Saturday, December 31, 2011

And What of the Occupy?

Did I get wrong-footed on this Occupy Thing? Is Teh Revolution an illusion after all?

Well, no. I don't think so.

Having been reduced from hundreds of Occupations to a few score of active ones today, the Occupy Wall Street Movement seems to have stalled or even reversed in the face of Implacable Authority -- and winter. From appearances, the Movement has not gone away, but it is certainly nothing like what it once was. Diminution has not resulted in concentration; instead, the energy seems to be more and more dispersed, and in its dispersion, dissipated.

I thought it was interesting that during the hey-day of this rabble rousing phase, Lambert Strether over at Correntewire always saw it as spreading like rhizomes in the plant world. I, on the other hand, tended to see the development of the Movement-cum-Revolution as akin to egg-laying. The Idea would be deposited pretty much everywhere. There would be a brief -- and rather spectacular -- initial life cycle followed by a potentially prolonged hibernation/chrysalis phase during which a metamorphosis would occur, from which something almost altogether different would emerge.

The two are not entirely incompatible versions of the possible course of development of what's come to be called The Occupy, because they both rely on biological models. That was a discussion I had with a number of Occupation participants fairly early on, in that it was obvious even then that the model for the Movement was organic and evolutionary, rooted in biology rather than rhetoric, and it would grow -- and in some cases diminish -- like an organism rather than a construct.

So it has been.

The many efforts to suppress it have been something like futile efforts to eradicate a biological pest, one that is both hardy and evolutionary. The object of suppression takes on different forms, disappears, reappears, develops, retreats, and eventually overcomes. It is not ever really suppressed. It becomes part of the landscape; the best Authority can do against it is learn to cope.

But then, why be against it?

This is the question that is being raised, hopefully more and more. What, exactly, is Authority against, anyway? Taking over the Public Square to petition for redress of grievance (this is a First Amendment issue, but not strictly a Free Speech issue) is simply not a chargeable offense; it is something that We, the People not only have the right to do, we have a duty to do it. Fighting against that right and duty -- as Authority has been doing more and more brutally -- is a losing proposition. Which, apparently, Authority is recognizing, slowly, and with great trepidation and reluctance.

The People are demanding hearing and redress of their grievances. They are not simply gathering for the sake of it (though that has always been a part of the process of Revolution, the massing of the masses for the sake of it). Their message and their demands are not unclear at all, but always, when presented with such petitions, Authority claims not to "understand" what it is the People clamor for, what it is they are discontent about, what it is they want. This is universal when such situations arise.

Authority insists the People's Message is so muddled there is nothing they can do about it, much as they would like to respond positively. But unless the correct forms and rituals are observed in the petitioning process, Authority must remain blind and deaf to the plight and pleas of the masses. So sorry, please.

And yet Authority knows exactly what the People are yowling about.

Oh yes they do.

Their efforts at suppression can at best be temporary stop-gaps while they figure out what to do. In this regard, it is worth noting that there was no effort at all to suppress the Tea Party during its brief fluorescence; in fact, the Tea Party's pseudo-Revolution was encouraged at every crossroads by Authority -- both governmental and corporate -- until, of course, the candidates they'd put in office proved so intransigent and antithetical to the interests of the Global Elites that they were ignored and sidestepped. Not suppressed. Sidestepped.

The Tea Party was never a popular movement; the Occupy is. That makes a big difference in how The Powers That Be respond. The 'Baggers essentially were brought forth -- and brought out of -- the hothouse of Bernaysian Manipulation, as a construct that popular discontent could glom onto; a product in other words, to be sold to the masses as the answer to what aggrieved them.

It was really quite a skilful campaign, starting with a low-key, almost underground, "resistance" campaign immediately after the presidential election of 2008, targeting the alleged "socialism" of the new Obama administration. It was all phony from the get, but that didn't matter. What mattered was that those who were discontent with the fact that a colored man was shortly to be squatting in the White House, and discontent with the fact that Power in some abstract sense was now taken away from its rightful possessors had somewhere to focus their rage and anger and frustration, even if only underground initially.

Shortly after the Obama Inauguration in 2009, the "Resistance" that had been underground came to the fore as the all-but-fully-formed "Tea Party" subsequent to the Rick Santelli Rant on CNBC that was put into heavy rotation on all the "news" for days and weeks. Game on.

The "Tea Party" became a 24/7 obsession of the FOX "News" cable network -- their pet, their joy, their pride -- and through FOX's constant promotion, and the efforts of numerous well-funded political consultants and hate radio personalities (which is actually where it all started anyway) the rightist rabble was most effectively roused.

But as a product being sold, it had a limited shelf-life, and after the 2010 congressional election, it essentially disappeared. Well, the plug was pulled. The point had been made, and the congressional landscape had been transformed; there was no further point for a rightist populist movement. Victory had been achieved.


It's a Pyrrhic Victory at best. The situation continues to be shitty for all but the very wealthiest of the Global Elite, and helping them to acquire more does nothing for anyone else. And as for all the reactionary social garbage they wanted enacted, good luck with that.

The congress, this congress, the one that the 'Baggers elected, is the least popular in the nation's post civil war history, and the various radical reactionary state legislatures and governors swept into office on the coattails of the 'Bagger Rebellion are facing firestorms of rejection from the engaged and enraged People.

What to do?

The Occupy Movement literally came out of nowhere -- well, the mind's eye of a clever former ad-man let's say. But it has become something quite unlike anything he might have envisioned. It ultimately didn't matter what he personally envisioned anyway. The Occupy instantly took on a life of its own, and so it has been ever since.

It is diverse and dispersed, leader-less/leader-full, and is as real as it gets.

It is evolving -- or rather metamorphosing. Evolution may come later.

Staying out of electoral politics is key.

Our electoral politics has become little more than a massive product promotion campaign, a biennial spectacle of salesmanship, that has little or no effect on policy; those policies are set at the "board" level, and whichever electoral product wins the campaign, the same general policies will be carried out no matter.

I think We the People learned this quite clearly over the past few elections. Who you put in office only matters on the margins of personality and finesse. The overall policies of government are never put to a popular vote, and they are carried out no matter who is sitting in the Big Chair or holding hearings about it.

That being so, the only real way to affect it is to act outside it.

This is what so many apparatchiks -- who of course infest the blogosphere, especially at election time -- simply cannot comprehend. They insist that the only way to affect policy is from within (you must participate, vote, support candidates, yadda, yadda, for it is the only way your voice will be heard and listened to). The only thing is, it's not true.

You can certainly have an effect and accomplish quite a bit from within, but unless you are part of a highly select few, you do not have any effect on policy. That doesn't change because you are on the inside or not. What you can do on the inside is achieve some of your personal or mutual material objectives. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it does not affect policy, because you must work within policy parameters to get what you want or need.

But what if those policy parameters are just absolutely wrong? Then you have to be -- and act -- outside the system. This is a concept the apparatchik mind cannot embrace or fathom. But it is the only way to seriously affect policy makers and their policies. You have to apply pressure -- significant and sustained pressure -- from the outside.

Pressure from the Outside can become Revolutionary.

The Occupy Movement is intrinsically Revolutionary, and its Anarchist roots are the key to understanding its Revolutionary direction.

Realistically, we are dealing with an Anarcho-Communist/Syndicalist Revolutionary movement that is profoundly affecting the popular consciousness of what is Possible all over the developed world and beyond.

I don't think that anything quite like this has ever happened before. People's minds are being changed one by one and in batches all over the world about what can be done about what needs to be done. Once that happens, there is no going back.

Anarcho-Communist/Syndicalist concepts have never before had more than a very remote fringe appeal; yet now they're on the verge of becoming so wide spread as to be recognized as "natural."

To my way of looking at it, this is an almost inevitable result of the divorce between the Global Financial Elites and their Government lackeys on the one hand and the People on the other. When governments only serve financial elites, as is the case now in many regions, not just the United States, the People must assert their own interests separately.

And that inevitably means on a small scale, mutually, in community. That's been the chief characteristic of the demonstrations made by the Occupations. Temporary intentional communities are put together for the purpose of demonstrating an alternative to the rule of reactionary financial elites who have captured government.

Those demonstrations don't need to last very long for people to see and understand that alternatives are possible. Once they see that and internalize it, the camps can go away. Eviction doesn't matter in the larger scheme of things. The demonstration has been made. That's what matters in the long run.

As people find their own way forward in an alternative framework, the necessity for the elaborate state superstructure created to serve a diminishing global financial elite evaporates.

Even the necessity of The Occupy goes away. Once the notion of Alternative is inculcated through demonstration, it continues to develop on its own.

That's what's happening more and more broadly. Nothing quite so Revolutionary has happened in many a long year, and it can't be stopped once started.

I think Our Rulers are beginning to recognize that fundamental fact.

But we won't know how it will turn out until the butterfly -- or whatever is in there -- emerges from its chrysalis in its due time. Sometime next year, but no one can say when, and no one can say just what that Butterfly will look like or what it will do.

Stay tuned...

Change & Wonder: A Butterfly Complete Metamorphosis from David Britton on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Year End Musings

[House near ours in New Mexico. I love its appearance of isolation out on the llano -- although the location is actually East Mountains -- and I like its vaguely pioneer aspect. It's a fairly new house built in the style of the pioneers (this area was opened for settlement around 1900) on about 40 acres of mostly horse-pasture. Our house in New Mexico is an actual pioneer dwelling, started in around 1900 and continually remodeled and added to ever since.]

Been through quite the year -- such that I doubt many of us have experienced in our lifetimes. Not only have the People been up in arms over various indignities, debilities, thefts and destructions, but the Earth itself is clearly in the process of rebelling against the depredations against it.

We're in for a very bumpy ride for some time to come.

The key understanding is that Our Rulers have screwed things up so thoroughly and so badly, it will take generations to unravel the mess they have made, and it will take generations more to restore some semblance of the basic principles of common decency that have been lost.

In other words, we're not going to solve this any time soon, no matter how much we inveigle against The Powers That Be. They will do their best to ignore our imprecations -- as they have been doing remarkably consistently throughout this year of Revolution -- but inevitably they will fail to stem the tide, and from all the signs, their end is nigh-er than they think.

From the observation posts round about, it's become quite obvious that the structure of predation and exploitation built and run by Our Rulers is on a shaky foundation, so shaky that it could collapse at any moment due to the fact that nearly all of its accumulated wealth and power is illusory.

That's been perhaps the most important revelation of the Occupy Movement and its precursors. Our Rulers not only have feet of clay, they are running con games in the air. For all the damage they are doing to the general well being of the Earth and its People, they are gaining essentially nothing thereby. For all that they are busy stealing from the rest of us -- and from one another -- the crushing burden of their pretense-economics will simply disintegrate in their midst sooner rather than later.

And then what?

We should try to be ready -- and for the most part, we really aren't. The disappointment in the outcome of the Revolutions in North Africa, for example, is an indication of how unready for "success" we really are.

In this country, the fact that the Wisconsin Uprising accomplished essentially nothing -- in that the rebels were not able to prevent or significantly alter any of the draconian impositions of the State under the Walker administration, despite the success of some of the later recalls -- is still being processed. The Wisconsin Thing was critically important for changing the minds of the masses to help get them out of their torpor and passivity, but politically it was a non-event. No matter how many hundreds and thousands and hundreds of thousands gather -- and occupy -- for redress of grievance from this government, it doesn't matter. They will be ignored, and their interests dismissed. Period. End. Of. Discussion.

And so it has been throughout most of the country most of the time given all the many rebellions and uprisings since Wisconsin.

The blank stare of the Robo-Riot-Police has become the Implacable Face of Rule.

It's become standard: the People may "rise up" all they like. Their petitions will not be received by Rulers, their grievances will not be redressed. Have a nice day. Have some pepper spray and bludgeoning to go with your retreat. Bye now!

The political system obviously only works for the favored few -- to the extent it works at all. Favored interests of the private sector can essentially have and do anything they want, with the cheery connivance of Government (such as it is) while the People are left to fend for themselves as best they may, corralled and contained and distracted by shiny objects to the extent they are considered at all by those in power.

The People have become useless impediments in the eyes of the Highest of the Mighty. They get in the way, but -- as has been demonstrated over and over again -- they are easily disposed of, they and their Mounds of Garbage that is all they possess in the world.

Yet another homeless encampment was "cleared" here yesterday, its 120 denizens scattered to the winds -- and to the completely inadequate shelters that can accommodate less than half of the number dispossessed -- and their things, their few pitiful belongings confiscated (supposedly for safe-keeping, but we know how that goes.)

So. These evicted dispossessed ones say they will simply establish another camp -- and they will keep on doing it no matter what the Authorities do. They have successfully been establishing and running camps for the homeless and the dispossessed for years; government ignores their pleas to be left alone to take care of one another. Camps are raided and destroyed over and over again -- and re-established over and over again.

The homeless aren't going away. Not so long as the predators run free.

Homeless encampments have been a feature of civil society in this country -- and very prominently around here -- for many years. Remember "Bag Ladies?" They go back almost 40 years now. They were the first sign I think most of us knew of that something had gone terribly wrong with the social contract, and that some of us were not just being dispossessed without recourse, some, like these forlorn women who carried all their remaining possessions in a couple of shopping bags while they rode public transit or trudged the sidewalks forlornly, endlessly.

Soon they were joined by more and more of the dispossessed and discarded, often those who had been discharged from mental hospitals but never provided with the promised "services" that were supposed to be available in the community once the Snake Pits that had housed them were shuttered and repurposed or demolished.

Then more and more homeless joined them, people whose livings had vanished in the great spurts of 'Growth' -- or rather economic lootings -- that periodically coursed through society leaving more and more wreckage in their wakes.

There was never enough shelter for all the discarded and dispossessed that were the inevitable product of the civic refusal to curb the triumph of greed, to provide for the least among us, and the many failed experiments of the plethora of non-profits and charities to handle the "crisis of homelessness." All they did was perpetuate it.

When the economy went into its latest tailspin, millions upon millions were forced into poverty -- millions more are still being forced into poverty -- and many millions were forced out of their homes and their livings. That's been the chief characteristic of policy since the beginning of this Endless Recession: enforced poverty for the millions, enforced dispossession, enforced exploitation and extraction for the millions upon millions, while a handful of top-dogs live like kings on the profits of impoverishment.

Half of all Americans are now "officially poor or low income." And most, according to experts, will never rise from this state; they'll never have the opportunity. In fact, given trends, more and more Americans are bound for poverty. The United States is becoming the richest Third World nation in history.

Well, under the circumstances, some people, of course, seek to do something about it -- and they set out to reverse the trend. "There's Revolution in this town."

So far, it has not been successful in turning the situation for the masses around, but it has awakened them from their slumber.

The question for the coming year is where that awakening is going to lead.

No one can say at this point.

Thus, the coming year is bound to be very exciting, fraught with danger, and kind of wonderful all at the same time.

No matter what Our Rulers do from this point on, it will matter less and less. Events have a way of taking on lives of their own, and the Events of 2011 have given rise to extraordinary levels of energy and activism among the many, in utter disregard of the Few.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Dignity, Justice, Community, Peace.

I had planned to be back in California by today, Christmas, but The Snow came and made the trip difficult enough for me to postpone travel at least for a day. But I know it has been worse for some who started out earlier and got stuck on the snowed in highways. Some may still be digging out. Snow this heavy, this early in the season, is pretty rare around here. Though many people were prepared -- as best they could be -- many others were caught by surprise and are doing their best to cope.

Coping with the weather became the primary focus of my stay in New Mexico this time; the frozen pipes, the repeated storms, the snow... It's all been very evocative for me because it reminds me of winters spent in Alaska and Upstate New York, long ago now, when I first got introduced to snow and blizzards and the joys of frigid fingers and toes and nose-and-eartips and all the many delights of the season as a regular thing.

You adapt. Amazingly quickly. It's been kind of like riding a bicycle. Once you know how to deal with Winter, you don't forget. Nevertheless, as a rule, I don't do very well in cold. It's probably genetic.

But while I've been here -- in between making pans and pans of tamales and shoveling snow and dealing with unexpected appearances of ice -- I've been thinking a lot about what I've come to see as the core values, the principles of this Revolution that's continuing all over the world.

Dignity, Justice, Community and Peace

They seems like such simple concepts -- but they prove to be so difficult to achieve.

The fact is, the People have been betrayed, and as they wake up to the total wreck their Betters are making of this world, their righteous anger rises higher and higher. Anger may motivate the uprising, but it's not enough by itself.

Dignity has been stripped from many millions over the course of this endless regression (it's gone beyond a recession). And many millions more are slated to lose their Dignity before it's over -- if it is ever over.

Dignity is an essential value of being; it's ingrained in the nature of existence, and yet there are constant assaults on one's dignity from nearly the moment of birth. There are people who seem to feel their own dignity is somehow jeopardized by the dignity of others, and so they seek to strip The Other of dignity so as to (somehow) enhance their own. They conflate having money or power with whether or not one "deserves" being treated with dignity. When the concept of universal dignity fails, it tends to be replaced with predatory instincts, stealing in other words. One takes from others who are "unworthy" of dignity. Yet once predation becomes the core value of a society, it hollows itself out until it collapses from within.

That's been happening to the United States at an accelerating pace lately, but predation has been a core value of many Americans from the beginning of the European conquest and settlement in the Americas. It has its roots in frustrations in Europe that led so many to abandon their lives in the Old Country and attempt to find their futures, if not their fortunes, in America.

Those frustrations were multiple, but in most cases they revolved around the absence of dignity for some group designated to be despised by others.

No, it is not the universal condition. It is a specific condition of certain societies. And it was transferred wholesale to what would become the United States.

I was watching some of Niall Ferguson's "economic" essays on PBS while I was here, and couple of things struck me: 1)he explained the Pinochet coup and brutal rule in Chile as a struggle against Communism which therefore justified the military extinguishing the elected Allende governmnet and the Chilean democracy as well as the execution of thousands and the torture and imprisonment of tens of thousands more suspected Communists. In his view democracy and social justice and (especially) the Welfare State are worthless extravagances that can be -- nay, should be -- sacrificed in the interests of... predation. He was almost jolly about the suffering of others.

2) he pointed out that the "conservative" economic principles which rule the world today (actually, they are radical not conservative at all) are developments of "canny Scots" who in the 17th and 18th centuries came up with -- radical -- new principles of economics and economic success: mindless predation of the strong on the weak, imperialism, extraction.

So here we are.

It is a mindless system of exploitation and destruction for nearly everyone. It characterized the thinking of parts of the ambitious members of the bourgeoisie for two centuries, and now it is being made the sole ideological principle of corporation and state.

Sooner or later -- generally sooner -- it leads to catastrophic failure and Revolution.

The principle failure is the failure of Dignity. Without Dignity, the People rebel.

The mindlessness of a system that sees value only in terms of dollars and display, that asserts a right -- nay a duty -- to extract and exploit and steal at will from any and all comers (don't think the high and the mighty are exempt; stealing from one another is an art form among the practitioners of this system) leads inevitably to its deterioration and decline and finally to its isolation and destruction.

Where there is no balance, there is no Dignity. Where there is no Dignity, there is no Future. And where there is no Future, there is no Justice.

The concept of Justice itself is an alien imposition on the economic predators who have so blithely taken control of the United States and the world for the purpose of endless exploitation of people and resources for profit.

Justice is a factor of nobility, and these exploiters, though sometimes styling themselves "nobles" have no nobility. They despise "justice" in any form that may affect their extractive demands or mitigate the destruction they cause. The situation for years now has been one of unbridled economic terrorism against whole peoples and governments by a handful of out of control monetary vampires.

"Justice" in their view is using the coercive power of the state to enforce ever greater levels of extraction and exploitation and most certainly using it to crush the occasional unrest of the masses.

We saw that in India during the British Raj. But that's how imperial societies work: extraction and exploitation on a magnificent scale (to what ultimate object is always something of a mystery; typically, it's just because the exploiter can and wants to do it); rigid and typically brutal suppression of the masses, generally with the active connivance of their ostensible protectors...

Ultimately, of course, this system of "justice" cannot be maintained, for it is based on lack of dignity for any but the select and a fierce competition between them for what has been stolen from everyone else.

The basic injustice and indignity of the system itself leads to its eventual disintegration. It cannot be maintained except through ever greater applications of force. And that is not a sustainable course. There are always too many to be kept down by the handful that constitutes the Power Elite; there are never enough mercenaries to do the job.

Absence of Justice destroys Community, and the destruction of Community causes despair leading to the denial of Peace.

Peoples have long since figured out how to live -- and flourish -- in societies based on Dignity, Justice, Community and Peace; it's demonstrated every day in many social contexts including certain religious contexts. Yet here we have the ongoing spectacle of a handful of financial actors seeking to thwart the best instincts and interests of humanity in order to strip as many as possible of all their social and economic assets.

Why? Because apparently they believe there is nothing standing in their way -- and they want to.

There is no sense in continuing this course, but our governments appear to be incapable of listening to the chorus of voices from the People, incapable of doing the right thing, incapable of acting on behalf of the People they ostensibly represent. And this is nearly a universal situation; governments almost everywhere have become the exclusive playthings of the very highest of the mighty for whom the interest of the People is at best an abstraction when it's not a distraction from the important work of exploitation and destruction.

The People will nevertheless prevail. The Empire of Greed will collapse. It's inevitable. The People will continue to demonstrate alternatives to the continuing destruction engaged in by governments and their owners and sponsors. Those demonstrations -- essentially of another way to live -- have a cumulative effect, and it may be a slow march from this point forward. But the effect is very real.

Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. The Beginning is Nigh.

[Posted from a motel in Kingman, AZ on my way back to California for belated Christmas....]

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What Are They So Afraid Of?

[Note: I'm at our place in New Mexico; we just had a doozy of a snow storm that shut down the Interstate all the way to the Texas border. The weather has been beautiful today, and I've spent most of it clearing the driveway of snow so I can get to the street, the street that was just plowed a little while ago, so we could very carefully drive along its still very slick surface to see the sights. It is a Winter Wonder Land out there!]

The Denver Action to "clear" Occupy Denver and their associated tents from the square last night caught my eye. I kept thinking, "What are they so afraid of?" -- meaning the cops. It's not so much that they doll themselves up like RoboCops. We're used to that by now. It's not even the fact that they always seem to arrive and act in formations following a strange little script of how to proceed against the Rabble. It's that they do it at all. Any of it.

It's not just Denver. They do it everywhere, all around the world. What are they so afraid of? And why to they do it at all?

I saw this picture at the Denver Post site, and thought, "Look how scary. He's posing like Tebow. In the street. How frightening..."

What are they so afraid of?

Hundreds of costumed and armed Denver police once again assembled -- this time under the watchful gaze of the new Denver police chief -- to evict a few dozen Occupy Denver demonstrators. A camera man had come to video the action and was guided away from the park by the police.

Flames rose when the demonstrators chose to burn some of their encampment equipment. But there was no violence from the demonstrators. As usual, the violence was perpetrated by the police against... their perception of defiance.

Defiance requires hundreds of police in riot costume in city after city to suppress -- or to appear to suppress -- while high level crime is... ignored. No, staying in a park after curfew requires an entire army of police. Anything else of a criminal nature, not so much.

Even a full scale sports riot doesn't usually call for this level of suppression.

The only comparable suppressive activity that I know of is the extraordinary level of police overreaction at every G8, G20, WTO, IMF, and political convention held since 1999.

Occupying parks and other public squares is being treated as if it were a National Special Security Event.

The Rulers are so frightened of defiance, they will go to any length to suppress it.

And apparently they will pay any price.

So long as their troops obey...

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Argentina Model?

[Changed to a YouTube version because it is complete; the Google version wasn't. But warning: the last ten minutes or so has very garbled sound.]

Documentary on the events that led to the economic collapse of Argentina in 2001 which wiped out the middle class and raised the level of poverty to 57.5%. Central to the collapse was the implementation of neo-liberal policies which enabled the swindle of billions of dollars by foreign banks and corporations. Many of Argentina's assets and resources were shamefully plundered. Its financial system was even used for money laundering by Citibank, Credit Suisse, and JP Morgan. The net result was massive wealth transfers and the impoverishment of society which culminated in many deaths due to oppression and malnutrition. If you want to stop the same thing from happening here, and it is happening here, right now, please join the revolution at the Kick Them All Out Projet and the Fire Congress Campaign.

Pot and pans are good.

Note: the video was posted to Google 3 years ago, it has been on YouTube as long. In the interim, the parallels between the situation in Argentina and in the United States -- not to mention Europe -- have become even starker.

Note: the Census Bureau has recently released figures showing that about half of Americans are now officially poor or low income.

Note: the parallels... many of the same individuals and banking institutions are involved in the current global exploitation regime. Even if they don't always get away with it, they don't care. They get away with it often enough to ensure they will always be counting profits at everyone else's expense.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Is It The Protest -- or The Demonstration?

Is it a distinction without a difference or is it a matter of fundamental importance?

"The Protester" is chosen as Time's Person of the Year for 2011, and it superficially makes perfect sense, since "protest" has been a constant and growing pubic activity throughout much of the world, most of the year.

I haven't paid much attention to Time Magazine since the end of the Luce era, and I usually find the widespread "lefty" blogospheric fascination with the magazine to be amusing at best -- when it's not an outright misperception. Time has had its ups and downs over the decades, but it's never actually been a "liberal" publication, nor have its writers and editors ever been as insightful as their reputations would suggest.

Time was once an important publication in a very tightly controlled haute media environment; it has always been closely aligned with the interests of power and money. It once had a breezy, popular-literate style of word-play and phrase-making, but has fallen into the sort of turgid prose and "balance" that characterizes so much of the post-modern media.

Those issues aside, the question I've been wrestling with for some time has to do with the nature of what is going on with this global revolution: is it a Protest or a Demonstration, and what is the difference?

Time focuses on the protest aspect of the Revolution, and further narrows the focus to a protest against government, specifically certain aspects of governments, especially the dictatorships abroad and the incipient dictatorships at home.

Like most other media, Time essentially ignores the demonstration aspects of the Revolution.

But isn't a demonstration and a protest the same thing?

Not in the context of the Occupy Movement and the various localized revolutions that have already taken place, nor is it the same thing in the context of the overall Global Revolution sweeping the Earth, the one that has as a motto: "Another World Is Possible."

Globally this Revolution is driven in large part by a reaction to the impositions and exploitations of a shrinking cadre of economic terrorists, a global neo-liberal elite, who see the earth and its peoples as resources and commodities to exploit, dispose of and to profit from. Period.

This neo-liberal elite has captured governments all over the world, and even the most ostensibly "democratic" governments have largely ceased listening to or considering the interests and needs of their People so as to better serve the demands and requirements of the notorious 1%. "People" don't matter at all in this context -- except for the extent to which they can be stripped of dignity, deprived of justice and community, and forced to struggle against one another.

This situation gives rise to revolt by its very nature.

Protest is a tactic used as part of the revolt, it is not the revolt itself.

For reasons that I've never quite understood, those in power -- and the media that is part of the power structure -- simply cannot fathom the tactical nature of protest, nor can they quite grasp the essential nature of the Demonstration that is at the heart of the Revolution.

This blindness may not be such a bad thing in the end, because the less that Power "understands" the greater the potential for the ultimate success of the Revolution.

The more that Power reacts against the Revolution from a basis of Dalek-like mindlessness, the less likely it is to succeed in the end.

Thus, the irony of breaking up the protest encampments in this country and abroad is that the demonstration that began in the encampments is dispersed throughout the community and society. The act of breaking up or suppressing the demonstration has the effect of spreading it. And the more the demonstration of the possibility of another world is spread, the greater the popular understanding and support of the Revolution.

By trying to focus solely on the Protest, Time and much of the media and associated officialdom in effect serves the interests of the Revolution itself.

I'm astonished watching governments all over the world and in this country double down on their austerity obsessions in service to their financial and economic overlords -- and in increasingly brutal defiance of the interests and demands of their People. It is a textbook example of institutions flailing and failing. Suppression is hardly a recipe for endurance, and the notion that "dialog" is somehow The Answer is just funny. It's long past time for rulers to "hear." Action alone will make the difference, and the only action so far undertaken is suppression -- often with extraordinary levels of official violence and brutality.

Government, however, is neither the direct source of the problems the People face, nor is it the answer directly. The obsessive focus on protest against governments, therefore, is a reflection of the obsessions of the media. That there is a parallel demonstration of alternatives doesn't occur to them.

"Another world is possible," but unless you explore it and show it repeatedly, it's hard to see how that Other World can be instituted, or even if it can.

The demonstration which began in the public squares has now largely -- but not totally -- been evicted from the squares (much as households have been evicted from their homes throughout the economic and financial disaster of today's neo-liberal capitalism) and has dispersed through communities all over the world.

"Be not afraid," has become the message of the Revolution (or "Don't be afraid," for those who are reluctant to engage Biblical references). "We are winning," is the coda.

Protest is a tactic, but it is not the Revolution itself. Suppressing -- or permitting -- protest is peripheral to the central demonstration that is at the heart of the Revolution.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Economic Meltdown Scheduled to Continue Indefinitely

The correct response to the economic/financial meltdown was to provide substantial household debt relief, a real jobs program, and the prompt and effective re-regulation of banks and financial institutions.

Of course, none of this was done. Instead, all the gambling debts of the banks and financial institutions were backstopped (and often paid off, multiple times in some cases) with "created" money, and a few key manufacturers had their debts covered.

There was no household debt relief. In many cases, not even bankruptcy would discharge personal/student/household debt. Instead of a jobs program, there were repeated extensions of unemployment insurance benefits -- for those who qualified, which was never more than half of the unemployed, and in the later extensions, much fewer than half. Typical UI benefits were half or less (often much less) than previous earnings.

Millions and millions of Americans have been forced into poverty; millions and millions face hunger more and more often. Millions and millions of Americans have been forced out of their homes. And the process of impoverishment and eviction of Americans has not relented.

The economy continues to worsen for most Americans as wages and benefits are stagnant or in decline, there is a vicious campaign against public sector workers; pensions are under constant threat. Retirement and other savings of many millions of Americans have vanished.

Yet a handful of international bankers and financiers are doing better than ever, providing nothing of value at all, but successfully extorting governments at home and abroad of every nickel they can extract.

Governments all over the world have yielded to the demands of this handful of extortionists, forcing austerity and poverty onto their people while preserving their "nobles" from even the slightest patriotic requirement.

The People in general have no say in the economic policies of their governments, and governments have no care for their People.

So. There is a global -- and growing -- revolt.

As revolt/revolution proceeds, governments and Peoples are becoming more and more alienated from one another. Part of the demonstration of the Occupy Movement is to show how "another world is possible," and to demonstrate on a small and temporary scale, how to do it. How to live simply in community, in dignity, with justice, and in peace with one another. How to disconnect from the Grid of Control -- and why. So many demonstrations, so much need.

As government and Peoples divorce from one another, "another world" emerges spontaneously. It may not be what any of us had in mind in our utopian reveries, but it is the creation of the Future nevertheless.

The Future we thought we might have had has been stolen from us. The Earth itself is rebelling from the control of the financial elites. The more they seek to secure their own future, no matter what happens to anyone else, the worse their own fate will be.

Another world is possible...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Let's Not Fool Ourselves

There are more police than demonstrators at port after port today. In Houston the police and fire department are using a Big Red Tent to hide the actual arrest of demonstrators who have laid down in the street.

Evolution Revolution.

They can use tents, too, you know! And there are more of them than you! Ha ha.

This winter is going to be remarkable.

And still "Power yields nothing..."

Welllll, surprise surprise.

Oakland was shut down. San Diego was shut down. I'm not sure of any others at this point. Despite the overwhelming police presence, in other words, far outnumbering the demonstrators in some cases, the union stewards said "go home." And so the truckers and the longshoremen did. Ha.

Meanwhile word comes that all the charges against all the arrestees in Sacramento (113 at last count) have been dropped by the City... "in the interests of justice." Of course.

Was not able to get out to the Los Lunas action at the Wal-Mart distribution center -- just as well, it looks like there will be a major snow storm tonight if it isn't going on already -- but I'm sure the (Un)Occupy 'Burque folks have things well in hand as they are quite a feisty bunch. If things work out, I'm planning to head up to Santa Fe on Thursday, see how they're doing and then attend Las Posadas. So far as I know, Occupy Santa Fe are not even under threat of eviction from Railyard Park. But then, sometimes it's a little hard to sort out just what all is going on.

Here In New Mexico

The drive south and east went surprisingly quickly and easily this time. It was becoming such a chore that I was coming to dread it. But not this time. Interesting how one adapts and/or responds to stimuli... Hmmm....

But when I got here, the pipes were frozen, sigh. Apparently the heat had not come on in the house at all during the past month (we keep the heater thermostat on at a somewhere below 60 temp). It was freezing cold inside, and it felt a bit like the Ice Palace Scene from Dr. Zhivago. Ice and snow everywhere, very beautiful really, but... cold.

Have been slowly thawing things out since yesterday afternoon when I got here. Have to figure out what's up with the heater and see if there's any plumbing damage. So far, so good -- (Gratitude toward the onlooking piping divinities and spirits) -- but we'll see when things are all thawed.

Meanwhile today's Port Actions are under way. The police at Oakland's action are assembling threateningly.

Watch live streaming video from occupyoakland at

It's what they do.

Meanwhile Tim Pool is in Long Beach being denied "press" status.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Travel Day

On the road today and tomorrow.

"Power Concedes Nothing... "

BREAKING: Boston Occupation "cleared."

So far, Power has conceded nothing to the Occupy Movement, not even, in many cases, their presence before the Throne. The point being to ignore the rabble, and if that doesn't work, then to punish them. That is the range of accommodation many of our rulers have decided is just and proper in dealing with the Lesser People, while many of those who rule, it would seem, have no idea there are actual "people" beneath their own lofty status. There may be numbers, animals, statistics, but not actual humans for whom one need have any care.

This attitude from Above has been customary for many years, and it is a main driver for the revolt/revolution under way. There is only so much bullshit that any people will accept from their rulers before they take matters into their own hands and politely or impolitely push back. Americans were shockingly disinclined to do that while the National Security State was being developed and implemented, but now that it has been combined with an enduring -- seemingly endless -- economic collapse together with a stolen future for the Young, there's little to be lost by rising up.

So long as one has hope for the future, at least in this country, there is little agitation. When the future is lost -- or stolen as it has been -- all bets are off.

What's going on in the halls of Power in Europe is startling for its gross stupidity and blindness. Britain pulled out of the Eurozone Plan not because of any scruples, no. It was because Britain couldn't wring something worse out of the assembled nobles and nabobs in Brussels. They wanted the unfettered ability to continue to bring economic risk and harm to everyone including the High and the Mighty. The Europeans were content with limiting harm to the Lower Orders.

But... that just makes things worse all around. Do those people get it? No? What is the problem with them?

It's the same problem with the Ruling Class practically everywhere. They have decoupled from their People to the extent that they don't even recognize them as humans. The People are -- at best -- numbers to be managed or resources to be exploited. They have no say in their governments any more. They have no status, legal, moral, or otherwise, that the Rulership believes it need pay attention to.

The Rulers serve their Masters -- and those Masters are not US.

They build Social Unrest into their spreadsheets. It's a given. The masses will be Discontent. It is How They Are. Suppression of Mass Discontent is therefore budgeted, indeed, it is given a prominent place in all government budgets. Tactics for suppression are learned and deployed globally. The People are not to be allowed to Arise, and if they try to, any Movement not sanctioned from Above (as some have been) shall be crushed forthwith.

Oh? Movements and even Revolutions "sanctioned from Above?" Of course. It's happened many times, most prominently during the dissolution of the Soviet Empire and the collapse of the Soviet Union. This was not at all an accident nor was it necessarily spontaneously generated from among the masses. It was clear to some observers at the time that these revolts were being engineered from... well, somewhere and not necessarily on site. Even the recent Arab Spring has been scrutinized for possible revolutionary engineering from elsewhere. Particularly so in the case of Libya, but seemingly so in the case of most of the others. You can almost tell whether a Revolution is "engineered" rather than spontaneous by how the US Government responds. If it is negative toward the Revolution, then it is spontaneous; if it is positive toward the Revolution then it is (or at least a significant part of it is) "engineered" from without.

There has been some chatter suggesting that the Occupy Movement is itself "engineered" by some sort of shadowy Black Op. I don't know that that's the case, but I can see why the notion might arise. For years, there was no populist movement at all in this country, then suddenly there was the Tea Party, which was self-evidently engineered. I traced its origin to the Grassfire Resistance Movement created pretty much the day of Obama's election victory -- but prepared well before it -- by a couple of Hate radio jocks tied in with the right people in the right wing. You will notice if you check the link that "Grassfire" is gone. As if it never was.

In a sense, it wasn't. It was obviously a sham "organization" to begin with. It was superseded by the Tea Party following Rick Santelli's obviously carefully prepared and presented rant against homeowners potentially getting bailed out as part of TARP or other government package. Note: there has been no homeowners' bailout, and in fact, there has never been any mention of it in the halls of Power -- except for Santelli's rant.

The Tea Party emerged fully-formed and obviously heavily funded and promoted by a plethora of Right Wing Interests from the get-go. They were spending big time and using every propaganda outlet they could get their hands on -- which was ultimately practically all of them -- to spread their message. Strangely, that message was heard and acted on with alacrity in the halls of Power. Americans had ne'er seen the like of it.

Not only was there no suppression of this "movement", there was no effort to protect the August Members of Congress who were being... openly threatened by armed TeaBaggers. This contrasted wildly with the intensity of overpolicing of dissent at the political conventions the summer before, where there were mass round ups prior to the Republican Convention, mass arrests during it, and other extraordinary suppression tactics employed.

The complete and utter lack of any such tactics employed against the 'Baggers, despite their open threats, showed as clearly as you could want that this was an "approved movement" -- even corporate- state sponsored. The scene of instigator report-backs to the Kochs was instructive. Or it should have been, if the obviousness of the Hate Radio and FOX "News" promotions weren't clues.

An irony of this sort of thing is that the nature of the beast, once recognized, has an interesting effect on the way people perceive democracy and representative government. The 'Baggers were able to force what they "wanted" into and onto government, but some of those who initially participated realized they were being used to support corporate interests not their own, that in fact they had no interests that the corporate interests needed to pay attention to. That realization is shocking when it comes -- if it comes. They realized, too, that this wasn't a genuine movement of and by the People at all. It was a corporate-government sponsored and supported "movement" intended as an illusion to mimic a mass movement, in order to ensure that corporate interests would always be... how shall I say this?... first at the table.

And so it is. Still.

Seeing how this works, though, discredits democracy in the eyes of those who witness it, and that seems to be one of the primary principles of these ersatz "revolutions".

They are called "democratic" revolutions or revolutions in support of democracy, but in the end they wind up discrediting democracy (such as has happened in the case of Iraq and elsewhere. Have you heard about Russia lately?)

We see the same sort of thing in our own government in that the Congress and President seem to have no connection with -- or interest in -- the People at all (except to manipulate them), and yet they are unable to function even on behalf of their corporate masters. Stalemate is the name of the game. We've been down this road before, and it led to Civil War -- which is not likely to happen again, but something will. Something's happening here as it is...

So the question arises, is Occupy for real or not? Given the suppression actions of Authority, it seems fairly obvious... but still, there is lingering suspicion. If the 'Baggers were a pretense, couldn't the Occupy be one as well?

Sure, but it doesn't much matter any more, because even if it were started as pretense (which it doesn't seem to have been) but instead seems to have originated as something of a lark, it has become a genuine populist/anarchist/liberationist/communitarian movement the like of which has not been seen in this country since the 1960's. Yet the Occupy Movement is quite different.

It seems completely organic and it cannot be commercialized (come on, the biggest "commercial" enterprise associated with Occupy is making buttons, and the whole thing is built around little pop up tents.) It has spread organically -- not forced at all -- through social media and the popular acceptance of an idea: A Better World Is Possible.

The fear of co-optation once was very strong. Though Dems and their associated political committees and union supporters were thought to be the most likely co-opters, the ones who were actually trying to do it (at least until recently) were the Zeitgeisters and the Ron Paul campaigners. They've largely faded away. There are actual political operatives (some from the Democratic Party) involved in some Occupations, but they do not have a controlling role, and if they ever did have one, the Occupation would rather quickly implode. However, in my view, the Movement is top-heavy with lawyers, and the lawyers have been essentially preventing the individual Occupations and the overall Movement from becoming something that actually threatens Established Power.

Lawyers want to litigate -- and this isn't a litigation Movement. I don't want to use this post to bash lawyers, but I'm not really sure the ones who are involved in the Occupations are serving the Movement more than peripherally, though their role has been central in many cases due to the large number of arrests and injuries and the many brutal and destructive suppressions.

Yet in fact, the problem is the law itself -- or rather the nature of that which gives rise to the law. Focus on law -- rather than on that which gives rise to it, our entire corrupt system -- can be crippling and devitializing. Of course, that's part of the point of litigation!

The chief risk going forward is normalization. Once the Occupy Movement becomes "normalized" it becomes part of the background noise and ultimately it becomes irrelevant. What if they had a Revolution and nobody came?

The failure of Power to concede anything of substance to the Movement, however, all but ensures that it won't be normalized or marginalized any time soon. Continuing and bigger efforts are under way that don't involve tents except as symbols. The General Strikes and the Port shut-downs and the Foreclosure resistance -- among many other actions directed at the "1%" will have a cumulative effect. The fact that so many "ordinary" people have now been directly subjected to the police state tactics used to suppress the movement (tactics that have a long history in some communities) has had the effect of awakening Americans to just what kind of a rigorous authoritarian state they live in.

Fewer and fewer are inclined to tolerate it.

What happens in Europe as Austerity grips the continent and what happens in North Africa as the Revolutions are betrayed will set the tone for the next phase of the Revolution in the US of A.

I'm sure there are think tanks pondering and forces of repression assembling.

But as we all know by now, you can't evict an idea whose time has come.

Friday, December 9, 2011


I've been sitting on this story for a while, and I still haven't fully processed it -- I mean Max Blumenthal's incendiary piece that appeared in the Exiled Online last week but which has yet to turn into the kind of explosive viral piece that it could.

In all the hoo and hah over Naomi Wolf's claim and reclaim that DHS has been coordinating the raids on the Occupy encampments, the story of Israeli participation in the training of the law enforcement teams that have been most notorious in the suppression of Occupy hasn't been that widely noticed.

It's partly because Max Blumenthal wrote about it. Max is -- of course -- the World's Top Self Hating Jew® which -- of course -- makes anything he says or does defamatory of the kind and generous people known as Jews, especially those who have returned to their ancient homeland on the balmy shores of the Mediterranean Sea from which they were so rudely expelled some two thousand years ago.

But that aside...

What he's writing about is the fact that law enforcement in this country in general has adopted "Israeli" tactics (and in some cases weapons) for putting down domestic insurrection and revolt, following the path taken by the Israelis in their dealings with the various uprisings of the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and occasionally in Israel itself.

So far as we know it hasn't come to the point of targeted assassination of Occupy "leaders" in this country yet, but there's little reason to believe that it couldn't or wouldn't happen under some scenarios. We haven't yet seen or heard of Occupy participants being disappeared, but there's little reason to believe that it couldn't happen.

But it's not merely that Israeli tactics in suppressing the Palestinians have been adopted by American security state operatives. What has got to me from practically the beginning of the Occupy Movement-cum-Revolution is that metaphorically what happened to the Jews of Europe under Nazi rule is being repeated by both the Occupiers and security forces. I doubt they are doing it consciously, and yet...

Occupy tactics include the creation of temporary intentional communities on public property. From a metaphorical perspective, these communities under tents and tarps can be seen a "ghettos" created by their inmates, which are then destroyed and utterly wiped from the face of the earth by the overwhelming power of the security state.

This scene has repeated over and over and over again, heartbreakingly if you witness it. The propaganda organs of the corporate security state have turned these violent and destructive episodes, spasms of state violence and destruction against non-violent protesters, into games, almost fun to engage in and watch. Whoo-hoo! Look at that! Come on, blow shit up!

The inmates of these temporary camps lose all their possessions in these raids, and every bit of (temporary) infrastructure and social benefit they had established in the course of the Occupation is destroyed. The Occupiers often face mass arrest -- along with bystanders and media. The Occupiers are said to be scattered and confused. They vow to return, but after the repeated destruction of the Oakland encampments, sometimes with extreme violence (for the USA but not for Israel) against the demonstrators, there is little will to repeatedly re-establish encampments once they have been destroyed. There may instead be a symbolic re-establishment -- such as one or a few tents set up and then voluntarily removed -- but no long-term encampment has been re-established once destroyed.

Strangely, there are many encampments that have gone largely unmolested by the authorities, indeed, some have been embraced and aided by them. We don't hear about those so much, but I hope to be able to write a bit more about them in the future.

The Siege has not begun for those encampments, and it may never. On the other hand, those encampments that have been under siege and eventually destroyed have obtained the status of Martyrs in the Movement. There are individual Martyrs, to be sure, such as Scott Olsen, but the destroyed encampments as a whole have each achieved Martyrdom, which is really quite a different thing than celebrating Heroes For The Cause. (As I've said before many times, I'm no hero worshipper.)

Oakland is still the central Martyr Encampment. They lost two encampments on Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza, and they lost two others elsewhere in the city as well. Yet the Oakland Occupation Movement appears to be as strong as -- if not stronger than -- ever: they are the lead Occupation for the December 12 Port Shut-Down Action. They were also in the forefront of the Stop Foreclosure Actions. I'm sure they will keep up the pressure.

The original Occupation in New York City has been undergoing a remarkable transformation into something akin to an established non-profit/NGO, but with such a legacy of direct democracy and spontaneity along an astonishing variety of demonstrations of that Other World That's Possible, that I can't see it turning into just another agency. No, they are turning into something that hasn't been seen in this country since the hey-day of Utopian Alternatives.

But back to the point of this post. There is no doubt that this country is grossly overpoliced. Absurdly so in the context of Occupy. Indeed, the temporary intentional communities that the Occupations established were or are self-generating, self-sustaining, and self-policing. There has been all kinds of whining about how much it has cost to "police" these encampments (including the costs of eviction and destruction), when it has been obvious all along that if they were just left alone, there wouldn't have been any costs at all. What is the social cost of official harassment, eviction and destruction of communities such as the Occupy encampments? What is the social cost of the wholesale destruction of communities in general that has come about due to the greed and the machinations of the "1%"?

The dozens or hundreds or thousands of police officers who have been repeatedly assembled to lay siege to and destroy encampments is an embarrassment and an absurd waste of resources.

But they want to show off, don't they?

They need to.

Don't they?

No. The answer is no. No they don't.

They are being driven to do it, though, by a culture of rulership in this country that is so completely divorced from the interests and needs of the People that it has no conception of either.

And Max Blumenthal has helped show us where some of that culture comes from.

Just stop it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Swirling Events

I tried to do some additional updates yesterday, but there was too much going on for me to keep track of coherently.

This was particularly true in San Francisco. But the swirling events of the Occupy Movement came to Sacramento as well as numerous other cities around the country and around the world.

The Movement is being suppressed everywhere, and it is growing everywhere. I wonder: is the suppression a necessary factor for the Movement's growth? When things settle down to a routine, people get on with their lives as best they can, and Occupy is merely a factor -- if even that -- in their day-to-day routines. But when Occupy is suppressed, as it is more and more, people who otherwise might not think it all that important righththisminute understand that it is "that important" and the Movement is re-energized.

When I say that "Those in power know not what they do," that's part of what I mean. Every suppression leads to greater growth.

But they do know what they are doing in some sense. They can't ultimately "win" -- that is, completely suppress the Movement and go on with their lives as if nothing had happened. Too late for that, way too late. But they seem to be following "Bush Rules" in the actions taken against the Movement. It's going on on several fronts, and I'll try to explain.

One thing I saw for example in San Francisco yesterday (on the livestream, I wasn't there in person) has been mirrored in other cities, particularly New York, but certainly not limited to New York. I was watching the live feed from the Market Street Rally after the eviction from Justin Herman Plaza (aka: "Bradley Manning Plaza"); it was relatively disorganized and spontaneous rally feeling, but the police were in heavy presence, organized into squadrons of maybe twenty or so, standing in formation here and there. Every now and then they would march around. At one point, the People were gathered on the sidewalks on either side of Market Street doing their usual things, and suddenly a squadron of police started marching from somewhere -- couldn't even tell where they came from except that it was from the direction of the Ferry Building. They marched in a squadron formation for a hundred feet or so, and then they formed a single line marching along the curb until a little past the location of the camera (it was magicmint's). Then a portion of the line formed a ring around a portion of the crowd, and from within the crowd two people were pulled out, seemingly at random, and arrested. The paddy wagon was brought forth and these two put in it and it was driven away. Then the police retreated.

Apparently this happened several times during the day.

Then that night, I was watching the gathering at Justin Herman/Bradley Manning Plaza (this was punkboy's and pixplz's feed). The People were gathering at the cleared site of the OccupySF encampment to hold their General Assembly. There were, I would guess, a few hundred people initially. The police came in squadron formations again and formed a double ring around a portion of the plaza, entrapping several dozen people inside their inner ring; most of the people were outside the rings, chanting and carrying on the way they do, but there was no violence at all. Then suddenly, right in front of the camera, police grabbed two men and pulled them roughly down into the sunken part of the plaza between the two rings of police. One appeared to be injured and in pain (it's probably a five or six foot drop into the area where he was being roughly manhandled, and there is a broad stone step that he apparently banged against before he hit the ground.) The man who appeared to be injured on the ground was roughly thrown onto his side whole the other was thrown onto his stomach and trussed with flexicuffs and then they were dragged roughly to what looked like a raised bed where the injured man was left writhing and apparently crying out in pain. I couldn't hear him, but others there could and were calling out to the police to get him medical attention. Of course, they paid no attention. There was a lot of chatter among the crowd concerning what this guy had done, and the answer was "nothing." He was just standing there with everybody else, and suddenly he was grabbed by police and thrown into the lower part of the plaza. It was impossible to tell what his injury was.

People were becoming more and more outraged at the utter cruelty the police were displaying by letting this man writhe in agony. People were calling 911 and ambulances were being sent (according to reports, I didn't see them) but the police were refusing them access to the victim due to "safety" concerns. Recall, there was no violence whatever, nor was there any threat of violence from the crowd. They simply wanted the man to receive medical attention.

The police instead let him writhe on the ground for at least a half an hour after the first Emergency Services personnel arrived (I'd say it was actually closer to an hour.) Finally, a EMT squad was allowed in, and eventually the man was put on a gurney and wheeled away.

After another couple of hours of a stand off between police and the Occupiers, and some negotiations between police and a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the police departed.

The General Assembly then continued. In triumph -- or as if nothing had happened.

The message was clear, and this is why punkboy's quote that I used as a heading in the previous post, "Fucking Nazi Germany!" is actually germane for once.

What we saw all yesterday in San Francisco were intimidation tactics that I wouldn't say were pioneered by the Nazis, but were certainly used and perfected by them. It wasn't solely Jews who suffered from these tactics by any means, but they provided a great deal of testimony about them and so their experience is the best known. But they were initially used against the political opponents of the Nazi Party and regime, particularly Communists and Social Democrats.

Raids were commonplace. They were often conducted in the dead of night when people would ordinarily be sleeping. They were conducted with overwhelming numbers of militarized police, acting essentially arbitrarily and destructively to terrorize the targets -- and the People as witnesses -- into complying with whatever the orders were. They used physical force (including summary execution) from time to time, but often didn't need to do anything more than show up to gain compliance. Even when the targets were compliant, they would often single out individuals for "special treatment" -- pulling them out of crowds and brutalizing and arresting them; people who had often done nothing at all to resist whatever aktion was under way. And anyone who did resist or tried to run was dealt with extremely harshly or fatally.

All this and more was meant to inspire extreme fear and terror in the target populations, and it worked, at least for a while. A big part of the psychology behind this brutal and arbitrary behavior by police is to terrorize the witnesses. They would do these aktions where and when many people could witness what was happening -- because they wanted people to see it. They wanted people to be afraid and to follow orders. Some of the things reported from Poland and the Ukraine (and I'm sure elsewhere) were incredibly brutal and cruel, and they were intended for the purpose of inspiring terror in the populations.

And that's what I think was happening yesterday in San Francisco. It looked objectively absurd, cruel, indeed monstrous in the case of the destruction of the camp and the arbitrary -- and apparently very painful -- arrest of the man who was pulled into the lower level of the plaza, but that's the point. That was one of the factors of the "Bush Rules" that were imposed on the various overseas wars. The point was to terrorize the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq to comply with their new overlords.

Similar rules of engagement were adopted with regard to domestic dissent as well. This arbitrary cruelty toward dissent in this country goes back at least to some of the protests during the Bush regime. But some would say it goes back to 1999 and the Battle in Seattle.

The point is to be mean, to show you're mean, and to intimidate and terrorize the People.

This is what our rulers want their militarized police forces to do.

The People, however, continue to fight back with a wide -- and growing -- range of tactics.

This isn't over yet.

Here is the video of the men being pulled through the police line onto the ground.

I saw it happen live and literally couldn't believe what I was seeing.

This is a video of some of the aftermath taken from a different angle:

I was watching this one live, too, and was saying "WTF!" over and over.


Black Bloc gets such a bad rap, but this is fucking brilliant!



Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Fucking Nazi Germany"

I've been watching PunkBoyinSF's recorded livestreams from the raid on Occupy San Francisco's camp this morning. I've seen so many of these raids by now, so many arrests, so much official destruction by the Authorities, so much terror in the night that I ought to be able to just sit back and see it as some kind of strange reality show and leave it at that.

But I can't. Every time something like this happens, it tears me up. And every time, I get angrier and angrier.

If it is happening to me -- watching this shit on my computer, sometimes live, sometimes hours or days after the fact -- I can only imagine how it must be affecting those who are there as it happens.

Those in power know not what they do.

This is the first of PunkBoyinSF's videos from this morning's raid.

The rest are here:


Linky dinky


Dreg Studios

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Occupy Our Homes March in New York -- UStream from Tim Pool

Occupy Our Homes

Occupy Our Homes from Housing is a Human Right on Vimeo.

This is a day of national action highlighting the shame of millions upon millions of foreclosures in the last three years, many of them fraudulent and illegal, contrasted with the titanic profits of the bailed out banks that have been so relentlessly throwing people out if their homes during the economic meltdown.

Millions and millions of Americans have been forced into poverty since 2007, and more and more of them are winding up homeless, yet millions upon millions of homes lie vacant all over the land, seized properties that are little more than a glut on the market.

1) Do not dispossess or evict any more Americans.

2) Make foreclosed properties available to those who lack shelter

3) Refinance all existing mortgages at .01% interest; reduce principle by 50% or more.

4) Nationalize all TBTF banks.

How Rude

Melbourne Tent Monster Defrocked by the Authorities.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Occupy Melbourne Tent Monsters

"All we are saying is give tents a chance..."

Chris Hedges Explains It All For You At Harvard Yard

November 28. This is part 2 of 3:

This is part 3 of 3:


Oh. Part 1:

Occupy Swan Song -- or Metamorphosis?

Walker Prettyman, 15, of Portland, Oregon; bludgeoned by police in riot gear at a demonstration at Shemanski Park, Portland, December 3, 2011

The media and its associated government PR departments are doing a good deal of high stepping and baton twirling over the Stunning Success of the Nationwide Repress The Occupy Campaign that climaxed with the Spectacular Evictions of the Largest Remaining Encampment in Los Angeles and Other Remaining One in Philadelphia.

And with their high stepping and baton twirling has gone their burning question of whether This Icky Occupy Thing (Ew) is Over With (or Not). They desperately want it to be done with and gone, but given the nature of the beast they can't be sure that these latest Big Ticket Evictions have done the trick.

It's hard to say, isn't it, given that OWS itself has taken office space -- I mean actually leased it -- in Manhattan and most of its activities have moved indoors to what I heard yesterday referred to as "The Deutsche Bank Lobby." How much more "legitimate" and co-opted can you be?

What's next? A Board of Directors and 501(c)(3) status, together with a 501(c)(4) and a PAC? Lobbying your representatives in Congress Assembled? High profile funders? All the trappings of Business as Usual?

If that is the course taken, then the recent evictions and arrests and incidents of brutality really are the Swan Song of the Movement-turned-Aborted Revolution. In some areas, it seems that's been the plan all along.

In other areas radical activists are taking a break for the weather and to regroup. There is no obvious intent to "regularize." In yet other areas, Occupation energy is being re-focused on particularly egregious incidents of foreclosure and other bankster shenanigans.

There have been thousands and thousands of arrests associated with Occupy, and hundreds and hundreds of people have been injured by police action. Deployment of riot police and robocops to suppress Occupations has become routine. In Los Angeles it was a sort of cinematic spectacle.

So far as we know, none of the Occupy demonstrators has actually be disappeared or killed in these actions, but our knowledge isn't complete. There have serious injuries, and some dozens -- or perhaps hundreds -- of demonstrators are being held or prosecuted as political prisoners.

We are seeing the tip of the actual Police State in action. There is far more to it than we will ever see. Think Stasi -- there was the part that everybody in East Germany knew about because they could see it and feel it and practically taste it every day. Then there was the whole subterranean Security State apparat they only found out about after the fall of the German Democratic Republic.

We're only seeing a tiny part of the National Security State in operation against the Occupiers. But we are being shown just enough to put the Fear into us.

Above is another image captured by the Oregonian last night of the police action against the Occupiers at Shemanski Park. Of course it is excessive, ridiculous, absurd. It's intended to frighten the shit -- and the rebellion -- out of you, too.

There was a time citizens would demand justice in circumstances like this. But those times are long gone. We have learned that little or no official action will be taken against any officer who uses excessive force -- even deadly force -- in the conduct of his or her duties. Period.

When big bellied Southern sheriffs did things like this in the Old Days, large parts of the nation cried out in rage. No more. Today, large parts of the nation celebrate acts of repression like this -- even when they agree with the Occupiers tenets.

Wherever Occupations have been deliberately repressed, they have sought to remake themselves rather than to disappear. Our Indignado friends in Spain have an especially long and deep experience in this process. The Indignados haven't gone away by any means, in fact, they have spread throughout Europe.

In this country, every time an Occupation is repressed or evicted, the elements of it spread throughout the region. Spontaneity is part of the process of evolution, and spontaneous actions -- whether they be the take-over of abandoned buildings as in New York, Seattle, Oakland and elsewhere, or the defense of foreclosed homeowners, which seems to be going on everywhere -- keep the Movement alive and limber. Despite the official efforts at repression, there is no way to keep a lid on such spontaneous -- and often simultaneous -- dispersed actions.

As yet, however, those in the seats of power have not yielded or even offered anything of substance to the Occupiers or on behalf of the Movement. Indeed, the refusal to offer anything of substance is part and parcel of the official contempt for the Movement/Revolution and its instigators (on the premise that you don't negotiate with "terrorists"). Increasingly violent repression is the only official response to the Occupations -- except on some University campuses, where routine police violence is being replaced with "dialog" (albeit without any concessions to demands).

While some are eager to declare the Occupy Movement over, more likely we will see a metamorphosis into quite a different animal by next spring.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Meanwhile The Guillotines Are Out

Tumbrils next, eh?

The symbolism is terrific, not sure about the message -- not that I haven't suggested that the wrong people are going to Judgement myself... 5,000 arrested Occupiers vs 0 arrested Banksters. Something ain't right.

From Occupy LA

Interviews with Occupy LA Arrestees

From OccupyFreedomLA:

The Naomi Wolf - DHS Thing

< snort>

Aren't blogospheric pissing contests fun?

Jeebus Christmas dancing on a savory Triscuit Wafer.

Rob Johnson Explains It All For You

Austerity sucks hard, and it's stoopid too:

I've started the clip at the Austerity bit, but it's well worth watching the whole thing.

Why the Testimony of Two White Guys Who Got Arrested in LA Matters at All

The reaction to Levine's and Lyle's arrests and the conditions of their detentions is interesting. Given the fact that close to 5,000 have been arrested and detained in the last few months as part of the National OWS Suppression Campaign, why these two should matter in the least is a question to ponder. Given the fact that hundreds of thousands, nay millions, of black and brown people in this country have been arrested and detained under similar if not worse conditions for many years "and nobody cared" why should these two privileged white boys matter? Why should anybody care what happens to them? This is America. You make your own future here, boys.

This is a typical authoritarian response to the arrest and detention of Yasha Levine that was penned by one "jmc" at Naked Capitalism:

Jeeze, this Levine guy, what a whiny little idiot.

Guess what? When the LAPD tell you to disperse, you disperse. It does not matter how self-righteous you are. The law is the law. Dont like it. Run for office and change it. Cannot persuade enough people to vote for you. Tough. Get over it.

This whole piece reeks of middle class arrogance and entitlement. How dare the police treat me just like anyone else when the get arrested after resisting the police and verbally abusing them.

Create a confrontational situation then dont be too surprised when those whose job it is to enforce the law dont go out of their way to be nice to you.

I don't mean to single it out for any particular reason. It's not exceptional at all. Practically every Internet Authoritarianist uses almost exactly the same declarative statements in their denunciation of anyone who has the temerity to report their experiences in the custody of police and suggest that something isn't right about it.

The absolute conformity of Authoritarianist propaganda (at least on the internet) about arrest, custody, and detention practices in this country is startling. It's as if these declarative statements are churned out by the gross -- on mimeograph machines! -- for distribution to the masses. Who is making these statements?

I found an interesting situation over at the LA Times. They posted a list of those who were arrested in the sweep following the eviction of the Occupy LA encampment. The story that was emerging in the comments, from people who were there and in many cases who were arrested -- including Tyler Lyle, whose testimony I found linked in the LA Times comments -- was very different than the Official Story (which of course was promulgated by the Mayor and his Police Chief at their news conference linked in a post below. A singular poster, calling himself "Jim Browne" and using the seal of the city of Los Angeles, was taking on any and all who had anything negative to say about the treatment arrestees testified to, mostly using the common Authoritarianist gambit quoted above. This went round and round and round yesterday.

When I checked the thread today, most of Mr. Browne's posts were gone, though responses to them remained. A few of Browne's comments remained, though, such as this:

Sue Basko you are clueless on the law and you are just talking shit out your ass and know NOTHING! You think that the Los Angeles Jailers falsify information so you can get a free Lawyer. i am not even going to explain why THAT is a stupid statement. You think that me using the city seal on FB is a felony. Another stupid statement. You show up to a protest with your idiot son where you KNOW people have been warned days prior to get out because it's illegal to be there or face arrest and then you claim you were not given time to leave? YOU KNEW YOU WEREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE FROM DAYS BEFORE! You're such an Idiot! If you were trying to leave the protest because of the warning then you would have been trying to leave days prior when THAT warning was given. You are a lying piece of shit. When you get arrested, you are treated accordingly. You say that Police attack when they are just making the most non violent arrests I have ever seen. I can go on about the stupid things you have said here.

Which provides a sense of the flavor of his other posts. I assume this one remained because it hadn't been deleted yet, either by the LA Times moderator or by Browne himself, since the comment thread is through Facebook and posters can modify or delete their own comments on Facebook.. well, so far as I know. I'm not really that up on the intricacies of the Facebook.

However, the level of innate cruelty and hostility toward protesters and protest on display in these two not exactly random -- but nevertheless highly representative -- posts is instructive. Animosity toward "rebels" of any kind is as integral to the internet as is media criticism. Denunciation of street protest is likewise hard-wired into the system and any discussion that arises therefrom. It is guaranteed to generate lots of comment, and that's what it's all about, né?

Whole internet careers are based on that very fact, after all.

But my point here is not that. Instead, I'm dealing with the necessity of testimony.

I've been surprised at the general lack of testimony -- about arrests and detentions especially -- during the first phase of the OWS Uprising. It was especially apparent to me after the arrests on September 24th and then after the mass arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1. In fact, at the time, it seemed like the OWS Movement was trying to obscure the arrests and the nature and conditions of detention, and even seemed to be trying to airbrush the incidents of police brutality that were gaining immense notice around the world. I did not understand this delicacy about arrests, detention, and official brutality toward the protests and protesters, and I still don't. It didn't make sense at the time.

There are still very few testimonies from that time period.

As time passed, more and more people came forward with their testimony, but still very few in the context of the thousands upon thousands who have been arrested and the hundreds and hundreds who have been injured in the National Crackdown on OWS.

So when testimonies like those of Tyler Lyle and Yasha Levine are posted, I think they are important and necessary -- and to date, largely absent -- documentation of the nature of the Police State The Revolution is up against. The notion that critics like to spread, that "It's Not As Bad as Somewhere Else" is absurd on its face.

How bad it is somewhere else is another discussion altogether. What needs to be highlighted is how bad it is here and how much worse it is becoming, despite all the Happy Talk from officials about how they haven't actually killed anybody yet (at least no one that we know of.)

"But black and brown people have been treated this way for all of the history of this country...!" Yes, yes they have. Nobody denies that. "So you're just upset that white boys are getting a taste of what's been done to black and brown people since forever!" No, not at all. If there were testimony from black and brown people about what they have been subjected to -- in the context of the OWS Movement -- I would be featuring it, too. The fact is that testimony of any kind about what black and brown people are experiencing under arrest and in custody in connection with the OWS Movement is as rare as any other.

And we need more testimony.

Unless people hear about and understand the nature of the Police State that is being deployed against the OWS Movement, from the perspective of those who are being subjected to it, it is very difficult to grasp the overall nature of the Police State we live in.

So far, most of what people "know" about it and most of the information they have access to is from the perspective of the Police State itself.

We need more testimony from the victims.

And I say this as someone who has been dealing with these issues for decades.

It's not that A Couple of White Guys were arrested in LA the other night. It is that they have published -- and I was able to find -- their testimony.