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Police Crackdown Effort at #OccupyOakland Raises Bigger Questions About Movement Evolution

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Most readers by now no doubt have heard about the aggressive police crackdown at Occupy Oakland on Tuesday, in which police critically wounded Iraq war vet Scott Olsen while using tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash grenades to clear Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. The footage right before the tear gassing began does not show any signs of provocation by the protestors, but other reports say that a small group which most believe were anarchists rather than OWS members, had engaged in aggressive actions earlier.

Like many of the police efforts to rein in Occupations, this one seems to have backfired. The major of Oakland faced a difficult press conference earlier today and as reported by Mother Jones, backed down considerably:

It was a peaceful night in Oakland. At a press conference, Mayor Jean Quan promised a “light police presence” for the next few days, to allow an opportunity for “dialogue” with the protesters.

But there were still efforts at containment. Tweets indicate that the BART service to San Francisco was closed, blocking efforts of Occupy Oakland to join Occupy San Francisco. There was an effort to organize a march across the bridge, but that seemed to fizzle out. The GA did vote through a general strike for November 2. Given that no occupation yet has a large turnout relative to the local population, this call for a general strike may well produce an underwhelming follow through and could weaken the perceived clout of the movement. The flip side is that a one city event could also be seen as an outlier and may prove to be a useful learning experience.

The New York Times raises the broader issue of friction between some of the more entrenched occupations and local government. The cities do have some legitimate concerns, such as vermin and sanitary facilities (although the latter are often self-created by denying the protestors the ability to bring in enough port-a-potties). But at least in New York, the densely-packed Zuccotti Park now gets weekly cleanings thanks to the eviction threat by the owners, Brookfield Properties. But the flip side is that the New York City occupation illustrates how much it takes to run a city in a city. There are a large number of committees involved in running the encampment, and it is surprisingly bureaucratic for what would seem to be a relatively small operation.

But the bigger issues between the protestors and their reluctant municipal hosts is likely to be philosophical, even if the complaints are voiced in terms of the group’s impact on safety and the quality of life. OWS encampments are a visual poke in the eye of authority, whether or not that is their intent. They prove that the government has been forced to cede control of a patch of public space to citizens, and the order that they set up is not the sort that urban planners or city fathers would endorse (I really wish one of the Occupations would put up geodesic domes. They are quick to assemble, are a nice aesthetic fit with a lot of settings, and might make for some visual branding). Even though I find Zuccotti Park far more pleasant than street fairs, the “dirty hippie” branding comes less from the people themselves than from the inevitable clutter of camping in an urban setting. A report in the New York Times describes an almost comical annoyance by some mayors on being invaded by a group that plays by what they see as completely unorthodox rules:

Across the bay, meanwhile, in the usually liberal environs of San Francisco, city officials there had also seemingly hit their breaking point, warning several hundred protesters that they were in violation of the law by camping at a downtown site after voicing concerns about unhealthy and often squalid conditions in the camp, including garbage, vermin and human waste.

In Atlanta, Mayor Kasim Reed ordered the police to arrest more than 50 protesters early Wednesday and remove their tents from a downtown park after deciding that the situation had become unsafe, despite originally issuing executive orders to let them camp there overnight.

And like many of his mayoral colleagues nationwide, Mr. Reed openly expressed frustration with the protesters’ methods.

“The attitude I have seen here is not consistent with any civil rights protests I have seen in Atlanta,” Mr. Reed said in an interview, “and certainly not consistent with the most respected forms of civil disobedience.”

And given the number of people involved, and the lack of internal policing, it’s easy for critics to take specific misdeeds and try to depict them as widespread. In NYC, Brookfield Properties complained of drug use. I did smell a whiff of marijuana in one pass through the park, but I smell that at least as often in my staid and not at all densely populated Upper East Side neighborhood. And at an earlier General Assembly, a earlier “no drugs” rule enforcement discussion came up, which I’m told precipitated a very long discussion with one party (I believe this very debate led to a change in the consensus threshold being changed from 100% to 90%).

Yet the New York Times reports that reports of illegal substance use are being touted to depict the occupiers as criminals:

On Tuesday, for example, the National Republican Senatorial Committee circulated a report that two people living in the Occupy Boston tent with a young child had been arrested for selling heroin, and paired it with comments from Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic contender for Senate from Massachusetts, in which she said that her work as a consumer advocate had helped inspire the Occupy movement.

“She’s not only standing with those breaking the law and being arrested,” the committee’s release read, “She’s actually taking credit for them.”

It isn’t surprising that the Democrats’ efforts to take advantage of OWS are getting awkward. I’m not sure what they were thinking. Perhaps they assumed they’d die out or be coopted faster. But the early police incidents in New York that helped put the movement on the map, the macing of a group of women and mass arrests on Brooklyn Bridge, were proof of friction with the authorities virtually from the get go from a group that is generally pretty tame in its behavior. How did they fail to anticipate that rough encounters would increase disproportionately as the number of participants grew? And that’s before you get to the issue that the New York Times raises, of provocateurs (some aggressive leftist groups as well as probable plants) who aren’t representative of regular OWS participants:

Protest organizers said many of the troublemakers in Oakland and elsewhere were not part of the Occupy movement, but rather were anarchists or others with simply with a taste for mayhem.

“The people throwing things at police and being violent are not part of our ‘99 Percent’ occupation,” said Momo Aleamotua, 19, a student from Oakland. “They’re not us, and they’re not welcome.”

Even if this is true (likely), I’m not certain how OWS can say someone is “not us” with what amounts to an open membership policy.

So OWS appears to have matured quickly from a disruptive, novel phenomenon to what at least some cities see as a cancer-like challenge to their authority. So it should not be surprising that the ongoing power struggle sometimes escalates into open hostility.

The real danger to OWS will come when there is an eruption that can clearly be pinned on the movement rather than the police, particularly if bystanders are hurt or private property is damaged in a serious way (say a fire breaks out or windows get smashed). That will play into well established stereotypes and be far too easy for media outlets to amplify. I’m sure the OWS leadership is well aware of this danger but awareness may not be sufficient to prevent it from happening.

Update 6:50 AM. Hhhm. The danger of being tagged with violence or the threat thereof may come with the act of assembling in a large enough mass. Mother Jones (linked at the top of the post) reported the evening just past in Oakland as peaceful. The New York Times, in a 4:23 AM update to the story (I had pulled up the earlier version and drafted my post from that) gives a very different account. The Times lays its claims to post official protest actions but I am curious as to whether the aggression was as strong as it is depicted here:

The official protest broke up around 10 p.m. local time, peacefully, with protesters dancing, carrying American flags and generally celebrating what seemed to be a well-attended demonstration of some 3,000 people.

Shortly after the end of that protest, however, hundreds of demonstrators began to wander down Broadway, Oakland’s central thoroughfare, in an unplanned march. The Oakland police, who had been noticeably absent during the protests at City Hall, began donning protective riot gear as demonstrators upped their rhetoric and attempted to board San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit trains. Several entrances to the BART system were closed, agitating protesters and adding to an increasingly tense atmosphere in Oakland, which had exploded in violence a mere 24 hours before.

The impromptu march continued west toward Oakland’s waterfront as it became more apparent that there was little central organizing structure.

About 10:25 p.m., a crowd of a thousand protesters arrived at Oakland’s police headquarters and began milling about. Some attempted to put garbage cans in the street, while others beseeched the crowd to remain peaceful. The Oakland police manned the front door of their headquarters and maintained a loose perimeter.

I looked at #OccupyOakland on Twitter and saw only the report of the frustration at the BART stations being closed and a plan that never came to fruition to march to San Francisco. Any reader reports related to the later New York Times account (which considerably ups the danger quotient of the story) very much appreciated.

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172 comments

  1. rjs

    from correspondence from a WA vet:

    http://occupyolympia.org/occupy-news/nationwide/ If you scroll down, you will see the Marine, Coast Guard, and Police Occupy sites. The military people are very angry. Many actually believe that they are supposed to uphold the Constitution and protect American citizens. Some of the Marines are vowing to be a line between the people and the police and protect the people. Did you see the video of that huge black Marine Sergeant chewing out the NYPD guys. I watched the faces of some of those officers and they did not seem like they wanted to be there. I mean, they are going to have a big choice to make soon. They have families to support, but I’m sure many do NOT want to be doing this. Many are probably ex-military and they will listen to a “Sarg.”

    Maybe all of us will have a hard choice to make one of these days.

    Let me tell you, the military people are ready to go on this. The police took down one of their own. The kid has swelling on the brain and that usually requires some kind of surgery. I noticed that although a lot of the military are not real supportive of the Veterans for Peace group, that division seems to have vanished because of this.

    Did you see the video where the cops stood by after this guy was injured? They were behind the barricades and then when about twenty people gathered around him, trying to help, one of them fired some kind of canister point blank at the group. My husband says that was not proper use of deadly force, since those things are very dangerous that close. He was only about ten or twelve feet away. And why weren’t the police calling in medical help for him? They are supposed to do that. This is crazy.

    1. KnotRP

      This is a pretty dumb move by a police officer:

      http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=196618

      Reminds me of the macing incident in NY….people
      in positions of power who cheat as a matter of habit,
      figuring they’ve gotten away with breaking the law
      up to now, so why is today any different?

      Sure….flash bang a small crowd that has returned
      to help someone who is down….what could possibly
      go wrong with that plan?

      The sociopaths are going to precipitate a riot.

      1. EH

        Eh, it’s just the sniper-bait scene from “Full Metal Jacket.” You can’t blame a law enforcement officer from treating the real world like a movie, can you?

        1. rotter

          The authoritarian oppressors are becoming predictably stupid. How many times has this drama played out in history? 100,000? 100,000,000? They are creating sympathy for the protests exponentially while simultaneously radicalizing and conditioning the protesters, essentialy training them in revolution. What a bunch of fools. Thank God for the Oakland PD’s of history or revolutions might not ever succeed.God Bless the OWS movement.

          1. Nathanael

            “Predictably stupid” is right.

            You can maintain a criminal oligarchy for a long time if the oligarchs are smart and hire smart thugs. But somehow it always degenerates into a stupid oligarchy with stupid thugs, and then the handwriting is on the wall.

          2. Maju

            @Nathanael: Not “somehow” but because totaliarian regimes lack decent feedback. Democracy, specially free speech, is not so much ethical as efficient. No matter what the cons of complex decision-making processes, the ready availability of feedback is a reasonable guarantee that things are at least less likely to go to unbearable extremes before it is too late.

            The overall system is more stable with open feedback (usually described as “free speech” and other freedoms, including political ones).

      2. redleg

        Attacking people giving aid to wounded, including stretcher bearers, is a violation of the Geneva Convention. The police in this case committed a war crime by tossing that grenade.

        I am a former Army Officer and am outraged by this in particular, but also how the police have (overre)acted in general. I took an oath to defend the Constitution, and that oath explicitly included domestic enemies. The protesters have done nothing that would justify the use of chemical and “non-lethal” ordinance. Rocks and bottles do not count when you are in riot gear, so even if that happened it still doesn’t justify the police actions.

        Please note that the train shutdowns and camp evictions occur simultaneously in different places across the nation. This may be coincidental, but it could also be a coordinated strategy.

        1. Stan

          I hope you really are an ex-Army officer, because of your laudable sentiments. I would think someone who’s served in the military, especially as an officer, wouldn’t mis-spell ordnance as ordinance. Maybe it was just a typo or a momentary lapse.

    2. Marsha

      Oakland and Albany – worlds apart geographically and in terms of their treatment of The Occupation Movement.

      Corrente has posted two petitions on Sign-On.com to let NY Governor Andrew Coumo (a Democrat!) and Albany (NY) Mayor Jerry Jennings know that Albany County DA, P.David Soares made a sane, civil and morally correct decision when he went against their explicit orders and decided not to prosecute Occupy Albany protestors.

      Please go to these two petition links (one for Cuomo and the other for Jennings) and sign each petition. WE NEED TO LET THE WORLD KNOW THAT, IN THE UNITED STATES, THERE IS A WAY TO REACT TO A LOCAL OCCUPATION WITHOUT SHOOTING RUBBER BULLETS AT U.S. CITIZENS.

      Thank DA Soares for his brave – and morally correct – actions.

      …..In a sane and civil response to the Occupy Movement, Albany County (NY) District Attorney P. David Soares is refusing to prosecute Occupy Albany participants for their peaceful exercise of their First Amendment rights. In response to orders from NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, Soares saw the wisdom of a peaceful law enforcement response, saying: “The protesters have been fine. We’ve been maintaining a great dialogue with the organizers and for the most part a lot of credit should go to the organizers for maintaining a wonderful protest.”

      There are two petitions, one to Governor Cuomo and the other to the Albany Mayor. PLEASE SIGN BOTH PETITIONS AND THEN SHARE/PASS THEM ALONG TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY. Thank you.

      Here are the petitions:

      To the mayor: http://www.signon.org/sign/thank-you-alb

      To the Governor: http://www.signon.org/sign/thank-you-alb

      PLEASE SIGN BOTH PETITIONS!!!

  2. williambanzai7

    I would say after three years of flagrant bullshit from the Lords above, what we are seeing is an extraordinarily peaceful form of protest. Why?

    We have a first amendment and people cherish it. That is why they abide by the one condition, assemble but peaceably.

    How are they rewarded for their civility? They are beaten and shot at.

    Oh, those weren’t bullets, those were behavior modification projectiles.

    Tell that to the veteran lying in a medically induced coma on a respirator.

    Tell that to the people who went to his aid and got flash grenaded.

    Heroes versus cowards, that is what we are seeing.

    1. LeeAnne

      I’m so glad you brought attention to people being taken advantage of for their willingness to adhere to the law when protesting. They are also unarmed; trusting their safety to police who are armed. People have done and continue to do this in spite of so much recent police provocation against them.

      I’d like to see the police provocation stop. Otherwise, I would have to conclude that police all over the country, including the NYPD, are being set up by their superiors to cause civil conflict. The NYPD and other police in the country should be considering that potential.

      We haven’t seen the middle class out in the streets or Central Park since the 2003 anti-Iraq war demonstrations. Police Chief Ray Kelly with Mayor Bloomberg have taken care of that. It was at the UN site in New York City that here that ‘kettling’ crowds was introduced. A no-fly zone to prevent photos of crowd size resulted in estimates of 250,000 being contradicted by Kelly as 100,000; neither number verifiable. All the talk the next day was this tactic where people were taken by surprise and hemmed in for blocks around the demonstrations.

      The next occasion for peaceful demonstrations was the RNC 2004 Bush where ‘kettling’ was out in the open including ordinary passers by anywhere near the site of the convention, and more than 1200 peaceful demonstrators were arrested and held illegally by Mayor Bloomberg for the duration of the convention -3 days in some cases. We don’t get a lot of news about how law suits have progressed through the courts.

      We have however had a little apology from Herr Bloomberg for his lying after it was revealed in the press that his withholding of a Central Park Permit for a peaceful anti-war demonstration was not as he had stated, because of concern for new grass, but was politically motivated.

      1. Nathanael

        New York is ready to boil. Unless that thug Kelly and his minions are prosecuted, they’re going to discover the limits of “kettling” and other methods of harrassing peaceful protestors.

        If Ray Kelly keeps on his abusive rampage, half the cops will be helping the protestors. The military’s already with them as is a supermajority of the entire population of New York. Enough abuse and those stupid little plastic fences will be cut with scissors, and then each cop will show whose side they’re on as street skirmishes break out. Street skirmishes which the thugs *cannot* win, as they simply don’t have the numbers.

        Hopefully someone will have the sense to fire Ray Kelly before it gets to that.

  3. selise

    “anarchists rather than OWS members”

    um…. anarchists can be and are OWS members. they are also respected members of other communities.

    here’s a good example for naked capitalism readers: david graeber — who has been a guest poster here, is both an anarchist and early member of OWS.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Some of the OWS members are drawing that distinction (see the later extract from the NYT as one example). Don’t shoot the messenger.

      1. Goin' South

        There is quite a debate among self-identified anarchists as to which tactics should be employed in connection with OWS. It ranges from Dutch anarchist Gelderloos’s broad criticisms (aimed at Spain’s 15M but impliedly at OWS) published recently on LibCom.org:

        “In many other cities, leading activists in the 15M movement succeeded in imposing pacifist, populist, and democratic limits to the plaza occupations, meaning that anarchists and other radicals were expelled, while fascists, among others, were included. But in Barcelona, thanks perhaps to the Catalan spirit of independence, the occupation maintained an autonomous character from the beginning, defeating an explicit attempt by would-be leaders to impose a narrow program. Not coincidentally, the Barcelona occupation maintained a greater heterogeneity and a greater force than most other cities’ occupations. And since then, the new movement has been largely reabsorbed into a broader, older, and more intelligent movement with much deeper roots: namely, the anticapitalist movement.”

        And this from an anarchist annoyed by some of the rules imposed on marchers in NYC:

        “Instead of providing a basis for discourse and autonomous action, the General Assembly has become a tool of imposed accountability, treating consensus as if it were a way to implement policy upon a population. In addition to the police, occupiers now have to worry about getting harassed or undermined by self-appointed guardians of the non-violent movement. Try chanting something that deviates from the friendly universalist “99%” line and see what happens.

        Listen: I think your permitted sidewalk march is cowardly, boring, and harms the sequence’s revolutionary potential, but you don’t see me shoving anyone into the street.

        Now don’t fucking touch me or any of my friends, the cops can manage that all by themselves.”

        These are valid discussions. This is not about impressing “undecided voters” with how polite, neat, clean and flag-waving Occupy sites can be. It’s about standing up to wrongful authority and winning using direct action tactics. Anarchists want not reform but revolution, and most anarchists would agree with Kropotkin that:

        “Hope is born in their hearts, and let us remember that if exasperation often drives men to revolt, it is always hope, the hope of victory, which makes revolutions.”

        The core question is whether you effectively legitimize unjust authority by so carefully following its rules. Breaking some rules can wake up people to the fact that they are living under unjust, unaccountable authority that they should be challenging too.

        1. Skippy

          I would invoke Malatesta here with regards to the two groups that must come together_in order_to *effect change*.

          Skippy…I see no other way.

          1. EH

            Oakland has some freaky firearms laws, but it would be very interesting to see Occupiers reach out to the open-carry community.

          2. skippy

            Ha, but I was inferring a more classical cannon. That said I think eye balls from those much tougher, like combat veterans of all stripe would serve better than ballistics.

            Skippy…whilst I know there are dedicated police. I know there are clock work orange sorts too, both have a hard time looking a hardened combat vet in the eye…even when they know the word from above is shit. Personal experience tell me as such.

        2. mk

          you can pick and choose the rules to break and can choose to be non-violent. I don’t agree with the anarchists, violence is not the way to go if you want real change. Real change means no more war, that we resolve our differences in a reasonable and fair way. Violence has nothing to do with that.

        3. bluntobj

          “Instead of providing a basis for discourse and autonomous action, the General Assembly has become a tool of imposed accountability, treating consensus as if it were a way to implement policy upon a population. In addition to the police, occupiers now have to worry about getting harassed or undermined by self-appointed guardians of the non-violent movement. Try chanting something that deviates from the friendly universalist “99%” line and see what happens.”

          When the reports from Atlanta regarding the underage sexual contact included lines where organizers said they would check ID’s and enforce a curfew, I knew then that the OWS movement was fundamentally captured.

          The moment they self enforce the rules that were created by the Status Quo was the moment that the movement lost their independence. Governments create a very narrow and delineated channel for “protest”, which effectively minimize and marginalize the protest movement. This also saps the future growth of the movement, as joining does not satisfy the deep seated intuition people have that things are going wrong. OWS is no longer a movement which people, ordinary previously non-engaged people, can relate and seat their hopes in.

          Why is it that some protest movements are successful? They break out of the narrow protest channels. They suffer. Their suffering is seen by many. They keep it up, until a majority of people can’t stand what they see being done to them, as it strips away the civic veneer and exposes the naked force behind government authority.

          The the ordinary non-involved person realizes that the government is perfectly willing and able to do the same to them.

          This is why police brutality and crackdowns are more effective at generating support than “happy marches” down a sidewalk.

          It makes me quite sad that this is the only venue left for change, as the political system has been firmly captured and is now a symbiotic organism with the wealthy elite. I then remember that this is the history of man. This is what happens. While we have not forgotten what’s in our history texts, we don’t believe it, nor do we feel it.

          1. Goin' South

            We’d seem to be in accord on this.

            And there are many, many lines to be debated and decided. Walking on the sidewalks to smoking a little dope on site to busting windows and throwing rocks at cops. Of course, these things usually get “decided” on spur of the moment, and more by the reptilian brain than the left side, but it is worth considering in advance of heated moments.

            It must always be remembered what the “press” will do from Rush and Beck to CNN and the execrable NYT. They are making it up if they have to, and repeating it over and over again. Playing to the refs or “swing voters” is irrelevant and pointless here. That’s not direct action anyway.

            My feeling is that those who are still spectators but persuadable won’t give a shit if they see the Occupy folks winning a few, as they did against Bloomberg et al. last week.

        4. Richard Kline

          So Goin’ South, I find your characterizations of the Committees of the Assemblies and of nonviolence shallow to the point of mendacity. You also quote the side you like and support without giving any rebuttal or comment from the other, which says a great deal about the putative ‘fairness’ you claim to be advocating, about the self-interested bias in play more accurately.

          There are many people with revolutionary interests, even valid revolutionary insterests, who thrive on conflict and have problems coping with any kind of authority. Where they go, their authority problems and conflict-generation become ‘the story’ of all around them; in short, what the larger group may want becomes hijacked by a few, typically without any consent from the larger number to the direction, actions, or messages of those few. By no means all of those hijackers or dysauthoritians are self-described anarchists. I can think of many other fractional political cliques and/or cults who always show up and try to become the show. Some such dysauthoritiarians call themselves anarchists, and claim to speak for all such: they do not.

          You describe ‘anarchists as being excluded’ from some of the 15M occupations . . . without, of course, giving any context why thay took place, or to whom, or to what degree. As you also show, however, many of these self-described anarchists ‘don’t play well with others,’ nor do they work especially well for _common_ goals, which take some pooling of effort. Of the kind that we, most of us, learn when growing up, especially when we become responsible for and to others such as children. There are plenty of lifelong anarchists out there who are able to work with others; who see responsibility as an intrinsic aspect of resistance rather than an abandonment of any responsibility to others; who understand that without self-discipline defeat is all but certain so that actions simply become quasi-political carnivals without result.

          The characterization of non-violent actions as ‘pacifism’ says more about the sayer than about the methods or goals of the large part of the occupiers. Non-violence is about choosing your methods and goals to a deliberate end rather than letting conflict creep in and become your end as well as your means. Anyone thinking they are making some kind of political statement walking in the street when the crowd is too large for the police to harass them is simply engaging in asinine and puerile grandstanding for personal satisfaction under the guise of ‘being political,’ that is my view. If those assembled decide to march in the street, well and good; they may choose, in their large majority, to use different tactics to communicate a different message. When most choose to stage a deliberate action one way, and a few refuse to cooperate, who is being unfair to whom? Most would say that the hijackers are being unfair attempting to impose their goals and methods on the rest, not the other way around. Those that can’t cooperate need to hold their own separate actions: no one is stopping them from doing _that_, an option of which you make no mention. Because that isn’t the goal of the hijackers, really, to stage an action: their goal is to run the show no matter what anybody thinks. They hijackers are banning _themselves_ by their inability to collaborate with the rest, to be blunt.

          Those who have conflict with authority too great to work in common cause with the large body of the Occupiers are invited to stage their own occupations, and to march down the street wherever they choose. They are not invited to hijack the larger group and exploit the situation for their personal entertainment or personal political message not consented to by the rest. The mentality of twisting that situation around to somehow be ‘the fault’ of the larger number assembled who have chosen to work in common is the defining characteristic of those who think anarchism is defying everything and everyone—it is not. Syndicalism and co-operative enterprises have been a defining characteristic on political anarchism since Proudhon at least; that was before Kropatkin, as I expect that you know. Kropatkin also wrote ‘Mutual Aid,’ a text which, tellingly, you do not cite, regarding the impulse to collaborate and how a result more than the sum of the parts results. Dysauthoritarians don’t just confront the 1%, they hijack the 100%.

          If you can’t work to get along, go hold your own square of ground. What happens there is your problem, not a problem you’ve imposed upon everybody else. If you want the protection and resource of community, than work with that and for it in the main. That’s your free choice . . . .

          1. Goin' South

            Slow down there, Richard.

            Yves had cited “anarchists” as being the problem within OWS. I was pointing out a debate within Anarchism itself. Since the less-confrontational POV is currently prevailing, I merely quoted two alternative views currently out there. The main point was that no one should be blaming all anarchists when anarchists themselves were not in unanimity.

            I’ve quoted that Gelderloos bit to Graeber directly, and while not really answering directly, he attributes it mostly to Gelderloos’s misinterpretation of “democracy” as meaning representative democracy. I’m not sure that covers it, but Gelderloos is obviously mainly bitching about the Spanish situation and attributing it to OWS.

            The second quote is really more interesting. Again, it’s not my words. But your response indicates that you’re obviously a big fan of “majority rules.”

            (Just so you know, these are your words not mine even though they’re in my comment)

            “Those who have conflict with authority too great to work in common cause with the large body of the Occupiers are invited to stage their own occupations, and to march down the street wherever they choose. They are not invited to hijack the larger group and exploit the situation for their personal entertainment or personal political message not consented to by the rest.”

            Larger parts of a body then get to determine the behavior, down to the details, of smaller parts of the body? Otherwise, it’s love it or leave it? That’s your understanding of OWS-style democracy?

            Richard, you have a great comment below about the relationship between OWS and homelessness. I commented as such. But in the above comment, you so clearly don’t get what OWS is about. This is not about 51% take all. It’s also not about everything being prohibited unless it’s permitted. Finally, it’s not about what Richard thinks is best. Instead, unless the whole community agrees that certain behavior is prohibited, then it’s OK. Otherwise, OWS is regressing back past Jefferson, much less Bakunin or Kropotkin.

          2. Richard Kline

            So Goin’, first at times I shoot from the lip. But I take aim at what is presented. Granted, the words aren’t yours, not do those words represent the whole of your perspective. On the inverse, you did not present alternative perspectives or contextualize your words in any broader way; hence, your comment endorses what you present whether that was the whole of your intent or not. Now, I slang off comments on the fly (I’m commenting mostly at work) without the detail or nuance my views or perspectives really require; we all do this. I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

            Taking what I just said regarding your remarks above and applying them to _my_ remarks intervening, you clearly don’t understand what I said about involvement. I don’t mean that majority rules—did I say that?—that is _your_ interpretation of most people settling on a view in modified consensus. If a proposal is accepted by modified consensus following discussion and facilitation with dissenters remaining, majority did rule, that’s the effect. The discussion _sought_ consensus, however, rather than a straight vote by whatever supermajority; there is a difference.

            I’m not at all sure, reading your remarks Goin’, that you have any experience with how consensus decision making works, or involvement with it. Consensus does not simply apply to the larger number in discussion—the nominal majority—but it applies to the _minority_ number in discussion just as firmly not to block consensus but to work in good faith toward a common position. This is a point that is largely not understood by those who don’t use the method: the minority has exactly the same obligations as the majority, to reach a common ground that allows functional action. Neither position is privileged. In this real sense of consensus community, those who hold out without absolutely essential reasons are the ones who violate consensus. Do you understand that point? That is not ‘majority rule;’ that is not even ‘peer pressure;’ that _is_ keeping ones committment to a COMMON committment to consensus.

            Your accusation that I ‘fail to get OWS’ rings hollow, and frankly I turn it back to you, Goin’. Yes, anyone can show up. Yes, those that want to can do their own thing. However, some of those—the large majority in the Zones of Occupation—have committed to work in common, and make an effort to do so. Some have not, and they are the ones who need to decide what they are going to do about that. The larger number go very far to work with and accomodate the much smaller number who do not want, in some respects, to join the larger community and work toward a common political and community goal. So to me, the onus is on the holdouts: find a modus vivendi, or do their own thing without placing the burden on those who strive for community. That isn’t ‘majority rule;’ that is ‘come in or step out.’ In consensus communities, those who consistently refuse cooperation leave, or are shunned. That doesn’t mean that they are necessarily ‘wrong;’ but it is the result of being unable to cooperate for common ends.

          3. Goin' South

            You’ll find complete agreement from me about the obligation of both sides in this debate to find common ground. I’d even say that those advocating more law-breaking would be wise to hold off for now.

            But it is important to note two things:

            1) “Anarchists” != those advocating more extensive law breaking. (I know you know this.) My initial point wass that there is a debate in the community about that issue; and

            2) This is a valid issue for debate. It is not a settled question that minimizing law breaking is the most effective strategy. I accept the principle that the means must reflect the ends, and if you’re aiming for a society both free and peaceful, violence is not the way to get there.

            At the same time, it’s open for discussion how change really takes place in American culture. It’s hard to characterize the UAW members who seized the Flint plant, and the Reuthers who battled the cops and scabs outside to hold the ground, as committed to non-violence or opposed to law breaking. And it was that fight and winning that strike that swelled the numbers and power of the UAW and CIO before any Wagner Act took effect.

      2. selise

        no messenger shooting intended (not even the nyt).

        just a comment on the very long tradition of establishment fearmongering about anarchists — silly grown up versions of children’s tales. scary monsters hiding under the bed kind of thing. not something i would trust the nyt reporting on.

        the scary stories are not so silly though when when combined with the use of agent provocateurs and used to justify police state tactics.

    2. craazyman

      well, there are anarchist intellectuals who hypothesize alternative forms of social organization and then there are bottle-throwing mayhem-sowers.

      Clearly, the latter pose a challenge to OWS just as much as a few out-of-control cops pose to the idea of policing.

      It’s all about narrative structure. Curious that sports fans often riot and pillage after their teams win or lose a championship and cause far more damage than any OWS crowd has anywhere. This is such a regular event as to be cliche. But the abstract idea of “sports fans” doesn’t suffer. And the same folks who ignore sports riots as inevitable will condemn a single broken window as evidence that all OWS are hoodlums.

      And economists think people are rational.

      1. Steve

        In “Direct Action”, by David Graeber, he describes participating in a ‘black bloc’ in Quebec City, precisely the sort of action you are tarring here. He certainly does not draw a thick line between the prefigurative (good) anarchist activity and property destruction (bad) that you are trying to do. Do you trust everything you read in mainstream sources about bank regulation? Why do you do so here? Oakland has a much stronger presence of anarchists than anywhere else in the US. Their analytical sophistication is quite superior to most occupiers, who often use phrases like ‘corporate greed’ (what does that mean? That for-profit corporations should not try to accumulate?). Not surprisingly, they have been heavily involved in Occupy Oakland from the get-go. The whole Occupy movement is largely a toned down version of what more anarchistic protesters were doing at Berkeley and the New School a few years ago. Anarchists are much more visible in Europe. Their protest movements are also much larger. Go figure.

        1. craazyman

          funny I read your comment on my Droid on the bus with my Occupy Wall Street button on my raincoat.

          A fascinating memory I have from Jared Diamond’s COLLAPSE is his description of one island — I think in the south Pacific but I may be wrong — which somehow managed over 1000 years of social stability. Maybe they employed anarchist principles, I just don’t know. Or maybe it was a rigid social system of totems, taboos and social interactions bound tightly by the threat of the whip. But everything else collapsed.

          How thin is the line between justice and genocide? I have absolutely no faith at all that someone who simply calls themselves an “anarchist” is more enlightened than someone who calls themselves a “Christian”. By their fruits ye shall know them.

          Having said that, I’ve attended the New York OWS several times and profoundly admire the vast majority of folks I’ve met there. I’ve posted comments here to that effect, as well as very complimentary ones about Dr. Graeber. But it’s only the peanut gallery and I know my place. I am grateful that Yves tolerates me (and you too). :)

  4. DC Native

    If the protesters don’t have a specific “endgame” in mind, I can’t help but think the movement will simply fizzle out. Also, I think they risk losing public opinion if they allow their movement to become nothing more than a perpetual encampment.

    Tahrir worked for the Egyptians, but they united around one common demand: oust Mubarak. Rank-and-file protesters may have wanted more (or a lot more), but it seems like everyone could agree that Mubarak had to go.

    With OWS, I think they could actually rally support if they came out with a short list of policy demands. Very basic, very popular demands that are easy to explain. And then hammer away at those until the cows come home. For example, break up the banks.

    Once the novelty wears off, they may need to re-think their strategy.

    1. LucyLulu

      I disagree that they need to make any demands. “We are the 99%” speaks volumes. Who doesn’t hear and understand what that means (though some may pretend not to)? Not only that, but by leaving it open-ended, it becomes a platform that people can project their own individual and personalized visions onto, thus making it all the more powerful. Listing demands will narrow the message and begin excluding potential supporters.

      1. vlade

        “We are the 99%” works if you can identify with them. It’s hard to identify for a ‘normal’ middle-class family with what they would see as a thuggish violent behaviour.
        As Yves says, violence that can be seen as reasonably pinned on O-movements is what can break it, because it breaks the 99% meme. 99% will not identify with violence.

    2. craazyman

      you are absolutely right.

      The 99% meme works because of its economic implications.

      Without focus, it risks degenerating into a gnostic circus, where, in the famous words of Doestoesvsky’s Ivan Karamazov “everything is permitted”.

        1. craazyman

          I adore Gnosticism. What I meant by gnostic circus was situations where instinct overpowers and co-opts gnosis and self-indulgence usurps and hijacks self-knowledge.

          And yes, labels can be convenient but woefully inaccurate shorthand for phenomenon which trascend and defy any easy categories. I agree totally.

    3. Capo Regime

      Rework their strategy? Hmm started with 4 people in New York in June and now involves thousands of people in hundreds of cities in countries around the world with press coverage and growth? I’d say their strategy is working gangbusters–much better than say Bank of America’s strategy. Just because something (say like Ghandi or MLK movements) don;t align with narrow enumerative strategies easily understood by a high school civics class does not mean it does not work. The solipsism of americans manifests itself in;If it does not make sense to me then it does not work. We substitute faith and opinion for argument–and thats why Obama is president and a host of other outrages…I digress

      Who said Tajir was about ousting Mabarek? That was a result but people were protesting lack of jobs and food……Westernes assumed (like in Libya) that people wanted democracy and walmart and to be like us—not the case….

      1. Capo Regime

        A short list of demands will be hijaked by the poiticains for 2012 and defuse the movement. Good thing OWS is not following this oft repeated “advise”.

        1. Antifa

          Indeed — the Atlanta mayor’s comment that the Occupy Atlanta protests were “certainly not consistent with the most respected forms of civil disobedience” says just this.

          Respected forms of civil disobedience are when you:
          1. get a City permit first
          2. hold your march or rally
          3. throw away your signs
          4. go home
          5. wonder why nothing ever changes

          OWS is not going to be respectable.

          1. SidFinster

            In Atlanta of all places…

            Do you know if Dr. King got protest permits before marching up to the lunch counter at the local Walgreens?

          2. Stan

            Don’t forget

            2.5 Restrict your protest to a caged-in “Free Speech Zone.”

            When BushCo first created that monstrosity I had one of my many unrealized “great T-shirt” ideas: an outline of the U.S.A. underlined by the words: Free Speech Zone.

    4. Nathanael

      The demand is obvious, it’s simply that the political class is pretending not to hear it.

      The 99% wants to be in a country which works for the 99%, rather than one which is operated strictly for the benefit of the 1%.

      The ways to satisfy that demand are… obvious. It’s embarrassing that anyone is pretending that Occupy Wall Street needs more specific demands.

      As Krugman has pointed out, right now, the country is really operated for the benefit of the 0.1%. And not even all of the 0.1%, but a specific nest of crooks who constitute most of them, who act like they’re above the law.

      The implications are obvious. Rule of law, civil liberties, redistribution of wealth, ending the foreign wars, having genuine elections with real choices: it’s all different aspects of the same demand: make a country which works for the 99%, not just for the 1%.

      1. Nathanael

        Note that my suggestions for specific aspects of making the country work for the 99% are not the same as other people’s suggestions would be. That’s fine.

        It’s obvious that many things need to be done to make the country hospitable to the 99%, and people will have different ideas about exactly what. Calling for more demands is merely an attempt to divide. The key is to get our institutions working for the 99% instead of for the 1% — whether that means changing the minds of the people running the institutions, replacing the people running the institutions, changing the institutions, or replacing the institutions. Whatever works.

        The message of OWS and the demands are *crystal clear* and it’s embarrassing that anyone can pretend that they’re not. It’s an essentially pragmatic group.

  5. Dave from Oz

    This kind of repeat provocation and violence, in a nation where 47% of ordinary citizens own guns, is about to get very interesting …

  6. LucyLulu

    In Oakland, the OWS protestors claim that rats have been a long-standing problem that predated the occupation. As far as the complaints of feces, urine, and vomit in SF, the protestors there claim that there was some dog feces present that they cleaned up. Urine odor was also present from the residence by homeless which they have attempted to clean as well. Apparently there are restroom facilities available?

    The police initially denied using flash bang grenades (claimed were firecrackers brought by protestors) or rubber bullets. They did admit to using tear gas canisters and bean bag rounds (stabilized/pin point accuracy for those with munitions background, potentially lethal) However protestors have found rubber bullets (also potentially lethal, regular bullets coated with rubber) in the streets and turned them in according to later reports as well as a couple protestors having had rubber bullets surgically removed. Flash bang grenades can be seen on video footage shot. The latest police statements state that 17 different law enforcement agencies were involved and the OPD is not responsible for what other agencies might have done. I suspect we will never determine who the culpable agencies were.

    One of the TV channels interviewed a returning protestor last night and she admitted that rocks and bottles were being thrown at the police. She said she didn’t think they would hurt the police in full riot gear and it wasn’t sufficient provocation for the assault on unprotected and unarmed citizens. I saw another report where it was stated that police had been provoking protestors all day long, and other protestors were trying to keep those who were getting riled up under control, putting out fires, etc.

    Daily Kos had some very good coverage yesterday with frequent updating:
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/26/1030222/-BREAKING-PHOTOS:-Images-CONTRADICT-Oakland-PD-Press-Release-on-Rubber-Bullets
    The Guardian also had good coverage, more than one story. Sorry, no links.

    Meanwhile Faux News is reporting ACORN’s involvement with homeless being paid $100/day to march. ACORN will never die.

    The video is truly scary to watch. A full-blown police state at work. I hope the marine will be okay. As much as I hate that this ever happened, it may backfire on the 1% and garner more support for OWS though, much as Bloomberg’s heavy handed initial handling of OWS Manhattan seemed to do. I hope so. At least what happened won’t be a total tragedy.

    1. joel3000

      Comical that SF are claiming the occupation is attracting vermin!

      The rats have always been there. What SF resident doesn’t know that? Go down to Embarcadero at night and you’ll see big rats all over the place.

      1. lollardy

        Exactly. Anyone who has been within blocks of the tenderloin (or in Oakland) knows how ridiculous their claims about safety, sanitation, etc are. Its all a pretext. In Nashville they were very clever: they removed most police presence, and several occupiers were subject to night time assaults by locals, and now the eviction of legislative plaza is being announced based on Occupy Nashville’s own safety complaints. But regardless, to get you out they have to arrest you, which attracts more people to your side.

    2. EH

      That’s a bit curious: the Oakland Police Department doesn’t have control over other law enforcement agencies operating within the city limits? Even when the OPD invited them? “Go nuts, boys?” Certainly there had to be a command structure.

  7. Jefe

    “Anarchists” are often clad in all black, with facemasks and anonomous garb… very easy, in any day and age, to use false-flag tactics. It is very plausible that anti-OWS, police-state supporters, police/law enforcement members, or affiliates are infiltrating and posing as OWS anarchists. Great way to act as a catalyst, to legitimize a police/state violent reaction and shut down, and potentially legitimize a larger national ‘state of emergency’ response.
    I have not looked into it, but a ribid-right Fox news eating friend of mine swears that there will be a nation-wide ‘test’ of the media/airwaves/communication systems, where we ‘go silent’ for five full minutes. Orwellian and chilling, if it is true. Interesting Times indeed… reaping what we have sown…

    1. Richard Kline

      False flag crypto-instigators are standard practice amongst the larger paramilitary responses to organized protest already. They were used in both Italy and Greece for instance on 15 October and in subsequent actions. Higher level police authorities use them in the US, but local police forces are much less versed and ‘ready to go on this.’

      We will see much more of false flag actions in the next few months, I think. That is where the authorities will turn one ‘disperse the homeless sickos’ by local riot squads fails, as it is presently failing. I’m only surprised we haven’t seen more of it. But the moment it might have best succeeded is past. There is simply too much footabe out there from too many zones of occupation of the Occupiers being competent, well-organized, well meaning, and well behaved for the smear to stick well. But we’ll see more of it, yes, that’s my view.

      1. Leviathan

        Calls to mind “Battleship Potemkin” with the Tsarist undercover police agitators. How’d that work out again for old Nicholas?

        The Powers That Be risk a much bigger showdown or worse–pushing the anger underground. Either way bodes poorly for keeping the peace.

        1. Soullite

          It never works for anyone. The truth is, the public tolerates violence from causes it supports (abolition in the north, union drives in the late 19th and early 20th centuries) and invents violence it attributes to peaceful movements it doesn’t support (the shakers, anti-war protesters).

          It is rare for it to matter if a movement is peaceful or violent, and it only really seems to matter for extremely small minority groups. They can win sympathy (mostly by rubbing the truth in the faces of people who would rather ignore it, but can’t stomach it when they see it) by getting the shit kicked out of them.

          Trying to provoke violence from a popular movement under the theory that it will let you ‘justify’ attacking is foolish. The public may side against the movement for a day or two, but the moment you attack, the public will go right back to seeing you as a bad guy.

          1. Mr. Eclectic

            If only it were thus.

            An excerpt from an interview of Francesco Cossiga, about his methods during the 70s uprisings in Italy (October 23rd, 2008, interview to Andrea Cangini:

            Q: Instead, the university students?

            A: Let them get on with it. Withdraw the police from the streets and the universities, infiltrate the movement with agents provocateurs ready for anything, and allow the demonstrators to run loose for a week or so, devastating shops, setting cars on fire and causing havoc in the streets.

            Q: Then what?

            A: Then, with public opinion on your side, the sound of ambulance sirens should drown out the sirens of police and carabinieri cars.

            Q: In the sense that…

            A: In the sense that the forces of law and order should massacre the demonstrators without pity and send them all to hospital. Not arrest them – the magistrates would set them free straight away in any event… beat them bloody and beat the teachers storring them up bloody too.

            And it worked. Brilliantly. They have the methods, experience and will…

          2. Richard Kline

            So Soullite, sometimes all that’s needed is a few days. Notice below the remarks about the G20 in Toronto. The primary visual was of an exploding police car, which as far as anyone could tell was a rig-up by the Canadian authorities. Agents provocateur were spotted in the crowd as said. A massive police sweep jailed the bulk of the demonstrators far from the venue, and the anti-global message never made any news while the ‘out of control radicals’ did.

            False flag actions have long been used in Italy, as mentioned. The Mexican PRI were exceptionally skilled at doing that to diffuse occupations: the occupation movement really _started_ in Mexico. But the past masters at it are the Israelis. The book on their crimes of this kind hasn’t been written yet, but they are expert at it.

            The point of false flag operations isn’t really to ‘justify a crackdown,’ it is to impose a narrative of mindless ‘looting and flailing’ on the activists so that those who don’t know much about what’s going on don’t want to learn more and shy away. It’s a framing device, but in the vernacular and in the conceptual sense. Consider the recent actions in Greece [tactically, not saying how much or in what ways I support the demonstrations]. The picture of a flaming policeman makes every major media mention while the 100,000 pensioners and civil servants in the square acting sensibly don’t make it on camera or in the narrative: that was a successful frame up, and there are indications that the mass of demonstrators thought that many of the flame chuckers were false flag plants to the point of physically trying to expel them from the area.

            Then there is the instance of several random apartment buildings being blown up in Moscow at the point the public wanted nothing to do with a war in the Caucaus. While Chechen insurgents manifestly staged other actions, these explosions are still widely thought to have been a false flag atrocity—and a successful one, the Russian public wearily tolerted an offensive posture in the Caucusus after that.

            Or witness the loon in comments above suggesting people carry guns to Occupation events and recruit the involvement of rod-packers. The first shot coming out of an Occupation march at a policeman would be a severely negative event.

            In short, false flag operations as simple smears do fade, as you say. But that may not matter if their tactical objective is achieved before they do. One can simply sympathize with dead martyrs after the fact. (I’ve liked your commentary before here at NC, Soullite btw; hope to hear more of it.)

          3. Nathanael

            But here’s the thing, Richard: Soullite is still right. Once you have a majority of public on the side of the movement, you can’t change the narrative back to support the kleptocrats just with a few false flag attacks.

            In Israel and Russia, and other places where this was successful against a large movement, the strategy of the government was always to *buy off* large portions of the people at the same time as they were running the false flag operations. Increase pensions, decrease unemployment, provide more subsidized housing, it all works.

            If given control over the money supply, Bloomberg (for example) might actually do this. If he wasn’t a timid little sheep trapped in DC groupthink and unwilling to fight, Obama might actually do this.

            But instead, we have in power a set of kleptocrats who insist on *increasing* unemployment, *decreasing* pensions, *decreasing* food stamps, *decreasing* welfare, et cetera. That creates the situation in which the elite attempt to create a narrative of “violent rabble” just fails to work.

            Look at the Israeli housing protests. It’s not even working in *Israel*.

      2. Jeff

        Don’t forget in Canada as well. Groups of demonstrators on one video surround an agent provocateur who is throwing rocks at the police and point at hims and say “YOU’RE A COP” “YOUR’E A COP”, at which point he runs toward and disappears behind the line of truncheon wielding
        police nearby.

    2. LeeAnne

      We’ve already had a test here in New York City where Mayor Bloomberg ordered all public transportation shut down for the first time in history on the pretext of necessity. Violent storms had been predicted. When storm warnings changed in direction and severity, reduced to ‘tropical storm’ status, that didn’t deter him -nothing but private vehicles and taxiis were permitted (brother, can you spare a twenty?)

      He announced that those residents living in the area ordered to evacuate would be ‘breaking the law’ were they to defy His Honner’s orders.

    3. bluntobj

      Um, the test is scheduled for Nov. 9 @ 2 pm EST. It’s not some fox news scare thingy, but reality.

      Consider it without ideological blinders on: The governing entity may shut down or propagandize all radio and television stations at will. There will be consequences if it’s for a false purpose, but the governing entity now has the power.

  8. Richard Kline

    The actions in Oakland were patently police-caused, though it doesn’t appear to have been intentional. Joshua Holland posted up an in-the-march commentary over on the Alternet on the Tuesday night march:

    http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/685959/six_first-hand_observations_from_last_night%27s_chaos_in_oakland/

    The initial decision to crush Oakland base camp was ill-considered but executed on plan. The area where they were camping was notorious for rats, trash, and other problems. (I used to live in that town nearby, and the site was a pit.) There were also issues with the Oakland Occupiers having difficulty maintaining internal control on their onsite population, which was several hundred in number but included some of dubious committment to any kind of organizing or political action. That is an issue which many of the Zones of Occupation must contend. The authorities clearly used that as an excuse to flood the camp with massive force—reportedly 200 officers from multiple local jurisdictions—in the morning of Tuesday, 25 Oct. Later in the afternoon over 1000 Occupiers gathered at the east end of downtown. Come evening after declining to disperse, the larger part of them marched west heading back to the Base Camp site. It’s clear from Holland’s description that the police in the evening were both fewer in number and had no clear tactical plan on what they meant to accomplish at that point. The marchers were shunted from street to street by inadequate police barricades, and finally at one location a small contingent of police were simply overrun by the now rather agitated marchers. The police at that point clearly panicked/charged and let loose with what they had. The marchers recoiled, naturally, but the damage was done. The _Oakland Police_ do not reportedly deploy rubber-coated steel bullets or the CS gas which was reportedly used, but remember that units from multiple jurisdictions, certainly including County Sheriff’s Deputies (visible in large numbers in all the videos) doubtless do, as the equipment was used.

    Everything about the action of the Oakland authorities was a bungle; that’s evidence that they are increasingly befuddled in how to respond. The cowardly mayor of Oakland made sure to be out of town when this went down, meaning that the senior civilian authority was vacant during the critical afternoon and evening hours regardless of who was nominally left in charge. Gaining superior force and crushing the Base Camp was easy to do, but the Occupiers had made it clear that they would respond and the authorities seemed to have no clear plan whatsoever to do about that. When the evening march began, there was no tactical plan; Holland called it one of the most inept responses he’d seen. The violence from the police was reactive, and not nearly as bad as it could have been, which suggests that they clarly didn’t _want_ to let loose but got themselves backed into a position where they felt they had to escalate. Something that I think will be underappreciated by most readers here is that this is the typical cause of violence at marches and rallies of this kind; not police ‘evil,’ or agitators intent, but the police lacking a plan and essentially panicking into escalating to maintain control of area which they are trained to do. And as I suspect in this instance, much of the worst violence is from ancilliary police units brought in to assist who lack good engagement with the local chain of command and are worried about protecting their own contintent. That was true in the ‘Battle in Seattle’ where panicked, rioting regional cops perpetrated most of the worst assaults on protestors.

    The authorites clearly can’t get any handle on how to engage with the Occupiers—and that’s good, for the Occupation. The NYT piece is a sour joke, on how the authorities ‘are losing patience’ and will soon [get on with crushing these things as the NYT reporter is clearly salivating for]. The Occupations which are pushed out have for the most part reoccupied ground or simply set up a new camp at a nearby location which often has proved a tactical improvement. Oakland came off terribly for this action as the NYPD did for its excesses, so terribly that an evidently planned muscled-and-disperse action in San Francisco across the Bay for Wednesday night was called off; still waiting for final word, but the police massed resources, then sent then away. That is what will happen when other cities fuming authorities lash out: they’ll be the ones who look like thugs and nincompoops. Baltimore and Atlanta saw muscle actions Tuesday night also; don’t be surprised if they are back holding ground within the weak or sooner. And furthermore, don’t be surprised if _police morale_ collapses well before that of the Occupiers in many of these cities. Think how the Oakland cops likely feel now: given a bad order, left in the lurch by cowardly civilians, fumbled into using force badly when they didn’t want to at all, and now a national shame. The cops got NOTHING out of Tuesday morning’s clearance except much, much larger and more energized crowd to have to contain.

    Why are the authorites ‘moving to disperse’? Because this has been their standard methodology for twenty years in manhandling the homeless to forcibly eradicate any camps by those cast out by our society and left for dead on the streets. The official statements about “filthy encampments; drug use; sexual assaults; perverts running loose”: folks, this is all boilerplate verbiage which every urban police force is trained in to smear those on the streets—who may in fact individually be a real problem—to justify massive force to make the homeless slink back to the crevices and doorways where they hide, _alone_ and unable to mobilize any power or make their case to a wider society. The authorities are puzzled about the Occupiers, but terrified of loosing control of their public spaces to the thousands of homeless who they have been made to disappear from collecting in public by police sweeps just such as this. If the authorities don’t enforce against ‘protest camps’ they’ll be in a very poor position to enforce against ‘homeless camps.’ That only compounds the inability of authority to respond, that they faced with two different issues and further are divided between two different goals but are using the same methodology for both. Treating young engaged protestos like ‘homeless sickos’ is failing.

    What the authorities may well do in the comining month is smear and infiltrate for all they are worth. I’m surprised at how little of that seems to have been seriously tried thus far. Oh, the ‘official propaganda’ outlets like the NYTimes are working night and day to brand the Occupiers as filthy, jobless, malcontents, but the livestream and social media is widely available to counter that effort. The NYT overrates itself, and its effort shows how behind the times it is. Agents provocateur sent in to try to get Occupiers on camera using handed out drug paraphenalia—tried in NYC repeatedly—are are more contemporary smear effort. Thus far, these have fallen flat, and video of one injured Marine outshouts by three orders of magnitude all the vile sniggers of the hierlings of the oligarchs thus attempted. The Zonal problems with sanitation are entirely created by the refusal of the authorities to allow proper shelter and toilet facilities to be emplaced, which the Occupiers would most certainly proceed to do on their own initiative if the police are directed to cease harassment. The real problems for the Occupiers are more the weather—really bad in Denver—or internal malfeasance in the zones—theft of funds in Portland, a streetlife hardcore as a rot spot in LA Base Camp—and so on. The Occupiers have the will and the method to cope, but may not bring if off in every case since they are having to expend inordinate amounts of time holding ground against the police.

    The Occupiers could well capitalize on their steadfastness and the confusion of the authorities in this particular moment rather than the other way around. Forcible dispersal by the authorities is not succeeding, and is putting the authorities in a very, very bad light. However, the Occupations don’t have a media strategy that they can readily deploy to do so. To me, that is an increasing difficulty, but an opportunity too. It would be optimal for some of the General Assemblies to make brief Declarations of ‘Why We Hold Ground,’ to the effect that that isn’t simply a protest but a resistance against corporate exploitation, financial thievery, and the venal authorities who refuse to do anything about this; that the quarrel of the Occupiers is not with the police but with the cowardly and kleptocratic oligarchs hiding behind the blue lines. The cops and their reputations (such as they are) are being thrown under the bus as expendables by the malefactors of great wealth in the top floors high above—so fer gawdssake somebody say just that in so many words at the top of their mike. The next week to ten days would be an optimal time for Assemblies in the Zones to make a solidarity announcement of this kind, and I really hope they seize the chance.

    1. Dave of Maryland

      The Bastille fell when the revolutionary/riotous mob was suddenly reinforced by mutinous soldiers. Quatorze Juillet was a lot more developed than OWS is now, but that is the direction things seem to be heading at the moment.

      1. Antifa

        The current equivalent to the French taking down the Bastille will be when so many people fill and overflow lower Manhattan that Wall Street is shut down.

        Even to shut it down for two or three days by sheer number of people filling the streets would terrify and overwhelm the authorities.

        No need to sack the Stock Exchange. Just put 300,000 people in Wall Street environs for three weekdays.

        There has to be a credible “or else” behind demands for change or there will be no change.

    2. Richard Kline

      And as a further note to the ineffectiveness of police clearance of occupation sites on flimsy grounds, Occupy Atlanta has re-occupied a site within 48 hours of being ejected by the dunce mayor of that city, who understands nothing of the political actions it took to allow him, personally, to hold his present office.

    3. Richard Kline

      As a correction and further note, Occupy Baltimore was _not_ displaced Tuesday night; they are still on site by the Inner Harbor as of Thursday night. Yesterday, Wednesday, after the Mistake in Oakland, a spectrum of labor leaders in Baltimore sent an open letter to the Mayor there urging no forced removal but a dialog instead. Included as signatories to that letter were the heads of the firefighters union _and the police union_. The police understand very well who will be blamed for bad orders from the top. I repeat, the morale of the police is likely to break before that of the Occupiers.

      What we have seen with efforts to remove Occupiers over teh last week+ is that these tend to be instigated by _the mayor_ or by _the governor_ of the areas involed, not by the police, and seldom even by City Councils. Councils in fact, being closer to their constitutents, have voted support in a number of areas; Salt Lake City comes to mind. What I suspect is happening—and I’ll be clear this is conjecture, but it fits—is that political pressure is coming down from national party figures, specifically Democratic leadership, and from the Executive branch _on mayors and local political executives_ to the effect that their career in the party is dead if they don’t get these pinkos out from in front of the cameras pronto. The Mayor of Atlanta; the mayor of Baltimore; the mayor in LA has gone south on LA Base Camp; etc. They are being pressured, I feel sure. This is part of why the actions they are taking are so haphazard and ill-judged, because they are not planned as part of a strategy but forced responses spurred by career-threatening pressure from the national top.

  9. Linus Huber

    SCARE 20.12.2012
    (Stop Corruption And Repression Effective 20.12.2012)
    Banks were given a very important privilege to create money in the form of extending credit. This function requires diligence and careful consideration in regard to individual credit risks as well as to overall credit levels in the system. The financial crisis revealed that the banks were operating at too high a leverage and with too much risk. They were used to be saved by the Central Banks and certain that in times of difficulties the Central Banks were there to save them. They were like trained dogs and their master Greenspan or Bernanke would always be there to rescue them when unforeseen difficulties arose.
    That may be true but that does not absolve them from their obligation to monitor overall debt levels in the system as well as being diligent in evaluating the debtors ability to not only service a debt but to be able to repay it over time. The banks clearly failed in this function that is the core function of banking but focused mainly on their compensation packages. The way these bankers enriched themselves in the process of driving the financial system into a wall was appalling and the average income earner was never able to comprehend their schemes but preferred to simply ignore them. Of course, the bankers explained their outrages income levels with free market principles of supply and demand, where the best simply could be hired with those kinds of benefits only. In hindsight those superior managers seem to have missed their mark considerably. The most interesting aspect of all of this is the fact that, after we have been more than 3 years in this financial crisis, the bankers continue to loot the system as if nothing ever happened.
    True to form the Central Banks “saved” the financial system by saving those great financial institutions without whom the system would have collapsed, as was argued. Hardly were we out of the danger of collapse, the banks immediately went back to their old ways and were certain that this was a problem that would occur just once in a lifetime and now all was clear again. The real problem, however, had not been addressed but had simply been muddied.
    In actuality, the losses produced of extending unsustainable levels of credit by the banks have been transferred to the public. Different ways were chosen to achieve this task in the form of free money for the banks, injection of government funds into some institutions, increase of basic money supply and so on.
    The threat of system collapse would have been labelled blackmail if it would have occurred in another setting. However the bankers were able to influence the media, the legislators and regulators in their favour with all the financial resources available to them. Nobody was made to take any responsibility and no one was taken to account.
    This represents a serious violation of the spirit of the Rule of Law that is the basis of western society. It seems that now the new rule is Might is Right. This changes many parameters in the compass of the social system within the western world. No one can be sure on what level and when one will be subjected to the financial abuse of those elites. Presently, the people in charge are trying to enhance financial repression of which one form is to keep interest rates below the level of inflation which affects mainly those that lived within their means over the past many years; another clear violation of the spirit of the Rule of Law as it transfers losses from bad investments to the innocent and decent part of the population. In addition, the increased level of government debt puts in doubt all those benefits promised by governments the world over.
    It is interesting how the banks were able to confuse the public who was/is unable to grasp the actual situation. But considering the banker’s great financial resources, it seems not that much of a miracle to influence the media and the legislator and having politicians do their bidding. The question is what the heck can WE, THE PEOPLE do about it.
    Usually, we could address such things on a political level as we are a democracy, right? But it seems that the system has been corrupted by all the money sloshing around and it is extremely difficult to find any electable person that will act against those powerful interests. In addition, it will take many years until sufficient numbers of persons with the new thinking and with integrity not to be corrupted by those lobbying efforts will be elected to office that will implement the changes needed. So, what should we do? Start a revolution?
    Well, the blackmail used by the banks may be the only way to address the injustices that have occurred over the past few years. They showed us how to leverage one’s limited resources to achieve one’s goal. Therefore the following proposal to start the movement “SCARE 20.12.2012” should be seen in this context. The idea is that if by that time (20.12.2012) some serious injustices have not been removed from the system, people will start to withdraw their money from all financial institutions driving them into default. And it might work, because those who hesitate to support this threat may be left with no money as the banks will have to close down before all has been paid out.
    Now, what demands are made if that scenario is to be avoided.
    1. Bankers and past Bankers (all those working in the financial industry that earned in excess of $500k plus annually for more than 2 years during the past 15 years and this without any downside risk i.e. risk of financial losses, except the possibility of losing their job) have to be made personally accountable for their past activities and be removed from any such position that might directly or indirectly have influence on the money creation and lending aspects of the economy (this includes regulating agencies and politics) before 20.12.2012.
    2. Present and past regulators have to be made personally accountable for their past activities and be removed from any such position that might directly or indirectly have influence on the money creation and lending aspects of the economy (this includes financial institutions and politics) before 20.12.2012.
    3. Politicians that accept any financial support from institutions that are involved in the money creation and lending aspects of the economy will have to face a jail term of no less than 2 years without the possibility of parole.
    When these 3 points are implemented before 20.12.2012, we the public will not destroy the financial system but support the way to find back to the RULE OF LAW and away from the idea of MIGHT IS RIGHT.

    1. LeeAnne

      It is interesting how the banks were able to confuse the public who was/is unable to grasp the actual situation. But considering the banker’s great financial resources, it seems not that much of a miracle to influence the media and the legislator and having politicians do their bidding. The question is what the heck can WE, THE PEOPLE do about it.
      Banksters and multinationals who own our Congress, first had to ‘own’ the media.

      They don’t ‘influence’ the media. They ARE the media. Owning the media has been the essential tactic for controlling information, manipulating language and confusing the public; bringing us to this point in finance and politics.

      A strong free press (not corporate owned and controlled) would have been reporting on events and questioning authority these last 30 years or so.

      The TBTFs and multinationals must be reduced in size, one way or another; their divisions spun off and anti-trust laws strengthened and enforced. Wall Street can profit from that, get back to its job, and away from gambling with our money and our LIVES.

      Let the regulations begin.

  10. sylver pondolfino

    this movement will not fizzle out as long as the economy continues to deteriorate and the disparity in wealth continues. it’ll grow, and evolve, and find more and more creative ways to manifest.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgEdrh617qs&feature=player_embedded
    We Are the 99% (as we gather together)
    http://www.youtube.com
    These are the words of The Declaration of the Occupation (http://nycga.cc/2011/09/30/declaration-of-the-occupation-of-new-york-city/) Reverend Billy & The St…

    1. EH

      I’m unemployed, have been watching from afar (and participating online), and this week I’m just now about to go down to my local Occupy and see what I can add to the movement.

  11. Capo Regime

    What is fascinating both in the coverage of OWS, in Ives thoughtful post and the contrast with coverage of movements or protests overseas.

    When the U.S. media covers protests or riots overseas (in other countries) it invariably celebrates the protestors even when there is violence as deomocracy fighters and tends to favor their plight, etc. The government and policy cracking down on them are of course the bad guys.

    BAck home it gets a bit more complex (really schitzoid) the protestors don’t have an agenda or leaders. They had better be peaceful. Now they had better not provoke the police cuz they will be asking for it! The conservative press typically supportive of this elsewhere turns on them and does a hominem attacks,they smell or are losers who gasp smoke pot the politicians give symbolic homage, the media don;t quite know what to make of them.

    Clue: Cover the OWS as you would a protest movement in France or Egypt or Timor Este. OWS are protesting corruption in D.C. and Wall Street, they have the suppot of the majority of adults, localities should recognize their freedome of assembly. ACLU should be suing cities and making sure porta potties are in place etc…

    What has happened to us?

  12. Slim

    Shooting someone with a “bean bag” (sounds soft right?) or a rubber bullet is done with your service firearm or shotgun. You load, aim, and fire just like a real lead bullet. So, think about that for a moment… one of these police saw fit to raise a real gun, point it at the head of an unarmed (and as far as I can tell peaceful) protestor, and pulled the trigger. I cannot imagine what type of person would do that. Really. Even on the police side of things. It’s cowardly and disgraceful and frankly not that different from the police in the Middle East shooting unarmed protestors. Make no mistake, this is huge escalation in the situation. The significance of this moment will be obvious when we look back on it in the future.

    1. EH

      Rubber bullets are supposed to be shot at the ground in order to bounce up and hit the target. That is when they are non (less?) lethal. They are known to be lethal when fired straight at the target.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, I gather “rubber bullet” is a misbranding. They are “rubber covered bullets”.

      1. Stan

        A quick look at Wikipedia told me that rubber bullets comprise both all-rubber and rubber-coated steel bullets. That they are meant to be aimed at the ground to rebound into the targets’ legs, but are at times (often?) incorrectly aimed directly at people.
        Some types are made for use in regular firearms, others for firearms designed for these purportedly non-lethal rounds. Muzzle velocities vary from around 200fps up to that of regular pistol rounds (ca. 1000fps).
        They can and have caused serious injuries and death. One would think that police officers would be trained in their correct use, and therefore that any officer aiming directly at a person is guilty at least of negligence and at most of deliberately causing whatever injury results, not that doing so would be likely to have any legal consequences for said officer.

  13. Rafael Bocanegra

    Kudos for those brave police officers subduing the rioters while being a small percentage I would like to offer my services and time to any of the law enforcement agencies that need the assistance to man temporary holding cells,or overall services required to allow this fine humans that whithout regard for their safety vgo around performing their duties,and by the way fellows there is this place were all you claim you need and want is allready in place thats Cuba just writte to the Swiss embassy in Washington D.C how to go live in the land of proletary I’m sure there are millions of Cubans on this wonderful island willing to trade places with you so why figth just go move there.

    1. Capo Regime

      Rafael,

      You certainly are missing the point of living in a democracy. Free speech and assembly not subject to the approval. They are not communists, they are protesting a crony capitalist system. What does Cuba have to do with any of this. Eres un pendejo.

    2. Capo Regime

      So if you were in cuba you would be a Battista rat and arrest people, torture them and so forth? Trols and or ignorant sociopaths always slow discussion and even the advance of human decency. Can’t believe such a thing is being posted.

      1. JasonRines

        Details, Issues, Concepts. It is unwise to ban or shut off intelligence. I might need to know someday where my friends are being kept. Just keep evolving past them and let ignorant reptiles reveal location in-between.

    3. JCC

      My first thought regarding Mr. Bocanegra’s comment was that it’s genetic and that Rafael’s father was a Fulgencio Batista supporter. Unlike the example of Cuban History, non-support of the police in the U.S. does not necessarily lead to regimes like Castro’s. The American Revolution is proof of that.

  14. Robespierre

    “Even though I find Zuccotti Park far more pleasant than street fairs, the “dirty hippie” branding comes less from the people themselves than from the inevitable clutter of camping in an urban setting.”

    Are you kidding me? Since when is exercising free speech subject to aesthetic constraints? Really? Stay on subject major changes to corrupt systems are always messy

    1. Capo Regime

      Yes, per our leaders, opinion makers and various brownshirts among us. The protestors should:

      a.) Always be peaceful no matter how provoked and abused.

      b.) they must shower daily and pop by Brooks Brothers

      c.) Why can’t they just write a list of demands and we will address their issues in the 2012 campaign–we have a great democracy its not like Cuba or China or Egypt ya know.

      d.) Why are they protesting these ingrates–they should be getting rich. They don;t like it they should leave and go to venezuela or cuba

      e.) Why protest they should write a letter to the times and their congressional representative.

      f.) maybe if they were not smokng pot all the time and majored in engineering instead of multcultural lesbian studies they would have jobs.

      g.) Really Obama has their back it will all be o.k.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I think you are missing the point.

      1. This is not just a protest, it’s an encampment. This is a very different beast than a march.

      2. The movement asserts it represents the 99%. Most people here agree with that. But it’s easy for critics to discredit and undermine potential support if the protests and the encampments can be depicted as representing only a particular (and disreputable) demographic slice.

      This is not just about asserting one’s rights, it’s also about taking measures to assure that the movement gets more traction. The night I sat in on a GA, the topic of making the park tidier and less messy looking was raised by OWS members themselves and passed. So this is not just an outsider issue, although it would separately help from a marketing standpoint.

    1. JCC

      Good take, Abigail. I have also found policing in Manhattan to be very professional, for whatever reason.

      You should send this as a letter to the Police Chiefs of Atlanta and Oakland (not to mention people like Rafael Bocanegra above). They need to read this far more than the readers of nakedcapitalism.

    1. MontanaMaven

      Yes, the request for “demands” from this movement is part of old thought. It is a feature of our being propagandized or marketed for decades. We must resist the attempt to be branded, labeled, logoed. We are not consumers, we are citizens. We are at once sovereign in our own self, as Lambert says, and at the same time part of making a “more perfect union” of the real citizens united. We are taking back our freedom. This is real freedom, a freedom that means not being subservient to the whims of rulers or bosses. We do that through the rule of law. We agree to be at once rulers and ruled by laws we agree to in an open and transparent way. This is about process and the journey. This is not the freedom we were given in the last century. That was the freedom to choose among 100 different cereals and hundreds of neckties.
      Also “a necessitous man is not a free man”. Time to take another look at FDR’s economic bill of rights that he hoped to add on to the original bill of rights.

      The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

      The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

      The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

      The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

      The right of every family to a decent home;

      The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

      The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

      The right to a good education.

      All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

      America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens.

      For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.

    2. EH

      The demand by the establishment for “demands” and/or “a point,” is so they know how they should prepare to defend themselves.

      1. Nathanael

        No, it’s a combination of psychological denial and learned helplessness on the part of the establishment.

        OWS supporters know that there are at least two dozen ways in which the country could be improved to work for the 99%, instead of the current situation where it is operated only for the 0.1%. OWS supporters know that politicians and corporate executives know this too. OWS supporters know that politicans are refusing to make those changes which are in their power.

        Pretending that OWS has no demands or no clear message is a way for the powerful to pretend that they aren’t guilty.

  15. avgJohn

    That which does not kill us makes us stronger. The movement has had heart and mind, and the police action now equips many of us with passion.

    But somewhere in each American’s mind, even those who try to rationalize it away, a seed of doubt has been planted. A little whisper at the edge of each persons’s consciousness, that won’t go away, that the powers that be have turned America and our constitutional rights into a lie. Deny it as they might, the truth will not go away.

    Shame on them. Long live the OWS movement.

  16. Out of the Frying Pan

    The situation in Oakland is a bit strange, because of a series of protests and mini-riots that followed the shooting of an unarmed and somewhat rowdy black guy who a white BART cop shot in the back with a gun instead of his taser a few years ago when he had him face down on the train platform. Totally undeserved.

    That set off all kinds of bad mojo that led to a series of protests in downtown Oakland every time there was a trial decision, where troublemakers from outside the city showed up to participate in a bit of window crashing and looting.

    The Oakland cops get pulled in because these events take place downtown, even when that incident happened on BART several miles away.

    Ironically, the current new mayor was a city council member at that time, with a social work or some such background, and stood with the protesters in locked arms creating a barrier between the cops and crowd in one of those BART protests – siding in a way with the protesters. Now she has to command the cops, and it’s an uneasy relationship. She recently watched the police chief, brought in from LA as a “star” to help bring focus to the Oakland cops, leave a few weeks ago. They weren’t seeing eye to eye, and it looked like she forced him out, though he wanted to leave anyway.

    So now, she’s the main leader for the city, while having to back the cops to some extent against a cause she’s probably sympathetic to, but which seems to have attracted a lot of hangers on who may just be there out of convenience rather than inspired by the 99%ers so much. Hard to say.

    Oakland’s a pretty tough city – not as wicked as its reputation, but seems to spoil for action at times just because it can.

    I wonder what the next phase is, because I sense that this type of action is losing the glow of its initial buzz. It won’t do a lot of good to continue these confrontations – it seems to focus the attention on cops vs. protesters rather than on the Wall Street miscreance that was its main purpose.

    1. Geoff

      Speaking of the Oscar Grant shooting (which is still fresh in my mind since I’m from the bay area, and I can never unsee that horrible video), I heard the Oakland demonstrators renaming the plaza “Oscar Grant Plaza.” Oakland has a looong history of police brutality and particularly directed at black residents. The Black Panther movement got it’s start there (they originally would just ghost police patrols to protect community members from brutality), blacks have been fighting and dying for their survival there for decades – the people of Oakland aren’t just going to take this lying down.

      Nor should they – because the cops will take the opportunity to shoot you in the back (ok yeah it was a BART cop that did the shooting).

    2. Mark P.

      I live in a loft about 15 blocks from where it all went down.

      The police response was totally disproportionate, with a half dozen helicopters sitting over downtown from the early afternoon to evening like it was downtown Baghdad.

      As noted, the authorities brought in cops from all over the area. The SFPD supplied the hardcore of the Bologna-type thugs — while the OPD may have a bad rep from its past, it’s really nowhere as bad as even twenty years ago, let alone as it was during the Panther-police wars of the 1960s-70s, which always get brought up.

      1. JasonRines

        Paul is confused below your comment… For Paul Tixon. A model works until it doesn’t. And a model is a tool created and reflective of our evolution. Eventually, ‘This time is different’ because a tool is created to adapt and be dynamic or will change based on entropy which is what is happening. The tools are now 4d reflecting former half-breed models of 3d-4d are inadequate. The next system will be dynamic. Perhaps it will last 300 years instead of 200. Somebody like me will be arguing against entropy then too like myself and those with fear will bring out the (laser gun). Will evolution win or the laser gun?

  17. JohnB

    Idiot cops are protecting the banksta looting criminals whom are now raiding their very pensions. Fucking Morons!

  18. bigsurtree

    These world wide expressions are communicating that something is seriously wrong.

    The brain happens to be part of the body, and disease is pervasive. Its receiving signals that all is not well.

    The megalopolis itself is a cubicalized maze of germ dominated hosts, paying for the pleasure of paying for the pleasure of others (1%).

    People want to define their own lives. You really can’t take anthropology out of politics. A government is only a valid covenant among its people if the people can see that it serves them and not an elite.

    I agree with Jefferson’s observation that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time. When the Supreme Court applies the friggin Bill of Rights to the corporation, things have definitely gotten fcuked up.
    It’s like saying the definition of reality belongs to a select group of intellectual aristocrats, and everybody else shut the fcuk up.

  19. andrew hartman

    what most of the readers are ignoring is the long failure of left wing movements
    in the the united states. OWS will fail as well: there is no ongoing media hook
    and the weather will keep people away.

    amazing how easy it is for those on the left to find hope again after failing to convince the average american of anything radical for 150 years.

    by the way, i think banks are predatory, not productive. but reforming them
    can only come from a bold president and strong democratic leadership.

    see any of those?

    1. Capo Regime

      You presuppose that OWS is a left organization.

      Unions? Suffragette Movement? Civil Rights? Roe V Wade? Weekends off? Have to say that leftist movements as you imply have been far more successful than you claim–whatever a leftist movement is, probably not an apt description as one certain community organizer in Chicago was pretty much a leftist and long abandoned his leftist origins.

      A Bold President? So its a personality trait of the person elected to office that will solve all our ills in some happy day in the future? I think after even a glimpse at this blog or just reality around you it is quite clear our problems are systemic and that political corruption or failure is a component of these problems. Belief in electing the right president who as a single strong man (the Messiah, a super hero, a bold leader, El Duce) can right all wrongs is at best plain silly.

      1. Marat

        I really like how he’s both

        1) Mockingly dismissive; and

        2) Believes a “courageous” President is where the real panacea lies.

        You can think the protesters are naive idealists, but that line of objection is ridiculous.

    2. Jugo1502

      Mr. Hartman,

      Thanks for the blithe remarks. Evidently nobody told you what happened earlier this year?
      Yeah, well, the youth of our planet decided to drag Realpolitik out back behind the shed and drown it.

    3. Nathanael

      Learn some history. Votes for Women? Radical. Equal rights for blacks? Radical. FDR?… well, actually he was not radical, but only the existences of a huge number of radicals made his liberal economic program possible.

      We’ve had massive “left-wing” successes, if by “left-wing” you mean the 99% vs. the elite, as recently as the 1970s, and very dramatically in the 1930s, and in the 1910s…

      Frankly our current problem could be defined as too long a period of reactionary control of government. Reactionaries trying to go back to the 14th century control the Republican Party at the national level now, while at *best* conservatives control the Democratic Party at the national level (and some Democrats are frankly reactionary on economics, trying to go back to the 1920s).

      Reactionary control of government is unsustainable, as the country needs to have progress to deal with the environmental, economic, and social changes we’ve been seeing. In fact, long-term control of a government by reactionaries has *always* been a disaster, throughout history — you can’t turn the clock backwards.

  20. Maju

    Totally in agreement about the irresponsible look of the call for a general strike just like that. However the movement gathers a lot of sympathies (if not so many activists) so it may work to some extent after all, specially if arbitrary arrests and police violence continue. Even bosses are likely to be sympathetic in many cases, I presume.

    “OWS encampments are a visual poke in the eye of authority, whether or not that is their intent. They prove that the government has been forced to cede control of a patch of public space to citizens”…

    That is indeed their intent, I understand. Part of the protest is about the right of protest itself.

    “How did they fail to anticipate that rough encounters would increase disproportionately as the number of participants grew?”

    For what I can gather it is police which is mostly provoking the incidents and breaking the law (nothing that I’m not used to but I live in the Basque Country, which is a quite different reality – or used to be). In the Ocuppy Oakland case, it seems clear that about a thousand cops were sliding in the night in order to attack the camp. Whether the most violent incidents in which agents threw rubber bullets, gas canisters and stunt bombs directly against people’s faces, causing the comma of Olsen, were planned or just fascist individual cops gone wild does not matter much because it obviously has political responsibilities. The authorities involved either sack the responsible officers and even arrest them or are as guilty as the perpetrators themselves.

    I have gathered links to a number of reports and videos here FYI (surely not comprehensive but ample enough). It seems clear that it was the police who attacked the encampment and, even if they were in larger numbers than protesters, they resorted to excess use of force.

    The video where a cop shoots a stun grenade against the small group trying to aid Scott Olsen is quite clarifying about what was really happening.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      As indicated in the post, and perhaps I should have unpacked it more, even the fairly well disciplined and seasoned NYC police took two major missteps two weekends in succession that did a ton to give OWS visibility and legitimacy.

      If that happens in NYC, imagine what you will get elsewhere with police forces that have much less experience in dealing with large crowds. That’s why I can’t fathom the Democratic party posture on this one. The incidents with law enforcement officials were bound to continue, and some were bound to be more serious as the movement expanded its geographic reach. There are just too many quick trigger cops for that not to occur. And are the Dems going to side against local police when that happens? How do they think this is gonna play out? They’ve put themselves in an amusingly awkward position by wanting to have their cake and eat it too.

      1. EH

        I have a feeling this is exactly why the smaller cities are playing it cool(er). Not to cast aspersions, but I don’t think a South Dakota mayor has the confidence to deal with this kind of thing with guaranteed national exposure.

        1. Nathanael

          Smaller cities often have governments which aren’t controlled by large corporations. They often have tiny police departments. A lot of small city governments were bamboozled and cheated by the major banks. What I’m saying is, the governments of small cities are likely to be run and staffed by people who are entirely on the side of the protestors.

          I think Yves’s theory that the big-city mayors are getting pressure from “above” to be brutal is quite plausible. In this case, the small-city mayors wouldn’t be getting the same pressure.

  21. Beaufou

    About “anarchists” causing trouble.
    They also appeared in Athens and in Genoa, some witnesses saw them getting out of police buses.
    Violence is a deterrent.

  22. Don

    I am not clear how a general strike works, however, in a time of high unemployment.

    In Europe general strikes work because while much of the population is unemployed, they also get generous handouts from their governments. Jobs can remain unoccupied long enough for the strike, without employers having a huge pool of desperate unemployed workers willing to take the strikers’ place. In America this is not necessarily so, especially among the class of workers who are newly unemployed and struggling.

    There is a lot of bravado among the Occupiers that fails to look at current economic realities. Many people on a general strike will be fired for not showing up. Many other Americans will gladly take their jobs. A general strike cannot be effective (other than as a sideshow ploy) unless you actually have the ability to bring society to a halt.

    1. Beaufou

      “A general strike cannot be effective (other than as a sideshow ploy) unless you actually have the ability to bring society to a halt.”

      A general mortgage/CC/payments strike would bring a bankers society to a halt.

      1. F. Beard

        Agreed. Debt to a government enforced money monopoly for private debts is NOT morally legitimate.

    2. Nathanael

      Actually, what you need for a “general strike” is the cooperation of farmers.

      Nothing more. If you’ve got your food sources lined up, you can survive indefinitely without a job. Think back to basics.

      (Yes, yes, in the long run you also need people controlling housing, people working in food distribution, security, sewage management, water, communications, etc., but you *usually have all of those already*. Farmers are the potential missing link.)

  23. David Jackmanson

    The idea that the Occupations are simply left-wing seems foolishly simplistic, at least from what I can see at my local occupation in Brisbane, Australia of about 50 small tents. [Disclosure - I'm part of the social media and web team for them]

    We have three main Marxist groups here, but their combined members are in a small minority. There seems to be a largish contingent from something I’d never heard of until now called The Zeitgeist Movement.

    There’s also a significant strand of opinion strongly opposed to water flouridation and compulsory vaccination, hostile to psychiatric medicine, inclined to conspiritorial rather than systemic views of understanding the world. People of this opinion seem to also have a hostility to even regarding Occupations as political. (Although this may be because people think “politics” is “what politicians do”.

    I’ve also been surprised by the extent of magical thinking present. It was seriously advanced by one person that discussing potential tactics in the event of an eviction (after other Occupations in Australia had been violentlhy evicted by cops) made such a violent eviction more likely to “manifest”. Another speaker explicity named “The Secret” as a guide to action.

    As a leftist I find all this rather bemusing and I’m wondering what concrete demands could possibly come out of such a wide-ranging group. However I’m still interested to try, at the very least I’m learning a lot about working with new people.

  24. Frank Miata

    There needs to be a basic understanding of what has worked to strengthen the legitimacy of OWS movement:

    First: The preceived lawfulness of the protestors in contrast to the lawlessness of the Wall Street banksters and their political tools in national, state and local offices. The use of force against the protesters has further strengthened the public support for them. This is obvious to anyone watching the media coverage over the past month.
    Secondly, based on the success of nonviolent protest and the apparent and overwhelming force available to the State, why would the GA’s allow idiots of any political stripe to force them into a confrontational posture with the police? Strategically and tactically the OWS movements are winning because the State has not been able to marginalize them. The bullshit about inclusiveness, when people are taking actions on their own that may cause a police riot,denies the reality: that collective action requires people to agree on what those actions include and exclude. Anarchism is not a license for street fighting, macho stupidity. If you want to see who can be more brutal, just look at the record of Oakland’s PD over the past thirty years. The Guardian paper of London had a great piece by Paul Harris 10/26 on the brutal history of Oakland’s police force. Yesterday was no surprise to anyone who knows Oakland’s finest.
    Third point: To join a peaceful demonstration, knowing that you are going to confront the police is dishonest, dangerous to innocents around you and plays into the hands of the forces of reaction…I support OWS and would have no problem with them telling thugs within the encampments to take a hike.
    OWS is winning the battle for legitimacy against the power brokers through nonviolent, creative tactics. The State has no effective response because the State is identified with Wall Street, a major source of the crisis.
    Be smart and stay nonviolent. The State will screw up and use violence, intimidation, lies in the media: all to no avail if we keep our cool and focus on the goal of defanging corporate-state collusion.

  25. Jeff

    The Demoplucratic Party that controls Oakland, San Francisco and Atlanta is getting worried.

    Their formerly cloistered issue minions are getting perilously close to starting to talk about real issues like the Federal Reserve, the role of moneylenders and rentiers , student loan debt and the kind of economy we have.

    Before when these demonstrators were out in small numbers raving about transgender rights, how right wing financiers were controlling things and the need for more civil rights, they were safe, controllable, corralled but most importantly, distracted from economic issues, as were the potential people with real concerns but tarred with the teabrush.

    The nightmare scenario for Washington and both parties: Occupy Wall Street and the True Tea Party activists realize that they have much in common, they start a dialogue and begin to demonstrate in a unified fashion as one.

  26. Constantine Porphyrogenitus

    You know, at this point I’m considering putting on my old fatigues and joining the Veterans for Peace who are now part of the Occupy Dallas protests. My big fear, though, is getting arrested and having show up in my records. I’m completely clean so far and it’s already difficult enough to find a job without having the stigma of protesting.

      1. Capo Regime

        Therin lay the rub. you get arrested for exercising a purportedly constituional right and viola no job for you…or you can find ways to participate where you do not risk getting arrested–write a letter to your congressman or some other symbolic exercise. From the revolutionalry war to freedome riders–ain;t no easy or risk free way to bring about social change. Guess we can stay home, post on blogs, write letters and “support” as in passive agreement……No risk, no reward kiddies…Oh yeah, vote for change in 2012 and all will be well….

        1. Constantine Porphyrogenitus

          You know, on the build up to the Iraq war, I thought those anti-war protests were unpatriotic fifth columnists who knew nothing of what threatened us. I was young and stupid. After I came back, I began reading many works of U.S. history that offered more critical and nuanced analyses instead of mere cheerleading American exceptionalism. Here it is almost ten years later and I’m world views have totally altered.

          I know it’s cowardly to fear the consequences of protesting but I’ve never done it before. It’s a totally new concept for me. I was raised with the idea one should always respect authority figures. My parents still have faith that Obama and the Democrats will come through.

          1. Capo Regime

            Hey I understand. If I did not have two small kids to feed and clothe I would be out there with you. Yes, we are pretty much wage slaves and an arrest for protesting or heaven forbid property damage, pot or resisting arrest would bar you from most meaningful employment. Still, you, I and many others are feeling the reality of our serfdom so to speak…..they have us good. It does take a fair amount not so much of courage but rather resources and support. Its a hard call to make–the protests can be a harbringer of change or a flash in the pan that will be put down and then you and I are unemployable and living under a bridge for a few years till real change happens. Its a huge risk and thus I do admire those veterans in particular for taking the riskds they do–no future as well paid contractors for them.

        2. EH

          If getting arrested means I can’t get a job, then I’ve been living in an alternate universe for the past 20 years.

          1. Capo Regime

            There are certainly exceptions but many jobs require background checks and often an arrest will disqualify you. If you are a veteran and seeking work as a contractor–forget about it….Thats how it is. Credit checks common as well. Not all jobs certainly, but government, government cotnracting and larger corporations/businesses. Depends on the job but many of the better jobs the fact is an arrest and or bad credit you are disqualified. Try getting a clearance or bonded for example

          2. Capo Regime

            In this economy many do not want to be arrested as it is often grounds for being barred for employment. Consider:

            An employer may deny employment opportunities to persons based on any prior conduct which indicates that they would be unfit for the position in question, whether that conduct is evidenced by an arrest, conviction or other information provided to the employer. It is the conduct, not the arrest or conviction per se, which the employer may consider in relation to the position sought. The considerations relevant to the determination of whether the alleged conduct demonstrates unfitness for the particular job were set forth in Green v. Missouri Pacific Railroad Co., 549 F.2d 1158, 1160, 13 EPD ¶11,579 (8th Cir. 1977) and reiterated in the February 4, 1987 Statement on Convictions, page 2:

            You may have lucked out but others are not so lucky and employers can be pretty picky in a tight jo market. Your experience aside–many choose not to risk it.

    1. Johann

      Constantine,

      Before you put your body on the line, do the easy things that are less dramatic but fight the same battle against the same enemy.

      Are you still using fee based credit cards? Dump them.

      Paying a per swipe debit charge to buy a cup of coffee?

      Is your money sitting in the enemy’s vaults, benefiting them?

      Is their some reason that you can’t move your money to
      a non-profit credit union? How about paying cash to
      carefully vetted merchants in your community rather than spending blindly in the outlets of transnational
      corporations?

      Don’t let Wall Street occupy your wallet.
      The Fortune 500 have done nothing for most Americans.
      Thus the Fortune 500 is kicked out of our wallets
      when we are smart.

      1. F. Beard

        I agree. De-fund the bastards. It’s too bad that under the mattress is the only place to store cash that is outside the banking system but small banks and credit unions are a much better option than the big banks.

        The power of the banks is their government privileges. Those privileges should be stripped away and the entire population, including savers, bailed out of debt to them.

    2. reslez

      If you want to help out directly, find out what your local occupation needs and then drop off a donation. If you’re not sure what they need check online or stop by and ask. It’s not like you have to camp overnight to participate. Attending GAs and teach-ins is low risk. If there’s a livestream going you can always check the temperature (so to speak) before you go.

      If you’re not able to bear the full yoke, do what you’re able.

      Social media seems to have made forewarning of police action rather commonplace. Police are also doing things in the middle of the night to minimize reporting.

  27. Jeff

    Another nightmare scenario for the plutocrats running the country.

    The average policeman realizes that he’s about to lose his pension or see it severely reduced as part of some kind of “austerity” program. Military veterans are already facing this per a proposal by our “War Hero” Senator McCain.

    In March, the U.S. Department of Labor reported ((pdf) that the joblessness rate for young Iraq and Afghanistan veterans (aged 18 to 24) was 21.1 percent, compared with 16.6 percent for non-veterans in the same age group.
    Unemployment rates for “Gulf War Era II” veterans of all ages have risen sharply in recent years, from 6.1 percent in 2007 to 14.7 percent in March, 2010.
    In testimony before Congress last month, The American Legion’s deputy director Mark Walker attributed the disproportionate unemployment numbers among vets to a lack of skills and training for civilian jobs.

    Anybody want some student loans for skills and
    training?

    1. Jeff

      Right on cue to my last post about Wall Street
      taking the pensions of policemen:

      “Gov. Jerry Brown this morning unveiled a 12-point proposal aimed at shrinking the costs of public employee pension benefits in California, in part by raising the retirement age for most new employees from 55 to 67.

      The plan would impact state, city, county and other public workers, including police, firefighters and teachers. It would increase the amount workers pay toward their benefits, and institute a “hybrid” model that would combine traditional pensions with a 401(k)-style plan that is more susceptible to the financial markets…”

    2. abprosper

      Even if they gave it away free , all the training in the world won’t help since there simply are too few well paying jobs.

      1. Nathanael

        And student loans are now debt slavery because they’re not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

        There’s a change which needs to be made. A constitutional amendment which states that, at any time, any person can eliminate ALL past debts, permanently, by handing over all assets. Bankruptcy needs to actually work, and it needs to be resistant to legislative interference.

        Not that the courts pay attention to the Constitution any more, of course, as we know from Guantanamo Bay and “National Security Letters”. I think we’re going to need a full-blown replacement of the federal government to restore the rule of law.

  28. Json7401

    This is my first post so go gentle on me, but I am trying to understand this movement. I’ve been following the development of the leadership/organizational structure because it seems fascinating to watch how people who are very critical of the existing system work through the challenges of “But the flip side is that the New York City occupation illustrates how much it takes to run a city in a city.” Seemingly these challenges should illustrate that the difficulty of running a city within a city should be scalable to the difficulties of running a country within a world or, if you believe that the one percent control everything, the difficulties in running the world itself.

    I found it ironic that “I believe this very debate led to a change in the consensus threshold being changed from 100% to 90%” such that there is now a 90% subclass within the 99%, which would seem to suggest that some interests are being prioritized over others. Will this threshold continue to decline as more and more interests need to be reconciled for the smooth operation of the “city”?

    I’m sympathetic to many of the views of ows but ultimately this economic system does wonders for many people, so I’m curious to watch these developments unfold and see what alternatives come out of this movement. If anybody has any thoughts on this, I’m an open mind so please share. Thanks

    1. Nathanael

      “ultimately this economic system does wonders for many people,”

      No, it doesn’t.

      The economic system we had from the 1930s through the 1970s did wonders for many people. Since then it’s been eroded, doing wonders for fewer and fewer people, until now it has been turned into an economic system which does wonders for a small cadre of thieves.

      We really would be OK if we went back to the economic system established by FDR. The trouble is that we have rot in the *political* system which prevents that from happening, as the rich thieves buy politicians in order to keep their positions.

  29. marblex

    A general strike is what is called for. Until this system is crashed and burned, nothing ever will change.

    Fight fire with fire.

    WE 99% make THEIR 1% lives POSSIBLE.

    Stop cooperating with them.

    1. Nathan Aschbacher

      The Greeks rallied a general strike. What did it accomplish?

      Are the American centers of power, influence, and authority more or less responsive to the people’s will than their counterparts in Greece?

      1. Goin' South

        As Yves has pointed out, they were talking a few weeks back about Euro banks taking a 20% haircut on Greek loans. Now they’re talking about 60%. Seems to me the general strike and the militant actions by the Greek people had an effect.

      2. Maju

        Greece is a small country, the USA is 30+ times bigger. Class war in Greece, even if in the case of successful revolution can only have a very limited impact, class war in the USA can change everything at global level.

  30. MarkB in Oakland

    I live in Oakland, and am a big supporter of the occupy movement. Mayor Quan and the Police really dropped the ball on this and I think they(she) will pay at the ballot box. As I see it, the biggest problem for the west coast movement is managing the large population of homeless that already exist, a large percentage have drug problems or mental issues. In Oakland, there is a militant faction of activists that naturally are gravitating to the occupy movement. It will be difficult to keep the group “on message”, but I hope they do and prevent the more militant folks and the homeless from being used as the “face” of the group.

    In a positive note, as I passed the OccupySF camp, I noticed 3 or 4 port-a-potties set up. Someone in San Francisco govenment is actually using some brainpower…. Mark

  31. Greg Meagher

    Like many in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was angered, but not surprised, to read of the harsh treatment of Occupy Wall Street protesters at the hands of Oakland Police officers Wednesday evening, as reported by local and international news organizations (“Cities Begin Cracking Down on ‘Occupy’ Protests,” New York Times, 10/27/2011; photo – “Police fire tear gas during clashes,” Financial Times, 10/27/2011).

    Sadly, it appears that city government has demonstrated yet again it’s nearly complete inability to manage even the most basic health and safety challenges. Not noted elsewhere in these posts is the long history of disciplinary problems and malfeasance at the Oakland Police Department. Over the past month, we have seen a federal judge castigate city officials for failing to institute the policies and procedures required by a 2003 consent decree to ensure adequate control of the Department (“Judge Slams Oakland Leaders for Slow Police Reforms” The Bay Citizen, 9/23/2011), as well as the early departure of its chief officer, appointed only two years ago (“Behind Batts’ Resignation, Years of Strife,” The Bay Citizen, 10/11/2011).

    Sadly, it seems that out best hope for reform lies in placing the department under federal court supervision.

  32. don

    It gets real interesting when, potentially and eventually, protest against gross economic inequality is spun as a national security threat — depicted as exacerbating economic decline — thus justifying severe militarized police crackdowns.

    1. Nathanael

      That is what happened to the Bonus Army.

      The outcome of that was the election of FDR followed by the New Deal.

      Or, you could look at what Tsar Nicholas did when faced with similar protests. The outcome of *that* was the establishment of the USSR.

      (For anyone who doesn’t know their social and economic history, the early USSR was a vast, vast improvement over the status quo ante. It looks bad from a modern perspective because it proceeded to stall and regress, but we’ve mostly forgotten how bad the rule of the Tsars was. Serfdom still existed. Women’s rights didn’t exist. The benefits of industrialization went entirely to foreigners or the Tsar’s cronies. And that’s just for starters. The USSR started right out with equal rights for women on day one. And although I can’t say it was totally successful at changing the culture, they WERE ahead of the US on women’s rights until the 1970s.)

      The longer the elite reacts with crackdowns rather than incremental improvements, the more radicalized people will get.

  33. Psychoanalystus

    Recent history points to a number of revolutions where the police and security forces had been abusing and cowardly murdering with impunity the peaceful protesting population, and thus the revolution did not stand a chance, very much as is the case with the OWS movement. Until, of course, the armed forces sided with the protesters, and the revolutionaries won. By these actions, those armed forces simply lived up to the oath they took to protect their respective nation against “all enemies, foreign or DOMESTIC” (here I quoted the oath that all US armed forces take). Recent examples are this year’s revolution in Egypt and the 1989 Romanian revolution, to name a few.

    As such, I would like to remind these hoards of poorly trained police cowards, pumped up on free coffee and cheap doughnuts, that it might be a good idea to go back and watch Rambo again. That just in case, in their petty below-average intelligence brains they somehow became so self-delusional and crazed with the power that carrying a gun bestows on them, as to forget that they live in a nation with a very large and well trained military that took an oath to protect the American people.

    These two links below are particularly applicable to this incident. The pain and determination in the picture in the first link should put the fear in any cowardly policeman in this country (and most are cowardly, as proven by their pathetic actions). The second link should enable the same police cowards to have a glimpse into what is going through the minds of these vets when one of their own is brutalized and left unconscious by these mentally-retarded police animals that claim to “serve and protect [the oligarchs]“:

    http://rt.com/usa/news/marine-oakland-reddit-olsen-923/

    http://www.reddit.com/r/occupywallstreet/comments/lqjx2/how_i_feel_as_a_united_states_marine_about_what/

  34. Nathan Aschbacher

    “The GA did vote through a general strike for November 2. Given that no occupation yet has a large turnout relative to the local population, this call for a general strike may well produce an underwhelming follow through and could weaken the perceived clout of the movement.”

    And by that you mean that for all the self-congratulations and meaningless symbolic victories the fact that the movement has no clout will actually be realized, and the fantasies of this “perceived clout” will be exposed as self-delusion.

    Whew. Finally.

  35. Paul Tioxon

    OWS is one public front in a larger war. Now that notice has been served, activity will create large action chains of behavior from more and more people, inspired by what they see. And what they see speaks louder than words. People have changed their public behavior en masse. And the non encamped protestors have learned something about the response from Washington, the local PDs and assorted bloviators. Let those folks do as they will, it shall be the whole of the new order. What are we, the commentators doing? Networking for power to disrupt the overlords, the banksters, the kleptocratic fascist fiat Fed printing plutocrats, aristocrats and assorted thieving scumbags?

    There are people to be organized to hit politicians where it hurts the most, the ballot box. OCCUPY THE VOTING BOOTH.

    MASS OCCUPATION OF VOTING BOOTH NOV 8TH 2011. PICK A SIDE.

    1. Nathan Aschbacher

      Which side am I supposed to pick? I mean I have no believe in the legitimacy of the political institutions of the United States of America, so I’m not really sure what good the ballot box is going to do for me other than elect me another Barack Obama or George Bush.

      1. Goin' South

        You despise electoral politics. Fine. So do I. But above, you sound the note of hopelessness at calls for direct action like general strikes. Remember that the phrase, “general strike,” has hardly been heard in this country for nearly 80 years. It was first raised by the IWW in Wisconsin early this year. Now it’s being heard again as a potential OWS tactic. That is remarkable in itself.

        We need to pursue a variety of strategies simultaneously. While electoral politics at the federal level are obviously a waste of time, local politics may offer some benefits. Direct action, something that has been abandoned by unions for 80 years, needs to be revived. Self-help and mutual aid in our local communities is essential as well. Come at these assholes from multiple points of attack and they won’t be able to respond coherently. They ain’t that smart. Privilege and birth got them where they’re at.

      2. Nathanael

        Educate yourself, Nathan!

        These are LOCAL elections on November 8th.

        Come 2012, I’m going to be voting third-party or write-in for President.

        But in the LOCAL elections, I have researched the candidates and there ARE good candidates. So I am voting for them. And against the bad candidates.

        Research your LOCAL elections. If we end up with strong local governments who stand for what’s right… we have another lever to move larger governments and corporations with.

  36. abprosper

    Beyond financial reform we really need the big three

    #1 Shorter Work Week

    #2 Trade and Immigration Controls to ensure a smaller labor pool that all plays by the high wage, clean environment, redistribution rules

    #3 Direct wealth redistribution, not welfare but cutting every Adult US citizen a check (plus health care) and taxing above that.

    Doing this will share work, share wealth and prevent cheating the system.

    As far as the jobs question, not easy, we’ve had chronic unemployment since the late 19th century and as we are not politically able to force retirement (or pay for it) or force women out of the work force, we need to worry more about sharing the work we have and letting a fair market create more.

    and yeah sure, education will be of some value, its not a panacea as regardless of the cost of education , the more complex a skills base is and the more education required, the fewer people can qualify.

  37. Jim

    As we move into a period of increasing ideological polarization I find myself looking more closely at Eastern European wisdom.

    Czeslaw Milosz, who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980, experienced directly both fascism and communism.
    He states as the end of one of his essays that:

    “By choosing, we had to give up some values for the sake of others; which is the essence of tragedy. Yet only such an experience can whet our understanding, so that we see an old truth in a new light: when ambition counsels us to lift ourselves above simple moral rules guarded by the poor of spirit, rather than to choose them as our compass needle amid the uncertainties of change, we stifle the only thing that can redeem our follies and mistakes: love.”

  38. Marsha

    Oakland and Albany – worlds apart geographically and in terms of their treatment of The Occupation Movement.

    Corrente has posted two petitions on Sign-On.com to let NY Governor Andrew Coumo (a Democrat!) and Albany (NY) Mayor Jerry Jennings know that Albany County DA, P.David Soares made a sane, civil and morally correct decision when he went against their explicit orders and decided not to prosecute Occupy Albany protestors.

    Please go to these two petition links (one for Cuomo and the other for Jennings) and sign each petition. WE NEED TO LET THE WORLD KNOW THAT, IN THE UNITED STATES, THERE IS A WAY TO REACT TO A LOCAL OCCUPATION WITHOUT SHOOTING RUBBER BULLETS AT U.S. CITIZENS.

    Thank DA Soares for his brave – and morally correct – actions.

    …..In a sane and civil response to the Occupy Movement, Albany County (NY) District Attorney P. David Soares is refusing to prosecute Occupy Albany participants for their peaceful exercise of their First Amendment rights. In response to orders from NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, Soares saw the wisdom of a peaceful law enforcement response, saying: “The protesters have been fine. We’ve been maintaining a great dialogue with the organizers and for the most part a lot of credit should go to the organizers for maintaining a wonderful protest.”

    There are two petitions, one to Governor Cuomo and the other to the Albany Mayor. PLEASE SIGN BOTH PETITIONS AND THEN SHARE/PASS THEM ALONG TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY. Thank you.

    Here are the petitions:

    To the mayor: http://www.signon.org/sign/thank-you-alb

    To the Governor: http://www.signon.org/sign/thank-you-alb

    PLEASE SIGN BOTH PETITIONS!!!

  39. SR6719

    “And this is, in fact, the truth of the situation: the fact is that, one way or another, populations themselves are a terrorist threat to the authorities. And it is the authorities themselves who, by repression, unwittingly set the seal on this complicity. The equivalence in repression shows that we are all potentially the hostages of the authorities.

    By extension, we can hypothesize a coalition of all govern­ments against all populations – we have had a foretaste of this with the war in Iraq, since it was able to take place in defiance of world opinion, with the more or less disguised assent of all governments.”

    - Jean Baudrillard, “Virtuality and Events: The Hell of Power”

  40. john c. halasz

    “not consistent with the most respected forms of civil disobedience.”

    Umm… what part of the concept of “civil disobedience” does Mr. Mayor not understand?

    On the other hand, “Occupy Montpelier VT” had police permission and quite friendly relations with police “escorts”. But then it’s Montpelier VT.

  41. Tom Liddle

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=St1-WTc1kow
    police provocateurs in canada ^ ^ ^

    provocateurs are a common problem at events like this, but they’re not radical left wing groups. the police in canada get their ideas from the police in the states whom they train with. in this video provocateurs are identified as wearing police issue boots. there was an eventual admission of wrongdoing.
    i’d say there’s a very good chance that the same ‘anarchists’ who started problems in oakland well before the police retaliation, might’ve been the same one’s shooting rubber bullets an hour later.

  42. krissy

    It seemed these train shut downs were happening between Manhattan and Brooklyn for that same reason.

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