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OWS: The Prospects

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We’re two months and two weeks into OWS, far too early to foresee the many possible futures of what still has a potential of becoming a full-fledged movement. And yet, this is ample enough time, I think, to develop a perspective, however partial. In any case, we may try.

It’s my considered opinion that unless OWS becomes injected with a new life force or spirit, it has pretty much exhausted itself by now. And no, I’m not referring here to the winter season that’s upon us, which will surely make physical occupation of public spaces logistically prohibitive. Nor am I precluding the possibility of an occasional jumpstart or a boost. What better cause for incitement, I might add, than episodes of unprovoked police brutality, as exemplified by the recent pepper spray incident at UC Davis? No, I’m afraid that my negative assessment of OWS’s potential, my reasons for pessimism run deeper than that, much deeper, and they’re far more perturbing.

Let’s consider the positives. OWS, we’re told, has already shifted the focus of public debate from our budgetary wars and supercommittee deliberations to income inequality, in spite of little or no coverage from the mainstream media. It may have a profound effect on the 2012 elections, both local and national, and on future policy.

It has become a platform for campaigning on any number of diverse issues, from Wall Street greed and widespread government corruption to environmental concerns; from our selling tear gas to Egypt (while condoning the people’s revolt) to rising tuition costs and the inner city stop-and-frisk practices by some of our finest. And all that, mind you, without putting forth any specific demands and thus risking the danger of becoming co-opted by the political mainstream.

Lastly, many point to the GAs and their overriding emphasis on reaching consensus as some of OWS’s greatest and lasting accomplishments. Here, we’re made to believe the people are finally getting a real taste of what a true participatory democracy is like, a lifetime experience which they’re simply bound to take home with them once they return to their communities and start applying the newly-learned principles and skills on the local level. It’s then, we’re being assured, the hard work will begin and the movement will have come to fruition. I’ll address the aforementioned eventuality shortly; as to the rest, I have only one word for it: Humbug!

We don’t need OWS to remind us that our political system is broken or that Goldman Sachs runs both our government and our everyday lives. And we certainly don’t need OWS to suddenly become aware of the ever-growing income inequality in America. To any astute observer however, the writing was on the wall even in the sixties, which saw the inauguration of LBJ’s War on Poverty. In fact, some, to those who have always borne the greatest brunt, the African-Americans and other people of color, to women, it’s been there all their lives.

Nor do we need OWS to bring our attention to rising tuition costs and mounting student debt, which are themselves only symptoms of the corporatism and push towards privatization which have come to pervade our institutions of higher learning, our churches, and our corridors of power. Again, the signs were all there since Reagan’s deregulation and the merger and acquisition era.

Lastly, we don’t need OWS to alert us to the fact that we’re a militaristic and rogue state insofar as our neighbors are concerned and a rapidly approaching police state with respect to our own citizens, whether by virtue of our ill-fated War on Drugs, which incarcerates a great many of our citizens for minor offenses, or the more recent War on Terror. Justitfied or not, the Patriot Act, nearly guaranteed to become a regular feature of the American life henceforth, is all the proof you’ll ever need. So yes, if that’s the size or the scope of OWS’s message, if that’s all it brings to the table, then no, thank you. We can do without!

Perhaps the most ominous telltale of OWS’s abject failure is its apparent inability to reach out beyond the immediate, expressed or unexpressed, concerns about the state of the nation; beyond concerns about rising tuition costs or Wall Street greed or what else have you. Except for the faithful few, the message has fallen on deaf ears thus far. Indeed, those who still consider themselves middle class are certainly out of the loop, as evidenced by record sales on Black Friday.

The movement has made virtually no impact on our black communities and our poor, the ever-growing segment of our society which deserves our utmost attention. It made no impact whatever on our right, the Tea Party types who are partially aligned with the OWS message, at least insofar as antistatism is concerned. It failed to convince anyone, to sway anyone. Indeed, even this little forum, populated as it may be by our resident politicos, no longer shows any active interest in OWS now the novelty has worn off; and the momentum has definitely shifted to rehashing the same old topics that lead nowhere. As to the remaining “one percent,” I don’t give a damn!

A comparison with the Tea Party is instructive.  Despite its relative successes in mainstream politics, it fell short of becoming a populist movement, to the point it failed to become more inclusive, to embrace all Americans who were no lesser victim of government malfeasance, high and low, all those who suffer no lesser indignities at the hands of a totally corrupt and dysfunctional system. Well, OWS is likely to suffer the same fate, the fate of becoming irrelevant.

If there’s one thing that’s conspicuously absent in the present configuration of the so-called people’s movement, our OWS, is a voice, a strong and powerful voice, the kind of voice with which Martin Luther King Jr. – and Gandhi, Lincoln and Jesus Christ before him – all spoke; the kind of voice that would invariably bring a tear to the eye and a lump to the throat, the kind of voice that would always disarm, never estrange. It made no difference whatever whether you were black or white, or what your ethnic origin, sex or gender was, it’s the strength of the universal voice and universal type of message, a message which speaks to what’s universal in all of us, that it’s irresistible. And no, I’m not speaking of a politician here, black or white, for politicians and statesmen come a dime a dozen, only of a voice.

Thus far, Cornel West has been the only voice of account. Long live Dr. West!

How do you suppose our community activists will fare once they return home and start organizing? How will their message and work resonate with those who have been excluded thus far? No better than it resonates right now, I can assure you. It will be perceived as just another one of the white man’s fool’s errands, as another pathetic example of the privileged white man’s last hope, that’s how! The time to win hearts and minds is now, not after the dog and pony show is over!

An astute observer has recently remarked that OWS is just “one event, one stage in a long process of working out certain social forces, such as the desire to escape from slavery, (#28)” and I can’t help but concur. But that’s a rather long view by the all-seeing eye of God and on that view, everything will work itself out in the end. Besides, it’s rather naive. You want my honest opinion? All I see here is rationalization prompted by the white man’s guilt, by his unquenchable desire for atonement for sins past.

Well, I can’t wait for the universe to set itself aright. I don’t want to wait. Waiting is synonymous with the refusal to take responsibility, a kind of Taoist-Buddhist philosophy whereby human agency is of little or no account, a philosophy I’m not ready to embrace just yet. In any case, an African-American would tell the white man he’s two hundred years behind the curve. There’d be no sympathy there, only amusement; amusement and pity, “Tuition costs, student debt? Get off it! Come talk to me when you’ve got something to say.”

All meaningful communications are about sharing first and foremost, and sharing demands a requisite level of empathy, a state of mind and heart whereby none is better than the other, where all are on an equal footing because we’re subject to the same forces, because we’re all human. And personal relations come before all political relations if only by setting the tone. In fact, I’m beginning to think that most of our political discourses are but a subterfuge, a defense, a face-saving mechanism which allows us to ignore all those with whom we’re in contact day in and day out, while doing our damnedest to try to convince ourselves and others that all our actions and thought proceed from the ultimate concern.

It’s one of the recurrent themes in Akira Kurosawa’s unforgettable works of art, Red Beard, for instance. The people flock to however slight a show of affection, gentleness, and kindness. Likewise with The Idiot, another, albeit extreme, example of how even the most recalcitrant of us will respond to the goodness in another’s heart. I find it significant that Kurosawa takes his lead here from Dostoevsky, as he had done earlier with Maxim Gorky (The Lower Depths and Shakespeare (Throne of Blood); which makes one almost wish they were born Japanese. But I digress.

All of this goes to show, I suppose, that all manner of loyalty, allegiance, commonality of purpose, without exception, is the natural, organic outgrowth of personal relations. Politics comes later!  Which again, places all forms of political thought and action in a rather precarious position; it’s precisely because all political talk is cheap, so cheap, for being at at least one remove from the personal; we had better do better!

In light of these remarks, I find it rather ironic that the very people who ought to have coalesced so as to form an affinity of sorts, have only drifted apart. I can’t blame our forum for this. It contains its usual share of contrarians and all nonesuch, no more and no less, I suppose, than any other comparable discussion site. I do blame my friends, however, or those at least I‘ve always considered my friends. It’s almost as though since the revolution kicked in, they seem to have opted for finding their kicks in the General Assembly. It’s almost as though they’ve lost all their marbles since the event or were one-dimensional from the very start, having had no life, no life whatever, until OWS materialized to make them whole.

But then again, who am I to complain? After all, I’m just a pixel.  Be that as it may, bell hooks, one of the most radical of the black feminist writers I admire, ended her diatribe against the white (and black) supremacist male with a rhapsody to love, Love as the Practice of Freedom.

Go figure!

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About Roger Nowosielski

  • I’ll take a look at that site and see what goes. Don’t have a cable, though, but that shouldn’t prevent me from commenting, I suppose.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Moyers&Company premiers via American public Media on many PBS and other outlets January 13th, most often at 9pm. See also billmoyers.com where I have entered the tactical discussion and have not yet been censored. I’d like to see some of your fervor there. The audience is more generic because of connection to a regularly broadcast program. Moyers opens with the Meltdown thing. The rehashing is necessary because people are repelled by the facts.

    I continue having residual problems from MRSA and sepsis that nearly took my life recently. Can’t go outside due to pneumonia, and using a walker, can’t yet drive. My leg seems to be healing after an infected vein was removed by arthroscoped laser. Rob Reich says Hillary will replace Biden as VP.He has inside informants. Biden becomes Sec. of State, old fool.

  • What makes you think so, Igor? Have you looked into the material I linked to? I didn’t detect any scam in there.

  • Igor

    The worker-owner thing is just modern share cropping scheme: a scam in which the operator is a slave , the profit of whose work passes on to the ‘real’ owner, as known by a piece of paper he bought from a politician.

  • Anarcissie

    How would you see this occurring?

  • Workers-Owners of America, Unite!

    Will Cooperative Workplaces Democratize U.S. Economy?

    Looks like a positive movement afoot, completely ignored by MSM. OWS could tap into it.

  • I have no choice but to stay abreast, my man. Since I’m not getting any younger in years, thinking and keeping up is the only ticket.

    I wouldn’t, however, make the claim you make as regards communism, not if we go by Marx’s definition, which had to do only with an alternative organization of the system of production, not the nature of the state.

  • Igor

    Thanks for the citation to the Chinese village problems, Roger.

    “167 – roger nowosielski

    An indisputable object lesson on how capitalism renders formerly self-sufficient communities into dependent ones, dependent to the point they can’t event fend for themselves in term of self-sustenance and food production.”

    Of course, communism does exactly the same thing (Stalin and Maos history is full of really horrible mass murders of discontented villagers and workers.)

    Communism and Capitalism are simply two sides of the same coin. They are brothers (Cain and Able? Which is which?).

    They both seek to destroy family and community in order to replace them with their artificial love object: the State. And both have a certain efficacy at making the state the Real Opiate Of the People, while pointing out what devils The Other are.

    But they are really the same.

  • Of course we don’t disagree on the question of senseless violence, Dreadful. I just think you took a rather narrow view as to the root causes of the London event. Even the NPR report I cited is not entirely convincing. True, they identify the stop n search practice, but I see it as nothing else but a trigger. Poverty and a sense of hopelessness certainly figured in the background.

    Again, I’m not saying that many have not joined the crowd for the express purpose of looting, but I find it hard to believe all were intent on looting in the first place. What I thing we dealt with was unexpressed and not articulated rage.

    OWS, on the other hand, benefited from all the planning that went on beforehand.

  • Rog, just saw your link to the NPR thing about the London riots, which I missed when you posted it a few days ago.

    Although it’s true that stop-and-search is set up in such a way that it encourages discrimination by police, I still don’t see why my being upset about aimless violence and destruction of property is such a horrid attitude to have. Whatever message there might have been was lost beneath all of that.

    I’m sure the “1%” and their minions would love it if the Occupy people rioted. Then they’d have unambiguous evidence for their whining about the protesters being a bunch of thuggish layabouts.

  • Igor

    167 – roger:

    “And insofar as NPR is concerned, apparently any critique of capitalistic ways, whether in China or in US, is a taboo.”

    True. NPR continues to become more and more rightist every day. The incessant belligerence of radical rightists is finally reducing a once good media resource to just another slave of corporate interests.

    Now, when they want an economist to speak on an issue they call Jacob Kierkegard (yup!) of the Peterson Institute, who obediently produces the take dictated by his employer, Pete Peterson, a multi-billionaire whose entire purpose for founding an “institute” was to glorify and justify his own immense fortune.

    And no contrary opinion is provided.

    The abject servitude of NPR to radical rightists is exemplified by dumping the opera reporter because she went to an OWS public meeting. I guess they were afraid she might report something favorable about “Cosi fan Tutti” whose lighthearted attitude toward fidelity would offend the prudes of the radical right.

    The NPR staff seems to tremble at the thought of O’Reilly screaming at them.

  • or you’ve proven it to be a waste of time

  • I wonder, though, how many liberals, good intentions and all, are going to chime in.

    My bet is none. It’s against their religion,.

  • No, I haven’t heard if from you, but if I have, it didn’t register.

    In any case, it’s a revelation for me. Makes things so much clearer.

  • Anarcissie

    I would expect almost any instance of capitalism to be centralizing and globalizing, except where inhibited by some external force.

    As for all corruption being local to begin with, the established order grows out of daily life. Or is replicated in daily life — that sounds more theoryish. Anyway, you’ve heard me say it before.

  • Another fresh look at “man-made hunger”:

    Police Put China Village On Lockdown Amid Unrest.

    An indisputable object lesson on how capitalism renders formerly self-sufficient communities into dependent ones, dependent to the point they can’t event fend for themselves in term of self-sustenance and food production.

    As an interesting aside, although NPR is usually most scrupulous about furnishing a podcast of whatever snippets it airs, none is available as of now, except for the transcript I linked to. It’s doubly troubling, I suppose, because we Americans are usually critical of China, especially when it comes to China’s violation of human rights. Not this time, however. Which leads to a rather interesting conclusion: apparently, NPR had thought providing the podcast unfit for no other reason that inherent in the report was also criticism of the capitalistic ways. And insofar as NPR is concerned, apparently any critique of capitalistic ways, whether in China or in US, is a taboo. I’m no subscriber now to any conspiracy theory, just to let you know, but it’s still food for thought. And it tells a thing or two about NPR.

    On a more important note, however, it becomes more and more evident that perhaps we’re barking the wrong tree when we think that our elected representatives suddenly become corrupt once they become exposed to the Washington, DC culture. Any such hypothesis is bound to make us scratch our heads, wondering no doubt what can we possibly do in order to be smarter about the people we elect to represent us.

    Well, I suggest that the aforementioned case study — a one of a kind example, I admit, and anecdotal too, if you insist — points to quite a different conclusion, namely that all corruption is local to begin with, and that only from there does it spread concentrically, as it were, to infest the rest of the body politic.

    A far more reasonable hypothesis, I dare say, that the root causes of corruption on the national level can be traced no further than corruption in our cities, towns and hamlets.

    I think it an eye-opener of sorts, don’t you?

  • OK

  • jeannie danna


    e-mail failed, send e-mail to me.

  • Another example of crackdown on the part of the beleaguered and increasingly police type of state: debtors’ prisons, so as to put away potential discontents and troublemakers.

  • And don’t forget about the email.

  • Roger,
    Thank you for the link. I’ll check it out.

  • Shoot, Jeannie, I appreciate it. I had no idea it generates so many comments in so short a timetable. You got to tell me about it sometime.

    Here, btw, is a link to a somewhat similar article on truthdig, so take a look at it when you have a chance, especially the comments. Anarcissie is still there, remember her? and I go by the name of “Foucauldian.” At this point, she’s my main point of intellectual contact, but she’s not as impulsive in her responses as I am (in order to advance the discussion); her responses are always “measured”; different temperament, I guess. In any case, she does have a point when she says that “talk is cheap,” and I agree.

    As to the drought I’m experiencing right now when compared to past affinities, if you’ll email me, I’ll let you on. My email is “last name followed by a letter “z” — one string, lower caps, the same server as before.

    You would want to know.

  • Hi Roger,
    Again! I sent your article to a friend on Digg and Look!
    127 diggs and 21 facebooks.

    Mind you, one schmuck thought only people camped out in the streets can have an opinion about Occupy.

    🙂 Later Gater

  • jeannie danna

    Hi Roger,
    I sent your article to a friend on Digg and

  • Spread the word, Detroit should be the next focal point of occupation.

    (a) the city is about to go broke, podcast and transcript

    (b) the blotting phenomenon , whereby foreclosed properties are being reclaimed by the residents.

    The acreage of foreclosed area in Detroit City approximates that of Miami.

    Looks like a sweet occupation target.

  • The myth of black middle class:

    podcast and transcript.

    Also the myth of the resulting homelessness as caused by mental disorder.

  • A study as to the possible causes of the recent London riots:

    (a) podcast

    (b) transcript

    Kind of explains Dreadful’s negative reaction to the London riots, as expression of hooliganism, in light of his overall view of the Anglo-Saxons as law-abiding citizens.

  • Two examples of a beleaguered state grasping at straws:

    (a) Cybersecurity Bill in progress;

    (b) Defense Authorization Bill, also in progress.

    Stay tuned!

  • It’s doubtful that Robin Hood was a Celt, since they’d been driven from England long before the time of King Richard and King John, and in any case he’s probably just a legend.

    I did say “seldom”. The Civil War wasn’t really a rebellion in the sense of a revolt by a disenfranchised population. One powerful bloc – Parliament – decided that another powerful bloc – the Crown – had overreached itself, and needed taking down a peg or two. As for the American Revolution, well, anything can happen when you remove your Anglo-Saxon-ness to a different continent and start getting funny ideas. 🙂

    The others you mention were political or heretical movements rather than rebellions. (The Ranters possibly didn’t even exist.) The few genuine popular revolts we’ve had, like the ones led by Wat Tyler, Jack Cade and Thomas Wyatt the Younger, were limited in scale and quickly squashed. (All three of those rebellions started in Kent, which considering the county’s close proximity to France is possibly not coincidental!)

  • Anarcissie

    What about the English Civil War and the American Revolution? What about the Lollards, the Diggers, the Levelers, the Ranters? What about Robin Hood? (Well, he might have been a Celt, I suppose.)

  • Very little of 151 makes any sense to me, but for what it’s worth, I’m one-sixteenth Welsh, another sixteenth French and the rest of me is more or less equal parts Anglo-Saxon and Viking.

    Of course Britain isn’t free of Roman influence and never was. Boudicca’s rebellion failed, Rome later abandoned Britain of its own accord only for its military empire to be replaced in fairly short order by a religious one from the same city.

    Unlike your people, the English don’t really have a keen sense of rebellion, possibly because we’ve seldom been driven to that point. We haven’t been successfully invaded by a hostile enemy in almost a thousand years. We’ve also had remarkably few despotic or incompetent rulers in all that time.

  • I cut you some slack, don’t forget it. “Vote of confidence” your terms — only because you’re part-Welsh. Don’t squander it now!

    Well, the Irish have — and what I really meant, was building on the ruins of the Roman Empire.

    And do you mean now that Britain is free of Roman influence? I’m too lazy right now to look it up, not that it really maters. But if you insist …

  • The Anglo-Saxon mind is too constipated to appreciate the nuance. Have they’ve all forgotten their spirit of rebellion against Rome, all in the name of a free and open society?

    The Angles and Saxons never rebelled against Rome. They didn’t live in Britain at the time, but in Denmark and the region of northern Germany now known as Saxony. The Romans never made it that far, having abandoned the idea of colonizing Germany after an expeditionary force led by Publius Quinctilius Varus was decimated at the Battle of the Teutoberg Forest in 9 A.D.

    The British people who, led by their queen Boudicca, carried out one of the most serious insurrections ever faced by the Roman Empire were Celts.

  • A half-ass synopsis of Democracy Incorporated by Sheldon Wolin, for Grady’s sake.

    Once I get hold of the full transcript, I’ll make good on the pedestrian, Chomsky-like appraisal of the American struggle and lack of spirit.

    I suppose one has just got to be a French or a Tahitian to appreciate the full extent of the revolutionary ideal.

    The Anglo-Saxon mind is too constipated to appreciate the nuance. Have they’ve all forgotten their spirit of rebellion against Rome, all in the name of a free and open society?

    Yes, they’ve forgotten it all, better yet, they’ve never absorbed the lesson because theirs was always the prerogative to rule the Empire and, along with it, the entire world as well. More haughty and far less inspiring than the dreams of Alexander the Great, I daresay; but be that as it may, such is the legacy of the Empire that is no longer and never will be, Manchester United notwithstanding.

    What I find amazing is that these foolhardy images of fame and glory, defunct and ill-based as they may be, still form the basis if not the mainstay of the American psyche.

    Isn’t about time to liberate ourselves from our brethren, ideological or congenital, and let the chips fall where they may. For corrupt they surely are, their eyes always on a lookout to the past, never the present or the future. We’ve just got to let these folks be. If they refuse to march to the song of freedom, it’s their loss and our gain.

    If they’re constipated, surely we don’t have to be. And if it will take a Second American Revolution, let’s bring it on to the bastards.

  • Bof A and occupy foreclosed properties:

    an internal memo

  • An excerpt from a book by the editors of Time: OWS plots comeback.

  • What you mean, of course, by “zero profit” is the social benefit which eventually trickles down.

  • Igor

    Yes, you’re right, Roger. Professional investors say “the market discounts everything”, by which they mean that if an investment is sure to produce a profit at some future time, then the market will assure that the actual profit is zero when that future arrives.

  • Houston’s Health Clinics Struggle to Meet Demand, an object lesson on the vicious circle of capitalism:

    (1) Raising tuition costs and insurmountable student debt present a real barrier to keeping up with the demand for medical professionals;

    (2) Availability of health insurance only exacerbates the demand while the supply is rapidly falling behind;

    (3) Meanwhile, the real social cost remains to be borne, hanging over us like Damocles’ sword, for not being able to practice preventative medicine;

    But that’s typical of any capitalist vicious circle. By the time everyone has had their hand in the pot, the value of the intended product or service, once it reaches the market, has depreciated beyond all recognition.

    Which is why it isn’t much of a stretch to compare the capitalist to a scavenger or hyena. Once he or she is done with their work, all we’re left with is a carcass.

  • “Official Detail Plans to fight Homegrown Terrorism.”

    The beleaguered State expands its outreach to local communities, to include the Board of Education, to fight homegrown terrorism.

    What’s next, one might ask? Institutions of higher learning where academic speech will be monitored and duly reported to the guardians of the gate? Snitching on your parents, neighbors and friends for reportedly “unpatriotic” behavior?

    Nazi Germany comes to mind, or the Reign of Terror in post-revolutionary France, whereby the more desperate the times, the most desperate the measures.

    It all comes down to Agamben’s notion of the state of exception, whereby the only way of preserving democracy, or the Republic, as the case may be, is by means of dictatorship and terror.

    We’re surely heading for interesting times.

  • The Ravages of War, the kinds of things we’d rather not know.

  • My apologies, I have no right to ask anything of anybody. In any case, I’ve come to a realization that much of what we do here on these public boards is posturing. I was inclined to believe I was rather immune from that, but I’m no longer so sure.

    In any case, I’ll try to keep that in mind and do better.

  • Roger, as to the other matter, sorry if you are disappointed I didn’t take part in the recent conversation. I am not around here as much because I’ve been busy working on and writing for my own site, which is much more satisfying.

    Besides, anything I’d have said wasn’t going to your Norma Rae moment happen as you envision. I’ve weighed in previously on the matter about Chris’ insults to no avail, so I didn’t see any reason this time would be different. And Jordan pretty much covered it.

  • yes, my last name followed by a letter “z” — one string — the same server, all lower caps.

  • roger, is your email as listed in the system almost your entire last name at yahoo? I would like to communicate with you offsite

  • Occupy Foreclosed Homes. It’s bound to win the heart of the community.

    What’s pathetic, it’s not our media but Reuters which brings such things to our attention.

  • Grady,

    Just re-read your comments starting with #92 in order to understand your (hopefully temporary) decision to withdraw. Your justification, “I broke the thought barrier” and therefore won’t need you anymore.

    That’s baloney and you know it. There is no limit to thought, and there’s no such thing as a pinnacle either. But one does need a fertile environment in which we all can bounce ideas off one another, it’s the necessary condition. I’ve told you my two associates — partners-in-crime, more likely — are on a hunger strike right now; so for the time being at least, it’s only Anarcissie and you. I need receptive and fearless minds in order for me to be able to function on all four. I need it no less than the air I breathe. And so do you, don’t fool yourself thinking otherwise.

    In any case, there are still plenty of thing to delve into, e.g., Foucault’s “positive” conception of power, power we can make use of and turn in to our advantage, if only by setting up alternative (power?) structures that’d fly in the face of the existing structures that dominate us. Just an idea of course, and Foucault was not entirely explicit about concrete strategies, but plenty of commentators have picked up on the idea.

    Be that as it may, I sure hope it’s not the end of what was surely promising to be a fruitful relationship. If you have other, more important things on the burner, I’ll surely understand, but do come back if and when you think the situation warrants it.

    Meanwhile, I’ll keep on posting here if only to stimulate interest, and will keep you informed as to my upcoming articles, if any.

    BTW, your appraisal of the brute force as standing behind the con game is spot on. It reminds me of a line from Danton, the movie, whereby the reign of terror is declared an act of desperation.

  • It’s the same as before, people rarely if ever change their positions. Hopefully, the unfolding events will change some of the minds, but I doubt it.

  • Roger~in regard to #127 Ruvy & Alan being evicted… sorry to hear of both.

    The GOP is very desperate as of late, so I can imagine the words flying around here between malcontents and maladjusted writers. Not referring to you, of course!

    I cut my teeth on this place and remember it fondly, even my time in eviction land. If you hear from Ruvy, please tell him to fight to get back. They eventually soften backup…


  • Igor

    Grady, thanks for seconding my Michael Hudson citation.

    Maurice, I’m a little puzzled by your #90, in which you seem to profess modesty at being an ‘umble engineer as if that made you unfit to discuss Econ and then you go on to discuss Econ. Also, you demand my credentials, while having no possible way to check them.

    Well! Just to establish a common reference level I’ll assert that I too have a BSEE and even a MSEE, though, of course, you have no way to check that. But I’ll use some EE concepts to illustrate how even a ‘umble engineer can understand Econ. Oh, I also took a year of upper division Econ after getting the lower division coursework waived by my Calculus and Analytic Function Theory courses in EE.

    Now it must be said that Econ courses didn’t discuss Hayek, Friedman, Marx, etc., who were disdainfully referred to as ‘mere politicians’ with nothing material to contribute to real Econ., which may be taken as understanding the back pages of the Harvard Business Review (HBR), as it was in those days, i.e., quite technical and not at all declamatory.

    So you, Maurice, as an EE understand amplifiers, oscillators, closed loops, servomechanisms, Bode plots, Nyquist diagrams, etc. So lets review how a EE designs an oscillator: you build an amplifier then trick up the feedback loop to have sufficient Gain and Phase shift to produce positive feedback. If designed right, it will oscillate because the Bode plot wraps around the origin. That’s the Control Systems explanation.

    The Electronics explanation is much homelier: we make an active circuit with transistors and RLCs, etc., add a positive feedback loop that poises the circuit on the edge of instability, then an errant electron sets it off and it goes into ever increasing amplitude. If we’ve designed the feedback loop properly it will tune up the oscillator to a specific frequency that we desire. The point is that we design the circuit to be inherently unstable, then we can depend on some mischevious electron to set it off. We don’t need to add an exciter, there’s always a volunteer.

    The point is (and sometimes it takes awhile for the tyro engineering student to understand this) once the unstable circuit is built you don’t need to supply anything to kick it off. Instability is builtin to the circuit, not a consequence of outside forces.

    It’s quite useless to talk about the particular electron, or the particular noise spectrum, or the specific cathode, or whatever. The circuit oscillates because it has the intrinsic ability to oscillate and any excuse will do.

    So the only question remains: is capitalism intrinsically unstable? For 200 years economists have pointed out that capitalism is the only system that has artificial boom/bust cycles independent of outside forces such as famine and war (now joined by it’s brother system, communism, the other side of the coin, which has/had the same failings by virtue of the same abstraction to money). And anyone can find abundant specific examples of positive feedback (when the stock price goes up people buy even more!)

    Thus, the discerning EE can see that instability and oscillations are builtin to the design, and not the responsibility of some specific excitation.

  • Will have to look at this time with a different eye.

  • Anarcissie

    I’ve published all my recipes on the Bedford Stuyvesant Food Not Bombs web site.

  • In that case, one of these days you must share with me your secret formula.

  • Anarcissie

    If my political activism succeeds, I won’t need to mobilize the masses. They’ll mobilize themselves. In any case, I want nothing to do with Facebook.

  • Anarcissie, Grady —

    I’d like to run this by you:

    “In Policing Fashion, Moms Find A New Power Online,” NPR report.

    Perhaps it’s high time to change focus from self-education to propagation, so as to reach those who haven’t been reached thus far. Perhaps we’re underestimating the power and the inherent potential of social media, such as Facebook, for instance, to mobilize the masses.

    Any ideas?

  • Shoot, Jeannie, where else would you rather be? But really, things have deteriorated here, since the eviction of Kurtz, Ruvy and some other. I know you didn’t care much for Alan, but that’s neither here nor there.

    In any case, our comments editors will swear till they blue in the face as to their fairness and impartiality, and there are only a few brave souls remaining who would dare to even question their opinion of themselves. I must single out Glenn here — but he’s been under near-constant verbal abuse of late by our esteemed senior comments editor — and yes, Jordan too, and Costello. A few more might have tipped the scale and provide an impetus for some changes once it would dawn on the “administrators” that the discontent was more or less widespread. But no, no one else dares to speak.

    So I’m really disappointed in Clavos, for he does carry some weight here. As to some others, like El Bicho (see #125, his response to my challenge to act like a man), it’s best not to entertain any illusions about him or his kind.

    Indeed, even Mark Eden (aka “troll”) allows personal differences come in and take precedence over common goals. It is very disheartening. As to Cindy, she’s overwhelmed by her situation at home (ailing husband) and rarely if ever visits the site.

    So yes, Jeannie, what you see here, on this thread, is what you get.


  • So happy that you responded to my comment, Roger.

    But getting back to OWS.

    “We the People” have the right to assemble peacefully. Until all police violence is stopped, the rights given us by our Constitution will not ring true.

    As well as Occupying locally, I suggest OccupyingAPhone. Call the bastards!

    😀 Roger,it’s good to be here in your thread. bbl…

  • Roger, I don’t have time this evening to waste responding to your comment but will attempt to do so tomorrow evening. Here’s a teaser: I find it ridiculous

  • In any case, it is a step in the right direction, establishing rapport with the local communities.

    I am encouraged.

  • Anarcissie
  • It was a comment which was meant to be provocative, not to estrange but ultimately to unite.

    Thanks for the drive-by visit nonetheless.

  • Jeannie, great to see you back.

    “I’ve always been a unifyier if and when possible, never the divider.”

    I wonder if the enemies of democracy will agree with that statement.

  • Occupy Home.

    This is great. Now we’ll have our police doing their damnedest to evict ex-residents so as to make ’em homeless again.

    The fight is on!

  • Anarcissie

    As I probably said before, money (in a capitalist polity), including credit money, creates pressure. It has to go somewhere. The wonderland of adjustable-rate subprime mortgages was one of the places if found to go.

    Capitalists, investors, who find they can borrow money at near-zero, below-inflation interest rates do not sit on this information.

  • Maurice,

    I don’t think anyone would argue here there was a collusion. But it’s precisely the collusion which is wrong with both business and the government. Even though the government’s motives were, shall we say? “pure.”

    What is it really you’re trying to accomplish? Take away the blame from one party and assign in entirely to the other?

    All were equally blameworthy and equally responsible. And trying to make a significant distinction here, as though there was a valid distinction to be made, does indeed strike me as some kind of unwarranted bias.

    But then again, I don’t want to preempt anything Anarcissie might want to say by way of response. Sorry for butting in.

  • Maurice

    Anarcissie – As I said, I am NOT an expert in economics so the best I can do is read the information and evaluate it logically.

    Here is a bit of history to consider:

    In 1992, President George H.W. Bush signed the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992. The Act amended the charter of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to reflect Congress’ view that the GSEs “… have an affirmative obligation to facilitate the financing of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families in a manner consistent with their overall public purposes, while maintaining a strong financial condition and a reasonable economic return;”[14] For the first time, the GSEs were required to meet “affordable housing goals” set annually by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and approved by Congress. The initial annual goal for low-income and moderate-income mortgage purchases for each GSE was 30% of the total number of dwelling units financed by mortgage purchases[15] and increased to 55% by 2007.

    I will go down the road with you as far as banks behaving badly and predatory loan tactics but certainly the GSE’s are part of the whole subprime meltdown.

  • Raymond Williams, another one of my favorites, especially his work on culture and society, prior to “Key Words.”

    It’s been the basis of my first novel.

  • What and unexpected surprise, Jeannie. So damn happy to hear from you, I mean it.

    A simple answer to your question — I’ve always been a unifyier if and when possible, never the divider. If there is a common ground to be found, I’ll look for it.

  • jeannie danna

    I’m not sure what the TeaParty would have in common with OWS, Roger. But I’m pleased to see the honor you bestowed on Dr. West who is the voice of OccupySCOTUS.

    Let none forget that the Tea was brewed in a very wealthy boardroom, while OWS was borne out of disdain for this great and ever growing wealth disparity.

    IMO, if OWS doesn’t translate into OccupyAVotingBooth then it’s all for not.

    Just one long camp out…

  • @111

    I sure hope your meaning is metaphorical. Don’t know ’bout you, but I surely am not an island.

  • Alright, done with the article linked to in #104. A couple of observations.

    A fairly comprehensive layout of the conceptual itinerary. A step-by-step analysis of how we moved from the static conception of power to the Foucauldian conception. Dahl is an old ghost, by the way; we discarded him in mid sixties. You can’t get much mileage out of political science practitioners anyway; too much “behaviorist,” not enough penetration. In any case, it’s the mechanisms of power we’re unaware of which are most effective (Foucault); and one of Foucault’s greatest accomplishments was to show that those mechanisms weren’t even contrived, as though by some kind of grand conspiracy, but evolved naturally and organically. Of course, once they were recognized for their intrinsic worth, they were adopted by the bourgeoisie like manna sent from heaven.

    Even so, Gaventa’s account of the Appalachian community (after Lukes’ schemata) is well taken — especially considering the Anglo-Saxon limitations of mind: abstract thinking has never been the forte, which is why you have to spoon-feed these people, lead them by the nose and example, as it were. (Which isn’t to say the kind of thinking exhibited by John Austin (Illocutionary Acts, How to do things with words) doesn’t have it’s merits. It certainly provides an important counterpoint.

    A couple of questions. Why did the Appalachian region succumbed to the takeover whereas a similar such process met with greater resistance in other places. For one thing, Which side are you on? comes to mind. The author of the article doesn’t explain.

    For perfidy’s sake, to accentuate perhaps the height of “false consciousness,” let me suggest another episode from our fairly recent history: The Murder of Mary Phagan, excellent dramatization of real-life events in 1920’s Georgia. It’s the same if not similar process, whereby the Industrial North humbles the agricultural South into submission and abandoning its way of life for meagerly wages; even the young are forced to work to make the ends meet. The South responds to the hideous murder by sticking to the law (of the land), which holds all equally responsible for crimes alleged or done. It’s the only thing it’s got left to hold on to its honor. In the process, innocent person gets lynched.

    In any case, I don’t see much of an advancement here beyond Foucault.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    You’ve broken a thought barrier. Now you’ll never be done with the three faces of power. It is the key to understanding poverty psychology and victim blaming, and every feeling of social inferiority you ever had. It’s like social collective penicillin compared to the individualistic patent medicine of “positive thinking.” Now you can anticipate all Establishment tricks. Only raw force lies outside this scheme, but the threat of raw force is within it. Military violence and counterinsurgency are last ditch measures. They have already tasted defeat once they use those. Hold on to the vocabulary Lukes provides just as Raymond Williams would (Keywords).
    mobilization of bias,
    agenda setting and so forth are poetry.
    Goodbye, you have graduated and need me no longer.

  • Clavos should know a thing or two about it since he’s a longtime Florida resident.

    What say you, Clavos?

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Squatting in foreclosed homes has been tried, most successfully in Florida. Surprisingly there has been some complicity by sheriff’s departments. It was discussed on Bill Moyers Journal shortly before the demise. There exists precedent in common law and in some state codes for occupancy over a term gaining legal possession. You find these old laws in Georgia where civilized Indian nations were displaced and on the erstwhile frontier. Some urban districts experimented with squatter ownership in the 70s. I have a friend who gained title to a nice loft in Baltimore that way, but he had Democratic Party connections.

    When Pia Zadora was my girlfriend at the studio (We played brother and sister aliens in Santa Claus Versus Mars.) she never encouraged intellectual ambition. It was on the set of “The Tin Drum” that my higher instincts came alive. Oskar made struggling with evil so much fun. And I too had been “thrown down the stairs.”

  • I’m nearly done with the “Three Dimensions of Power” and will comment shortly.

    I’ll look into the Rubik’s cube next.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Take the Rubik’s cube concept as a for instance. If one can manipulate to one colored faces according to the “music of the spheres” then isn’t that idiot savantism? My suspicion is that while Gaventa is older and wiser than when we worked together in the late 80s and 90s he is no smarter or cleverer, just maybe careworn. But he has followed the advice of Gunter Grasse and understands how audiences are mesmerized by clever parlor tricks using familiar toys. The three faces of power was adequate as a teaching tool, so why invent computer games?
    An accurate model often negates the analogy.
    Even in Canada showmanship is required to avoid rebukes. But I remember how he arrived there in a green smoking VW Squareback, with a pot fastened over the aftermarket carburetor in the hatch floor. He is a living fossil of Chaucer’s student, trading comfort for texts. The alternative outcome is Julian Bond or Jesse Jackson, Sr.

  • I’m aware of the “reader” honorifics, Grady. I find it ticklish, however, there would be a person who would challenge me to do hard intellectual work. The last time I remember anything like that would be some thirty five years ago or so — my German-Czech girlfriend who was a magna cum laude and I was still a pup back then.

    I’m far from complaining, just tickles my bones.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    When you hear that Lukes was a “reader” at Oxford understand that is a title of prestige and responsibility akin to “research professorship” here. He is legally blind and so has a contemplative nature not prevalent in our academic experience.

    Gaventa is a former Highlander Research Center director. Both he and I knew and had in person discussions with Myles Horton. There are good reasons Gaventa has expatriated to Canada, for he was blacklisted in the American academy, not for activism but for an honest scholarship of idle curiosity.

    So that is the geneology of my political philosophy. At present I am attempting to connect what Foucault called “governmentality” to Wolin. In the USA that is the weakest and most repressed area of discourse.

  • Well, finally got something can sink my teeth into:

    “Luke’s Three Dimensions of Power.”

  • gottcha …

    Does come across as droppings, doesn’t it?

  • Rest assured I’m the least person to ignore sources and other people’s postings

    What’s the best way to clean coffee off a computer?

  • A snippet of “Power and Powerlessness” from Google books; the jackasses not only changed the format so as to make it impossible to read; they’ve also reduced the size of the preview to bare bones — if that much.

    A review by Alison Harding.

  • I’m re-posting one manuscript from Lukes

  • @97

    See comments 23 and 27 from a previous thread.

    And here are the relevant links:



  • “The Latex Salesman” bugged me for two days now, for not being able to place it.

    Well, for those who are not in the know, ladies and gents, here it is.

  • And BTW, see earlier links of mine re: Gaventa and Lukes. I’ll go over the cited papers again.

    Also looked at Wolin’s work you cite, and originally found him “too pedestrian,” but now you provided me with the opportunity to review it in light of your comments.

    And BTW, I perfectly understand your sentiment when people don’t attend to your sources — I’ve dealt with this problem many a times in the past, so I understand how frustrating it is to have a continuous dialogue with persons who are less than responsive.

    (Which perhaps should tell you why I was so intent on forming a discussion group; I wanted to ensure against this kind of failure.)

  • Grady, my man, just got on the computer, plus, we may have different timelines.

    Rest assured I’m the least person to ignore sources and other people’s postings; and I’m certain it’s no different with Anarcissie.

    Besides, you’ve got to realize you pack lots of stuff into your comments. One can’t just respond at will unless a person doesn’t care whether his or her response is a responsible one.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    If no one is interested enough to explore any of the scholarship I have cited I see no use in posting further on this thread. It would be nice to know details of the international shenanigans of financial crime, but secrecy is strictly enforced by governments, trade organizations and the players themselves. We waste time speculating how a magic trick is done maybe because we admire the con. But that makes no difference as far as fairness and human rights are concerned, because we are sure financialization is a trick (requires all phases of power) and a crime. There would be temporary satisfaction in punishing perpetrators but the deterrent value would be small and other gamblers would soon return to former practices. The lure of wealth and power are insurmountable. That is why reform (half-way measures) won’t do, and why structural reorganization and generalized re-education are required. (You can’t turn brainwashed people loose without direction or resources and expect a good outcome. Purist Libertarians and Anarchists share that fallacy.) Resources are tight and time is short. How can rational cooperation among humanity be facilitated. Ideology is a matter of taste, like religion, in such an emergency as we face. That is why OWS was experimenting and grasping at straws.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    As far as the Macro-theory of American Empire and power concentration Chris Hedges’ teacher Sheldon Wolin (Princeton) is unassailable in his descriptive summing up of our catastrophe. He can explain why we have “managed democracy.” See his 2008 book “Democracy Incorporated” or see Hedges’s speeches and columns, or articles on Wolin in the Nation magazine.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Igor is correct to bring economist and investment banker Michael Hudson into the discussion. His credentials are international and far exceed opposite fascist numbers mentioned here. Hudson’s views are in the Macro-sphere rather conventional and old school. His system is based upon taxing appreciation of land values (from Henry George). In the case of Lithuania and Greece he recommends they return to former currencies, rebel against the IMF (and other globalist authorities) and use inflation as a sovereign defense. His arguments are easily understood by non-economists, but he can cite sophisticated econometric tools as evidence. Hudson’s best talents are as an educator. Some of his lectures are excellent.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Peter Wallison recently made an ass of himself on the Diane Rehm Show. The comments, e-mails and tweets overwhelmingly begged that he never be asked back. Wallison is a paid propagandist who specializes in the Fannie-Freddie Theory of Meltdown. That argument has been settled here and in general discourse. As guarantors of mortgages F&F were the tail-end of the dog.
    We are way down the road now and understand that 700 trillion in derivatives is an undeniable symptom of financialization gone wild. Failure to regulate exotic instruments or to tax transactions are great crimes against humanity. Do we count every bet in a casino as contributing to the GDP?

    A productive direction is recommended by Anarcissie in #81. Power relations requires models and theories to facilitate discourse.
    I started with John Gaventa’s 1982 book (Power and Powerlessness) and moved on to the theoretical interests of Steven Lukes (Power: A Radical View)enta is in Canada now and is receiving awards for his Rubik’s Cube model of power relations and Lukes is at New York University, and still educating us with editorship of relevant material. They begin with the idea that power in the community, or in national politics can be describes as having 3 dimensions. I will not elaborate here except to say I’ve attempted to assimilate their work with M. Foucault’s. The third dimension included mental colonization and so interfaces well with films by Adam Curtis (Century of the Self ) and Jeff Warrick (Programming the Nation- recently released). I myself have focused on the pseudo-science aspects of propaganda by American right wing institutions. When you see the refusal to examine actual events and relations (as with the F&F theory), and a relentless repeating of talking points (Obama Administration does this too)it becomes undeniable that something greater than disseminating the news is in place. Please take time to peruse Gaventa and Lukes according to your tastes. I am as lonely as Engels out here waiting for brain power.

  • Anarcissie

    I prefer evidence and logic to credentials, especially when the credentials refer to dubious arts like economics and psychology. If you look around, though, you will not only find that many economists do not think subprime mortgages brought down the American financial system. Indeed, you will find many predicted a meltdown or some other catastrophe as a result of Bubbles Greenspan’s penchant for printing money, or rather, inflating credit — long before the event occurred. I am not an economist but it was certainly obvious to me by 2002-2003 that it was coming, and many people agreed with me. But not, of course, the fatheads in charge.

    Attributing the collapses of 2006-2008 to subprime mortgagors is just more blaming the victim, a rightist tradition, but not a very admirable one.

  • Maurice

    Igor – I have a BSEE so I am ill equipped to understand economic problems. The article I pasted was written by Charles Calomiris who is a Professor of Economics at Colombia and Peter Wallison who is a lawyer graduated from Harvard that specializes in economics.

    What are your credentials that you claim your version of the meltdown is more correct than theirs?

  • BTW, just saw two movies on Hulu Plus, Danton and re-watched Z. The latter is rather naive; one could wish the overthrowing of the US government would be such a piece of cake as the latter makes it seem. But the French Revolution still offers an object lesson, I think, on how to proceed. All the elements are there.

    You don’t need to respond to this: I certainly don’t want to incriminate anyone.

  • Perhaps we’re all hibernating during the winter months. I myself need a good shot of adrenaline to keep on going. And it doesn’t help if there’s only the three of us.

    But then again, who am I to complain? As Michael Moore commented once, Uncle Karl had only Engels to consort with.

    I still think we should be able to make further progress separating high-stakes poker from down-to-earth economic activity and finance. There’s got to be a way.

  • Anarcissie

    It’s an ongoing activity. So far it does not seem to have caught the imagination of the general public — which is, as ever, mysterious.

  • They had a showdown a while back, in SF or some other place, I believe, but that was before #occupy.

    But this would be a good idea, for it would strike a chord.

  • Anarcissie

    ‘… So it is that the Occupiers in Knoxville, Tenn., plan to start occupying foreclosed homes, to dramatize banks’ actions.’ …

    Ah, real estate! If that catches on, it’ll be a hot item in pretty short order. So far, though, foreclosure resistance and occupation (ongoing actions in some areas) haven’t excited the public.

  • Go Local! the natural extension of OWS overall strategy.

  • Another author raises valid concerns about lack of participation on the part of the African-Americans in OWS.

    I may have linked to this article earlier, but in case I haven’t, here it is.

  • Right, we’ve got to learn the con’s game in order to beat the con.

  • Anarcissie

    Well, perhaps my little thought experiment, still a nystery to me, can be explained by means of analysis of power relations.

    I think it’s important to understand what’s going on in capitalism, even if it is fiction. It’s probably the most revolutionary ideology in history, at least since the invention of slavery. I think we need to know what it’s doing if we are going to reform or replace it, even if it’s a con game. In fact, especially if it’s a con game.

  • Further comment on #71

    Grady’s right in that interest rates, inflation, money making money, is just fluff, or shall we say? a way to draw us suckers into their system. Capitalism wouldn’t work if it couldn’t depend on armies of passive followers. Some people have even compared the “work” of investors to work. But why should mere waiting for money to appreciate in “value” be even remotely associated with work?

    Joseph didn’t just wait seven years to earn his rights to marry Rachel but worked. And when he was cheated, he worked another seven.

    All said, we must reconfigure the concept of value if we’re to disengage from capitalism for good. The second of David Harvey’s lectures on “Reading Capital” contains some interesting ideas.

  • Ee: labor theory of value, I just think Anarcissie complicates things while simplicity would do. So why would “suffering” be incompatible with labor (as a productive or reproductive activity)? Haven’t the ancient had the requisite wisdom? — by the sweat of your brow, Thou …

    Anyone correct me if I’m wrongheaded here, but I find Marx’s fundamental definition and distinction between use- , surplus- and exchange values quite satisfactory. Of course, Marx haven’t written that much about, or anticipated the advent of, financial capitalism, for I’m certain he would have found the way to speak of “hyped-up value” as well.

    Just sayin …

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Now there’s a thought: My “poorer friend” freezing in an unheated rowhouse on the northern tier writes books. She has published several.Let us say she independently produces an outline of the next sequential steps in Chomsky’s analysis and that it is as well stated and accurate, and as fulfilling a read as the brand name professor. She beats decrepit Chomsky to he publisher with her galleys. What will happen, and why? (Market is fiction too.)

  • GradyLeeHoward

    enue like OWS remains unsuccessful in outsmarting old-timey gender roles (Gingrich’s Old-Timey Gender Rolls, a tasty complement to any Christmas table.) and the trappings of socio-economic status. (pseudo-education)

    If you have read any Bertolt Brecht plays you have the flavor of what I say. When roger eschews my comments on regulation because I’m only commenting upon things as they are, I would think he’d see himself orbiting way out in cyberspace thinking like our crazy friend Dr. Ron Paul (who has manufactured some re-product in his time as an obstetrician- or so he assumes.) When Noam Chomsky says he is an anarchist this does not mean he has not rationally provided for his off-spring within a crony fascist milieu. (Books is bucks: Or as Diane Rehm pronounces it-buoks).

  • GradyLeeHoward

    May I point out here that reproduction is physiologically completed through the process of “Labor” in which the two connected organisms prepare for delivery? (Latin is a paternalistic and scholastic vernacular used professionally and institutionally to hide what we now term intellectual property from the masses.) The babe eclipses the Mother in our mysticism, and also as bourgeois property, as a name to continue custody of family fortune. The privileged classes are more in attune with such abstractions than we commoners, except witness the prescribed facination with royals.
    So, a female originates (gives birth and voice to) an insight or concept; doesn’t it immediately enter a “free-use” status as opposed to retaining propriety when claimed by a male? The boys start fighting over female produce immediately as it is delivered, negatively or positively (Maury Povich).

    How can one “be an anarchist” and yet remain fixated upon the arbitrary workings by the rich in a fictional value? Anarcissie has gotten so far as to comprehend that all debt above a small threshold is fiction, and yet you continue to debate inflation. Inflation is only another form of usury, possible only in a system of recognized and accepted class
    categories. “And you wanted to be my ‘latex salesman’ !?”

    We should be discussing how an idealized v

  • Don’t have to worry ’bout me, kiddo. Have always had greater respect for women than for men, which doesn’t mean haven’t behaved like a total jerk more times than I care to remember.

    Just would have thought that anarchistic philosophy would have put such foolishness to rest.

  • Anarcissie

    It is discouraging, but we must press on. It’s not as if we have a choice.

  • @72

    It’s very discouraging, then, that the activist, anarchistic community shouldn’t have transcended by now the prejudices of the past. Doesn’t say much for the kind of confidence they inspire in the rest of us, especially those who’ve been subjected to lifelong domination at the hands of the white man — the African-Americans, women, people of color. Frankly, it doesn’t make sense.

    I’ll respond to your #71 tomorrow.

  • Anarcissie

    In regard to (70), neither hype nor divisiveness. White male domination and attempts to dominate are an ongoing problem in the activist community as in so many other communities. It’s not immediately obvious how to solve the problem. In any case, OWS did not solve all the defects of Western civilization on September 17th. Hopefully it may be pointing out a way to solve them.

    While I’m commenting on media articles — the Heilemann piece from New York was the fourth or fifth ‘all about OWS’ piece I’ve read, and I’m strongly reminded of the parable of the seven (or was it nine?) blind men and the elephant by all of them. Perhaps we should be looking, not at the leaders, but the followers. After all it is they who create the leaders and lay out the route.

  • Anarcissie

    Roger, in answer to your questions in 69:

    W.F. Hummel — I read maybe a dozen, maybe more, of the articles, near the beginning. I didn’t pick up a distinct principle from Hummel, just a variety of ideas which helped me clarify my own.

    Stakeholders in this case are people with an interest in the financial situation and its direction. If the currency inflates by 10%, someone with $1000 in a savings bank will lose $100, whereas someone who owes $1000 will have gained $100 (approximately, depending on how one counts, and all other things being equal). Both are stakeholders in currency value, that is, the amount the currency is worth against some other standard of value, such as labor, a commodity, or another currency.

    There are different kinds of inflation which will affect people differently depending on their stakes. As I said before, I don’t understand the utility of upper-realm inflation. Having two currency realms enables the authorities to inflate while pretending there is no inflation (because the CPI, based on lower-realm money value, hasn’t moved much, and may even be deflationary). It might be something as simple as rich people feeling good about having bigger numbers associated with their names, regardless of what the numbers really mean.

    The labor theory of value is problematical and seems to require a redefinition of at least labor. For instance, suppose I offer you $1000 today or $1000 in a year. You will probably choose today. However, I might offer $1000 today or $1100 in a year. You might choose the latter. The difference ($100) is the evidence of some kind of value which balances waiting a year for your money. But if the value of money corresponds to labor, then this implies that merely waiting a year for your money and doing nothing else is some kind of labor. So what kind of labor is it? Usually we think of labor as work, that is, changing the state of the universe through the expenditure of attention and energy. However, we do not observe these in your wait. But note that another meaning of labor in Latin is ‘suffering’.

  • An attempt at divisiveness or a hype?

    You decide!

  • Just tapped into your source. There are hundreds of articles there, for crying out loud. Can you point to a one or two?

    A question or two. What do the “stakeholders” come to mean in this context? The enablers, those who enable the system?

    “Currency value”? What exactly are we talking about here? Real or imaginary, hyped-up value?

    How does inflating (value?) for the rich benefits them (although I believe I kind of alluded to that earlier, by suggesting it’s one effective way of keeping the two economic spheres separate and apart)? To keep the “riff ruff out of it?

    The strategy of warding the lower orders against the evils of a runaway inflation, this I think I understand. It keeps ’em “in the game.”

    Still, I happen to think your initial comment concerning the separation as regards the two economic spheres is the one to run away with: it seems to offer the greatest potential in terms of conceptual breakthrough.

    As to labor theory of value, doesn’t it ultimately come down to the distinction between real and artificial wealth?

  • Anarcissie

    I would think the main stakeholders in currency value in the present world would be among ‘the poor’, those who get currency-denominated wages or other income like pensions or Welfare, and who own savings accounts and insurance policies. (Here I’m thinking of not just the destitute but most if not all of the working/middle class.) However I have been too lazy to get the stats which would support this intuition.

    I got my ideas about credit by distorting the work of W. F. Hummel for myself. Hummel helped me figure out how the upper realm could inflate without affecting the lower realm much. Of course the answer is dumb — ‘It’s the credit, stupid’; but I had to chew the problem over for months!

    (I’m still working on a labor theory of value….)

  • The two links alluded to in #66 to “Radical Capitalism” on BBC series:

    Episode 1

    Episode 2

    You may well skip the first, as it’s too theoretical, mundane and inconclusive, dealing mainly with the Keynesian vs. the Austrian economic school as to the relative merit of government’s intervention in times of economic bust. Not so with the second part.

    Key terms/ideas raised in the second episode:

    — “financialization,” affecting the average consumer and firm in relation to financial institutions

    — the shift of the profit-making machine from manufacturing/production to financial services, from ten to over forty percent

    — the uneven relationship between the ordinary consumer and the financial institution that’s bent on maximizing profit

    — the radically altered function of financial institutions from providing a lubricant to the well-functioning, production-bent economy to becoming cash-machines in their own right

    — the radically altered function of big firms, such as GM, whereby the greatest portion of profit derived not from manufacturing the end product but in providing credit to make those products purchasable

    — the shift from a welfare system provided the socialist-leaning welfare states to an asset-based welfare, whereby the individual’s home has become the ultimate recourse to provide for comfortable retirement, medical care, the kids’ education

    — possible solution(s): community-based, cooperative/associative system and ownership of banking.

    For all of this, one still feels that we’re being trapped by the capitalism’s vicious circle out of which there seems to be way no out.

    “Radical economics” somehow doesn’t strike one as being radical enough.

    Apologize for not being able to provide written transcripts. Apparently, BBC is not in the habit of making it available.

  • “In regard to (46), I can’t see any exit paths from the present situation which are not very uncomfortable. However, I have not figured out to my own satisfaction why the ruling class embarked on the upper-realm inflation thing. They already had control, so that wasn’t the purpose. One of my friends has suggested that for the most part they are simply incompetent and floundering. Without knowing what the plan is (if indeed there is any plan) it’s hard to say what’s likely to happen.”

    Anarcissie, #57. Also see nos 28 and 36.

    Let’s try to do this step by step.

    (1) Inflation – pros and cons

    (a) Relief to debtors, especially sovereing debtors vs. access to capital/credit by the lower orders, even small business, which hampers expansion. Btw, access to credit on the part of the average consumer may be one good, though unintended, consequence of anti-inflation policy.

    (b) uneven effects of:

    Next-to-zero interest rates result in inflated equity prices (since the bond market won’t produce those yields); on the other hand, those who must cover their debts (Italy, Greece, etc) must pay through the nose.

    Frozen wages next to guarantee increased fixed costs (rent, food, gas) to be born by the lower orders. And although Igor spoke (see remark above) of the conflicting interests within the elite — e.g., the landed gentry vs. the young Turks — I think a case can be made that we’re dealing here with two kinds of markets: a market for the essentials and a market for luxury goods. Are the deflated real estate prices for average types houses carry over to equally deflated real estate prices for the superrich? I would think it’s debatable.
    Another question: How much worse would the poor be by yielding to the inflationary pressures? And how would the rich?

    (2) But perhaps to be focusing on the anti-inflationary policy is a dead end, for we’re dealing with symptomps rather than with the root causes. I would think that focus on the “credit” phenomenon — consumer credit, corporate credit, sovereign credit — would be a more useful line of inquiry. (Of couse, the flip side of credit is debt.) BBC World Service aired two episodes on the subject, “Radical Economics,” and I’ll post a link to the program in the next post, as well as commentary.

    (3) I think that a sovereign such as Greece could be a useful subject study and an important object lesson as to “possible exit,” if only because it’s highly motivated to get out from under — to free itself from the strictures that are being imposed by the financial interests which, for all intents and purposes, are running the UE and the Eurozone. Could the Greeks, if and when moving to drachmas, develop a self-sustaing, self-sufficient economy? Could it do so without too much reliance on foreign trade, import and export? And if not, how would it not be sucked once again into the global monetary system? In short, we may want to do away with the hold that global financial interest exert on the national economies, but do we also want to do away with the globally-accepted means of exchange which facilitate exchange of goods are services? That would be like returning to the Dark Ages, in a sense.

    Perhaps David Graeber’s earlier cited article, “Naked Capitalism,” warrants re-reading, especially the part when he offers an alternative theory about invention of money.

    These are but preliminary remarks in order to facilitate the discussion. More to come.

  • Igor

    60-Anarcissie has an excellent and illuminating point in paragraph 2:

    “A second important intervention was the artificial depression of interest rates below the rate of inflation, which has an effect like printing money, with the difference that unlike printed money, the poor can’t get hold of much of it. That became consistent policy at least by the 2000s and grossly inflated the markets for equities, real estate, collectibles, and some commodities.”

    This is one of the most important things in US federal financial operations.

    In fact, this is exactly the way that the US government “prints” more money. I say “prints” because that is the term that naive citizens use to describe expanding the money supply. Of course, the facts are different, and I’ll make a brief excursion to describe that. Really, the only money that is actually printed is what is required to replace old bills and coins for daily commerce, which is actually a sorta small amount (about $900billion, about half of which can be accounted for, it’s in circulation and foreign treasuries, and about half is invisible, probably held by hoarders, criminals, etc.). Anyway, actual folding money (“M1”, or “M0” to some) is small potatoes.

    Virtual money is “printed” by Federal Reserve computers, and exists only by acclaim. It’s fiat money.

    Bankers, financiers, government officials, all the Big Guys came to realize it is absolutely necessary to separate ‘money’ from metal or else commerce would grind to a halt because there would be no good way to expand markets without severe deflation, which would sink ALL their ships. You simply need a decent way to introduce money into circulation to accommodate increased commerce, often the direct result of increasing population. In the USA we chose to do that through a quasi-private quasi-public entity, the Federal Reserve.

    Of course, the temptation is to turn the Fed loose and let it create oodles of ‘money’ (“Mx”, where ‘x’ is some number bigger than ‘0’ or ‘1’, the cognomens for mere cash) and then business would boom and everyone would be rich! Seemingly. Of course it doesn’t work, as attested by the inflation-devalued currencies of European countries, especially during the 20th century, when we had “new marks” and “old marks”, “new francs” and “old francs” as central banks tried to solve inflation problems by replacing their currencies.

    In the US we try (sometimes successfully, sometimes not) to control that problem with a combination of public policy and private incentives. It gets tricky. Rich people with landed or inherited wealth hate inflation because it dilutes the liquid values of their holdings, so that when they want to sell a farm to buy a diamond bracelet they don’t get the money they want. The rich have a powerful influence over Fed policy through the bankers on the board and their for-hire politicians in Washington, so the Fed has a generally tight policy, anti-inflation. In fact, Fighting Inflation is the message the rich give the fed in order to preserve their hoards, and you can’t deny the power of the rich. By contrast, most Americans are net debtors and inflation helps them wipe out their debts, but too rapid inflation (as we know from history) causes great instability and freezes all commerce.

    But the landed rich are opposed by the aggressive Young Turks who see expanding money as a fountain of wealth for themselves. Thus, they encourage vast government spending to fuel their enterprises. Thus inflation. Which from the standpoint of the Young Turks has the additional benefit of forcing the rich to open some of those tomato cans they buried their money in the backyard and venture some cash with the YTs. Of course, the landed gentry plans to devour the YTs as soon as they start to make money (and they often do! So the money returns to them, with gains.)

    That’s the basic tension between inflation and deflation in the Fed. The YTs keep expanding government FISCAL policy (i.e., daily, yearly budget expenditures) and the landed using monetary tricks at the Fed to reign in excesses.

    But it’s a mad system, and sometimes it gets out of hand and results in the weird phenomena we see now all the time.

    Of course the solution offered by the Professional Financial Class is to write more paper and leverage the intr5insic value out more into more extrinsic value and that’s why we have $650trillion of paper for $45trillion of assets.

    It’s a house of cards.

  • Igor

    I previously posted the refutation of Maurices fixation against FNMA in comment 40, above, in this thread, for anyone who wants the facts instead of the fantasy.

  • Igor

    58-Maurice: If you keep posting this untruth then I will post the FACTS that refute it. AGAIN! I’ve already posted the facts twice. Whatever it takes to get you to stop spreading this scandal:

    “…toxic mortgage debt that poisoned the global financial system was driven by the aggressive buying of subprime and Alt-A mortgages, and mortgage-backed securities, by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

    In fact, it was aggressive marketing by PRIVATE re-marketers that drove the problem. FNMA was a FOLLOWER, not a leader. They finally had to do it to keep up with PRIVATE re-marketers that were papering the country with bad mortgage paper.

    Even so, the FNMA backed loans had FAR better records and lower failure rates than the PRIVATE funds.

    If you persist in re-posting this scandalous untruth I will post the factual refutation again.

  • Also, yesterday’s employment report, which included upward revisions for the number of jobs created in September [200,000] and October [for a total of 420,000 new jobs in the Sept-Nov period], as well as a rather dramatic drop in the unemployment rate, could be a sign that the economy really is in slow-healing mode, as some of us have been asserting for months.

    This doesn’t undercut “We are the 99%” at all. It becomes a powerful, resonant message about fairness as opposed to a cry of anger and despair. [And it makes the GOP look ridiculously stubborn and counterproductive.]

    Europe could still derail the US economy, and even if not, we still have a long way to go [and 315,000 people giving up looking for work, another facet of yesterday’s report, is no small matter]. But imagine the difference if the job numbers had gotten sharply worse last month rather than better.

  • #52: I have said this before — I don’t see this as a sports contest where I must identify those who disagree with me as enemies, and root for them to lose. [I’m referring to the OWS supporters on here, not the GOP bozos. I do root for them to lose, and I think they are losing public support daily.]

    I’m always interested in good journalism, and the Packer piece in The New Yorker and the Heilemann piece in New York are both well reported and well written, and long enough to go into some depth.

    Even if OWS makes a lot of noise at the Dem and GOP conventions next year, the emphasis on “We are the 99%” and the inequality of wealth and power will be a net plus for the Dems. In 1968, the demonstrations were about Vietnam [mostly], and there was a strong faction inside the Democratic convention hall who supported the war, or at least opposed the ‘hippie’ demonstrators.

    Next year, you’re likely to hear Democratic delegates saying “I agree with them, right on,” while GOP delegates will be much more openly hostile to OWS.

  • Anarcissie

    In regard to the financial collapse(s) of 2006-2008, I think understanding requires that one look back to at least 1987. In that year, the NY stock markets nearly cratered, and were rescued only by the Federal government, who let certain people know they could borrow as much money as they wanted as long as they kept stock prices from collapsing. That move indeed kept prices up; it also changed the game, because now, although individuals could lose and particular stocks could go under, the class of large traders and the market as a whole could not lose. A bet you can’t lose is a very good bet and will attract a lot of gamblers; consequently every trade, every evaluation of stock shares, would be affected by the knowledge that its probable value was weighted by the availability of Federal intervention in its favor. In short, the markets were being inflated by Federal credit, not only explicit credit but the promise of credit should it be needed.

    A second important intervention was the artificial depression of interest rates below the rate of inflation, which has an effect like printing money, with the difference that unlike printed money, the poor can’t get hold of much of it. That became consistent policy at least by the 2000s and grossly inflated the markets for equities, real estate, collectibles, and some commodities.

    Most of the inflation took place in what I have called the upper realm, but there were and are crossover points. For example, I priced some rental housing in 2005 where the cost per unit, including normal mortgage and insurance payments and taxes, was about twice the highest possible rent one could expect to obtain. A landlord who bought such a property would either be speculating on an immediate rise in real estate values or preparing to go broke. However, there was an even weaker class of borrower, and those were the recipients of low or no down payment adjustable rate subprime morgages. Banks and other lenders were willing to lend to these borrowers because as long as real estate prices were rising, they couldn’t lose: if the borrower defaulted the lender would get the property and could easily sell it well over costs. Nor could the borrower-buyers, or so they thought. And in a capitalist economy, money — real or fictional — always needs somewhere to go.

    However, the rise in real estate and other prices began to leak into the lower realm and some inflation was noticed, especially by the Chinese, who ‘suggested’ to Bernanke that interest rates ought to be raised in order to shore up the value of the dollars in which they fondly hoped their money would be returned to them. Bernanke obediently raised the Fed rate, which caused the ARMs to reset, which the marginal borrowers could not sustain, having only their modest wages as income, presumably already stretched to the limit, and little credit. They started to default, bringing down much of the house of cards, because as it turned out their mortgages were bound up with other financial instruments and their weakness permeated the whole financial system. However, they were the canary in the mine; if there had been no such class of weak borrowers, another class would have been the first to break. Sooner or later every fable has an end.

    Attributing the collapse of the 2006-2008 financial system of the U.S. to subprime borrowers is an ideological choice rather than a rational analysis of the events: unfavorable events are blamed on the persons of lowest status involved, which confirms and upholds the established social order. In fact, the opposite is the truth: the collapse was brought about by the policies and actions of the most elite elements of the financial system.

  • Cannonshop

    #34 Roger, “Progress” in this case, as much as anything else, comes from learning from each experience, and then applying it. It could take LONGER than your 2121 goal, or it could be as short as 2030. It depends, really, on whether your methodology is to embrace the name-and-convention of a thing, or the lessons from what in it was successful (and what failed).

    It’s not nearly as important to keep a ‘named’ movement going, as it is to advance the ideas that movement formed to promote- OWS at its root, advanced the same ideas that formed the original 2000’s era Tea Party-that is, protesting the Crony Capitalism and falsehoods pushed by the Governing Class to justify it.

    The good: the fundamental idea has traction, grass-roots can have influence, by not having a named leadership, ideas can be pushed forward.

    The Bad: Starting fights, shitting in public and being a douche will overwhelm the most meritorious ideals in the public eye. Extremes (either on the right or left) turn people off, and protests that last forever just end up being ignored by the target audience.

    Lesson: Next movement needs to include rational solutions in their message of rejecting the status quo, outrageous behaviour and criminal acts need to be punished from within before they can end up justifying pepper-spray carrying cops, and treating other people’s property (Public Property) with respect will win respect from the undecideds, and don’t let the extremists hog the camera.

  • Maurice


    Many monumental errors and misjudgments contributed to the acute financial turmoil in which we now find ourselves. Nevertheless, the vast accumulation of toxic mortgage debt that poisoned the global financial system was driven by the aggressive buying of subprime and Alt-A mortgages, and mortgage-backed securities, by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The poor choices of these two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) — and their sponsors in Washington — are largely to blame for our current mess.

    How did we get here? Let’s review: In order to curry congressional support after their accounting scandals in 2003 and 2004, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac committed to increased financing of “affordable housing.” They became the largest buyers of subprime and Alt-A mortgages between 2004 and 2007, with total GSE exposure eventually exceeding $1 trillion. In doing so, they stimulated the growth of the subpar mortgage market and substantially magnified the costs of its collapse.

    It is important to understand that, as GSEs, Fannie and Freddie were viewed in the capital markets as government-backed buyers (a belief that has now been reduced to fact). Thus they were able to borrow as much as they wanted for the purpose of buying mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. Their buying patterns and interests were followed closely in the markets. If Fannie and Freddie wanted subprime or Alt-A loans, the mortgage markets would produce them. By late 2004, Fannie and Freddie very much wanted subprime and Alt-A loans. Their accounting had just been revealed as fraudulent, and they were under pressure from Congress to demonstrate that they deserved their considerable privileges. Among other problems, economists at the Federal Reserve and Congressional Budget Office had begun to study them in detail, and found that — despite their subsidized borrowing rates — they did not significantly reduce mortgage interest rates. In the wake of Freddie’s 2003 accounting scandal, Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan became a powerful opponent, and began to call for stricter regulation of the GSEs and limitations on the growth of their highly profitable, but risky, retained portfolios.

  • Anarcissie

    In regard to (46), I can’t see any exit paths from the present situation which are not very uncomfortable. However, I have not figured out to my own satisfaction why the ruling class embarked on the upper-realm inflation thing. They already had control, so that wasn’t the purpose. One of my friends has suggested that for the most part they are simply incompetent and floundering. Without knowing what the plan is (if indeed there is any plan) it’s hard to say what’s likely to happen.

  • I’m aware of that, LB.

  • Cindy, unfortunately, has much more pressing personal matters to deal with currently, so give her a pass until she returns.

  • BTW, I’m trying as hell to get Cindy and “troll” into the mix to make these discussions challenging, thus far to no avail.

    So I’m either being ignored (do they really think I tower over them intellectually, how silly?), or do they still hold the grudge, thinking I’ve insulted them.

    Time will tell. Meanwhile, I’ve got to keep on plugging. Never mind the small, inconsequential shit.

  • @51

    Insightful post, a couple of disagreements.

    First off, let’s call a spade a spade. The kind of arrangements you’re talking about insofar as organization of production, marketing, and disposition of the surplus value are concerned isn’t capitalism but communism, if we’re to use Marx’s terms as they were originally intended.

    (Which isn’t to say we haven’t learned a damn thing from the capitalist mode of production; I’ve always maintained that each economic system we eventually “leave behind” and replace with a better one leaves us with important vestiges: for example, we’ve learned from capitalism about mobilization of human and material resources, which aspect we can surely put to use insofar as “larger projects” are concerned — not necessarily the kind that NASA is concerned but even such things as energy grids or the internet. It’s rather far fetched to believe such large scale projects could be carried out on the local, community level — the anarchistic model, that is.)

    Two, you speak of regulation, but this presupposes statism. See my series of articles (accessible via the writer’s profile, “In Defense of Anarchism”), where I lay out a fool-proof argument to the effect that the modern nation-state cannot possibly deliver. Not only it cannot be trusted; it’s also the greatest instrument of terrorism and coercion. (See Agamben’s writings on the state of exception: we’re all certainly heading that way.) Which makes the very idea of regulation into a kind of chimera.

    Besides, you’re being anti-Foucauldian here, especially insofar as use and value of “power and knowledge” are concerned. One of the key ideas is that power shouldn’t be “exercised” in opposition to something, only as means of circumventing and making irrelevant the existing dominating structures.

    The best course of action is not to fight it but to ignore it and to proceed regardless.

  • @49

    A very informative article, Handy, especially as regards the behind-the-scenes machinations. I’m rather surprised that you’re citing it. Are you possibly shedding some of the establishmentarian outlook?

    My main concern has to do with making a real connection not with the politicos but with ordinary folk — not just the “middle class” but all those who are suffering and have long given up on hope. I don’t think this movement can’t build the kind of critical mass it needs as long as it’s going to be perceived as the white man’s movement. That’s what I meant in the body of the article that we have to reach out and make the African-American’s concerns our concerns (and that’s just an example); that’s why I spoke of a dire need of a voice, a unifying voice.

    The weakness of this excellent article, I think, it fails to address this question.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Anarcissie says the only type of production not regulated by the state is venacular. It is charming to think handicrafts are exempted, but not always. Even homegrown tomatoes suffer taxation if sold for cash. Purview is a matter of enforcement capability. The USA has sizable gray, black and illicit economies usually not taxed even when officials are aware of such practices. We enjoy corruption of omission as well as commission. It is by example of the Elite class tax evasion that persons rationalize smaller scale scofflaw behaviors.

    Anarcissie says institutional or corporate holdings in financialized debts are largely fictions. In many cases they are “polite fictions” in the eyes of pragmatic government officials; just another means for Oligarchs to extract tribute. To investors these speculations are gambling wagers in an economy where rational application of means produces little return.

    In an environment of inverted socialism where their wagers either pay off big or are losses covered by public guarantees they act as expected, but contrary to structural and collective maintenance. I would assert here that “inverted socialism” is a characteristic of modern fascism.

    So what is Capitalism? I like community markets where every vendor, technician, production operative, tradesperson, professional, laborer, service provider or salesperson is accountable directly to peers and neighbors with a reputation and reciprocity rooted where they live. To me that is a benign and efficiently functioning form of Capitalism. Once incorporation comes and anonymity, accountability disappears. It is then that bureaucratic regulation becomes necessary and is often desirable. Libertarians lie to themselves when they disregard this qualitative difference. Above this nascent corporatism and the cosmopolitan market there exist several tiers of commerce and speculation that I believe cannot properly be termed Capitalism. The financialism and mercantilism so prominent today are by their nature always secretive collusions and mammoth combinations beyond present governmental purview. These are so potentially dangerous and corrupt that to equate them with Capitalism proper is a deception and a lie.

    Our task is to originate the means to limit, regulate or disallow such societal perversions. I call them Perversions because they are parasitic upon human productivity and not compliments to it.

    I think what we call socialism provides the best tool to do that. I am not trying to save Capitalism but to cut it down to human scale and harness its positive attributes. Only by capping wealth and income can we regain control and save civilization. Conditional and temporary corporate chartering is also in order.

  • what’s ahead *for* OWS

  • Strongly recommend this article on what’s ahead OWS in 2012 from New York magazine. The headline is sensationalistic, but the reporting [by John Heilemann] is superlative:

    2012 = 1968?

  • Was wondering ’bout that. The piece I linked to did not resemble JK’s type of analysis.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    J .K. Galbraith died in 2006 at age 97.
    James (your author) is 60 and is one of his three surviving, and the only son who is an economist.Alan is a lawyer and peter, a diplomat. We often find that because of nepotism offspring remain prominent in succeeding generations.

  • @43

    Just a hypothetical for you and Anarcissie.

    Presuming now the state had a change of heart and decided to set things aright, it conceptually possible for, say, the US Treasury to disengage itself from global financial shenanigans and set up a close system which, hopefully, would render the latter irrelevant or obsolete?

    Just a thought experiment.

  • @44

    Got me there. Simply presumed he’d expired as so many good men of yore have, especially since he hasn’t been making news of late.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Jimmy Galbraith (the author of the piece cited in 21) is alive and well, teaching at the University of Texas at Austin. If his theory is passe’ we can blame Texas for its Big Backwardness. Andre Gunder Frank was more advanced in 1967. roger is correct that Western investment history got us here and that the rules of money have changed (deregulated) under fascist globalism.You really wonder why kids would pay for upperclass folktales at these diploma mills and assume they had been educated. Maybe Columbia and UT are re-education camps?

  • GradyLeeHoward

    42-Your blogging manners are not at issue.
    OWS (as an enforcement method) resembles Frank Cannon PI. It does possess an attractive and well-developed authoritative voice but lacks any means to back it up (like William Conrad).

    I just wanted to caution you all (includes Igor)that it is useless to decipher the means and present conditions of financial chichanery. Myles Horton (Highlander Research Center) used to summarize such a quandry by advising Civil Rights activists,”You don’t have to understand exactly where you are to know where you want to go.” What he meant to say is that we often become so fixated on high and mighty criminals’ methods and power that we forget our object is to disempower them. It was ingenius that roger divided outstanding derivatives by gross asset values (can also use GDP and such) but the value there is all abstract. We like to debate and show our smarts. I am the worst offender of all. But what will we do to discredit and take down “The Man”?

    Recently Anonymous affiliates have boasted that they can hack-rob banks but are giving depositors time to get out of harm’s way. I only wish they can do more than brag.

    Recently I liquidated my accounts but I was a commodities speculator with a group of former workmates.We could see the tankers at sea on Google Earth as we bought and sold oil futures. We investigated cider plants and even orchards as we made predictions in the apple juice market. Commodities are real things even if you can manipulate the price.

    Debt is not so real. You gamble whether payments will be made. At the nexxus of debt speculation is the bill collector. “You and whose army?” they used to taunt in school.
    Today even our paramilitary police are bill collectors. They “make us pay” for the exercise of human and Constitutional rights.

    Why does the US have a Big Wanker Military?
    For the global wealthy class to press their claims, of course. It’s the same reason Tony Soprano employs Furio, and Paulie, and Christopher, and Silvio, and Pussy until he snitched. A really revealing snitch drama is Glenn Greenwald’s account (Salon) of retired General Wesley Clark telling tales on the Neocons, and then observing how the Obama administration is pursuing the same objecectives by somewhat altered means.

    I will stop now but I also have something to say about Capitalism as a term of common usage. So please stay on the topic of OWS until I get to it.

  • Sure was, but I’m just using a short, and he doesn’t seem to mind.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    When you say “Cannon” I flash back to William Conrad skidding to a stop in his Lincoln Town Car, throwing open the door, gun in hand, to begin chasing the bad guys on his stubby legs with his belly bouncing. That was some classic TV.

  • Igor

    Maurice, since you re-posted your false assertion that FNMA lead the subprime fiasco I feel free to post the refutation of that assertion. And if you persist in repeating your falsehood I’ll re-post again.

    In spite of republican efforts to scapegoat someone else, anyone else, or everyone else, the fault lies with Wall Street.

    Michael Hudson


    Wall Street, Not Fannie and Freddie, Led Mortgage Meltdown

    by Michael Hudson

    Ask many Americans who’s to blame for the nation’s economic mess, and two names come to mind: Fannie and Freddie.

    They see Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as the villains of the financial crisis.

    GOP.gov, the official website for Republicans in the House of Representatives, says flatly: “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were the main cause of the nation’s current financial turmoil.” Many critics, including Republican appointees to the federal Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, blame the two government-chartered mortgage underwriters for pushing lenders to make riskier loans and leading the way into the financial crash.

    There’s a problem with this narrative: The numbers tell a different story, a Center for Public Integrity review finds.

    The evidence indicates Fannie and Freddie contributed to the mortgage meltdown, but they played a secondary role to Wall Street. Wall Street firms and the mortgage lenders they bankrolled led the growth of the market for subprime loans and other risky mortgages.

    Government data show Fannie and Freddie didn’t take the same risks that Wall Street’s mortgage-backed securities machine did. Mortgages financed by Wall Street from 2001 to 2008 were 4½ times more likely to be seriously delinquent than mortgages backed by Fannie and Freddie.

    Tagging Fannie and Freddie as the primary suspects in the mortgage debacle diverts attention from bigger offenders and from policy decisions that helped create the climate for out-of-control lending.
    Some 6 percent of Fannie- and Freddie-sponsored loans made during that span were 90 days late at some point in their history, according to Fannie and Freddie’s regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency. By contrast, the FHFA says, roughly 27 percent of loans that Wall Street folded into mortgage-backed investments were at least 90 days late at some point.

    “The idea that they were leading this charge is just absurd,” said Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, an authoritative trade publication. “Fannie and Freddie have always had the tightest underwriting on earth…They were opposite of subprime.”

    Fannie and Freddie, Cecala said in a telephone interview, didn’t start making a big move into riskier mortgages until the mortgage boom was already under way, and they were fighting to reclaim market share they’d lost to more aggressive Wall Street players. Even then, they were more cautious than Lehman Brothers and other investment banks. For example, just over 15 percent of Fannie- and Freddie-backed loans made in 2007 have been seriously delinquent, compared to nearly 42 percent of mortgages bankrolled by Wall Street, according to the FHFA.

    None of this should excuse Fannie and Freddie for their role in the mortgage debacle. Their latter-day bets on high-wire mortgages contributed to a sea of government red ink and exacerbated the size of the mortgage meltdown and level of pain that borrowers and other Americans are now suffering. Taxpayers have already had to shell out some $150 billion to keep them alive.

    In comparison, taxpayers have shelled out more than the $145 billion to the eight largest Wall Street banks, but they have repaid most of the bailout money extended to them by the government.

    When it comes to public policy, though, a sense of context and proportion is important. Tagging Fannie and Freddie as the primary suspects in the mortgage debacle diverts attention from bigger offenders and from policy decisions—such as deregulation in the mortgage market and on Wall Street—that helped create the climate for out-of-control lending.

    A spokeswoman for the House Republican Conference, which publishes GOP.gov, did not respond to requests for comment.

    The debate over Fannie and Freddie’s role is likely to heat up in late January, when the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission is expected to release its report to the nation. The 10-member commission, created by Congress to investigate the economic disaster’s causes, has been split by discord between Democratic and GOP appointees.

    According to Democratic member Brooksley Born, Republicans insisted that the words “Wall Street” and “deregulation”] be banned from the panel’s final report. Peter Wallison, a Republican appointee to the commission, responded that the GOP members didn’t seek to “ban” any words—they simply wanted to ensure that terms such as “Wall Street” were used with precision.

    Soon after, the four Republican appointees issued a preliminary “Financial Crisis Primer.” The 13-page paper doesn’t use the terms “Wall Street” or “deregulation,” but refers to Fannie and Fannie three dozen times. Through Fannie and Freddie and other instruments of government policy, the paper says, Washington “subsidized and, in some cases, mandated the extension of credit to high-risk borrowers, propagating risks for financial firms, the mortgage market, taxpayers, and ultimately the financial system.”

    Critics of the primer counter that Countrywide Financial Corp., Ameriquest Mortgage, and other aggressive lenders made dicey mortgages not because of government incentives or pressure, but for simpler reasons: The loans were wildly profitable and investors were willing to shell out trillions of dollars to fund them.

    In assessing these competing views, a few more numbers are worth considering:

    • Fannie and Freddie lost market share to Wall Street during the very time the mortgage market was spinning out of control. FHFA data shows Fannie and Freddie’s share of new mortgages fell from almost 55 percent in 2003 to less than 35 percent in 2006.

    • The loans that Fannie and Freddie purchased had consistently better risk characteristics than loans backed by Wall Street. For example, roughly 5 percent of loans originated from 2001 to 2008 and acquired by Fannie and Freddie had “FICO” credit scores of less than 620, a figure often used as a cutoff for labeling borrowers as subprime. More than 30 percent of Wall Street-bankrolled loans in the same period had FICO scores under 620.

    • In addition to buying loans directly, Fannie and Freddie also purchased mortgage-backed securities produced by Wall Street. From 2002 to 2007, Wall Street produced more than $3 trillion in securities backed by subprime mortgages and so-called Alt-A mortgages, another class of risky home loans. During that time, Fannie and Freddie purchased 23 percent of Wall Street securities underpinned by subprime and Alt-A loans, according to Inside Mortgage Finance.

    That’s a big chunk, but still not enough to make the case that Fannie and Freddie were the main drivers of the growth in risky lending.

    • As of September, Federal Reserve data show, 2.2 percent of Fannie- and Freddie-backed mortgages were in foreclosure, compared to 13 percent of all subprime mortgages, 11.3 percent of all Alt-A mortgages, and 2.9 percent of all prime mortgages.

    Fannie and Freddie, in other words, have outperformed the overall mortgage market. If they had been the real ringleaders of the mortgage debacle, the numbers would tell a darker story.

    When it comes to the lending spree that sparked the financial crisis, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were followers, not leaders. They were, at first, not-so-innocent semi-bystanders and, eventually, too-willing accomplices who followed Wall Street as it led the nation’s economy off a cliff.

  • In light of #37, one might argue therefore that sovereign debt is all hype, and it could well be avoided if the sovereign simply refused to play.

  • I like it, I like it, especially the distinction between the two spheres, which is why Wall Street has been aptly compared to casino gambling.

    As to the overlap, yes, most of it arises due to manufacturing scarcity (via commodity speculation, e.g. oil).

    Not only does it raise the stakes for the high-stakes players, but of course it impacts the lower tier. And it is in this respect that we’re being impacted. If it weren’t for that, I’d say let ’em him their fun. (Personally, I don’t care how much Rembrandts go for these days: it’s of aesthetic value to me.)

    Another negative repercussion: when we bail them out at taxpayers’ expense, or when, for example, Goldman was selling short on packaged mortgage securities: while the investors took a bit hit, Goldman raked the profits. But you might say it doesn’t really matter what happens to the investors since they’re playing that game — so who cares if they lose. But not so with the bailouts.

    Which suggests a possible strategy: separating the two “economics” and making that separation effective.

    As to what to do about Greece, I’ve got to think some more. International trade is one complicating factor.

    Meanwhile, here is Richard D. Wolff on today’s Democracy Now! show.

  • Igor

    Good points, Grady. One of the reasons the US is poised on the brink of catastrophic economic failure is because of the $550trillion of paper debt (mostly derivatives with no intrinsic value, just used to hide leverage and commissions) that we have, which is based on only $45trillion of net capital assets (the intrinsic values of all the property and possessions in the USA) so we are leveraged out about 15 to 1. We can only cover about 7% of our debts. If we undertake the ultimate ‘austerity’ program (seemingly the goal of the radical right) we will go broke and lose 93% of our assets.

    Happy new year.

  • Anarcissie

    The theory I worked out was that there were mostly separate realms of economic activity and money*, one for the rich* and the other for the poor*. The rich deal with stocks, bonds, real estate, collectibles; the poor with food, manufactured items, personal services — in other words, items whose prices are significantly related to labor. To some extent money in the upper realm can be inflated without affecting money in the lower realm. It makes little difference to a burger flipper whether a painting by Van Gogh sells for 8 million or 80 million dollars. However, there are crossover points such as some commodities (energy, food) and real estate where trouble can arise. For instance, by means of mortgage credit, ordinary workers sometimes get to play rich person in buying and selling real estate. However, they are vulnerable to reverses in the market in that they do not actually have the money to maintain their position (home ownership, say) except under favorable conditions (low interest, rising prices). The great real estate crash was set off when the Fed attempted to raise interest rates (in, I think 2005) under Chinese instigation. (The Fed and China have now learned their lesson.)

    The terms I’ve marked with an asterisk are not used in exactly their everyday, literal meaning. Especially, money, by which I mean not only currency but credit.

    I haven’t analyzed the problems of the Greeks; I”ve been mostly going from what I observe in the U.S. I know there was a similar real estate boom in much of the euro zone. One way the Greeks could solve some of their problems, Krugman advises us, is by withdrawing from the euro, converting their currency to drachmai (or whatever) and inflating it to the point where the declining value of wages, pensions, fixed incomes, and local savings would compensate for the inflated obligations of the government. In other words, the Greek national budget would be ‘balanced on the backs of the poor’, essentially by robbing them. ‘From him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.’

  • Anarcissie, Grady,

    Help me think through this (first part of #28):

    Let’s say Grady’s figures are on the level, which would be a ten-to-one real vs. inflated value ratio. In financial, futures-trading terms, this comes down to a ten-to-one leverage (as when, say, you purchase a commodity contract)– quite standard, btw, in those circles. Of course, there are margin calls there you’re required to meet, or you’ll forfeit the contract. In layman’s terms, it’s called speculation.

    Now, let’s translate this model which, as Anarcissie would have it, to the entire world economy. What are the immediate implications? In what sense(s) the translation isn’t kosher? Why, for example, the model is “workable” in limited contexts (such as futures trading, again), while it mightn’t be workable when applied to the overall context? Does it have to do with the fact that in the latter instance, speculation is not bound by any specific context? In that case, maybe the term “hype” is more appropriate.

    Food for thought: what might be the best course of action for Greece, let’s say, if it decided “not to play the game”?

  • Goodness, Cannon. At the rate you’re going, we might get there in the year 2121.

  • Cannonshop

    Roger, there will be other movements. There almost always ARE. Eventually with grass-roots movements, they end up becoming one of two things:

    1. Good memories for the participants and an inspiration to later groups.

    2. Institutionalized and Corrupted, usually by the people or elements they were protesting against.

    Those’re historically your choices with social movement dynamics. OWS had a good run, it’s still stuttering along, but like the TEA Party, eventually it’s going to hit the same decision-point as to what it’s growing up to be. For the sake of the participants and their intended outcome, best to hope it’s door number one, rather than door number two.

  • Why perpetuate the illusion, though?

    So that we all believe the system is still working, with the intended effect that our behavior resembles that of rats in a maze.

  • Indeed, equating worth with production always ought to be the true index. Furthermore, withholding means of exchange from the “lower orders” does perpetrate the illusion of value.

    On target as usual.

  • Anarcissie

    Maurice — the only kind of economy in which government is not deeply involved is vernacular production — home made for home use — and some presently marginal activities like barter and gifts.

  • It’s called moral hazard, Maurice.

    But you’re too nice a fellow for me to “shoot you down.”

  • Anarcissie

    In regard to (24), I think most of the money the rich are now playing with is highly fictional. The actual value of money in actual use is how much actual labor it can buy. But more money has been created than the working class is capable of backing, even if it were totally enslaved and exploited at maximal efficiency.

    An illusion of value in money has been preserved mostly by keeping it, both in cash and credit form, away from the lower orders (that is, the workers and the poor). This is sometimes called, with surprising accuracy, ‘the real economy’. But this is an unstable situation because of the huge overhang of fictional money. As the exploitation of the working class is far from maximally efficient and is getting worse, it will become more and more difficult to pretend that the money has any value at all, since it will more and more cease to correspond to real production.

    In regard to (20), I think most of the numbered criticisms are correct, but there are more than two positions in each category. In the case of education, for example, we could note a reactionary or conservative position in which education would be completely determined by class, the present situation of debt peonage, the reformed position of low-cost loans, the socialist or communist position of free education, and perhaps an anarchist position in which the traditional categories of education would be replaced by some less industrialized form of learning. What OWS has done — which as a long-time if low-energy activist has astonished me — is move the general public discussion beyond the reactionary-conservative area at all, in spite of the almost total domination of the media, the academic system, and other major institutions by reactionaries and conservatives.

    And it is really not finished yet, even if — especially if — it is physically defunct, because it will move into the realm of myth and legend, whence it may exercise great power.

  • Maurice

    I am sure I will get shot down for this but my personal opinion of the failure of OWS to make any impact is to not aim squarely at the culprits that caused the depression.

    I think almost all would agree the subprime mortgages are root cause of the housing crisis.

    What caused bankers to approve the subprime loans? Politicians wanted more people to own homes so they put pressure on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to guarantee loans to lower income borrowers.

    This created an unnatural ripple in the economy and human nature took over. Bankers started approving any and all loans knowing they would be covered. Flipping houses became mainstream which further inflated the bubble.

    My conclusion: government should stay out of the economy. QUIT TRYING TO HELP.

  • In any case, I see financial capitalism as the last nail in the coffin to finally undo capitalism proper — running on fumes, you might say.

  • Are you referring to Galbraith’s clip, perchance?

    I know it’s outdated. He hadn’t the chance to experience the downright spiral. Good for him, since he can rest in relative peace.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    You’re coloring outside the lines now, Roger.
    Core and periphery, man, that’s some stale cake. John Perkins’ “Confessions of an Economic Hitmanen ” cuts to the chase, and is fresher. Even (Frazzie) RT News has reported there is now 700 trillion outstanding in derivatives while global gross production is less than 70 trillion.
    If we had a tax on those transactions no one would ever go hungry.

  • @20

    You could summarize your “four legs” by saying these suckers are still beholden to the American Dream. I was going to make it the centerpiece of my article, but rush it into publication.

    Haven’t they read Scott Fitzgerald, for chrissake, or Norman Mailer?

    That’s the major disconnect between OWS and the underclass. The latter, by having been dominated, no longer entertain such fine illusions. And what we call “crime” is truly a manifestation of having long lost the faith.

    They’re the outlaws in the true sense of the word, and they’re fully justified in so acting.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Dinkins is a fuddy-duddy who grades on the suck-up curve. Grad students seeking an easy A massage his ankles like hungry cats. There is less intellectual freedom the farther you go in school. (specialization) Dinkins probably thinks Kelly is a celebrity (like Rudy Giuliani or Bernie Kerik?) and that it is a social coup getting him to talk to the class. Senile ass-lickers think like that. Anyway it was cool the outside activist set him up and that Democacy Now was there to capture it.

  • The following is the late’s John Kenneth Galbraith’s bird’s eye view on inequality in the age of globalization, a perfect crime.

    To cite from the conclusion:

    “In the course of these events, progress toward tolerable levels of inequality and sustainable development virtually stopped. Neocolonial patterns of center periphery dependence, and of debt peonage, were reestablished, but with out the slightest assumption of responsibility by the rich countries for the fate of the poor.

    “It has been, it would appear, a perfect crime. And while statistical forensics can play a small role in pointing this out, no mechanism to reverse the policy exists, still less any that might repair the damage. The developed countries have abandoned the pretense of attempting to foster development in the world at large, preferring to substitute the rhetoric of ungoverned markets for the hard work of stabilizing regulation. The prognosis is grim : a descent into apathy, despair, disease, ecological disaster, and wars of separatism and survival in many of the poorest parts of the world.

    “Unless, of course, the wise spirits of Kuznets and Keynes can be summoned back to life, to deal more constructively with the appalling disorder of the past twenty years.”

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Here is what I sent my “poorer friend” after she complained of OWS sexism and classism:
    Thanks for responding. I can actually hear the sound of your preaching voice when I read your emails because we’ve
    talked on the phone. What you say about sexism is true. Most developed countries have had better equality laws than the USA for awhile.
    Now everything is sliding backwards. Nothing sticks if the People are prohibited from attaining consciousness.
    (Knowing the Why of human rights is not optional.)

    The failures of Occupy are rooted in middle class myths of half-assed reform. They are so worried that their little possessions might be disturbed they sell the rest of us down the river. Theirs is a careful balancing act that has now toppled. Recapping, the four legs of their bridge table were:
    1. Campaign finance reform- as opposed to egalitarian democracy without Oligarchs
    2. Single payer Medicare type health services- as opposed to free socialized medicine
    3. Affordable access to higher education- as opposed to universal free education
    4. Withdrawal from some overseas occupations- as opposed to Peace and the end of Empire

    And you might add (though “polite” bourgeoisie prefer to keep it hidden):
    5. Reproductive choice for those with income- as opposed to sanctity of the human body, and privacy in sexual and reproductive activity
    (Goes to show that most Progressives are at heart Class-Supremacists)

    Looking at the four legs we see that the common flaw is the profit motive.
    The fifth myth preserves slavery and speculation in human bodies as a commodity.
    It says that reproduction is the affair of the owners (Lord Proprietors) just like industrial production, with female bodies being just another means
    (That’s where the product comes out of the machine.) they operate for fun and profit. (You can see why all capitalism is mafia gangsterism.)
    Men are part of the repro-machine too, but are in fearful denial. (The purpose of child support laws is not to help children.)
    You are on the right track when you assemble the half-truths of irate “conservatives” with those of the radical left.
    (What people claim as Principles turns out to be voodoo and delusions.)
    But a big chunk of consciousness and solidarity remain missing because the poor are muzzled.
    (And you are correct that fascists find it more convenient to herd women into the “poor pen.”)
    (Notice how sterilization and castration wait in the wings? Nazis are fascinated by such powers, but energy is required.)

    I feel anxious about it now. Maybe I was telling her what I thought she wanted to hear. She has said on the phone that she does appreciate that Occupy has “moved the goalposts.”

  • @18

    But why would Columbia organize the seminar in the first place if robust question n answer session was out of the question?

    Tells you about the climate in today’s even most “liberal” institutions of higher learning.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    16-No surprise here because David Dinkins is a former NYC mayor still living in the Cosby Age. Ray Kelly is one of the paramilitary police chiefs who periodically trade jobs after assaulting innocents.
    John Timoney is another crypto-fascist cop providing curb service to billionaires. He is headed for Bahrain to help quell protests there. He’ll fit right in with the raping and torturing and the big USA funding.
    17_ Frank Luntz is a CIA marketing consultant to Republicans who calls himself a linguist. I’ve listened to former “company handler” Diane Rehm lick him up and down as if he were her kitten several broadcasts.The material roger linked seemed lame compared to the new fascist-speak which is favored by P-tardy Congresspersons and governors. “Who wants a career?”, that’s drivel!

  • A primer on how to debunk OWS.

  • A class at Columbia, an institution of higher learning.

    What a joke.

  • I must forewarn you, Grady, this is a fairly conservative, conventional-wisdom type of bulletin board. Except for some people, not to mention Anarcissie, of course, most people here don’t want to discuss inconvenient truths. The two, usually pro-active commentators, Cindy and “toll,” have been missing persons of late.

    In fact, it was one of the subliminal purposes of this article “to smoke ’em out.”

  • As I said, Grady, internet is no substitute for person-to-person contacts, but an illusion which perpetuates the notion of virtual reality as some kind of surrogate. And like any technology, it’s going to be used and abused. The hero of George Packer’s story found real connections on the Liberty Square, not on the net.

    As to where the truth lies, I always think for myself, and I’m more than convinced that so do you.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Can we say my poorer friend, George Packer or the rest of us are well-informed? It’s so difficult and overwhelming to sort out reality among all the spins and opinions. Just yesterday Julian Assange observed that the Internet has become more of a “surveillance machine” than a forum. It sucks up personal information and keeps it secure until Oligarchs need it. Here’s the same sort of microcosm as exhibited by the school system… that teachers can’t solve maladies extant and perpetuated in the larger society. We must meet face face because all technology goes the way of TV, mainly because Oligarchs reserve it unto themselves as a profit-maker. In practice very little lies in the commons category. Even the human body and mind are routinely and casually commoditized.

  • Intellectual combat is of no account unless it is put in the service of promoting the basic human values.

  • GradyLeeHoward

    This from the New Yorker article (by Packer)
    linked by Anarcissie:
    There were dozens of “working groups,” and many of them held meetings a few blocks from the park, in the atrium of the Deutsche Bank Building, on Wall Street. But a few activists dominated these groups, in an insular conversation about “the process” that kept returning to ideas for restructuring into smaller groups in order to refine the process and make it “more inclusive.” A division was opening up between the activists in the atrium and the occupiers in the park. At one meeting of the Facilitation Working Group, a man asked Kachel—an unfamiliar face—why he was there.

    How would posters here deal with an intelligent “loser”? Most of us relish intellectual combat and are steeped in arguing theoretically for argument’s sake.
    Do we need softer people skills to advance this opportunity?

  • Which is precisely while OWS has failed thus far to capture not only the middle America but our underclass, more importantly.

    Why should our poor identify with the mounting student debt while they’re struggling to meet the most basic needs?

  • GradyLeeHoward

    Here is an interesting perception from a long poor underclass person (personal email sent to me):That’s not the only dumbass move they’ve made. While they demand a $12/hr minimum wage, they conveniently neglected to demand that every destitute poor person with something to offer who needs a job be guaranteed the right to a job, OR an equivalent minimum income support if disabled, too old, not skilled/educated. And gee, what about the basic guarantee of equal human and civil rights for women?

    Women make up 84% of those struggling below poverty because we’re the ones with far less job opportunities than men, we’re denied the right to have sex without legally imposed mandatory pregnancy and childbirth through all these “pro-life” laws that have taken away poor women’s access to contraception and abortion in the event of contraceptive failure or rape. Pregnancy and childbirth is the Number One reason that women are plunged into utter destitution. Think about that.

    Women are far more oppressed, exploited and poor regardless of educational level because of institutionalized misogyny and sexism. Women suffer viciously due to discrimination because every dollar we get deprived of an opportunity to earn is a dollar we don’t have to afford things like food, health and dental care, utilities, an a decent home that isn’t substandard. Yet, I see NOTHING from these self-proclaimed unifiers along those lines. All I see is a lot of middle class white male spoiled bratdom. These cocky young know-it-alls think anyone over 40 doesn’t know anything while they know everything. If they were so damn smart, they’d put aside the Karl Marx for a minute and pick up the Ida B. Wells and the Mary Wollstonecraft.

    :When the writer refers to “dumbass move” that’s the recent Occupy emphasis on the problems of college students and student loan debtors. Before I reveal how I responded I’m curious as to what commentators here would tell her. She has a degree herself and a loan she cannot pay.

  • Quite right. That is a source of strength.

    I think, however, a case can be made for a valid distinction between putting forth specific demands, on the one hand, and a universal type of message with a broad populist appeal.

  • I read or heard somebody say somewhere, and I can’t remember where, that the Occupy movement’s lack of a single message or concrete demands is actually one of its main strengths. If the Establishment doesn’t know what to attack, it makes it difficult for them to “divide and conquer”.

  • Indeed, a great, heart-warming story, Anarcissie (including the questions and answers session), especially how OWS can be so many things to different people: the element of inclusion is an in-built mechanism as it were, part and parcel of the movement.

    Understand, however, that I was but venting, giving expression to creeping fears and doubts.

    Still think, however, a strong voice would go a long way to make progress and arrive at the critical mass.

  • Thanks, Chris.

  • Thanks for the link in #1, Anarcissie, a compelling read.

    I’ll fix your timeline error, Roger.

  • Apologize for the silly error.

    As I’ve been reminded by an expatriate, the occupation began on September 17, 2011, which would make it two months and two weeks ago.

  • Anarcissie

    See also Packer’s (author of previous) online convo and Ray’s current publication derived from the Twitter address given.

    Relevance? Polymorphous.

  • Anarcissie