OCCUPY WALL STREET: WORKING OR NOT? October 4, 2011Posted by wmmbb in Democracy, Human Rights, Humankind/Planet Earth, Peace, US Politics.
The New York Times in an article highlighting the prominent operational role of the White Shirts on the NYPD observes that the Occupy Wall Street protest “lurches” into its’ third week.
Another news angle, narrative, is the one I saw on commercial television while visiting a friend. They showed the affray on Brooklyn Bridge framing the situation, in the deeply pathetic way that such new readers seem to affect, as one of rising tensions. The “fawning corporate media”, to quote Ray McGovern, is so toxic that perhaps it is best not to be part of it. The BBC covering the same event seemed to feature an omniscient commentary, without noting acknowledging the protesters are nonviolent and other important elements such as the General Assembly and the working groups. (Any comments I make about television coverage has to be taken with a grain of sand. I don’t have a working television set, and in general I cannot stand watching the reports when I see them.)
We all remember the world-wide protests prior to the invasion of Iraq and that they made no difference on the elected leaders, in particular the power elite of the United States. Since then there has been the continuing Global Financial Crisis with the ongoing failure especially in the US to make decisions favorable to those control the money power, and by implication the political process.
Juan Cole comments:
American government is often a kind of elective dictatorship, where politicians and bureaucrats feel that once they cast their ballots, the people should sit down and shut up and let those elected run everything and make all the decisions (even if those decisions clearly run counter to what the electorate was signalling it wanted). Thus, who could have imagined that by fall of 2011 there still had been no significant reform of Wall Street so as to forestall effectively a repeat of the 2008 crash? Surely such reforms were part of the change people voted for in 2008? But ‘legislative capture,’ the process in American politics whereby the industries and corporations regulated by Congress tend to ‘capture’ the legislators through campaign contributions, and then write the legislation themselves that regulates their industry, ensures that very little change can be enacted by Congress.
Since elected government is in the back pocket of the top 1%, and since the top 1% is using derivatives and sharp practices to speculate with the public’s money and is throwing people thereby out of their jobs and their homes, it is only strange that more people weren’t on the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday.
There is an advantage is having small numbers. The occupy movement is spreading to other cities. One wonders at what point do “general assemblies” become unworkable, however good in practice and in democratic theory they may be. At that point, there will be a need for representative assemblies and how is that going to work.
As Professor Cole writes:
The protesters have many demands, but a central one is that the Federal government should be representing the lower 99% of income earners, and not just the top 1 percent. They also want re-regulation of the bank and finance industries.
It is correct to argue that the system has to be turned on its head, and so it has to be transformed to address the grievances that set out like those in the Declaration of Independence or perhaps as those Martin Luther nailed to the church door at Wittenberg.
We will see how things go when another occupation occurs this time in Washington DC on 7 October, marking the 10th anniversary of the US involvement in the War in Afghanistan. Here the focus will be on the Military Industrial Complex and the methods adopted to counter terrorism, such as the drone missile attacks.
What the Occupy Wall Street movement has demonstrated is that it can sustain and build, and that critically it is not dependent on the mass media. If we would turn off our television sets, we would force the political processes to change. We would turn off the propaganda, the paradigm of materialism and selfishness, violence and vacuity that often passes for entertainment, often as news. That would be transforming action. When the processes change, the system changes. The question is whether the model that might work in the street can be a step to a viable change in democratic governance through process, inclusion, accountability and responsibility.
But then nobody can predict the moment of revolution: