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Abby Zimet, Common Dreams
A dazzling lightshow manifesto splashed across the Verizon building last night as thousands of Occupy Wall Streeters marched across the Brooklyn Bridge. Interview and some great stories with its masterful creator here.

“I can’t charge you money. This is for the people.” – Denise Vega, single working mom of three from whose low-income apartment the show originated.
(18 November 2011)
Photos and videos at original. -BA

Occupy and anarchism’s gift of democracy

David Graeber, Guardian
… Almost every time I’m interviewed by a mainstream journalist about OWS, I get some variation of the same lecture:

“How are you going to get anywhere if you refuse to create a leadership structure or make a practical list of demands? And what’s with all this anarchist nonsense – the consensus, the sparkly fingers … ? You’re never going to be able to reach regular, mainstream Americans with this sort of thing!”

It is hard to imagine worse advice. After all, since 2007, just about every previous attempt to kick off a nationwide movement against Wall Street took exactly the course such people would have recommended – and failed miserably. It is only when a small group of anarchists in New York decided to adopt the opposite approach – refusing to recognise the legitimacy of the existing political authorities by making demands of them; refusing to accept the legitimacy of the existing legal order by occupying a public space without asking for permission, refusing to elect leaders that could then be bribed or co-opted; declaring, however non-violently, that the entire system was corrupt and they rejected it; being willing to stand firm against the state’s inevitable violent response – that hundreds of thousands of Americans from Portland to Tuscaloosa began rallying in support, and a majority declared their sympathies.

This is not the first time a movement based on fundamentally anarchist principles – direct action, direct democracy, a rejection of existing political institutions and attempt to create alternative ones – has cropped up in the US. The civil rights movement (at least, its more radical branches), the anti-nuclear movement, the global justice movement … all took similar directions. Never, however, has one grown so startlingly quickly.
(15 November 2011)
Author David Graeber “is an American anthropologist and anarchist who currently holds the position of Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London.” He has been active in helpting to organize the Occupy movement. -BA

Occupiers: We’re Already Changing Politics

Caitlin MacLaren and Zoltán Glück, USA Today
The whole world seems to be waiting eagerly for the “next phase” of Occupy Wall Street, or else for the entire thing to dissipate overnight. While the raids on occupations from Oakland to New York certainly change the equation, they do little to subtract from our numbers. In fact, they multiply the reasons why we fight.

Even before the raid on Liberty Square, much of the work of Occupy Wall Street was being done in public atriums, in schools, in community centers, in workplaces and online — a level of organization that has been largely ignored by the mainstream news media.

In this way, Occupy Wall Street has challenged us to express our views and organize politically outside officially sanctioned forums. It has given people a means to engage directly in decision-making in a way that our broken political system has long failed to deliver.

Pundits who argue for channeling Occupy Wall Street into party politics miss the point entirely. By focusing America’s attention on the dramatic polarization of wealth and by creating a new political identity — “the 99%” — we are already impacting politics in ways the Tea Party could only dream of.

The power of our movement is that it is changing the very coordinates of how people think about politics; it is changing the political imagination. We therefore cannot accept the mandate to return to the way things were, to use get-out-the-vote drives and political action committees as our only means of making change.
(18 November 2011)

OWS-inspired activism

Glenn Greenwald, Salon
It was only a matter of time before a coordinated police crackdown was imposed to end the Occupy encampments. Law enforcement officials and policy-makers in America know full well that serious protests — and more — are inevitable given the economic tumult and suffering the U.S. has seen over the last three years (and will continue to see for the foreseeable future). A country cannot radically reduce quality-of-life expectations, devote itself to the interests of its super-rich, and all but eliminate its middle class without triggering sustained citizen fury.

The reason the U.S. has para-militarized its police forces is precisely to control this type of domestic unrest, and it’s simply impossible to imagine its not being deployed in full against a growing protest movement aimed at grossly and corruptly unequal resource distribution.

… But the same factors that rendered this police crackdown inevitable will also ensure that this protest movement endures: the roots of the anger are real, profound and impassioned. Just as American bombs ostensibly aimed at reducing Terrorism have the exact opposite effect — by fueling the anti-American sentiments that cause Terrorism in the first place — so, too, will excessive police force further fuel the Occupy movement.

… After visiting numerous Occupy sites over the past few weeks, I’ve repeatedly said that the protests are among the most exciting, inspiring and important political developments over the last decade. That’s true for several reasons: its innovative, pioneering tactics, its refusal to be pigeonholed with partisan identity, its resistance to translating itself into establishment media language, its organic form, its appropriate contempt for the nation’s political and legal institutions, its singular ability to force discussions of wealth inequality into the discourse. But I think its most impressive attribute is that it has inspired a level of activism and a sense of possibility like few other things have. It’s worth highlighting a few representative examples.
(18 November 2011)

Brotherhood Of Man

Robert Morse and cast, “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” via YouTube

“Even though we’re all part of the cold corporate set-up, deep down under our skins there’s flesh and blood. We’re all brothers!”

Satire from the the film version of the Broadway Musical “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” (1967). A new version stars Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter).

The phrasing is a wee bit sexist, but then again, this was 1967.