Fault Lines – Occupy Wall Street: Surviving the Winter

You don’t get to see an Episcopal Bishop, en regalia, climbing over a chain link fence all that often.

I don’t have a deep media critique of this useful retrospective. Oddly, or not, Al Jazeera put this video together, and not a domestic network. OWS is covered, as they fail to persuade Trinity Church to do the Christ-like thing. OO is covered during the Oakland port shutdown. Even if the camps were cleared, it’s clear that Occupy considered as a movement changed the discourse to include “income inequality” (class), has not (perhaps not yet) been co-opted, has not (perhaps not yet) been successfully demonized by our famously free press, and has also built up social capital, and not in bowling leagues or rotisserie baseball, either. These are tremendous achievements, unmatched on the left, and especially the career “progressive” left. Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future, but I venture to predict that this spring and summer should be full of interest. And I’m not hoping for a “hot summer”; such a cliche. Now that the seeding is done, I’m hoping for sprouting, flowering, (cross-)pollination, and above all harvest. That’s what spring, summer, and fall are for, after all.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. citizendave

    Perhaps we should not even try to compare Occupy to anything else we’ve known before. To name a thing is to confine it, restrict it.

    To Occupy is like Be Here Now. (Remember Baba Ram Das?) Try to learn how to exist in the present moment, and become aware of your surroundings. Occupy the present moment. To some extent we are prisoners of history, and we perpetuate the institutions of the past almost unconsciously. The future looks very much like the past, until you step out of the main stream and into the present.

    In the present, your senses become more acute, because your mind is not preoccupied with being “caught between the longing for love and the struggle for the legal tender”, as Jackson Browne put it. In the present, you can feel the love that flows among the like-minded people around you.

    Anyway, it seems better to avoid thinking of Occupy as progressive or anything else we know. We’re not trying to reclaim something that once existed, like a perfect USA. We’ve been struggling to improve from the beginning. There are goals which have never been realized. Equality, justice, compassion. Peace. We’re struggling to improve our society, and the world, and our way of life. That’s certainly not new, but it would be best not to succumb to any sort of external categorization. On the other hand, forty years ago some people referred to the struggle for improvement as “The Movement”, which encompassed all of the big issues of the time, including civil rights, peace, equality, environment. The movement lives on.

    1. Iolaus

      While rehearsing the various failings of the Occupy movement, we would do well to recall that it was not the writings of Edmund Burke or John Adams that lit the fire of revolution last time around. It was Tom Paine’s “Common Sense.”

      Page Smith described “Common Sense” as “…a response, not to abstract formulations, but to the particular agonies and confusions of the historical moment. It is like the voice of a medium through whom pour all the resentments and all the aspirations of the voiceless. No scholar…however radical his politics, could have written “Common Sense.” Their class, their backgrounds, their education had made them too conventional in their language, too academic, too logical, to speak with such power or touch such common chords.”

      Paine’s political ideas were the same claptrap Libertarians spout now; but he reached people on the big issue, which was to smash forever the idea that King George III was a benevolent daddy. I don’t think Occupy has that focus yet, but with any luck its own Tom Paine will emerge, maybe even this year. (No, I’m not proposing any candidates.) And maybe–just maybe–we’ll reach a tipping point in the U.S. when enough of us will realize that there is no Benevolent Daddy to be had in the U.S. government anymore; that all three branches have betrayed our trust.

      And after that–I expect it will be frightening, like any major upheaval. I’d just as soon pass on a full-blown Civil War; you’ll recall that last time out we really slaughtered each other.

      1. SidFinster

        Whatever you may say about libertarianism now – the junking of feudal concepts such as being born into a station in life, the state church and the cooperation of throne and altar, the divine right of kings, popular sovereignty, the remnants of the guild system and state monopolies on trade –
        all of these were incredibly progressive, radical things at the time when Tom Paine was writing.

        Besides, the socialism that so many on NC think that they crave would not have been possible in 1780 – noone had the experience building the systematic and bureaucratic apparatus necessarily to support socialism on a large scale, any more than a factory in 1790 could have switched over to churn out AK-47 rifles and cartridges, even if someone gave James Watt the blueprints.

    2. nonclassical

      bushbama already described it-us; “the PROFESSIONAL LEFT”…

      bushbama’s problem is, “professionals” have an education-historical perspective capable of allowing their awareness of bushit…even when perpetrated by bushbama….

  2. Ray Duray

    Hi Lambert,

    I think this is a first for me. I scooped Naked Capitalism, in a good way: http://www.occupybend.org/news.php?759

    Thanks for posting this item, it’s really one of the best videos we’ve had about OWS in a while.

    This weekend, I’m helping to extend the Occupy brand to the most ridiculous neo-colonial occupation on the planet, with this item I’ve titled: “Say you are the 99%. Say you live in Kabul….”

    What can we expect or hope for from OWS this spring and summer? Don’t bother to read the U.S. media, they’re deaf, dumb and blind once again on the OWS issue. But the Guardian UK has a thoughtful item here about the groundwork being laid for a demonstrative political season ahead: http://www.occupybend.org/news.php?777

  3. Norman

    What a sad day this is, that the American media has chosen to turn its collective backs on its own citizens. They relie on the people to pay their salery’s, yet refuse to unite behind the movement! Al Jazeera, the only media outlet to give any air time in depth. I suppose the people are viewed as what Bush coined; “your either with us or against us”, the occupy viewed as being “against us”. What a shame for America.

    1. K Ackermann

      It’s been going on for some time now, Norman. Your B.S. detector should be emitting a shrill pitch whenever you encounter domestic lamestream media. It’s not called Faux News for nothing.

  4. What Winter

    ‘The Occupy Movement is not part of either corporate-dominated party and Van Jones is not our leader. It is corporate rule we oppose. The Obama administration and the Democrats as well as the Republicans maintain the rule of Wall Street. Occupiers have organized an independent movement that challenges the rule of the 1% and their Republican and Democratic lackeys. …Obama and the Democrats are part of the problem, not the solution.’

  5. Ned Ludd

    For me, the Occupy movement revealed the true face of Democratic politicians. I’ve long assumed that progressive Democrats elected to public office were genuine – albeit unreliable – allies for social justice. But in city after city, progressive mayors used force to crush political dissent.

    When progressive mayors saw their parks occupied by protesters, when banks were inconvenienced by non-violent direct action that sprung from these occupations, progressive mayors used brutal, militarized police force to crush these encampments so that commerce could continue unimpeded. As Dr. King wrote from his cell in Birmingham Jail, 49 years ago this month:

    I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.”

  6. Eureka Springs

    It’s not just Occupy which is (hopefully) planning and learning lessons. Department of Homeland Security just ordered up to 450 MILLION hollow point bullets. Nobody orders that many bullets unless they intend to do a lot of damage. And yet there has been hardly a peep about this.


    We need general strike among other things like boycotts and simple bullet lists of plans posted on every telephone pole/ yes demands that a vast majority can get behind.s… we need to start now… weather be damned. We need lots of encouragement and practice. I really don’t understand why we are waiting for May Day and have been for many months (in my case, years).

    1. Info Chores

      Duly noted – and thanks for the chilling link via RT. The Gov’mint also orders tons of meat, specifically ground beef for instituitonal and military use. No way is that meat just going to sit around without some of it being fried, placed between pieces of bread, and adorned with condiments prior to human consumption. Wake up men, women and children!

    2. different clue

      Will the Occupists wise up fast and think of something more creative to do than charge the hail of hollowpoint bullets? Or will the Occupists indulge themselves in Ritual Mass Suicide?

      I hope the Occupists think up ways to wage diffuse leaderless mass economic resistance. They might have to start studying up on things like “transition” and “powerdown” and “resilient communities” and “survivalism”. Can they make the conceptual leap?

      You can bring a ten ton elephant to the Washington Monument and have the elephant push on the monument until forever and it will not move. Or you can bring ten tons of moles and gophers to dig out all the soil from under one side of the Washington Monument until it finally falls over.
      (Metaphorically speaking, of course). Or you can bring ten thousand protesters to march around the Washington Monument screaming and chanting and waving their tiny little signs at it. It won’t listen to them. It can’t hear them. It don’t gots no ears, you dig?

      It will be interesting to see how the Occupists decide to see themselves and what choices they decide to make.

      1. Synopticist

        Occupy needs some intelligent, persuasive, coherent fully grown adults to take charge.
        It’s far too important a cause to be left to 22 year olds with dreadlocks.

        1. different clue

          With all due respect, it is the grown up adults who have conspired in the dark to engineer the situation which the 22 year olds (as well as the rest of us) now face.

          If the 22 year olds can find grown up adults with information and advice worthy of being studied, all the best to them. If they can’t, then they will have to grow up fast and become prematurely grown-up adults their own selves, without any help from the Rubinite Shitobamacrats or any other of the grown up adult conspirators who have, as I said, conspired to create the present situation.

          And if the 22 year olds end up following some crappy old pacifists over whatever “bearing witness” buffalo jump those crappy old pacifists choose to lead the 22 year olds over, then the 22 year olds will end up flunking their Darwin Exams. In which case, it will be up to the next group of future 22 year olds to climb the survival learning curve . . . if they can.

          1. different clue

            And I realize that it doesn’t go without saying, even though it should, that if the 22 year olds follow the Black Bloccers into whatever tar pit the Black Bloccers choose to guide them into, that would be another way for those 22 year olds to flunk their Darwin Exams.

        2. rjlaures

          I have to question your assertion that we need a fully grown adult to take charge. I think it would be more accurate to say that we all need to be adults and work co-operatively to make a just and peaceful. I have come to believe that my personal responsibility is for all things for all time because I see everything as connected. Although I would never presume to tell anyone that they to carry the same responsibilty I believe that each of us do, I can only hope that people will be able to reach the same conslusion in their own way, a way that makes sense to them.

      2. nonclassical

        Here’s what we suggested for Occupy Tacoma:

        Groups, to act-speak out, beginning with university venue..

        5 Person spokesmen-women groups, attired in early 1900’s clothing. At noon, “Wobbly soapbox” is mounted by one male, one female “Occupier”…each takes turns speaking on Wall $treet frauds…there are so many, they will never run out. While doing so, other 3 participants distribute one page literature on issue spoken. This literature should include documentation of Wall $treet fraud found here:


        Each “Wobbly” gets 10 minutes to speak-pairs get 20, switching back and forth, then dismount, allowing next pair. As last “Wobbly” mounts the stage, he-she invites crowd to “VOTE” on which one of others should join on soapbox for finale. Applause dictates.

        Last “Wobbly” is already attired in U.S. flag underwear, under “Wobbly” clothing.
        As last pair speak, literature is passed out till finale, whereby others undress two on soapbox, revealing U.S. flag underwear, while speaking of “NAKED TRUTH”. Go so far as “naked truth” dictates..

        This act-dialogue to take place again, after 1 hour recess-2 acts per venue. Should take around 3 hours total, and commitment of under 4 hours per group.

  7. John Merryman

    I have some issues with the occupy movement not taking some definite forms. Functionally it leaves it in perpetual childhood. We all want to stay in those happy days, where the range of possibilities are endless, but to actually progress, we do have to make decisions, distinctions and judgements that require taking some paths and foregoing others. That is what the summer and fall of life are about.
    I think the foundational issue isn’t simply that private banking interests have become a huge tumor on the rest of the economy, but that everyone treats and the banking industry encourages us to think of money as a commodity, of which endless amounts can be manufactured, by creating endless demand for it. I think that if we stand back and understand money is primarily a social contract, the natural selfishness of people would make everyone far more cautious about how much value is drained from resources and social relations to stick in a bank. This would mean society and the environment would become the major stores of value, not the banks and we would have a smaller, healthier and more sustainable monetary system, that would not be dependent on perpetual growth.
    Here is an essay I wrote on the subject:
    An essay in Al Jazeera that was in the NC links several days ago: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/04/20124395428374962.html#disqus_thread
    I have some disagreements with the premise of “debt free money,” because all money constitutes an obligation, but it’s going in the right direction.

    1. Benjamin

      I too agree with the need for an Occupy Manifesto, perhaps ghost written by staff at a leading newspaper, old school mimeographed with the original being tapped out upon an IBM selectric. Not since the US gave away the Panama Canal have the storm clouds of a coming thunderstorm illuminated the need for decisions needed to be made – At once!

        1. different clue

          Or, if they wish to become a long-term learning and growth and doing movement; they could set up a nationwide network of Occupy Reading Rooms, something like the Christian Science Reading Rooms of today. Each of those Reading Rooms could have a few hundred of the Very Scariest Books from among the 5,000 Scary Books from the Mother Library; plus whatever other Scary Books that each separate Reading Room Membership Circle cares to stock on site.

    2. Francois T

      “I have some issues with the occupy movement not taking some definite forms. Functionally it leaves it in perpetual childhood”

      How long did it take for what became the AFL-CIO to take form?

      Perpetual childhood??

      The Occupy movement is not even 2 years old!

      Patience Yong Jedi! Patience, you must learn!

  8. mk

    When will the world finally understand that an institution that has been raping children for 2,000 years really doesn’t have the interests of anyone or anything beyond their male members?

    1. John Merryman

      Keep in mind it was the polytheists who invented democracy. Having a theology where the gods argue probably facilitated a political system based on debate. On the other hand, monotheism has a history of validating monarchy. When there is just the Big Guy in charge up in heaven, it confirms the legitimacy of the Big Guy down here on earth.

      1. F. Beard

        On the other hand, monotheism has a history of validating monarchy. John Merryman

        Not true in the case of the Bible. The Lord warns the Hebrews what a king will do to them in 1 Samuel 8:1-18.


        Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, “No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” Now after Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the LORD’S hearing. The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice and appoint them a king.” So Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.” 1 Samuel 8:19-22 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

        Later, 1st and 2nd Kings is essentially “See what I warned you about?” since almost all Hebrew Kings were bad. Even the best of them seriously sinned.

        When there is just the Big Guy in charge up in heaven, it confirms the legitimacy of the Big Guy down here on earth. John Merryman

        In the Bible, God is a Triune Being – 3 Personalities with One Essence. This is strongly hinted at in the Old Testament, btw, though the New Testament is more explicit. Also, God the Father will judge no humans; that will be left to God the Son who is human Himself.

        1. John Merryman

          The problem with what Pope John Paul 2 described as the “All-knowing absolute” is that absolute, universal equilibrium, is conceptual basis, as in zero, not a singular entity. So a spiritual absolute would the essence from which we rise, not an ideal from which we fell.
          The connectedness part of spirituality gets reduced to a singular being, but such a concept implies both included and excluded, leading back to tribal gods, where mine is better than yours. Witness the various branches of monotheism and how they relate.
          The big conflict between Christianity and Islam seems to be how they relate to the concept of government. For its first 700 years, Islam was an incredibly successful political movement and coasted on that for the next 600. Christianity started out profoundly persecuted by authority and was eventually co-opted by an empire in decline. Shearing away many of its less cooperative adherents in order to do so. So there is a natural division between the social vision of Christianity and the civil management of society(church/state), that doesn’t really exist in Islam. We can’t understand why Islamic parties are as politically involved as they are and they can’t understand why we don’t see the connection.

          1. F. Beard

            The problem with what Pope John Paul 2 described as the “All-knowing absolute” … John Merryman

            God is NOT “All-knowing” as any reader of the Old Testament should know.

          2. different clue

            Did a declining empire co-opt Christianity? Or did a rising Christianity see a declining empire as ripe for conquest-from-within and a valuable tool for the forcible imposition and extension of Militant Christianism? Which way did it really happen?

          3. Synopticist

            Christianity was in no position to take over the empire before or without Constantine. However, Rome wasn’t the first Christian state in the ancient world. Georgia adopted Christianity a couple of decades before Rome did.

      2. nonclassical


        ancient Chinese Emperors often found entire prefect-city in full scale revolt. In order to retain order, it became common for trusted city representative to be designated to court, to advise of people’s needs.

        ..this might be considered an example of representative government-however,
        ruler had unchecked authority…

        within court there were several groups vying for power-influence-Confucians, Eunuchs, courtesans, military, wives-concubines with and for children..

  9. Susan the other

    Thanks for the video. I was good to see the dedication. I wish part of the Occupy platform was a demand for environmental-cleanup and clean energy jobs.

  10. backwardsevolution

    Create a large surplus of labour, offshore many jobs, keep people competing for a place to work, worried they may not have a job next year, and you have a recipe for people towing the line. They become thankful they at least still can pay their bills.

    Get the herd moving into debt (for houses, education, cars), debt they can barely afford. Again, they will tow the line. Their focus is on maintaining their job and paying their bills.

    They sympathize with Occupy, yet out of a fear of losing the “American Dream” they resist joining in. Until they are out of work, have lost their home, they will remain above Occupy.

    1. Glen

      Not disagreeing with you reasoning, yet amazingly, more of the people involve in OWS had jobs than those involved in the Teaparty movement. It could just be simple demographics, the TPers tended to be older, white, retired, perhaps drawing more government benefits whereas the OWS are younger and part of the generation being told there will be no government benefits for them.

      1. different clue

        They don’t have to be “inclusive” to be “real”. How many members of La Raza are non-Chicano? But is La Raza less than “real”?

        If any “blacktivists” think that Occupy has something useful to offer, they will probably set up their own “Blackupy” to avoid serving a “white man’s agenda”. Don’t think so? Let us wait, watch, and see.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Perhaps. But we don’t know ’til we try. That’s why it makes sense to experiment across Occupies, I think; there’s a good dataset of what works and what doesn’t.

      “They will tow the line.” Until they don’t. It’s not like the bills are getting any easier to pay. And justice and dignity count as well.

    3. Francois T

      Add to all that, the fear our government is willing and able (thanks to the unforgivable spinelessness and obedience of the Courts) to instill by lawlessly targeting legitimate dissent.

      Read the harrowing story of Laura Poitras, as related by none other than Glennzilla.

      This will make it clear that in the new Amerikan police-state, there is no such thing as “being above suspicion”.

    4. rjlaures

      As one who still has a job, and lives in fear of loosing it, I can not totally disagree with you. In my defence though I must say that my daughter needs braces now and my son is going to see a doctor this month to get glasses. Until we can build an alternative system that will fulfill these needs I am unwilling to have my chidrens needs go unmet in the short run even if it means supporting a system that will hurt them in the long run. I attend my local occupy meetings and become frustrated because most just want to protest rather than build an alternative system. Personally I would like to see participatory democracy in the political sphere, coopratives in the industrial sphere and a debt free monetary system. In short Democratic Politics, Democratic Industry and Democratic Money.

  11. Pickles for Occupy

    Note of Appreciation, from the Rich:

    ‘…Naturally, we try to play you off against each other whenever it suits our purposes: high-waged workers against low-waged, unionized against non-unionized, Black against White, male against female, American workers against Japanese against Mexican against…. We continually push your wages down by invoking “foreign competition,” “the law of supply and demand,” “national security,” or “the bloated federal deficit.” We throw you on the unemployed scrap heap if you step out of line or jeopardize our profits. And to give you an occasional break from the monotony of our daily economic blackmail, we allow you to participate in our stage-managed electoral shell games, better known to you ordinary folks as “elections.” Happily, you haven’t a clue as to what’s really happening — instead, you blame “Aliens,” “Tree-hugging Environmentalists,” “Ni##ers,” “Jews,” Welfare Queens,” and countless others for your troubled situation. ‘

  12. MontanaMaven

    Addressing the problem of usury and the being held hostage to banks seems at the heart of the mess we are in. And yes, the law that changed how much banks could charge interest happened in the Carter administration with a Democratic congress. Debt makes servants of us all. Student debt should be forgiven. Period. Education should be free. For profit education makes us obedient and too frightened to question the status quo. Now we find out that the only good jobs will be in Homeland Security. Everyone will work for either Wal-Mart or Big Brother.

    6. Coopt the classroom and the laboratory

    At a time when entire departments and disciplines are facing the chopping block at America’s universities, the Department of Homeland Security has proven to be the best-funded department of all. Homeland security studies has become a major growth sector in higher education and now has more than 340 certificate- and degree-granting programs. Many colleges have joined the Homeland Security and Defense Education Consortium, a spinoff of the U.S. Northern Command (the Department of Defense’s “homeland defense” division), which offers a model curriculum to its members.

    And,yes, I’m done with rallies and carrying signs.

    1. Spelling Errors

      Excellent, you’ll be carrying or wearing your ID when on Fatherland Security premises. Besides, the visuals of generally overweight white folks dressed like Benjamin Franklin, prancing about urging frugality was terrifying. When American Mammon determines that their own engorgement is threatened they’ll resort to ridculous spectacle and pompous distraction.


    “everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.”



    Also, to further underline the issue of the day is the issue of the Era:


    “John Bellers, a Quaker “philanthropist” and economic thinker saw independent peasants as a hindrance to his plan of forcing poor people into prison-factories, where they would live, work and produce a profit of 45% for aristocratic owners:

    “Our Forests and great Commons (make the Poor that are upon them too much like the Indians) being a hindrance to Industry, and are Nurseries of Idleness and Insolence.”

    Daniel Defoe, the novelist and trader, noted that in the Scottish Highlands “people were extremely well furnished with provisions. … venison exceedingly plentiful, and at all seasons, young or old, which they kill with their guns whenever they find it.’’

    To Thomas Pennant, a botanist, this self-sufficiency was ruining a perfectly good peasant population:

    “The manners of the native Highlanders may be expressed in these words: indolent to a high degree, unless roused to war, or any animating amusement.”

    If having a full belly and productive land was the problem, then the solution to whipping these lazy bums into shape was obvious: kick ‘em off the land and let em starve.

    Arthor Young, a popular writer and economic thinker respected by John Stuart Mill, wrote in 1771: “everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” Sir William Temple, a politician and Jonathan Swift’s boss, agreed, and suggested that food be taxed as much as possible to prevent the working class from a life of “sloth and debauchery.”


    1. F. Beard

      “everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” Arthor Young via Paul Tixon

      That is outrageous to American ears. In the US we like to think that poverty is deserved but to hear that some would inflict it AS DELIBERATE POLICY makes one long for a Hell to throw such scum in.

      Also, didn’t John Calvin, that defender of usury, say something similar?

      1. F. Beard

        Ah, here it is from Max Weber:

        “Calvin himself had made the much-quoted statement that only when the people, i.e. the mass of laborers and craftsmen, were poor did they remain obedient to God. 103 In the Netherlands (Pieter de la Court and others), that had been secularized to the effect that the mass of men only labor when necessity forces them to do so. This formulation of a leading idea of capitalistic economy later entered into the current theories of the productivity of low wages. Here also, with the dying out of the religious root, the utilitarian interpretation crept in unnoticed, in the line of development which we have again and again observed.” from http://pages.uoregon.edu/kimball/Wbr%20Protestant.Eth.ch5.htm

        1. Moran Eve

          Michael Harrington’s The Other America as described by B Ehrenreich:

          “The Other America also offered a view of poverty that seemed designed to comfort the already comfortable…“We” — the always presumptively affluent readers — needed to find some way to help the poor, but we also needed to understand that there was something wrong with them, something that could not be cured by a straightforward redistribution of wealth. Think of the earnest liberal who encounters a panhandler, is moved to pity by the man’s obvious destitution, but refrains from offering a quarter — since the hobo might, after all, spend the money on booze. “

          1. F. Beard

            — since the hobo might, after all, spend the money on booze. “ Moran Eve

            Biblical ignorance strikes again:

            Give strong drink to him who is perishing,
            And wine to him whose life is bitter.
            Let him drink and forget his poverty
            And remember his trouble no more.

            Open your mouth for the mute,
            For the rights of all the unfortunate.
            Open your mouth, judge righteously,
            And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.
            Proverbs 31:6-9 New American Standard Bible (NASB) [bold added]

          2. Moran Eve

            Beard, that’s a bit fundamentalist and evangelical of you, mmm? Literally, drinking in excess is toxic. The context of Barbara’s writing suggests that negative, preconceived judgements and common disregard, or prejudice, prevent the poor from what they (and you and I) need.

          3. F. Beard

            that’s a bit fundamentalist and evangelical of you, mmm? Moran Eve

            If only! Instead many “fundamentalists” (particularly the Baptists) go to enormous lengths to claim the wine in Scripture is mere grape juice!

            Literally, drinking in excess is toxic. Moran Eve

            The Bible says what it says. Yes, extreme drunkenness is discouraged but drinking for the relief of misery and even pleasure is not:

            “To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’ For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon!’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” Luke 7:31-35 [bold added] New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    2. JTFaraday

      Form the comments:


      “Marx’s section in Das Kapital “So-Called Primitive Accumulation” is some of his best work. Calling it a ‘grim irony’, Marx explained with disgust how, after kicking people off their land (via the Enclosure laws, etc.), the state then passed additional ‘bloody legislation’ to punish this very same set for becoming ‘beggars, robbers and vagabonds’ as if they were not the state’s own creation, and as if the state could possibly be unaware of any correlation.”



      “The public doesn’t care when a cop cracks open a wailing hippie. A silent disciplined suit wearer? Totally different story.”

      pfft. Yeah, that always works for me.

  14. Gareth

    If you want to know what is going start happening this summer google the term: “99% spring training”. Hint: the Labor movement is in the process of transforming itself into a social movment.

  15. Moran Eve

    How many years before Mike Wallace did 60-Minutes die? –

    ‘In the North, they are frugal and efficient, in the South, they don’t worry about work so much’

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