Democracy Now recently hosted a discussion concerning the accomplishments and aims of the Occupy movement. Here are a few excerpts:
[The movement has] already had some important victories. It has alleviated despair in this country. It has—it has killed apathy. It has changed the conversation in a profound way. Seven, eight weeks ago, all we were listening to was about the debt ceiling and the deficit crisis, and [inaudible] nobody’s talking about that distraction any longer. They’re talking about the real issues now that are facing the majority of Americans: jobs, the fact that millions of homes are underwater, that 50 million people don’t have health insurance, we have 49 million living in poverty now, we have 40 million adults who cannot read and write above a fourth grade level, that are functional illiterates. That’s the nation that corporate America and the banks and Wall Street have created. And when somebody asked me the other day, “Well, who organized this? Who organized this movement?” I said, “Well, actually, Goldman Sachs organized it. Citibank organized it. BP organized it. They did—they did the organization.”
And I think that, you know, it’s—if you want to trace the current roots to this, somebody—I was being interviewed the other day. “Well, you know, at the end of your last movie, you were wrapping the crime scene tape around the Stock Exchange, and you called for this uprising.” I said, “No. Yes, I did, but, you know, it’s not that. It’s not a magazine from Vancouver. It’s not—if you want to—if you really want to pin it down to somebody, I would thank Bradley Manning.” And here’s why. A young man with a fruit stand in Tunis became very upset because he couldn’t figure out why he was just getting screwed and why he couldn’t make it. And he read a story, put out by WikiLeaks, that exposed how corrupt his government was. And he just couldn’t take it anymore, and he set himself on fire. That event, by giving his life to this, created the Arab Spring movement that went across the Middle East and then boomeranged back here to what has been going on in the fall here in North America. But if one courageous soldier hadn’t—allegedly—done what he had done, if he hadn’t done this, it—who knows? But it was already boiling just beneath the surface, and it just needed somebody to get it going.
And thank God for you and your friends, who went down there on that first day, who endured the ridicule first, then the attacks, and then the attempts to co-opt. But they have held strong. And it’s not now—it’s not just the people who can camp out overnight. It’s 72 percent of the American public who say they want taxes raised on the rich. That’s never happened before in this country. It’s people taking their money out of Chase and Citibank and Wells Fargo and putting it in their credit unions. And it’s taken so many forms that—and it can’t be stopped. And it’s so great to watch Fox News and the others try to wrap their heads around it, because they can’t get their brain quite—like it can’t grab onto it, which is great. That’s what’s great. So, I’m a big supporter of it staying leaderless, with a lack of a certain amount of organization, that it remain in its free and open state. And thank God for all the young people who are willing to not take it anymore. And I’ve just been inspired by it, and I’m glad that I got to live to see what I believe, or hope, will be the beginning of the end of a very evil system that is unfair, and it’s unjust, and it’s not democratic. So, thank you.
Patrick Bruner (Occupy Protester)
And, you know, we—obviously this has to do with a break in the way that we view the world. Eighty-five percent of the class of 2011 move back in with their parents. That’s something that, you know, has never happened before. We have youth who are aware that their future has been stolen, because that’s true. That’s true. And we have everyone else who’s watching that and who sees that the youth’s future has been stolen and believes that their future has been stolen, as well. You know, the Tea Party comes from the same mindset as we do, you know, although we have many differences. You know, those are people who had legitimate grievances against this system that they had tried to work for their entire lives, and then it ended up screwing them. And, you know, that’s what’s going on with my generation. We have kids who have massive amounts of student debt, and they’re, you know, going to carry that for the rest of their lives, possibly. . . it’s a way to at least start a discussion, a real discussion, about all of the things that ail us on a daily basis, the things that are never really discussed. Like you said, before this, you know, the biggest discussion in American politics was whether or not to raise the debt ceiling for the 103rd time. You know, now we don’t talk about things like that. Now we’re starting to talk about wealth inequality. We’re starting to talk about greed.
The kinds of action that we want from the state can systematically devolve power to the community level and decentralize it. I mean, that’s what’s exciting about these—all of these examples, whether it’s economic localization, community-based renewable energy, co-operatives, what they share in common is that they decentralize and devolve power, and, I mean, by their very nature. I mean, renewable energy, if you compare it with fossil fuels, you know, it’s everywhere. That’s the point. That’s why it is less profitable, because anybody can put a solar panel on their roof and have energy. And that’s why there’s such momentum against it from corporate America, because they want huge, centralized solutions, because they’re way more profitable, which isn’t to say that you can’t make a profit. You just can’t make a stupid profit. You just can’t—and so, I think, you know, if we look at what there’s so much outrage over, it is that concentration of power, that vertical power. And so, yeah, I do think the solutions have to disperse power, but that we won’t get there without very strong intervention, national, international, local.
[More . . . ]
How strong is the pepper spray used by Police? It’s twice as strong as the spray available to consumers. Here’s a graphic to illustrate its strength.
Also, Wired offers some statistics on police use of pepper spray.
Here are a few Occupy protest signs that seemed especially well worded:
- If they enforced bank regulation like they do park rules, we wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.
- I can’t afford my own politician, so I made this sign.
- They Play, We Pay!
- Maybe the hippies are onto something.
- This country was built by men in denim and will be destroyed by men in suits.
- For sale: America
- When the rich rob the poor, it’s called “business.” When the poor fight back, it’s called “violence.”
- I am a born again American.
- Wall Street needs adult supervision.
Glenn Greenwald describes the status of the Occupy movement, both the hope for continued vitality and the disturbing para-military response by our government.
The reason the U.S. has para-militarized its police forces is precisely to control this type of domestic unrest, and it’s simply impossible to imagine its not being deployed in full against a growing protest movement aimed at grossly and corruptly unequal resource distribution. As Madeleine Albright said when arguing for U.S. military intervention in the Balkans: “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” That’s obviously how governors, big-city Mayors and Police Chiefs feel about the stockpiles of assault rifles, SWAT gear, hi-tech helicopters, and the coming-soon drone technology lavished on them in the wake of the post/9-11 Security State explosion, to say nothing of the enormous federal law enforcement apparatus that, more than anything else, resembles a standing army which is increasingly directed inward.
For those who want to help the protesters through the winter, Greenwald suggest that FireDogLake has done an excellent job of raising money to by cold weather clothing and gear for the protesters. If you would like to pitch in, visit FDL.
Chris Hedges of Truthdig writes the following (and much more) on what the Revolution looks like:
Our decaying corporate regime has strutted in Portland, Oakland and New York with their baton-wielding cops into a fool’s paradise. They think they can clean up “the mess”—always employing the language of personal hygiene and public security—by making us disappear. They think we will all go home and accept their corporate nation, a nation where crime and government policy have become indistinguishable, where nothing in America, including the ordinary citizen, is deemed by those in power worth protecting or preserving, where corporate oligarchs awash in hundreds of millions of dollars are permitted to loot and pillage the last shreds of collective wealth, human capital and natural resources, a nation where the poor do not eat and workers do not work, a nation where the sick die and children go hungry, a nation where the consent of the governed and the voice of the people is a cruel joke. Get back into your cages, they are telling us. Return to watching the lies, absurdities, trivia and celebrity gossip we feed you in 24-hour cycles on television.
An arrest should be merely an arrest, not a street-conviction or a street-sentencing-and-punishment. This story about the pepper-spraying of an 84-year old Occupy protester in Seattle makes me think that at least some police officers have decided to render their own version of justice on the street, rather than take protesters into custody using the minimum amount of force necessary.