Anarchist and anthropologist David Graeber
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A most interesting article from Alternet, looking at the reasons for numbers of young people taking to the streets and risking arrest and possible police brutality to make their voices heard.

By David Graeber
With No Future Visible, Young Activists Have Few Options but to “Occupy Wall Street”
Is it really surprising that young protesters on Wall Street and around the world would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future?

September 26, 2011

Why are people occupying Wall Street? Why has the occupation – despite the latest police crackdown – sent out sparks across America, within days, inspiring hundreds of people to send pizzas, money, equipment and, now, to start their own movements called OccupyChicago, OccupyFlorida, in OccupyDenver or OccupyLA?

There are obvious reasons. We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.

Is it really surprising they would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future?

Just as in Europe, we are seeing the results of colossal social failure. The occupiers are the very sort of people, brimming with ideas, whose energies a healthy society would be marshaling to improve life for everyone. Instead, they are using it to envision ways to bring the whole system down.

But the ultimate failure here is of imagination. What we are witnessing can also be seen as a demand to finally have a conversation we were all supposed to have back in 2008. There was a moment, after the near-collapse of the world’s financial architecture, when anything seemed possible.

Everything we’d been told for the last decade turned out to be a lie. Markets did not run themselves; creators of financial instruments were not infallible geniuses; and debts did not really need to be repaid – in fact, money itself was revealed to be a political instrument, trillions of dollars of which could be whisked in or out of existence overnight if governments or central banks required it. Even the Economist was running headlines like “Capitalism: Was it a Good Idea?”

It seemed the time had come to rethink everything: the very nature of markets, money, debt; to ask what an “economy” is actually for. This lasted perhaps two weeks. Then, in one of the most colossal failures of nerve in history, we all collectively clapped our hands over our ears and tried to put things back as close as possible to the way they’d been before.

Perhaps, it’s not surprising. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the real priority of those running the world for the last few decades has not been creating a viable form of capitalism, but rather, convincing us all that the current form of capitalism is the only conceivable economic system, so its flaws are irrelevant. As a result, we’re all sitting around dumbfounded as the whole apparatus falls apart.

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

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

As the protesters approach two weeks in the streets, we have seen virtually NO media coverage of the events unfolding there. The police in New York City have shown brutal tactics, the only violence so far. Citizens and journalists have had their equipment confiscated and destroyed. Women have been man-handled and sprayed with mace and pepper spray without provocation. Many have been arrested on charges as ridiculous as “disrupting pedestrian traffic”.

What the police department has not realized yet is that their draconian crackdown on the protesters is only fueling the movement. Every arrest seems to make others more determined.

I am pleased to see this article by David Graeber that provides some analysis of the reasons for the protests. It’s for sure that we cannot depend on the mainstream media to do the same. The reason for the blackout of media coverage would probably be discussed better in another article. Perhaps Mr. Graeber will provide that also.

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cyrano1
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cyrano1

Wall Street demonstrator crushes Fox News: U-tube:

It’ll be a cold day in hell before Fox airs it though, right?

Meanwhile the movement is gaining in numbers and gaining steam!

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audadvnc
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audadvnc

Did anybody catch the connection between police overreach and bank “donations”?

http://stopforeclosurefraud.com/2011/10/01/quelle-surprise-j-p-morgan-chase-donates-4-6-million-to-nypd-occupywallstreet/

“JPMorgan Chase recently donated an unprecedented $4.6 million to the New York City Police Foundation. The gift was the largest in the history of the foundation and will enable the New York City Police Department to strengthen security in the Big Apple. “

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Kalima
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Thought this might be of interest Emerald.

—-

Occupy Wall St. Draws Labor Support

“The Occupy Wall St. protests may have a new lifeline, as they have begun to draw support from organized labor. On Monday, the health-care workers’ union, 1199SEIU, issued a supportive statement and pledged to help feed the protesters camped out in lower Manhattan, send nurses to assist with first-aid, and brainstorm other ways to help. Other unions, including the Transport Workers Union Local 100, which represents 38,000 Metropolitan Transit Authority employees, have also pledged support. The unions bring money, manpower, organization, and mainstream support to the protests”.

From “The Daily Beast”.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204612504576609420345476398.html?mod=WSJ_hp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsTop

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cyrano1
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cyrano1

This morning I watched CNN’s Erica Hill delivering belated coverage of the Wall Street demonstrations – generally described as an assemblage of angry people milling around holding a variety of opinions without any clear idea as to why they were there. Of course no interviews of any demonstrators were conducted.

Hill made two particularly irritating comments: “What do you think their message is, if any?”, and “Well, we’d all love a four day work week, wouldn’t we?

I’ve already submitted my comment to CNN. Maybe everyone else out there can join me?

http://www.cnn.com/feedback/show/?s=generalcomments&hdln=4

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audadvnc
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audadvnc

Sending comments to CNN is spitting in the wind … unless you’re feeding them the next (3 day old) LOLCat YouTube viral video.

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cyrano1
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cyrano1

Terrific Article Emerald 1943!! Graeber and your own follow-up comments are spot on! We can only hope that the scheduled march on Wall Street this Wednesday is so huge the media CAN’T ignore it!! Also wish I wasn’t so old and trapped on the west coast!

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KillgoreTrout
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Great article Em. Mr. Graeber was absolutely correct in this paragraph;

“What’s different is largely the target: where in 2000, it was directed at the power of unprecedented new planetary bureaucracies (the WTO, IMF, World Bank, Nafta), institutions with no democratic accountability, which existed only to serve the interests of transnational capital; now, it is at the entire political classes of countries like Greece, Spain and, now, the US – for exactly the same reason. This is why protesters are often hesitant even to issue formal demands, since that might imply recognising the legitimacy of the politicians against whom they are ranged.”

New campaign finance regulations are needed now, more than ever before. We have to get big money out of the equation. The longer we allow big corporations to rig the game in their favor, with mountains of cash, things will only get worse. We should start with getting rid of the Citizen’s United decision by the Supreme Court. It is one of the most anti-democratic ideas to ever exist in America. In no way should a qualified candidate have to spend millions and millions of dollars to get elected. Some of our brightest and most qualified just can’t compete in a game that runs on money like a muscle car runs on gasoline.

“Many even of those who desire to form aristocratic governments make a mistake, not only in giving too much power to the rich, but in attempting to overreach the people. There comes a time when out of a false good, there arises a true evil, since the encroachments of the rich are more destructive to the constitution than those of the people.” Aristotle

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jjgravitas
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jjgravitas

This is what happens when you rob from the poor to give to the rich, which is exactly what happened during Bush II with his tax cuts and his so-called “tax refund checks”, and then proceeding to run the government, and two wars, all on borrowed cash. The few people who complained then were paid very little attention. The war against terrorism was fought on behalf of the rich, but was not paid for by the rich. And everyone knew it. In fact, many of the rich got even richer because of the war — the guys who run Haliburton and the other contractors used in the war, not to mention the weapons manuracturers. Meanwhile, the rich have been walling themselves up in their gold-encrusted bunkers to shield themselves from the chaos that will be faced by everyone else.
I heard recently that there are so many loopholes and exceptions in the tax code that tax revenue is virtually nil. And the GOP still insists that we should solve the debt crisis by cutting jobs, not raising taxes.
Is it really any surprise that people are taking to the streets? Where else can they go? I fear that the resulting chaos may make the student protests of the 60’s look like playtime.
And in the midst of all this, we have Rick “Niggerhead” Perry running for president. Imagine what would happen if he were elected.

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Mightywoof
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Great observations by Mr. Graeber, Em …… back when NAFTA was rolled out (yes – it’s despised up here as it is down there) I had a premonition that it would be a race to the bottom and so it has proved. If Charles Dickens was alive today he’d be totally gobsmacked and wearing a T-Shirt that says ‘Been there, Done that’ ………. those who don’t learn from history ……. slums, poorhouses and workhouses anyone??

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