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Education and retaliation in OWS

2011 October 29
by Ian Welsh

Notice something: Oakland is where the Occupy movement voted to try a general strike of sorts.  Since the Longshoreman’s union is onside, this will have an effect.

Oakland is also where the worst police brutality has occurred, and it began before the vote on the general strike.

The police and mayor are fools.  By committing atrocities, they are forcing people to engage in effective action.  They are forcing the protestors to strike back and do something which will actually hurt the powerful.

But the police and mayor are also doing the necessary work of educating people.  These folks would not believe those of us who told them that simple peaceful protest would not accomplish anything.  Only the police, and a Democratic mayor whose resume is that of a DFH, could convince them of that.

I have said little about OWS, because there is little to say.  OWS is necessary.  People needed to try for peaceful redress, to make an attempt to convince elites to do the right thing, and see the response of the elites.  The response was foreordained, but you can’t tell anyone anything, so they have to learn at the end of a nightstick, or while suffering from tear gas or pepper spray, or while being forced away from helping a critically injured man.

This will continue to play out, as it must.  It is necessary and insufficient, but it will produce the cadre of radicals who will go on to the next steps.

69 Responses
  1. Celsius 233 permalink
    October 29, 2011

    The response was foreordained, but you can’t tell anyone anything, so they have to learn at the end of a nightstick, or while suffering from tear gas or pepper spray, or while being forced away from helping a critically injured man.

    This will continue to play out, as it must. It is necessary and insufficient, but it will produce the cadre of radicals who will go on to the next steps.
    ===========================
    Spot on, Ian. EOM.

  2. October 29, 2011

    I hope they don’t go for a general strike yet. I don’t see how they can win one, and it would give the administration a reason to break out the Taft-Hartley hammer, which would make matters far worse.

  3. Itsdamncold permalink
    October 29, 2011

    They spent 2 million dollars on that fucking operation Ian. 2 million dollars completely wasted that could have gone to a million better uses. Oakland can’t even afford to have their cops respond to burglaries. The whole system needs to be shut down and punishments dealt.

  4. October 30, 2011

    The Raven PERMALINK
    October 29, 2011
    I hope they don’t go for a general strike yet. I don’t see how they can win one, and it would give the administration a reason to break out the Taft-Hartley hammer, which would make matters far worse.
    ***************************
    I don’t know about that. I’m not sure what “winning” a general strike would look like, but if the asswipe in cheif breaks out TH, I think that would be about as edumacational as we could hope for. Folks might start to wake up to the fact of who Obama & Reid are and how few freedoms and how little power the working classes have in this country. When is the right time for TH?

    I’m not personally involved in Occupy, but I am getting the sense that things need to move on. I don’t even know what OWS is supposed to accomplish, but somebody needs to do *something* about the pervasive and largely legalized corruption in this country, so I approve, and I approve of the next step, whatever that is.

    Our local Occupy Portland seems to be at least half homeless folks with no political agenda. Of course the fact that we have so many homeless here, and so many of them are young, is a political powder keg that no one in DC seems to have given the least thought to. Being middle aged sucks, but whenever I start wishing I were younger, I thank god I was lucky enough to be young in a better time. I may still get robbed of my golden years by the katfoud kommissars, but I wasn’t that excited about getting old to begin with.

  5. October 30, 2011

    Being middle aged sucks, but whenever I start wishing I were younger, I thank god I was lucky enough to be young in a better time

    Amen, bro. Crap, if you were a poor or lower middle class kid you could graduate from a state college with *no* debt back in my day, ’cause Pell Grants would cover not only tuition, but textbooks too! Nowadays you can’t buy *one* textbook for the pittance that Pell Grants offer, you’re expected to run up $40K+ in student loan debt just to get a worthless degree that ain’t gonna get any job more remunerative than “will there be fries with that order, sir?” ’cause the corporations ain’t hirin’ Americans, nosirree, ’cause they can hire Indians or Mexicans for $7.25 per DAY, not $7.25 per HOUR, not that minimum wage will repay student loans anyways.

    Nowadays… well. Today’s young people are well and truly fscked. And the oligarchs think this is gonna turn out well? Short of turning the USA into the sort of police state that even older folks will start getting alarmed by, I don’t see how this is going to turn out well. But our cold-blooded lizard people overlords from planet Sociopath apparently think that if they just kill and consume enough of our young people, the remaining young people will stay pacified… hrm. Methinks our lizard overlords don’t have a clue as to how actual real human beings work. Just sayin’.

  6. October 30, 2011

    “I hope they don’t go for a general strike yet. I don’t see how they can win one”

    One word: Poland. This talk of a general strike is the first thing that has given me a glimmer of hope that this thing might actually work.

  7. October 30, 2011

    A general strike in Oakland would be met with action from the Federal government, which has enormous resources, and it would likely go on to broader anti-labor action. A general strike is a win-or-lose bet on the whole game, and if you aren’t sure you have the cards, better not to place the bet.

    People, people–don’t be tempted to shoot before they’re in range.

  8. Senescent permalink
    October 30, 2011

    The Longshoremen, if I’m told correctly, are the most communist and militant union of size in America, resisting purges and concessions with the credible threat to close all the Pacific ports and keep them closed. They’re cited as one of the reasons LA eclipsed SF in the 20th century – they were such a strong influence on bay area labor culture that capital picked up and moved to nonunion LA.

  9. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    October 30, 2011

    @ The Raven

    The movie was probably before your time so you wouldn’t recall “The Mouse That Roared”

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

    the premise being (see Plot summary), to achieve one’s needs (economic aid), one must do something (declare war) against power (the U.S.), and loose (avoiding black swans at all cost).

    If it works in the movie …

    ;)

  10. Celsius 233 permalink
    October 30, 2011

    Formerly T-Bear PERMALINK
    October 30, 2011
    @ The Raven
    The movie was probably before your time so you wouldn’t recall “The Mouse That Roared”
    ============================
    Now that gave me a genuine chuckle; I do indeed have that movie and not only that, I watched it in the last 18 mos.
    Oh, woulds’t it be so…

  11. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    October 30, 2011

    @ 233ºC

    It is probably “transference” (or a gift of dyslexic memory) but the version encoded in my memory has Peter Ustinov in it as well (probably saw something with P. Ustinov about the same time). The memory is a gem none-the-less, outshines the original by light years; category of things that might have been. I have to make for dead certain when relying solely on accumulated memories.

    In the same time frame I have Stephen Potter’s works of Gamesmanship and One-upmanship FWIW. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-upmanship (with links).

  12. BDBlue permalink
    October 30, 2011

    Today, it’s Denver (Dem Mayor and Governor and the Governor is involved because OWS is on the grounds of the State Capitol). And while it’s just conjecture on his part, I think Richard Kline is right about the Dems taking the lead in trying to crush OWS and the reasons for it. Although given Obama’s preferred MO, which includes never taking responsibility for anything, I’m sure he’d rather the State and local leaders take the lead. I’m not sure what I think about a general strike now, but it could, depending on how it goes, call his bluff and force him to do something at the federal level. They’ve been loathe to do that, which is why Stop the Machine got a four month camping permit in Freedom Plaza in DC – it’s the US Park Police that would have to clear that plaza.

  13. October 30, 2011

    “A general strike in Oakland would be met with action from the Federal government, which has enormous resources, and it would likely go on to broader anti-labor action.”

    Like government isn’t already in anti-labor mode? Federal action would also be a huge risk for the government, which is considerably less popular than labor right now, and would be seen as intervening on behalf of the 1%. A general strike could rejuvenate labor and make the government’s current 9% popularity a fond memory.

    “A general strike is a win-or-lose bet on the whole game, and if you aren’t sure you have the cards, better not to place the bet.”

    You bet everything when you have a sure win, as you suggest, or when you have nothing to lose, which is the position the American people find themselves in at this moment in history. If we aren’t there yet, we are so clearly on the way to that place that we may as well be there.

  14. alyosha permalink
    October 30, 2011

    I think we’re a long ways off before a general strike has any hope of succeeding, but it’s good that it’s being discussed. OWS or its successors has to make sense to the averge person who presently barely knows OWS is going on, before a strike has any chance of being seen as other than an annoying inconvenience by the masses. In other words, we’re quite a ways from getting to critical mass.

    This will continue to play out, as it must. It is necessary and insufficient, but it will produce the cadre of radicals who will go on to the next steps.

    It’s the long game that’s most interesting. It’s going to take some time to get to critical mass.

    Being middle aged sucks, but whenever I start wishing I were younger, I thank god I was lucky enough to be young in a better time

    Whenever I get caught up in the “why me?” travails of this particular lifetime, I am reminded of the incredibly good karma I must have had in managing to have been raised in a fabulously better time.

  15. October 30, 2011

    Great points, Bill H. I hope they strike too … even if they don’t win it is a step in the right direction and a move that could cause a reaction that benefits the overall movement. I don’t agree with Raven that a strike is a win-or-lose bet on the whole game … I think that’s preposterous.

    In addition to New York and Oakland becoming focal points in the protests, Chicago is another very important focal point, There’s not a mayor in this country that has more responsibility for where we are at in this country than Chicago’s. And their high living lowlife mayor emanuel is doing his best to deny the protestors a foothold partially becoz it will also be the site of the simultaneous gatherings of nato and the g-8 in May of next year. Not to mention it is also obama’s adopted hometown and where his political machine was born.

    Z

  16. Ian Welsh permalink*
    October 30, 2011

    Not at all. Again, a general strike being crushed by federal violence is absolutely fine. Absolutely. That will radicalize even more people, and that is what is necessary.

    And you can do it again, once you’ve learned.

    The west coast longshoreman are very ideological. The east cost ones are very corrupt. Neither group are pansy-asses. The two most hardcore unions in the country that I am aware of are the Longshoremen and the California Nurses Union.

  17. Sundogged permalink
    October 30, 2011

    @ Formerly T-Bear

    The female lead in The Mouse That Roared was Jean Seburg, an active supporter of the NAACP, Native American causes, and the Black Panther Party. Wikipedia reports that biographers claim that the FBI drove her to suicide.

  18. Marsha permalink
    October 30, 2011

    Fake activism versus the real McCoy…you have to disrupt something. Marching with a permit is not protesting. At least give Occupy some credit for “occupying” – and taking the heat for it.

    Now as a next step…..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=urh4GA6JmPg

  19. Mike Knezevich permalink
    October 30, 2011

    You’ll recall that there was a lot of discussion earlier this year about a general strike in Wisonsin. It never went beyond talking, though. I thought that would have been a good time for a general strike, since the labor movement was mobilized already.

  20. someofparts permalink
    October 30, 2011

    Sounds like the unions and OWS are increasingly working together. I’m encouraged.

  21. Celsius 233 permalink
    October 30, 2011

    Well, between the asshole Pat Buchannon;

    http://tinyurl.com/3bgcylv

    And the neo-fascisti republicans;

    http://tinyurl.com/3hhrplh

    Ian has pretty well nailed it;
    “They” don’t care!
    The hubris and contempt are palpable and telling; there’s going to be an education all around and I hope the morally bankrupt bastards go down hard, very hard!
    The real pain is yet to come; we ain’t seen nothing yet…
    Sorry; I’m sounding like Ian; but he’s right damn it!

  22. S Brennan permalink
    October 30, 2011

    Ian,

    Love you like a brother…and all that, but this post was overly harsh…these are kids…trying to change the world for the better…marching into a sociological landscape bereft of current examples.

    And one more time Ian, they are still kids and they are fighting for us all.

  23. jcapan permalink
    October 30, 2011

    Not directed at Ian, but this Chris Floyd post is worth the time:

    http://www.chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/1-latest-news/2175-a-personal-opinion-i-dont-get-it.html

  24. Ian Welsh permalink*
    October 31, 2011

    S. Brennan, I’m glad they’re at it too. And the post is an observation that the harshest crackdown is producing the most likely to be effective action, and that crackdowns will produce a radical cadre, which is what is needed.

    This is primarily an analytical post, sure there’s a bit of harshness in it, but that’s because it saddens me it is necessary for people to get their faces beaten in to understand that petitioning the powers that be won’t work.

    This is going to play out for some time to come.

  25. October 31, 2011

    @jcapan: Floyd echoes my sentiments exactly in tht post, especially this:

    I’m glad to see sparks and glimmers and partial, provisional expressions of some of my own most deeply held principles showing up here and there on the streets of the world.

  26. Towner permalink
    October 31, 2011

    I want to weigh in on this simply with a recommendation to listen to Doug Henwood’s latest show with the sociologist Alex Vitale on the cops and journalist Sarah Jaffe on OWS. You can stream or download the podcast here. http://www.leftbusinessobserver.com/Radio.html.

    Both interviews, taken together, really support Ian’s message above about education. Not only do these hard handed police actions increase opportunities for greater ideological radicalization to take place, but also, with every encounter, activists become less fearful (points from the interviews) in the face of police terror. I suppose these go hand in hand, but not necessarily so.

    @jcapan,
    Thanks for the Chris Floyd link. I think this piece by David Harvey will be of equal interest.

    http://davidharvey.org/2011/10/rebels-on-the-street-the-party-of-wall-street-meets-its-nemesis/

    Finally, I stumbled across some interesting links with good general overviews about the Oakland general strike of 46. Fascinating to learn that it began in solidarity with striking female retail workers.

    http://flyingpicket.org/node/27

  27. someofparts permalink
    October 31, 2011

    On the topic of radical cadres, we have a geezer version of that in Atlanta. The folks who worked together on voting rights when they were young have remained in town and kept parts of this city civilized even during the darkest decades of right wing hegemony. They have been raising children and growing old since those earlier days of activism, but have continued to push the city in progressive directions over their lifespans.

  28. October 31, 2011

    If you want to stop a bully you have to show him that you’re willing to take a beating.

  29. par4 permalink
    October 31, 2011

    @Susan of Texas: You have to fight back.

  30. tom allen permalink
    October 31, 2011

    Speaking of general strikes, I’ve seen little discussion so far about what would seem to be an obvious tactic in alliance with #OWS, namely an internet strike.

    I would think that enough of the financial system is dependent on the Internet that a threat by its providers to shut the whole thing down could produce some concessions.

    One person pulling the plug on his or her connection might not do anything much, but pulling the plug on an entire industry, an entire economy, until the 99% are given a second chance to make a go of things, might work.

  31. October 31, 2011

    I would think that enough of the financial system is dependent on the Internet that a threat by its providers to shut the whole thing down could produce some concessions.

    No, that’s not correct. They are not dependent on the Internet. You might be thinking “Amazon” but that’s not the model. Large scale banking and trading are done through secure private computer networks. IBanking and M&A are negotiated legal deals.

    While they all have websites, they are mostly for promotional purposes. They also generally offer portals for clients to conduct transactions as a service issue but there not any client transactions that couldn’t be done offline as they were all before and still are to a large degree. The only type of firms your proposal might affect would be the E Trade type firms where the clients conduct all their transactions through a portal. Even then, clients could probably call in the trades as they do when “E Trade” is down.

  32. October 31, 2011

    @Towner: Great links! Thanks!

  33. October 31, 2011

    @tom allen – Yikes. Well I hope, to my satisfaction, that that particular action will have no traction. /thereverand

  34. willf permalink
    October 31, 2011

    If you want to stop a bully you have to show him that you’re willing to take a beating.

    Susan of Texas, if you want to stop a bully, you have to show them that, even though you may get a beating, the bully will limp away with a broken nose and possibly worse. Bullies love to pick on people who can show that they can take a beating. They don’t like picking on people who fight back.

  35. willf permalink
    October 31, 2011

    Of course, I’m not sure that treating the cops like a neighborhood bully is the way to go.

    Ian Welsh suggests that having nonviolent protestors go through the brutal treatment is good for movement building, good for recruiting. Isn’t this part of what MacAdam called “the critical dynamic”?

    Of course MacAdam was writing about the civil rights movement. The press today is corporate-owned to a degree not seen in the late 60s and 70s. But apparently as long as the pictures and film from Oakland can be publicized initially on the web, they’ll still get play from the media, and the critical dynamic can still come into play.

  36. Ian Welsh permalink*
    October 31, 2011

    The media dynamic is not helping, particularly. Ordinary folks think, for example, that OWS is violent. (Hahahahahahaha. Ha.) The people who are being educated are the people getting the beatings and, to a lesser extent, their support network. The media cut off their live feeds just before the cops attacked protestors at Oakland, for example. (This, in itself, helps radicalize people, as they realize that they can’t play the media game and win.)

    Numbers vary for how much support an alternative requires in the face of serious state repression, but it is certainly not more than 20% of the population (mind you, by support, we don’t mean “I support OWS” on a poll, but real support.)

    The civil rights movement was dealing with an elite whose members, while generally racist, were ashamed of their racism. Modern elites have been selected, in large part, for sociopathy, they are not ashamed to eat like pigs while making others starve, to the contrary, they are proud of it. There are some exceptions, of course, but they are not significant.

  37. October 31, 2011

    NYC Law Enforcement Moving Aggressive Park Dwellers Into Occupy Wall Street Site

    http://news.firedoglake.com/2011/10/31/nyc-law-enforcement-moving-aggressive-park-dwellers-into-occupy-wall-street-site/

    Z

  38. November 1, 2011

    I think the most effective thing they could do would be to get in their cars and drive around Manhattan/DC/LA/SF aimlessly. I remember the farmers did something like that in DC back under Carter. Got on the beltway and a few other places with their tractors, and the city was paralized.

    And it could be totally anonymous, so they wouldn’t even know who to arrest. I imagine a few thousand extra cars driving around at 10 miles/hr in Manhattan or DC for a couple of hours would really piss the limousine riding crowd off. And at a certain point things get so snarled that you wouldn’t even need the protestors. Most big cities are so close to capacity on traffic, I can’t imagine it would take much to precipitate gridlock.

  39. November 1, 2011

    I think the most effective thing they could do would be to get in their cars and drive around Manhattan/DC/LA/SF aimlessly. I remember the farmers did something like that in DC back under Carter. Got on the beltway and a few other places with their tractors, and the city was paralyzed.

    And it could be totally anonymous, so they wouldn’t even know who to arrest. I imagine a few thousand extra cars driving around at 10 miles/hr in Manhattan or DC for a couple of hours would really piss the limousine riding crowd off. And at a certain point things get so snarled that you wouldn’t even need the protestors. Most big cities are so close to capacity on traffic, I can’t imagine it would take much to precipitate gridlock.

  40. Celsius 233 permalink
    November 1, 2011

    Just musing here; what ever happened to boycotting? I’ve been boycotting for years; I don’t do business with banks (I use a credit union), I don’t knowingly buy any food products from China (toxicity issues), I buy nothing made in Israel, I have no credit cards, I shop local about 95+%, and rarely drive anymore.
    This is a (apparently) forgotten but effective tactic and while it’s self satisfying, without numbers it’s effectiveness is questionable.
    It seems with growing numbers(?) the “Occupy” movement might want to employ this (boycotting) as a non-violent means to an end.
    As a consumerist society, boycotting could be a very powerful tool; but only as a unified movement.
    The more fronts that can be effected the better.
    It would also not give the police anything to do or anywhere to go.
    You gotta get these bastards where they live; their pockets.

  41. Celsius 233 permalink
    November 1, 2011

    Arg! “The more fronts that can be effected the better.” Make that affected please. :(

  42. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    November 1, 2011

    From (William) Strunk and (E.B.) White “The Elements of Style” (3rd Edition) comes:

    Effect. As a noun, means “result”; as a verb, means “to bring about”,”to accomplish” (not to be confused with affect“, which means “to influence”).

    Looks like it could go either way; ambiguity does that. ;)

  43. Celsius 233 permalink
    November 1, 2011

    Formerly T-Bear PERMALINK
    November 1, 2011
    From (William) Strunk and (E.B.) White “The Elements of Style” (3rd Edition) comes:
    “Effect. As a noun, means “result”; as a verb, means “to bring about”,”to accomplish” (not to be confused with affect“, which means “to influence”).
    Looks like it could go either way; ambiguity does that.
    ========================
    Heh heh, thank goodness for that… Cheers.

  44. Celsius 233 permalink
    November 1, 2011

    I also blew it on it’s/its; got one right and one wrong. Not being anal; as a writer, it chaps my butt to screw that up. Cheers.

  45. Lisa Simeone permalink
    November 1, 2011

    Sorry, haven’t been able to read all the comments. Move Our Money Day is November 5th (don’t ask me why it’s a Saturday, I have no idea — makes no sense to me — most banks are closed on Saturdays). Boycotts, strikes, and other economic tools are all in the works. It takes time to organize this stuff. It doesn’t just happen overnight.

    Also, for one policeman’s take, please see: http://www.occupypolice.org/?page_id=285

  46. Lisa Simeone permalink
    November 1, 2011

    Also, police in Albany — right under Gov. Cuomo’s nose — refused to enforce the curfew and arrest the occupiers for breaking it.

  47. tom allen permalink
    November 1, 2011

    @ks I guess that’s pretty much my point. I know financial firms aren’t dependent on the internet, though it certainly makes things easier for them. Likewise, shipping and routing can be done over the phone, inefficient and old-fashioned and ’70s as that is. But they are dependent on IT folks. Sure, you can switch to internal machines; can you get people who know what they’re doing to work them?

    LOL. I just realized what I’m suggesting. Instead of a secessio plebis we should have a secessio internet.

  48. Formerly T-Bear permalink
    November 1, 2011

    @ Celsius 233

    The canary of the knowledgable writing mine(field) for myself is: there, their, they’re. If the person writing cannot get or guess those correctly, nothing else they have to say is worth the waste of time to read. The its/it’s can all too often be the result of either typos or synaptic malfunction leading to distraction from reading the material at hand. But it is pure ignorance that transpose those to, two, and too homophones.

    As for SMS genre of correspondence; once on the slippery slope it is not surprising twittering is done by twits (and we are talking a generational chasm here of galactic proportions, which is acceptable).

    Returning to posted subject, once education was done in schools, colleges and universities what wasn’t done through apprenticeship and autodidactic study. Sorrily education has become “hands on” school of hard knocks, the “enforcers” have become the teachers and the streets the classroom. Those who will graduate from these lessons will have a diploma in street smarts, for whatever benefit it will bring them. The question remains, will it be enough to handle, direct and exercise control over power, or will street smarts be a failure as was its earlier academic predecessor. Only time will reveal that answer. Patience grasshopper!

  49. November 1, 2011

    @tom allen, not only are they not dependent on the internet. It is largely irrelevant to their business. As I said earlier, it’s mostly a promotional and customer service tool for them. Shutting down the NYSE website will not stop one second of trading on the NYSE itself. A couple of weeks ago BofA had significant website outages and it didn’t affect their business aside from the temporary customer service issue. You can’t “Wikileaks” them. The type of computerized trading we are talking about is not internet based and has been around since the mid to lates 80s which probably predates most ISPs. I mean after all, would you trust trillions of dollars in transactions to an Internet Service Provider rather than your existing secure systems?

    Sure they need IT staff and they have them all over the world. I doubt it would be a problem for them to get however many they needed for whatever purpose.

  50. November 1, 2011

    These folks would not believe those of us who told them that simple peaceful protest would not accomplish anything. Only the police, and a Democratic mayor whose resume is that of a DFH, could convince them of that.

    Umm… Bay Radical is one of many resources that might give your readers a clue to just who is teaching whom…

    Oakland is the only place I have experienced the joys of tear gas.

    In my view, this General Strike is a test of support for the Movement. If it turns out to be as widespread as some people seem to think it is — which would mean tens of thousands in the streets of Oakland and walkouts all over the Bay and California if not farther afield — then the Movement is goosed to the next level.

    Already Oakland is the Energy Center.

    We’ll find out tomorrow how much farther it may go, what direction it may be taking, and how enduring it’s likely to be.

  51. November 1, 2011

    ” I’m not sure what “winning” a general strike would look like, but if the asswipe in cheif breaks out TH, I think that would be about as educational as we could hope for”

    I think that would be awesome.

  52. November 1, 2011

    “From (William) Strunk and (E.B.) White “The Elements of Style””

    Next week: “accept” and “except”.

  53. Celsius 233 permalink
    November 1, 2011

    @ Formerly T-Bear PERMALINK
    November 1, 2011
    @ Celsius 233
    As for SMS genre of correspondence; once on the slippery slope it is not surprising twittering is done by twits (and we are talking a generational chasm here of galactic proportions, which is acceptable).
    ==========================
    Indeed; they’re ruining their future ability at effective communication.
    Appreciate your input and humor.
    It appears Greece may go the route of Iceland (please, please make it so) which may put a whole new spin on the occupy movement.
    To say the future is in flux is an understatement and the learning curve now requires crampons and pitons well placed. Cheers. ;)

  54. November 2, 2011

    “The its/it’s can all too often be the result of either typos or synaptic malfunction leading to distraction from reading the material at hand. But it is pure ignorance that transpose those to, two, and too homophones.”

    That is a completely arbitrary distinction. I am well aware of the to/too/two, their/there/they’re, won/one differences, but my fingers type phonetically and it’s purely luck if they get them right or not. They are all dirt common words that you type many, many times a day, so many times it’s just impossible to check yourself every time.

    On the other hand, when people type “affect” when they mean “effect” or vice versa (Ian does it all the time), that just jumps out at me. And usually it’s not just a typing mistake, because they use them wrong when they speak, too. Actually, those two words seem to be used wrong more often than they are used right (mostly as verbs, but the noun forms get mixed up too), which may be why so few understand the difference (which is not the least bit ambiguous to me).

    My rule for confused word pairs is if you can’t remember which is which, just don’t use either one. English is rich in synonyms, it’s not like there are no alternatives. It’s bad enough to use big, fancy words or phrases the wrong way, but when you get everyday words wrong, that always makes a very bad impression.

  55. Celsius 233 permalink
    November 2, 2011

    ^ I hate continuing this, as it’s off topic, but feel compelled to say this; we’re not all blessed with writing skills of a grammatically correct nature, so I feel the content is, in the end, what’s most important.
    That one’s writing/speaking communicates the point effectively, is what it’s all about.
    The line in the movie Deliverance, delivered by the old hillbilly after being made fun of when he was dancing to the dueling guitar/banjo playing, articulated the situation perfectly; “You don’t know nothin!” And it was so true.

    Elsewhere; the chaos begins; Greece may start a wildfire and bring the whole thing down.
    And I don’t even know what that will mean…

  56. Dagoril permalink
    November 2, 2011

    @Lisa

    November 5 is Guy Fawkes Day. An homage no doubt to V For Vendetta and Anonymous. A flyer I got for the bank transfer day has the mask from the movie on it.

  57. Lisa Simeone permalink
    November 2, 2011

    Dagoril,

    I appreciate the symbolism, but how are people actually going to move their money if banks are closed? That’s what I don’t understand.

    By the way, in addition to “Occupied Wall Street Journal,” there’s now also an “Occupied Washington Post” (attachment at this link):

    http://october2011.org/pages/occupied-washington-post

  58. November 2, 2011

    I left an answer of sorts at my place. The executive summary is that, regardless of whether one approves of more aggressive protests or not, waving signs at one’s tormentors has to be the first step.

  59. November 2, 2011

    Willf, you are assuming that the bully’s nose will be broken, not the person being bullied. We have to be willing to take a beating when we fight back. They are stronger than us and we are going to get hurt when they decide it’s time to slap us down for good.

  60. November 2, 2011

    They are stronger than us

    No. No, they’re not.

  61. Towner permalink
    November 3, 2011

    and an Occupied Oakland Tribune:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/71210851/OOT

  62. November 3, 2011

    They are stronger than us

    No. No, they’re not.

    If you mean the indomitable human spirit etc etc, you’re right. If you mean laws, police and guns, not so much. If we say that they are not stronger than us, that numbers and being in the right will lead to our inevitable success, we would be making a mistake. We didn’t just happen to find ourselves in this position; the elite exercised their power over us and won. We lost. We didn’t have enough money or power or people to fight them, and most people didn’t even acknowledge that a fight was going on. And the majority of people are authoritarian and won’t fight back at all.

    Let’s say we get rid of these leaders who are opressing us. We still need oil. We’re still surrounded by global corporations. Our military is still spread all over the world. What then?

  63. November 3, 2011

    Susan, thanks. I like to dialogue with thoughtful people, and you strike me as thoughtful.

    I had to smile at “If you mean the indomitable human spirit… you’re right.” That would be a pretty big point right there for me, but I’ll proceed to the rest of your comment.

    No, we didn’t just happen to find ourselves in this position – I’ve always contended that we were mutually responsible with the “elite.” But how this happened had nothing to do with exercising power over us and winning. We were never fighting them at all. The majority of Americans – while this is a global situation, Americans are definitely the vanguard of the problem populations – bought into the idea that we, too, could be successful greedheads, too. We looked up to these people, and willingly made the Faustian bargain to kick those below us* even as we were being kicked, ever hoping, individually, to break into that club of “winners.”

    So I would say that there is no getting rid of “leaders” who oppress us – just the simple change of mindset from individual ambition to a more intelligent stance of collective recognition of mutual responsibility would pretty much fill the bill. And I think that is what I see happening as the subtext – actually, no, the explicit meaning – of the OWS movements.

    (We don’t “need” oil. We’re addicted to it. That’s another realization that needs to be confronted, for it will confront us in the end.)

    ———————————-

    * “kicked those below us” – For example, none of us have ever seriously confronted the problems of systemic poverty, homelessness and mental illness as long as we were good with having central heating, cars and wide-screen teevees. As the people of color rightly posit, “Oh, so *now* you’re pissed.”

  64. Lisa Simeone permalink
    November 3, 2011

    * “kicked those below us” – For example, none of us have ever seriously confronted the problems of systemic poverty, homelessness and mental illness as long as we were good with having central heating, cars and wide-screen teevees. As the people of color rightly posit, “Oh, so *now* you’re pissed.”

    Understood. But what’s the alternative? Would I, by giving up central heating, car, roof over my head, clothes, etc., have to live in a hovel and dodge bullets (not far fetched in this city) to “seriously confront” these problems? I’m not trying to be snarky. I think the question of comfort vs. poverty is real. But I don’t think that brutal, impoverished conditions necessarily make one more sensitive to the fact that people shouldn’t have to live in brutal, impoverished conditions. Just as I don’t think living in decent, humane conditions — which should be the norm, which shouldn’t be “privileged” — necessarily means that one doesn’t recognize one’s amazing good fortune or doesn’t understand the need for reform.

    Sorry this is so convoluted. I’m having a hard time expressing what I’m trying to express. There are many ways to protest, many ways to resist, many ways to acknowledge injustice and try to right it.

  65. November 3, 2011

    Thanks, Lisa!

    (Hope you are doing well.)

    I’m sorry, but my footnote proffered no remedies for the ills themselves, certainly nothing like imposing poverty on everyone. At the same time, while living comfortably doesn’t necessarily mean that “one doesn’t recognize” the inequities of the system, it is, in practice, the path of least resistance for most.

    I don’t think asking that a certain class of people stop “kicking down” from their class is a call to impoverish them.

    As a matter of fact, I think this is what we are asking from those up the economic chain at the moment, right?

    As for specifics – I would ask first for the end of the “turning away,” and wait to behold the results of that simple act.

  66. jo6pac permalink
    November 3, 2011

    Good for you Lisa and great comment Petro and then there was a comment way up there on the Longshoreman, this is one of My Heros and the comment meant the person is on the corp. line or has no idea what the West Coast Longshorman are about and that’s the entire Left Coast.

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

  67. Ian Welsh permalink*
    November 4, 2011

    Consuming more than is needed to prop up suburbia as consumption is indeed responsible for a lot of poverty. It is possible to alleviate the worst effects of poverty in the world with a lot less money than was spent blowing up Iraqis, as far as that goes.

    A topic I may tackle at some point. But yes, they are poor because you (were) living in unearned affluence. Americans, and Canadians, and Europeans and so on do have to bear a fair bit of the guilt, and that means ordinary people.

    The original sin of post-war society is suburbia.

  68. Lisa Simeone permalink
    November 4, 2011

    Ian, well, you’re quite right that over-consumption and waste is the cause of a lot of ills in the world. ‘Twas ever thus. It takes consciously choosing to consume less, or consume more wisely, to ameliorate those ills. With a few caveats.

    For instance, I’m a clothes horse. Except for the vintage ones and the ones I’ve bought directly from the makers, I know that everything else is made in sweatshops. Unless you grow your own cotton, harvest it, weave it, and sew your own clothes, you’re supporting misery somewhere. Same with food — if you’re a meat eater, unless you raise, cultivate, and humanely slaughter your own animals, you’re likely participating in the hideous torture of other creatures. Should grow your own vegetables and cook them (I don’t). Energy consumption — suburbia is the worst. Hopping in the car for 5-minute jaunts every time the thought strikes one is bad. Flying is terrible. On and on.

    Yet we do live in the modern world. What standard of purity should we apply to consume less and waste less? Again, serious question. I’m typing on a computer. Wonder how many people suffered to get the elements needed to make this? Also wonder how many people made a living, however small, and raised their families because they made this computer?

    Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn have traveled all over the world researching sweatshops. They used to believe that all sweatshops were bad, always, no matter what. (Fair disclosure — my maternal grandmother worked in one in this country. She wasn’t beaten, but she was locked in, à la the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory.) Now Kristof and Dunn aren’t quite so sure. It’s not that they think people should have to work in sweatshops, it’s that they know people do, and that they often make enough money to raise their families and better their lot.

    So should we stop buying all clothes until sweatshops are eradicated?

    Other than living in a hut in the wilderness and doing everything off the grid, I think the best we can do is try to be aware, not waste, try to make good choices. I live in the city. I can walk to almost every single thing I need — farmers market, grocery store, library, restaurants, train station, buses, post office (yes, I know, how quaint), friends’ houses, museums. I rarely use the car. But we still have a car. It still uses gas. I’ve stopped flying only because of the TSA, not because my conscience pricks me. If it weren’t for the violation of our rights at the airport, I’d still be traveling abroad. That’s a lot of waste, a lot of gunk spewing into the air just to feed one’s wanderlust.

    And we have pets, on whom we lavish attention and money. Cat food and trips to the vet really add up. Thousands of dollars a year. If not for them, I could be increasing my contributions to Amnesty International, Women’s Opportunity Fund, etc. (oops, though I’m not supposed to be contributing to any such organizations, as my journalistic betters have been at pains recently to tell me).

    Then again I keep the house pretty chilly in the winter. I buy locally, even using the local currency, to keep the money in the community. Hubby bikes to work, every day. When our car dies, we might skip getting another one and just use Zip cars. (And I’ve stopped buying clothes, so there’s that.)

    Long story short — how do we live ethically in the modern world?

  69. November 4, 2011

    Long story short — how do we live ethically in the modern world?

    Lisa, long answer short – by asking that question.

    There is a huge chasm that separates the consciousness of a people who adhere to a position of entitlement in a fictional ever-expanding economic milieu, and those whose consciences are pricked by reality.

    Yes, there are the calcified, static and self-congratulatory pseudo-concerns of the much-maligned “limousine liberal” class, but they are easily signified by the all-too-easily accessible governors of conscience overload – charities and fundraisers and other impotent but delightfully social “activist” outlets.

    A sincere concern is something else – it is a state of mind that is alert to the doors being open, the paths being offered, the willingness to make the morally enlightened choices as they are being presented. This can be easily contrasted to the state of mind whereby one is inclined to “dig in” and defend their property, entitlements, “achievements” – and let the devil take the hindmost, those losers.

    Your efforts in the recent nascent attempts to improve the state of affairs in the world are not unnoticed by the world. I would not cripple myself with judgements of my own “purity” in this regard, nor should you. Just keep marching, I say – I like the direction in which we are moving.

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