Great new piece from Chris Hedges:
There is no danger that the protesters who have occupied squares, parks and plazas across the nation in defiance of the corporate state will be co-opted by the Democratic Party or groups like MoveOn. The faux liberal reformers, whose abject failure to stand up for the rights of the poor and the working class, have signed on to this movement because they fear becoming irrelevant. Union leaders, who pull down salaries five times that of the rank and file as they bargain away rights and benefits, know the foundations are shaking. So do Democratic politicians from Barack Obama to Nancy Pelosi. So do the array of “liberal” groups and institutions, including the press, that have worked to funnel discontented voters back into the swamp of electoral politics and mocked those who called for profound structural reform....
The Occupy Wall Street movement, like all radical movements, has obliterated the narrow political parameters. It proposes something new. It will not make concessions with corrupt systems of corporate power. It holds fast to moral imperatives regardless of the cost. It confronts authority out of a sense of responsibility. It is not interested in formal positions of power. It is not seeking office. It is not trying to get people to vote. It has no resources. It can’t carry suitcases of money to congressional offices or run millions of dollars of advertisements. All it can do is ask us to use our bodies and voices, often at personal risk, to fight back. It has no other way of defying the corporate state. This rebellion creates a real community instead of a managed or virtual one. It affirms our dignity. It permits us to become free and independent human beings.
On Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 10:53 AM, Snafu <email@example.com>
I am with Hardt and Negri on this. National governments are no longer able to manage the global financial crisis at a national level. That's why the G8 expanded to a G20, the IMF is always on board when a nation plunges into a debt-crisis, Obama begs Sarkozy-Merkel to prop up the European banks, Trichet dictates Berlusconi the terms of the Italian budget cuts, etc. It's all interconnected and economic sovereignty no longer rests with national governments. If we keep thinking within a national framework, we miss the main target, which moves swiftly at a transnational level. By this I do not mean that national policies should be disregarded as irrelevant, but it is foolish to think that the crisis will be fixed by a national job program or some other Keynesian measures.
On 10/17/11 10:44 AM, Aaron Gemmill wrote:
in general i don't think you can peg one as subordinate to the other (tho i don't know of any banks with aircraft carriers). financial power is an instrument of state power and vice versa.
On Mon, Oct 17, 2011 at 10:27 AM, Snafu <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Doug, on the question of national debt and economic growth, state power is clearly subordinated to financial power. It is the markets that decide whether it is safe to invest in state bonds or in any other financial asset in a given country. National governments and central banks have now the primary function of reassuring the markets by slashing the debt, propping up the banks (which increases in turn the debt exposure) or through quantitative easing. The mass of circulating financial assets is roughly 10 fold the global GDP. In 2010, the US GDP was estimated at $14.7 trillions whereas US financial assets at $131 trillions. It is financial capital that leads the game and it should be the primary target of this movement. You are right, Standard&Poor is a corporation. But it expresses the "collective interests" of financial capital, which needs to have arbiters that (pretend) to set the rules of the game. In this respect, it is a new form of sovereign power. The downgrading of the US debt was the first time in history in which you saw an entire political class having to justify itself before a financial institution.
(The alter-globalization movement did not ebb in Europe and other countries right after September 11, but much later--i.e. around 2005, when activists begun getting tired of chasing G8 summits. The European Social Forum in Florence was attended by 1 million people in 2003).
On 10/16/11 10:47 PM, Doug Singsen wrote:
But rating agencies and all the other players in the financial industry are themselves corporations, so they are part of the system that is described under the rubric of "corporate power." And I don't think that states are irrelevant or powerless at all. That argument was a mainstay of the global justice movement of the late nineties, but 9/11 and the events that followed blew that argument to bits, along with the global justice movement itself, which was not prepared to deal with either the massive wave of reactionary patriotism or the aggression of a suped-up, militarized US state. At a time when the US is occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, holding "terrorists" with no legal rights in Guantanamo Bay, bombing targets in Pakistan, trying to install a puppet regime in Libya, and green-lighting repression in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, state power seems far from irrelevant.
On Sun, Oct 16, 2011 at 10:20 PM, Snafu <email@example.com>
You are right Doug, and I thank you for this observation. It was not my intention inserting any reference to the obsolescence of past struggle in the declaration. I was just noting that most statements produced and approved by the GA so far are focusing on either corporate power or (now) the two-party system, whereas none of the two are to me the hegemonic forces in contemporary capitalism.
Financial capitalism is a tough beast to fight because it is at the same time abstract and diffused at a molecular level. Yet if Standard&Poor's downgrading of the US debt has such massive effects, it means that we have entered a new phase, one in which the power of rating agencies stands above that of national governments. Hence my hesitation on supporting statements that keep focusing on the traditional enemies and seem to be oblivious to the new forms of sovereignty that are emerging. The more you claim that the state is useless and powerless the more you will have to confront financial power directly. But who will regulate the stock market as the system keeps melting, the GA?
On 10/16/11 7:08 PM, Doug Singsen wrote:
It's not true that market volatility is mainly the result of the automation of financial transactions. Markets were highly volatile long before automation. The biggest financial collapse in history took place before the invention of the microchip. Rather, market volatility is an inherent part of capitalism. We also need to beware of declarations that all previous resistance is obsolete and that we need to invent new tools from scratch. The lessons of past struggles are still very much relevant today, and ignoring them is a quick recipe for repeating their errors today.