August 19, 2012
#S17: The first anniversary of #OWS:
“Occupy Wall Street invites you, the 99%, down to the Financial District for three days of education, celebration and resistance. (Sept. 15-17)
Join us for three days of education, celebration and resistance to economic injustice with permitted convergences and assemblies, concerts, and mass civil disobedience. (video by Dennis Trainor; his great ‘American Autumn’ video is available here.)
“On #S17 Follow the Money, All Roads Lead to Wall Street. Can’t join us in NYC? It’s just as important that we Occupy Main Street. Pick a local target that embodies corporate greed—occupy your state Capitol building like the people of Wisconsin, or a chamber of commerce conference as they did in D.C. Take inspiration from revolutionary occupations worldwide, from the railroads of India to the rivers of the Amazon to the streets of Spain. Wall Street has occupied our entire planet. What do you have to say about that?” ;o)
If you don’t care about the electoral dog-and-pony show, and are tired of those who continue to declare OWS dead and buried since the security state has clamped down so hard that encampments on The Commons aren’t possible now, you will be pleased to know that a lot is still going on in the shadows, and more is planned. Many more events are at the various Occupy aggregator websites, even arrests and raids that we don’t hear about.
September and October hold high potential for a new round of actions to Fight the Machine. You will likely remember the October 2011 coalition Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese worked so hard to organize before a scheduled occupation of Washington D.C. in that month, that year.
As joss would have it, that event was completely upstaged by those crazy, wonderful kids who said, “Enough of this shit!”, and headed to Zucotti Park on September 17, 2011, the impatient rascals. ;o) Now their organization is another aggregator site for protests and activism, as well as other endeavors to re-imagine an America future that is 99%-friendly . These are a few bits from their recent newsletter. Downthread I’ll fill you in on some reformist organizations and coalitions that have formed to either challenge or make end runs around the current machine, imagine new business models, etc.
Here are some highlights of some of the many Occupy activities that are going on around the country. There is more information on October2011.org, as well as at the other links.
CNN reports that there are 86 million unemployed…and explains how that number is true.
First, we encourage you to start organizing now to join in “Occupy the Debates: The People’s Dialogue,” which seeks to demonstrate the disconnect between the presidential candidates of the two corporate parties and the people of the United States whom they are supposed to represent. Occupy Denver, the site of the first debate (October 3), has started to organize and we urge occupations throughout the country to join in. Among the activities being planned are canvassing the community to hear their views, teach-ins, truth-telling sessions, general assemblies and conferences to discuss issues of concern and possible solutions.
Second, trade advisers for the notorious secret trade agreement being negotiated by the Obama administration, the TransPacific Partnership, will meet in Leesburg, Virginia from September 6th to 15th. Occupiers and advocacy groups are working together to put a spotlight on this agreement which amounts to a Global Corporate Coup. The TPP will set the rules for international business dealings for the foreseeable future and gives transnational corporations more power than governments.
To learn more about the TPP and events, register for the @StopTPP call on Monday, August 20 at 9 pm eastern time on InterOccupy.net. There will be events outside of the meeting to educate the public about this trade agreement and actions to let the trade advisers know that the public opposes the TPP. The Backbone Campaign will hold a direct action training for Occupy the TPP on Sept. 8 and 9 in Baltimore, Maryland. If you want to participate, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join Occupy SEC and get involved in keeping the pressure on calling for criminal investigations of the big banks for their security fraud and the LIBOR scandal.
On Thursday TransCanada began construction on the Southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline in Cushing, OK. Activists protested in Oklahoma and Texas; you can look at the Tar Sands Blockade website for future actions and solidarity protests and blockades; they say they won’t quit.
“TransCanada is putting families that wanted nothing to do with this pipeline in harm’s way,” Tar Sands Blockade Spokesperson Ron Seifert said. “Since our leaders and representatives will do nothing to protect our friends and neighbors, the Tar Sands Blockade is calling for people everywhere to join us and defend our local communities from a multinational bully.”
The message remains clear, people across the political spectrum, from Tea Partiers to environmentalists are uniting to TransCanada that while this project has started, we will ot allow it to be finished.”
““If there were ever a moment to take a stand, this is it. Everyone who cares about the future owes these Texans a debt,” said Bill McKibben at grist.org.”
You can read the rest here, and decide how to parse the contradictory things he follows with…(never mind).
I’ve followed some blind leads trying to put this together, and as you know, there are plenty of populist-looking groups fronting for the 1%. Consider this headline: “Labor Launching America’s Second Bill of Rights” (Workers Stand for America conference on August 11, 2012). Sounds intriguing, right? But here’s what I found after the description of the bits about ‘listing as rights things like full employment, a living wage, full participation in the political process, a voice at work, quality education, and a secure and happy future’, etc.:
“Labor leaders say there is no contradiction between labor’s renewed determination to stake out its own independent position and its support for President Obama’s reelection campaign.
AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Arlene Holt Baker said unions and “all working families really have two jobs this November. The first is to defeat right wing politicians who want to end collective bargaining rights, who want to keep outsourcing every good job in America and who want to divide and conquer working people.”
She noted that the AFL-CIO’s decision to deploy 400,000 union volunteers for the election was proof of the labor movement’s seriousness in this regard.”
NOTE: When launching his new organization, Richard Trumka had said that it was to be a labor movement, you know: ‘independent of Democrats’. Bah!
But moving along…and please feel free to add other working groups/workshops; there are so many out there:
~ The writers at Black Agenda Report have spotlighted an organization called the Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations whose annual conference is meeting today and tomorrow to discuss whether or not voting can bring social and economic justice to blacks:
“Most of us greeted the election of Barack Obama with hope and excitement in the U.S. and around the world. However, since his election the U.S. continues to make war and threats of war against people in the Middle East and elsewhere. Also, the issues of jobs, the economic quarantine of our communities, police violence and mass incarceration are not even being addressed during the current presidential election campaign.”
~ At Common Dreams, Abby Sher has a post up about the New Economy Institute (formerly the Schumacher Society):
“With the help of the London-based New Economics Foundation, the Schumacher Society rethought what kind of “think and do” tank is needed to transform our fossil fuel-powered, finance-bloated, inegalitarian economy into one that is resilient, just, and sustainable in the environmental and economic transition given true urgency by climate change. And with the help of some deep pockets, it re-launched as NEI and pulled together, all in one place on Bard’s rural campus on the Hudson, some of the thinkers and organizers who might have a piece of the puzzle.” (foxes turned game-keepers?) ;o)
Shur says that the New Economy is a big tent, and offers some concern that these white and middle class academics might share leadership with the poor immigrants, progressive unions, and co-ops, but acknowledges that a massive change to the US political economy will take many hands on deck to offer alternatives to create just and sustainable paths for the future. Her headings are:
Beyond Growth and Finance; Solidarity and Division (my fave); Slow Money; American Sustainable Business Association; B-Corporations.
Speaking of the overlaps of the NEI and the Solidarity Economy (‘Mondragon Diaries’ are at the site), Sher says:
“Critical here is a common progressive platform. It should embrace a profound commitment to social justice, job creation, and environmental protection; a sustained challenge to consumerism and commercialism and the lifestyles they offer; a healthy skepticism of growth mania and a democratic redefinition of what society should be striving to grow; a challenge to corporate dominance and a redefinition of the corporation, its goals and its management and ownership; a commitment to an array of prodemocracy reforms in campaign finance, elections, the regulation of lobbying; and much more. A common agenda would also include an ambitious set of new national indicators beyond GDP to inform us of the true quality of life in America.”
~ It’s Our Economy (Zeese, Flowers, et.al.) has good links, good events and actions.
Don Milligan wrote a good piece at the Anticapitalist Initiative called ‘Flogging a Dead Horse’. He wrote it as a counter-argument to the prevalent opinion among ACI members that it’s *disarray*, or *disunity* among factions that is responsible for the British public to be so turned off to socialism. Among his arguments for rethinking a new socialism is:
“…people do not believe in the abolition of private property. Enormous numbers of working people in the middle class and in the working class have worked hard to buy their houses, to maintain their mortgages, to improve their houses and flats, with endless trips to B & Q and thousands of hours of unpaid labour; they work tirelessly to conserve their savings, and pay into their pension pots. Indeed, this is why they are so outraged by the theft of pension funds, by the manipulation of interest rates, by tax evaders, and freeloaders on the welfare system. Most working class people, and tens of millions of middle class people, have what they perceive to be a vested interest in the protection of private property from the depredations of common criminals and ‘nefarious entities’ like local councils, the state, and big capitalists.”
He said that right, imo.
~ From Workers Action (‘Who We Are’ page):
“Our aim above all is to encourage working people to unite and put up a fight in order to defend and improve our standard of living and to create a far more just, rational, and economically viable economy to replace capitalism, which has thrown billions of people into poverty and is destroying the planet.
This means that we are encouraging our individual unions to fight to improve our standard of living, as opposed to accepting concessions passively. We encourage unions to unite in coalitions in order to fight concessions and win demands by, for example, placing “tax the rich” measures on ballots in order to fully fund public education and social services. We encourage the unions and community groups to join with the Occupy Movement to demand concessions from the 1 percent. We strongly support the Occupy Movement’s coming to the defense of unions engaged in struggles with their employers. And we strongly encourage all working class organizations to join together in a united front in order to mobilize massive numbers of working people in huge demonstrations and other mass actions to win these demands. The larger the movement, the greater our prospects for success.”
“Give us grace and strength to forebear and persevere. Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind. Spare to us our friends and soften to us our enemies. Give us the strength to encounter that which is to come, that we may be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath and in all changes of fortune, and down to the gates of death, loyal and loving to one another.”
~Robert Louis Stevenson
Stay strong; this is indeed a marathon, not a sprint. Love and take care of one another: generous spirits are indomitable.