#OccupyOakland General Strike Closes Port, 5th Biggest in US

I had been somewhat concerned at OccupyOakland’s call for a general strike, since failure to have a tangible impact would undermine rather than enhance the notion that the movement has power. A visible failure could easily produce a shift in the tone of ever-fickle press coverage.

But this first effort by an Occupation at flexing its muscles seems to have gone well. One indicator: the Financial Times took note of the strike, placing the story on the front page of its Web edition. Key extracts:

As many as 5,000 protesters gathered in Oakland, California, for what organisers called the first general strike in the US since demonstrators shut down business and government operations in the same city in 1946.

Picketers on Wednesday blocked and pounded on the doors of bank branches and defaced ATMs and brought operations to a halt at the Port of Oakland, the fifth-busiest port in the US, in a demonstration aimed to expand on the broader Occupy Wall Street movement.

Note that 5,000 people is not all that many, but closing the port sends a big message.

Reader Richard Kline focused on this section:

Even the Oakland police officers’ union expressed sympathy for the protesters, issuing a public statement on Tuesday saying it was “confused” by the mayor’s requirement that they provide staffing for the strike while other city employees were given permission to take the day off to participate.

“We, too, are the 99 per cent fighting for better working conditions, fair treatment and the ability to provide a living for our children and families,” the letter said, referring to the “we are the 99 per cent” slogan that has been a rallying cry for protesters…

[Referring to the confrontation last week that led to the critical injury of Iraq war veteran Scott Olsen]
This has angered police, who say they were simply following orders and feel they have been made “scapegoats” for the events.

His comment via e-mail:

The Oakland Police have expressed sympathy _for the strike_ via their union, and are greatly disgusted with their civilian leadership. This is critical to notice. The police were thrown under the bus, my words, by the civilian leadership, and then left to look the bad guys when the civilian leadership backed down. I’ve said before that the morale of the local police departments would crack before the moral of the Occupiers, and this is a prototypal example of exactly how and why. I expect transformations like this to occur in similar manner elsewhere, when police get disgusted in being ‘the bad guys’ for cowardly or corrupt civilian authorities who can’t formulate a political strategy. Not every city, but even a few send a message to local police everywhere: “Don’t get used.”

Gawker reports that there was damage to a local Whole Foods based on the rumor (false) that employees had been threatened with termination if they joined the strike. But the damage was limited to a broken window and some defacement as some protestors restrained the hotheads.
Reader Deontos sent a raft of photos and three videos that were too big to upload to the site. I’ve picked out some with signs I particularly liked. I don’t see how anyone can say the Occupiers don’t have a message.

And I got this from an investment professional who will go unnamed:

Take a look at the attached picture. It is amazing in the BBC link. I am sobbing like a baby. I never thought I would live to see this day, even though I knew in my bones it would come. This time, goddamn it, we might just get it right!

This is what happens when soi-disant capitalist forget their proper role, which is to provide job and productive outlets for investments, and hopefully higher standards of living, and instead resort to looting and winner-take-all social arrangements. The most flagrant abusers will be first to accuse the Occupiers of being anticapitalists when it was they who abandoned that system quite a while ago.

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117 comments

  1. Cheyenne

    If this clip is any indication, the Oakland PD has backed off altogether.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/45143463#45143463

    “The most flagrant abusers will be first to accuse the Occupiers of being anticapitalists when it was they who abandoned that system quite a while ago.”

    Right on. Similarly, the most hysterical shrieking about #OWS protesters being socialists, etc. seems to come from some of the worst bailout apologists.

      1. Heron

        I don’t think we really need a new term. This sort of state-backed commerce is no different than the aristocratic capitalism and monopolization that typified European economics until -say- the 1700s. That’s what makes the whole thing so frustrating; anyone who’s actually read Adam Smith can tell you what’s wrong with the global economy because The Wealth of Nations describes how just the sorts of practices and commercial-state alliances we’re dealing with now caused economic misery in his day and before it.

        That the plutocrat-apologists claim Enlightenment political-economists as their own only adds insult to injury. The US variety -for instance, the Hamilton Project- are particularly egregious when you consider 1) that Hamilton was a robust champion of debt-financing who thought obsession with balanced national budgets (particularly at the expense of infrastructure spending) to be juvenile and economically destructive, and 2) how big a role protecting the rights of debtors against creditor depravity was not only in the drafting of the Constitution, but in starting the Revolution in the first place. These fools are pursuing policies of economic destruction, the study of economics has, in large part, been dedicated to showing how these sorts of actions do that from its earliest days, and we should not lose a single chance to make fools of the likes of Niall Ferguson by pointing out just how not-new the causes of the GFC, the mortgage debacle, and the EU meltdown truly are.

        Don’t fall for their propaganda! Spreading historical ignorance has been the primary tool of “conservative” politics since the days of the French Revolution when the Tory Party was first subverted by the very aristocrats they had built their party to kick out of Parliament.

    1. Richard Kline

      So Cheyenne, there’s already a term for that: corporatism. Mussolini coined it; it’s the preferred form and term for his movement, which came to be known popularly as ‘fascism.’

      Labels are tertiary, and are often misapplied, often deliberately misapplied. Look at the actions. Look at the policies. Lood at who benefits, and who is assaulted. Follow the money. What we have in the US is a dilute Mussolini-style corporatism, not a democracy in any meaningful sense. All the arguments we’ve heard in the media regarding ‘what is to be done’ of the last four five years have been between the corporatists and the ‘national socialist’ equivalents who have taken over the Republican Party. Now the small-a anarchists are on the streets, and have changed the official narrative—finally! Everything old is new again . . . .

  2. K Ackermann

    This is so incredibly awesome.

    Everywhere I look on the web now, people are using the 99% and 1% comparison. This is getting into everybody’s head.

    1. Lafayette

      INCOME UNFAIRNESS – A SOCIETAL TRAGEDY

      It’s a pleasing thought that such a simple rule should have such currency.

      However, I never tire of repeating the breakdown that was obtained by some very serious research that has been posted on this website here – and from which Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz first quoted the numbers in our national press.

      Note that above link is to a site prepared by a Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Santa Clara. However, a look at the referenced analyses at the bottom ascertains the authenticity of the work being info-graphically described.

      The breakdown in terms of Financial Wealth (that is, what inevitably becomes of Income when it is distributes itself unfairly):
      * The top 1% now own 43% of the nation’s Financial Wealth
      * The following 19% own another 50% of the nation’s Financial Wealth – meaning that,
      * Twenty percent of the nation’s households own 93% of the entire Financial Wealth, and that
      * The remaining 80% of households are left to share just 7% of the nation’s Financial Wealth.

      Meaning that most of us, in the 80% of American households, are sharing the crumbs off the table. Worse yet, with such a sharing, there is plenty of roadkill on the American Highway of Life.

      Could the above glaring disparity have anything to do with the nation’s crime rate? With engendering the drugs trade? With the endemic delinquency of its youth? With our exaggerated adulation for the celebrity rich?

      If Professor Domhoff posted this site, I conclude that he was making a point regarding our sociological disharmony (that the above parameters indicate) manifested by criminals marginalized by our socioeconomic construct.

      Thank you Reckless Ronnie and the Replicant Party that brought about – and desires to maintain – this Societal Tragedy.

      MY POINT

      Let’s not just look a capitalism per se, or its GoldenBoy manipulators for personal gain, but the its derivatives in terms of our standard of living that is unfairly shared by the much larger part of our population.

      All of which is the inescapable consequence of an unjust system of taxation and a lack of Social Justice as an overarching national policy goal.

      1. Capo Regime

        Good points but lets not buy into the party contrivance. Republicans did their part but Clinton with Nafta, his buddy Bob Rubin and repealing Glass Stegall did more to enable the crony capitalists than anything the Gipper could have imagined. Frankly, history will put most of this on Clintons feet, enabled by W and ah the great “O”. Republicrats all.

        1. Capo Regime

          Reagan did it! Common man–its more than that. I say Clinton did it. Remember Reagan and the republicans are supossed to be stupid. Its the smart Clinton and Obama you should be condeming. Poor simple Ronne could not help himself. (actually, he was pretty smart and did not need a teleprompter)

          1. Jeff

            Of course not, as a trained actor he was good at feigning emotions and memorizing his lines.

            What does “Soi disant” mean anyway?

    2. Jeff

      The police like many public employees that risk their lives have good pensions. These pensions are under attack by the same forces that threaten austerity and are slashing
      public budgets.

      The police are stuck between a rock and a hard place. The 99% must embrace the police as co-victims of Wall Street.

      From a few days ago:

      [California]”Gov. Jerry Brown 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.

      Note the last two words. The police know that they
      are in process of being robbed.

      1. Praedor

        I have a few requirements for ANY politician that seeks my vote. First, they have to promise (and will be held accountable if they fail) to end the cushy pensions enjoyed by politicians. Politicians should get NO retirement benefits beyond what the common man/woman gets: social security. Period.

        Second: no healthcare coverage package. They get what the common man/woman gets. They MUST be dependent upon Medicare when they retire. NO addons unless the People get the exact same addon.

        Basically, ANY law or policy passed by politicians that impact the common man/woman MUST apply to the politicians. They must foreswear ANYTHING beyond what they allow for the common citizen. Even if they are independently wealthy. Their votes MUST have consequences for themselves. End of story.

        1. Troy

          Totally agree. And would further add that any decisions they make as far as public amenities and services include them. i.e. Our last mayor Gavin Newsom loudly declared the
          importance of diversity and multiculturalism in public schools in San Francisco and then as soon as he had
          kids he moved across the Golden Gate to Marin County and its excellent public schools. Of course moving onto his rich in laws estate might have had something to do with it?

      2. TK421

        In Scott Walker’s job before governor, he fired all the local police and replaced them with private contractors. This went exactly as well as you would think.

      3. Richard Kline

        In keeping with your concerns, Jeff, and close to home in Oakland (about 25 miles), the City of Vallejo was threatening for some time to declare itself bankrupt so that it could void the pensions it owed to, you guessed it, retired police and firefighters. Now, Vallejo always was a working class town with an inadequate tax base even before our present Slow Depression busted ’em, but this is exactly in the cards for public service employees everywhere but most especially in California without a popular revolt.

        The police know very well that they will be used up, and then kicked to the curb like worn out toys come the day. When push comes to shove, most of these police are going to stand aside rather than take it in the face for The Man who is already sharpening a pencil to stab them in the back.

  3. Glenn Condell

    “We, too, are the 99 per cent fighting for better working conditions, fair treatment and the ability to provide a living for our children and families,” the letter said’

    I don’t know which story cheered me more, this or the fact that a heap of Greg Mankiw’s students walked out of his ECON 101 course, posting a set of curly questions for one of the great academic enablers of our time.

    Then there’s the hundred vets who parked themselves in front of the Stock Exchange.

    It ain’t all bad news nowadays…

    1. Rex

      I didn’t know about the Mankiw class walkout until I saw your post. Looking around, just now, I found this…

      Mankiw said he was already prepared to have his Wednesday lecture focus on growing inequality in recent decades.

      “I’m disappointed the students will miss the lecture,” he said. “I think the material is something they’d actually find interesting.”

      What an amazing coincidence about the timing of the inequality lecture. What are the odds that he happened to pick the same day that many of his less conservative students were planning this protest?

          1. Richard Kline

            Money clip from the CNN link: “”When I enter a classroom, I try to leave my politics at a door,” Mankiw said. “The class is very conventional economics. Adam Smith is pretty non-controversial among economists. But it can seem pretty conservative the first time you hear it.”

            An open letter to Mankiw posted online by protest leaders explained that the walk-out was being done “to express our discontent with the bias inherent in this introductory economics course.”

            It objected to the attention given to the teachings of Adam Smith, the father of free market capitalism, at the expense of other economic theorists. “A legitimate academic study of economics must include a critical discussion of both the benefits and flaws of different economic simplifying models,” said the letter.”

            Oh, that’s fookin’ priceless: Mankiw pretends that he’s not teaching politics—folks, that’s ALL Mankiw teaches, politics of the capitalists and the corporations dressed up in the particularly tasteless drag of pseudo-mathematics so that now one gets it’s just political indoctrination. Whereas the _students_ have a political education, and understand that they are being programmed, not taught. It’s the students who should teach this subject and the dunce at the lectern who needs remediation . . . .

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            Richard, two post doc Harvard mathematicians are going through Mankiw’s text line by line and are preparing an eviscerating analysis. Suffice it to say his claim re politics is utter bunk.

          3. Knut

            I’m ready to wage a (very small) piece of my pension that Mankiw has never seriously studied Adam Smith. The kind of economics in which he was trained would not have naturally led him to it, and the subtlety of Smith’s economic argument would entirely escape him. As to his textbook, I reviewed an earlier version for his publisher. It was a lot of ideological crap then, and still is.

          4. Antifa

            The sacred “invisible hand” meme that has penetrated modern economics is a complete bastardization of what Adam Smith said and meant when he coined the phrase in “The Wealth of Nations.”

            Smith was talking about how Britain’s merchants could very profitably move their factories to distant shores, pay near-slave wages, and then ship the goods back to Britain and make much bigger profits. The opportunity was right there for them to outsource labor and production, as Britain’s wooden sailing ships ruled the seven seas.

            But Smith felt that these same British merchants must certainly possess the economic prudence to realize that if they fired their English workers and moved jobs and production to distant lands the net result would be that England’s fired workers would not be able to buy the goods thus re-imported. The merchants must surely grasp that the net result of outsourcing would be to put themselves out of business in short order, and to impoverish the entire nation.

            Smith felt merchants would therefore restrain themselves from outsourcing. He prayed there would be a consensus of opinion on this so strong that it would be as if an “invisible hand” held them back from outsourcing their factories and labor overseas, entirely due to them knowing that it would utterly ruin Britain if they did.

            This is Smith’s one and only use of the concept of an “invisible hand” in the marketplace — ‘don’t outsource everything or you’ll have no customers, stupid.’

            Quite in keeping with what Henry Ford said: ‘If I don’t pay my workers $5 an hour, who’s going to buy all my cars?’

            Nowadays the phrase “invisible hand” has been twisted to mean the market must never be restrained or regulated for it somehow always knows best. I’ve even read essays on how the invisible hand is really God’s hand — replete with a lovely drawing of robed Jesus invisibly hovering over Wall Street.

            I hope this picture does not hang in Timmy Geithner’s bedroom, although I suspect it does.

          5. Another Gordon

            It’s funny how Mankiw and other propagandists for the establishment-legitimising theology, aka neoliberalism, are so selective in their reading of Adam Smith that they forget to mention some of his other insights like for example, “Commerce and manufacture can seldom flourish long in any state which does not enjoy a regular administration of justice, in which the people do not feel themselves secure in the possession of their property.”

            He could have been writing today; clearly fraud, like death and taxes, is always with us. Elsewhere he writes about the need to regulate banking and he clearly understood perfectly well that money has to cycle within the economy if a nation is to be prosperous.

          6. Richard Kline

            So Yves, I see you’ve got a post going on this, and I’m very glad of that. ‘Nother public service from Naked Capitalism, sez I.

          7. Richard Kline

            So Knut, I’d agree with your contention that Mankiw has never seriously read Adam Smith, it’s just good to have that perspective from someone such as you who has actually had the stomach to wade through the effluent that Mankiw passes off as scholarship. Mankiw likely read Smith in exactly the context he is mis-teaching it now, an Econo 101 equivalent in the long ago. Yes, Smith is quite subtle; he’s really a sociologist studying behavior, but simply in the context of some market behaviors of his day, which were quite different from market behaviors of even a century later. I’m sure you know all that. But your point is well taken that _any_ part of that would have been ideologically and practically distant as the antipodes from the pseudo-math that Mankiw and his ilk have cobbled up as a pretense of economic behavior.

            It’s not in Mankiw’s nature to understand anything about human behavior, so it should be no surprise he doesn’t really understand his own . . . .

  4. Bill Smith

    I wonder about the overall wisdom of this. Oakland is an impoverished city that votes Democratic. The protests have cost the city millions already.

    Why not instead impose those costs on Republican areas? While both parties are guilty of being captured by the wealthy elite, the Republicans are far worse.

    Take Eric Cantor…the poster child for government by and for the 1%. Why not take the protests to Cantor’s district?? Why not impose the cost and inconvenience on the people who put him in office?? One thing for sure: They hate taxes. Why not let their tax dollars pay for dealing with the protests, instead of a city like Oakland??

    I would really like to see the protests include the Republican areas that so strongly support policies that drive income inequality. Go after Boehner’s district and Ryan’s — and incovenience the people who voted for a moron like Michele Bachmann. Protest in Rick Perry’s back yard. Let Texas taxpayers eat the expense of dealing with it.

    Also, a lot of Repubican strongholds are in the South, and protesting there will be easier in winter. Sarasota FL is supposedly the “meanest city in the USA” for the way they treat the homeless….what a great (and warm) place for a protest.

    Dr. King took his protests to theSsouth. Maybe OWS should do the same.

    1. BondsOfSteel

      The protest are peacefull… they shouldn’t require a huge police presence. The cities have chosen to spend the money on the huge presence as a way of intimidating the protesters.

      In Seattle, they had ~50 cops working overtime, so they can tear down one tent. Really? The cops have nothing better to do than to keep people from sleeping in a city park? How less threating can you be than asleep?

      OTOH, we do have Phoenix Jones on hand to deal with the real crime.

    2. rotter

      Partisan Politics are a waste of time. Democrats, you should know by now, are part of the same racket. We dont need the partisan political movement you want, need the class oriented movement we are building (so far).

        1. Capo Regime

          Indeed! The time for the reflexive Reagan, or Bush or the Democrats or “the Right” did is should be over. In fact, I would suggest that invoking party politics or partisan rhetoric seems to generate a tune out reflex in the more clever young people. It appears they view partisian hacks with some disdain if not pitty. Certainly partisiaon hacks among the Occupy but somehow for some of them I think this will cure them–their Damoscene conversion so to speak…

    3. gs_runsthiscountry

      “Dr. King took his protests to theSsouth”

      Actually, King [joined] protests in the south, most notable Memphis in March of 68. He was invited by Rev Lawson and when things got out of control the first time, and he was rushed out of town for his safety.

      But the important point is, he was supporting protests that had already started, not the other way around.

      1. sleepy

        Just a memory–

        I’m a native Memphian and still have an I Am A Man poster that I found in a garbage can the day after that march.

    4. Jon

      I will also add:

      “Oakland is an impoverished city that votes Democratic.”

      How’s that working out for Oakland?

      The statement is so ironic given the context of the post (Blame the Republicans!) it almost boggles the mind the writer does not see it.

      1. Bill Smith

        There are plenty of impoverished Republican areas. 20% of people in Mississipi are on food stamps.

        The point is to take the some of protests to places that inconvenience the wealthy and Republican voters.

    5. Richard Kline

      So ‘bill Smith,’ just what world of partial mathematics do you live in? The ‘protests’ have cost Oakland, CA millions? It was the botched actions of the city _authorities_ which have cost millions in overtime, the Occupiers pick up after themselves, bro. And do you have a shred of an idea regarding how many _billions_ the banks have cost Oakland homeowners in this, between pump-and-dump valuations in the hills and predatory NINJAs in the endless flatlands. The banks are the folks who’ve made a target range moonscape of the city, and you want to talk about loose change the authorites have blown stupidly muscling the one group trying to do something about that?

      You don’t have politics, bro, you have a side. And the one your’re really on isn’t where the Occupation’s are at, that’s an easy read. Who you really working for, ‘Bill?’

      1. Bill Smith

        I think we are both on the same side, “bro”.

        My point is the the Republicans do not give a flying fuck about Oakland or anyone in Oakland. They do not give a shit how many people lost their homes in Oakland.

        And the Republicans basically rule the country via control of the House and the fillibuster. And Wall Street OWNS the Republicans. (and a lot of Democrats too, yes. But Republicans absolutely.) Jamie Dimon is going with Mitt Romney this time around.

        So you want to get their attention, take it to them where they live. That’s what I’m saying. I think it makes sense.

        1. Richard Kline

          So Bill, both parties are sold. The Occupiers get this, but you’re still caught up in these dead partisan things.

          Look . . . it’s the issues, Bill, and that is an essential component of the strength of this movement. It isn’t about protecting Democrats. It isn’t about nailing Republicans. It’s about cutting corporations and financial criminals down to size or out of business, Bill. It’s about citizens driving the political system, not politios heisting the citizenry. It’s about community in action, not about Jerk Elected Offical X being the center of _anything_. Jerk Elected Offical X can wait to speak and get in line like everyone else—or they can have the footprints of history march right over their tawdry, selfish, well-remunerated ass. It’s about everyone out here (except you, evidently) talking to each other and working this thing out, not about mugging for the camera when the red light is on. I seriously, seriously doubt that the Occupiers give a rats ass whether they make a Republican ‘look bad’ as opposed to a Democrat, because those in the Zones of Occupations get it that BOTH look gawdawful.

          To me, and to what I see and those I talk to on the ground the Occupations are past partisan alignments, because the parties are, as presently constituted, clever Tweedledum vs. Tweedledee alignments who both work for the 1% in how they execute policies from the top. And as I say, this is a _strength_ of this movement, that it’s not about ‘getting somebody elected,’ or protecting anybody who is. It’s about changing policy, regardless of the changer.

          Bill, we’ve got to get you up to speed. Or at least off the Democratic payroll. Just who was it, tell me again, who told all these Democratic mayors to ‘send in the cops’ withing days of each other? When the occupations were: a) often supported tactitly or openly by the City Councils involved, b) popular everywhere with unions, y’know the Democrat’s putative base, and c) widely popular and even more widely sympathized with by the inhabitants of those cities? It’s the elected officials who have betrayed their constituents in this by lining up, yet again, with the 1%.

          And regarding your ‘they’re poor in the country, too’ filip, the Occupiers, as a movement strategy, will be far better positioned to capture the cities, where the bulk of the population lives and the huge bulk of the country’s institutional power is located, than to disperse hither and yon. That’s not a rejection of the countryside. There are Occupation efforts in many places that might surprise you. But a further feature of this movement is that, with the exception of Liberty Square in NYC, it’s _local_ activists and supporters who organize _themselves_, Bill. Y’know, where they live. Because this is about community. No one is ‘going to X to civilicize them slow learners.’ Again, this a a great strength of this movement, it’s not outsiers but locals who act. Nobody is stopping folks from taking an Occupiers’ stand in this Congressional district or that, but no one is going to do it for them, at least at this point.

          I find your entire perspective disingenuous since the alternative is to believe that you’re unspeakably naive. ‘Bill.’

        2. Capo Regime

          Bill,

          Let go of the partisan silliness. Nobody, that is nobody has ever taken more banker money than a.) B Obama and b.) C Schumer (a.k.a the senator from Wall Street, both as you know solid democrats. As I noted before, Clinton and his Wall Street buds brought us Nafta and the removal of Glass Stegal–those two policies demonstrably hurt the middle class to this day. Yes, W and Cheney Evil but Bill there ain’t no saints with the Dems. Its all money baby, wake up…Richard is correct.

          1. Bill Smith

            Ok… I guess I am not getting a lot of support here.

            So how do you propose to effect actual political change??

            I mean how will it happen?

            Are we talking about overthrowing the goverment? If not that, and also not involving in the political processs….

            then what???

          2. anon48

            First step- continue making people aware that they can trust neither party. Your comments suggest that there’s still much work to do.

    6. Keivn de bruxelles

      Hate to say but you have things completely ass backwards. The only hope for the Occupy movement is if they free themselves from the partisan thought prisons that most people have locked themselves into. The only winner in a Wingnut vs. Moonbat contest are the parasitical elite. The whole success of the Oakland movement so far is again unmasking the lie of Identify Politics (IP). Instead of taking seriously what MLK said about not judging people by the colour of the skin, IP teaches us that people of colour, women, etc., are somehow morally superior to white men. As if people didn’t already learn this lesson with Obama, Mayor Quan has proven again that one must focus like a laser beam on what leaders DO and not how they LOOK.

      If the fact that from 2009-10 the Democrats controled the House Senate and Presidency and still did nothing, then nothing will free you of the partisan myth.

      If in the recent history of US reaction to an ever increasingly parasitic government / elite, the Tea Party was a very flawed Thesis, and the OWS a somewhat less flawed Antithesis, then the strategic goal has to be for it to evolve into a Synthesis that can free people from both Right and Left leaning partisan straightjackets and gather them together as a united force.

    7. Ignim Brites

      If the point is to protest then taking the protest to Republican congressional districts may be the way to go. But if the point is to force change, then the ports are the choke point for the globalized economy. Shutting them down will force inflation up, crater the stock and bond markets (which will go a long way to equalizing wealth) and compel Obama to do what is to be done. Nationalize the TBTF banks to begin with.

      1. Jeff

        Actually the railroads coming out of ports are far easier to block. You often have multiple lane highways which are public property coming out of ports or you have one four and a half foot wide railroad track.

        When Walmart no longer has pink plastic Disney toys
        in stock it won’t be the end of the world. Lives do not depend on containerized cargo from Asia. Convenience does.

      2. invient

        I think that is a great strategy. However, there would likely be retaliation by the local authorities if the protests began shutting down major ports to the point of it effecting the national economy.

        This website is useful, it allows you to see which ports do the most business with what country.

        india
        http://www.worldportsource.com/trade/imports/value/IND.php

        china
        http://www.worldportsource.com/trade/imports/value/CHN.php

        taiwan
        http://www.worldportsource.com/trade/imports/value/TWN.php

        … and so on

        If its just about economic justice, than go for the biggest exporting ports (but for that we are going to have to have a lot more protest activity in texas as 3 of the biggest ports are in there).

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ports_in_the_United_States

    8. casino implosion

      Because Oakland is a strong union town and has thousands of workers in ILWU Local 10 which is one of the last militant blue collar unions left in the US. Oakland is one of the few places where you could still pull something like this off.

  5. psychohistorian

    Yves,

    Thanks for the posting, pictures and political poster.

    I am encouraged but fearful of the road ahead.

    If those in charge can get House of Representatives to sit up and bark like they just did with their re-affirmation yesterday of the 1956 change to the American motto to In God We Trust from E pluribus unum then we are starting from pretty far down the rabbit hole.

    I do take consolation that the global inherited rich that run our world are scared enough to have them do that.

    Laugh the global inherited rich out of control of our society and into rooms at the Hague where they can be prosecuted for social and economic perfidy.

    The time for bandaids for our problems has passed. It is time to create a more fair and just world.

  6. Lafayette

    GREAT SHAME FOR A GREAT NATION

    Some of the photos are heart-rending. It seems like a people at sea in lifeboats in view of the Titanic sinking.

    What a Great Shame for a Great Nation. Not the Greatest on Earth, mind you – but it was an ingrained belief that “anything goes” or “the sky’s the limit” that has brought Uncle Sam to his knees.

    PARADIGM SHIFTS

    One photo shows a sign “Hire Americans first!” Which sums up the problem, meaning, that we are in the midst of a Paradigm Shift of which no one understands the profound complications.

    We (meaning the developed countries) are transiting from the Industrial to the Information Age. Meaning that our industrial base of jobs is taking a whacking. Our labor force cannot possibly compete with nimble fingers in the Far East working in jobs that require high labor content.

    The Good Life is expensive. Americans want cheap goods. China provides them.

    I am from Central Massachusetts. My parents worked in the post-war plastics industry that first started there. George Tupper, of Tupperware fame, who invented a supple plastic that replaced rubber in electrical wiring insulation started his first factory there after the war.

    In the 1970s, those jobs first went south and then further south to Mexico and finally west to China. That process is inexorable within the present paradigm.

    What should we have been doing? Instead of binging on cheap credit to keep up with the Joneses, it would have been wiser to see that the great strides made by the Information Technology industry (that created so many jobs) would also diminish as the commoditization of products placed labor-cost at the center of its competitiveness.

    Which means that many developed nations are racing up the Skills Escalator in order to maintain employment levels. We have taken our eye off the Educational Process by which skills and competencies are taught/learned and then employed to make a living.

    We have also placed far too much emphasis on the Finance Industry’s “financial engineering” that began to spin-off tremendous profits – which chiefly benefited a minority Plutocrat Class of our population. We failed to spread the Wealth such that all could share it – if not equally, at least equitably.

    Which can only be corrected by higher taxation of marginal income and capital gains. Much higher taxation, such that the incentive for such gains is moderated to level sustainable by the American economy as a whole.

    When we will no longer need People With Placards reminding us that they too have a right to live decently.

    POST SCRIPTUM: A note about “finance engineering”.

    There is a primary concept of all basic engineering. It is that of “fail-safe”, without which our buildings, our cars, our commercial airliners would prove catastrophic to use personally. They must be designed and made to fail with safety – that is without harm to their users.

    Boeing can never sell its airliners without a “certification process”, which assures that a plane will “fail safely” if its mechanisms are ever stressed beyond their breaking point. Our regulatory agencies exist for this principle reason. (Except when neutered because they supposedly “harm business development”, which the Bush Administration used as an excuse.)

    The fail-safe rule was never considered by the Finance Industry in its hellbent rush to riches. Besides, the prevalent Ayn-Randian notion at our Federal Reserve was that “markets were self-regulating” and therefore would avoid any systemic failures.

    Which is why we are in the Present Mess created by its Toxic Waste.

    1. SteveT

      You raise good points, but it is not just about globalization. Technology is having a huge impact and is a primary reason jobs will never come back in sufficient numbers.

      If you could bring all those factories back from China and rebuild them in the US…they would not be the same. They would be more automated and employ far fewer works. Someday the US might get the manufacturing back, but it will NEVER get the manufacturing jobs back, and the service sector is already following the same path.

      Check out this show that is currently on PBS stations. You can watch it online:

      http://www.ideasinactiontv.com/episodes/2011/10/automation-nation-will-robots-take-our-jobs.html

      and check out the book mentioned in the show

      “The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future”

      free pdf at http://www.thelightsinthetunnel.com

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I don’t agree that Americans “want cheap goods”. This is not a consumer website, yet I get occasional laments about how many products are now of not so hot quality, made to last only a few years, forcing consumers to replace them.

      And what people “want” is often a function of marketing and availability.

      The executives of multinationals and major US retailers want to sell Americans cheap foreign goods. Big difference. The share of GDP going to corporate profits is at record levels.

      1. vlade

        Amen.
        The situation now is that you buy cheap goods, because even the expensive don’t last, so there’s no point to buy the expensive ones.

        The role of “inventing new needs” is usually not touched – and if so, presented as an unambiguous plus. As usual, it’s mixed blessing at best though.

      2. LAS

        Yves, I could not agree with you more. I am in market research and the stuff brought to market is not what consumers ask for. It is what people want to sell them packaged in the acceptable myth. It is about drawing consumers into purchasing cheaper goods at higher mark-up and the political divide provided by different nations or populations only helps to achieve that end. Intense study of consumers is not for the purpose of giving them what they want and need, but to influence them to accept what is being offered. The myth that optimizes acceptance goes to market, not the best product.

      3. Richard Kline

        So ‘Lafayette,’ consumer ‘demand’ is one of the great cons of the 20th century, a deliberate misapplication of an already tendentious argument from ole Adam the Smith himself. Consumers get to choose from what they are offered. _Producers_ long ago figured out that they could sell crap if nobody else offered anything better. Now consumers don’t particularly _like_ crap; this is where ‘advertising’ was invented, to sell crap folks didn’t like. What we see, however, is that when somebody comes down the pike selling something that is non-crap—Apple anything—as opposed to pure crap—anything PC—crap tanks. Anybody could have done the design Apple did [Note: I’m just using this for an example, there are others], but the other folks all were making boodles of dollars selling crap at big markup.

        What the public would actually _buy_ if it was available would change the world. But it is not in the interests of capital to make anything of any real value available because that would hurt the interests of those already long on crap. That would encourage the public to actually vote with their dollars rather than to surrender them listlessly, for crap. The whole point of capital is to browbeat it into the public that THEY HAVE NO CHOICE. Just like back and think of the Bank of England . . . . They were really asking to get screwed anyway.

        Consumer ‘demand’: brought to market by a corporate interest near you.

        1. chad

          “Anybody could have done the design Apple did”

          That’s a pretty big insult to a group widely regarded as some of the best designers in the world.

          “but the other folks all were making boodles of dollars selling crap at big markup”

          The margin on digital electronics ( desktops/laptops etc ) are razor thin.

        2. Crazy Horse

          Richard,
          I agree in principle that people buy what they are sold, not what they want, but after they have been sufficiently “educated” they are unable to distinguish s*** on a stick coated with chocolate from the Hope Diamond coated with same. Works with politics as well.

          Interesting that you chose Apple as an example of Quality. Granted by any objective standards of design their products have often been superior, but they also lead the way in planned obsolesce. The frantic pace of new “must have” cult product introduction is as key to their financial success as any objective superiority in Design.

          We shouldn’t judge a company solely by its products. How did Apple achieve its 40-50% net margin that made it the most profitable company in the world? By exploiting the near slave labor of thousands of Chinese girls living in dormitories with a stuffed animal as their only possession. A quality design does not necessarily mean a quality company.

        3. nikhil

          I agree with your overall point but this PC versus Apple nonsense needs to go.

          I work at an art department for a University and I am in charge of purchasing computer hardware and software. We have only MacPros. As soon as their Apple care is up guess what happens? They start breaking. I know they get heavy use in a school lab but compare it to my 7 year old PC at home that just keeps chugging (slowly).

          Additionally the software suites that Apple produces are designed to force you to upgrade all of them together. Want to use the new Final Cut Pro X? Well better buy Snow Leopard.

          And how about their pricing? I have a 15″ MacBook Pro from work. Price for a new one ~ $1700. A comparable PC would be around $900-$1000. And the one I have is an older model with the optical drive placed right below where your right hand rests when typing. Guess what happens? The pressure of your hand bends the drive there making the drive inoperable. The “Genius” at the store informed me this is called “smiling”. Yay!

          I could also go on about the insane amount of different adapters they have to connect your laptop to any kind of display device. Every single laptop has a different one for each device and they cost $40 a pop. Why don’t they just put a VGA or DVI port directly on the laptop?

          Don’t get me wrong I use both Apple and PCs and I think they are both good for what they do. Making a product that is easy to use for people without much computer experience is a great idea. If I didn’t have Final Cut Pro I would be in a lot of trouble when making my art (I’m a video artist). Having said that Apple’s business strategy basically amounts to shaking people down every step of the way and seducing them with marketing and design to pay a premium. I don’t see a lot to cheer-lead for in that.

      4. Jeff

        It has become ritual that goods become cheaper and
        are automatically Chinese, Burmese, Vietnamese
        whatever. However, it also is possible to use the
        system against itself. We return all broken/defective products
        to the large retailer with a cheery expectation of refund.

        The stated philosophy is thus:

        “If they made these here they would be more expensive and wouldn’t break.
        Since they use a cheap Asian slave pits to make this junk for pennies they’re getting incredibly rich at our expense, so they can easily take back lots of these and still get rich…Are you getting any health care here, you getting the hours you want?”

        I have never had an employee tell me “we are not going to take that back”.

      5. Just Me

        “…many products are now of not so hot quality, made to last only a few years, forcing consumers to replace them.”

        This, our throw-away consumption driven economy, is the broken window fallacy writ large.

    3. Jeff

      “Realities”??? Yeah, analogizing to your econ 101 screed, “You have a tumor…live with it and don’t worry about carcinogens…”

      How about the next president use an executive order and get congress to back him up after the fact that

      “All manufactured goods and services purchased with tax dollars for use by the federal government shall be of domestic manufacture and ownership whenever possible. “

  7. rjs

    they should have gone to the port earlier in the day; as i heard it (radio), most of the ships had already been unloaded by the time they got there…

  8. Richard Kline

    One side issue to the action in Oakland today that many of you may not have followed. The Longshoreman’s Union, perhaps the most activist union in the country especially on the West Coast, did not formally join the General Strike in Oakland. . . . Because they closed the Port in San Francisco on a wildcat outage in sympathy with the occupation of the Wisconsin state capitol in the Spring and clubbed with a high six-figure fine for doing so. The judiciary at the beck and call of the bosses are watching them like hawks, and the legal penalties would have been severe if they’d gone out. I’m OK with that, they’re with this in heart and soul, and they need to save their money and mojo for the long haul. The Oakland action went very well.

    1. Goin' South

      I’m glad you highlighted this.

      It’s another example of how the Wagner/Taft-Hartley scheme of labor-management relations in the U. S. is more a shackles for unions than empowering.

      The only way to deal with all those restrictions is to renounce certification and eliminate expensive union bureaucracies, most of which use their resources to tag along behind the Democrats anyway.

      Solidarity unionism is the way to go.

      1. Eric

        Why do we say labor vs. management? Isn’t it really labor vs. owners, with non-owner management on the sidelines because their NRLA-exempt, unrepresented, salaried (80 hrs/wk same pay as 40 hrs/wk) selves are considered as fungible as drill bits? Divide and conquer at its finest.

    2. dirtbagger

      Not to blow the wind out of your sails, but I think many of the posters are greatly exaggerating the militancy of the Oakland port workers. Lets back up a little.

      Three terminals at the Port of Oakland were closed on 10/31 and 11/01 due to a safety-motivated strike by dock workers.
      There was an compressor explosion of a refrigerated container that killed 3 dock workers in Vietnam. Apparently, there may be as many as 8,000 with defective coolant that may prove to be potentially explosive and Oakland Port workers were legitimately concerned about the safety of handling these containers.

      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45128660/ns/local_news-seattle_wa/

      The Oakland Port workers were said to have chosen to extend the walk-out a third day to support OWS and calls for a General Strike. However, it is quite possible that the main reason for Wednesday’s strike was a mainly unresolved safety issue.

  9. alex

    Getting sympathy from the police is a huge win.

    I’ve no use for either treating peaceful protesters as criminals or ignoring genuine threats to persons and property, but we all know that in the real world there is necessarily such a thing as discretion in how any situation is handled. Sympathy always helps in tilting the discretion in your favor.

  10. Chris Rich

    One interesting but subtle counter force at hand to undermine the outsourced cheap crap problem is a growing migration to the after market.

    And there also seems to be some redefinition of the basis of material culture. People make stuff rather than buying it in the way they did in the period from the onset of the great depression to the end of the second world war.

    The consumption money migrates to good will and salvation army, to yard sales and community supported agriculture.

    America at this point is bursting at the seams with usable stuff that can be nearly free.

    It could be horrendous for current corporate models if all that revenue they envision goes down some after market rat hole where the people cut out the crap vendor and just put their purchase money in each others pockets.

    I use an awesome limb lopper made in the early 20th century of impeccable quality and tool steel you cant get any more.

    When the basics of our material culture have been degraded to junk right off the shelf, the stigma of owning some second hand thing evaporates and becomes a new form of status.

    Instead of “I bought this bitchin expensive shiny thing, it becomes, “Look how I beat the system with this great used shiny thing.”

    We have enough quality after market stuff to keep us going forever. And it becomes a vital adaptive strategy to offset stagnant income or encroaching poverty.

    1. Jeff

      Chris, Couldn’t agree more. Great tools available at garage sales. Good furniture. So much free stuff being given away on Craigslist that you’d have to be a fool to buy cheap new junk.

      Noticed something odd in the last few years.
      Hispanics buying up every single tool of whatever
      type and quality at garage sales here in California.
      “How can you possibly use that stuff” I asked a couple of guys.

      “We load up our trucks when we go home and sell it
      there”.

      At least one export market is growing.

      1. LeeAnne

        I picked up a pair of scissors at the flea market -the young man selling fairly expensive deco furniture with his dad couldn’t believe I wanted them. They were obviously well worn, paint coming off, but also well made, long thin sharp looking blades. He said $1 and I’ve never looked back.

        The scissors we all now use; pretty colors, fell apart, looking new, while I was using them. That’s just one anecdote about China made goods -and the last straw for me. I’ll be looking for everything I need that I would ordinarily buy in a hardware store at flea markets and such rather than buy another thing made in China. I had to be reminded that it’s American corporation demand that has created this nightmare race to the bottom they’ve won for the rest of us.

        1. Chris Rich

          I also just got my annual Farmers Almanac and it is more loaded than usual with ‘make your life, don’t buy it’ features.

          The drive to transform us from citizens to ‘consumers’ over half a century has caused widespread atrophy of a range of impressive adaptive skills we once had.

          My sense is that maximizing our opt out of this consumer imposition will be transformational. The new currency in such a situation becomes ones lore, ones direct adaptive human ‘tool maker’ skills with fewer wallows in the preposterous abstractions that hover about much of what is now called work.

          That stuff makes us like hapless lab rats who have lost all of their basic rat skills to a point where they just sit there dazed when they aren’t in their cage boxes while your basic feral alley rat is still a finely attuned creature, alert to its realities and opportunities.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Make your life, don’t buy it – that sounds like the Neanderthal Age, when people were whole and free.

    2. LeeAnne

      Chris, I’m afraid ‘they’ have all the bases covered -ready with new rules before they pull the rug out from under the rest of us because, never forget, we The People do not make the rules. We just get to react to bankster rules.

      Law Bans Cash for Second Hand Transactions

      ‘… here in Louisiana now. It’s a law that was passed during this year’s busy legislative session. House bill 195 basically says those who buy and sell second hand goods cannot use cash to make those transactions, and it flew so far under the radar most businesses don’t even know about it
      State representative Rickey Hardy co-authored the bill. …Besides non-profit resellers like Goodwill, and garage sales, the language of the bill encompasses stores like the Pioneer Trading Post and flea markets. Lawyer Thad Ackel Jr. feels the passage of this bill begins a slippery slope for economic freedom in the state. “The government is placing a significant restriction on individuals transacting in their own private property,” says Ackel.

      Pawn shops have been forced to keep records of their clients for years. However under this bill they are still allowed to deal in cash.’ Doug MacDiarmid

      here http://www.klfy.com/story/15717759/second-hand-dealer-law

      The beginning of a trend?

      1. Chris Rich

        It smacks of demented desperation, is utterly unenforceable and wouldn’t pass a legal challenge. Just goes to show what sort of buffoons land in legislatures.

    3. craazyman

      so true, so true. I can’t believe the crap people will buy. Mostly rich people.

      Poor people usually buy the essentials — like plastic shower curtains and bathroom slippers with synthetic fuzz and tie-dyed wall tapestries with Jesus holding a lamb.

      I know, because I scope the scene on 103rd and 3rd, where this stuff is on sale right in public view. And there’s a good rice and beans place nearby and a place to buy fabric where I made my curtains.

      No doubt 14% of the economy just floats on junk. At least. How can people not see this? How can they buy what they buy?

      I go long periods spending as little as possible. It’s lasted so long, I’m used to it. So if I hit the 5-bagger with what I’ve saved up, and get rich, I’m not sure what the hell I’d buy. Nothing for sale really interests me. Maybe I’d buy some art, but not even there, I’d rather make it myself, even if it’s not as good. You can always go to the Met if you want the good stuff.

  11. Godwin

    A successful “General Strike” is a vast majority of people deciding to leave their jobs. This was not a General Strike. 5% of municipal employees left, but used sick or other leave. That is not striking. Showing up at the Port and preventing operations is not the same as longshoreman striking. I think the claim that this was a successful strike is dubious. Maybe it was an effective disruption of business as usual, and if so they should take credit for it, but not call it something that it clearly is not. Unfortunately, this is so typical of Bay Area activists.

  12. Dave Stratman

    Dear Yves—

    In your attempt to defend capitalism, I think you seriously misstate the nature of the beast. You write:

    “This is what happens when soi-disant capitalist[s] forget their proper role, which is to provide job and productive outlets for investments, and hopefully higher standards of living, and instead resort to looting and winner-take-all social arrangements. The most flagrant abusers will be first to accuse the Occupiers of being anticapitalists when it was they who abandoned that system quite a while ago.”

    I’m not sure where this idea of the “proper role” of capitalists comes from, other than a forlorn hope that they will play nice. The real role of capitalists has always been to make profits. Any social benefit that may accrue to their activities is entirely incidental. Benefitting society by providing “jobs and productive outlets for investments, and hopefully higher standards of living” was never their purpose. If you are speaking only of banks here, I suppose one could say that this is what people have been taught was bankers’ purpose, but surely this was always propaganda designed to justify the role of banks and their overweening power. By inserting that fragile word “hopefully” you seem to be acknowledging that raising the standard of living for people other than bankers was never their real purpose.

    What we have been witnessing are not the actions of a few outliers, self-described capitalists who are abusing some sacred trust. We are experiencing the logic of a system built on exploitation and theft and blood. If capitalism now seems to stand “naked” before us, it is not because the rapacity of the system is new, but merely that it is new to us. The calamities—for us, not them—of the past few years have led us to see the system with new eyes. What are the bank bailouts but the private seizure of public wealth, which go back at least to the enclosures of the commons in England beginning in the 15th century? Were the Robber Barons of the 19th century different in kind from our present capitalists? Are the many corporations which offshored their operations in the past decades to seek cheap labor and avoid taxes also “soi-disant capitalists?” If so, the word capitalism has lost any meaning.

    Capitalism is based on a paradigm in which the economy must constantly expand, turning ever more of the earth and human interactions into commodities to sell. In this economy working people are merely consumers or expendable producers. The natural world is used by the powerful as if it were a limitless source of private riches and a garbage dump. As the oceans die, the fisheries disappear, the environment is ravaged, clean water is fouled, fossil fuels grow scarce, the message becomes unavoidable. Civilization based on this paradigm is not sustainable. We cannot go on this way.

    There remain only two alternatives open to us: either be sucked ever deeper into a vortex of war, tyranny, suffering, and mass liquidation—the planned die-off of “excess” populations in societies that cannot be sustained—or make a fresh start, rebuilding society on a fundamentally different model.

    It is time we give serious thought to revolution and a new society. I encourage you to consider “Thinking about Revolution” http://www.newdemocracyworld.org/revolution/Thinking.pdf

    1. Godwin

      The dated Marxist paradigm is tired. When economic calamity fails to bring about your “inevitable” socialist society, just like their past predictions of Marx, Lenin et al, what will be the next armageddon scenario? Maybe you can appropriate Galbraith’s remarks on technology and massive control fraud?

      1. Dave Stratman

        Hello, Godwin–

        It’s unfortunmate that you dismiss serious commentary with such a knee-jerk reaction. Oh, this guy attacks capitalism. Therefore he must be a socialist/Marxist.

        In fact I reject Marxism and socialism. One has only to look at the disastrous record of “real existing socialism” in the late, unlamented Soviet Union–or in present day capitalist/Communist China, for that matter–to see why.(If you had bothered to read “Thinking about Revolution,” you would be aware of this.)

        The world has been trapped for the last 100 years between two undemocratic systems, capitalism and Communism. The purpose of “Thinking about Revolution” is to contribute to national and international conversation about creating a truly democratic alternative.

        An important question to consider as we seek alternatives is why capitalism and Communism, which claimed to be so different, turned out so much the same; that is, class societies in which a small elite holds all the cards, and which seem to outdo one another in ravaging the human and natural environment.

        I believe that is because both systems are based on the same paradigm. In this paradigm, economic development is the basis of human development; ordinary people are the passive beneficiaries or victims of the actions of elites in a history in which human beings seek only their individual self-interest. It is not possible to base real democracy on this model.

        If we are to establish a promising future for most people, we need to construct another model for human society. The basis of a new vision of social possibility, I believe, lies not in economic theories and certainly not in a text of Marx or Lenin but in a new understanding of human beings, their goals and aspirations, their strengths and possibilities.

        What is so exciting and inspiring about the Occupy movement is that many thousands of people, if not millions the world over, are more or less consciously questioning whether the future of humanity need necessarily be bound by the principles of profit and loss, competition and inequality. They are relating to each other in the public square and asserting something about themselves and each other, and in so doing are revealing something about shared values and the possibilities of human society which capitalism (and communism) try with all their might to smother and disguise.

        I thank Yves for her great coverage of the Occupy movement. I hope that these pages can become a place for serious rather than dismissive discussion of the situation.

        1. Godwin

          You wrote, “Oh, this guy attacks capitalism. Therefore he must be a socialist/Marxist”

          This is an assumption of my orientation, and also a false premise. It’s too bad you based you response almost entirely on it, since you spent so much time writing it.

          You are not presenting anything new, but just old hat with new packaging. You claim to reject Marx and Leninism, but it is apparent that you may know something of Marx, but not of Marxism. Everything on your link was more or less fabricated in some form between 100 and 120 years ago by various Marxist theorists. Just because it is being packaged as something else, to attract liberals, and to glom onto what is being led by liberal initiative fits into the tired repetition of what that school has done since the early 20th century.

          You are as bad as the doctrinaire libertarians when you try to push the “capitalism vs socialism” dichotomy on your detractor, and even less ingenuous when you try to claim the middle or high ground. One doesn’t have to be a liberal, a libertarian, or even vested in the system to see what an abject failure your unacknowledged ideology is…I say unacknowledged because to say hidden would imply that you are even conscious of what you are promoting. It is an ideology that has failed the left since the 1970s, and will fail this time around while your 99% get screwed.

          All of it reeks with 60’s Boomer nostalgia. And it will end up in the same place as the original.

          You are right on one point… there needs to be a reworking of ideas. How about you go work on that before expecting people to blindly sign onto things while you go work that out. The last time people took the leap of faith you expect, it was quite a disaster, and the effects are still being mitigated. Who even though that the logical outcome of Marxist ideology would be a mafia state?

    2. Lafayette

      CONTEXTUAL CAPITALISM

      DS: The real role of capitalists has always been to make profits. Any social benefit that may accrue to their activities is entirely incidental.

      That depends upon the context.

      In France, companies are called upon by the state to have a Social Conscience as well. And it they don’t, they find all sorts of “opportunities” closed to them – by means of various regulatory agencies.

      Which means the state adopts a posture of respect for certain ideals of Social Justice and expects them to be followed in terms of corporate policy.

      In America, we have a GOP that simply negates the role of the state and limits it to Defense – because the DoD budget is “user friendly” to the M-I-C. They rail about Government Interference, but, like, for instance, a Ronald Reagan who came to Washington to “downsize government” only up-sized it to accomplish objectives more in concert with his party’s ideology (or dogma).

      His attitude toward unions was made very clear when he put Air Traffic Controllers out of a job in a manner that would have been found unconstitutional over in Europe.

      (An example: Article 22 of the UN Declaration of Human Rights:

      Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

      Why did the US sign this Declaration of Human Rights when promulgated by the UN in 1947? But never made any effort to incorporate it as an extension to its own Bill of Rights?

      So, our definition of “Democracy” is always contextual, meaning it takes the form that you make of it;

      CONTEXTUAL CAPITALISM

      Capitalism is not intrinsically wicked, but it can be when allowed to work in ways that are counter to the best interests of all a nation’s citizens.

      This is clearly what happened with the SubPrime Mess that triggered the Credit Mechanism Seizure of 2008 that gave way directly to the Great Recession of 2009.

      And what did the Replicants have to say about that Tragedy Trilogy as regards our nation? Here’s what: “Well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles!”

      Crumbles, me arse. The GoldenBoys messed up with professional negligence that was premeditated, planned and executed with wrongful intent. They figured they’d get away with it … and they did.

      CONTEXTUAL IMMORALITY

      Which is the problem in today’s America. If human behaviour is not expressly illegal then it cannot possibly be immoral. We cannot (or perhaps will not) distinguish them.

      Even legal behaviour can be and often is immoral. We’ve lost our ability to distinguish between right and wrong on simply moral grounds.

      We’ve lost our sense of ethical behaviour. Either that or we never learned ethical behaviour – which makes of us spineless morons always looking for the path of least resistance (by moral values).

      1. Dave Stratman

        Hi, Lafayette–

        It is true that some of the sharp edges of capitalism have been blunted in European countries where social democracy has held sway since the close of WWII. I believe, however, that the current crisis in Euroland is designed precisely to dismantle social democracy and the protections to working people it has afforded, to leave them as naked to capitalism’s raw power as are Americans. (See my Goodbye to Social Democracy? http://www.newdemocracyworld.org/revolution/goodbye_to_social_democracy_qm.html )

        Your suggestion that the problem is just the G.O.P. is, I’m afraid, not worth considering.

    1. Jeff

      Oh, probably just our way of life and about 10 trillion when it’s ever all added up. Your grandchildren will be
      fighting over scraps in the .001%’s garbage cans.
      Why do you ask?

  13. Rebecca Helm-Ropelato

    This post really cheers up my day. Thanks! I clicked through to the FT article linked to in the second graf – so gratifying to see FT cover OWS Oakland in the form of a straight forward news report on an event. That shouldn’t be such a rare thing to see in major news media outlets, but it is,sadly.

  14. Peripheral Visionary

    “I had been somewhat concerned at OccupyOakland’s call for a general strike, since failure to have a tangible impact would undermine rather than enhance the notion that the movement has power.”

    There isn’t much that can be done to “enhance the notion that the movement has power”, because it’s become perfectly evident that it does not have much of it. That’s the reason the policing has been relatively restrained: they know that the most serious threat the movement poses is bad publicity for the city police. That’s not much of a threat. Consequently, the authorities will hold back until the violence and disruption reaches a point at which other city residents are sick and tired of the protesters, and at that point, they will move in and clean them out with the full support of the citizenry.

    The problem with the protests is a simple one: they have no effective plan of action. Their plan, as far as I can tell it, is this:

    1. Protest

    2. ???

    3. Progress!

    As far as plans go, that doesn’t even really qualify as such. There is, I think, some vague, inchoate thoughts that this might be something like 1917 Russia or 1965 in the South, but those are cases where clearly envisioned movements were led by competent, highly motivated leadership, and which succeeded in large part due to a significant portion of sympathizers within the existing power structures. What we are seeing now has more differences than similarities with those movements.

    My question for the protesters is this: what, exactly, is the course of events starting with their protests and ending with the implementation of the changes they are hoping for? My general sense is that they either have no vision of how exactly that works; or, worse, that it actually involves a subconscious reliance on the existing framework. That is, there may be a hope that their protesting will shame public leaders into action with the support of the media – but does that not imply leaving the current leadership and media structures in place, and leaving power in their hands rather than in the hands of the people?

    There seems to be a real reluctance to turn to what, from my perspective, are the two real avenues of change: violence and elections. That the protesters decry violence is well and good; I think most people would like to avoid violence. But that leaves elections, and there seems to be a real reluctance to challenge the status quo in the electoral process (usually with “but it’s all so corrupt” arguments, which really are an excuse for inaction). For all the complaints from protesters that I have heard – and they have been many – I have yet to hear a single suggestion of organizing a challenge to an incumbent politician (let alone – perish the thought! – a primary challenge to the President).

    I know many here will hate the reference, but it needs to be pointed out: that is in striking contrast to the Tea Party, which has successfully transformed popular discontent into real power, by hitting politicians where it hurts: in the primaries, where even a few relatively well-organized activists can overpower the well-financed establishment. There is no shortage of fear on the right from the activist base, and that is shaping the terms of its debate; but as long as leftist activists stay pent up at the “occupy” protests shouting pointless slogans, the establishment left is perfectly safe.

  15. DK

    I was in Oakland yesterday participating in the General Strike. Shutting down banks and ports was a symbolic gesture from the 99% – showing that we do have the ability to transform our daily reality that has been dictated to us by the power elite, their politicians and their media.

    The Occupy movements have helped change the dialogue within the media spin machine towards an increased awareness of the economic inequalities in this country.

    To quote a sign in the Occupy Oakland camp – “The Beginning is Near”.

    1. VietnamVet

      When Russian Communism died, all restraints on the elite Capitalists of the Western World were removed. The Neo-Robber Barons were released. This is why 21st Century is replay of the 19th Century’s Gilded Age. Depression is stalking the West again.

      We know that the progressive politics of Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt worked. Government control of capitalism did share the wealth. The past has to be the guide for the future. The Elites must again be forced into do what is right for all of Society.

      There is no “invisible hand” in economics other than the rich let loose to steal money any way they can without any jail time any time soon. In addition, there is no mention, let alone indignation, from Corporate Press of the corruption that has spread throughout America.

      1. Psychoanalystus

        Hey VietnamVet,

        Thanks for losing that war for us. Without humiliating defeats like that, these Neo-Robber Barons you’re referring to (such as “The Job Creator” asshole below) would have kicked in decades earlier.

        Now let’s just hope that as we continue to swallow defeat after defeat in the Middle East and elsewhere, that stupid American exceptionalist ego will deflate enough for the stark reality to start sinking into the ignorant brains that this nation is largely made of.

        1. Greg Colvin

          Psychoanalystus, I can’t believe you have the gall to blame a Veteran for what went down in Vietnam. I nearly puked to read your mewling ignorance. If this was my web site you’d be permanently banned.

  16. The Job Creator

    The Job Creator speaking, so listen up deadbeats, ’cause I ain’t like to repeat myself:

    If you don’t immediately return to perform your menial burger flipper jobs I have not yet exported to China, I am going to ship those out too, and you will be left to starve. You are helpless without me. I and only I can save you from starvation. Is that clear?!!!

    You have 30 minutes to return to your posts. Is that clear?!!! You, stinkin’ dirty hippies!

    Meanwhile, as punishment for your rebellious behavior, I am cutting your wages by 50%, starting retroactively 2 weeks ago. And, I am also going to order my servile police force (yes, those low-IQ low-pay brainwashed stupid animals with a badge that serve me with absolute allegiance) to arrest, every dirty hippy in sight and throw them in one of my numerous private prisons for life. Is that clear?!!!

    You mother-fuc*ers! Get back to your menial station right now!

    The Job Creator

    1. Lloyd C. Bankster

      Excellent!

      Do you play golf? How about joining us for a few rounds out at the Sebonack this weekend?

      1. The Job Creator

        I’ll be there, Bankster. Do they have caviar and spotted owl on the menu this weekend?

        The Job Creator

  17. Not Smart Enough For This Blog

    Gotta love the armchair generals critiquing the methodology of the OWS movement. Way to go, you tell em! If they would have only listened and read YOU first, they’d be much better off. Surely, because they don’t endlessly pontificate on this blog, they’re doomed to failure.

    1. The Job Creator

      I’m gonna let them hippies vent for another couple of days, then I’ll crush them like bugs under my capitalist iron boot.

      My loyal police force is standing by ready and willing to obey my orders with the utmost brutality I order them. These cops know that if they don’t obey me I will foreclose their lower middle class homes, cut their $30,000 a year salary in half, and bring in MY National Guard to do their job.

      So for now, how about you 99-er losers beg me to bring back a few jobs from China. Do it! Humble yourselves. Lick my boots. Kiss my ass. Do it! Do what you’re best at. Do what you were born to do: serve me!!!

      Is that clear?!

      The Job Creator

      1. Lloyd C. Bankster

        Crushing those bugs sounds awesome, and it cannot happen soon enough.

        Also, responding to your question above: how nice that you can join us this weekend.

        The caviar is from Beluga Sturgeon, flown in daily from the Caspian Sea. And served as an appetizer just before the Spotted Owl Soup.

        Also, while we’re golfing, remind me to tell you the time Paulson, Summers and Cheney went hunting for the last spotted owl in the state of Oregon.

        1. The Job Creator

          Serves them right! We’ll crush them like the bugs that they are!

          I wish I were part of that spotted owl massacre with ole boy Cheney. Ever since I’ve known him he had a knack for killing inferior living things… Iraqi women and children in particular.

          But I just got off the phone with one of my sweatshop managers in China, where I make those Apple iPhones and iPads, or whatever they call them, and he tells me that next week he organizes a Panda bear hunt. I am sure you took part in panda hunts before, but this one is different because I understand we’ll focus on nursing female pandas. I don’t have all the details, but I understand Tony Bologna, our favorite policeman, and a few of his lieutenants will “serve and protect” us by first separating the mama panda from her cubs, at which point he will pepper spray the cubs in the eyes from close range. While the mama panda charges at us furiously, we’ll all fire “made in the U.S.A.” tear gas canisters at her head until we crack her skull open. We’ll then burn her and her cubs alive in a satanic ritual similar to the one utilized every year by our Bildeberg friends at the Bohemian Grove. I understand the best part is the yelping noises the cubs make while being pepper sprayed in the eyes — noises very similar to those made by those human bitches Tony sprayed on Wall Street the other day. It’s beautiful!

          I’ll ask my guy in China to FedEx you a complementary invitation. If you don’t get it by Saturday I’ll fire him…LOL

          The Job Creator

          1. Lloyd C. Bankster

            Panda bear hunts are one of my favorite things! I’ll bring along some cheese, such as aged Gouda and Pecorino di Pienza and plenty of chilled Laurent-Perrier champagne. Along with my Uzi that I carry in a Hermes Birkin Sanguine Alligator bag that retails for $46,999.

            And you should go ahead and fire your guy even if the invitation arrives by Saturday. After all, he’s one of these 99 percenters we keep hearing about, he probably sympathizes with OWS, and that makes him guilty as far as I’m concerned. LOL.

  18. Youknow Iamright

    Closing the port did send a big message. It sent several. One of them is that many city government officials throughout America lack the will and nerve to do what is necessary to restore law & order. Furthermore it showed that America is manipulated by a small but very vocal, overpriviliged, short-sighted minority. Finally, it showed that when liberals get their way the working class and middle class have to pay for it.

  19. Sam

    The OWS or 99% movement will not go away. It may die down during the winter, but by May or so of next year it will surge and could sweep the country into a state of crisis by August or so. Eventually more and more people are going to stop asking why those people are out there and start asking why they, themselves, are not.

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