occupy

Making Nazis Afraid Again


gc2smFrom the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on October 17, 2017

“There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part…  And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop! ”

 ― Mario Savio, 1964  

 


They say that history runs in cycles. If so, it's fascism's turn at the top of the wheel after an 80-year absence. And in the same way that fascism in the 1930s elicited a counter-reaction, it elicits one today in the form of antifa.

In reports of the recent Catelan bid for independence, one hears echoes of an 80 year old conflict. Catalonia was once a key anarchist/republican hub during the Spanish Civil War, and a locus of anti-Franco sentiment. (For an analysis of the current state of things in Catalonia, see Pepe Escobar here.)

Images of the Catelan election, of bully cops assaulting women, then firefighters protecting voters, remind how Franco pressed fascism on Spain 80 years ago. With nationalism and nativism at high tide, we watch citronella Nazis march with tiki torches in Charlottesville, and remember Father Coughlin and the "America Firsters" of the 1930s. The New Fascism is emboldened by the most baldly authoritarian "president" ever, bolstered by a cabinet full of white supremacists and Goldman Sachs vampires.

No one should be surprised: it's been decades in coming.  Whether it's wealth transfer via  regressive ("trickle-down") economic policies, or via a tireless insistence on empire,  or bottomless spending on "defense," authoritarianism has marched into American life. All endorsed by fully a third of our fellow citizens. Never forget that even as Richard Fucking Nixon boarded the helicopter to eternal disgrace, he still had the backing of 24 per cent of the public.

The self-described "alt-right" is old swill sold in a new bottle. This dark streak of conservatism has been part of the American psyche ever since Nathaniel Bacon's uprising drove Governor Berkeley and his hangers-on to the swamps of Virginia's Eastern Shore. The current flavor pulls together neonazis, republiconfederates, evangelicals, skinheads, white separatists, nationalists, sovereign citizens, klansmen, culture warriors, Christian Identity fuckwits, anti-LGBTs, anti-immigrants, holocaust deniers and haters of all stripes into a fetid hellbroth. They are rebranded and hip, sporting Macklemore "Hitler Youth" fade haircuts, white polos, beige Dockers, and  carefully-crafted language, the better to shun the Nazi tag while hewing to the ideology.

When these people announce their gatherings, opponents gather themselves. Enter antifa. Antifa (short for antifascist or Anti-Fascist Action) can be defined as the confrontational response to fascist groups, rooted in militant left-wing and anarchist politics. I first become aware of antifa on Inauguration Day, when a masked activist punched white-supremacist leader Richard Spencer in the face, an act which spawned many memes and remixes. 

 

You don't sign up for Antifa at the local strip mall. The movement’s secrecy makes tracking its activities difficult, but antifa’s power is growing, as evidenced by social media posts from pearl-clutching right wingers whining and complaining about them. The young people who make up antifa remind me of the brave souls who comprised the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, who saw the threat of fascism early on and tried to stop it in the Spanish Civil War.   

Disclaimer: I have no personal experience with Antifa as a member or participant. At this point, I am sufficiently gimpy as to not be able to take part in any street action, and felt fortunate to limp along with Occupy. Many of the tactics of Antifa seem to have sprung from the anarchist or "black bloc" members of Occupy, who were among some of its most committed members.

Antifa traces its roots to the 1920s and ’30s, when militant leftists battled fascists in the streets of Germany, Italy, and Spain. In 1936, nationalist rebels under General Francisco Franco staged an uprising designed to topple the Spanish government.  The Spanish army split, some supporting the Republican (government side), but most supporting Franco.  Soon Spain was plunged into an open civil war, one that would rage for three years and ultimately lead to a Nationalist dictatorship under Franco.

The Abraham Lincoln Brigade were Americans who volunteered to fight the fascists in Spain. In an interview with James Fernandez, professor at New York University and member of the the board of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archive, Jeremy Scahill has some light on this little remembered episode of history still relevant today:

Fernandez: The horrors of World War II have totally eclipsed our memory of Spain. But in 1936, ’37, ’38, Spain was Syria, Spain was the place on the map where it looked like the future of the planet was being played out. And all thinking people were talking and thinking and worrying about Spain, in their literature and newsreels and radio broadcasts.

And there were vast communities of intensely mobilized folks that started mainly as pacifists they were, they were, “Against War and Fascism” was the organization and slogan of a lot of these folks up until ’36, let’s say, but once things evolved some more, they realized that the only way to put down fascism was to, in this case, they kind of put brackets around being against war, and actually taking the war to the fascists in Spain.

The volunteers that went is almost 3,000, we think 2,800 is our best guess now. And like I said, they came mostly from intensely mobilized communities all over the United States. A lot of them were immigrants or children of immigrants, most of them were from large cities, they were trade unionists, a lot of them were members of the Communist Party, the socialists, anarchists, but generally leftist folk who saw the menace of fascism and took the incredible step of trying to do something about it.

And they did. Many remember this period today through the lens of Ernest Hemingway's writing. For Whom the Bell Tolls is Hem's opus, set in 1937 with the Spanish Civil War in full swing. Robert Graves, a lantern-jawed Anglo Saxon, was not representative of the thousands who answered the call. Most were immigrants, active leftists, organized. A far cry from Hemingway's hero.

The Lincoln Brigade made up a small part of the International Brigades which included about 45,000 volunteers. Relatively speaking, the Americans were a drop in the bucket. Of the 2800 or so that served in Spain, almost 1/3 lost their lives.  Included were dozens of black Americans, many of whom saw in Spanish Nationalism a reflection of the Jim Crow racism they themselves had experienced in the US.  At a time of legal segregation in the US as a result of the Plessy decision forty years earlier, these black Americans found acceptance as comrades in arms in Spain.  

They engaged the fascists for several years, but the numbers (and war materiel from Germany) proved too difficult to resist. When the war ended with a Franco victory in 1939, Americans who had served in Spain were seen as radicals and troublemakers. The post WWII anti-communist sentiment led to a narrative erasure of these men and their sacrifice.So when elements of "antifa" erupt in response to fascist demonstrations, I take heart. Antifa gives me faith that the upcoming generation has grabbed the baton, and that the will to resist remains strong.

For those who want to read more about antifa, I recommend Natasha Lennard's magnificent article in The Nation here. It inspired the title of the article.

…the history of anti-fascism (antifa) is not one of presuming the good faith of state power. It is not one of asking. It is a history of direct and confrontational intervention—the sort of which is itself often not protected by a rights framework.

We are, to take some liberties with the words of Inglourious Basterds’ inimitable Lt. Aldo Raine, in the fightin’-Nazis business. Antifa is a promise to neo-Nazis and their bedfellows that we will confront them in the streets; we will expose them online and inform their place of employ. We are not asking venues to deny space to far-right events; we are vowing that all far-right events will be bombarded and besieged.

When I read that "Antifa is planning civil war on Nov.4, or "Antifa is planning to kill Christians," I smile, secure in the knowledge that what bullies fear most is the brave soul willing to stand up and call their bluff. Our next generation seems ready and willing. As I remain secure that the great arc of history bends towards justice.

Resist!


banksy 07-flower-thrower-wallpaperSurly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, screeds and spittle-flecked invective here and elsewhere. He lives in Southeastern Virginia with his wife Contrary, and is working to be featured on an enemies list compiled by the administration of Dolt 45.

The Anti-Empire Report #134

From the Keyboard of William Blum
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Published originally in The Anti-Empire Report November 19, 2014

Russia invades Ukraine. Again. And again. And yet again … using Saddam’s WMD

“Russia reinforced what Western and Ukrainian officials described as a stealth invasion on Wednesday [August 27], sending armored troops across the border as it expanded the conflict to a new section of Ukrainian territory. The latest incursion, which Ukraine’s military said included five armored personnel carriers, was at least the third movement of troops and weapons from Russia across the southeast part of the border this week.”

None of the photos accompanying this New York Times story online showed any of these Russian troops or armored vehicles.

“The Obama administration,” the story continued, “has asserted over the past week that the Russians had moved artillery, air-defense systems and armor to help the separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk. ‘These incursions indicate a Russian-directed counteroffensive is likely underway’, Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said. At the department’s daily briefing in Washington, Ms. Psaki also criticized what she called the Russian government’s ‘unwillingness to tell the truth’ that its military had sent soldiers as deep as 30 miles inside Ukraine territory.”

Thirty miles inside Ukraine territory and not a single satellite photo, not a camera anywhere around, not even a one-minute video to show for it. “Ms. Psaki apparently [sic] was referring to videos of captured Russian soldiers, distributed by the Ukrainian government.” The Times apparently forgot to inform its readers where they could see these videos.

“The Russian aim, one Western official said, may possibly be to seize an outlet to the sea in the event that Russia tries to establish a separatist enclave in eastern Ukraine.”

This of course hasn’t taken place. So what happened to all these Russian soldiers 30 miles inside Ukraine? What happened to all the armored vehicles, weapons, and equipment?

“The United States has photographs that show the Russian artillery moved into Ukraine, American officials say. One photo dated last Thursday, shown to a New York Times reporter, shows Russian military units moving self-propelled artillery into Ukraine. Another photo, dated Saturday, shows the artillery in firing positions in Ukraine.”

Where are these photographs? And how will we know that these are Russian soldiers? And how will we know that the photos were taken in Ukraine? But most importantly, where are the fucking photographs?

Why am I so cynical? Because the Ukrainian and US governments have been feeding us these scare stories for eight months now, without clear visual or other evidence, often without even common sense. Here are a few of the many other examples, before and after the one above:

  • The Wall Street Journal (March 28) reported: “Russian troops massing near Ukraine are actively concealing their positions and establishing supply lines that could be used in a prolonged deployment, ratcheting up concerns that Moscow is preparing for another [sic] major incursion and not conducting exercises as it claims, US officials said.”
  • “The Ukrainian government charged that the Russian military was not only approaching but had actually crossed the border into rebel-held regions.” (Washington Post, November 7)
  • “U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove told reporters in Bulgaria that NATO had observed Russian tanks, Russian artillery, Russian air defense systems and Russian combat troops enter Ukraine across a completely wide-open border with Russia in the previous two days.” (Washington Post, November 13)
  • “Ukraine accuses Russia of sending more soldiers and weapons to help rebels prepare for a new offensive. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied aiding the separatists.” (Reuters, November 16)

Since the February US-backed coup in Ukraine, the State Department has made one accusation after another about Russian military actions in Eastern Ukraine without presenting any kind of satellite imagery or other visual or documentary evidence; or they present something that’s very unclear and wholly inconclusive, such as unmarked vehicles, or unsourced reports, or citing “social media”; what we’re left with is often no more than just an accusation. The Ukrainian government has matched them.

On top of all this we should keep in mind that if Moscow decided to invade Ukraine they’d certainly provide air cover for their ground forces. There has been no mention of air cover.

This is all reminiscent of the numerous stories in the past three years of “Syrian planes bombing defenseless citizens”. Have you ever seen a photo or video of a Syrian government plane dropping bombs? Or of the bombs exploding? When the source of the story is mentioned, it’s almost invariably the rebels who are fighting against the Syrian government. Then there’s the “chemical weapon” attacks by the same evil Assad government. When a photo or video has accompanied the story I’ve never once seen grieving loved ones or media present; not one person can be seen wearing a gas mask. Is it only children killed or suffering? No rebels?

And then there’s the July 17 shootdown of Malaysia Flight MH17, over eastern Ukraine, taking 298 lives, which Washington would love to pin on Russia or the pro-Russian rebels. The US government – and therefore the US media, the EU, and NATO – want us all to believe it was the rebels and/or Russia behind it. The world is still waiting for any evidence. Or even a motivation. Anything at all. President Obama is not waiting. In a talk on November 15 in Australia, he spoke of “opposing Russia’s aggression against Ukraine – which is a threat to the world, as we saw in the appalling shoot-down of MH17”. Based on my reading, I’d guess that it was the Ukranian government behind the shootdown, mistaking it for Putin’s plane that reportedly was in the area.

Can it be said with certainty that all the above accusations were lies? No, but the burden of proof is on the accusers, and the world is still waiting. The accusers would like to create the impression that there are two sides to each question without actually having to supply one of them.

The United States punishing Cuba

For years American political leaders and media were fond of labeling Cuba an “international pariah”. We haven’t heard that for a very long time. Perhaps one reason is the annual vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution which reads: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. This is how the vote has gone (not including abstentions):

Year Votes (Yes-No) No Votes
1992 59-2 US, Israel
1993 88-4 US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay
1994 101-2 US, Israel
1995 117-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1996 138-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1997 143-3 US, Israel, Uzbekistan
1998 157-2 US, Israel
1999 155-2 US, Israel
2000 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2001 167-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2002 173-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2003 179-3 US, Israel, Marshall Islands
2004 179-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2005 182-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2006 183-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2007 184-4 US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau
2008 185-3 US, Israel, Palau
2009 187-3 US, Israel, Palau
2010 187-2 US, Israel
2011 186-2 US, Israel
2012 188-3 US, Israel, Palau
2013 188-2 US, Israel
2014 188-2 US, Israel

This year Washington’s policy may be subject to even more criticism than usual due to the widespread recognition of Cuba’s response to the Ebola outbreak in Africa.

Each fall the UN vote is a welcome reminder that the world has not completely lost its senses and that the American empire does not completely control the opinion of other governments.

Speaking before the General Assembly before last year’s vote, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez declared: “The economic damages accumulated after half a century as a result of the implementation of the blockade amount to $1.126 trillion.” He added that the blockade “has been further tightened under President Obama’s administration”, some 30 US and foreign entities being hit with $2.446 billion in fines due to their interaction with Cuba.

However, the American envoy, Ronald Godard, in an appeal to other countries to oppose the resolution, said:

The international community … cannot in good conscience ignore the ease and frequency with which the Cuban regime silences critics, disrupts peaceful assembly, impedes independent journalism and, despite positive reforms, continues to prevent some Cubans from leaving or returning to the island. The Cuban government continues its tactics of politically motivated detentions, harassment and police violence against Cuban citizens.

So there you have it. That is why Cuba must be punished. One can only guess what Mr. Godard would respond if told that more than 7,000 people were arrested in the United States during the Occupy Movement’s first 8 months of protest in 2011-12 ; that many of them were physically abused by the police; and that their encampments were violently destroyed.

Does Mr. Godard have access to any news media? Hardly a day passes in America without a police officer shooting to death an unarmed person.

As to “independent journalism” – What would happen if Cuba announced that from now on anyone in the country could own any kind of media? How long would it be before CIA money – secret and unlimited CIA money financing all kinds of fronts in Cuba – would own or control most of the media worth owning or controlling?

The real reason for Washington’s eternal hostility toward Cuba has not changed since the revolution in 1959 – The fear of a good example of an alternative to the capitalist model; a fear that has been validated repeatedly over the years as many Third World countries have expressed their adulation of Cuba.

How the embargo began: On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, wrote in an internal memorandum: “The majority of Cubans support Castro … The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. … every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.” Mallory proposed “a line of action which … makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.”

Later that year, the Eisenhower administration instituted its suffocating embargo against its everlasting enemy.

The United States judging and punishing the rest of the world

In addition to Cuba, Washington currently is imposing economic and other sanctions against Burma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, China, North Korea, South Korea, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Turkey, Germany, Malaysia, South Africa, Mexico, South Sudan, Sudan, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, India, and Zimbabwe. These are sanctions mainly against governments, but also against some private enterprises; there are also many other sanctions against individuals not included here.

Imbued with a sense of America’s moral superiority and “exceptionalism”, each year the State Department judges the world, issuing reports evaluating the behavior of all other nations, often accompanied by sanctions of one kind or another. There are different reports rating how each lesser nation has performed in the previous year in areas such as religious freedom, human rights, the war on drugs, trafficking in persons, and sponsors of terrorism. The criteria used in these reports are often political. Cuba, for example, is always listed as a sponsor of terrorism whereas anti-Castro exile groups in Florida, which have committed literally hundreds of terrorist acts over the years, are not listed as terrorist groups or supporters of such.

Cuba, which has been on the sponsor-of-terrorism list longer (since 1982) than any other country, is one of the most glaring anomalies. The most recent State Department report on this matter, in 2012, states that there is “no indication that the Cuban government provided weapons or paramilitary training to terrorist groups.” There are, however, some retirees of Spain’s Basque terrorist group ETA (which appears on the verge of disbanding) in Cuba, but the report notes that the Cuban government evidently is trying to distance itself from them by denying them services such as travel documents. Some members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have been allowed into Cuba, but that was because Cuba was hosting peace talks between the FARC and the Colombian government, which the report notes.

The US sanctions mechanism is so effective and formidable that it strikes fear (of huge fines) into the hearts of banks and other private-sector organizations that might otherwise consider dealing with a listed state.

Some selected thoughts on American elections and democracy

In politics, as on the sickbed, people toss from one side to the other, thinking they will be more comfortable.
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

  • 2012 presidential election:
    223,389,800 eligible to vote
    128,449,140 actually voted
    Obama got 65,443,674 votes
    Obama was thus supported by 29.3% of eligible voters
  • There are 100 million adults in the United States who do not vote. This is a very large base from which an independent party can draw millions of new votes.
  • If God had wanted more of us to vote in elections, he would give us better candidates.
  • “The people can have anything they want. The trouble is, they do not want anything. At least they vote that way on election day.” – Eugene Debs, American socialist leader (1855-1926)
  • “If persons over 60 are the only American age group voting at rates that begin to approximate European voting, it’s because they’re the only Americans who live in a welfare state – Medicare, Social Security, and earlier, GI loans, FHA loans.” – John Powers
  • “The American political system is essentially a contract between the Republican and Democratic parties, enforced by federal and state two-party laws, all designed to guarantee the survival of both no matter how many people despise or ignore them.” – Richard Reeves (1936- )
  • The American electoral system, once the object of much national and international pride, has slid inexorably from “one person, one vote”, to “one dollar, one vote”.
  • Noam Chomsky: “It is important to bear in mind that political campaigns are designed by the same people who sell toothpaste and cars. Their professional concern in their regular vocation is not to provide information. Their goal, rather, is deceit.”
  • If the Electoral College is such a good system, why don’t we have it for local and state elections?
  • “All the props of a democracy remain intact – elections, legislatures, media – but they predominantly function at the service of the oligarchy.” – Richard Wolff
  • The RepDem Party holds elections as if they were auctions; indeed, an outright auction for the presidency would be more efficient. To make the auction more interesting we need a second party, which must at a minimum be granted two privileges: getting on the ballot in all 50 states and taking part in television debates.
  • The US does in fact have two parties: the Ins and the Outs … the evil of two lessers.
  • Alexander Cockburn: “There was a time once when ‘lesser of two evils’ actually meant something momentous, like the choice between starving to death on a lifeboat, or eating the first mate.”
  • Cornel West has suggested that it’s become difficult to even imagine what a free and democratic society, without great concentrations of corporate power, would look like, or how it would operate.
  • The United States now resembles a police state punctuated by elections.
  • How many voters does it take to change a light bulb? None. Because voters can’t change anything.
  • H.L. Mencken (1880-1956): “As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”
  • “All elections are distractions. Nothing conceals tyranny better than elections.” – Joel Hirschhorn
  • In 1941, one of the country’s more acerbic editors, a priest named Edward Dowling, commented: “The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.”
  • “Elections are a necessary, but certainly not a sufficient, condition for democracy. Political participation is not just a casting of votes. It is a way of life.” – UN Human Development Report, 1993
  • “If you don’t vote, you can’t complain!” I reply, “You have it backwards. If you DO vote, you can’t complain. You asked for it, and they’re going to give it to you, good and hard.”
  • “How to get people to vote against their interests and to really think against their interests is very clever. It’s the cleverest ruling class that I have ever come across in history. It’s been 200 years at it. It’s superb.” – Gore Vidal
  • We can’t use our democracy/our vote to change the way the economy functions. This is very anti-democratic.
  • What does a majority vote mean other than that the sales campaign was successful?
  • Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius: “The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject.”
  • We do have representative government. The question is: Who does our government represent?
  • “On the day after the 2002 election I watched a crawl on the bottom of the CNN news screen. It said, ‘Proprietary software may make inspection of electronic voting systems impossible.’ It was the final and absolute coronation of corporate rights over democracy; of money over truth.” – Mike Ruppert, RIP
  • “It’s not that voting is useless or stupid; rather, it’s the exaggeration of the power of voting that has drained the meaning from American politics.” – Michael Ventura
  • After going through the recent national, state and local elections, I am now convinced that taxation without representation would have been a much better system.
  • “Ever since the Constitution was illegally foisted on the American people we have lived in a blatant plutocracy. The Constitution was drafted in secret by a self-appointed elite committee, and it was designed to bring three kinds of power under control: Royalty, the Church, and the People. All were to be subjugated to the interests of a wealthy elite. That’s what republics were all about. And that’s how they have functioned ever since.” – Richard K. Moore
  • “As demonstrated in Russia and numerous other countries, when faced with a choice between democracy without capitalism or capitalism without democracy, Western elites unhesitatingly embrace the latter.” – Michael Parenti
  • “The fact that a supposedly sophisticated electorate had been stampeded by the cynical propaganda of the day threw serious doubt on the validity of the assumptions underlying parliamentary democracy as a whole.” – British Superspy for the Soviets Kim Philby (1912-1988), explaining his reasons for becoming a Communist instead of turning to the Labour Party
  • US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis (1856-1941): “We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both.”
  • “We don’t need to run America like a business or like the military. We need to run America like a democracy.” – Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate 2012

Notes

  1. Democracy Now!, October 30, 2013
  2. Huffingfton Post, May 3, 2012
  3. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI, Cuba(1991), p.885 (online here)
  4. For the complete detailed list, see U.S. Department of State, Nonproliferation Sanctions
  5. U.S. Department of State, “Country Reports on Terrorism 2012, Chapter 3: State Sponsors of Terrorism,” May 20, 2013

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

William Blum is an author, historian, and renowned critic of U.S. foreign policy. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, among others.

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

 

Entire “Occupy Central” Protest Scripted in Washington

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

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Published on Land Destroyer on October 5, 2014

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Protest co-organizer Martin Lee sets stage, introduces “Occupy Central” characters in April 2014 talk before US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy.

October 5, 2014 (Tony Cartalucci – LD) – The slogans, leaders, and agenda of the “Occupy Central” movement are supposedly the manifestations of Hong Kong’s desire for “total democracy,” “universal suffrage,” and “freedom.” In reality, the leaders of “Occupy Central” are verified to be directly backed, funded, and directed by the US State Department, its National Endowment for Democracy (NED), and its subsidiary, the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

Despite admitting this overwhelming evidence, many “Occupy Central” supporters still insist the protests are genuine and now some propose that the “Occupy Central” leadership does not truly represent the people of Hong Kong. While the leadership of “Occupy Central” indeed in no way represent the people of Hong Kong, the fact still remains that the protest itself was prearranged at least as early as April 2014, revealed by “Occupy Central” co-organizers Martin Lee and Anson Chan before NED in Washington DC.

The talk titled, “Why Democracy in Hong Kong Matters,” spanned an hour, with NED regional vice president Louisa Greve leading the duo through a full introduction of the “Occupy Central” movement, its characters, agenda, demands, and talking points. Anson Chan – Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary under British rule – in particular, with her perfect British accent, insisted repeatedly that the issue was China’s apparent backtracking on “deals” made with the UK over the handover of Hong Kong in the late 1990’s.

Lee, as well as members of the audience, repeatedly stated that Hong Kong’s role was to “infect” mainland China with its Western-style institutions, laws, and interests. Lee also repeatedly appealed to Washington specifically to ensure they remained committed to defending American interests in Hong Kong.

Both Lee and Chan would also state that since China appears to be concerned over global perception of how it rules its people, this could be exploited to excise from Beijing concessions over Hong Kong’s governance. This included mention of previous protests, including those led by “activist” Joshua Wong and his suspicious “Scholarism” organization that has been tracked since at least 2012 by the US State Department’s NDI. And of course, future destabilization was submitted as a viable solution to bending Beijing toward Western concessions.

For those able to listen to the entire 1 hour interview as well as questions and answers, the entire “Occupy Central” narrative is laid bare, verbatim, in Washington DC months before demonstrations began in the streets of Hong Kong. For a supposed “pro-democracy” protest seeking self-governance and self-determination and denouncing “interference” from Beijing, that their leaders are funded by foreign interests, and the plans for “Occupy Central” laid in a foreign capital is ironic at best – utter and very intentional deceit at worst.

Democracy indeed assumes self-governance and self determination. If the US State Department is colluding with, funding, and directing the politicians and protest leaders behind “Occupy Central,” the people of Hong Kong are governing and determining nothing – Washington and Wall Street are. Martin Lee and collaborator Anson Chan complain about Beijing dictating policy in Hong Kong, while they sit together in a room full of foreign interests who would dictate Hong Kong’s governance instead.

Laid bare is “Occupy Central’s” true agenda. It is not about having Hong Kong vote for who they desire to see in power, it is about getting the foreign-backed political cabal behind “Occupy Central” into power, and disarming Beijing of any means to prevent what is for all intents and purposes the “soft” recolonization of Hong Kong, and a further attempt to divide and destabilize China as a whole.

Hong Kong’s “Occupy Central” is US-backed Sedition

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

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Published on Land Destroyer on October 1, 2014

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The goal of the US in Hong Kong is clear – to turn the island into an epicenter of foreign-funded subversion with which to infect China’s mainland more directly.

October 1, 2014 (Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – Protesters of the “Occupy Central” movement in Hong Kong shout familiar slogans and adopt familiar tactics seen across the globe as part of the United States’ immense political destabilization and regime change enterprise. Identifying the leaders, following the money, and examining Western coverage of these events reveal with certainty that yet again, Washington and Wall Street are busy at work to make China’s island of Hong Kong as difficult to govern for Beijing as possible.

Naming Names: Who is Behind “Occupy Central?” 

Several names are repeatedly mentioned amid coverage of what is being called “Occupy Central,” the latest in a long line of US-engineered color revolutions, and part of America’s vast, ambitious global geopolitical reordering which started in earnest in 2011 under the guise of the so-called “Arab Spring.”

Benny Tai, a lecturer of law at the University of Hong Kong, is cited by various sources across the Western media as the primary organizer – however there are many “co-organizers” mentioned alongside him. The South China Morning Post in an article titled, “Occupy Central is on: Benny Tai rides wave of student protest to launch movement,” mentions most of them (emphasis added):

Political heavyweights including Civic Party chairwoman Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, former head of the Catholic diocese Cardinal Jospeh Zen Zi-kiun and Democratic Party founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming addressed the crowd.

The Post also mentions (emphasis added):

Jimmy Lai Chi-Ying, the embattled boss of Next Media who is under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption over donations to pan-democrat politicians, said he arrived immediately after a call from Martin Lee Chu-ming.

Benny Tai regularly attends US State Department, National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and its subsidiary the National Democratic Institute (NDI) funded and/or organized forums. Just this month, he spoke at a Design Democracy Hong Kong (NDI-funded) conference on political reform. He is also active at the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Comparative and Public Law (CCPL) – also funded by NDI. CCPL’s 2013-2014 annual report lists Benny Tai as attending at least 3 of the center’s functions, as well as heading one of the center’s projects.

Martin Lee, Jimmy Lai, and Joseph Zen are all confirmed as both leaders of the “Occupy Central” movement and collaborators with the US State Department. Martin Lee, founding chairman of the Democratic Party in Hong Kong, would even travel to the United States this year to conspire directly with NED as well as with politicians in Washington. Earlier this year, Lee would even take to the stage of NED’s event “Why Democracy in Hong Kong Matters.” Joining him at the NED-organized event was Anson Chan, another prominent figure currently supporting the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong’s streets.

Media mogul Jimmy Lai was reported to have met with Neo-Con and former president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz in June 2014. China Daily would report in an article titled, “Office opposes foreign interference in HK,” that:

A special edition of Eastweek showed Lai, owner of Next Media and Apple Daily, meeting Paul Wolfowitz, a former US deputy secretary of defense in George W. Bush’s administration. The pair met on Lai’s private yacht for five hours in late May. 

Wolfowitz, who was also president of the World Bank between 2005 and 2007, is well-known in the US for his neo-conservative views and belief in a unilateral foreign policy. Wolfowitz also held the post of under secretary of defense between 1989 and 1993. He is currently a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

Lai would also seek Wolfowitz’ help in securing various business deals in Myanmar. The South China Morning Post in their article, “Jimmy Lai paid Paul Wolfowitz US$75,000 for help in Myanmar,” reported that:

Leaked documents show Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying paid former US deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz US$75,000 for his help with projects in Myanmar. 

According to a July 22, 2013, remittance notice by the Shanghai Commercial and Savings Bank, Wolfowitz received the money from Lai as “compensation for services in regards to Myanmar”.

Lai’s liasons with notorious Neo-Con Wolfowitz should be no surprise – as NED, the principle director of Washington’s vast portfolio of political agitators worldwide is rife with Neo-Cons who intermingle both on NED’s board of directors, as well as in various other corporate-financier funded think tanks. NED itself is merely a front, couching geopolitical and corporate-financier interests behind the cover of “promoting freedom” and “democracy” around the world.

There is also “student leader” Joshua Wong, who was arrested amid the protests. Wong has had his career tracked by the NDI’s “NDItech” project since as early as 2012. In a post titled, “In Hong Kong, Does “Change Begin with a Single Step”?,” NDI reports:

Scholarism founder Joshua Wong Chi-fung, 15, has become an icon of the movement, and his skillful interactions with media have been memorialized and disseminated on Youtube. Through this page, Hong Kong youth have coalesced around common messages and images – for example, equating MNE with “brainwashing” and echoing themes reminiscent of the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy movement.

Wong’s work serves to challenge attempts by Beijing to reestablish Chinese institutions on the island, preserving Western-style (and co-opted) institutions including the education system.

The aforementioned Civic Party chairwoman Audrey Eu Yuet-mee is also entwined with the US NED, regularly attending forums sponsored by NED and its subsidiary NDI. In 2009 she was a featured speaker at an NDI sponsored public policy forum hosted by “SynergyNet,” also funded by NDI. In 2012 she was a guest speaker at the NDI-funded Women’s Centre “International Women’s Day” event. The Hong Kong Council of Women (HKCW) itself is also annually funded by the NDI. Just this year, should would also find herself associated with CCPL, presenting at one of its functions beside “Occupy Central” leader Benny Tai himself.

In addition to SynergyNet, CCPL, and HKCW, there are several other US-funded NGOs supporting, legitimizing, and justifying “Occupy Central,” or hosting those leading it. Among them is the US NED-fundedHong Kong Transition Project” which claims it is “tracking the transition of Hong Kong people from subjects to citizens.” In name and mission statement alone, the goal of the US in Hong Kong is clear – to turn Hong Kong into an epicenter of foreign-funded subversion with which to infect China’s mainland with more directly.

The Transition Project was tasked with legitimizing Occupy Central’s “pro-democracy referendum” conducted earlier this year – which then served as justification for increasing unrest on Hong Kong’s streets. Guardian in a June 2014 article titled, “Hong Kong’s unofficial pro-democracy referendum irks Beijing,” would report:

About 730,000 Hong Kong residents – equivalent to a fifth of the registered electorate – have voted in an unofficial “referendum” that has infuriated Beijing and prompting a flurry of vitriolic editorials, preparatory police exercises and cyber-attacks.

Occupy Central with Love and Peace (OCLP), the pro-democracy movement that organised the poll, hopes to pressure Beijing into allowing Hong Kong’s 7.2 million residents to choose their own leader by 2017. If Beijing refuses, OCLP says, the movement will mobilise at least 10,000 people next month to block the main roads in Central, a forest of skyscrapers housing businesses and government offices on Hong Kong island’s northern shore.

The Transition Project links with other US-funded organizations, including the Hong Kong-based “think tank” Civic Exchange. Funded by Exxon, the US State Department’s NDI, the British Council, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Morgan Stanley, Citi Group, the British Consulate itself, and many others, its claim of being “Hong Kong’s independent public policy think tank” is scandalous.

The Agenda: What Does “Occupy Central” Really Want?

US NDI openly states on its own page dedicated to its political meddling in Hong Kong that:

In 2005, NDI initiated a six-month young political leaders program focused on training a group of rising party and political group members in political communications skills. In 2006, NDI launched a District Council campaign school for candidates and campaign managers in the lead-up to the 2007 elections.

NDI has also worked to bring political parties, government leaders and civil society actors together in public forums to discuss political party development, the role of parties in Hong Kong and political reform. In 2012, for example, a conference by Hong Kong think tank SynergyNet supported by NDI featured panelists from parties across the ideological spectrum and explored how adopting a system of coalition government might lead to a more responsive legislative process.

Indeed, the very organizations, forums, and political parties the “Occupy Central” movement is associated with and led by are the creation of foreign interests – specifically the US State Department through NDI. Since “democracy” is “self-rule,” and every step of “Occupy Central” has seen involvement by foreign interests, “democracy” is surely not the protest’s true agenda.Instead, it is “soft” recolonizationaudr by Washington, Wall Street, and London. If “Occupy Central” is successful and Beijing ever foolishly agrees to allowing the leaders of this foreign-orchestrated charade to run for office, what will be running Hong Kong will not be the people, but rather foreign interests through a collection of overt proxies who shamelessly sustain themselves on US cash, political backing, and support across the West’s vast media resources.

The West’s Long War With China 

“Occupy Central” is just one of many ongoing gambits the US is running against Beijing. A visit to the US NED site reveals not one, but four pages dedicated to meddling in China’s internal politics. NED’s activities are divided among China in general, Tibet, Xinjiang – referred to as “East Turkistan” as it is called by violent separatists the US backs – and Hong Kong. All of NED’s funding goes to politically subversive groups aligned to and dependent on the West, while being hostile toward Beijing. They range from “monitoring” and “media” organizations, to political parties as well as fronts for violent extremists.  And as impressive as this network of political subversion is, it itself is still but a single part of a greater geopolitical agenda to encircle, contain, and eventually collapse the political order of Beijing and replace it with one favorable to Wall Street and Washington.

As early as the Vietnam War, with the so-called “Pentagon Papers” released in 1969, it was revealed that the conflict was simply one part of a greater strategy aimed at containing and controlling China. While the US would ultimately lose the Vietnam War and any chance of using the Vietnamese as a proxy force against Beijing, the long war against Beijing would continue elsewhere.

This containment strategy would be updated and detailed in the 2006 Strategic Studies Institute report “String of Pearls: Meeting the Challenge of China’s Rising Power across the Asian Littoral” where it outlines China’s efforts to secure its oil lifeline from the Middle East to its shores in the South China Sea as well as means by which the US can maintain American hegemony throughout the Indian and Pacific Ocean. The premise is that, should Western foreign policy fail to entice China into participating in the “international system” as responsible stakeholders, an increasingly confrontational posture must be taken to contain the rising nation.

This includes funding, arming, and backing terrorists and proxy regimes from Africa, across the Middle East, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and even within China’s territory itself. Documented support of these movements not only include Xinjiang separatists, but also militants and separatists in Baluchistan, Pakistan where the West seeks to disrupt a newly christened Chinese port and pipeline, as well as the machete wielding supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi in Myanmar’s Rakhine state – yet another site the Chinese hope to establish a logistical hub.Meddling in Thailand and stoking confrontation between China and an adversarial front including Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan are also components of this spanning containment policy.Whatever grievances those among “Occupy Central’s” mobs may have, they have forfeited both their legitimacy and credibility, not to mention any chance of actually achieving progress. Indeed, as the US-engineered “Arab Spring” has illustrated, nothing good will come of serving insidious foreign interests under the guise of “promoting democracy.” The goal of “Occupy Central” is to make Hong Kong ungovernable at any cost, especially at the cost of the people living there – not because that is the goal of the witless though well-intentioned participants being misled by Washington’s troupe of seditious proxies, but because that is the goal of those funding and ultimately directing the movement from abroad.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”.

What’s In a Name?

Off the keyboard of Surly1

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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on January 12, 2014
Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

 

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What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part 
Belonging to a man. O! be some other name:
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes 
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.

–William Shakespeare,  Romeo and Juliet, Act II Scene II

It was on this site a week ago that RE published an article entitled, “The Sound of One Hand Clapping.”  This article was, by his own admission, a rant in which he took on the postings of impermanence, the futility of debating philosophical arguments on threads not designed for same, his lack of interest in such musings, and the distaste he felt in dealing with “feminazis” on Guy McPherson’s “Nature Bats Last” blog.

As regular Diner readers know, I recently had occasion to go off-site and spar a bit with the regular commenters on Guy McPherson’s blog, Nature Bats Last.  In this case it’s not Zen Koan style philosophizing you have to deal with, it’s existential philosophy of how you deal with your Grief once you ACCEPT that Near Term Human Extinction is REALITY.  The acceptance of this reality as looked at from the POV of the Group Think on NBL is a prerequisite to discussing anything else.  If you don’t buy this idea hook, line & sinker, then instead of any real discussion what you get is a fairly non-stop stream of Napalm from the regulars accusing you of denial, ignorance or often enough misogyny also.  Passive-Aggressive attacks are made regularly by the Feminazi contingent on Male responsibility for oncoming Extinction, and how life would have been so much better if just the Women had been in charge here. . .

I also am not going to be drawn into dumb ass pissing contests with Feminazis who blame the sorry state of the world on Patriarchy, nor will I get into thoroughly stupid arguments with Cornucopians who think the fucking Fusion Cavalry will ride to the rescue here and before you know it we’ll be ditching the Chevys for Flying Deloreans powered by stale beer. . .

On the Diner Forum, I took issue with him on use of the term “feminazi”  as unnecessarily pejorative. In fairness, this reference was just one facet of a article far more about the fatalism of uber-doomersand the ned to spend time in pointed, as opposed to pointless, endeavors.

 

I pointed out the term “feminazi,” a portmanteau of the nouns feminist and Nazi, was popularized by Rush Limbaugh and in use since the early 1990s. It’s regularly used by American conservatives to criticize feminists whose positions they find “too extreme.” Of course, given the recent Republican war on women, “too extreme” may include simply voicing an opinion, objecting to rape, or occupying space outside of a kitchen or  bedroom. My position remains that “feminazi” is a highly charged locution with the emotional equivalent of the N-word.   Last Sunday, I made the following complaint:

Use of the term “feminazi” defines only the user, as one unable to deal with strong minded and opinionated women. . .   use of Limbaugh’s term puts you in league with the brownshirts and other useful idiots that are debasing the culture and by extension, the planet. I cannot believe that you are deaf to the resonances of such a term. So then, if not deaf, what do you intend? To signal agreement with the Drooling Right in re women’s issues? To signal solidarity with Phil Robertson – he of homosexuality-equals-bestiality and black-folks-just-loved-Jim-Crow infamy – on women’s issues, about which he has said that boys to marry early because that’s when girls are most useful to them.

“Look, you wait ’til they get to be 20 years old, the only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket,” Robertson says. “You got to marry these girls when they are about 15 or 16. They’ll pick your ducks.” So by all means, 15-year-olds ought to marry to get the subjugation going early?

I don’t give a flying duck about “Duck Whatever” or any other feckless elevation of redneck culture, but using “feminazi” to describe opinionated females with whom you disagree puts you on the wrong side of a cultural divide. And as such you probably do nothing to encourage the participation of the strong, independent and hard working women who will be essential to make SUN a reality in the future.

I was wrong.  The only women who weighed in on this subject either said the term did not offend, and the other told me to not “be butt hurt.”  The wages of gallantry.  Try as I might, I could not even convince Contrary to pick up the cudgel, aside from a brief comment on Facebook. Long story short, no one cared.

But I still do, to this extent.

Language matters.  Political operatives spend  fortunes to test words and phrases for maximum efficacy. “Reframing” was the work of Frank Luntz, who gave us the “death tax” as a euphemism for the “tax on unearned intergenerational dynastic wealth,”  possibly the single most successful reframing effort since a Texas editor popularized “right to work” in 1947 in the wake of the passage of the Taft-Hartley act…

 

Interesting back and forth on the forum about this issue. One poster observed that the “radical feminists” had their own propaganda as well.   One longtime Diner, J.D., good-naturedly chided me for political correctness:

I’ll be the first to admit, terms like “feminazi” are very powerful and should only be used in the most extreme cases.  But there are times when it fits.  I am all for women’s liberation, up to the point where it becomes men’s oppression.

 

Hm. What makes a “radical feminist?”   Does that apply to a woman who believes that testicles are toxic tools of oppression, and anyone who owns them should have them forcibly removed, or does it apply to strong-minded women with an independent streak who offer opinions that make you uncomfortable? When do men get oppressed? Whenever they become uncomfortable? Or challenged?  Who gets to decide?  The fact that “feminazi” is a conservative coinage applied to women no longer controllable by conservative men seems lost on the current generation of both men and women. Thus does language lose its potency, and our discourse is coarsened. I refuse to allow reactionaries to define the terms of the ongoing cultural wars; by using the term, we give them a victory they have not earned– the moral equivalent of an “unforced error” in sports.

We’re deep in the eddies of gender politics on this one, a battle for which I am remarkably ill-equipped, and redolent with irony, as the following story shows.

Flash to late 2011– After DHS coordinated the raids of Occupy camps nationwide, our local group found itself in disarray.  Not surprising. Since Occupy was leaderless by design, several of us got together to plan to jump-start the movement– we planned a facilitation exercise in which the group would establish priorities for the local movement.  Unfortunately, the planners were all white males. So, after developing and refining the process, rehearsing, obtaining a meeting place, we held the meeting. One woman, who fancied herself the Mother of all Occupy (and a member of the local woo-woo crystal-gazing contingent, for which I had little patience) nearly derailed the meeting by complaining about the seating arrangements, and the fact that females had not been involved in the planning of said meeting. The fact that no females showed up to work on the project seemed to mean little. Thus the reward for hard work and volunteer effort. On the spot we asked if she would like to facilitate the meeting, and offer to give her the floor. “Oh no, no,” came the reply. Clearly, better to bitch about the process and nurse an insatiable sense of grievance . . . Gratifyingly, other women at the meeting, recognizing what we were attempting to do, came to our defense.

Interestingly, Occupy facilitation rules give preference to traditionally oppressed groups, including both women and people of color. So access to  any speaking platform was really never a problem. Per usual, the real issues were about control and attention– more irony in a movement with no leaders and no assets.

Thus was I ratfucked for my maleness by women who might or fall to the description of “feminazis,” meaning those who looked for any reason to play the victim role, to be offended at the work products of white males because it was produced by white males, etc. Perhaps it is such a state of assertive victimhood and passive aggression that some men wish to label “feminazi.” Or ball-busting man-haters. Or those who want to lay all of their ills at the feet of 20,000 years of patriarchy. But I would never call them that, to avoid appearing ignorant, and to resist ceding control of one small piece of the language to the most atavistic and reactionary elements of our culture.

At the end of the day, Eddie had a levelheaded take:

My big issue, as I’ve said before, has to do with how feminism led to male Political Correctness of a sort that emasculated boys and young men, eventually, and caused relationship issues for a whole generation of couples, myself included. . .  both men and women get a lot of positive energy out of relationships that let men be men and women be women, sexually speaking. In one sense, I am still pro-feminism, because I believe in equal pay for equal work, and I believe in equal rights in general.

But when I go to NBL to read, there is still that anti-male residue that offends me so much, and I find myself wanting to unload on those women, whom I consider misguided and….yeah, stupid. they need to get over some things, and do their own personal work, so that they can grow into the light.

 We could all do with growing into the light, starting with me. As RE noted, we are confronted with practical priorities–
… like HTF will I feed myself If/When JIT shipping collapses?  Where is the best place to go to avoid being bombarded by radionucleotides FIRST here?  Maybe I can’t avoid this in perpetuity, but this is a timeline issue and I would like to avoid it for NOW!
We all have– and share– other priorities. Let’s call out bullshit, male or female, where we find it. Let’s just not cede control of the cultural conversation to reactionaries.

***

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Surly1 is an administrator and contributing author to Doomstead Diner. He is the author of numerous rants, articles and spittle-flecked invective on this site, and has been active in the Occupy movement. He lives in Southeastern Virginia with Contrary and a shifting menagerie of adult children in various stages of transition.

Occupy Monsanto: “What a piece of work is man!”

From the keyboard of Surly1
Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on August 12, 2013

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in
reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving
how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel!
in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the
world! The paragon of animals! And yet to me, what is
this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me; no,
nor Woman neither; though by your smiling you seem
to say so . . .

~Shakespeare, Hamlet, (Act II, Scene ii, 285-300)

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Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

The capacity for modern science to extend and improve life was brought home to me quite directly this past week. A childhood friend of 57 years standing was hospitalized last week with faintness and dizziness. My friend, aFor him professor of mathematics, is a former martial artist and has always been whippet-thin, wiry, and fit. Yet he presented with symptoms that required a battery of tests.

Long story short,  he had surgery to have a pacemaker implanted. It seems commonplace to us now, but such a miracle! An opening into shoulder cavity, insertion of wires through an artery into the surfaces of the heart, and voilà! A regulated heartbeat, with energy and color restored, and all right with the world.

Such advances in technology mean that through surgical and other means we can extend and save lives. A congenital heart condition and resulting arrhythmia are adjusted through the implantation of a small device– a moral and welcome use of technology. But what about immoral, and unjust uses? It seems apparent that our technological capacity has completely outstripped our moral dimension.

 Here’s one small example. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are, on their website, quite proud to claim 10 great public-health achievements in the 20th century that have added 25 years to the average life expectancy of people in the United States. Among these are:

  • immunizations
  • motor vehicle safety
  • workplace safety
  • control of infectious diseases
  • declines in deaths from heart disease and stroke
  • safer and healthier foods, healthier mothers and babies
  • family planning
  • fluoridation of drinking water
  • tobacco is a health hazard
  • future directions of public health.

Now I would argue the single greatest improvement to public health has been public sanitation. There are both aesthetic as well as public health virtues in getting shit out of the streets.

Beyond that, some quibbles. Without doubt  vaccinations have all but eradicated smallpox and polio from the United States. Yet other inoculations, such as Gardasil, are problematic. What “motor vehicle safety” and  “workplace safety” are doing on this list I have no idea, except that CFC staff needed to pad out the list to get to ten. The “family planning” item is laughable in terms of our current politics, as right wing politicians have both demonized birth control and made women’s health clinics virtually unable to operate. A sizable contingent thinks that flouridated water is a communist plot. But of the ironies on this list, none is more poignant than the one that lists “safer and healthier foods.”

 The CDC list  and accompanying article completely ignores the phenomenon of genetically modified food.  Those of us who actually consume foods in the real economy cannot afford to adopt  the CDC’s  position.

GMO foods are plants and bacteria which have had specific changes introduced to their DNA using genetic engineering techniques. Such organisms are designed to be treated with toxic herbicides and pesticides, chemicals which have been suspected to increase allergies and have been linked to decreased fertility, asthma, organ failure even cancer.

To briefly review the bidding on the dangers posed by genetically modified foods, we offer the following:  Animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food. The GM process creates massive collateral damage in the plant, with side effects that are often unpredictable. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has even asked physicians to advise patients to avoid GM foods.

Most of us are aware that the FDA, like many agencies entrusted with the public welfare now held captive by corporate interests, decided to allow GMOs to be sold without labeling. State-level attempts to require labeling of GMO food have been met with intense lobbying and millions of dollars pitched in opposition.

Why the drama?

Consider this handful of research findings:

  • Thousands of sheep, buffalo, and goats in India died after grazing on Bt cotton plants
  • Mice eating GM corn for the long term had fewer, and smaller, babies
  • More than half the babies of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks, and were smaller
  • Testicle cells of mice and rats on a GM soy change significantly
  • By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies
  • Rodents fed GM corn and soy showed immune system responses and signs of toxicity
  • Cooked GM soy contains as much as 7-times the amount of a known soy allergen
  • Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, soon after GM soy was introduced
  • The stomach lining of rats fed GM potatoes showed excessive cell growth, a condition that may lead to cancer.
  • Studies showed organ lesions, altered liver and pancreas cells, changed enzyme levels, etc.

Problems posed by genetically modified food are magnified by the fact that unlike drugs, there are no human clinical trials for GM foods. The only published human feeding experiment revealed that genetic material transferred into GM soy stays inside our intestines and continues to function long after we quit consuming them. The food may be gone, but the altered proteins remain doing their work.

Thus we fail to study one possible vector of danger to public health that could conceivably create super diseases resistant to antibiotics, or, alternatively, turn our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories. Hopefully this will put the “good work” of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (and the captive FDA) in context.

Citizens are starting to get the word out and educating other citizens about the dangers of GMO foods.  As the Occupy movement  was suborned and destroyed by sweeps of militarized police under direction from DHS, the tents disappeared, yet the anger and disgust at our nonresponsive politicians has remained,  and has been transformed into specific, single-purpose movements.

One of these is  Occupy Monsanto, which has emerged to stage numerous protests at companies connected to the global trade of GMOs. Occupy Monsanto  is calling for a day of action on September 17 of this year.  Basic themes  include the idea that Monsanto’s push to control agriculture poses a threat only to consumers in this country, but also throughout Latin America Africa and Asia. Also, if GMO foods are perfectly safe, why not allow them to be labeled and compete in the market?

“There is something wrong when a chemical manufacturer, the same company who made Agent Orange, controls the US food supply.”  ~activist Jaye Crawford.

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Local groups in southeastern Virginia staged an anti-GMO rally in May of this year. We handed out leaflets, engaged passersby in conversation, and otherwise did our best to create awareness. Much like our government, the last thing Monsanto wants is people talking to people creating awareness and providing education about the real issues posed by GMOs. To that end, Monsanto has mounted its own public relations counteroffensive:

Plant Biotechnology Companies Launch “GMO Answers”

7/29/2013

The following release was issued by the Council for Biotechnology Information (CBI). Monsanto is a member of CBI.

Washington, DC (July 29, 2013) – The agricultural biotechnology companies that develop genetically modified seeds — or GMOs — are coming together to launch a broad, new initiative to provide accurate information and answer the toughest questions about GMOs and how our food is grown. GMO Answers (www.GMOAnswers.com) is a new conversation, public Q&A, and central online resource for information on GMOs, their background, use in agriculture, and research and data in one easy-to-access public resource for the first time.

“GMOs are a growing topic of discussion today, with a wide range of questions and emotions,” Cathleen Enright, Ph.D., spokesperson for GMO Answers, said. “Food is personal, so we want to open the door for personal discussions. We recognize we haven’t done the best job communicating about GMOs—what they are, how they are developed, food safety information—the science, data and processes. We want people to join us and ask their tough questions. Be skeptical. Evaluate the information and decide for yourself. We look forward to an open conversation.”

<snip>

GMO Answers is produced by the members of The Council for Biotechnology Information, which includes BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences LLC, DuPont, Monsanto Company and Syngenta. Together, their commitment to openness and access to information is outlined in the GMO Answers five core principles:

  • Respecting people around the world and their right to choose healthy food products that are best for themselves and their families
  • Welcoming and answering questions on all GMO topics
  • Making GMO information, research and data easy to access and evaluate and supporting safety testing of GM products, including allowing independent safety testing of our products by validated science-based methods
  • Supporting farmers as they work to grow crops using precious resources more efficiently, with less impact on the environment and producing safe, nutritious food and feed products
  • Respecting farmers’ rights to choose the seeds that are best for their farms, businesses and communities and providing seed choices that include non-GM seeds based on market demands.

 

The statement of Dr. Enright notwithstanding, if Monsanto “wants people to join and ask tough questions,” and “looks forward to an open conversation,” then I am the rightful King of France.

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You want the truth? Follow the money. Open labeling of GM foods would permit an “open conversation,” but that is the last thing that the members of the Council for Biotechnology Information want. What they want is for you is to put your head down, eat, work, consume, and die. The last thing they want you to do is to talk to one another, to educate yourself and others on the real-life dangers of the poisons that have already entered our food supply, and the failure our so-called government regulatory agencies to do any actual regulating.


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Find a local action group, get the word out, and resist, resist, resist. And plant your own food before it becomes a crime to do so, and the moving thugscrum that used to be local law enforcement comes to make you tear it out.

As David Cobb of Move to Amend recently said in an interview, “There is no doubt that this government is afraid of its people.”  So too are the agribusiness giants who have gathered together to control the food supply of the American people in the name of profit.

As we collectively chase the daily profit motive, and busy ourselves in continued worship of Mammon, our actions stand revealed as far different from those of “the Angels.” Neither noble in reason, nor infinite in faculty, certainly not admirable. And as to “apprehension like a God?” We would settle for the apprehension of a single conscious human being with a decent regard for the welfare of his fellow man.

This Was The Week That Was In Doom August 12, 2013

It’s Off the keyboard of Surly1
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Originally published on the Doomstead Diner on August 12, 2013

http://991.com/newGallery/That-Was-The-Week-That-W-That-Was-The-Week-473964.jpg

Discuss this article here in the Diner Forum.

 

“To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”:

~Nuremburg War Tribunal regarding wars of aggression

“A Society that is in its higher circles and middle levels widely believed to be a network of smart rackets does not produce men with an inner moral sense; a society that is merely expedient does not produce men of conscience. A society that narrows the meaning of “success” to the big money and in its terms condemns failure as the chief vice, raising money to the plane of absolute value, will produce the sharp operator and the shady deal. Blessed are the cynical, for only they have what it takes to succeed.”

The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills

Hiroshima Nuclear-Bomb

Post your comments here on the Diner Forum.

In reply to a teabagger troll inside the Doomstead Diner Forum this week, I opined that the act of dropping atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was tantamount to selling of the American soul to the devil.  Was dropping those bombs militarily necessary?   My correspondent averred that “The bombs were dropped, the Japanese surrendered,”  Which to my reading of history is a post hoc ergo proctor hoc  logical fallacy.  I say this because history is always written by the winners, and serious leaders in positions of responsibility for securing victory during World War II asserted that dropping atomic weapons was not necessary. Senior military men including Adm. William D. Leahy, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D Eisenhower, and even the US Strategic Bombing Survey all agreed that dropping the bombs was militarily unnecessary. From 70 years remove, it is virtually forgotten that Japan offered to surrender in July of 1945, and that the US government ignored the proffer.

Much is made of the Japanese plan for the defense of the home islands, called “Ketsu-go.”  Near the end of 1944, the Japanese high command  had lost a succession of naval battles, including losing the Mariana Islands and the Battle of the Philippine Sea, at a cost of men and materiel not easily replaced. Japan’s planners realized that the decisive battle was likely to be fought on Japan’s main islands. They planned accordingly. Sources say that Japanese strategists predicted correctly that Americans would assault Iwo Jima and then Okinawa, where the Japanese hoped fierce resistance would force a negotiated peace. The Japanese also prepared for an invasion of Japan from Okinawa. They calculated the range of American fighter planes, and predicted correctly where the landing would be — on the island of Kyushu, and from there on to Tokyo. The Japanese called this plan Ketsu-Go, which I am unable to translate, but which either seems to mean “conclusion” and/or “a bite on the ass.” Or maybe both.

bomb-exploding-nagasaki

Yet by spring 1945, the emperor had his doubts. He sent an envoy to Russia to ask the Soviet Union to mediate an end to the war. The emperor and his war cabinet also faced reports citing depletion of Japanese industry, likely food shortages, poor harvests leading to mass starvation, and concern about popular unrest. The Imperial Navy was done and the Imperial Army in China was fully occupied with Chinese resistance forces  Facing this evidence, it was likely that Japan’s war planners were seeking a decisive battle sooner rather than later before their situation became so desperate that they could not even mount such a resistance.

 

On July 27,  Japan’s government ignored the Allied ultimatum from Potsdam, warning of “prompt and utter destruction” unless it surrendered unconditionally.  It was still waiting to hear back from Uncle Joe.  In the fullness of time, Russian invaded Manchuria, and the race for Japan was on.

 

 skulls hiroshimaEven George Marshall, who supported Truman’s decision to drop the bombs, said that the bombs were dropped for political rather than military reasons, not the least of which was to send a message to Russia and Stalin. It is this act that opened Pandora’s box.   The act was a message to the Soviet Union and Stalin.  It was rooted in the capitalists’ dread of communism; remember that Truman succeeded Henry Wallace on the 1944 ticket as the candidate for vice president, as Wallace was seen as too sympathetic to socialist causes. The red scares whipped up by Hoover in the post-World War I era were still within living memory of many of the people serving in Roosevelt’s administration, and fear of Godless Communism informed the defense posture and foreign policy of postwar America. It was this fear which led America  from its republican origins to the sort of garrison state that would routinely overturn governments from Iran to Central America to Argentina and Chile, and then on to Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. Fear gave us the atomic weapons arms race, the Cold War, and several generations of existential dread, now culminating in a national security state that serves only corporate interests and war profiteers, and whose moral framework is indistinguishable from that of the Mongol horde.

 

Indeed, what real moral distance is spanned between employing nuclear weapons of mass distraction on a helpless civilian population, and the “double tap” employed by our drone operators on first responders to drone attacks? You’ll not readily find such information in the corporate media. One has to look far afield even to be vaguely informed about what our government does in our name, and how the rest of the world feels about it. And we sit, complicit, in silence.

 *  *  *

 

In related news, “Breaking Bad” opens its fifth and final season tonight. “Breaking Bad” is in itself a study of how a good man can go wrong, and how evil, like cancer, can metastasize within us. This series can be enjoyed both as a gripping tale of money and power in the American southwest, and as a vivid allegory for contemporary American life.  “Breaking Bad” references our capacity for self-delusion, how money replaces values, how evil can grow like cancer even in the mildest of men, and how terror can become a commonplace. Hannah Arendt’s famous quote about the “banality of evil” is clearly on display. “Breaking Bad” illustrates what happens when murder becomes part of your skill set. And those of us not willing to murder yet sit, silently complicit. Part of the appeal of this program is that many of us recognize Walter White dwelling just below the surface in many people we meet, in corporate life, and sometimes even in the mirror.

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The Double-Tap

Bureau Investigation Finds Fresh Evidence of CIA Drone Strikes on Rescuers

One hopes it is not overly difficult to see the direct line between the decision to drop weapons of mass distraction 70 years ago and the decisions made, now on a daily basis, to wage warfare by remote control. These techniques have in common faceless incineration and death from above, now apparently commonplace and well accepted techniques of statecraft.  investigators find the CIA is deliberately targeting rescuers, or 1st responders after drone strikes. For his part, the CIA vigorously denies the charge.

A field investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in Pakistan’s tribal areas appears to confirm that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) last year briefly revived the controversial tactic of deliberately targeting rescuers at the scene of a previous drone strike. The tactic has previously been labelled a possible war crime by two UN investigators.

The Bureau’s new study focused mainly on strikes around a single village in North Waziristan – attacks that were aimed at one of al Qaeda’s few remaining senior figures, Yahya al-Libi. He was finally killed by a CIA drone strike on June 4 2012.

The Bureau’s field researcher found five double-tap strikes took place in mid-2012, one of which also struck a mosque

Congressional aides have previously been reported as describing to the Los Angeles Times reviewing a CIA video showing Yahya al-Libi alone being killed. But the Bureau’s field research appears to confirm what others reported at the time – that al-Libi’s death was part of a sequence of strikes on the same location that killed up to 16 people.

If correct, that would indicate that Congressional aides were not shown crucial additional video material.

The CIA has robustly rejected the charge. Spokesman Edward Price told the Bureau: ‘The CIA takes its commitment to Congressional oversight with the utmost seriousness. The Agency provides accurate and timely information consistent with our obligation to the oversight Committees. Any accusation alleging otherwise is baseless.

Read the report for yourself here.

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Is the Government Out to Eat You?

A man named Paul Rosenberg runs a website called Freeman’s Perspective. In spite of the fact that Rosenberg is an avowed  “adventure capitalist” he appears to also have been a successful engineer, government consultant, educator. Even though he has many perspectives that I personally do not agree with, often I find his perspectives useful and challenging my own views. Like the article submitted for your edification, below.

Given the fact that so much of what we do on the Diner runs on the Internet, and to a significant extent my own livelihood depends on the internet’s continued function and well-being, when a writer has written the first ever standard for the installation of fiber optic cables, as has Rosenberg, I assume he has something useful to say.

This graph is a very typical display of the predator/prey relationship. It comes from a study on rabbits and coyotes, but the relationship is the same for all predator/prey tandems, from tiny parasites and their hosts to lions and antelopes. The predators always overfeed until the prey can no longer sustain them, then most of them die and the rest wait for the prey to replenish themselves.

It works in the same way for human governance. You are the rabbits; the rulers are the coyotes.

 

 

By his own admission, Rosenberg often looks at economic matters from the perspective of the rabbits. This time, if he looks at it from the perspective of the coyotes. Many things become clear:

Rulership is an exercise in skimming. Think of your own interactions with your government – the primary exchange is that they take some of your production. This occurs in many ways: when you get a paycheck, when you pay your electric bill or phone bill, when you get a license plate for your car, every time you pay sales tax, and so on. Rulership lives on the skim.

In order to maintain the skim, a ruler has several mental tools:

Claims of necessity. Make people fear that without the ruler, monstrous foreigners will invade and make things much, much worse.

Inertia. Once people are moving in any given direction (such as paying the skim as a matter of course), they will tend to keep moving that way until an outside force deflects or stops them.

Tradition. This is the story that it has always been this way, and that your grandparents (and their grandparents) have all lived this way and called it righteous. Tradition displaces analysis. At the gate of analysis (deciding if the skim is or isn’t good for you), tradition stands as a guardian saying, “You shall not pass.” To analyze would be to spit in tradition’s face.

Fear of standing alone. The friends of rulership can be counted on to present images of conformity and to exalt the concept of unity. The effect of this is to raise the price of non-conformity. To question the skim, you must face the fear of becoming an outcast.

Disguising fear. This is crucial and multifaceted. Rather than saying, “Pay taxes or armed men will imprison you,” for example, they must appeal to patriotism, shared sacrifice, helping the poor, or something. Of course it is true that people only pay because of fear, but that truth should not be seen. A plausible substitute must be provided.

From this perspective, of the coyote, “maintaining the skim” seems to be BAU in the FSA.  This weekend, where I live in southeastern Virginia, social media has been ablaze with notices of state patrol cars lying in wait on major arteries, doubtless to help state patrolman book their monthly quota of fees. To Charles Hugh Smith’s “tax donkeys and debt serfs,”  add “fine and fee monkeys.”

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New Study Finds High Levels of Arsenic in Groundwater Near Fracking Sites

Brian Fontenot and Kevin Schug, two of the authors of a new study that ties fracking to arsenic contamination. (University of Texas Arlington)

Pro Publica this week published an article about a study that found high levels of arsenic in groundwater near fracturing sites. An article by Theodoric Meyer includes a Q&A with Brian Fontenot, whose research gives the latest indication that fracking may be tied to arsenic contamination.
 The levels of heavy metals appear to be many times higher near fracturing sites that occurs naturally without fracking. Also, the fluid used for fracking remains proprietary to the energy companies, who resist revealing the contents. Thus it is left to sciences to investigate after the fact, and after the groundwater has been destroyed.
Here’s an excerpt:

We found that there were actually quite a few examples of elevated constituents, such as heavy metals, the main players being arsenic, selenium and strontium. And we found each of those metals at levels that are above EPA’s maximum contaminate limit for drinking water.

These heavy metals do naturally occur in the groundwater in this region. But we have a historical dataset that points to the fact that the levels we found are sort of unusual and not natural. These really high levels differ from what the groundwater used to be like before fracking came in. . . .

We also found a few samples that had measureable levels of methanol and ethanol, and these are two substances that don’t naturally occur in groundwater. They can actually be created by bacterial interactions underwater, but whenever methanol or ethanol occur in the environment, they’re very fleeting and transient. So for us to be able to actually randomly take a grab sample and detect detectable methanol and ethanol — that implies that there may be a continuous source of this.

You found levels of arsenic in areas with fracking that were almost 18 times higher than in areas without fracking or in the historical data. What would happen to someone who drank that water?

Arsenic is a pretty well-known poison. If you experience a lot of long-term exposure to arsenic, you get a lot of different risks, like skin damage, problems with the circulatory system or even an increased risk of cancer. The levels that we found would not be a lethal dose, but they’re certainly levels that you would not want to be exposed to for any extended period of time.

 Studies like this always require further research.  Arsenic occurs naturally in many formations, and it may be that the process of tracking, rather than the fluids themselves, and disturbed this natural occurrence.But one of the reasons the research is not done is because the energy extraction industries don’t want to do it, and don’t want to see it done. In a rational world frackers would be obliged to perform this research prior to drilling, but that would be bad for profits. Once again, profits are privatized, while risks and costs are socialized and borne by we mere commons.

Keep in mind  that the energy extraction industry is enthusiastically abetted by Republicans and neoliberal Democrats,  who operate by an ethical system that permits the sacrifice of the lives of many to further enrich a few.

If you care about these matters, the rest of the Pro Publica article is well worth your time.

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Can Activists Win the PR Battle With the Fossil Fuel Industry? 

This TransCanada PowerPoint slide depicting anti-pipeline activists was used to brief the FBI and law enforcement officials. (Tar Sands Blockade)

In Waging Nonviolence 
Adam Federman reports: “Until recently the energy industry has been able to keep its hardball tactics largely out of public view. But if state, federal and corporate surveillance of environmental activists continues, the noisy millions … might have even more reason to join the fight.”

More evidence that rust never sleeps.  Remember those “fusion centers” created by Homeland Security with our tax dollars? Well, now they work in collusion with privatized intelligence gathering and security apparatus directly for the benefit of corporations,  against protesters, activists and others who dare oppose the privatization and profit extraction of the Commons.

In mid-June, Bold Nebraska — a grassroots environmental organization opposed to construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline — obtained documents that detail how local and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as the company responsible for building the pipeline, are working together to undermine peaceful political protest. The documents revealed that the company, TransCanada, had briefed the FBI as well as law enforcement officials — district attorneys, attorney generals and county sheriffs — in Oklahoma and Nebraska on the potential threat posed by environmental activists and local landowners. In their PowerPoint presentation the company suggested that district attorneys should explore “state or federal anti-terrorism laws” in prosecuting activists and provided a crude dossier on the key organizers. They also included a list of individuals previously arrested for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience in Texas and Oklahoma.

There is a long history of corporations and the state acting in concert to suppress environmental activism. But in recent years the relationship has deepened. This is in part a function of the post-9/11 national security state, which has placed a premium on information sharing between Department of Homeland Security fusion centers, local law enforcement officials and the private sector. In fact, on the same day that TransCanada delivered its presentation to Nebraska law enforcement officials, a representative of the Nebraska Information Analysis Center, a Department of Homeland Security fusion center, also briefed participants on the agency’s information-sharing network. According to emails exchanged before the meeting and obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request, “The NIAC will brief on our intelligence sharing role/plan relevant to the pipeline project and provide an overview of a project we are working on.”

The article goes on to say the corporations engaging in espionage on activists are not bound by the regulations that  governmental agencies are obliged to follow, at least in theory.

“They don’t have to abide by the U.S. attorney manual on spying guidelines,” Regan said. “They don’t even have to go through secretive FISA courts to hack into people’s computers or listen in on their cell phone calls.”

This is the world in which activists now find themselves. Not only must they contend with the sweeping surveillance powers of the state, brought to light most recently by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, but also the expanding — and essentially unregulated — corporate security and intelligence gathering network.

Yet activists continue undaunted. Public opposition to fracturing, the Keystone XL pipeline, and other attempts to confiscate the common enterprise has resulted in a number of highly visible campaigns that continue undaunted. The fact that public opposition continues to grow  like wildfire has corporate interests very worried.  As well they should be. As common citizens become more educated to the dangers posed by the current techniques of energy extraction industries, the numbers of those willing to participate in acts of protest and civil this immediate’s can only grow. As occupiers know, the only way to affect change is to mass people in the streets. Ham-handed techniques employed by the corporate state often assist activists in getting the word out.

Read the rest of the article here.  and in a related article, here’s how they do it.

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The Corporate Strategy to Win The War Against Grassroots Activists: Stratfor’s Strategies

It turns out that there is a template to corporations and governments use to disrupt, dissuade, and defuse popular movements. It certainly comes as no surprise to several former occupiers. And it turns out that it was developed by the founders of our good friends over at Stratfor

Steve Horn  Of the “Popular Resistance blog at Mint Press News published this thorough and magnificent article.  The article details the history of the groups that led to the formation of Stratfor,  the involvement of key individuals with Big Tobacco, and their current collaboration with government and the energy extraction industries (such as the American Petroleum Institute) to provide a highly sophisticated level of intelligence used to disrupt and oppose activist groups.

Unsurprisingly, they have a formula and use different take weeks on each of the four different sorts of dissenters and resisters.

 

Divide activists into four groups: Radicals, Idealists, Realists and Opportunists. The Opportunists are in it for themselves and can be pulled away for their own self-interest. The Realists can be convinced that transformative change is not possible and we must settle for what is possible.  Idealists can be convinced they have the facts wrong and pulled to the Realist camp.  Radicals, who see the system as corrupt and needing transformation, need to be isolated and discredited, using false charges to assassinate their character is a common tactic.

Let’s be clear about the kind of people were dealing with here. The attitude evinced below is typical of the true believer:

And how best to deal with “radicals” like Julian Assange, founder and executive director of WikiLeaks, and whistleblower Bradley Manning, who gave WikiLeaks the U.S. State Department diplomatic cables, the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs and the “Collateral Murder” video? Bart Mongoven has a simple solution to “isolate” them, as suggested by Duchin’s formula.

“I’m in favor of using whatever trumped up charge is available to get [Assange] and his servers off the streets. And I’d feed that shit head soldier [Bradley Manning] to the first pack of wild dogs I could find,” Mongoven wrote in one email exchange revealed by the “Global Intelligence Files.” “Or perhaps just do to him whatever the Iranians are doing to our sources there.”

Indeed, the use of “trumped up charges” is often a way the U.S. government deals with radical activists, as demonstrated clearly during the days of the FBI’s Counter-Intelligence Program during the 1960s, as well as in modern-day Occupy movement-related cases in Cleveland and Chicago.

The intelligences that Stratfor sells to corporate clients is, as the article asserts, “the information economy’s equivalent of guns.” Corporations wage war upon activists to ensure that power, profits, and control I had influenced by the actions of mere mortals. And the changes urged by activist becomes even more difficult in a political environment where corporate interests dominate with money, and corporate media offer little more than corporate press releases.

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 New Crash Footage Fuels Rumors Surrounding Journalist Michael Hastings’ Death

he newly released surveillance footage shows what appears to be an uncharacteristically bright explosion from the crash of journalist Michael Hastings’ car, killing him. (Photo/screen grab via YouTube)

Some weeks ago, journalist Michael Hastings was killed in a car crash in Los Angeles.  For those who do not know, Hastings was a reporter for BuzzFeed and Rolling Stone who gained an A-list reputation after he wrote the piece for Rolling Stone  that profiled Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Yes, THAT piece . . .
An odor of conspiracy surrounds this crash, including recent news about the vulnerability to hacking of on board computer systems on certain high-end vehicles via remote control.
Newly released surveillance footage shows what appears to be an uncharacteristically bright explosion from the crash.
According to San Diego 6 News, the new surveillance video provides new information about the incident, which some say may not have been an accident. As Mint Press News previously reported, hours before his death, WikiLeaks says the journalist contacted the organization’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, and said the FBI was investigating him.

The new surveillance footage “shows a flash of light appearing at the 13-14-second mark, the headlights are on at 14 seconds, but all lights are extinguished at the 16-second mark. The car then turns left and the first horizontal explosion appears just after the 16-second mark (it ejects the left front tire across northbound highland approximately 40-50 feet). The second explosion engulfs the engine compartment at the 17-second mark. The third and largest explosion consumes the passenger compartment at the 17-18-second mark.”

 This story continues to have legs, given the number of  anomalies surrounding it.  there are 2 explosions. The fire was more intense than a simple gasoline fire, which only burns at about 540°F. A palm tree that Hastings car hit had minimal damage, considering it was hit by a 3500 pound car supposedly moving at 100 mph, according to investigators.  But for all the unexplained facts surrounding this case, and the fact that some media outlets continue to speculate whether Hastings was targeted by the FBI, the Los Angeles police department has denied release of any information and close the case.

Laura Eimiller, the FBI’s Los Angeles spokeswoman, maintains the agency was not conducting an investigation involving Hastings.

 This little sewer grating outflow into the Internet is not closing the case.

 

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You’re Shitting Me, Right?

Time now for that portion of our program where the daily headlines have outstripped the imagination.  Follow the links to read the original articles.

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Tuesday managed to insult both religious Americans and climate scientists while denying the existence of global warming.

During the kickoff for the Americans for Prosperity-sponsored “Bruce Braley Big Government Tour” in Fort Dodge, King explained that attempts to fight climate change were unnecessary and hurting the economy, according to The Messenger.

“It is not proven, it’s not science,” he insisted. “It’s more of a religion than a science.”

The Republican congressman said that scientists are too focused on the bad impacts of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

“Everything that might result from a warmer planet is always bad in [climate scientists’] analysis,” he opined. “There will be more photosynthesis going on if the Earth gets warmer… And if sea levels go up 4 or 6 inches, I don’t know if we’d know that.”

King told the crowd that sea levels could not be precisely measured.

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Louie Gohmert: Global Warming Isn’t Real Until ‘My Pool Overflows’

Sometimes, they just write themselves.

WASHINGTON – Representative Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.) today dismissed a recent report that showed evidence for drastic climate change in 2012, saying that he’ll “believe it when [he] sees it.” According to Gohmert, the report—which was authored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and documented rising sea levels, among other climatic changes—is “a bunch of voodoo science,” that he won’t accept until “the ocean’s on [his] own front doorstep.”
Gohmert—who does not believe that human activity contributes to global warming—admitted that he hadn’t actually read the report. “Rising sea levels? Melting ice caps? Well now, if that were true, how come the water in my pool isn’t any higher than it was last year?”
According to the report, in 2012 many indicators of global warming intensified appreciably. Sea levels reached record levels, and the researchers documented “dramatic spikes in ocean heat content, a record melt of Arctic sea ice in the summer, and whopping temporary melts of ice in most of Greenland.”  Such measurements led Deke Arndt, co-author of the report, to conclude that climate indicators are “all singing the same song that we live in a warming world.”

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#NoNeedToSatirize: Santorum: Liberals ‘make it uncomfortable’ to shower at the YMCA

Why this particular creature continues to get news coverage is a matter of continued concern and befuddlement. The last time this humunculus stood for electoral office in his home state, the people who knew him best thrashed him like a rented mule, as he lost by double digit margins.  Proving that voters in Pennsylvania still maintain some capacity for discrimination between fact and fiction, which is more than we can save for this entity.

 

Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum recently told a group of students that they needed to fight for conservative values in “every aspect of your life” because liberals who support abortion rights even “make it uncomfortable” to shower at the YMCA if you disagree with their views.

In a video clip posted by Right Wing Watch on Tuesday, Rick Santorum told the group Students for Life that the truth would only win “if you have the passion, winsomeness and charity to bring to this debate, to bring it to your communities, to bring it to every aspect of your life.”

“You see, what the left does, what the pro-choice movement does is they just don’t focus on their little issue, they focus on everything they do and every aspect of their life,” he explained. “They make it uncomfortable for students who come to Austin to shower at a young men’s Christian association YMCA gym.”

“Because they live it. They’re passionate. They’re willing to do and say uncomfortable things in mixed company. They’re willing to make the sacrifice at their business because they care enough… They simply won’t give up. We have the truth and we give up! We have righteousness and we give up because it’s unpopular!”

Santorum exists as a political force largely because he can “energize the base,” otherwise tossed red meat to the evangelicals, Christian conservatives and Aryan brotherhood types who have managed to stuff themselves in the clown car of the drooling right. Yet, as Charles Pierce has observed about Scott Walker, “do not sleep on this one.” While we may snicker and shake our heads, this sort of divisive, us–against–them commentary serves to further poison an already toxic political climate.

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#NoNeedToSatirize: Nugent: ‘People who hate Ted Nugent hate freedom.’ 

We are thinking not. We’re thinking perhaps there are just people who hate Ted Nugent who hate Ted Nugent.

 

 For my money, this next item is the topper for the week:

Gun rights advocate and right-wing provocateur Ted Nugent lashed out on Saturday at critics of his recent remarks on race and protesters who are trying to have his Tuesday show in New Haven, Connecticut canceled. The New Haven Register quoted an interview with Maine AM radio station WGAN, Nugent said that slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin was a “gangster wanna-be” who was motivated by “bloodthirst,” and that the teenager got what he deserved.

“People who hate Ted Nugent hate freedom,” the rocker alleged. “Trayvon got justice.”

Martin said that Martin’s violent tendencies were to blame for the escalation of his confrontation with George Zimmerman. He also accused the teen of racism for calling Zimmerman a “cracka.”

Nugent called a group of petitioners who want his August gig at the nightclub Toad’s Place in New Haven canceled “subhuman numbnuts.” He said that the Obama administration and Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder are “just bad people,” although, he said, it “pains” him to have to say so.

Connecticut petitioner Barbara Fair said that she and other protesters are against Nugent playing in the same state where the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre took place. She told the Register that Nugent’s views are not what the protest is about, but what he says on the national stage, including his racist rants since the George Zimmerman verdict, in which he blamed African-Americans for their own oppression. He also criticized Trayvon Martin’s parents, saying they should ask themselves why they raised a gangsta wannabe, Skittles hoodie boy.”

 Tracking the remarks of people like Da Nuge  makes an old man despair of being a member of the human race in what’s left of the United States of America.  Part of the endless, self-referential torrent of bullshit that passes for mass media these days depends on the Ted Nugents  and Ann Coulters and Michael Savages of the world saying things so outrageous that they pass the bounds of decency, thus further weakening the bounds of decency for the next  assault, as they drop their pants, squat down and squeeze out yet another opinion that would have been unthinkable to utter 20 years ago.

This franchise will be dormant for the next week, possibly two.  Family events, out-of-town visitors, and a beach wedding are at hand. Arrangements to make, fatted calves to slay, etc. And I have other articles in the queue that have suffered from lack of time to fully investigate and complete. So perhaps I will do that with the odd remaindered bits of time that I may find in the next week or so. I appreciate your indulgence; the hiatus may keep me from opening a vein.

Meanwhile, don’t forget that we operate a reasonably vibrant Facebook page, that reflects key postings on the diner forum, articles from the Diner blog, plus articles of interest from many usual suspects around the blogosphere at https://www.facebook.com/DoomsteadDiner.

Plus Kudos to JD for yeoman work in standing up the Diner Twitter feed, already vibrant with activity, and enough to make an old man get a twitter account. Damn it. Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666

–Surly1
@Surly01

Occupy Sandy Aids Storm Victims

Off the keyboard of Anthony Cartalucci

Published on Land Destroyer on November 26, 2012

Discuss this article at the Epicurean Delights Smorgasbord inside the Diner

Local disaster response outpaces, outperforms, outclasses federal relief efforts.Editor’s Note: For the past two years I have been writing about what is wrong in this world. Now I believe the time has come to focus more attention on what we should do about it. From agriculture to technology, to local education and infrastructure, to leveraging the latest in science and technology to improve and expand our healthcare system, the newly created website LocalOrg will serve as a clearinghouse for both concepts and success stories.

We are not helpless observers. If we don’t like what we see everyday when we read the news, now is the time to commit our intellect and our own two hands to building the future we would rather see – not merely pawning off this great responsibly to “elected representatives” who habitually defy our will and purposefully work against our best interests.
The following article was written as one of the first exclusive entries for LocalOrg. If you have solutions or success stories you would like to see researched and covered, e-mail me at cartalucci@gmail.com.

-Tony Cartalucci
….

November 26, 2012 (LocalOrg) – Local people know best what’s going on on a local level. Federal agencies busy appropriating budgets and following protocol will never be able to compete against competent, well-organized local networks.

 


When Hurricane Sandy swept New York City earlier this month, people waited for Red Cross and FEMA to respond, seemingly under the impression that the right and responsibility to react to a disaster laid solely in the hands of the state. When it became clear that the urgent response needed was never coming, people who were already organized as part of ongoing anti-corporate and banking protests used their infrastructure to begin relieving affected people.

The Black Agenda Report’s article, “The Hurricane and the Failed State,” notes that:

So-called advanced nations are never so advanced that they can stand up to the forces of nature. New York and New Jersey are just the latest examples of seemingly safe and “developed” places which were laid low by a change in the weather. Then again, things outside of human control can expose what was already present but kept hidden. Hurricane Sandy showed us that our society is in reality, not advanced at all.

After the hurricane struck the east coast, it was clear that the United States is nothing more than a failed state with a big military and a strong currency. There is nothing in place to help the masses of citizens in times of crisis. That is because the system isn’t meant to help them. It is meant to help certain individuals and corporations, and everyone else is on their own.

The article continued:

The charitable organization most people were directed to was the Red Cross. That same Red Cross did nothing after receiving millions of dollars in donations during hurricane Katrina, yet is still forced down Americans’ throats as the only solution in every catastrophe. The borough president of Staten Island, righteously angry about Red Cross inaction, used the occasion of a press conference to tell the public to stop giving them money.

While the Red Cross collected more than $23 million dollars during a celebrity telethon but did nothing with the money, Occupy Sandy had no money yet managed to provide food, clothing and medical care to the hardest hit neighborhoods. The Occupy teams pumped water from damaged homes and even gave direction to the National Guard and FEMA teams. The least effective group got all the cash, but Occupy did the real work without help from the public or private sector.

The article concludes by stating:

The new lessons are the same as the old. Activism without acquiescence to political power can succeed in bringing about tremendous change. There will always be catastrophes but we should not expect a failed system to save us from them.

The conclusion is particularly meaningful and should remind us all that ultimately we ourselves are the only ones who truly have our own best interests at heart – and the interests of our friends, families, and neighbors.

If ever a sentiment has been qualified by a real world example, the community response marshaled by the underfunded, underrated Occupy Sandy movement – working in the shadow of multi-million dollar federal agencies and international organizations – is it. Occupy Sandy’s advantage was that despite the little resources they had, their intentions were genuine, their purpose was both urgent and personal, and the stakes were a community they themselves must live in and the benefits of getting it back up and running again as quickly as possible.

Whatever one may blame Hurricane Sandy on, or what the political beliefs are of Occupy Sandy may be, when the moment of truth came, they put politics aside, and successfully utilized pragmatism to solve urgent and overwhelming problems.

Whatever your organization may be, coming up with your own local contingency plans, as well as studying the successes of movements like Occupy Sandy, should become a priority. Because whatever the constant din of reassuring federal propaganda may have you believe, from New Orleans to New York, the real message is clear – get a plan, get a program, and do it yourself or it won’t get done.

A Year of Occupy

Off the Surly keyboard

Discuss this article at the Geopolitics Table inside the Diner

A Year of Occupy

 The following article is a look back at a Year of Occupy from someone who has been an active participant. While noting the history of the movement in a rough way, it draws primarily upon the writer’s firsthand experience with the local manifestations of Occupy. The local movement started in a series of meetings last September in Norfolk, VA, and burst into full bloom on October 6 of last year. What remains of the local group is planning an anniversary event for October 6 of this year. Any omissions, mischaracterizations, mis-statement of facts, bowdlerizations, calumnies, disinformation or misdemeanors are the responsibility of the author alone, who is striving mightily herein to NOT live up to his nom-de-plume.

“Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness, and our ability to tell our own stories…” – ~Arundhati Roy

 

    

Arab Spring, American Fall

OWS Poster

It will be a year ago this weekend that a group called Occupy Wall Street made an encampment at Zuccotti Park and captured the imagination of the world. The largest collective national protest in 40 years inspired other Occupy camps to spring up like mushrooms after a summer rain across the FSA in imitation and tribute. Many were inspired by visitors to Zuccotti, who came like pilgrims to look, march, participate, and understand. In the space of just a few weeks the repressed and frustrated found their voice, and expressed it in “mad as hell” Howard Beale moments across the country.

OWS was originally inspired by Kalle Lasn and Micah White of Adbusters, a Canadian anti-consumerist publication, who conceived of a September 17 occupation in lower Manhattan. A peaceful occupation of Wall Street was promoted with an image featuring a dancer atop Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull statue.

Also inspired in part by Egyptian mass protests in Tahrir Square, Occupy protesters put forward the main issues of social and economic inequality, corporate greed, corruption and the undue influence of corporations on government—particularly from the financial services sector. The OWS slogan, “We are the 99%,” addresses the growing income inequality and wealth distribution in the U.S. between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population. Lack of justice on the part of Justice Departments was also an issue, as the Feds failed to prosecute those who had brought about a global crisis of monetary insolvency. (Far better, it would seem, for the attorney general to focus on free speech demonstrators and whistleblowers.)

Protesters were forced out of Zuccotti Park on November 15, 2011, with a coordinated raid on other Occupy camps following on shortly thereafter. While there have been unsuccessful attempts to re-occupy the original location, protesters have turned their focus on occupying banks, corporate headquarters, board meetings, college and university campuses, along with Wall Street itself.

So what has Occupy achieved?

          

Banks Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out

It’s fair to say that occupy has changed the conversation. Within the space of a year, we tend to forget how in a country deeply resistant to notions of class, where everyone is” middle class”, the development of any sort of class consciousness is quite remarkable. Most Americans find it difficult to stomach the sight of the 1% being bailed out and then earning obscene profits while they, or their family, friends, and neighbors, are looking for work without success.

The escalating income inequality evident from the 30 year class war begun under the Reagan Administration against the working people of the US reached its apex at the presence of Occupy. Phrases like “The 99%,” “the 1%,” changed the national conversation and the prevailing narrative forever. Occupy’s mission was to expose how the 1% are controlling our fates through the financialization of all aspects of economic and political life. The evidence is abundant: the middle class is drowning in loans, student debt, fraudulent mortgages, and a democracy being sold to the highest bidder, all while our environment is turned into yet another toxic asset, and those assets which we hold in common are sold off to the highest bidder as well.

        

November saw a coordinated attack on camps all across the country. Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was one who admitted to being on the phone with the Department of Homeland Security. It seems clear that Homeland Security orchestrated a coordinated set of attacks led locally by  increasingly militarized local police departments. Armed with budgets swollen by several years of homeland security grants coupled with outright gifts of military and paramilitary gear, local police decided to move on Occupy encampments such as the one in Norfolk, clad in full riot gear and tearing down tents with paramilitary zeal. What had been cordial relations between occupiers and the police quickly became hostile in an astonishing fashion.

Occupiers were arrested; trumped up charges brought, later dismissed in court.. As with the attack on Zuccotti, the assaults on the camps were often staged at hours where they would attract the least attention. And where the local press ran a story, the thrust of the story was predictably on the side of “take a bath and get a job.”

Anita in back of squad car at Occupy Norfolk arrest

    

Carmen arrested at the Occupy Norfolk camp in Commercial Park. (Abhi Photo)

 

What is interesting is the timing of these attacks on the camps. During the month of October, as camps were beginning across the country, much of the effort concentrated on a quotation mark move your money” effort, asking people to move their accounts from the large banks to smaller, community banks or credit unions. The move your money day was November 6. By some estimates Bank of America lost $4 billion of deposits in the month of October as a result of this effort. More people moved gtheir bank accounts in the month of October than had moved in all of 2010. Shortly afterwards that the coordinated assault on the camps began.

 

These attacks created new memes. New York Mayor Bloomberg got to claim that he controlled his” own private army”, the 7th largest in the world.

      

And in another show of disproportionate force on the West coast, Lieut. John Pike became famous as “pepper spray man” as he was photographed employing blinding pepper spray on sitting, peaceful protesters at the University of California Davis. (In one small scrap of justice, it should be noted that Lieut. Pike and UC Davis have parted company as of this past summer.)

Apolitical

Much as been made about Occupy being non-political. The easy peg on which to hang Occupy  is as the lefty counterpart to the Tea Party. Yet Occupy has never been embraced by the Democrats, and with good reason. Most Occupiers distrust Democrats as fully as they do Republicans.

Given the Democratic party’s reliance on campaign contributions from the very sources the Occupy movement opposed, along with its support of bailouts for the financial sector, the Dems were never going to give their full backing to the Occupy movement unless the movement became a viable force politically. Any astute political observer knew the Democratic establishment would not work to achieve the goals of the Occupy movement, particularly at the national level. Hillary Rodham Clinton raised nearly $20 million from Wall Street when she was a senator. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has received more than $5 million from the same sources since 2007, and Barack Obama received more than $15 million from the investment industry during the 2008 election cycle. This year, the Democratic National Committee has raised more than $10 million from the securities and investment community, the same people against which Occupy takes to the streets.

Some wanted the Occupy movement needed to put forth its own slate of candidates in primaries and local races — as the tea party began doing in 2008 when it became disillusioned with Republicans — to either replace the Democrats who wouldn’t support their positions or to force incumbent Democrats to adopt the views of the movement. Of course the teahadis were subsidized by the Koch Brothers and other reactionaries as useful minions able to advance their far-right agenda.

Of course, the Occupy movement could not offer its own candidates or alternatives because it never offered a clear, coherent vision or plan of action. Those who wished to turn Occupy into a co-optable political movement asserted that abstract ideas and clever slogans had to give way to concrete proposals and electoral agendas.

Like the people at the heart of the Egyptian revolution, those spearheading the Occupy movement were the youth, the intellectuals and academics, people with lofty ideals but with little practical experience in governing. Without a mechanism to turn ideals into policy, many would say Occupy is simply spinning its wheels.

             

A Winter of Discontent

The violent crackdown on peaceful dissent, and the relative brutality of police tactics, especially when confronted with peaceful protesters, became an issue of concern for Occupiers as much as it was ignored in the mainstream media. The mainstream media had hung Occupy on the news peg of the “black bloc anarchists,” whose presence among occupiers is almost always synonymous with infiltrators, either of the Homeland Security or the local police variety. (It became an article of faith among our local Occupy groups that anybody exhorting other people to violence head de facto identified himself as an infiltrator, pink hair or not. And, although I can’t prove this, I believe to this day that our local Occupies were rotten with them.)

The escalating criminalization of dissent has gone hand-in-hand with an increasingly ubiquitous surveillance society. In the wake of the PATRIOT act, we have become complacent, and have watched silently as cameras become ubiquitous at the same time that our rights to privacy are diminished. Even the recent case in which a New York judge has ruled that Twitter must give the court three months worth of tweets from a user in a pending case involving an Occupy Wall Street protester is yet another chilling trend. The freedom for corporations to act as persons increases, while the freedom for private individuals to act likewise diminishes. And the power of government to abet the aims of corporations, while inhibiting the aims of individuals continues unchecked.

As Aaron Cynic has said,

Plenty of people might dismiss connecting these requests and other instances that highlight targeted suppression of dissent as mere paranoia. Such tactics have a chilling effect on legitimate dissent, and the efforts by multiple law enforcement agencies to question, detain and arrest activists of varying stripes points to a much more dangerous world. More than a decade ago, former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said that when it came to dissent in troubled times, Americans should “watch what they say and what they do.” Rhetoric like Fleischer’s and quick quips today from politicians like “if you’re not doing anything illegal, you shouldn’t be worried” shows an increasing acceptance of the criminalization of dissent, and points towards a disturbing future.

Such rhetoric is now become the norm.

It in spite of the increased emphasis on security Occupy groups remained active in supporting a variety of demonstrations and movements. Throughout the winter and early spring, our local groups supported actions protesting NDAA, the prospect of war with Iran, staged a very successful Mayday action in coordination with many other Occupy groups throughout the country, and had a very successful statewide General Assembly in Roanoke. A dedicated and committed core of volunteers kept the flame alive over months.

Circular firing squad

Occupy polity is messy. Decisions in this leaderless organization are made by the Gen. assembly which consists of all those people who identify with the local occupy organization, who gather together to share announcements, to deliberate on proposals initiated by workgroups, and to otherwise mount the virtual soapbox and share what is on their hearts. A general assembly is not a Rotary breakfast. The advantages of the leaderless group are obvious: it is far less easy to co-opt or decapitate. On the other hand, it is extremely difficult to get things done. One or a few individuals with agendas can derail the work of the group.

Day 14 Occupy Wall Street

There is also a great deal of concern about co-optation. During this past summer we saw the schism between OWS and the 99% Declaration, which was another group that sprung up from OWS but  split with them along fault lines of concern. The Adbusters people, for example, attacked the 99% Declaration as the product of “the same cabal of old world thinkers who  blunted the possibility of revolution for decades.” Not surprisingly, the 99% Declaration was led by a former lawyer for Goldman Sachs. It’s ironic that having given birth to the notion of “the 99%,” Occupy finds subsequent movements eager to use the 99% moniker and elbow the originators out of the way, often to achieve political objectives. The truth is that many occupiers are disgusted with both political parties, including this writer. I hold with Gore Vidal who, in 1970, observed that “the Democrats and Republicans are the left and right wings of the Property Party.”

What has happened locally, especially in Norfolk, is that many of the original founders of the local Occupy movement, many of whom were Ron Paul libertarians, fell away from the movement, either from disaffection with what seemed to them to be a progressive left agenda, or for Occupy’s refusal to endorse any party or candidate. In any event, those people are gone and their energy is missed.

Without camps around which to coalesce, the survival of local Occupies becomes challenging. It is made even more so by the impact of marginal personalities, group dysfunction, selfishness, jealousies, and gossip, and all of the other many human frailties to which most of us are all too prone. Locally, one person who is a garden-variety bully, has disrupted the proceedings of two Occupy groups (and is now working on a third) with lurid tales of intrigue, lost love, and defamation of character. Moreover, in an organization that resists being an organization, and which behaves far more like an affinity group, affinities get strained by gossip, whispering campaigns, he-said-she-said, and the sort of thing one might have thought best left behind in high school.

On a personal note, I can be depended upon to utter one phrase in most situations: “Be who you say you are; do what you say you’re going to do.” It is both galling and frustrating to have the work of a group be hijacked by somebody’s failure to execute. But what do we do, dock their pay?

Sign from March on Wall Street South (D. Digati photo)

March on Wall Street South (D. Digati photo)

What next?

The future of Occupy depends solely upon the ability of local groups to generate and maintain enthusiasm for the cause. As noted above, it is very difficult to sustain enthusiasm in the absence of a campsite. Many municipalities have gone out of their way to make it difficult for occupied groups to camp by passing ordinances restricting camping within city limits, etc.

Our colleagues in Occupy Roanoke have a different and productive example. They enjoy good relations with the local police and are in good odor with the local press. They are well funded, fully fuctional, and smart.

One of the ongoing conundrums of Occupy is that in order to realize “a better world is possible,” we have to behave in different ways, and we are ill trained to do so. Few have the vision and discipline necessary to set aside personal agenda and ego. Raised in a culture of craven materialism, where every transaction and relationship is financialized, in a culture that elevates the Cult of the Individual, “competition” is normal. We are marinated in the values we wish to change. It is cooperation, and self-sacrifice, and putting the other first, that is essential. Some might call it servant leadership. A communitarian spirit is a concept so alien and foreign to most of us that it might as well be Martian.

As Thom Hartmann has said in The Last Days of Ancient Sunlight, and in a different context, “We need new stories.”

It may be that the Occupy moment has come and gone. The changes in the prevailing economic narrative remain. What we do about them is anybody’s guess, but in an era where the PATRIOT act has been amplified by the National Defense Authorization Act, enhanced crackdowns on whistleblowers and troublemakers, greatly enhanced surveillance, the use of drones, a militarized police, and at this writing, a Middle East in flames, it remains to be seen what happens next.

For my part, I can say that as a result of Occupy, I have met some of the finest and most remarkable people who it has ever been my pleasure to meet. I have built associations with other activists working on causes which for which we share a commitment. And in a quite unforeseen development, I even met the woman with whom I now share a home and a life, which came as an unbidden blessing.

So much good has come from Occupy, and whatever good that may yet come will be a result of the collective effort of all of us. Herein lies the challenge:

“The obvious point is that most social activists look constantly to the state for solutions to social problems. This point bears labouring, because the orientation of most social action groups tends to reinforce state power. This applies to most antiwar action too. Many of the goals and methods of peace movements have been oriented around action by the state, such as appealing to state elites and advocating neutralism and unilateralism. Indeed, peace movements spend a lot of effort debating which demand to make on the state: nuclear freeze, unilateral or multilateral disarmament, nuclear-free zones, or removal of military bases. By appealing to the state, activists indirectly strengthen the roots of many social problems, the problem of war in particular…”
~ Brian Martin, ‘Uprooting War’

 

  

References:

http://bluemassgroup.com/2011/10/if-victory-is-dramatically-changing-the-conversation-then-occupy-has-already-won/

http://occupywallst.org/article/occupy-changed-conversation-now-we-change-world/

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/09/13-2

http://www.theroot.com/buzz/whither-occupy-wall-street-movement

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/02/whither-the-occupation/252441/

http://www.mercurynews.com/top-stories/ci_21072133/guest-commentary-whither-occupy-movement-these-days

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/01/lt-john-pike-uc-davis-pepper-spray-campus-police_n_1727933.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_606w/WashingtonPost/Content/Blogs/arts-post/Images/APTOPIX_Occupy_Seattle_0aa4c.jpg?uuid=JeAx_BBqEeGEZV6eLLi4GA

http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/newsfeed/000/203/669/gixXe.jpg?1321899388

http://www.disappearednews.com/2012/05/white-house-homeland-security-involved.html

http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/03/23/evidence-homeland-security-coordinated-occupy-crackdown/

http://www.inthesetimes.com/uprising/entry/12303/mayors_dhs_coordinated_occupy_attacks/

http://www.salon.com/2012/04/30/borrowing_the_occupy_brand/

http://politicker.com/2011/11/mayor-bloomberg-i-have-my-own-army-11-30-11/

http://www.diatribemedia.com/2012/07/09/the-increased-criminalization-of-dissent/

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/nov2011/pers-n15.shtml2011

http://fromthetrenchesworldreport.com/us-instigating-violent-crackdown-on-whistleblowers-dissent/19709/

http://www.thefastertimes.com/politicalmedia/2011/10/10/occupy-wall-street-brings-class-consciousness-to-america/

A New “Lost Generation?”

Comment on this article here.

 

My weekend plans to check out a potential doomstead having blown up, I found myself on Saturday night at a birthday party for a young Occupier who just turned 30. This is a young man from a neighboring Occupy group who had proven himself to be very intelligent: whenever he opened his mouth, he generally had something to say which was Right. On. Point. So I was happy to be able to attend, and looked forward to spending some time with him and his friends.

 

His apartment and the area outside was filled with young people, all of them 20- or 30- somethings. (My lady friend and I were the oldest people in attendance, by several decades.) After a long, protracted and frustrating search, the birthday celebrant finds himself working at a restaurant, learning a trade, and diligent in his cooperation with the owner to try to make that business profitable.  He is also wise enough to see the self-interest of learning everything he can right now, the better to gain knowledge to apply to his own career, and perhaps a restaurant of his own someday. So he is doing all right, and on his 30th, finds that he has some lift under his wings.

 

Everywhere within were the faces of earnest, fresh-faced people, full of life and exuberance and party spirits, friendly and willing to engage in conversation. The crazy kid who had recently passed a kidney stone (!), who became the resident paparazzi, taking pictures of everybody with great good humor; the intense redhead in the kitchen, engaged in thoughtful conversation, even with an old guy; the sincere young politico, whose lefty rant made my ears perk up; charming young women in attractive dress and better good humor . . .  The sorts of faces that two generations ago I might have encountered at any college party.  Some of these young people had completed or attended college, including the local community college. Many others had not.

Many of these young people in attendance were employed sketchily, if at all, in one of a variety of service level jobs. This was not a gaggle of young professionals, secure in their future prospects, educations paid for and themselves well on their way to professions laden with status and benefits. Rather, this was a group of young people who the captains of our economy forgot—working class people. People who grew up in circumstances much like my own.

When I saw last night was a gaggle of thirty-odd young people in various stages of coping with an economy in which all of the money had been sucked away.

Were both of us thirty years younger, what has occurred to these folks would have occurred to us as well. What became clear to us is that we had a ringside seat for the formation of an entire generation denied the expectation of  a functional middle-class lifestyle, the first generation in the history of this country without a reasonable expectation of doing better than their parents.

 

IN 1992, many of us chortled at H. Ross Perot in the TV debates, and wondered what he meant when he mentioned the “giant sucking sound” that NAFTA would create as North American jobs would be whisked to the maquilidoras. Now, twenty years later, we know what he meant. And our children are paying the price for our inattention and selfishness.

Many of us are old enough to remember when it was possible for working-class kids, particular those without a higher education, to go to work, get a job, and make a life for themselves. Own a house, own a car, to maybe own a vacation home or a boat—none of that was beyond the reach of a factory worker making a decent wage. For the young people in attendance at this party last night, the new normal looks like this: part-time work, topping out at 35 hours per week, so as to not incur the obligation of paying for benefits, no health insurance, living either at home, or in an apartment with several other people to share expenses, no car, and an uncertain future.

Yet these exuberant partygoers were vibrant, attractive full of life, and intent on having a good time in the face of all. There is nothing wrong with their work ethic or attitudes. Here’s one example:

One young woman told her story of working two jobs to be able to go to aesthetician school, so that she could work in a shop, and potentially have her own shop someday. She successfully completed the course of study, and began work at what she called her “dream job.” Then she ran afoul of The Law. I did not get the entire story, and did not push for it, but she apparently incurred a fine for a motor vehicle infraction that she could not pay, and lost her license. The next day, driving without a license (yes, I know), at a  red light, a cop ran her plates and discovered that fact. The local magistrate who heard her case was not amused, and with little empathy and less humor  remanded her to a week in jail. Which spelled the end of that “dream job.” Thus her employment and opportunity at a job she really loved came to grief, and now she works as a waitress at an IHOP, ostensibly to find another way to climb the career ladder.

 

Barbara Ehrenreich covered some of this ground in her book, “Nickel and Dimed- On (Not) Getting By in America” in which she went undercover as a low wage worker to find out how non-skilled workers make ends meet. The experiment took place in Florida, Maine, and Minnesota, with Ehrenreich finding a job and lodgings in each location. In each location, Ehrenreich worked full time and lived only off the amount of money earned in those low-wage jobs. Her goal was to determine whether or not she could both live off the money earned and have enough money at the end of the month to pay the next month’s rent. One of the things Ehrenreich learned is how easy it is to get in serious trouble with the law because you don’t have a whole lot of money.

In a subsequent interview, Ehrenreich said, “It is now easy to get into serious trouble with the law because you don’t have much money – and then to get poorer and poorer because you get in serious trouble with the law. The classic example would be if you have a broken headlight on your car, but you can’t fix it because that would cost over $100. So you get stopped by the police, and you get a fine of maybe $100 or $200. If you could have paid that, you could have fixed the damn light! Now you have this debt to the government. If you don’t pay that, you begin to be in really big trouble that just builds and builds. More fines and fees are added, and they will all accumulate interest too. At some point, if you haven’t paid, you are very likely to have a warrant out for your arrest.”

While some of us might look down the nose of a young person who continues to drive without a license, I find that our very system of laws tends to concentrate on further disadvantaging the last and the least among us. Not for nothing are our private for profit prisons guaranteed a 90 per cent occupancy by the states that contract with them, and are they filled with people guilty of victimless crimes.

Several partygoers had either attended college without completion, accumulating student loans with little prospect of paying them off in the near term, or have graduated from college, with even more loans trailing along behind, and were unable to find a job by which to launch a career. An astonishing number of these thirtysomethings were living back at home, and for their trouble were hearing from their parents, “Why don’t you show some initiative and go out and get a job?” I assume these parents have apparently have not opened a newspaper in the last 20 years.

After the party, I discussed some of these issues with my friend. She recalled her own experience at the age of 19 wondering, “What should do with my life? How might I make my way? What career should I choose?” And at least she perceived herself as having the opportunity to choose from among a range of options, as did I with the benefit of a university education, and a notion of my chosen field.

So what do we have to show for the forty year class war and dismantling of American manufacturing? We have created a generation without recourse to higher education as a practical matter, because children of the working class have as their only option to finance said education the assumption of massive debt. And assuming you have the risk tolerance to assume said debt, that is a huge bet placed against the prospect of an  uncertain future of finding employment in their chosen field. Whether you do or not, the debt, the ruinous debt, remains, and cannot be discharged, apparently even by bankruptcy. What a system.

So what do the facts say? This from May 2010:

In 2007, 5.4 percent of college graduates under the age of 25 were unemployed; the official rate is now 9.0 percent. The number of unemployed high school graduates jumped from 12 percent in 2007 to 22.5 percent. Over this three-year period, the youth labor force (workers age 16 to 24) has contracted by 1.1 million workers, the report found, and an additional 1.2 million more “have become disconnected from both formal schooling and work.”

This 5 percent drop represents the largest contraction for any age group in the population. “For the class of 2010,” the report states, “it will be one of the worst years to graduate high school or college since at least 1983 and possibly the worst since the end of World War II.”

Indeed, the entire US workforce faces one of the toughest job markets in the post-World War II era. Official unemployment currently stands at 9.5 percent, and most economists predict that these high levels will persist for years to come. As in countless countries in Europe and around the world, the ruling class of the US has attempted to avert financial crisis from the stock markets and the banks onto the backs of the working class, both through government debt and through the imposition of social austerity measures.

Such measures, however, put deflationary pressures on economies throughout the globe, increasing the likelihood of a further turn in the downwardly spiraling global economy. This scenario presents the very real possibility that current US unemployment levels, far from improving, are situated to increase, perhaps drastically, in the near future.

Amid this grim economic atmosphere, young workers are compelled to take on gargantuan levels of student debt, and are confronted by the complete absence of even the threadbare social safety net available to other demographics.

Students graduating with a bachelor’s degree from public four-year institutions owe on average $19,535. Undergraduates completing degrees at private four-year institutions now owe, on average, $25,350. In comparison, these same figures in the 2000-2001 academic year were $14,916 and $16,906 respectively.

Most students now finish their degrees in six years, or not at all, due in large part to the burden of carrying a full workload while pursuing their education.

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/may2010/stud-m28.shtml

Not surprisingly, a surprisingly large number of these young people are completely disaffected with the consumerist, happy motoring lifestyle, which offers them little aside from low-level service jobs, and are pursuing ways of living that are more sustainable and less contributive to the giant capitalist bloodsucking wealth machine.

As I spoke with these folks and collected their stories, it  also occurred to me that a generation without little hope and fewer prospects could be easily swayed to vote for somebody who offers both. Were I in their shoes, it would be easy to listen to blandishments of a Man on Horseback.  Recently  Endisnigh published some comments in the Forum from Craig Dilworth, among which these stood out:

“As regards free trade, Douthwaite points out that international free trade inescapably leads to a levelling down. It means that salaries and wages will tend to converge at Third World levels, and social security provisions in industrial countries will continue to be cut, since these are an overhead that economies cannot bear if they are to compete successfully with countries without them. Only the owners of the surviving transnational companies and of natural resources will escape the general impoverishment. Already the islands of prosperity are growing steadily smaller in an otherwise sick, dilapidated and hungry world. “

More Dilworth:

In the excitement over the unfolding of his scientific and technical powers, modern man has built a system of production that ravishes nature and a type of society that mutilates man. If only there were more and more wealth, everything else, it is thought, would fall into place. Money is considered to be all-powerful; if it could not actually buy non-material values, such as justice, harmony, beauty or even health, it could circumvent the need for them or compensate for their loss. The development of production and the acquisition of wealth have thus become the highest goals of the modern world in relation to which all other goals, no matter how much lip-service may still be paid to them, have come to take second place. The highest goals require no justification; all secondary goals have finally to justify themselves in terms of the service their attainment renders to the attainment of the highest. This is the philosophy of [ social ] materialism, and it is this philosophy – or metaphysic – which is now being challenged by events.

Dilworth (2010-03-12). Too Smart for our Own Good (p. 400 – 405). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

So this coming generation may be primed and ready for a man on horseback, offering to lead them to a promised land, the paving stones of which ostensibly come from  the clawback of health benefits, pensions, Social Security, and other attributes of the “nanny state” that we use to characterize as the American dream, and which, under the influence of far too much Tea, we now call “socialism.”

 

Because of Wall Street bailouts, the Bush tax cuts, various scams and other welfare for the rich, the money that used to employ people has been sucked out of the economy.  Money is now scant for education, for job creation, training or for social services for unemployed young Americans. Any funding for basic social spending is predicated on austerity, on gutting the living standards of American workers and opening such areas as education, health services and infrastructure to further privatization and profit-taking at the expense of the public.

And we call this policy. It is a crime against the next generation. And this, among other reasons, is why I Occupy.

 

How many people died for your eight-hour day?

Discuss this article at the Economics table in the Diner

How many people died for your eight-hour day?

The first week of May is the anniversary of some of the bloodiest struggles in the history of labor, culminating in a holiday commemorated worldwide in recognition of American events, but ignored by design in the United States.

In Hampton Roads, several Occupy groups came together to plan an action whose results quill be seen on Tuesday. All of this effort in support of the Occupy call for a general strike on Tuesday.

Many of the labor conditions that we accept as our birthright came at a huge cost, generally borne by working-class people banding together to insist on better conditions for themselves and their comrades. As Americans, we take for granted the many working conditions that were won for us only by the struggle of organized workers coming together in common to work for common goals.  From the vantage point of 2012, it’s easy to forget that the eight hour day was such a radical, leftist idea that police would fire into crowds of workers to stop it.The 8 hour day was actually a labor movement in the 19th century that took place over decades.

May 1 is a national holiday in more than 80 countries. International Workers’ Day (also known as May Day) is a celebration of the international labor movements. It commonly sees organized street demonstrations and marches by working people throughout most of the world. International Workers’ Day is the commemoration of the 1886 Haymarket Massacre in Chicago.

This 1886 engraving was the most widely reproduced image of the Haymarket affair. It inaccurately shows Fielden speaking, the bomb exploding, and the rioting beginning simultaneously.

 

Following the Civil War, the United States experienced a rapid expansion of industrial production. Chicago was a major industrial center and tens of thousands of German and Bohemian immigrants were employed at pauper’s wages, about $1.50 a day. Not surprisingly, the city became a center for many attempts to organize labor’s demands for better working conditions. Employers responded with repressive tactics, including acts of violence, often abetted by police.

On May 1, 1886, in support of the eight-hour day, Albert Parsons, head of the Chicago Knights of Labor, accompanied by his wife, two children, and 80,000 fellow workers, marched down Michigan Avenue, Chicago, in what is regarded as the first modern May Day Parade. Every road in Chicago stopped running, and most of the industries in Chicago were paralyzed. The stockyards were shut down. The state militia had been called out, and the police were ready. In the next few days they were joined nationwide by 350,000 workers who went on strike at 1,200 factories, including 70,000 in Chicago, 45,000 in New York, 32,000 in Cincinnati, and additional thousands in other cities. Some workers gained shorter hours (eight or nine) with no reduction in pay; others accepted pay cuts with the reduction in hours.

On May 3, 1886, August Spies, editor of the Arbeiter-Zeitung (Workers Newspaper), spoke at a meeting of 6,000 workers, and afterwards many of them moved down the street to harass strikebreakers at the McCormick plant in Chicago. At a subsequent rally on May 4 to protest this violence, a bomb exploded at a rally in Haymarket Square. The bomb wounded 66 policeman, of whom 7 later died. The police fired into the crowd killing several people and wounding over 200. Hundreds of labor activists were rounded up and the prominent leaders arrested, tried, convicted, and executed giving the movement its first martyrs. Those put on trial were guilty only of their ideas. None of the accused had been at Haymarket that day except for one, who was speaking when the bomb exploded. A jury found them guilty and they were sentenced to death.

 

Engraving of the seven anarchists sentenced to die. An eighth defendant, Oscar Neebe, not shown here, was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

There was some evidence to suggest that the person who actually threw the bomb was an agent of the police, and agent provocateur, hired to throw the bomb enable the arrest of hundreds of people, and thus the revolutionary leadership. This was never proved. The immediate effect was to suppress the radical movement of labor. But the long-term in fact was the fan the flames of class anger in many and to inspire many others to action the revolutionary and labor causes, and effort that would bear fruit in subsequent generations. Many thousand people signed petitions and a later governor of Illinois, John Peter Altgeld, investigated what happened and pardon the 3 remaining prisoners who had not yet been executed.

The American Federation of Labor, meeting in St Louis in December 1888, set May 1, 1890 as the day that American workers should work no more than eight hours. The International Workingmen’s Association meeting in Paris in 1889, endorsed the date for international demonstrations, thus starting the international tradition of May Day.

May 1  is known as May day and celebrated as international workers day across the world, except in the United States, where the official holiday for workers is Labor Day in September. This is because Pres. Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the Haymarket Massacre and thus create martyrs. So he moved in 1887 to support Labor Day in September, and thus obscure the focus on the rights of working people. Right wing governments have traditionally sought to repress the message behind international workers day, with results that we see today.

The site of the Haymarket affair was designated as a landmark in Chicago in 1992, and the public sculpture was dedicated in 2004.

The lessons of history demonstrate that change ONLY happens when ordinary people band together to educate one another and work to achieve their common interests. This is why we occupy.

The Philosopher, the Austrians, and the Occupiers

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It was called, “A Marxist and Free Market Analysis of the Crisis in Capitalism and public forum. It was sponsored by the Old Dominion University Philosophy club. Who would’ve thought that such a thing as a philosophy club could possibly exist in this era of untrammeled free markets and Ayn Randian supermen striding like colossi across the post 9-11 landscape?

The ODU Philosophy Club, Halie Hovenga photo

 
Well it does, they do, and it all unfolded on April 6 on the campus of Old Dominion University. It was organized by members of the ODU Philosophy Club and facilitated by Halie Hovenga, president of the  Club and a philosophy major/women’s studies minor, working towards her undergraduate degree.
 

Halie Hovenga offers the introduction.

Featured speakers included Dr. Lawrence Hatab, Dr. Rod Evans, and Prof. Anthony Nattania, along with Ed Hightower of the Socialist Equality Party, several young men from ODU Out, plus two Occupiers, Tess Amuroso, artist and photographer, and Deb Lassiter, a local activist. An interesting, if combustible mix.

 
 

Dr. Hatab was the first to speak. A tweedy, affable and clearly thoughtful fellow, Dr. Hatab was a University Professor and Eminent Scholar and has variety of degrees from Villanova, Fordham et al. and a resume brimming with the variety of publications one would associate with an Eminent Scholar, spanning neighborhoods from Nietsche to Heidigger,  through Postmodern Politics and “The Redemption of Time and Politics.” Brimming with a sense of both incredulity and outrage at the excesses of the market and their government enablers in 2008, Hatab came to engage the assignment, that being an analysis of a “crisis in capitalism.” One of his more fascinating observations was that he thought that the Marxist view of capital would work if it weren’t for the phenomenon of corporate welfare.  He noted that we do not have the capitalist system whether we have a crony capitalist system in which government picks winners and losers through the various mechanisms of tax breaks, favorable legislation, and outright gifts, not to mention no-bid Government contracts . . .

Dr. Hatab described our state as “welfare capitalism” and that without welfare capitalism, Marx would’ve been right. He noted the meltdown of 2008 as an example, in which massive wealth was transferred to banks while risk transferred to the taxpayers, in the form of debts that will likely prove unpayable. He talked at some length about the way that what used to be tangible has become abstract– the phenomenon of derivatives, and “rehypothification,” et al . . .an interesting rabbit hole regarding the nature of money as a quantitative unit standing for qualitative things. His opinion was that these thieves and pirates on Wall Street understood exactly what they were doing: “These people make the old industrialists of the Gilded Age look like choir boys.”  Lending used to have something to do with relationship. Time was your mortgage banker was an individual, who looked you in the eye, assessed your value and reliability, and who otherwise had an interest in who you were and what your ability to pay might be.No more. Hatab decried the fact that the financial transaction itself is become utterly and completely abstract, its value restricted to the fees gained on their resale.

 
Hatab described the chaos of 2008 as a game of musical chairs: “As long as I can get my deal done before the music stops I am good to go,” the prevailing ethic. And it’s a long haul from the 1980s and Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street:” as Hatab noted, “Even Gordon Gekko had to look at the books from time to time.” Not this crowd today. These people are taking the “creative destruction” of the markets to new heights, and are interested only in getting paid. He observed these Great Players as “ubermenschen,” having corrupted Nietsche’s concepts by way of Ayn Rand into arrogance and bullshit.
 
Cue the apologists for the Masters of the Universe, fully thus arrayed.
 
In stark contrast to the assessment provided by Hatab, the next speakers came to establish a beachhead of free market libertarianism on the hostile shores of academe. I refer to them as “Austrians” because of the obvious reference to and dependence upon the work of Friedrich  Hayek and that body of economic theory known as the “Austrian school,” which extolls the virtues of the blessings of the  free-market, the primacy of individual responsibility and action, and the magical belief in the healing power of laissez-faire economics.

A “Free Market Analysis” was presented by Prof. Anthony Nattania, a professor of philosophy and religious studies since 2001. Nattania, tall, slender and understated, asked rhetorical questions to frame his argument. He laid many ills at the feet of Fannie and Freddie, and the infamous “no document loans” I had never heard of. The motives of fee-mongers had apparently not crossed his mind as a potential ill.

Prof. Nattania: Halie Hovenga photo

Nattania equated people who receive government services to “thieves.” He decried the attempts on the part of government to mitigate the problems caused by the poor choices made by individuals. and he thought that this level of coercion in which government picks winners and losers was the root of the problem.

His fellow Austrian, Dr. Rod Evans, was far more voluble. He came not to analyze, but to deliver a blistering manifesto of accusations against the state, in one instance managing to work “Nancy Pelosi” into the conversation twice in five minutes. Evans evidently intererned for a summer at the H. Ross Preot school for presentation, so ready was he with a variety of flipcharts for the easel. They appeared then disappeared with a staggering frequency. One example of the many in which he provided proof that it was the umngrateful proles of the working class that should bear the responsibility for all the ills that affect society: Unhealthful diet+inadequate exercise+drug use= explosion of health care costs. Why should they have to pay for health care because of the poor choices “they” make?

Dr. Evans

At no time did Evans give shrift of any kind to the role of Big Pharma in escalating drug use of market manipulation…

His presentation was a farrago of anecdotes and unfinished stories and selected instances– a broadside fueled by a slavish devotion to the Gospel according to Milton Friedman. (“You like Nobel prize Winners, don’t you?”) A familiar voice was heard to growl, “Not particularly,” thinking immediately of the Dronemeister-in-Chief. It was when he played the excerpt of a Friedman interview with Phil Donahue that a voice, sounding much like mine, could be heard arising to say, “May he burn in hell.” At this point my friends prepared to restrain me. Guess the white knuckles gripping the tabletop gave me away.
 
Evans made the mistake of accepting questions, and received several verbal brickbats tossed his way. People challenged his analysis. In response, his tactics was to make jokes, belittle, or to answer by posing a question he would then answer himself. My friend asked, “What obligation do the capitalists have toward the labor forces which made them rich? Should they share the fruits of their labor or abandon them to fend for themselves?”
 
Evans replied by asking if the questioner owned property or stocks? “If so, then you’re a capitalist.”
 
My friend responded, “I am simply a citizen trying to make my through the capitalist system.” Another Occupier demanded, “Answer her question.”  No dice.
 

Dr. Evans: Halie Hovenga photo

I asked Evans, “Why it was that the apologists for the one per cent, disciples of Hayek and Friedman, wanted to blame working people for the ills of society when they wielded exactly zero per cent of the power over the levers of action? How in a system captive by and servile to the interests of capital, the workers were responsible for bad outcomes? So the solution must be to remove such few protections to workers as remain?   And how, in this much to be hoped for absence of regulation of any sort over large corporate movers, American life would be in any wise distinguishable from that in Somalia, which, a society of warlords and pirates? Evans’ response was to to ask another question: “Were we not all interested in freedom? That a government strong enough to provide for your rights was strong enough to take them away.” While I have a continued, if quaint interest in both freedom and the Bill of Rights, I failed to see how this was a constructive answer; rather it was the good doctor’s attempt to jab himself out of a corner.
 
 
 
 
Evans made it clear that corporations owe nothing to anyone  but themselves, a system based on delusion. Which works quite well for one per cent of the population.
One woman across the hall made an interesting observation that had the smell of truth, much like cordite: She said, “Government is not the problem. Government is the prize, which is why so much effort and treasure is being expended right now by the radical right to seize the reins of government and rewrite the rule of law.” Res ipsa loquitor.

 

***

After a break, Ed Hightower offered a brief 20 minute summation of Marx’s analysis of capital. I was somewhat familiar with these, having reread the “Communist Manifesto,” A Christmas gift from my daughter. His presentation was basic: how “surplus value” is sieved from the working class by the capitalists. Some discusion of how socialism is not a moral idea, and discuision materialism v. idealism. This presentation was intellectual and could have benefitted from making the almost self-evident with more immediacy. Which is precisely what happened as the presentation came closer to the present day, as we saw how the economic position of the working class has collapsed since 1980, corresponding almost one-to -one with the transfer of wealth to the one per cent. The top 20% have realized a 277% increase in their income since 1970. As most of us know, the Reagan revolution has corresponded with the greatest transfer of wealth from the middle-class to the upper class in American history, an enormous boondoggle benefiting the upper 1%.The conservative professors sat and listened to this presentation, Hatab having already left. Then as the occupiers made ready to speak, and they all left and went outside, as if they had nothing left to learn. One could have made the excuse of other commitments, except that they stood outside and talk to one another while the occupier presentations were going on.

Tess Amoruso speaks at rally in January, 2012

Tess Amoruso was first. An artist and photographer, Tess showed a slide show of her pictures from various occupations ranging all over the country, while she made her appeal for peace and justice through people power, and envisioning a better world through the use of peaceful non-violent demonstration. Her words were deeply moving, her pictures absolutely riveting. I was transfixed by her work, and how the images, in series, moving from one occupation to another all along the East Coast, captured the essence of the essentially decency of most people who self-identify as Occupiers. With an eye for the telling detail or small truth, her images captured that oft-repeated truism that “we need to be the change that we envision in our world.” It is precisely those images I wish these self-satisfied professors had had the patience and willingness to see.

Deb Lassiter addresses January rally

Deb Lassiter followed. Deb is a guerrilla gardener, a longtime activist and, like Tess, another founding member of Occupy Norfolk. Deb and her partner Leo have reclaimed a crack house on a marginal neighborhood and have made it a place of beauty and goodwill, even creating a Peace garden. Deb spoke about the connection of the different movements from Tahrir Square through Wisconsin through OWS, and even this small group of of activists plunked in the navel of one of the greatest concentrations of military force in the world. In these movements we see the stirrings of a political consciousness that this generation has not seen, and that those of us a certain age of not seen since the Vietnam era. This is a struggle there will be largely led by the millennials. Rather than the intergenerational war suggested and hoped for by some, we shall see the boomers actually supporting the millennials in a search for for systemic change, in the hopes that we can leave a country worth living in for our children and grandchildren.
 
 
The Occupiers left the audience at the end of the three hour event with a sense of hope and possibility. What we see in front of us is a scramble for winners and losers, as people try to suss out a winning position before the music stops. And stop it will: peak energy, peak oil, peak education, peak bullshit. They urge us to consider that another world might indeed by possible. How we get there, especially given the forces arrayed against us, is anybody’s guess.
~Surly1
 
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