Showing posts tagged Occupy Wall Street


Another occupy question for the anarchists out there:

One of the biggest drains of energy I saw was all of us fighting ceaselessly about appropriate tactics.

Ironically, the pacifists were the most aggressive and belligerent about these arguments.

These are important conversations, but it seemed like a waste of energy that could have gone into actual organizing or, heck, trying to maintain what was left of your life outside of occupy.

And I didn’t see any other options besides:

A: fight endlessly and bitterly


B: just give the liberals what they want.

Neither one seems particularly good.

Any thoughts about how we deal with this better the next time a significant and ideologically wide ranging popular movement pops up?

I seem to recall reading David Graeber (maybe it’s in “The Shock of Victory”) having a theory that all fights about tactics are simply proxy fights for larger issues. I don’t know if there’s any way to get around that in any movement that’s ideologically diverse. People with different ideologies are also going to have disagreements on tactics, even assuming they’re working toward similar goals.

Maybe I’ve got followers who have more insight or experience. Anyone want to take a crack at it?



Cage match: Harvey vs. Graeber. Read our recent interviews with both gentlemen.

It’s like a whole bunch of the things I always talk about on my blog all together.

I wonder whether Occupy might not think of something of that sort. If you are not allowed to have backpacks in Zuccotti Park, okay. Go down there without backpacks. Do they have a dress code there that says you can’t wear a certain kind of t-shirt? Are they going to do something like that? So suddenly if, I don’t know, every Thursday at 5:00 a few hundred people appear wearing t-shirts of some kind wander into the park and just walk around. It could be a silent kind of protest. What kind of world would we be in if people just wearing a t-shirt couldn’t do this? You press the legitimacy — this is the point about the legitimacy of authority. You press authority to behave in such a way that it loses its legitimacy entirely. The legitimacy of government in this country is at a pretty low point already. I think some tactics like that would be interesting. It seems to me that there are intermediate things between camping overnight and occupying a space for a long time.

The Peter G. Peterson Institute is located at 1750 Massachusetts Ave, just steps from Dupont Circle. It’s a modern, glass building that is named, as you might have guessed, for its principal donor, Peter G. Peterson, the billionaire investor who co-founded Blackrock, served as secretary of commerce under President Richard Nixon, and is one of Washington’s most influential deficit hawks. And on Tuesday, it got occupied.
But there were no mic checks. There was no chanting. Fact is, the Peterson Institute invited the occupiers in. They hosted “a luncheon meeting to publicize the release of ‘The Occupy Handbook.’” And over steak roulade and fruit tarts, members of Washington’s most elite policy shop allied themselves, in name and economic analysis if not in living situations, with the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Ezra Klein, in the Washington Post

What the fuck? You want to know why people got upset and started occupying parks all over the country? It’s because the economic decisions that affect their lives are made by elites in fancy Washington, DC think tanks funded by billionaire investment bankers. And the Peter G. Peterson Institute is one of the prime culprits at pushing for “bipartisan” and ”centrist” neoliberal solutions to our problems, the primary one, naturally, being our federal budget deficit caused by “out-of-control entitlement spending.”

And Ezra Klein is the sort of bright, young, liberal journalist to impress with talk about how we could make some tax changes, reverse some of the financial deregulation of the Bush years, and we’ll be able to carry on just as before. I mean, I guess it’s something. The working classes don’t normally get that much of bone thrown our way unless somebody gets genuinely worried. But, for fuck’s sake, nobody camped out in an inhospitable downtown plaza under a purposely intimidating level of police surveillance so that the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics could host a luncheon and maybe put out some white papers about how to keep income inequality down to a manageable level.


It’s back! [Via @OccupyWallStNYC]


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Posted at 1:03am
Reblogged (Photo reblogged from bostonreview)
Tagged occupy Wall Street


In the midst of Yet Another Tactical Debrief, this time on the recent Move-In-Day-turned-street-semi-battle-then-mass-arrest at Occupy Oakland, I ended up tossing out on Twitter a cluster of successful movement moments, some of which involved fighting back against cops—Stonewall, Cochabamba Water War, anti-apartheid defiance campaign, Tahrir Square 2011—and others of which involved a calculated refusal to fight back, even to the point of enduring direct state violence: anti-nuclear demos, the 1980s Central America solidarity movement, the Gandhian salt march. In my estimation, every single one of these was successful, which raises the question of what they had in common.

What these moments do not share in common is their achievement of a universally correct balance of nonviolence and forcefulness, self-sacrifice and safety, or daring and accessibility, but rather their solution to an immediate and tangible tactical problem that had been totally disabling to their movements. Without these solutions, the trajectories of their movements were towards frustration with the possibilities of action, and thereby to spirals of apathy and spurts of ineffective outrage. With them in mind, the trajectories shifted to hopeful emulation, contagious optimism, and surges in new participation, leading to a whole new scale for participation.

Carwil Bjork-James at Jadaliyya, adding some additional thoughts to the debate on violent vs. non-violent protest. This is pretty much where I’ve been on the matter. The primary concern is to use tactics that work. Sometimes violence does the trick, sometimes Gandhian non-violence tactics work best, sometimes there’s a variety of tactics. But each protest movement is different, and there’s reason to consider what worked some other time to be an ideal that you can use every time.

The existence of the Occupy movement is the movement’s “one demand”

It’s been a while since the “should Occupy Wall Street makes demands” debate has reared its head. I suppose it’s a sign that there’s still life left in the movement that the New York Review of Books rehashes it. And Ta-Nehisi Coates of the Atlantic has a blog piece up about their article in which he comments on the comparison between OWS and the Civil Rights movement:

To my mind, Occupy’s greatest contribution was placing the wealth gap on the radar. But the Civil Rights movement didn’t merely seek to put segregation “on the radar.” It sought to end it. To merely highlight the problem, and then to refuse to engage would have been everything the Civil Rights movement wasn’t. It would have been cynical.

The position he takes on this bugs me.

Read More


So long as the police—and more importanly, the politicians who control them—can define the limits of permissible protest and lie to the public with impunity, they are free to take whatever repressive measures they wish, all the while blaming everything on the actions of the protesters. The legitimacy of the police is a cause of police violence, and therefore the only way to ultimately reign in the cops is to tear away their veil of public support. It’s worth remembering that when the tide turned in the Egyptian revolution, it wasn’t because the cops stood down in the face of mass protests; it was because they were literally chased off the streets.
Peter Frase, on the fact that the only way to avoid “provoking the police” is complete and total subservience, and probably just to call the whole protest off ahead of time for good measure. They use brutality and lies to get what they want and to avoid the blame, and anything that the rest of us do to accept that situation helps them.



Another subpoena to Twitter for Occupy related account

Twitter today informed user @destructuremal that the State of New York had issued a subpoena for his account information. The account holder, Malcolm Harris of New York City, is an Occupy Wall Street activist who has been involved in movement organizing since at least September 2011.
[Read More]

Shit just keeps coming…

It’s got to be for starting the rumor that Radiohead was going to play Occupy Wall Street. Pranking Gawker is serious business.
But seriously, this is all bullshit. Nice to see that Twitter isn’t obeying the orders not to reveal that they’ve been subpoenaed. Who knows what other companies just comply with these bullshit subpoenas and gag orders, and we never hear about it.



Another subpoena to Twitter for Occupy related account

Twitter today informed user @destructuremal that the State of New York had issued a subpoena for his account information. The account holder, Malcolm Harris of New York City, is an Occupy Wall Street activist who has been involved in movement organizing since at least September 2011.

[Read More]

Shit just keeps coming…

It’s got to be for starting the rumor that Radiohead was going to play Occupy Wall Street. Pranking Gawker is serious business.

But seriously, this is all bullshit. Nice to see that Twitter isn’t obeying the orders not to reveal that they’ve been subpoenaed. Who knows what other companies just comply with these bullshit subpoenas and gag orders, and we never hear about it.

[C]onservatism adapts and adopts, often unconsciously, the language of democratic reform to the cause of hierarchy.
Corey Robin, The Reactionary Mind. The other night, I went to a talk about anarchism and its relation with the Occupy movement by Cindy Milstein, author of Anarchism and its Aspirations. Then, all day yesterday while I was at work, I was thinking about some of the things she was saying about how people who hadn’t been familiar with such things quickly came to understand and fight for the power of the consensus process at Occupy general assemblies, and how it relates to the point Corey Robin was making in the above quote. I’d like to expand on this later, but, briefly, I think it’s a real strength of Occupy that such a core part of it starts from an explicitly non-hierarchical basis. When you start from a core belief in fighting hierarchy wherever it may be lurking in your process, I think it’s much more resistant to being corrupted by counter-revolutionaries.

We already learned in 2008 that debts — even trillions in debts — can be made to go away if the debtor is sufficiently rich and influential. It is only a matter of time before people draw the obvious conclusions: that if money is just a social arrangement, so many IOUs that can be renegotiated by mutual agreement, then if democracy is to mean anything, that has to be true for everyone, not just the few.

And the implications of that, could be epochal.

Anthropology professor and anarchist activist David Graeber, discussing his new book Debt: The First 5000 Years, which I just bought yesterday. I’m pretty excited about this book, so expect a bit more along these lines. Also, he’s involved with that whole Occupy Wall Street thing that I’ve been meaning to post about. (via youthisastateofmind)

Just saw this old post of mine get a couple reblogs. Obviously written back in the early days of Occupy Wall Street (I think it must have been October 4th or 5th that I bought the book).

(Source: Washington Post)


Occupy Comix #1: Stories of the 99%

Occupy Comix is being launched to bring you the anecdotes, glimpses, pictures and critical stories and dreams of struggle occurring all around us.

This issue is the first of what will hopefully be a free bi-monthly illustrated publication chronicling the lives and issues of the 99%.

We believe that artists and writers can help transform our world, to build a new Mythos of Hope. Let us know what you think.

Free to download

Great idea!

Obviously we failed to spark a social revolution. But one reason we never got to the point of inspiring hundreds of thousands of people to rise up was, again, that we achieved our other goals so quickly. Take the question of organization. While the anti-war coalitions still operate, as anti-war coalitions always do, as top-down popular front groups, almost every small-scale radical group that isn’t dominated by Marxist sectarians of some sort or another—and this includes anything from organizations of Syrian immigrants in Montreal or community gardens in Detroit—now operate on largely anarchist principles. They might not know it. But contaminationism worked. Alternately, take the domain of ideas. The Washington consensus lies in ruins. So much so it’s hard no to remember what public discourse in this country was even like before Seattle.

David Graeber in “The Shock of Victory” the first essay in his new collection Revolutions in Reverse, which I posted yesterday (complete with the whole thing in Scribd, so you can read it all yourself), in which he proposes the provocative thesis that “the biggest problem facing direct action movements is that we don’t know how to handle victory.” If you’re interested in trying to figure out how we’re ever going to get around to overthrowing global capitalism, this is a must-read. It’s from 2008, I believe, so it’s interesting to see how things are playing out these days with our current protest movement. Certainly, these issues are going to become important in the future when we evaluate whether Occupy Wall Street succeeded or not.

This passage seems especially relevant as the Occupy movement matures and gets some successes to its credit:

Still, some implications are pretty obvious. The next time we plan a major action campaign, I think we would do well to at least take into account the possibility that we might obtain our mid-range strategic goals very quickly, and that when that happens, many of our allies will fall away. We have to recognize strategic debates for what they are, even when they seem to be about something else. Take one famous example: arguments about property destruction after Seattle. Most of these, I think, were really arguments about capitalism. Those who decried window-breaking did so mainly because they wished to appeal to middle-class consumers to move towards global-exchange style green consumerism, to ally with labor bureaucracies and social democrats abroad. This was not a path designed to create a direct confrontation with capitalism, and most of those who urged us to take this route were at least skeptical about the possibility that capitalism could ever really be defeated at all. Those who did break windows didn’t care if they were offending suburban homeowners, because they didn’t see them as a potential element in a revolutionary anti-capitalist coalition. They were trying, in effect, to hijack the media to send a message that the system was vulnerable—hoping to inspire similar insurrectionary acts on the part of those who might considering entering a genuinely revolutionary alliance; alienated teenagers, oppressed people of color, rank-and-file laborers impatient with union bureaucrats, the homeless, the criminalized, the radically discontent. If a militant anti-capitalist movement was to begin, in America, it would have to start with people like these: people who don’t need to be convinced that the system is rotten, only, that there’s something they can do about it.

I’m sitting alone at home on a Friday night, but after reading this I’ve at least got some big dreams. Seriously, though, read it.


Visual Student Loan Debt

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