OWS Anniversary -- 99 percent vs. 1 percent fight continues -- The wave of Occupy protests in 2011 was forcibly suppressed. But it changed public debate, inspiring a generation of activists.
Videographer Luke Rudkowski talks with Chris Hedges on the 2 year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street on Tuesday, in Zuccotti Park. Hedges has followed the movement since the beginning, and has an excellent assessment of the problems with OWS, where it's been, and where it may be headed next.
Lee Camp's Moment of Clarity Show: Are we living in a time of inverted totalitarianism? Pulitzer prize-winning author Chris Hedges tells me we are, in this first episode of the Moment of Clarity Show - SEASON TWO! This episode was made possible by Coalition Films and our generous Kickstarter supporters!
Chris Hedges speaks at the People's Recovery Summit organized by Occupy Sandy. The Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew, Brooklyn, NY, February 2, 2013:
The corporate state has made it clear there will be no more Occupy encampments. The corporate state is seeking through the persistent harassment of activists and the passage of draconian laws such as Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act—and we will be in court next Wednesday to fight the Obama administration’s appeal of the Southern District Court of New York’s ruling declaring Section 1021 unconstitutional—to shut down all legitimate dissent. The corporate state is counting, most importantly, on its system of debt peonage to keep citizens—especially the 30 million people who make up the working poor—from joining our revolt.
Workers who are unable to meet their debts, who are victimized by constantly rising interest rates that can climb to as high as 30 percent on credit cards, are far more likely to remain submissive and compliant. Debt peonage is and always has been a form of political control. Native Americans, forced by the U.S. government onto tribal agencies, were required to buy their goods, usually on credit, at agency stores. Coal miners in southern West Virginia and Kentucky were paid in scrip by the coal companies and kept in perpetual debt servitude by the company store. African-Americans in the cotton fields in the South were forced to borrow during the agricultural season from their white landlords for their seed and farm equipment, creating a life of perpetual debt. It soon becomes impossible to escape the mounting interest rates that necessitate new borrowing.
Debt peonage is a familiar form of political control. And today it is used by banks and corporate financiers to enslave not only individuals but also cities, municipalities, states and the federal government. As the economist Michael Hudson points out, the steady rise in interest rates, coupled with declining public revenues, has become a way to extract the last bits of capital from citizens as well as government. Once individuals, or states or federal agencies, cannot pay their bills—and for many Americans this often means medical bills—assets are sold to corporations or seized. Public land, property and infrastructure, along with pension plans, are privatized. Individuals are pushed out of their homes and into financial and personal distress.
Debt peonage is a fundamental tool for control. This debt peonage must be broken if we are going to build a mass movement to paralyze systems of corporate power. And the most effective weapon we have to liberate ourselves as well as the 30 million Americans who make up the working poor is a sustained movement to raise the minimum wage nationally to at least $11 an hour. Most of these 30 million low-wage workers are women and people of color. They and their families struggle at a subsistence level and play one lender off another to survive. By raising their wages we raise not only the quality of their lives but we increase their capacity for personal and political power. We break one of the most important shackles used by the corporate state to prevent organized resistance.
You can read the rest of Chris Hedges' speech at Truthout.
Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author, and war correspondent speaks about his latest book, "Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt", the economy, government, banks, and the Occupy movement.
This is a part of Culture Project's "Conversation on Economy", filmed on July 25, 2012 at the IMPACT Festival.
The panel was moderated by Sam Seder and included Robert Johnson, Taylor Jo Isenberg, Patrick Markee, and performances by The Civilians.
In every conflict, insurgency, uprising and revolution I have covered as a foreign correspondent, the power elite used periods of dormancy, lulls and setbacks to write off the opposition. This is why obituaries for the Occupy movement are in vogue. And this is why the next groundswell of popular protest—and there will be one—will be labeled as "unexpected," a "shock" and a "surprise." The television pundits and talking heads, the columnists and academics who declare the movement dead are as out of touch with reality now as they were on Sept. 17 when New York City's Zuccotti Park was occupied. Nothing this movement does will ever be seen by them as a success. Nothing it does will ever be good enough. Nothing, short of its dissolution and the funneling of its energy back into the political system, will be considered beneficial.
Those who have the largest megaphones in our corporate state serve the very systems of power we are seeking to topple. They encourage us, whether on Fox or MSNBC, to debate inanities, trivia, gossip or the personal narratives of candidates. They seek to channel legitimate outrage and direct it into the black hole of corporate politics. They spin these silly, useless stories from the "left" or the "right" while ignoring the egregious assault by corporate power on the citizenry, an assault enabled by the Democrats and the Republicans. Don't waste time watching or listening. They exist to confuse and demoralize you.
The engine of all protest movements rests, finally, not in the hands of the protesters but the ruling class. If the ruling class responds rationally to the grievances and injustices that drive people into the streets, as it did during the New Deal, if it institutes jobs programs for the poor and the young, a prolongation of unemployment benefits (which hundreds of thousands of Americans have just lost), improved Medicare for all, infrastructure projects, a moratorium on foreclosures and bank repossessions, and a forgiveness of student debt, then a mass movement can be diluted. Under a rational ruling class, one that responds to the demands of the citizenry, the energy in the street can be channeled back into the mainstream. But once the system calcifies as a servant of the interests of the corporate elites, as has happened in the United States, formal political power thwarts justice rather than advances it.
With the escalation of police tactics at many Occupations, some Occupiers argue for more active resistance. Chris Hedges and Kevin Zeese are questioned by DC Occupiers over future tactics at a seminar sponsored by a Ralph Nader group.
Whether or not you agree with Chris Hedges' stance on 'black bloc' tactics within the Occupy movement, he is spot on when he says that the goal of taking down occupy encampments across the country is to sever the movement from the mainstream because "The Occupy movement is fundamentally a mainstream movement."
And in short, the grievances and the concerns of the Occupy movement are the grievances and concerns of mainstream America.
It's a great nearly 20 full minutes of discussion, worth the listen.
The Call for Mass Action against the Suppression of the Occupy Movement, says, "The state planned and unleashed naked and systematic violence and repression against people attempting to exercise rights that are supposed to be legally guaranteed. This response by those who wield power in this society is utterly shameful from a moral standpoint, and thoroughly illegitimate from a legal and political one."
Over 1000 have joined the call including: Cornel West, Scott Olsen, Boots Riley, Robert Hass, Chris Hedges Rebecca Solnit; Michael Ratner and Gideon Oliver, and the GA's at Occupy Wall Street Occupy Chicago, Occupy Cleveland, Occupy Houston, Occupy Lincoln, Occupy Minneapolis, Occupy San Francisco, Occupy St. Paul.
What: Rally & March
When Tuesday February 28 4:00 pm 6:00 march
Where: Union Square, New York City (north plaza)
Travis Morales, an organizer of the rally, said today, “Now, after these evictions and mass arrests, we’re seeing in the press lies about violence, drugs, filth and crime in the Occupy movement used to justify police brutality and destroy Occupy’s widespread public support. On February 28 we are calling on thousands to come out publicly say “We Stand with Occupy” and oppose this suppression. We have seen historically that movements grow, and can only grow, by answering repression with even greater and more powerful mobilization.”