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here's something that ran in the Washington Post blog this morning:

‘You’re creating a vision of the sort of society you want to have in miniature."

David Graeber is an anthropologist at Goldsmiths, University of London, and author of ‘Direct Action: An Ethnography’ and 'Debt: The First 5000 Years.' He was also one of the initial organizers of the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests. And he thinks the people asking for a list of demands are missing the point of the movement quite dramatically. We spoke this morning by phone.

Ezra Klein: So when did your involvement with these protests begin?

David Graeber: July 2nd. That was the first actual meeting. What happened was AdBusters put out this call for these protests. We had heard there was supposed to be a general assembly on July 2nd. So I just showed up. But it was a rally, not an assembly. Some traditional Marxist group had set up stages and megaphones and was making speeches and were planning a march. Acting as if they were already running the whole show. So we said we don’t need to do this. We pulled a small group together and decided to have a real assembly.

So we wandered over to another part of the area and began a meeting and people kept migrating over. But we had a problem because we only had six weeks. AdBusters had already advertised the date to 80,000 people. And their date was a Saturday. You can’t really shut down Wall Street on a Saturday. So we were working under some significant constraints. We assembled 80 or 100 people and formed working groups for outreach, process, so forth and so on. And we began meeting every week.

One thing that helped a lot was a smattering of people from Spain and Greece and Tunisia who had been doing this sort of thing more recently. They explained that the model that seemed to work was to take something that seemed to be public space, reclaim it, and build up an organization headquarters around that from which you can begin doing other things.

EK: This movement is organized rather differently than most protest movements. There isn’t really a list of demands, or goals, or even much of an identifiable leadership. But if I understand you correctly, that’s sort of the point.

DG: It’s very similar to the globalization movement. You see the same criticisms in the press. It’s a bunch of kids who don’t know economics and only know what they’re against. But there’s a reason for that. it’s pre-figurative, so to speak. You’re creating a vision of the sort of society you want to have in miniature. And it’s a way of juxtaposing yourself against these powerful, undemocratic forces you’re protesting. If you make demands, you’re saying, in a way, that you’re asking the people in power and the existing institutions to do something different. And one reason people have been hesitant to do that is they see these institutions as the problem.

EK: So if you say, for instance, that you want a tax on Wall Street and then you’ll be happy, you’re implicitly saying that you’re willing to be happy with a slightly modified version of the current system.

DG: Right. The tax on Wall Street will go to people controlled by Wall Street.

EK: By which you mean government.

DG: Yes. So we are keeping it open-ended. In a way, what we want is to create spaces where people can think about questions like that. In New York, according to law, any unpermitted assembly of more than 12 people is illegal in New York. Space itself is not an openly available resource. But the one resource that isn’t scarce is smart people with ideas. So we’re trying to reframe things away from the rhetoric of demands to a questions of visons and solutions. Now how that translates into actual social change is an interesting question. One way this has been done elsewhere is you have local initiatives that come out of the local assemblies.

EK: It also seems that the tradeoff here, from an organizational standpoint, is that if you say you want, say, a tax on Wall Street, then the people who aren’t interested in a tax on Wall Street stay home. So remaining vague on demands can make the tent bigger. But it also seems that, at some point, people are going to need to be working towards concrete goals and experiencing dicrete successes in order to sustain the energy of a movement like this.

GB: As the thing grows, new organizational forms will develop. At this point, the New York occupation has 30 different working groups for everything from handling sanitation to discussing labor issues and tax policy. So we’re trying to set up ways that people with different interests can plug into the movement. There’s even a newspaper. The ‘Occupied Wall Street Journal.’ Of course, this is nothing compared to what happened in Tahrir Square, where they even had dry cleaners.

EK: We’re also beginning to see “Occupy Wall Street” link up with with more traditional activist groups. Some members of the protest were speaking via videofeed at today’s big confab of liberal groups in Washington. MoveOn.org and organized labor are planning a march in support of the occupiers for Wednesday. How does that change what is, for now, a very decentralized movement?

DG: It is organically happening but there are definite problems that occur. We found this back in the days of the globalization movement. Unions were very supportive and provided resources but they’re very different organizations. The real difficulty is how to work with people who are top-down and have a funding base, as it means there are things they can say in public and things they can’t, and groups where people can say whatever they want and the whole idea is to be decentralized. One problem I’ve already heard of is that people are coming in and changing the tenor of the general assemblies to speeches, and that’s not really what it’s supposed to be about. So you have to balance the aspect where you’re trying to show what direct democracy could be like and the effort to link up with groups that have a form of organization we’ve rejected.

EK: The name of the group is “Occupy Wall Street,” but from what I can tell by listening to interviews with the protesters and reading messages at ‘We are the 99,’ it’s not just about Wall Street, it’s about the powerful in general, which include politicians and wealthy folks who don’t make their money in finance, and beyond that, it’s really about the less-powerful. The real running theme I’m hearing is hopelessness: that we did everything right and played by the rules and went to school or got a job and now we’re buried in debt and can’t make ends meet, while these folks at the top of the economy seem to just keep prospering and prospering.

DG: Right, and Wall Street is just a beautiful illustration of that. Here we have these guys who were just greedy crooks, who crashed the global economy and did terrible things to the lives of people all over the world. None of them have paid at all. There was a debate about whether their bonuses should be lowered. On the other hand, if people point out to vigorously that this has happened, they do get arrested. And that helps to point out the essential double standard of the system.

Originally posted to david graeber on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 05:09 PM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement and Occupy Wall Street.

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Comment Preferences

  •  There is some very good history here! (20+ / 0-)

    I hope a lot of people get to read it!

    "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

    by elwior on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 05:29:48 PM PDT

    •  I wish I could have put in more (21+ / 0-)

       it's an interesting story and maybe I'll write about it some day, though I no longer take notes at meetings, as my days as an ethnographer of social movements are over. Now I just participate.

        the people who really kicked off that first July 2nd movement, at the very beginning, were me and an artist and anarchist named Georgia Sagri (she told me she actually wanted me to use her full name here), who completely freaked out the sectarian folks who were trying to coopt the event by taking the stage and calling for a real assembly - in the face of every sort of intimidation, really, while I hustled around trying to find anyone who looked like a horizontal - as we say - the guy with the IWW T-shirt, the Korean fellow I vaguely remember seeing doing Food Not Bombs, the teenage girl with a Zapatista scarf, an old friend who used to be in the Direct Action Network in 2000 who was now a labor organizer... and proposing we all gather on the other end of Bowling Green. Then, in the weekly meetings, for a while it was the anarchists or autonomists versus what we called the verticals, the people in organized parties or similar groups, like the ISO, who did a lot of good work, I should emphasize, but who had a very different philosophy about how things should be organized - but there were also all sorts of others, including LaRouchies, a group called Day of Rage whose rep said she'd block (veto) anything that brought us into formal alliance with unions because that group had this idea that leftist and rightist populists could make common cause, and many others.

      The majority, thankfully, were young people, many of them students, who'd been involved in Bloombergville, or other recent actions, were not part of any party or similar group but were broadly anti-authoritarian in attitude, who had some good direct action experience but mostly little experience with consensus process. Very early I told an SDS veteran named Marisa about the effort (not the '60s SDS, but the newer one created six years ago or so) who proved to be absolutely amazing, one of those people who, if we just had maybe seven or eight or her, the revolution would happen tomorrow. She's still one of the big people holding things together, but in the beginning, she did everything, far more than me. (I figure she won't mind my using her name too since she's one of the OWS press contacts now.)

      During the assemblies we held in Tompkins Square Park, one of the big battles was whether we were going to have official police liaisons and marshalls. The anti-authoritarian side was dead-set against this, since as soon as you have such a structure, the police always manage to co-opt it, and it becomes a hierarchical institution telling people what to do. I've seen this happen again and again. We managed to head that off and I think that was an important victory. At the same time, though, everyone agreed that this action would be non-violent - it's interesting, because the way we got such unanimity on this was by never asking anyone to actually sign or agree to a peace pledge or code of conduct or anything like that, which again would have gotten the hardcore anti-authoritarians up in arms, but insisting that it was up to everyone's individual conscience but calling for solidarity. Since any act of property destruction would clearly have endangered others, people simply refrained.

      It was really wonderful to see it all come together the way it did. I did facilitate a couple meetings but I think my main role was to track down and talk up some of my old comrades from the Direct Action Network from ten years or so ago and convince them to help give trainings: medical, legal, CD, affinity group, facilitation, etc etc. Those trainings were really well attended and I think really helped. We gave some more emergency ones in the very first days of the occupation.

         

  •  First NYCGA was August 2nd (right?) (7+ / 0-)

    But other than that, good interview. I wasn't at the first couple, so I didn't know they went like that.

    I still sorta don't like our lack of demands, but I do think there are upsides to the people in charge not knowing what we want; they're more likely to give in to, say, heavy social democratic reforms when they fear Marxism.

    How does homeopathy work? | Rick Santorum | Self-appointed DKE Hudson River Crossings Caucus Chair

    by gabjoh on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 05:30:10 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for the background history (18+ / 0-)

    "And he thinks the people asking for a list of demands are missing the point of the movement quite dramatically" I totally understood this concept by about the 3rd or 4th day. I happened to stop at our local GA just as the group was deciding if they were going to list damands. Some how I was able to get up and describe the difference between a "PROTEST" against and entity and issuing DEMANDS against that entity and a DEMONSTRATION of our numbers, in solidarity with all of the 99% percent across the country and world and to follow the NYC  GA model. WE voted. We stand in solidarity.

    •  I don't think it's a demand really but (23+ / 0-)

      there is a theme that I see emerging:
         Power to the People

        It sounds very radical, but the truth is that it's the concept our Nation was founded upon, i.e. self-governance.

        The President who saved the Union said it in memorium to the soldiers who died at Gettysburgh:

      ...that a government OF the People, BY the People, and FOR the People shall not perish from the Earth.
      We don't want to allow it to perish from the Earth either.
        We are the People of the United States of America.

      "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

      by elwior on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 06:01:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is an excellent explanation (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        J M F, ballerina X, MKinTN

        of where the group is and how well they are doing.

        An Excellent Beginning

        By David Atkins (thereisnospoon) at Hullabaloo.

        I encourage you to reread the Declaration of Independence. I had forgotten how long that list was.

        "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

        by Ginny in CO on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 10:34:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I have been on the anti-demands side (5+ / 0-)

        because by coming up with a list of demands, it gives the powers that be something to shoot at and eventually shoot down.  

        Anyone who has watched this movement and who does not have blinders on can see what it is about.  The media refuses to see that because it means a whole restructuring of our society.

        Probably the most difficult aspect for most people to understand is that the power structure of #OccupyWallStreet is lateral, not top down.  This is more than just a protest, it is a revolutionary way of looking at society: one that is inclusive, egalitarian, and altruistic.  This is what democracy looks like.

        The United States is not just losing its capacity to do great things. It's losing its soul.--Bob Herbert. gulfgal98's corollary- We are fighting back to save our soul. Thank you, #OWS for empowering us all.

        by gulfgal98 on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 03:51:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Government BY the people (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Josiah Bartlett

        didn't become a potentiality until universal suffrage was achieved in 1971.

        And now we expect humans, who are considered the property of their parents until their emancipation at age 18 to suddenly turn into governing citizens over night.  Well, WE don't all expect it.  Indeed, the autocracy does all in its power to thin the herd and minimize their involvement.

        If universal suffrage can't be reversed (like DADT), then voter turnout has to be depressed and that's a 24/7/365 enterprise.  Indeed, that's what the whole army of political operatives, pollsters, consultants, advisers, propagandists and pranksters are up to.
        They've been doing it since Nixon, so they're good at it.  We've got one of the originals sitting up here in New Hampshire making mischief in the State Senate.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuzZQ8LTE2c

        by hannah on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 04:14:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  David Graeber's the man, folks (17+ / 0-)

    There would be no OccupyWallStreet without him.

    Tipped & Recc'd

    If the fall of the house of Murdoch is a tragedy, it is the feel-good tragedy of the century-James Wolcot

    by beltane on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 05:38:31 PM PDT

  •  Joseph Stiglitz is on board with Occupy Wall St (30+ / 0-)

    It's hard to communicate complicated ideas with the human microphone but everyone did their best.

    "I wish I could tell you, in the midst of all of this, that President Obama was waging the kind of fight against these draconian Republican proposals that the American people would like to see. He is not." -- Senator Bernie Sanders

    by Sagebrush Bob on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 05:49:24 PM PDT

  •  I just finished... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, TDreamer, Josiah Bartlett

    Debt the First 5000 years.  Great book, except the last chapter which, like so many anthropological books, is a wish for a better species to study.  Wish you were here to respond.  Better approach, Hierarchies in the Forest and the issue of egalitarian culture wherein if you want egalitarianism you have to organize to bring those who assert they are superior down, not assert the right for everyone like Americans do with their focus on everyone having a been there done that story and thus deserving, but a focus on bringing those who assert dominance down to the same level as everyone else.  It works.

    •  I left the last chapter (6+ / 0-)

      intentionally open-ended rather than mapping out any particular prescriptions. I wanted to arm people with material they could use to do that themselves. What do you mean by "wish for a better species to study?"

      •  Since the first.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Josiah Bartlett

        self-aggrandizer captured the surplus and through feasting created indebtedness and instituted a form of social inequality the process has remained pretty much the same.  With anthropologists the tendency is to do the research and present what people actually do, as you did in Debt, but then propose something different. A jubalee is not forth coming thus the most likely future is one of declining marginal returns to the complexity that financial people have created and a collapse.  I also think that the narcissistic hyper-individualism of Americans will prevent them from real action to reduce the current social inequality by directly addressing it, some simply have way too much, have captured way too much of the surplus and must be brought down.  Retirement Heist by Schulz is a good example.  Really did love your book, trying to find a way to use it in classes.  Miss you on anthro-l.

  •  Question-- (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shockwave, petral, mrkvica, Just Bob

    #occupy is being censored by twitter.

    Diaspora* has repeatedly invited them to do their strategic planning on their new social website and use Facebook as a billboard. Diaspora is open source and private and they can post to whom they please to plan each day.

    I've tried getting this message to them and I'm not convinced any of the mods got it.

    Anyone know one of the protestors?  

    "The dogs of war deserve better masters." unknown. borrowed from other Kosser

    by glbTVET on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 06:09:15 PM PDT

  •  Occupy Los Angeles has started (6+ / 0-)

    I had a chance to drive by and honk in support

    Occupy LA

    Dailykos.com; an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action 48forEastAfrica - Donate to Oxfam

    by Shockwave on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 06:46:36 PM PDT

  •  Great interview (9+ / 0-)

    The more I listen, the more I understand what is going on here.  I really like it!

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 06:58:45 PM PDT

  •  These are all good words, but what do they mean? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raygungnu, karmsy

    And how does anything get accomplished? The people in Tahrir Square had a definite end in mind, and a definite demand. This is where it gets messy.

    This protest is ostensibly about the excesses of Wall Street. However telling bankers not to do what they have done and are still doing is like telling your cat not to eat birds. It's natural for cats to eat birds and for bankers to make as much money as possible, if that's the object, and with both sets, that is the object.

    So what you do with your cat is keep in indoors. That's called regulation. The banksters don't have much regulation. In spite of all the chatter, very little that was done was illegal. That's one reason for a lack of criminal proceedings.

    So why no regulation? The banks buy both the politicians and the regulators. How can they do that? The Supreme Court says they can because buying a politician is a 1st Amendment right. Erwin Knoll, RIP, was a great supporter of 1st Amendment rights, no matter what the cost. We see now how that worked out. Law of unintended consequences.

    Be that as it may, Wall Street has essentially nothing to do with the current problem, anymore than it's your cat's fault that the neighborhood bird population has decreased. The problem is with the Supreme Court and the control of the Supreme Court. Some of the control lies in the Presidency, and some of it in our legal institutions.

    My point is that this OWS should OSC and be taking place on the steps of the Supreme Court and demanding constitutional change, not some "pre-figurative" movement. I was a part of that in the 60's and we got damn little for it. Yeah, we got free love and gay rights and abortion rights, but those things are just social issue sops thrown to us, hiding the fact that nothing has changed and in fact almost everything has gotten worse. We got sex, when what we should have been demanding was an equal distribution of power. Not that there's anything wrong with sex.

    Nothing will come of this because nothing is asked of the people. We need to spotlight the symbiosis of money and power and demonstrate the ways in which we can cut those connections. It is time for pitchforks, but not raised against the bankers.

    Corruption is what keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why we win. -Syriana

    by CarbonFiberBoy on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 07:17:48 PM PDT

    •  what an odd perspective (9+ / 0-)

      the '60s only gave us sex?

      actually, the '60s and the pressure of '60s social movements brought us Civil Rights, the Great Society, Environmentalism, Women's Rights, and a general leftward movement of American politics in general (Nixon was on economic policy way to the left of Clinton, and Clinton, of Obama), and, of course, after Vietnam, a 30-year moratorium on major commitments of US combat forces abroad. I doubt these things could have been achieved had the social movements of the day limited themselves to lobbying the judiciary.

      It was all possible because of powerful and constant pressure from below.

      As for cats killing birds - well, we're talking about cats that kill people here, so it does rather raise the question, why do we allow people keep man-killing cats as pets to begin with?

      •  Just say the 'A' word (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        liberte

        You know you want to.

      •  I meant that the pre-figurative movement (0+ / 0-)

        of the 60's didn't get us much more than some social freedoms.

        Civil rights was a completely different thing, created by visionaries with a definite agenda. I do not equate MLK and what he did with hippies and what they did.

        Environmentalism, ha. We got the word, but not the action. In fact, we are screwed and there's nothing we can do about it. They just papered over it enough so that we can crow about it and STFU. Nothing has really changed. If anything, it's gotten worse.

        Women's rights, yeah. No ERA, no equal pay, and the patriarchy still controls our politics. Sure, we can dress differently.

        Leftward movement, excuse me? One can't even mention the word socialism today, much less stand up for its principles. Even liberal is now just called the L word. It's been a rightward movement with a few short-lived jogs to the left.

        None of these little social sops is anything the size of equal employment for all, equal rights for all, not just on paper, but the reality. 50% of our congress should be women. People of color should have the same employment and pay schedule as whites. Equal pay for equal work, not one pay schedule for the powerful and another for those from whom all power has been stripped.

        "Lobbying the judiciary," my ass. The lobbyists have total control. No one will notice anything, nothing will be accomplished, unless we shut down DC. The whole city.

        No courts will decide anything in our favor, no legislation will be passed that moves toward our goals, unless we can assemble the outrage to take the system down and rebuild it. If we can't do that, we are just kidding ourselves and spitting into the wind.

        Nothing will happen without complete election reform, and that ain't gonna happen, no way, no how. The courts have turned the Constitution upside down, perverting it by substituting what should be minor details for the whole intent of the document. Even if we could elect legislators who weren't bought by the powerful, they couldn't act to fix this mess.

        "Odd perspective?" Maybe you don't remember The Realist. That was my favorite mag. Too bad it and its sentiment were so short lived.

        "Powerful and constant pressure from below" won't work today. They've changed the rules on you. Now it's powerful and constant pressure from above, and they own all the media, so they can lie with impunity with no one to call them on it.

        You also missed the entire point of my cat analogy. You keep telling that cat to stay away from those birds.

        "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
         ---George Bernard Shaw

        Corruption is what keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why we win. -Syriana

        by CarbonFiberBoy on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 11:47:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  won't go into detail but one thing (9+ / 0-)

          no, we're not telling the cat to stay away from the birds

          you clearly have your own very carefully worked-out version of reality which I'm sure is compelling in many ways but to have a conversation with someone else it helps to listen to what they say, or there will be no exchange of views, just two sides talking past each other. Nobody is appealing to Wall Street to be nicer. The core of the movement are radicals who don't think Wall Street should even exist, and the liberals who are supporting them do so because they think that pressure from the radicals, especially if it gets widespread popular support from the unemployed, etc, will make it easier for them to push for the kind of reforms which - I would actually agree with you - are necessary to even start addressing existing problems within existing institutional structures.

          but first you have to have someone very loudly point out that the existing structures are broken. This is what we want to do.

          •  I'll go along with your last, definitely. (0+ / 0-)

            I've participated in my share of movements and demonstrations, but they were always in support of something that was achievable - end the VN war, US out of El Salvador, etc., where almost everyone was a winner and all it took was a vote of our electeds. Minor change compared to this.

            So just enlighten me as to the path for reform. The sequence. What do you see beyond a group of people wishing that things were different? You say "push for . . . reforms . . . which are necessary . . ." What's that mean? How push? That's the vague language I've been seeing on the left for 40 years and nothing has come of it. How to implement reform, any sort of reform? What's the method?

            What's the analogue of the lunch counter sit-in?

            How do we implement the stricture that we cannot win if others lose?

            Do you really think a movement such as this can work inside the electoral process? If not, how can it work outside that process?

            How does this movement implement the methods of Alinsky? Or is there a new, competing theory of social movement that has been proven to work? Tahrir Square had a definite, limited goal that was achievable. Those demonstrators were infinitely worse off than the folks involved in OWS, and prepared to die for their country. These folks go off peacefully in the buses. I don't see that as an analogue.

            Corruption is what keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why we win. -Syriana

            by CarbonFiberBoy on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 08:29:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Actually money is the problem, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CarbonFiberBoy

      or, more correctly, the misuse of money.  Instead of using money as an instrument to calculate relative value and mediate transactions, money is being used as a tool of suppression by denying some people ready access to it.  Domination is being exercised behind the shield of money.  It's really nothing more than mom at the check-out counter saying there's not enough money to buy candy, except on the macro level it's not enough money to buy:

      education
      medical care
      housing
      roads
      bridges
      dams
      child-care
      nutritious food

      But, there's plenty of money to gamble, to speculate in fine wines, to jet around the globe, etc.

      You could say that the misuse of money is like the misuse of sexual intercourse to dominate.  Money is the last taboo for a reason.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuzZQ8LTE2c

      by hannah on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 04:55:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Imagine a world where there was no SCOTUS. (3+ / 0-)

      Where decisions were made the way they are being made in Zucotti Park.

      Where campaign finance was irrelevant because there were no campaigns/contest to see who gets to represent the rich and powerful and enjoy the privileges they bestow for carrying out their wishes.

      A great deal is being asked of all of us by the people in Zucotti Park.  We are being asked to take responsibility for running our own communities rather than being political spectators rooting for Red and Blue teams in the game of electoral politics.

    •  Great comment, thanks. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CarbonFiberBoy

      Especially, I'm pondering this passage:

      Yeah, we got free love and gay rights and abortion rights, but those things are just social issue sops thrown to us, hiding the fact that nothing has changed and in fact almost everything has gotten worse. We got sex, when what we should have been demanding was an equal distribution of power. Not that there's anything wrong with sex.

      Is it true? Has everything "gotten worse" since the 60s? History isn't linear, democratic-humanist cultural gains aren't netted smoothly or predictably. The interests of the status quo, for various reasons, have grown more brazen since the Viet Nam era. They have a mass culture (e.g., Rush Limbaugh) to abet them these days. But one reason for the RW's need to dominate the airwaves has been inexorable cultural gains by our side. I vividly remember when most people didn't have access to the internet, when "marriage equality" was not even an issue, when "universal, cost-effective healthcare," weren't buzz-words in our national political discourse, and when the Koch brothers weren't ever mentioned by name. All of that has changed. Arguably, it's gotten better.

      It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

      by karmsy on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 07:12:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, we have made cultural gains. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        karmsy

        I'm likening those gains to the RW connection to the religious community. They got their partial birth abortion ban right along with their money being shoveled uphill to their masters. We get our cultural sops right along with the destruction of our health care, educational, and safety net systems, the increase in profitability in our prison system, and the continued concentration of wealth.

        I have two unemployable friends who will soon be out on the street due to budget cuts. One will certainly die, the other possibly.

        We may not realize what is happening in the rest of the world because we can't see it. It's not being reported here, but we are losing our nice, comfortable planet.

        These things are not improvements.

        I can see a freeway bridge into town from my kitchen window. I say that we will not have meaningful change in this country as long as I see SUVs going across that bridge in the morning. What I'm talking about.

        Leonard Cohen is my man.

        Corruption is what keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why we win. -Syriana

        by CarbonFiberBoy on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 08:49:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Goodness people...don't be lazy (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    virginwoolf

    Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

    by Just Bob on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 08:15:09 PM PDT

    •  Dylan Ratigan just doesn't get it (9+ / 0-)

      He is oh ever so hopefully telling them how he wants them to do things.  "If you do this we can get an amendment to get the money out of politics!" And that is just such a small part of what is broken it is pitiful.  Of course people who make their living talking are not going to be doing much listening. KO is still stymied about the "no demands yet?" thing.

      Good grief!  Even I who has not one shred of patience gets what happening there.

      Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. - Mark Twain

      by glitterscale on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 09:05:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Forget the fine print - listen to the general issu (8+ / 0-)

        The Separation of Wealth and State

        OR a/k/a/

        The Separation of Wealth and Power

        The very premises of our legal and political institutions [the State - the institutional "seat" of legitimized power] - is that there is such a separation.

        Without it the fundamental assumptions of equality which are axioms that all the subsequent assumptions build upon and rely upon - are not really there except as a myth - and as such the larger claims do not really come to be (exist) either - except, also, as a myth.

        I say the phrase legitimized power consciously ... for it is these axioms (including that of equality and fairness - which are elements necessary for justice) which are assumed TO render such systems legitimate.

        We have allowed, instead, the name (the mere calling a thing - THAT thing (i.e. we have a democracy, we live by the rule of law -- when neither is in fact true in practice) alone to presume - and for us as a nation to generally believe - that THE thing IS "that" thing ... when it clearly is not.

        So he has a good point in his particular action item emphasis.  Which beyond the particulars of the HOW (how you go about addressing it - i.e. a constitutional amendment) - is certainly right on the money (pun not intended) when it comes to one of the key messages that has been central to this movement all along.  The WHAT is WRONG.  (Because few could deny that SOMETHING is very, very wrong).

        And this is a large element of that which is wrong.  And the is not whether it is wrong - or why it is wrong.  But how did it come to be the norm.  And the need to reject that norm - and to demand a shift into a new paradigm.  And then, after that, we can begin to ask the questions about HOW we are going to alter the practices to rid what is effectively a cancer that has been slowly eating away at our society for quite some time (before it kills us).

      •  Big money in politics is a key part (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        roseeriter, glitterscale, J M F, MKinTN

        of what's broken in our Nation as it gives all power to those with the money as opposed to the People.
           Ratigan's cause is a righteous one, though it is apart from the movement begun by OWS.
          It's okay for people to join up wherever they feel they will accomplish the most.
           At some point there will be a convergence of allies because it will take many, many hands working together to foster the kind of change needed to get this Nation back on the right track.

        "We the People of the United States...." -U.S. Constitution

        by elwior on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 09:35:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I was thinking the same thing (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        glitterscale

        It must be that his background gives him a certain perspective such that even when he's well intended, he's still supporting the status quo.

        Others have simply gotten old. I prefer to think I've been tempered by time.

        by Just Bob on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 10:00:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The subtle points made here are important! (6+ / 0-)

    Thanks for this interview and information on the history of the beginnings of all this.

    All of this is about a huge shift in power relations, a multifaceted one.  One facet is the "this is not a protest"... and the "lack" of a list of demands.  

    This is a shift, an important one.  We are open to being co-opted when we ask for specific demands.  We can be placated too easily.  They will give us some crumbs, maybe even a big crumb, to make this all go away.  They can AFFORD to give us a crumb, partly because they have all the money, but also because they can't afford NOT to give us a crumb.  They can't afford a mass, nation-wide, long-term, sit-in.  An occupation.  

    We need to keep infusing this movement with a spiritually charged, comprehensive, far-reaching agenda that continually shines the light on the dark forces.  WE CAN'T LEAVE.

    We have to physically stay put, taking turns, caring for each other.  

    Let LOVE infuse the atmosphere... bring wisdom from our higher selves.  Follow your intuition, not your logical mind.  Communicate with love and honest affection for those who challenge you.  

    Love is more powerful than force.  Always.  

    It will evolve.  Don't force anything.  Let it flow.  If all of us do what feels right in the moment, we will move as one, like a flock of birds in flight communicating on a level that is invisible.  

    I believe we all communicate in the dream state and make plans for the physical manifestation in "reality".  What we are seeing has its roots in other dimensions, and it is all good.  

    •  I love this comment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PlutocracyFiles

      This is how I understand it too.  We get it.

      The United States is not just losing its capacity to do great things. It's losing its soul.--Bob Herbert. gulfgal98's corollary- We are fighting back to save our soul. Thank you, #OWS for empowering us all.

      by gulfgal98 on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 04:01:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I totally get it (8+ / 0-)

    and am getting tired with people who don't understand that this is a bottoms-up, direct democracy... and it is creating itself. That seems very obvious to me. And yet so many people want it to be one thing or another thing, complaining that it's been "organized" or "lead" incorrectly or that the protesters are giving off the wrong image. But the cumbersome thing about true Democracy is in the beauty of all its messy glory.

    So thank you for this diary. Hopefully people understand what is happening a little better now. Lately, I feel like I can't connect with some people well on this one.

    Solidarity.

    I like all of the possibility and potential implicit here; it's about time we had some of that, and that we stopped just talking about this utopian dream or that ideal. There are worse things in life than the enacting of dreams, of dreaming in public spaces to breath life back into them again.

    •  Some people find the notion of being (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mahakali overdrive

      self-directed very scary.  They want someone to tell them what to do so, if a choice is to be made, it's between doing and not-doing.  Some people are lacking in the capacity for self-direction, I suspect, because they have no real awareness of the self. It seems strange, but people can be self-centered without being self-aware.  If their being or behavior is described to them, they don't recognize themselves. It just doesn't "ring a bell," so to speak.

      So, how do such people act?  Well, mostly they re-act to prompts from outside.  They mimic speech and follow the crowd, like so many ducks in a row.  The repertoire of instinctive behaviors is quite sufficient to keep a human functioning. We don't have to know how to tell time, for example, as long as someone (in the bell tower or the mosque) does and keeps us all on task. We don't have to know foreign languages, as long as somebody does and translates.  In fact, it's not even necessary to be able to speak, or hear or see. A supportive, caring, sharing community subsidizes all those missing attributes and more.  Unfortunately, some humans see such support and it just makes them jealous and driven to deprive, like Cain did his brother Abel.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuzZQ8LTE2c

      by hannah on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 05:11:31 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I wish every occupation would read this at a (3+ / 0-)

    a General Assembly.

    Thank you.

    Please remember to Witness Revolution. It means so much to them that we pay attention.

    by UnaSpenser on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 11:17:55 PM PDT

  •  RESCUE RANGERS? (0+ / 0-)

    If anything should be widely read...

  •  Liberty Plaza: the new capital of the USA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    david graeber, PlutocracyFiles

    Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

    by Simplify on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 12:13:52 AM PDT

  •  List of demands............ (4+ / 0-)

    Not a critique.  My hat is off to the group, but a list of demands doesn't sound good.     A list of demands makes it sound like a "prison riot".    If this gets twisted into a bunch of leftist militants, the message will get destroyed; and this message is the best ever.  

    "We are the 99%" couldn't have been framed better if Frank Luntz created it.   It is simple, and it says it all.   It is an emotional and gut level appeal to fairness that even tea baggers get.  It doesn't require an explanation, but if you need one, you already have another gem.

    We are the 99 percent. We are getting kicked out of our homes. We are forced to choose between groceries and rent. We are denied quality medical care. We are suffering from environmental pollution. We are working long hours for little pay and no rights, if we’re working at all. We are getting nothing while the other 1 percent is getting everything. We are the 99 percent.

    What do you want?   Economic fairness in elections, jobs, justice, wealth, health care, education, you name it.   This is America.  You are quite willing to work you way up the ladder, but you have to have a ladder in order to do it.   America wants economic justice and a ladder of opportunity to build the American dream.

    Good luck, keep is simple, and thank you all.   Be careful.  

    Yes we can, but he won't.

    by dkmich on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 01:58:32 AM PDT

  •  Some are more in solidarity than others (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Empower Ink

    It's fascinating watching the education of a revolutionary, with no concept of history, in progress. They set up the "general assembly" as a model of true collective anarchy in action. There are no leaders, we hear, people just put their issues on the "stack" on a first-come, first-served basis and consensus is reached. Everyone is equal. There is no hierarchy. This is what anarchodemocracy looks like.

    Of course, as we've seen in every collective experiment in history, some animals are more equal than others. To deny the hierarchy just turns a blind eye to it.

    So checking the livestream just now, I hear that the GA has now become not a decision-making body, but rather a way to "communicate information to those in solidarity with us." I.e., a glorified press release. The spokeperson recites the message in two or three word pieces that are repeated by the assembly in a mind-numbing call-and-response exercise.

    Actual decision making, logistics, etc., are now done  in "small groups" which, duh, are found to work better than the former GA free-for-all.

    Call it the central committee?

  •  A Physical Manifestation of the Virtual Community (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandoras Box

    That's how I see the OccupyWallStreet protests as well as Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, et al. Finally, a generation or two of people raised on the controlled anarchy of the Internet have finally begun using the democratic themes that have been used there for years and bringing that to the real world. It's about time. I especially like the anecdote about the TradMarxists setting up their mics and getting ready to speak. What OWS is bringing to the progressive/activist community is the idea that people can't just walk up and declare themselves leaders by fiat. If nothing else, the Internet has trained people in the art of ignoring those who have nothing to say.

    This head movie makes my eyes rain.

    by The Lone Apple on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 03:50:51 AM PDT

  •  I love this (2+ / 0-)
    EK: So if you say, for instance, that you want a tax on Wall Street and then you’ll be happy, you’re implicitly saying that you’re willing to be happy with a slightly modified version of the current system.

    DG: Right. The tax on Wall Street will go to people controlled by Wall Street.

    We're not asking the system to accept our suggested changes, we'll tell the system what part of it can remain.

    We kidnap. We torture. It's our policy. Embrace it or end it!

    by Mosquito Pilot on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 03:57:33 AM PDT

  •  Occupy Houston begins (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hannah, Empower Ink, PlutocracyFiles

    We kidnap. We torture. It's our policy. Embrace it or end it!

    by Mosquito Pilot on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 03:59:46 AM PDT

  •  The fuckin' anarchists are takin' over this site. (2+ / 0-)

    I want to read more posts about Palin and Bachmann and Perry.

    And more picture diaries, please.

    This anarchist stuff makes me think and gives me the idea that I might actually participate in making change rather than being a powerless spectator and/or cheerleader.  

    Can't have that.

    ;)

  •  Lower their bonuses....? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pandoras Box

    How 'bout doing away with them. How about doing away with the corporation. Lowered bonuses is not revolution. That's putting a band-aid on a sieve.

    Abolish the stock market! Housing for all! Jobs for all! Health care for all!

    How about a world built around human and ecological concerns. That would be a revolution.

    I can tell you here in New Orleans there won't be any compromise with capitalism.

  •  Fascinating diary, thanks. (0+ / 0-)

    I came up in the 70s and 80s, before the internet or twitter, or any of it. This was in the Reagan epoch, after the 60s social unrest had died down. Powerful elements in the culture were all about reversing democratic-humanist cultural gains of that earlier time. A big problem on the Left in those days was demoralization. We were seeing nothing but losses and defeats, big ones. It made us very prone to in-fighting, sabotaging our own effectiveness, and the vicious cycle continued.

    This experience has made me suspect "leaderless" movements and those without explicit goals. They seem set up to fail. But, as you point out, the aimlessness  may actually be ferment, the critical element from which new movements arise.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Tue Oct 04, 2011 at 06:45:34 AM PDT

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