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OccupyWallStreet: American Exodus

The Israelites were the original Occupiers

OccupyWallStreet is befuddling the “experts”.  It defies categorization.  Are they Democrats?  Radical Marxists?  A new generation of hippies?  Naive?  Or the true brilliant 11 dimensional chess players that Obama could only dream to be? What?  WHAT??

While the pollsters and pundits try to figure that out by using their standard questionnaires that neatly files the subject into bins that can be mined later, Mike Konzal at Rortybomb took a different approach and analyzed what the 99% had to say about themselves without the filter.  He wrote a script to parse the data from the “We Are the 99%” tumblr entries.  I think you can do this using python, regular expressions and the natural language tool kit (NLTK) if any enterprising Conflucians want to do it themselves (I might ask the kid to teach me).  Then he tallied up the most frequently appearing words, minus the promiscuous ones, and peered at the entrails.  What he found was a bit of a shock because we joke around about how the country has changed but when you see it in the data, it’s not so funny anymore.  Here are his initial findings:

So if the 99% Tumblr was a PAC, what would its demands look like, and what ideology would it presuppose?  Freddie DeBoer is discouraged after reading the 99% tumblr. He’s concerned it reflects a desire for restoration of the glory days of the 90s-00s, which concerns him because “this country cannot be fixed by wishing to go back to the economics of 2005.”  Concerned that the solidarity is one that, at most, is a I-got-mine-you-go-get-yours form of neoliberalism (as he imagines it, “I went to college and I don’t have the job and the car and the lifestyle I was promised”), DeBoer is worried that We Are the 99% isn’t “a rejection of our failing order. It is an embrace of it in the most cynical terms.”

With all due respect to DeBoer, the demands I found aren’t the ones of the go-go 90s-00s, but instead far more ancient cry, one of premodernity and antiquity.

Let’s bring up a favorite quote around here.  Anthropologist David Graeber cites historian Moses Finley, who identified “the perennial revolutionary programme of antiquity, cancel debts and redistribute the land, the slogan of a peasantry, not of a working class.”  And think through these cases.  The overwhelming majority of these statements are actionable demands in the form of (i) free us from the bondage of these debts and (ii) give us a bare minimum to survive on in order to lead decent lives (or, in pre-Industrial terms, give us some land).  In Finley’s terms, these are the demands of a peasantry, not a working class.

The actual ideology of modernity, broadly speaking, is absent.  There isn’t the affluenza of Freddie’s worries, no demands for cheap gas, cheaper credit, giant houses, bigger electronics all under the cynical ”Ownership Society” banner.  The demands are broadly health care, education and not to feel exploited at the high-level, and the desire to not live month-to-month on bills, food and rent and under less of the burden of debt at the practical level.

The people in the tumblr aren’t demanding to bring democracy into the workplace via large-scale unionization, much less shorter work days and more pay.  They aren’t talking the language of mid-twentieth century liberalism, where everyone puts on blindfolds and cuts slices of pie to share.  The 99% looks too beaten down to demand anything as grand as “fairness” in their distribution of the economy.  There’s no calls for some sort of post-industrial personal fulfillment in their labor – very few even invoke the idea that a job should “mean something.”  It’s straight out of antiquity – free us from the bondage of our debts and give us a basic ability to survive.

It’s awful that it has come to this, but it also is an opportunity.  As was discussed in the monetary debate from earlier, creditors aren’t bosses; their power is less coercive and much more obviously based on socially-constructed fictions, laws and ideas.  As Peter Frase pointed out:

Indeed, widespread and large debt loads are one of the most important ways in which my generation differs from those that immediately preceded it…This has direct implications for the left: more than once, older comrades have noted to me that it has become much more difficult to live in the kind of bohemian poverty that sustained an earlier generation of young radicals and activists…

And there may be some advantages to a politics centered around debt rather than wage labor. The problem confronting the wage laborer is that they are, in fact, dependent on the boss for their sustenance, unless they can solve the collective action problem of getting everyone together to expropriate the expropriators. Debt, on the other hand, is just an agreed-upon social fiction denoting an obligation for some act of consumption that has already occurred. The only way to make people respect debt is through some combination of brute force and ideological legitimacy–a legitimacy that we can only hope is starting to slip away.

Upon reflection, it is very obvious where the problems are.  There’s no universal health care to handle the randomness of poor health.  There’s no free higher education to allow people to develop their skills outside the logic and relations of indentured servitude. Our bankruptcy code has been rewritten by the top 1% when instead, it needs to be a defense against their need to shove inequality-driven debt at populations. And finally, there’s no basic income guaranteed to each citizen to keep poverty and poor circumstances at bay.

We have piecemeal, leaky versions of each of these in our current liberal social safety net.  Having collated all these responses, I think completing these projects should be the ultimate goal of the 99%.

So, how will OccupyWallStreet and the 99% turn these problems into policies that will address the reality of day to day life for the average American serf beaten down by debt?  This is a good question and, in part, also relates to the insistent demands from the naysayers and right wing noise machine that OccupyWallStreet define itself, right this very minute!  And put together a list of demands that you want fulfilled so we can tell you how unrealistic they are and make you go back to your sorry little lives, you losers.  Isn’t that right, you Tea Party lurkers and Glenn Beck fans?  You want instant answers so you can shoot them down.

Which brings me to George Lakoff.  Lakoff has also been studying the movement’s language and asking himself why it resonates so well with the American public.  What he sees is a conflict between two moralities:

Conservatives have figured out their moral basis and you see it on Wall Street: It includes: The primacy of self-interest. Individual responsibility, but not social responsibility. Hierarchical authority based on wealth or other forms of power. A moral hierarchy of who is “deserving,” defined by success. And the highest principle is the primacy of this moral system itself, which goes beyond Wall Street and the economy to other arenas: family life, social life, religion, foreign policy, and especially government. Conservative “democracy” is seen as a system of governance and elections that fits this model.

Though OWS concerns go well beyond financial issues, your target is right: the application of these principles in Wall Street is central, since that is where the money comes from for elections, for media, and for right-wing policy-making institutions of all sorts on all issues.

I think it is a good thing that the occupation movement is not making specific policy demands. If it did, the movement would become about those demands. If the demands were not met, the movement would be seen as having failed.

It seems to me that the OWS movement is moral in nature, that occupiers want the country to change its moral focus. It is easy to find useful policies; hundreds have been suggested. It is harder to find a moral focus and stick to it. If the movement is to frame itself, it should be on the basis of its moral focus, not a particular agenda or list of policy demands. If the moral focus of America changes, new people will be elected and the policies will follow. Without a change of moral focus, the conservative worldview that has brought us to the present disastrous and dangerous moment will continue to prevail.

We Love America. We’re Here to Fix It

I see OWS as a patriotic movement, based on a deep and abiding love of country – a patriotism that it is not just about the self-interests of individuals, but about what the country is and is to be. Do Americans care about other citizens, or mainly just about themselves? That’s what love of America is about. I therefore think it is important to be positive, to be clear about loving America, seeing it in need of fixing, and not just being willing to fix it, but being willing to take to the streets to fix it. A populist movement starts with the people seeing that they are all in the same boat and being ready to come together to fix the leaks.

This sounds pretty close to what we’re seeing, I think.  It also explains why Elizabeth Warren, while sorting through the data on why Americans go bankrupt, was converted from a Republican to a Democrat earlier in her career.  Well, that’s back when Democrats actually gave a shit.  She says that when she first starting sifting through the cases from bankruptcy courts, she had a built in confirmation bias and was sure she was going to find people who lived the high life and spent too much or lazy people or hedonists or whatever the Glenn Beck types think.  But what she found was that many of these people were undone by sudden unemployment, changes to their family lives or chronic and severe illnesses.  They hadn’t done anything differently than millions of their fellow Americans.  They had just hit a patch of really bad luck and found that there was no real safety net for them.  They got sick, they lost their jobs because they got sick, they lost their health insurance because they lost their jobs, they lost their savings because they had to pay for their healthcare, they lost their houses because they lost their savings.

When Elizabeth Warren speaks to people, they know that she understands what they’re dealing with because she’s seen their lives in detail.  It also explains why Barack Obama is so completely unsuited for his role right now.  If this is a battle between two moralities, then using the approach of compromise is doomed to failure.

As Lakoff says, “A populist movement starts with people seeing that they are all in the same boat and being ready to come together to fix the leaks.”

The 99% are all of us who just a few years ago were living what the right would consider righteous lives.  We are good citizens, we are taxpayers, we are loving parents, we are dedicated employees.  And through no fault of our own but the speculation and moral failures of the financial sector and the politicians that serve it, we are thrust back into a subsistence kind of existence that was familiar to our ancient ancestors.  We are burdened with debt, servants to a moneyed class, beaten down, tired and looking for a break from the endless cycle of always having to sell ourselves to make next month’s rent or COBRA payment, heating bill or food for our kids.  Now that the pain has bubbled up to the middle class, where professionals with advanced degrees and years of experience find themselves working far from home on contracts with low pay and no benefits, the chant, “We are the 99” has real meaning.  We are all in the same boat and we must take on the oligarchs.

Which reminds me of Exodus.  The bible tells us how Moses lead his people out of Egypt but archeology tells us a different story.  Back in the day, in 13th century BC or so, Egypt was a superpower whose reach stretched over the Levant area.  The ruling class in the Canaanite cities was Egyptian ruling over the locals and using them as slaves and the artisan underclass.  At some point, the underclass decided it had had enough and a rebellion ensued, ending Egyptian reign and,  with the collapse of other Bronze Age cultures, plunging most of the Mediterranean into a dark age.  There may have been a Moses but what the archeological record looks like is a spontaneous and leaderless uprising that spread from city to city.  Egyptian rule ended in Canaan and, along with the collapse of other Bronze Age cultures, the Mediterranean region plunged into a dark age. When the Israelites took up their pens a few centuries later, they were writing from a culture where the former slaves had made the laws.

50 Responses

  1. “…we are thrust back into a subsistence kind of existence that was familiar to our ancient ancestors.”

    That’s a bit melodramatic, wouldn’t you say? Do you have any idea how our ancient ancestors actually lived? How about the majority of people in the world today? 70% of those living off less than a dollar a day are women. The vast majority of people in the US have no idea what subsistence living really is.

    I may be part of the 99% in America, but to the rest of the world, I am the 1%.

    • In case you hadn’t noticed, the United States is a First World country. Some of us would like to keep it that way while the Third World countries catch up.

    • When people are homeless because the bank has foreclosed on them, when they go to food pantries because they don’t have money to feed their kids and when their teeth rot in their mouths and they die from treatable diseases because they have no access to affordable health care, then I have to ask myself if we are really so different.
      And I’m not talking about our traditional ideas of poor people in America. I’m talking about suburbanites.
      It is a form of subsistence when you no longer have a salary. You are always forced to go begging for work and you will take anything to keep your kids clothed and fed. On top of that is a crushing debt burden. If you lose your job, you are in danger of losing everything.
      I’m am presently unemployed and have never been out of work since 1986. But I don’t own my house outright, I have a 15 year old to take care of, I’m divorced and I have no health insurance next week unless I pay for it myself. I relate to the 99% because I am one. And so are all of my friends who have suffered layoff after layoff despite their PhDs. They take jobs that are in other countries and spend most of their time away from home. They don’t have benefits. They pay both sides of the social security tax. They worry about paying the rent when the contract runs out and they have to go back on the job market for another one.
      Do we live in Somalia? No. But this is not the same American we grew up in. We are heading more towards Peru or Ecuador or Chile where the inequalities between rich and poor are stark.
      The comparison to ancient cultures enslaved by debt to a ruling class is not inaccurate. That’s why Israel had Jubilee years. To wipe out debt, free slaves and hit the social reset button. Perhaps they knew from their own experiences that making people too desperate was a recipe for unrest and civil war.

      • “..then I have to ask myself if we are really so different…”

        If you have to ask yourself that question then you really have no idea what it’s like to be poor.

        • Actually, I do know what it’s like to be poor. The question is, why don’t you see the suffering already here in this country? The middle is falling. It’s happening a lot faster than I thought. I don’t know where you live but around here, people who were once making over $100K/year are down to about 1/4 of that and they are expected to pay for everything out of that money. Post docs make only about $37,000/year. Have you ever had to support a family on that in New Jersey? And that’s if you’re lucky enough to score a position. What do you think happens to people in this country when they can’t pay their bills anymore? Let’s assume that like me, they don’t have credit card debt or a car payment. What about mortgages, taxes, association fees, heat, electricity, phone, food, water, school field trips, clothes for kid? When the money is gone, who pays for that? If COBRA costs $1000/month for you and your kid and unemployment checks are only $2000/month (that’s NJ. It’s expensive to live here), what the heck are you supposed to live on? Can you even find an apartment for less than $1000 per month?

          A lot of people are poor now who never were before. It is very much like subsistence when you have no money and no place to live and your car is broken down and you’ve run out of money for the month for groceries. I’ve seen women my age who were solidly middle class a couple of years ago who have lost teeth because they don’t have insurance and can’t get them fixed. What exactly are you supposed to cut out of your budget to get a root canal and a crown?

          Why are you in denial?

          • I’m in denial and you’re the one complaining about how hard people who used to make 100 grand a year have it now days??! Where have you been all your life?? To me you are the one percent with your fancy PhD and your lectures about subsistence living.

            Who do you think I am, some wealthy, middle class, overly educated white elitist?

            I resent the comparison to subsistence living and slavery. If you think what you have is in any way comparable to what the rest of the world has, you’re the one in denial, not me.

          • Hey! I don’t know who the hell you are but I come from a working class family. I was the first to go to college on either side and I paid for it myself. You have no idea what my college years were like. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
            You also apparently have no idea how difficult research is or how much education and experience you need to do it.
            You also don’t appear to live in NJ where we pay some of the highest income taxes and property taxes in the nation. Here, you don’t live an upper middle class lifestyle on $100k. It’s not like Omaha. Everything is expensive here. And when you lose your job in NJ the fall is steep and fast.
            When I was a kid and we lived in the south, I saw real poverty. I saw tin roof shacks. I saw kids who had nothing. And let me tell you, it wouldn’t take much to put us all there. Ive been to places in the world that look like the third world where the steel drum HS orchestra plays the Star Spangled Banner.
            Don’t you tell me I don’t know what poverty looks like. What are you going to do about it? Right now the middle class lived in a hollow shell of it’s former self. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, be grateful. But don’t tell the people at the We are the 99% tumblr that they don’t know what subsistence means.
            Go read up on the potato famine if you want to see what can happen to a population that lives in a country rich in resources that it has no access to. The banks that foreclose today are not much different from the landlords who pulled down tenant cottages.
            History repeats itself.

          • Stop hating on the kulaks. We used to have a HUGE middle class in this country, one that comprised millions of people who worked their way up from immigration and poverty over generations, and now that’s going POOF in a few short years. That same middle class was the bulwark of the nation, the guarantor of stability, the thing that set us apart from banana republics and the Communist bloc alike. And you can’t stop the pity party long enough to see a problem?

      • “Do we live in Somalia? No.”

        Not yet, anyway. 😦

    • yttik… ageed. it all looks a wee bit self indulgent

      • In other words, KK, we should shut up and kiss the whips of the 1% as long as we have some semblance of a roof over our heads and at least one meal a day, or else we’re a bunch of Commie DFH ingrates?

        Khest that mentality and the horse it rode in on. 😛

        • glad to give you an opportunity to get your talking point out ‘look over there unicorns and ponies

          peace and love everyone

          • Actually, I’m not a member of the Occupation movement, if such a loose aggregation can be said to have members. I merely think the “EEK! DFHs!” gang are serving as unwitting stooges for the 1%.

            I’ve reached a point where I refuse to agree with anything that smacks of conservatism, which is not–and never has been–anything but a system of lies whose purpose is to justify the domination of some human beings over other human beings: the rich over the non-rich, whites over nonwhites, men over women, etc. Since Anti-Occupationism partakes of conservative talking points, I refuse to support it, even verbally.

            My tepid sympathy for the Occupiers is more of an “enemy of my enemy” thing, rather like the No Quarter/Uppity Woman/Crawdad Hole sympathy for conservatism due to their mistaken perception of Obummer as a liberal.

  2. Yttik and RD, this is not about the experiences of any particular individual. to be sure, even among the 99% some are faring better than others. NY and NJ are notoriously expensive places to live Here in Brooklyn, a ROOM rents for $125 per week; that’s $500 per month. In this room, you have no kitchen and oftentimes shared bathroom facilities. You don’t pay for light and gas, but then you’re unable to cook, have to wash your clothes at a laundromat and are dependent on the landlord to be generous with heat on the cold days. If the landlord is stingy with the heat, you can’t complain because the rental is oftentimes illegal (usually a single familly residence that has been converted which explains why you’re not charged for light and gas it’s because there’s only one meter for the whole house) and if you go to court, you’ll be ordered to move. So, Yttik, $100,000 isn’t a lot of money in this neck of the woods; it’s just a decent life with a few perks. But it’s not vacations in the south of France, private jets or any of that.

    I hail originally from the third world, so I know what third world poverty looks like; and yes American poor people have stuff that even the “well off” in the third world would kill to have. but the point is AMERICA ISN”T THE THIRD WORLD so the comparison is specious and those who are fighting to stop America’s slide into third world status aren’t crazy whiners.

    Yttik, you sound perilously close to the Archie Bunker “America love it or leave it” crowd. Virtually everyone that visits this blog is part of the 99%; whether they make $100,000 or they’re a day laborer standing on a corner hoping for a day’s work. So let’s not engage in class envy. It is ultimately divisive and only serves to help the !%

    • Sorry, Joanie, I didn’t know you were from a third world country. But in the sixties in south Carolina, there were places that looked a lot like the third world. The urban poor have it good compared to other countries but parts of the American South and Appalachia? Back then, you wouldn’t have known the difference. And I don’t think it would be hard for the rest of us to slip into place only a couple rungs up the ladder from that.

      • RD, I’m not offended. That would be silly. There’s a reason they call it the third world; it is what it is. However, as someone who came from the third world and knowing the struggles of my parents and other family members to “make it” in America, I don’t want to wind up in the same situation as though the efforts of the last 43 yrs (that’s how long I’ve lived in the U.S.) didn’t happen

    • If yttik is Archie Bunker, does that make all of you “Meatheads”? Because at the end of the series, Michael abandoned Gloria and his baby to go live in a commune and left Archie to take care of his family. Norman Lear didn’t count on the country becoming sympathetic to Archie. And isn’t this whole protest about class envy? The 99% vs. the 1%? It’s the only message that has been consistent.

      • I’m not afraid of being labeled a meathead if it means I’m for a social safety net, opportunity for advancement for those who seek it, making a living wage, being able to support my child and myself from what I earn and not having to work 3 jobs to earn it, the end of preemptive wars, true separation of church and state and the list could go on but I’m sure you get the point.

        “Meathead” was Archie Bunker’s way of deriding his liberal son-in-law. That Michael abandoned Gloria only shows that liberals are not infallible. The country was always sympathetic to Archie. That’s why his character worked so well. Most of us have some of Archie’s biases and contradictions in us.

        And no, the 99% vs. 1% is not all about class envy? Envy and acknowledgment of inequality are not the same thing. Who would envy someone you think of as having sent your country down the crapper even if they happen to have more money than God[?

      • Ellie, have you been to an occupation or do you just listen to cable tv and talk radio for your *direct* experience? The class envy is a dead giveaway. Apparently, you didn’t bother to read Konzal’s analysis of the 99% in their own words. Class envy would be a step up from where the 99% are.
        Do you work for a living? Or are you dependent on someone else for your lifestyle? Or are you retired and living off social security? I ask because you don’t seem to have any appreciation for what it is like to lose a salary.
        Your objections make no sense. You haven’t gone to an occupation. You are relying on the media to tell you what to think. In short, you appear to be uninformed in almost every conceivable way.
        Wouldn’t you feel more comfortable back at the crawdad hole where you can talk amongst your similarly uninformed useful idiots of the right wing?
        Go back and rail about class envy. We don’t give a fuck. You seem to be happy to be a servile member of the underclass. Where is your dignity?

  3. Until a sufficient number of USAmericans rid themselves of the fatuous Calvinist notion that a reliable relationship exists between material success and traditional personal virtues, and/or between poverty and traditional vices–rather than poverty striking largely at random, like a disease–the Crawdad Holers and their ideological kin will remain clueless.

  4. What the Occupants will discover is this: a micro economy is generated by exchange. That they are present, interactive and creating demand guarantees that in the United Capitalist States of America, some 3rd Alternative Thinker will come up with a solid economic solution that will inspire those Occupying to get out on the Street and Make it Rich. It’s how America Works.

    • Mebbe. It’s not my impression that the occupiers want to overthrow the capitalist state. I think they want it to work for the rest of us. Of course, being wealthy is not everyone’s goal in life. I like not having to worry about money but I’m not interested in a bigger house, car, designer clothes or other status symbols. Many of us aren’t. Ok, a new iPhone every 2 years would be nice but I’m not interested in being rich. I’d rather work because I like what I’m doing. Decent steady salary that pays the bills, allows me yo save and leaves me with a little left over? Check. McMansion in the suburbs on an acre of land with a swimming pool, private theater, country club membership and a Mercedes? Ehhhh, not so much. If that’s what other people want, more power to them. Let them risk their own money.

    • That they are present, interactive and creating demand guarantees that in the United Capitalist States of America, some 3rd Alternative Thinker will come up with a solid economic solution that will inspire those Occupying to

      I hope you’re right. But sadly, the very first thing to happen, probably already — is that someone paid by Wall St is creating a scam to appear to serve that demand and rip us all off. One scam will be some kind of ‘alternative bank’ where we can ‘safely’ move our money when we take it out of Chase, BOA, etc.

      Pls be very careful. It doesn’t take any New Thing to open an account at a credit union (one that’s been around for a few years and has a good rating) and then write a check from the old bank to deposit.

  5. Another terrific post. Thanks.

  6. I think of France, Germany and Canada as 1st World countries. We are not.

  7. First look at US pay data, it’s awful

    Anyone who wants to understand the enduring nature of Occupy Wall Street and similar protests across the country need only look at the first official data on 2010 paychecks, which the U.S. government posted on the Internet on Wednesday.

    The figures from payroll taxes reported to the Social Security Administration on jobs and pay are, in a word, awful.

    The US standard of living is going straight into the dumper and people still ask “what do they want?”. Willful ignorance.

  8. We are going far afield in discussing the reason behind these occupy protests. The 1% includes the wealthy elites and financiers who have influence and power over the government and who, unregulated and unrepresented of the people, have played havoc with our financial system. Simple, and this exclusive group doesn’t include RD, yttik, ralph, or me. Even if you travel in 3rd world countries, your material wealth and accessories/toys might be noted and envied, but to be in this 1% group, and to have your status protested by this U.S. protest and movement, you have to be a crony capitalist.

    In case anyone has forgotten the message, or refuse to grasp the message, Glenn Greenwald reminds you:

    “Does anyone really not know what the basic message is of this protest: that Wall Street is oozing corruption and criminality and its unrestrained political power — in the form of crony capitalism and ownership of political institutions — is destroying financial security for
    everyone else?” (Salon, 9-28-11)

    • I’ve read that when Obama called the first meeting of the bankers to the WH after the September crash, they came thinking they would receive a thrashing. Obama only wagged his finger at them. The second time the president called the bankers to a WH meeting none of them showed up. Obama is an enabler, an abetor, and is also culpable. A distinction the occupy movement must never forget.

  9. It looks like I might have hit on something a few days ago when I suggested the OWSers might rename themselves the OWSerfs.

    Monster from the Id, if the people who already understand psychological Calvinism as a pair of braincuffs to get themselves free from can then find eachother, perhaps they can work on separate survival economics for themselves and eachother so as to enhance their survival chances while waiting and working for the rest of America to catch up to what we already know.

    If this is the start of a New American Exodus, let us hope and do what we can to keep it a Leaderless Exodus. It would be tragic for the OWSers to let Obama or any other “WightBwinger” to gain leadership over the OWSers and lead them right off whatever buffalo jump the WightBwinger’s upper class owners have arranged in advance with the WightBwinger himself.

    Finally, the journalist Greg Palast has a phrase for the kind of upper-class excuse-making that yttik and others engage in. Palast
    calls it “kissing the whip”.

    • Here, here!

    • “Finally, the journalist Greg Palast has a phrase for the kind of upper-class excuse-making that yttik and others engage in…”

      Now I’m a member of the upper class? A one percenter? That’s almost more ridiculous then the accusation that I was a racist during 2008.

      You know who the one percent in this country are? President Obama and our congresscritters. They are the ones who bailed out wall street. They are the crony capitalists who pass out corporate welfare. They are the ones who write the policies that govern our economic situation. I haven’t apologized for any of them, I believe they should all be held accountable. That’s what elections are for.

      • No, he’s saying that you’re so servile and deferential to the so-called job creators and their claims of success through hard work and superior virtue, and so scornful of anyone who doesnt fit that definition of success, that you might as well be kissing the whip they use to keep everyone in line.
        Please try to keep up.

      • Depending on source, the ‘top 1%’ begins at $380,000/yr (per National Review) or $400,000.

        Here’s a good simple chart showing how much they own, too:

      • Riverdaughter says better what I tried to say with Greg Palast’s “kissing the whip”.

        If I thought you were somehow upper-class connected, I would describe your behavior as “cracking the whip”. Think again about what
        “kissing the whip” reveals you to be.

    • I like it. They might as well be singing the masochism tango.
      Beat me, beat me, make me write bad checks.

    • Uh, no it is called being a small business owner who is getting nailed by all the regulations that won’t hit anyone on Wall St or any company traded on Wall St.

      Even if OWS does manage to get some sort of regulation through Congress…cough…cough. It will be written by the Wall St/corporate lobby to fall on Yittk’s lap and clear her away as their competition.

      Shoving her head down to kiss that whip while pretending it will hit Wall St….that’s the real excuse making.

      • With OWS, you need to think out of the box. There may be a political wing of the movement, in fact, I don’t know how there couldn’t be. But since working within the system has worked so gloriously in the last 30 years {{cough…cough}}, OWS appears to be willing to entertain the idea of going outside the system. Or creating a new system altogether. Maybe it will be parallel, Maybe not,. Who knows?
        I think there are some fine minds working on this. We could be working on it too. I’m thinking that there should be a working group called occupypharma. Think like a little kid who doesn’t know what can’t be done. And then- bigger.

      • Since no one else is doing anything to even consider getting those Wall St lobbyists and their money out of the process, what do you suggest? What has been done for the past 30 years has failed utterly.

        Maybe OWS will ultimately be successful in rewriting the lobbying rulebook and maybe it won’t but doing the same thing a little longer damn sure won’t help.

  10. Liveblogging the Real Estate Board: meets tonight to try to outlaw #OWS sleeping in park

    Amazingly enough, the committee seems to be in support of OWS.

    But the meeting is over and it looks like OWs may have headed off a disaster. This is only a committee meeting and nothing is final until the entire Community Board meets next week, but so far so good!

  11. Riverdaughter (and others),

    I have just read a very detailed account of the history of the inspiration and the planning for the Occupy Wall Street protest by
    David Graeber as guest-posted on Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism blog. It seemed very interesting and informative to me. After careful reading, would you and/or other readers here think that David Graeber
    may be wrong on some of the facts and history? If not, or at least not very much; would Graeber’s thoughts on the demographic core of this movement offer useful implications as to what OWS could achieve/lead to? (I will give the link in a sub-reply just below, to escape the ugly icons).

    • I haven’t read that, but here’s a take on how and why the word got spread by ‘Anonymous’ etc.


    • ok, just read it. I think David Graeber gives himself and his friends too much credit. Remember, the PUMAs were in Denver with much the same grievances. We were the working class that got thrown under the bus. And there were hundreds of people who showed up in Denver. The problem is that there was no way in hell anyone other than Obama was going to get the nomination no matter how valid the challenger. So, we had to wait through a couple of years of Obama, knowing that he was going to be a disaster. And we had to live in the wilderness while people in Graeber’s cohort fell madly in love with Barry. It was DailyKos that lead the scorn calling us a shrieking band of paranoid holdouts. Jane Hamsher called us a “certain kind of woman” and to this day, most of the left blogosphere can’t get over the conditioning that associates PUMA with racism and bitter menopausal women who don’t have college degrees.
      So, for all I know, this movement might have started sooner if the left itself hadn’t sat on it.
      Secondly, I see this from a chemistry perspective. In supersaturated solutions, you can frequently get crystallization to occur by scratching the inside of the beaker with the sharp end of a glass rod. The scratch provides something called a nucleation site onto which a crystal can build. At a certain point, crystallization becomes a concerted process and the crystals fall out of solution. But it won’t happen unless conditions are right for crystallization. The concentration of the solution has to be right, the temperature helps, it has to be scratched or seeded.
      That’s what we have with OWS. The conditions were right for crystallization and the movement fell out because they picked the right spot to scratch.
      I see a lot of blather about anarchism and anti-capitalism and blahdeblahdeblah. I’m not sure those things are as relevant as Graeber makes them sound. The 99% consist of more than the friends he has with the crushing student loans and you will find people of all ages, genders and backgrounds at an occupation site. That right there should tell Graeber something. This was a movement waiting to happen that goes way beyond his little circle of progressive activists. This is a movement for former PUMAs as well.
      And the movement is going to be what it’s going to be. It is an open source concept. That means that the users determine the way the end product works by iterations, feedback and adjustments. Anarchism means absolutely nothing to me. Neither does tearing down a capitalist system. I don’t think the vast majority of regular people want to tear down the system. I think they want out from under its grasp. That may mean reinforcing the rules or setting up a parallel system but whatever that means, the open source model demands that it is responsive to the users and can’t be determined beforehand by people like Graeber.
      So, I think what Graeber and his friends did is scratch the glass. The public was ready for this. And now, he and his friends need to lose their egos and join with the rest of us so we can get things done.
      By they way, I think that Graeber refers to “young people” way too much in that piece. Yes, there are a lot of them at OWS but he is overlooking the strength of this movement if he thinks it is centered on young people. The reason it has become so incredibly successful is that when there is a big march, it is the regular working stiffs who show up to them. If it were just students, the media would have an easier time writing them off. But it’s not just students. It’s union people and unemployed people and teachers and actresses, and chemists and older people and families with kids. When I was at the march on October 5, I saw why the thing was taking off. The marchers looked like everyday people, not like a college pep rally. Graeber is already out of touch with his own constituency. Not only that but as wonderful as young people are, I’m surprised that OWS hasn’t taken advantage of the technical expertise of some of their sympathizers who are NOT 25 years old. We might be middle aged but most of us cut our teeth in the internet age. We wrote the first web pages and configured the first apache servers. We learn quickly. It’s stupid to leave all that knowledge and experience on the table in order to celebrate youth to the exclusion of all else. It would be much better to make middle age sexy. That’s how to grow this movement.

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