hey, did you know there is a walmart worker strike on black friday?
i’ve hated walmart for many years for a lot of reasons, but recently i got a new one and that is because they fired my dad for a bullshit reason after he got injured. he’s been unemployed since. true story.
i fully support it. read that link and check #walmartstrikers for more info.
on that note, here below are a bunch of thoughts on texts on historical union, direct action, and movement organizing below. sorry for the rambling and weak formatting but i’m not going to take the time to edit. if you have questions lmk.
movement building is a complicated topic. if you happen to have any thoughts i’d also love to hear them.Filed in politics and news, things you can do | Comment (0)
on why winning an election is not winning a social movement (and why you should not feel winning electoral representation is going to get you what you want or need):
“It is, of course, on occasion quite possible to translate the power accumulated through mass struggle into electoral victories and reform legislation; but the reverse is rarely if ever conceivable.
…There is a strict logic to winning elections which is quite different from the logic of winning strikes or organizing successful militant actions of any sort. In strikes and analogous forms of protest which have the object of winning concrete gains from the owners or the government, it is not only the numbers of people involved which is critical, but what they do.
Especially as the economic crisis deepens, in order to win, people have to construct a new and enormous power, for they have to extract the desire concessions, since these will be granted by the employers or the state only under great pressure.
If they are to win, then, they have to develop the most powerful solidarity; they must take risks; they have to make sacrifices; they must be prepared to take illegal actions and use force; and, in the end, they need to develop the ideas that explain and justify those actions to themselves and to others.
All this is necessary to win, because what is involved is a direct test of power with the employers and/or the state. Without such direct tests of strength little can be won, especially in periods of economic contraction like the present…
Winning an election is entirely different: it demands two basic things: 1) appealing somehow to 50% plus one of the voters; 2) getting potential supporters to the polls. Nothing else matters.”
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in case you were wondering, after reading my post on #strikedebt, whether this is just “another insular #occupy liberal fantasy/fetish among trust-fund hippies who don’t understand how the economy works”, here are links to media commentary about the #strikedebt initiative:
It has taken Occupy Wall Street long enough to manage to come up with an idea that I think we can all get behind. But they have managed it: even to the point of convincing me, a neoliberal who believes very strongly in capitalism red in tooth and claw. What they’re suggesting is that if we wish to alleviate the debt burden on people we should purchase that distressed debt and then forgive it. Sounds like an excellent plan to me.
one of the finest examples, so far, of individual capitalism at work
Business Insider: Occupy Wall Street Has An Ambitious Plan To Buy Distressed Consumer Debt And Forgive It: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-rolling-jubilee-works-2012-11
Digital Journal 11/13/12:
So far the Rolling Jubilee has collected $137000 which will abolish around $2 million worth of American held debt. The Strike Debt affiliate will take their donations and purchase the debt from the loan holders or banks and instead of collecting on it they will simply forgive it. How is this legal? You can thank the same people who made the housing bubble burst because of speculation, bad loans, and the ability to buy and sell debt.
New York Times 11/13/12: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/nyregion/occupy-offshoot-aims-to-erase-peoples-debts.html
and from across the pond:
the UK Financial Times: http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2012/10/30/1237921/haldane-occupy-and-the-path-to-reform/
There is the quiet, but unmistakable, sound of a leaf being turned.
If I am right and a new leaf is being turned, then Occupy will have played a key role in this fledgling financial reformation. You have put the arguments. You have helped win the debate. And policymakers, like me, will need your continuing support in delivering that radical change. – Bank of England’s executive director for financial stability, Andy Haldane
and, finally, a great one for skeptics: Reuters 11/13/12
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a new movement is bubbling up that i think is interesting and important.
what is #strike debt? this project is aimed at a problem most of america is facing: debt. you know what debt is. i bet you have some. but do you know how it works and what your rights are?
RIGHT NOW, a big part of their debt resistance campaign is the Rolling Jubilee.
say you are a person or family who has suffered a medical tragedy. whether insured or not, you end up owing literally millions of dollars. literally. dollars you know you can never, ever pay back. i know one family who owes more than that for saving the life of their premature baby. it didn’t matter to them that it would cost over a million dollars. it was their child. but because we don’t have national healthcare, despite the fact that they had insurance they now owe millions of dollars for saving their child. and that will forever hang over their heads, their finances, their resources. it will always affect how they can live.
so you owe a $1,000,000 medical bill for saving your baby. the insurance company knows you’ll never pay. they have the numbers. they’ve run the odds. they know there’s no chance of getting anything out of you. even though you owe them money they know you are not an asset to them. so what does the insurance company do? they bundle up your debt with a bunch of other never-going-to-be-repaid debts (also known as Asset Backed Securities) and sell them off to debt collector (in fact, banks and lenders are *required* by law to write off nonperforming debts after just 90 days.) but the debt collector doesn’t buy it for $1,000,000. the debt collector buys it for $50,000. pennies on the dollar.
and then they start calling you. constantly. in the middle of the night. sending harrassing letters. threatening your bank accounts, threatening your life. this is not an exaggeration. but they aren’t asking you for the $50,000 that they paid for your debt. they are asking for the million. they are looking to make $950,000 of you*. and they are relentless.
that $950k doesn’t even exist anymore. it was written off the books. but they are hellbent on collecting it. and you stay awake, you stress, you ruin your life trying to deal with this. this illegitimate debt.
this is a reality for way too much of america. (62% of bankruptcies are from medical debt. Also of note: In 10 years of RomneyCare in MA (which is basically exactly the same as ObamaCare), bankruptcies due to medical debt have not decreased at all. Insurance is a for-profit industry. it does not help when people really need help.)
so what is STRIKEDEBT? strike debt steps in and acts as that debt collector. they buy your $1,000,000 debt for $50,000 just like the other collector would. it’s for sale on the market. but instead of harassing you with phone calls and threatening your life, they just get rid of it. they erase it. and in a little while – out of the BLUE – a notice arrives that says “congratulations. your debt has been erased”. and your credit report shows this. it’s a real thing.
“OWS is going to start buying distressed debt (medical bills, student loans, etc.) in order to forgive it. As a test run, we spent $500, which bought $14,000 of distressed debt. We then ERASED THAT DEBT. (If you’re a debt broker, once you own someone’s debt you can do whatever you want with it — traditionally, you hound debtors to their grave trying to collect. We’re playing a different game. A MORE AWESOME GAME.)”
it seems like magic but it’s just math within the system. it’s using the system to beat the system.
STRIKEDEBT cannot buy a specific person’s debt. you cannot send money to directly help your Uncle Bob pay off the debts that his family incurred while he was overseas serving in the armed forces. but you can send money so that someone, somewhere, wakes up one day and gets a phone call or a letter that says “hey, that million dollars you spent to save your baby? guess what. you don’t owe that anymore.”
so then WHY strike debt?
after last week’s hurricane Sandy, the feeble lack of government response was powerfully overshadowed by the response of people helping people. in fact, 2 days ago when the snowstorm was coming through NYC just after Sandy, FEMA CLOSED THEIR OFFICES.
the banks got bailed out 4 years ago because of their risky and unethical business practices, which they did not to save lives but to turn profit, and in the process ruined a whole lot of american homes and dreams. they got bailed out with your tax dollars.
the government isn’t going to bail us out. we have to bail eachother out. “normal” wasn’t working. the america we want is an america we have to build.
if you want to donate to help alleviate the burden of illegitimate debt all over the united states, by the people, for the people, please, click here. $10 erases $200, $25 erases $500 in debt…. for someone, somewhere, struggling in america.
see here: one person talks about their thoughts on the functions of debt in our system and his moving personal experience at a strikedebt meeting: http://occupiedstories.com/i-take-your-stuff.html?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=i-take-your-stuff
[Strike Debt is an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street. Strike Debt is the group / movement, Rolling Jubilee is the debt-buying project. Strike Debt has many initiatives. RJ is one, another is the Debt Resistors Operations Manual, and also informational/sharing/communal assemblies. learn more about debt resistance @ http://strikedebt.org/]
*the amount the debt collectors actually try to collect may vary depending on how much they calculate/expect they can get out of you.
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In the United States a man builds a house in which to spend his old age, and he sells it before the roof is on; he plants a garden and lets it just as the trees are coming into bearing; he brings a field into tillage and leaves other men to gather the crops; he embraces a profession and gives it up; he settles in a place, which he soon afterwards leaves to carry his changeable longings elsewhere. If his private affairs leave him any leisure, he instantly plunges into the vortex of politics; and if at the end of a year of unremitting labor he finds he has a few days’ vacation, his eager curiosity whirls him over the vast extent of the United States, and he will travel fifteen hundred miles in a few days to shake off his happiness. Death at length overtakes him, but it is before he is weary of his bootless chase of that complete felicity which forever escapes him.
At first sight there is something surprising in this strange unrest of so many happy men, restless in the midst of abundance. The spectacle itself, however, is as old as the world; the novelty is to see a whole people furnish an exemplification of it.
Tocqueville wrote this in 1831, but here’s a recent NYT article on the same subject: America the Anxious
the promise of democratic happiness is anxiety-inducing.Filed in QOTD, things you can do | Tagged with affluenza, anxiety, happiness, Tocqueville | Comment (0)
1. i am wearing my cookie monster underpants in solidarity with #OccupySesameStreet
2. tangentially, more than one person thinks i went into this art school program to become (more of) an art critic, since the program is titled Critical Theory and the Arts. i did not go to art school to become an art snob. i am falling evermore in love with art. the thing is that the word “critical” isn’t intrinsically negative, and critique can be positive. in fact, i would say that even only less than a month in i already have so much more respect for all the weird crazy art-community shit my friends back in SF have done/are doing.
it might in fact turn out that i’m an optimist.
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Murray Bookchin wrote:
“Radical politics in our time has come to mean the numbing quietude of the polling booth, the deadening platitudes of petition campaigns, carbumper sloganeering, the contradictory rhetoric of manipulative politicians, the spectator sports of public rallies and finally, the knee-bent, humble plea for small reforms—in short, the mere shadows of the direct action, embattled commitment, insurgent conflicts, and social idealism that marked every revolutionary project in history. … What is most terrifying about present-day ‘radicalism’ is that the piercing cry for ‘audacity’—‘L’audace! L’auduce! Encore l’auduce!’—that Danton voiced in 1793 on the high tide of the French revolution would simply be puzzling to the self-styled radicals who demurely carry attaché cases of memoranda and grant requests into their conference rooms … and bull horns to their rallies.”Filed in politics and news, QOTD, things you can do | Tagged with #ows, affluenza | Comment (0)
this was really beautiful to read, whether you take it for your personal life or political life or occupation:
My personal perspective has to do with the idea of freedom, this idea of discovering that we have collective knowledge that brings us together, gives us strength, starts the process of discovery. This is beyond revolutionary theories, theories that we all know and have heard so often, theories that are all too often converted into tools of oppression and submission. Constructing freedom is a learning process that can only happen in practice. For me, horizontalism, autonomy, freedom, creativity, and happiness are all concepts that go together, and they’re all things that have to both be practiced, and learned in practice.
I think back to previous activist experiences, and remember a powerful feeling of submission. This includes even my own behavior, which was often excessively rigid. It was difficult for me to enjoy myself, and enjoyment is something sane that strengthens you. Under capitalism, we were giving up the possibility of enjoying ourselves and being happy. We need to constantly break with this idea. We have life, and the life we have should be lived today. We shouldn’t wait to take power, so that we can begin to enjoy ourselves in the future. We should take it now. We begin by believing in what’s possible and then we push aside all of those things that don’t allow us to create this possibility.
— neka, a member of an unemployed workers’ movement
also awesome from issue #100:
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Because history doesn’t move in straight lines but surges like water, sometimes swirling, sometimes dripping, flowing, flooding–always unknowable, unexpected, uncertain. Because the key to insurgency is brilliant improvisation, not perfect blueprints.
i closed my large corporate bank accounts and switched banks in November to the New Resource Bank in SF, but hadn’t closed my Wells Fargo acct because I had to resolve some autopay links, etc. The balance has been below $100 since November. Then WF started charging me $12/month to keep the account open. So today I went to the bank to ask them to stop charging me the fee, without mentioning my NRB switch or any threat to close my acct (not antagonistic is my point). And, long story short, they said they couldn’t stop charging me the fees. There was $32 in that account today. And on Feb 10th they are going to take almost 1/3 of that out in fees if the account stays open. I have another bank account, but they don’t know that. What about the single mom, or poor old lady, who really only has $32? WTF Wells Fargo.
It wasn’t that the Rep didn’t try to help me. Because he said he could do nothing about the fees, he tried to open me a new account – a STUDENT account, since it only has $3 monthly fees. But that’s what’s messed up, is that the employee felt the new bank rules were so strict that he had to go that route, that i would have to cancel the account i’ve had since 1998 and open a totally new one instead of just STOP CHARGING ME THE FEES.
Anyway, I’ll be closing my account with them now. And if you still haven’t switched yours, think about it. EVERY DAY IS BANK TRANSFER DAY.
5.6 Million Americans Have Switched Their Banks In The Last 90 Days
last night at the salon, a nice older woman sitting next to me asked, “so what happened with the Occupy? why did it all go so bad? it makes me so sad, i watch the news and i want to cry. i wanted good things to happen.”
“You know what you don’t see much of these days? Those moist-eyed bloggers’ odes to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Gosh, remember the columns telling us these people had a noble political agenda? Seems like just yesterday the lefty bloggers were picking through polls, telling us the American people embraced the OWS gang. But then protest turned to filth, and high-mindedness turned out to be just plain-old stench.
To write such loving tributes to OWS took extraordinary discipline, I suppose. Not to actually look (or smell) and determine who the real Occupiers (as opposed to the Occupiers refashioned for the readers of the New York Times and the Nation) were must have taken real will-power, especially since the encampments in major cities (as in the District) were only a few blocks from the journalists’ offices. Had they taken a peek or inhaled on the way to work they would have discovered the real Occupy movement.
Zack Munson reports: “There are lots of bearded folks (male and female), lots of dirty tents, some college students, the unemployed, the career homeless, some white people dancing out of rhythm to rock music played over a loudspeaker. The ‘movement’ itself is still a jumble of anti-capitalist/police/
government rhetoric and pointless noise and pungent smells.” Oh, well, who wants to write about that?”
it’s true. i haven’t wrttien about OWS/OccupyOakland in over a month, but it is not because i think the shine wore off to reveal a bunch of dirty hippies. in fact, the opposite is true. i think once the new smell and initial popculture interest wore off, who was left was a bunch of super invested people who have since then been heads-down entrenched in making things happen, not out there in the camps but in smaller working groups, in meetings, behind closed doors. see: the Alternative Banking Working Group, for example.
and despite all the negatives, the movement has been effective — causing democratic change on issues local and global, from healthcare to home evictions to school funding, not only in the higher-profile cities like New York and D.C. but also in small towns across the U.S. …. not to mentioned having kicked the door open for a lot of other progressive non-Occupy NGOs and social and cultural groups to take a stand. The Media, of course, chooses to only focus on the the bad apples. this is true for nearly every single aspect of society, not just OWS, and everybody knows it. so why don’t people question what they see on the news more often?
i told the woman at the salon to try to look up other places to read about Occupy, and that while i am not actively involved much personally, i know many amazing, hardworking people who are and i know, without any question or doubt, that they are doing good things with the right intentions.
“The breadth of this movement is one thing, its depth another. It has rejected not just the particulars of our economic system, but the whole set of moral and emotional assumptions on which it’s based. Take the pair shown in a photograph from Occupy Austin in Texas. The amiable-looking elderly woman is holding a sign whose computer-printed words say, “Money has stolen our vote.” The older man next to her with the baseball cap is holding a sign handwritten on cardboard that states, “We are our brothers’ keeper.”
The photo of the two of them offers just a peek into a single moment in the remarkable period we’re living through and the astonishing movement that’s drawn in… well, if not 99% of us, then a striking enough percentage: everyone from teen pop superstar Miley Cyrus with her Occupy-homage video to Alaska Yup’ik elder Esther Green ice-fishing and holding a sign that says “Yirqa Kuik” in big letters, with the translation — “occupy the river” — in little ones below.” – Compassion Is Our New Currency
last weekend in Oakland there was another Occupy vs. OPD clash when Occupy tried to take over an empty building. before you keep reading, WATCH THIS VIDEO.
the press and City Hall reported that the Occupiers were breaking into buildings and harrassing police and that, 6 months into the movement, all this is is a temper tantrum on the part of entitled youth and rabblerousers who should find better uses for their time and stop being a public nuisance. but here is the perspective from Occupy:
“In Oakland, thousands of active community members chose to engage in true democracy by supporting the real and pressing needs of the people. The state, which supposedly represents these people, exercised extreme police brutality and violence to protect the 1%’s vacant assets. The explicit goal of the action was to build community—to open a desperately needed community center with a library, medical care, free education and emergency housing in a city that has suffered massive budget cuts, high unemployment rates and ravaged public schools. In response, the city government poured hundreds of thousands of dollars, bullets and canisters of tear gas into declaring open war on these parents, students, workers, artists, teachers, children and veterans. These people’s only offense was to believe so deeply in the American tradition of democracy, self-sufficiency, and sacrifice for the next generation that they were willing to put their bodies on the line to make this nation the empowering democracy that we know it can be.”
And here is a journalist’s first hand account of the situation, and being unlawfully arrested: http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/01/journalists-arrested-occupy-oakland
so yeah, there are obvious issues with people taking over public buildings and setting up DIY healthcare units etc. not up to code, health violations, blah blah blah. but what i don’t understand is why the City can’t just,……let them try? see what happens? wouldn’t that cost FEWER CITY DOLLARS AND RESOURCES than hiring an outside army of police to shoot rubber bullets at citizens, people trying to create for their communities what the government has neglected to protect or provide?
which leads me back to reiterate that the main success of this movement has been to get people to WAKE UP. maybe they’re waking up to an American Dream Turned Nightmare, but if that’s the case then if Occupy stands for anything it’s this: STAND UP AND FIGHT. OCCUPY EVERYTHING that matters to you.
The Ultimate Culture Jam
“We awoke one morning to the dark realization that humanity is being dragged into a black hole of ecological, financial and spiritual catastrophe … that our democracy has been seized by a corporatocracy … that every day two hundred species of plant, insect, bird and mammal become forever extinct … that a deluge of advertising is sleepwalking our civilization to the brink of insanity … and that unless we fight back in the most visceral and creative way possible all will be lost.
And yet, what sets our struggle apart in 2012 is that we are not fighting to save a distant future. We are not trying to prevent some terrible event that is still to come. This is not about our unborn grandchildren. Instead, many of us sense that the threshold has already been crossed; the tipping point has already happened and what we are fighting for is our present. We are living in that tragic moment of eerie stillness where the fatal damage has been done, widening cracks can be seen, yet the edifice still stands and business as usual continues … but for how much longer?
Our days may be shadowed by this dark realization, but there is reason to be deeply optimistic for “where danger is, grows the saving power also.” Never before has the tantalizing possibility of a Global Spring, a worldwide people’s insurgency for democracy, seemed as close. For perhaps the first time in human history, we just might be on the edge of an everywhere-at-once revolution against the financial fraudsters, corporate lackeys and the ideology of consumerism that has brought the Earth to the precipice of collapse.
In this, the era of the total and transcendent indignato swarm, we look to each other, not to the masters above, to find out what it will take to pull off the ultimate culture jam: spiritual insurrection.”
this post is to be continued, in the vein of CULTURAL TRANSFIGURATION: OCCUPY ART.Filed in culture and random linkage, politics and news, things you can do | Tagged with #occupyoakand, #occupywallstreet, #ows, adbusters, capitalism, oakland | Comment (0)