From:   Charles <chcreinhardt@gmail.com>
Sent time:   Sunday, October 16, 2011 12:13:48 PM
To:   september17 <september17@googlegroups.com>
Subject:   [september17discuss] Occupy Wall St/Occupy Everything
 

Hi everyone,

 

I want to make a few succinct points about my experience at the

General Assembly in Washington Square last night.

 

During the debate about whether to occupy Washington Square Park, it

was plain to see that there are some currents developing in the

movement that seek to, in some ways, change its character. I applaud

some of the sentiments behind these currents. However, I believe that

some aspects of this evolution of the movement are counter-productive

and could diminish some of the potential strength and symbolic weight

of the movement's message as we go forward. Here are my opinions

(shared by many others) about some of these developments:

 

The strength of this movement and the source of a great deal of its

popular appeal derives from its name: Occupy Wall Street. The reason

why people across the country and around the world have so

resoundingly thrown in their lot with us is because they all

fundamentally understand that Wall Street is the source of an

unimaginable amount of suffering around the world, and essentially has

bought our government.

 

Furthermore, the reason why so many influential figures in the world

of finance and economics support this movement (a fact that seems

counter-intuitive at first), is because anyone with a rudimentary

understanding of finance knows that what Wall Street has done to the

global economy over the last thirty years, culminating in the crash of

2008, is simply stunning in its nihilism, irresponsibility and greed.

Never before has such a small amount of people benefited themselves so

massively from the suffering, impoverishment and deaths of so many

people around the world. We need to keep the focus on Wall Street and

the fraud, speculation and and market manipulation they engage in.

 

Because of this, I worry that this concept of "Occupy Everything"

means that the movement could be slowly losing focus as time goes on,

not gaining focus as many of us had hoped. I understand the symmetry

of "Occupy Everything" when we already have "Occupy San Francisco",

"Occupy Austin" and "Occupy the Bronx". However, while those movements

across the country are trying to draw attention to social issues in

their communities (mostly economic issues), all of those issues are

powerfully affected by decisions made by money managers on Wall Street

and Times Square. All of those protesters in these other solidarity

demonstrations across the country would be occupying Wall Street if

they could!

 

The concept of Occupy Everything threatens to turn the focus away from

the crimes of Wall Street and the international dictatorship of

finance and turn the lens on ourselves. We are great, but we're not

that great. Do not turn the movement into an inward-looking,

amorphous, self-congratulatory carnival focused primarily on the non-

hierarchical democratic process we are using to organize the movement

itself. This, in my view, is a form of nihilism. It is a form of

retreat from a complex economic reality that some have decided that

they don't even want to try to understand, a retreat into a comforting

social construct. How can our critique rise above an inarticulate howl

of pain if we are unable to even describe what happened to us?

 

May I suggest that if you have been participating in this movement for

a whole month and you still don't know what a credit default swap is,

or what the Glass-Steagall Act was, then it is incumbent upon you to

educate yourself about those things. This movement is and should be

about what the financial sector has done to this country and the

world. This movement is about the 99% and it's partially about us and

our suffering. But the metanym "the 99%" is meant to draw focus to the

1%, specifically Wall Street financial institutions and hedge funds,

who profit off of our suffering and are the world's biggest threat to

global stability and prosperity.

 

There is a story behind that story, which is the slow starvation of

the American economy since the 1970's through outsourcing and the

refusal of policy-makers since Reagan to invest in making our country

and workers more competitive through infrastructure investment,

investment in education and the enactment of policies to make our job

market flexible and yet safe for workers and families (flexicurity in

Denmark is an example).

 

Data show that median family income declined by 6.7 percent over the

past two years, and the reported unemployment rate is at 9.1 percent

in the October report and 46.2 million Americans are living in

poverty, which is the worst in 50 years.

 

The United States has been in a recession really for ten years, and

that recession was masked by artificially low interest rates, which

made Wall Street more fabulously wealthy than it's ever been, and

simultaneously prevented policy-makers from realizing that the only

real solution was to invest in the real productive economy of the

country.

 

The collapse of this artificial prosperity is a direct result of the

prioritization of Wall Street over every other sector of the economy,

including those sectors (renewable or sustainable energy) that we need

for our long-term survival. Now the debt has moved to the sovereign

level, and when Greece defaults on its debt, there is a distinct

possibility that we will have another massive stock market crash,

impoverishing even more of the 99% and wildly enriching well-

positioned Wall Street firms even more.

 

For the above reasons, I plead with you to keep the focus of this

movement on Wall Street and not on ourselves. If we don't keep finance

and its control over government paramount in our minds, we will slowly

but surely become irrelevant.

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