    What does it look like?

    Does it look like a Global Occupation? One of the points of the Occupations is to demonstrate that "another world is possible" -- to demonstrate it by doing it. Showing it much more than by saying what it is.

    We take control away from The 400. Just do it. Demonstrate another way, keep at it, and...

    "Human Rights over Corporate Rights" is a huge part of it, but I don't doubt it will become personalized. It's ultimately more effective to shame the individual than it is to shame a corporation. That's what Cindy Sheehan did; she shamed George W. Bush every day. Personally. Him. And he felt it in the core of his shriveled heart.

    She may have been mocked and criticized for her own Marxism, but the fact is, she took that shame directly to him and she would not relent.

    It worked. It wasn't enough, but it worked.

    The ingathering of wealth and power by the few is being countered by the openness and generosity of necessary material goods and spirits by the many. It's no contest.

    They will yield.

    And many are beginning to say they are about to do it. They have no choice.

    I'm not so certain, but I am as always, "cautiously optimistic." (Actually very optimistic but nervous as heck...)

  3. Yep. Persistence is the key. For all the reasons you list, along with another that may be, well, "mundane" in a sense.

    This movement is opening eyes regarding inequality. Actual, living inequality. The fact of. It's quite stunning to read surveys showing what Americans believe about their country versus its reality. The vast majority of Americans believe America is fairly equal in wealth distribution, and when asked to identify existing breakdowns of wealth per quintile, their picks are wildly off. When asked to pick from three models they believe would be best for America, they choose Sweden's wealth distribution by an overwhelming margin. More than 90% of those surveyed chose Sweden.

    Of course, they didn't know it was Sweden's to begin with. Had they known that, the "home team" factor would have kicked in and skewed the results.

    Anyway . . . the longer this goes on, the more likely Americans will get factual information about the Great Heist that has been going on forever, along with its acceleration over the past thirty, forty years. The ranks of OWS will only swell further upon that discovery.

    . . .

    My fear is that the Media (and government) will try to counter that with endless propaganda to a degree this nation has never before seen.

    Was listening to Talk of the Nation briefly today, and it sounded like the narrator was giving far more time to naysayers than to supporters of the OWS movement. And NPR is supposed to be "neutral".

    The OWS movement must counter this hard with its own Media, grow that, expand that and never relent.

    . . .

    This is the most hopeful I've been in years. But nothing can be taken for granted. The Empire will strike back and we need to go beyond Yoda for this one.

    Hope all is well --

  4. Unfortunately, NPR is by no means neutral. They serve their constituency -- ie: their sponsors. It's not so much a slant to the right as it is a slant toward power, and a nearly complete disinterest in the powerless. And that's one of the reasons there is an uprising. (There are so many reasons!)

    Absolutely eyes are being opened. The fact is that the reasonably well off in our society have been taking a relentless beating, in relative terms, it may be even worse than among the least of us. Not that most of the middle and upper middle class aren't still comfortable, they are. What's gone is most of their assets. Many are desperately trying to hang on to shreds of the status quo, but others realize it's gone, and it's not coming back. Of course the realization of how dire things really are dawned on the poor and the working class a long time ago. Now that a taste of hardship is moving up the ladder, the wake up call is getting louder and louder.

    I like the polls that are showing really strong support for the OccupyWallStreet contingent in New York. They may be inconveniencing people sometimes but they're getting the point across loud and clear, and New Yorkers agree, by huge majorities. It's going to take some time to replicate the knowledge and that general sense of outrage around the country, but it's getting there.

    Glad to hear this movement is raising so many spirits. Even critics seem to be less dour these days. Imagine that!