Even just a change in attitude, a new willingness to talk about distributive conflicts, could have surprising results. Less than three years ago, Occupy Wall Street opened a floodgate, moving inequality from a pariah issue to a major theme of the next election. Americans were ready to acknowledge inequality and argue over it. But they needed, somehow, to give themselves permission. A small, mainly symbolic encampment movement found itself giving that permission. Political shifts can be surprising like that—which is probably why the conventional wisdom that Occupy “failed” got it wrong. Time Bomb ☀
So where does the idea that consensus is a “white thing” come from? Indigenous societies in America all used consensus decision-making instead of voting. Africans brought to the Americas had been kidnapped from communities where consensus was the normal mode of making collective decisions, and violently thrust into a society where “democracy” meant voting (even though they themselves were not allowed to vote.) Meanwhile, the only significant group of white settlers who employed consensus were the Quakers—and even they had developed much of their process under the influence of Native Americans like the Haudenosaunee. Graeber responds to Justine Tunney on consensus process ☀
History is made by those who claim it, and we have let the Right write the history of these past four years—to our detriment and our peril. Every victory that has been won these past years is a reflection of the forces that were in play in 2008. Without Occupy, without women, without the young, no progress would have been made. And it is these forces that the Right is working—through their mantras, through the media and through state laws—to defeat. Our dissatisfaction with the slow pace of progress plays straight into Republican hands. The message from a well-financed opposition echoes in our ears: that hope is an illusion and change is not possible. The truth is that hope is essential. The tension between what is and what should be has always been the springboard for real change. What we do matters. The choices are ours. We need to make the right ones. Whose Election Is This Anyway? ☀
The current political regime in Washington is a great example of the fundamental conservatism of global leaders. I think that’s one of the explanations for why you have young people finally showing up in the streets. We had this guy who ran as a candidate of change. He didn’t run as a radical, but he had all the social-movement rhetoric that made you think that actually he was going to do things differently. His candidacy mobilized grass roots supporters as if this were a social movement. It was all very self-conscious, and all these young people became politicized and thought this was going to actually mean some kind of profound change. And what do we get? We get this guy who is basically a classic conservative. The word conservative has changed in contemporary American English; now it means “extreme radical reactionary” or “right-winger.” But in the old-fashioned sense of wishing to conserve existing institutions in as much a viable long-term form, that’s what Obama turned out to be. Pretty much everything he’s done is along the lines of “How can we save the auto industry? How can we preserve the banking system without nationalizing it, without changing it in any fundamental way?” He did not map out a great new vision of a health system. He said the system we have is not viable, but here’s a plan where we can preserve the same principles of profit-driven private health in a form that will be sustainable. So basically this is a guy who is willing to make heroic efforts not to change. David Graeber ☀
The Occupy movement is throwing cold water on the 30-year mass hallucination of the neoliberal consensus. It is giving the lie to the idea that there is no alternative to a world of speculative financial bubbles and individual immiseration. The gradual monopolization of wealth and power by a very small section of society was made acceptable to the rest of the population only because of the clever marketing of the fantasy that we might, with enough hard work and expensive education, break through to those rarified circles of large cars, healthy kids, and meaningful work. It was the fuck-you fantasy of social mobility, the future as lottery, bought for cheap at a drugstore and played out on television with scantily clad young women spinning the wheel. Rootless and Ruthless ☀
The security and surveillance state has a vast arsenal and array of tools at its disposal. It operates in secret. It dissembles and lies. It hides behind phony organizations and individuals who use false histories and false names. It has millions of dollars to spend, the capacity to deny not only its activities but also its existence. Its physical assets honeycomb the country. It can wiretap, eavesdrop and monitor every form of communication. It can hire informants, send in clandestine agents, recruit members within the movement by offering legal immunity, churn out a steady stream of divisive propaganda and amass huge databases and clandestine operations centers. And it is authorized to use deadly force. Chris Hedges ☀
This is a struggle to win the hearts and minds of the wider public and those within the structures of power (including the police) who are possessed of a conscience. It is not a war. Nonviolent movements, on some level, embrace police brutality. The continuing attempt by the state to crush peaceful protesters who call for simple acts of justice delegitimizes the power elite. It prompts a passive population to respond. It brings some within the structures of power to our side and creates internal divisions that will lead to paralysis within the network of authority. Martin Luther King kept holding marches in Birmingham because he knew Public Safety Commissioner “Bull” Connor was a thug who would overreact. The Black Bloc’s thought-terminating cliché of “diversity of tactics” in the end opens the way for hundreds or thousands of peaceful marchers to be discredited by a handful of hooligans. The state could not be happier. It is a safe bet that among Black Bloc groups in cities such as Oakland are agents provocateurs spurring them on to more mayhem. But with or without police infiltration the Black Bloc is serving the interests of the 1 percent. These anarchists represent no one but themselves. Those in Oakland, although most are white and many are not from the city, arrogantly dismiss Oakland’s African-American leaders, who, along with other local community organizers, should be determining the forms of resistance. Chris Hedges ☀
I work around the clock— 1043 Planck times per second— providing the gravitational attraction to hold this galaxy cluster together. And some baryonic cosmologist wants to explain me away as a modification of Newtonian gravity?
I have been silent for 13.7 billion years, but no more.
I AM THE 96%
A GNT creation ©2007–2014