The ‘Occupy’ movement

December 2021 Forums General discussion The ‘Occupy’ movement

Viewing 15 posts - 316 through 330 (of 356 total)
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  • #86630
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    In the name of Occupy (or at least its working groups) OWS has engaged in recommending new regulations and legislation for Wall St. It is just one amongst many letters addressed to the law-making authorities. http://www.scribd.com/doc/112273221/OSEC-Shapiro-Geithner

    #86631
    SocialistPunk
    Participant

    A little extract from the Occupy letter in the above link provided by Alan. Our objective is to bring that experience to bear on the central question of how to make finance work for the 99%, If they want to make finance work, they could start by giving me a few million quid, lol..Looks like the Occupy lot are turning into a lobbying group. I suppose they gotta make a crust or two somehow. They could call themselves, OccuLob Inc.In a few years who knows what they could achieve/acquire, a nice pension package with share options, a nice big house, several flash cars, private yacht.

    #86632
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    i wouldn't tar the whole of Occupy with the same brush but there is a definite trend of so-called working groups appearing to represent Occupy opinion. I have no idea just under what authority of the general assemblies they have to speak for Occupy as a whole.I think we were worried about the undemocratic entryism of Trots into Occupy but it seems that the economists are more successful in providing Occupy with a reformist direction. The crisis was avoidable and is also solvable, just change the rules of the stockmarket and some banking legislation and, hey presto, we end inequality and poverty. A return to the American Dream. Capitalism is being presented as a system that can be tamed rather than economic system which is inherently unstable and chaotic. Changes such as retrrn to Glass-Steagall or a Volckner Rule are called for as if would have managed to stop past recessions…the Dot Com Bubble, the Asian Tiger Bubble. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_slumpWhile some in Occupy demand a capitalism without crisis we must emphasis that capitalism causes hunger death and pestilence… it is the system that unleashes the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse. The exploitative nature of capitalism has to be repeated ad nauseum.At times, i wish i had the academic technical skill to refute particular reforms. 

    #86633
    ALB
    Keymaster

    Three of us went to the "New Economy Workshop" last night in Putney. Together with 30 or so others we heard the speakers expound a combination of the views of Henry George and the Campaign for Interst-Free Money. As the meeting split up into 4 discussion groups we were able to put our view across in 3 of them.What emerged was that the speakers, apparently in the name of the London Occupy Economics Working Group, were advocating what the programme called a "land backed interest free currency — spent into the economy to create infrastructure, rental income to fund citizens income and public services". What this meant was that the government would raise money by a Single Tax on Land Values (as advocated by Henry George) and spend some of it directly and distributed the rest to everybody as a Basic Income. One of the speakers was a Henry Georgist we had met at St Pauls last year.Whn we pointed out that production for profit not banks lending at interest was the problem, we were met with the answer that profit was ok since an element of risk was involved while interest was not since it was a certain income and so was "usury" (they mentioned that this was what the sharia law taught too). These people are not opposed to capitalism even in words, which of course reflects Henry George's view that capitalism was ok and that all that was required was to tax away the rent of the land monopolists. When we mentioned common ownership and production for use without money we were told that this was "communism" and had been tried in China under Mao with terrible results.I have to say, though, that members of the audience were more hostile to "capitalism" (we got a round of applause when we said expropriate the 1% not tax them and when we denounced profit rather than interest). Which it is why it is worth our while being at these meetings.I agree with Alan that what seems to have happened is that the Working Groups have sort of been taken over by activists with their own agendas. On the other hand, their message (down with bankers and banking) and respect for the land (as part of Nature and ecology) have found an echo amongst the sort of people Occupy attracted. What we have to do of course is to point out that it is not bankers (or land monoplists) who are to blame and that therefore banking (and land reform) is not the solution.As to Socialist Punk's point, since they don't see themselves as a political party but still want laws to be passed they have effectively relegated themselves to being lobbyists of the government and the parliamentary parties to get the legislation they want (eg banking reform, reform of company law, closing tax loopholes, ending tax havens, etc, etc) even if they take "direct action" too.I think Occupy played a useful and important role last year in sparking off a wave of anti-capitalist sentiment (howver vague) but they should probably have left it at that instead of trying to continue as yet another campaigning (within capitalism) group.

    #86634
    SocialistPunk
    Participant

    Hi ALB,Good work dude.Yep, it is important the party maintain a presence, there are some at these events that actually listen.The bit you mention about them coming out with the same tired rubbish about what we advocate being tried in China etc.I imagine it was waving a red rag to a bull. Were you able to get in a rebuttal or was it a case of their platform, their last word etc?

    #86635
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    i read the latest stunt being advocated in the US is to buy and then  right off the debt, a jubilee, as the original meaning of the word was.http://www.alternet.org/occupy-buy-and-relieve-peoples-debtIt is, of course simply a publicity stunt, with no practical application.  According to the Federal Reserve, median household debt in America has risen to over $75,000.  In credit card debt alone the figure is  $798 BILLION . Outstanding student loan is a TRILLION dollars. 8 MILLION Americans are in mortgage arrears.It is linked to call for a government bail-out of debters rather than a challenge to the existence of capitalism. That has to be the aspect we concentrate upon. There's no solution without abolition.

    #86636
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    A slightly better link to Occupy strategy and Debt.http://inthesetimes.com/article/13984/you_are_not_a_loan/Is a campaign against debt in part an argument for a stronger welfare state?Jodi: Debilitating medical and student debt are the result of a market approach to medicine and education. So if Strike Debt grows, we could see demands for free healthcare and free universities. Once people stop thinking of banks as entitled to interest and fees, then we may also decide as a society that public sector workers, pensions and basic infrastructures are more important than playing the bankers’ game.Mike: Strike Debt could serve as the basis for a campaign to reestablish education, health, civic infrastructure and income maintenance as part of our basic commons, not to be auctioned off for the benefit of the few……..Occupy has to this point resisted making demands. But could a broad demand for something like debt cancellation advance the movement at this stage?Pam: Many of us believe that cancellation of some sort is inevitable; the question is who will have their debts canceled and who will not. But I don’t think we’ll see one demand, even as it relates to debt, coming out of Occupy.Pete: One year into the movement, we need to sustain the bonds that have been forged between Occupiers working on different issues in different parts of the world. How do we do this without demands? We shouldn’t be afraid of raising “mini-demands” under the broad banner of Occupy, whether we are student debt resistors or environ- mental activists fighting nuclear power. Together, we are all demanding a more just and sustainable world….

    #86637
    ALB
    Keymaster

    We've been sent this at Head Office:http://www.bopsecrets.org/recent/occupy-looking-back.htmIt seems to be a level-headed analysis of the Occupy movement (in America). Especially revealing is the answer to the first question which confirms that the movement has slid towards "localist activism" (which seems to apply even more so to the movement in London) rather than evolving towards a more global understanding of capitalism and the limits of what can be done within it (as once seemed a possibility, at least in theory).A comrade recommended No Local. Why Small-Scale Alternatives Won't Change The World by Greg Sharzer. The first couple of chapters are good and what we need to recommend to the currently dominant tendency within Occupy. (The other chapters are no good as Sharzer is unfortunately some sort of Trotskyist who thinks that eventually workers, ie for him factory workers and those who live on housing estates, will have to take up arms to get rid of capitalism, a position where Occupy is far in advance of him and his ilk, as can be seen from the analysis above by the Bureau of Public Secrets).

    #86638
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    A friendly but realistic critique of the Rolling Jubilee program of Occupy.http://jacobinmag.com/2012/11/the-problem-with-strike-debt/"is purely symbolic." [given the figures and sums involved]"Occupy has inherited a lot of American populism’s obsession with finance as the root of all evil, without connecting it to the rest of the system."…"their call for debt repudiation also seems not to have been fully thought through. The world economy nearly collapsed a few years ago because maybe 10% of debtors were unable to service their debts. If we were to return to something like that, we’d return to the verge of collapse or beyond. And such a collapse wouldn’t hurt just the 1%. Workers’ pensions would be jeopardized. Banks would fail, and millions could lose their savings. Unemployment would rise towards 1932 levels of 25%. If you’re jonesing for systemic collapse in the hope of building something better out of the rubble, then be honest about it. But don’t expect to get much support for the agenda…"The author offers the very practical solution within the system for individuals to escape debt albeit not a collective struggle one – file for bankruptcy.

    #86639
    ALB
    Keymaster

    I've been in correspondence with one of those we met at the New Putney Debates and here's an extract from one of his emails:

    Quote:
    I do not think Occupy was formed as an anti-capitalist movement. We polled it at the beginning and it did not self describe as anti-capitalist. That is more how other people have described it – similarly as being primarily anti the austerity measures. The only issue that it definitley was formed around was the bankers rip-off, this was something that you could realistically say was an opinion probably shared by 99% of people. It quickly morphed into other levels of corruption in corporations generally.Its general statements (at http://occupylondon.org.uk/about/statements/statement-on-economy)  there is no mention of being anti capitalist. It was felt that if we were to "represent" the 99% we would not do so if we were to state it in those terms altho the statements are very critical of the effects of capitalism. Quite a few in Occupy are anti capitalist though and it has sparked many conflicts and divisions.

    This confirms what we thought had happened last year when the "Capitalism is Crisis" banner suddenly disappeared from the St Paul's camp (see message #23 here: http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/forum/general-discussion/occupy-movement?page=2 ). It might also explain why we got a better reception at the stall we ran there for 6 weeks from visitors who had come to see it rather than from occupiers themselves. It doesn't alter the fact that, whether they intended it or not, they did put the question of capitalism back on to the agenda.

    #86640
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    Been a while anything has been added to this thread. Perhaps Occupy is dead, or as some of their activists proclaim , now re-directed and active in specific particular aspects of resisting capitalism…as i sid in one post – regressed back to single issues having just joined the dots and identified the whole economic system as culpable. This article offers another post-mortem centred on the views of David Graeber.  http://www.alternet.org/occupy-wall-street/anarchists-vs-liberals-whats-about?paging=off “Liberals tend to be touchy and unpredictable because they claim to share the ideals of radical movements—democracy, egalitarianism, freedom—but they’ve also managed to convince themselves that these ideals are ultimately unattainable. For that reason, they see anyone determined to bring about a world based on those principles as a kind of moral threat.” – Graeber The article highlights how “At the core of much of Graeber’s book is a dubious belief that process itself is more important than any particular issue. Graeber, a member of the OWS facilitation group, rhapsodizes about the general assembly, which operated by consensus with “at least two facilitators, one male, one female, one to keep the meeting running, the other to ‘take stack’…We discussed hand signals and non-binding straw polls or ‘temperature checks.’”  The article pointed out that “Horizontal decision making at general assemblies and small groups could go on for hours. Far from being democratic, the time-consuming process discriminated against people with jobs, those who had to take care of children or sick people, those with health problems of their own and those unfamiliar with anarchist culture and jargon, among others. Just as is the case with liberal structures, horizontalism encourages democracy in some contexts and dampens it in others…Graeber is not clear about what happens when anarchists “with a small a” don’t like a decision made by a larger group of people via the consensus process.” The structure of Occupy’s democracy was also the core of many of those within the WSM crticisms and was expressed in a number of discussion posts. The article repeats the folly of equating no leadership with structurelessness which was indeed stated in Socialist Stnadard article if i remember correctly. (I find it mildly amusing that one ex-member’s enthusiasm for Occupy’s style of democracy has evolved into support for a left-wing united front which endeavours to create another political party by participants possessing principles of top-down decision-making and who sadly have not presented any self-criticism of such policies they hold but in fact desire to replicate them within Left Unity)  We would take issue with the article in that the wau forward was formulating reform demands and formally engaging with reformists. But our slant on anti-reformism is not touched upon in any depth by this critique of the anarchist no-compromise, no-surrender version of anti-reformism.   

    #86641
    ALB
    Keymaster
    alanjjohnstone wrote:
    I find it mildly amusing that one ex-member’s enthusiasm for Occupy’s style of democracy has evolved into support for a left-wing united front which endeavours to create another political party by participants possessing principles of top-down decision-making and who sadly have not presented any self-criticism of such policies they hold but in fact desire to replicate them within Left Unity

    I'm not sure that he has embraced top-down organisation (though that's how the proposed Left Unity party may well end up being organised), but he does accept that the "consensus decision-making" favoured by Graeber is not appropriate for a party. Here's what he says in reply to one comment on his report of the 11 May LU meeting:

    Quote:
    The only alternative I know of to motions and so on is Occupy style consensus. This is great, creative and very good at building solidarity. Is this what you had on mind? I’m not convinced it would be appropriate for Left Unity but would be open to hearing the arguments.

    Yes, when a decision-making body gets beyond a certain size consenus decision-making is not even practical, however desirable it might or might not be.  Then motions, voting, majority-decision-making have to be brought in to ensure democratic control.

    #86642
    alanjjohnstone
    Participant

    i think many members of the Socialist Party have learned is never to trust in language and how political views are expressed. You may well be right that some still feel that there is a potential with Left Unity for genuine expression and i am too much of a cynic but all i see is confusion.http://internationalsocialistnetwork.org/index.php/ideas-and-arguments/organisation/left-unity/116 “A revolutionary party is not the vanguard of the class by virtue of its ideas, but instead revolutionaries aim to relate to the vanguard of the class, namely its most advanced, conscious elements, and unite them in a common organisation.”  This is quite meaningless to me.We appear to have the “vanguard of the class” and it is not because of the ideas that they represent that they are the vanguard but because they are defined to be “in struggle” (“strikes and occupations to anti-cuts campaigns and bedroom tax protests” ) But aren’t we all involved in one way or another with the class struggle? Those holding the most reactionary of politics of my postal colleagues were often at the fore-front of our strikes. It is not a life-style choice but an objective reality for workers that we cannot hide from. And the distinguishing factor is a differing consciousness specifically because of ideas and not simply of the action that is engaged in. It is acknowledged in this contradictory paragraph “…the task of revolutionaries is to win those sections of the class engaged in struggle to revolutionary methods and ideas, not through abstract propaganda, or by somehow manoeuvring themselves into leading positions in the movement, but by uniting with them in common organisations with common objectives, and winning them to a revolutionary programme through argument…” (my emphasis)Anyways we can always hope against expectation that miraculous events may transpire within Left Unity and the Peoples Assembly. Again this should probably be on the Left Unity thread.

    #86643
    J Surman
    Participant

    The article below is from Taksim Square from a guy who says he's a union member. He calls it an 'occupy' movement and certainly at the moment the square is being occupied.http://truth-out.org/speakout/item/16741-like-a-tree-like-a-forest-in-taksim-squareThe media here is covering little of what's happening around the country but social media is filling many gaps.I think what the guy is saying is a pretty accurate account of the different kinds of people involved. Anger has been building up against the PM Erdoğan and his overly dictatorial stance for some time now. Some reasons: involvement in Syria – very unpopular; tightening of rules re alcohol – starting 2 or 3 years ago when Istiklal Caddesi's street cafes/bars were forbidden to serve alcohol outside and now some new countrywide restrictions; that the PM should be involved in what is built where in Istanbul, why he is being the spokesperson; two youngsters reprimanded in the Ankara metro for kissing in public (which caused immediate protests of public kiss-ins; Taksim Square has been a public space since the foundation of the republic – the first tree was planted by Atatürk and the PM is determined to make it a private space (like UK shopping malls) – it has also traditionally been used for protests and for May Day demos. So these are a few things that have built up leading up to what's happening now in towns all across the country. There are lots of other things too, a real mixed bag and the media is tightly controlled and/or self-censored too.Calls now are mixed but generally for the fall of the govt or the removal of the PM (who's out of the country now for a few days visiting N.Africa).It will be interesting to see what happens today and tomorrow as there's been a union call for a 2 day strike. On TV Russia Today has reasonable coverage -( you can watch RT online if there's no satellite coverage – is it banned in UK like Press TV is? They also do reasonable coverage.)The smaller political parties, CHP, BDP have been calling for some time for a 3% threshhold to replace the longstanding 10% which effectively keeps them from getting significant seats in parliament. 

    #86644
    J Surman
    Participant

    To add to my previous post, I just found this;http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/juancole/ymbn/~3/ckWD3Kaj1m8/turkish-majorities-policies.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=emailfrom Informed Comment which says something similar but also adds some figures from a public opinion poll showing the cross section of Turks and how they feel about various aspects of govt policy. There's definitely a huge deficit of democracy and that is repeated to me over and over by friends and neighbours.

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