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WALL STREET UNDER OCCUPATION September 28, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
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The Occupy Wall Street movement has now extended to eleven days and nights. So far there has been police violence without sparking a response from the protesters. The protest has been derided, marginalized or otherwise ignored by the mass media.

What is happening and why? David Graeber at AlterNet sets out the context:

What we’ve learned now is that the economic crisis of the 1970s never really went away. It was fobbed off by cheap credit at home and massive plunder abroad – the latter, in the name of the “third world debt crisis”. But the global south fought back. The “alter-globalisation movement”, was in the end, successful: the IMF has been driven out of East Asia and Latin America, just as it is now being driven from the Middle East. As a result, the debt crisis has come home to Europe and North America, replete with the exact same approach: declare a financial crisis, appoint supposedly neutral technocrats to manage it, and then engage in an orgy of plunder in the name of “austerity”.

The form of resistance that has emerged looks remarkably similar to the old global justice movement, too: we see the rejection of old-fashioned party politics, the same embrace of radical diversity, the same emphasis on inventing new forms of democracy from below. What’s different is largely the target: where in 2000, it was directed at the power of unprecedented new planetary bureaucracies (the WTO, IMF, World Bank, Nafta), institutions with no democratic accountability, which existed only to serve the interests of transnational capital; now, it is at the entire political classes of countries like Greece, Spain and, now, the US – for exactly the same reason. This is why protesters are often hesitant even to issue formal demands, since that might imply recognising the legitimacy of the politicians against whom they are ranged.

When the history is finally written, though, it’s likely all of this tumult – beginning with the Arab Spring – will be remembered as the opening salvo in a wave of negotiations over the dissolution of the American Empire. Thirty years of relentless prioritising of propaganda over substance, and snuffing out anything that might look like a political basis for opposition, might make the prospects for the young protesters look bleak; and it’s clear that the rich are determined to seize as large a share of the spoils as remain, tossing a whole generation of young people to the wolves in order to do so. But history is not on their side.

On Democracy Now, Amy Goodman reports on the protest, including an interview with Nathan Schneider from Waging Nonviolence:

There is a live stream as well and a blog, OccupyWallStreeet.

Nathan Schneider’s letter to The Wall Street Journal said in part:

The protesters’ numbers have been growing, not “dwindling,” both in New York and in related occupations around the country. Though their views are diverse, what exactly unites them is anything but “impossible to decipher”: the rampant corruption of the country’s politics by a wealthy few.

At the symbolic heart of that corruption, protesters are making decisions and organizing themselves through a purposely leaderless, consensus-based process based on people, not money. For many Americans, nonviolent direct action like this is the best hope for having a political voice, and it deserves to be taken seriously by those of us in the press.

The numbers marching are difficult to judge. There are no counter protests to be seen. The achievement has been to sustain the physical protest over the time. It occurs to me that people in Egypt had the advantage of having mosques, institutions within which they could assemble.

Now that the political system in the US is so obviously controlled and directed by a moneyed power elite, it is clearly broken. The farce that is the Republican nomination is evidence, as are the decisions made by the Obama Administration. Labor Unions have been largely sidelined. One wonders whether the organization that put together is sufficient, but it is a potentially important development. A situation that cannot be sustained, won’t be sustained. Fascism is one possible outcome, given the negating of the Constitution, the malfunctioning of legislative, judicial and executive branches of government. The executive has assumed greater powers to murder, to engage in drone warfare, and the negate fundamental human rights. So what does democracy look like?

ELSEWHERE:

Danny Schechter reports for Al Jazeera.

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