Tag Archive: protests


The people united will never be defeated!

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It is Rare that the Media Gets it Right. Here is One Instance.

Hear Keith Olberman take Bloomberg to task on the evening after the sneak paramilitary dispersal of the Occupy Wall Street protestors from Liberty Park.  He also calls for the resignation of Bloomberg and NYC police commissioner Raymond Kelley.

Bloomberg Now, Bloomberg Tomorrow, Bloomberg Forever!

In a Special Comment, Keith contextualizes Mayor Bloomberg’s actions against Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park and how they have – unintentionally – vaulted the movement from a local nuisance to a global platform for the disenfranchised.

AP / Seth Wenig
Occupy Wall Street protesters rally in a small park on Canal Street in New York on Tuesday.

By Chris Hedges

Welcome to the revolution. Our elites have exposed their hand. They have nothing to offer. They can destroy but they cannot build. They can repress but they cannot lead. They can steal but they cannot share. They can talk but they cannot speak. They are as dead and useless to us as the water-soaked books, tents, sleeping bags, suitcases, food boxes and clothes that were tossed by sanitation workers Tuesday morning into garbage trucks in New York City. They have no ideas, no plans and no vision for the future. 

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. Invest your emotional energy in the vast system of popular entertainment. Run up your credit card debt. Pay your loans. Be thankful for the scraps we toss. Chant back to us our phrases about democracy, greatness and freedom. Vote in our rigged political theater. Send your young men and women to fight and die in useless, unwinnable wars that provide corporations with huge profits.  Stand by mutely as our bipartisan congressional super committee, either through consensus or cynical dysfunction, plunges you into a society without basic social services including unemployment benefits. Pay for the crimes of Wall Street. 

The rogues’ gallery of Wall Street crooks, such as Lloyd Blankfein at Goldman Sachs, Howard Milstein at New York Private Bank & Trust, the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, the Koch brothers and Jamie Dimon at JPMorgan Chase & Co., no doubt think it’s over. They think it is back to the business of harvesting what is left of America to swell their personal and corporate fortunes. But they no longer have any concept of what is happening around them. They are as mystified and clueless about these uprisings as the courtiers at Versailles or in the Forbidden City who never understood until the very end that their world was collapsing. The billionaire mayor of New York, enriched by a deregulated Wall Street, is unable to grasp why people would spend two months sleeping in an open park and marching on banks. He says he understands that the Occupy protests are “cathartic” and “entertaining,” as if demonstrating against the pain of being homeless and unemployed is a form of therapy or diversion, but that it is time to let the adults handle the affairs of state. Democratic and Republican mayors, along with their parties, have sold us out. But for them this is the beginning of the end.

The historian Crane Brinton in his book “Anatomy of a Revolution” laid out the common route to revolution. The preconditions for successful revolution, Brinton argued, are discontent that affects nearly all social classes, widespread feelings of entrapment and despair, unfulfilled expectations, a unified solidarity in opposition to a tiny power elite, a refusal by scholars and thinkers to continue to defend the actions of the ruling class, an inability of government to respond to the basic needs of citizens, a steady loss of will within the power elite itself and defections from the inner circle, a crippling isolation that leaves the power elite without any allies or outside support and, finally, a financial crisis. Our corporate elite, as far as Brinton was concerned, has amply fulfilled these preconditions. But it is Brinton’s next observation that is most worth remembering. Revolutions always begin, he wrote, by making impossible demands that if the government met would mean the end of the old configurations of power. The second stage, the one we have entered now, is the unsuccessful attempt by the power elite to quell the unrest and discontent through physical acts of repression.

I have seen my share of revolts, insurgencies and revolutions, from the guerrilla conflicts in the 1980s in Central America to the civil wars in Algeria, the Sudan and Yemen, to the Palestinian uprising to the revolutions in East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Romania as well as the wars in the former Yugoslavia. George Orwell wrote that all tyrannies rule through fraud and force, but that once the fraud is exposed they must rely exclusively on force. We have now entered the era of naked force. The vast million-person bureaucracy of the internal security and surveillance state will not be used to stop terrorism but to try and stop us.

Despotic regimes in the end collapse internally. Once the foot soldiers who are ordered to carry out acts of repression, such as the clearing of parks or arresting or even shooting demonstrators, no longer obey orders, the old regime swiftly crumbles. When the aging East German dictator Erich Honecker was unable to get paratroopers to fire on protesting crowds in Leipzig, the regime was finished. The same refusal to employ violence doomed the communist governments in Prague and Bucharest. I watched in December 1989 as the army general that the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu had depended on to crush protests condemned him to death on Christmas Day. Tunisia’s Ben Ali and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak lost power once they could no longer count on the security forces to fire into crowds.

The process of defection among the ruling class and security forces is slow and often imperceptible. These defections are advanced through a rigid adherence to nonviolence, a refusal to respond to police provocation and a verbal respect for the blue-uniformed police, no matter how awful they can be while wading into a crowd and using batons as battering rams against human bodies. The resignations of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s deputy, Sharon Cornu, and the mayor’s legal adviser and longtime friend, Dan Siegel, in protest over the clearing of the Oakland encampment are some of the first cracks in the edifice. “Support Occupy Oakland, not the 1% and its government facilitators,” Siegel tweeted after his resignation. 

There were times when I entered the ring as a boxer and knew, as did the spectators, that I was woefully mismatched. Ringers, experienced boxers in need of a tuneup or a little practice, would go to the clubs where semi-pros fought, lie about their long professional fight records, and toy with us. Those fights became about something other than winning. They became about dignity and self-respect. You fought to say something about who you were as a human being. These bouts were punishing, physically brutal and demoralizing. You would get knocked down and stagger back up. You would reel backwards from a blow that felt like a cement block. You would taste the saltiness of your blood on your lips. Your vision would blur. Your ribs, the back of your neck and your abdomen would ache. Your legs would feel like lead. But the longer you held on, the more the crowd in the club turned in your favor. No one, even you, thought you could win. But then, every once in a while, the ringer would get overconfident. He would get careless. He would become a victim of his own hubris. And you would find deep within yourself some new burst of energy, some untapped strength and, with the fury of the dispossessed, bring him down. I have not put on a pair of boxing gloves for 30 years. But I felt this twinge of euphoria again in my stomach this morning, this utter certainty that the impossible is possible, this realization that the mighty will fall. 

Monday 14 November 2011
by: Richard D. Wolff, Truthout | News Analysis

Occupy Harvard, November 9, 2011. (Photo: pweiskel08)

Over the last ten days, Harvard students twice stopped business as usual at this richest of all US private universities. An Occupy Harvard encampment of tents followed a large march of many hundreds through the campus protesting Harvard’s complicity in the nation’s extreme inequality of income and wealth. A week earlier, some 70 students walked out in protest of Harvard’s large lecture course in introductory economics. They, too, explained that they were acting in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movements. They specifically criticized the narrowly biased economics they were learning that both reflected and reinforced the inequalities and injustices that fuel the OWS movements. The walkout in the economics lecture deserves our special attention

That walkout responds to (1) the quality of capitalist development in the US for the last quarter century, (2) the complicity of university economics departments in systematically hiding or rationalizing that development, and (3) the new space and support for long-overdue criticism of capitalism opened by the OWS movements.

In the early 1960s, I sat as a student in that same Harvard large lecture class. With many fellow students, I grumbled then at its narrow, technical celebration of the status quo. The interests we brought to the course – to understand the causes of economic instability (recessions, depressions, inflations, crises); how economic change shapes political and cultural history; why so many are poor and so few rich; and what alternative economic systems might be preferable – were largely evaded, ignored, or trivialized. Without an OWS movement, we did not walk out. We sat and endured. Most of us resolved to avoid further economics courses. Introductory economics mass lectures turn few students into economists or even economics majors. They are one-semester immersions in the ideological celebration of capitalism. Harvard’s introductory course was and is no exception.

The professor who prompted the student walkout, N. Gregory Mankiw, is a well-known, mainstream celebrant of private capitalism. He dutifully opposes government economic intervention (except when needed in crises to re-establish conditions for resumed reliance on private capitalism and its wondrous efficiencies). He evidently found the alternatives to capitalism so uninteresting that he wasted no time or effort to learn or teach about them. The profession rewarded Professor Mankiw with a prestigious Harvard professorship. The political establishment made him an adviser to President Bush and now candidate Romney. The economic establishment blessed him with a lucrative contract to write a major introductory textbook.

Professor Mankiw lectures in a huge hall to many hundreds of students. They also attend small classes taught by graduate students. This arrangement – typical at many universities – involves one or two weekly lectures by the professor and one or two sessions with graduate student instructors. Besides being a student in such a class at Harvard, I later served as just such a graduate student instructor at Yale. Over the last 35 years, I also taught exactly such a large introductory economics lecture course at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, almost every year. It is a pedagogical nightmare that I know from every vantage point.

What students learn in a huge anonymous lecture course is far, far less than could occur in a small classroom with intensive interaction between a skilled teacher and a few students. Imposing teaching duties on graduate students struggling with their own courses, dissertations etc. leads to very mixed (I am being polite here) educational results. Remember, too, that neither professors nor graduate student instructors in the US system are ever required to study the subtle art of teaching. Most professors are rewarded far more for publishing and university administrative services than for teaching effectiveness. Graduate students are likewise rewarded far more for their coursework than for assisting in the teaching of undergraduates. The enduring pedagogical failure of these large lectures does lower the university’s cost of “teaching.”

This system’s utterly predictable result is that large introductory lectures are awful compared to what introductory courses could and should achieve. The few exceptions depend on rare individuals who care and learn how to teach even under such adverse lecture conditions. We usually remember them.

Whether consciously or not, the 70 Harvard students were protesting the failures of their education as well as of the larger society. They balked, for example, at how Mankiw’s economics handles the inadequacy of their lecture course itself. In the Mankiwian view, one high-priced professor teaching hundreds is much more “efficient” than having him interact with a few in a seminar setting. The bottom-line driven desire of Harvard to save the costs of the small classes actually needed for quality education is neatly obscured by concentrating on quantity: counting “educated” students as so many beans or peanuts produced by one professor. Such fetishizations of quantity are hallmarks of mainstream economics.

The protesting Harvard students also found Mankiw’s economics minimally useful for understanding the actual economy they and their families engage daily. Celebrating capitalism is not the same as understanding it, let alone evaluating its strengths and weaknesses. In this, the protesting students ironically share the view of business. Long ago, business in the US also realized that the celebration of capitalism performed by economists like Mankiw was not very useful for (and often contrary to) teaching how capitalist enterprises and markets actually work. So, they developed a second, alternative track for studying economics. It would focus on analyzing the actual workings of the economic system and leave the celebratory work to the economics departments. That alternative track is called Business Schools.

It is a good sign that today’s Harvard students include many who recognize the important political and ideological breakthrough accomplished by the Occupy movement. It is an even better sign that they are determined now to join and further its central goal of exposing and opposing the profound inequalities and injustices of the current system. And it is perhaps best of all that they take the struggle to one of the chief ideological apologists for that system, mainstream economics.

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Uploaded by on Nov 10, 2011

Entrevista con Anselmo Xunic en la marcha del 12 de Octubre de 2011 apoyando la ley que legalice las radios comunitarias.
Interview with Ansemo Xunic at the 12 October 2011 protest, supporting the bill in favor of legalizing indigenous community radio stations in Guatemala.

 In a continued attempt to dominate the media and totally control the politics of one of the poorest countries in the world, the Guatemalan government has made indigenous community radio broadcasts illegal. 

Jacobo Arbenz Guzmán

Political repression has been rife in Guatemala since the military coup against President Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán in 1954.

The  coup d’état was engineered by the United States government and CIA, and Arbenz was replaced by a military junta, headed by Colonel Carlos Castillo.

He went into exile after the coup and died in Mexico in 1971.

 

The Occupy Movement Needs a Good Fight
by Shamus Cooke

Global Research, November 6, 2011

“Power concedes nothing without a demand.”

– Frederick Douglass 

In a movement based on general anger about inequality and the domination of big banks, it becomes difficult to focus the rage into something concrete. For many Occupiers, being concrete is a mere distraction, meant to shift the movement into something ‘less radical,” since their targets — big banks and inequality — are at the root of the problem. Why mess with the tree when you could go for the roots? 

But, as any tree-removal worker will tell you, the tree comes first, then the roots. The roots cannot be the immediate goal of the Occupy movement because pulling them out would require tens of millions of hands, and the vast majority of working people are not yet directly involved in the movement, though many of them are giving approving nods from a distance. Bringing these more distant people into the movement requires they be given a good reason to join. And although a general anti-1% sentiment sounds appealing to the 99%, a struggle to win worker-friendly demands can help pull these people into the streets.  

Thus far the Occupy movement has successfully held a series of actions and protests, with different issues being highlighted on different days in different cities, with a national “bank divestment” day (Occupy friendly people transferring their money from big banks to small ones) on November 5th. The big banks will be left standing, however, since they still have the immense wealth of the 1%, not to mention a never-ending bailout fund from the politicians of the 1%. Most working people will recognize bank divestment as a positive symbolic gesture, but they would prefer action accompanied by victory.  

Action in this case means the dirty work of organizing working people, based on the issues that they care most about. Organizing a new union is a perfect example — on a smaller scale — of what needs to happen in the Occupy movement nationwide. When organizers come to a work site to form a union, they do not simply pass out pro-union propaganda in the parking lot until workers decide to join up. Instead, organizers use agitation based on the key problems of the work site — low wages, no rights, etc. — to spur the workplace to action. Only when workers are motivated in this way and united to achieve their common demands do they feel empowered enough to take on the boss and form a union, transforming themselves and their workplaces in the process.  

This is what Occupy is missing. There is plenty of good anti-1% propaganda about inequality and against the banks, but so far there has not been a serious effort to agitate for the majority of working people to wage a united fight over specific issues. Only the most progressive 5% is directly fighting for Occupy now, the rest of the population will be won over or turned away by how the Occupy Movement relates to them.

One way not to relate to working people is to ignore their issues while “escalating” the struggle. Escalating the Occupy Movement without having engaged working people with their most pressing issues will amount to strangling it (imagine a battlefield where the calvary charges and the infantry stays put, unable to back-up those mounting the advance). The real organizing still needs to be done, but the activists’ impatience is fast becoming a threat. This weakness has its roots in the left’s inability to link their “more radical” ideas to the needs and current consciousness of the broader population.  

This impatience pushes some activists to create change “now” — the urge to harvest the crops without having first plowed and sown the field.  Working people soon get dismissed as being “not radical enough,” and the most progressive participants become further isolated. No social movement can survive with this dynamic; in fact, many have died from this disease.  

For example, in the late 60s the Students for a Democratic Society became a massive organization with real movement potential, until they started to suffer from impatience and split into two; a more radical isolated group (the Weathermen) who left control of the group to the more Conservative liberals. Both factions killed the movement. The liberals drove the group into the movement-killing Democratic Party. The radicals isolated themselves from the working class. The SDS’s sad end was due to its inability to wage a fight that engaged the broader population into struggle, since without the wider population’s participation, winning demands becomes impossible. This inability to “win” demoralizes activists and drives them to desperation via sectarian radicalism or its opposite — compromise with the establishment.      

To prevent the Occupy Movement from experiencing a similar tragedy, the 99% must be engaged in concrete fight. There are a few key demands that can galvanize the broader population to fight at this time; they are similar to the demands fought for during the Great Depression: Jobs Not Cuts and Tax the Rich. If the national Occupy Movement fought for a massive public jobs program and against cuts to social programs — including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, extended unemployment insurance, education, etc. — by massively taxing the wealthy and corporations, the vast majority of working people would join the movement until it was capable of actually winning these demands.  

The two political parties would reel under this pressure and would either make concessions or be quickly pushed aside. During the struggle, working people would be transformed by their experience, learning firsthand who their friends and enemies are while also being won over to more radical ideas in the process. Fighting for demands and winning them in a united fashion pushes the movement forward and hardens it, because each victory serves to embolden the movement and encourages it to reach for even more. This society-wide process of mass radicalization and action would be a real revolutionary movement.  

The Occupy Movement has the potential to catapult its power into a truly massive movement that can challenge the domination of the two major political parties of the 1%. But potential is not always actualized. Its life can be strangled prematurely by ignoring the demands of the 99% and fighting instead for a number of fragmented progressive causes that are not yet able to unite the majority.

The Occupy movement should also reach out to organized labor, which has already been raising the key demands around creating jobs and opposing cuts. Uniting the 99% in concrete struggle is the issue of the day, but time is short. The Occupy Movement has the nation’s attention now, but working people’s attention is conditional; they will stay focused on Occupy if Occupy is focused on them.  

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org

Shamus Cooke is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Shamus Cooke

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Uploaded by on Nov 2, 2011

On November 2nd, members of the New York City Chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War and other veterans marched to Zuccotti Park, announcing their support for the 99%, and calling on other veterans and service members to join the Occupy Wall Street movement.

A demonstrator with the Occupy movement holds a sign November 2, 2011 in Oakland, California (Eric Thayer  / Getty Images / AFP)

A demonstrator with the Occupy movement holds a sign November 2, 2011 in Oakland, California (Eric Thayer / Getty Images / AFP)

 

Hundreds of teachers have called-in to work. Shops have locked their doors in solidarity.

Later this evening, today’s events will accumulate with a massive march in the Bay Area this evening.

Oakland has become an unlikely West Coast hub for the Occupy Wall Street movement nearly 50 days after the protests first started in New York City. While other cities across the United States and around the globe have waged Occupy-style demonstrations in the last few weeks, the assault by Oakland police officers on protester and war vet Scott Olsen last week resonated around the world. A non-lethal projectile fired by the Oakland PD left Olsen unable to speak after he suffered a skull fracture while attending last week’s demonstration. While still hospitalized preparing for a serious surgery, marches and protests in solidarity with the injured demonstrator have occurred across the world as protester rally in support of an unlikely icon for the movement. One week later, thousands are expected to show their support for Olsen and the Occupy movement in Oakland today by hosting the first general strike the city has seen in more than half a century.

Angela Davis speaking. Photo by Lucy Kafanov
Angela Davis speaking. Photo by Lucy Kafanov

­At around 9 a.m. this morning in Oakland, protesters held a general assembly in the first of several meetings of today. Activist Angela Davis told a crowd of thousands that “Our unity must be complex . . . It cannot be simplistic and oppressive.” before other organizer leaders took the microphone to offer speeches. 

Recorded October 30, 2011, 5pm. Dr. Angela Davis addresses the satellite Occupy Wall Street general assembly–Occupy Washington Square Park NYC–encouraging the movement to stay united (3:20) by quoting Audre Lorde, “Differences must not be merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic” (4:24).

At the end of the speech, Davis brings news from Occupy Oakland–in regards to the police action, and Scott Olsen –and Oakland’s call for a general strike on November 2, 2011 (6:14). “Decolonize Oakland, We are the 99%, We Stand United, November 2nd, 2011, General Strike, No work, No School, Occupy Everywhere.”

Around an hour later, protesters began a march to a local bank branch in an attempt to shut it down.

At 5 p.m. local time, the day’s events are expected to cumulate with a two-mile march to the Port of Oakland, one of the largest shipping hubs of its kind in the country. The day-shift at the port had already been halted due to the protests and demonstrators are hoping to keep the port shut down into the night as part of the movement.

With the optimism of the protesters merging with the confusion of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan’s handling of the ongoing movement, not even the demonstrators themselves are sure what today will bring.

Oakland has first general strike in 65 years. Photo by Lucy Kafanov
Oakland has first general strike in 65 years. Photo by Lucy Kafanov

­Yesterday Mayor Quan issued a statement saying, “It is my hope that tomorrow’s general strike is peaceful and places the issues of the 99% front and center. I am working with the police chief to make sure that the pro-99% activists — whose cause I support — will have the freedom to get their message across without the conflict that marred last week’s events.”

Though she offers her support today, a week ago she ordered that the encampments of the protesters in city parks by raided by police. Authorities from 17 different agencies aided in the crack-down, which led to at least one man, Scott Olsen, ending up in critical condition. The Iraqi War veteran has shown remarkable recovery in the days since, but what lies ahead for the Occupy movement still seems uncertain.

To Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Director Paul Junge, Mayor Quan isn’t helping.

An Occupy Oakland protester shows his wounds from the rubber bullets OPD supposedly weren′t using during the recent raid. Photo by Lucy Kafanov
An Occupy Oakland protester shows his wounds from the rubber bullets OPD supposedly weren’t using during the recent raid. Photo by Lucy Kafanov

“Your lack of clarity is putting our shared future in Oakland at risk,”

Junge wrote to the mayor in a letter this week

. “We want to be clear, should Wednesday’s planned protests go awry, someone will need to be held accountable.”

In an open letter from the Oakland Police Officers’ Association issued yesterday, they admit that they aren’t sure what to make of the mayor’s handling either.

“As your police officers, we are confused,” reads the letter. It goes on to note that all city workers, except for police officers, were told they could take November 2 off to participate in the general strike. “That’s hundreds of City workers encouraged to take off work to participate in the protest against ‘the establishment,’” the letter goes on. “But aren’t the Mayor and her Administration part of the establishment they are paying City employees to protest? Is it the City’s intention to have City employees on both sides of a skirmish line?”

“It is all very confusing to us,” say the cops.

Chris Hedges: “What happens is in all of these movements … the foot soldiers of the elite — the blue uniformed police, the mechanisms of control — finally don’t want to impede the movement and at that point the power elite is left defenseless … the only thing I can say having been in the middle of similar movements is that this one is real, and this one could take them all down … I can guarantee you that huge segments of those blue uniformed police sympathize with everything that you’re doing.” — Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges brings his 20 years of experience as a war correspondent, having covered movements and revolutions throughout the the world, to the discussion.