Reader and life-long Chicago resident John Bougearel asked me to reissue a post encouraging readers to participate in peaceful demonstrations during the American Bankers Association annual meeting in Chicago October 25-27. The sessions are organized by a coalition of community, consumer and labor organizations and are called “Showdown in Chicago“. You can find more details via the link.
A number of commentators are planning a series of related posts and hopefully op-ed and news articles around this time. William Black and Dean Baker are among those leading the effort.
John Bougearel reacted to something I wrote two days ago:
But per the social psychology research, this “you are in a minority, you are wrong” message DOES dissuade a lot of people. It is remarkably poisonous. And it discourages people from taking concrete action. I was surprised that some people bothered to comment on a post I put up yesterday, calling on people in the Chicago area to attend some peaceful demonstrations against the banking industry during the American Bankers Association national meeting, October 25 through 27. Some people weighed in, saying (basically) “don’t bother”.
I suppose it makes a difference whether one is old enough to remember the 1960s. Because people in large numbers got out and protested, two sets of changes that seemed impossible came about: civil rights for blacks and an end to the US involvement in Vietnam.
I will be more than happy to be in the minority and told I am wrong. The truth of the matter is we who object are neither the minority or wrong. Being told such is intended to be dismissive and minimize our voice.
I have reached the point where it is high time to push-back on the message we are being spoon-fed and to educate and promote the message that it is time to push back on the powers that be. We can start with peaceful demonstrations in the style of MLK. What was startling watching the MLK and Malcom X video clips is how relevant their experience of being black in America relates to being middle class in America today. It is high time middle class America finds its voice and is heard above controlled messages press releases leaked to MSM.
We can not, above all, allow our voice to be drowned out by mainstream media and the powers that be who influence what is peddled through MSM. Our voices are certainly not being represented through our votes, and when that happens, it is no different than the early colonists who fought against taxation without representation. Since our votes find no voice in Congress or Capitol Hill, it is time for grassroots organizations to take over the role that was intended for our elected officials.
And I get the pseudo-protest and protest points cited above in comments, and I get the Malcolm X message, but the MLK message of non-violent protest is authentic and not pseudo as some might imagine. There is power in non-violent protest, resulting in change that can be durable and long-lasting. But an effort must be made at a grass-roots level and it must sweep through the nation.
Here are excerpts from the original post:
Dean Baker, a couple of days ago at Huffington Post, called on readers to go to Chicago to participate in peaceful protests during the annual meetings of the American Bankers Association on October 25 to 27. A coalition of community, labor, and consumer groups are organizing this “Showdown in Chicago.”
If you saw Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story, a disconcerting bit was his discussion of a series of research reports put out by Citigroup for some of its asset management client in 2005 on “Plutonomy”. It argued that a world ordered to suit the whims of the top 1% was well underway. The only thing that might get in the way was that the other 99% had the force of numbers on its side.
Sometimes it takes a show of numbers to change the dynamic. As Baker pointed out:
The elites hate to acknowledge it, but when large numbers of ordinary people are moved to action, it changes the narrow political world where the elites call the shots. Inside accounts reveal the extent to which Johnson and Nixon’s conduct of the Vietnam War was constrained by the huge anti-war movement. It was the civil rights movement, not compelling arguments, that convinced members of Congress to end legal racial discrimination. More recently, the townhall meetings, dominated by people opposed to health care reform, have been a serious roadblock for those pushing reform….
A big turnout at this event can make a real difference. Just to review the scorecard, most of the country is still suffering the fallout from the bankers’ irrational exuberance of the housing bubble era. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and other forecasters expect the suffering to endure for years to come.
As we noted yesterday, ordinary people who still have jobs are often seeing their wages cut, while Wall Street, the beneficiary of rich subsidies, is expecting a banner year.
If you live in or near Chicago, see if you can organize others to join you. And dress nicely! One favorite strategy is to dismiss protestors as ruffians.