Tavis Smiley, Cornel West, and Bill O’Reilly sit down to have a debate about poverty, racism, and Occupy Wall Street. It goes about as well as you would expect.
***Edit*** Since Tumblr and Fox don’t want to play along, here’s a link: http://video.foxnews.com/v/1213405833001/oreilly-vs-smiley-and-west/
“Knock it off with the ‘black’ business, will ya?” - O’Reilly, The O’Reilly Factor, October 11, 2011
“[Wall Street bankers] didn’t violate any laws.” - Ibid.
"When I think back to the anti-globalization movement, and the 2001 FTAA protests in Quebec City, I am only appreciative of the fact that I was further radicalized. Thankfully my experiences in this movement eventually led me to ask why it produced nothing significant in a revolutionary sense, despite historically revisionist claims to the latter, and why a mass movement was incapable of doing anything except having multiple massive demonstrations and then falling apart on September 11, 2001. Here was a movement that had its leaders, though it pretended otherwise, an in-group of cliquish activists who imagined that they were revolutionary but who mistook revolution for running around in tear-gas and screaming that “the whole world is watching.” If they were proper revolutionaries they would have tried to have some foresight, tried to turn this movement into something sustainable that could actually try and produce revolution––but if you aren’t interested in the practical and concrete questions surrounding revolutionary struggle, the questions every significant revolutionary movement has had to ask and try to answer, and imagine it’s just going to happen like a beautiful flood composed of unique raindrops, then you’re not performing revolution. You’re performing protest and activism, and maybe you should be blamed for having allowed a movement die because you wouldn’t allow it to be properly structured."
“Down with Activism, Up with Revolution- JMP at http://moufawad-paul.blogspot.com/2012/02/down-with-activism-up-with-revolution.html (via malheureuxmarxist)
Reuters Campaign Finance Correspondent Alina Selyukh sent in this photo from CPAC where Occupy protesters and unions are demonstrating.
Crowds of people were chanting “We got sold out” and “We are the 99 percent” in a demonstration dubbed the “War on workers.”
Another protest is planned for later this evening, Selyukh reports. [REUTERS/Alina Selyukh]
The Occupy movement is known internationally for protesting the inequalities of the global financial system, so much so that in four short months, “Occupy” has essentially become a brand known the world over.
But now there’s an effort by Native American activists in Oakland to get rid of “Occupy” and replace it with “Decolonize” - as in “Decolonize Oakland.” They say the term “occupy” is offensive in light of the brutal history of occupation by early colonizers and the United States government. Native Americans in Seattle, Albuquerque, Portland and Sedona have launched similar campaigns.
The name change is proving contentious at Occupy Oakland, with some protesters accusing Native Americans of guilt tripping in the name of supporting the oppressed. But cut through the chatter, and the basic point seems to be this: Occupy doesn’t want to give up the brand.
“That name change could … alienate Oakland from the wider movement,” wrote John C Osborne, who has been reporting on the Occupy movement on his blog the Classist. “The brand recognition if you will.”
The irony of Occupy Oakland being captivated by “branding” isn’t lost on Morning Star Gali, a Native American activist from Oakland who’s helping lead the name change effort. The Occupy movement, in general, shuns thecorporatization of society.
More to the point, Gali says that for many Native Americans, especially those who came up in the “Red Power” movement in the 1960s, the term “Occupy” has a lot of baggage.
Native Americans tribes were brutally “occupied” by Spanish and English colonizers. Later, the United States government waged war on the Native American tribes and forced them into camps or reservations. More than 90 percent of North America’s indigenous population was wiped out by “occupiers,” either through war or the spread of disease.
And Bay Area Native American activists believe the occupation continues. In California, many Bay Area tribes are still struggling to gain federal recognition as sovereign nations. In the absence of a treaty, or compensation for their land, Native American activists in the Bay Area say they continue to live under outside rule.
As a Native American, “it’s nauseating to hear the word ‘occupy’ over and over again.’” Gali said. ”We need to occupy this, we need to occupy that. It’s the modern day colonial language.”
Question: Why are we no longer concerned with the working class?
Cornel West: I think one was, there was an idolizing of unfettered markets. And much if not most of the intelligentsia were duped. I recall traveling with my dear brother Michael Harrington and talking with brother Stanley Aronowitz years ago. And you know, here we’re engaged in critiques of unfettered markets, and it looked as if we were medieval thinkers. Everybody was saying, we’re followers of Milton Friedman. Everybody was saying Frederick Hayak got it right. Everybody was saying marketize, commercialize, commodify, and we were still reading Lukasch. And Lukasch was saying commodification is not simply an asymmetric relation of power, of bosses vis-à-vis workers, so workers are being more and more marginalized. Profits are being produced, wealth is being produced, hemorrhaged at the top, no fair distribution of that wealth or profit for workers. Poor are being demonized because they are viewed as those persons who are irresponsible, who will not work, who are always looking for welfare; i.e., failures in the society of success. And we reached a brink, and the chickens came home to roost. And a few years ago the unfettered markets led us off and over the brink.
And all of a sudden, very few intellectuals want to be honest and acknowledge the greed with which they were duped. Don’t want to talk about the inequality that went along with it. Don’t want to talk about the demonization of the poor that went along with it. Don’t want to talk about the politics of fear that produced a Republican Party that was more and more lily-white, using not just race but also demonizing gay brothers and lesbian sisters, you see. Don’t want to talk about the indifference toward the poor, and greed being good and desirable and so forth. Now is a very different moment, and it’s not, you know, just about pointing fingers, but saying somebody’s got to take responsibility. This was a nearly 40-year run. Who paid the cost? As is usually the case, you know, poor working people paid the cost, disproportionately black and brown and red, you see.
Question: Is this changing in the age of Obama?
Cornel West: So in the age of Obama, we say, okay, can we have a different kind of discussion? And that’s what we’re trying to do, but of course you’ve got two wars going on; you’ve got still Wall Street in the driver’s seat in the Obama administration when it comes to the economic team, you see. And you’ve got very — you know, I think in some ways unimaginative thinking when it comes to foreign policy, be it the Middle East or be it European Union or be it Latin America, you know, calling Chavez a dictator; the man’s been elected! If he’s calling into question rights and liberties, criticize him as a democratic president. We did the same thing for Bush. Bush was calling into question rights and liberties; we didn’t call him a dictator. We said he’s a democratically elected president who’s doing the wrong thing. Chavez ought to be criticized. He’s not a dictator; the man’s been elected.
But it’s that kind of demonizing that obscures and obfuscates the kind of issues that are necessary, because Chavez is also talking about poor people. So of course I want libertarian and democratic sides. I want right and liberties and empowerment of poor people. But talking about poor people is not a joke; it’s crucial, it’s part and parcel of the future of any serious democratic project. The fundamental question of any democracy is, what is the relation between public interest and the most vulnerable? That’s the question, you see. That is the question. The test of your rule of law is going to be, how are the most vulnerable being treated? It’s not whether the torturers are getting off; we know the torturers don’t have the rule of law applied to them. The wiretappers, they’re getting off scot-free. What about Jamal with the crack bag? Take him to jail for seven years. Oh — so you’ve got a different rule of law when it comes to Jamal on the corner versus your torturers and your wiretappers? Torture is a crime against humanity; it’s not just illegal. Wiretapping is illegal, you see. Now, it’s not a crime against humanity, because I mean, I’m sure I’ve had my phone tapped for years. I don’t think they committed a crime against humanity; they just ought to quit doing it God dangit.
Question: How can we strengthen the demos?
Cornel West: Well, you — I think you keep in mind — I mean, the demos is always a heterogeneous, diverse — got a lot of xenophobic elements among the demos — a lot of ignorance, a lot of parochialism. You also have a lot of cosmopolitanism, a lot of globalism, a lot of courage, moral courage. So the demos is not one thing. But when it comes to the ability of the demos to organize, mobilize and bring power and pressure to bear, we certainly are in a crisis; our system is broken. We’ve got seventy one percent of the people who want universal health care, and you can barely get through a reform bill with a weak public option. It’s clear lobbyists from the top, pharmaceutical companies, drug companies have tremendous influence, much more than the demos from below, you see. So that those preferences don’t get translated easily because our politicians are beholden to that big money and that big influence. But I mean the demos is still around, thank God. You’ve got your own institution. Dialog — dialog is the lifeblood of a democracy. You’ve got to allow ideas to flow. You have to expose people to different visions, alternative arguments and so on, to try to keep the torch of the progressive demos alive. But it’s very difficult to organize it. Complacency is deep; apathy is deep; people are wondering how can you confront, you know, big finance, big government tied to big finance, when all you’ve got is these little people, who are willing to talk and so forth, but have tremendous power bringing serious pressure to bear. We can march; you know, we marched against the war by the millions. We were ignored by the Bush administration. Some of us went to jail. We were ignored; we couldn’t translate into foreign policy. That happens sometimes. It was different in Vietnam.
- Dr. Cornel West
Occupy protesters set up a picket line at a Port of Portland terminal in Portland, Ore., as part of a West Coast day of action, Dec. 12, 2011.
"Now, just as there was in Teddy Roosevelt’s time, there’s been a certain crowd in Washington for the last few decades who respond to this economic challenge with the same old tune. “The market will take care of everything,” they tell us. If only we cut more regulations and cut more taxes – especially for the wealthy – our economy will grow stronger. Sure, there will be winners and losers. But if the winners do really well, jobs and prosperity will eventually trickle down to everyone else. And even if prosperity doesn’t trickle down, they argue, that’s the price of liberty.
It’s a simple theory – one that speaks to our rugged individualism and healthy skepticism of too much government. And that theory fits well on a bumper sticker. Here’s the problem: It doesn’t work. It has never worked. It didn’t work when it was tried in the decade before the Great Depression. It’s not what led to the incredible post-war boom of the 50s and 60s. And it didn’t work when we tried it during the last decade."
President Obama, Obama on ‘Trickle Down’ Economics: ‘It Doesn’t Work, It Has Never Worked’ (via darkjez)
November 7, 2011: 94th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution
"The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue."
Mao Zedong (via fuckyeahmarxismleninism)
Queen Mother Dr. Delois Blakely at her apartment in Harlem, where Occupy Wall Street protesters occupied the building’s basement until the landlord agreed to replace the boiler. The building had been without heat and hot water on and off for years.