zahgurim
queernessandlatkes:

#Justice4Cecily Dance Dance Revolution! Solidarity Party (link to Facebook event)
Hey Tumblr, there’s a really important event/party happening this Saturday (3/1/2014) in Brooklyn. Please reblog and attend if you’re able! Even if you don’t live in NYC, pass this along to any friends or followers who do. If you see this post after Saturday, please keep reblogging because Cecily’s trial begins on Monday 3/3 and will continue until 3/10. We need people to show up in court to show their support for Cecily, so this needs to be spread until then. If you’re interested in signing up to come to court, you can RSVP on www.justiceforcecily.com. (Also, it’d be great if you could tag it with anything relevant that’ll help more people see this!)
Cecily McMillan is an activist and grad student who was brutally sexually and physically assaulted by police officers on the 6-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. When Cecily felt her right breast being grabbed from behind, she involuntarily swung her elbow back and hit her attacker in the face. It turns out that the person who groped her was an NYPD police officer, so Cecily is now being charged as a felon and is facing up to 7 years in jail for “assaulting a police officer.” When Cecily struck the officer, he and other officers attacked her until she was badly bruised, knocked unconscious and seizing. Although there is video footage of several police officers kicking Cecily as she laid unconscious on the ground, it is she who is being sued and could go to jail because she was attacked.
The event on Saturday will be a dance party (with DJs, live musicians, food and beer/wine for those over 21) and also with social justice components. There will be a space for people to write down and share their experiences with police brutality. There will be a table with zines and folks are invited to hang up posters for upcoming political/activist/leftist/queer events! Hopefully, we’ll also have computers so anyone who’s interested in supporting Cecily in court can sign up for shifts at the party. 
Hope to see you on Saturday and/or in court in the following weeks!
To learn more about Cecily and her trial:www.justiceforcecily.com (Official website)
http://www.democracynow.org/2012/3/23/exclusive_ows_activist_cecily_mcmillan_describes (Video interview immediately following the incident)
http://justiceforcecily.com/media/ (Comprehensive list of articles and videos about Cecily)
http://www.policymic.com/articles/82123/this-occupy-activist-could-go-to-prison-for-standing-up-to-the-cop-who-grabbed-her-breast (Trigger warning: somewhat graphic images of bruises)
How you can help:
Attend the party on Saturday 3/1! This is an opportunity to do something great and have fun at the same time. There is a $5 suggested donation (although no one will be turned away for lack of funds.) Please show up if you can—we’d like to see as many of you there as possible! (FB event)
Sign up to attend court any time from 3/3-3/10. It’s critical to show the judge, jury and the media that we all stand with Cecily. We’re hoping to pack the court room to capacity, with 100 people every day! For more information and to RSVP, click here. You can also find the Facebook event for the trial here: 
If you don’t live in NY: Sign this petition to ask the NY District Attorney to drop all charges against Cecily. After you sign it’ll prompt you to tweet at the DA if you want (but you don’t have to)
Spread the word!! Reblog this post, share articles and events on Facebook, and reach out to people you know, especially in the NYC area. Share Cecily’s story.

queernessandlatkes:

#Justice4Cecily Dance Dance Revolution! Solidarity Party 
(link to Facebook event)

Hey Tumblr, there’s a really important event/party happening this Saturday (3/1/2014) in Brooklyn. Please reblog and attend if you’re able! Even if you don’t live in NYC, pass this along to any friends or followers who do. If you see this post after Saturday, please keep reblogging because Cecily’s trial begins on Monday 3/3 and will continue until 3/10. We need people to show up in court to show their support for Cecily, so this needs to be spread until then. If you’re interested in signing up to come to court, you can RSVP on www.justiceforcecily.com. (Also, it’d be great if you could tag it with anything relevant that’ll help more people see this!)

Cecily McMillan is an activist and grad student who was brutally sexually and physically assaulted by police officers on the 6-month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. When Cecily felt her right breast being grabbed from behind, she involuntarily swung her elbow back and hit her attacker in the face. It turns out that the person who groped her was an NYPD police officer, so Cecily is now being charged as a felon and is facing up to 7 years in jail for “assaulting a police officer.” When Cecily struck the officer, he and other officers attacked her until she was badly bruised, knocked unconscious and seizing. Although there is video footage of several police officers kicking Cecily as she laid unconscious on the ground, it is she who is being sued and could go to jail because she was attacked.

The event on Saturday will be a dance party (with DJs, live musicians, food and beer/wine for those over 21) and also with social justice components. There will be a space for people to write down and share their experiences with police brutality. There will be a table with zines and folks are invited to hang up posters for upcoming political/activist/leftist/queer events! Hopefully, we’ll also have computers so anyone who’s interested in supporting Cecily in court can sign up for shifts at the party. 

Hope to see you on Saturday and/or in court in the following weeks!

To learn more about Cecily and her trial:
www.justiceforcecily.com 
(Official website)

http://www.democracynow.org/2012/3/23/exclusive_ows_activist_cecily_mcmillan_describes 
(Video interview immediately following the incident)

http://justiceforcecily.com/media/ 
(Comprehensive list of articles and videos about Cecily)

http://www.policymic.com/articles/82123/this-occupy-activist-could-go-to-prison-for-standing-up-to-the-cop-who-grabbed-her-breast 
(Trigger warning: somewhat graphic images of bruises)

How you can help:

  • Attend the party on Saturday 3/1! This is an opportunity to do something great and have fun at the same time. There is a $5 suggested donation (although no one will be turned away for lack of funds.) Please show up if you can—we’d like to see as many of you there as possible! (FB event)

  • Sign up to attend court any time from 3/3-3/10. It’s critical to show the judge, jury and the media that we all stand with Cecily. We’re hoping to pack the court room to capacity, with 100 people every day! For more information and to RSVP, click here. You can also find the Facebook event for the trial here

  • If you don’t live in NY: Sign this petition to ask the NY District Attorney to drop all charges against Cecily. After you sign it’ll prompt you to tweet at the DA if you want (but you don’t have to)

  • Spread the word!! Reblog this post, share articles and events on Facebook, and reach out to people you know, especially in the NYC area. Share Cecily’s story.

American Public Favors Class-Warfare, Polling Indicates
January 24, 2014

New polling from USA Today and Pew on income inequality finds that the American public broadly endorses class warfare.

Voters are less persuaded that the government can do something useful to reduce inequality than they are that the government should do something useful. Could frustration mount to a boiling point seized by a class-conscious social movement like it began to in September 2011? Time will tell, but in any case, this evidence of public consciousness embracing class warfare is good news. 

Source

Re-posting with improved images. 

Gary Younge: How America is killing the poor
November 4, 2013

During a discussion at the University of Michigan in 2010, the billionaire vice-chairman of  Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway firm, Charles Munger, was asked whether the government should have bailed out homeowners rather than banks.  "You’ve got it exactly wrong," he said."There’s danger in just shovelling out money to people who say, ‘My life is a little harder than it used to be.’ At a certain place you’ve got to say to the people, ‘Suck it in and cope, buddy. Suck it in and cope.’"

But banks, he insisted, need our help. It turns out that moral hazard – the notion that those who know the costs of their failure will be borne by others will become increasingly reckless – only really applies to the working poor.

"You should thank God" for bank bailouts, Munger told his audience. "Now, if you talk about bailouts for everybody else, there comes a place where if you just start bailing out all the individuals instead of telling them to adapt, the culture dies."

In the five years since the financial crisis took hold, people have been sucking it in by the lungful and discovering how pitiful a coping strategy that is.  In Michigan, the state where Munger spoke, black male life expectancy is lower than male life expectancy in  Uzbekistan; in Detroit, the closest big city,  black infant mortality is on a par with  Syria (before the war).

As such, the crisis accelerated an already heinous trend of growing inequalities. Over a period of 18 years, America’s white working class – particularly women – have started dying younger. “Absent a war, genocide, pandemic, or massive governmental collapse, drops in life expectancy are rare,”  wrote Monica Potts in the American Prospect last month. But this was a war on the poor. “Lack of access to education, medical care, good wages and healthy food isn’t just leaving the worst-off Americans behind. It’s killing them.”

This particular crisis, however, has also accentuated the contradictions between the claims long made for neoliberalism and the system’s ability to deliver on them. The “culture” of capitalism, to which Munger referred, did not die but thrived precisely because it was not forced to adapt, while working people – who kept it afloat through their taxes and now through cuts in public spending – struggle to survive. Given the broad framing of economic struggles in the west exacerbated by the crisis, this reality is neither new nor specific to the US. “Over the past 30 years the workers’ take from the pie has shrunk across the globe,” explains  an editorial in the latest Economist. “The scale and breadth of this squeeze are striking … When growth is sluggish … workers are getting a smaller morsel of a smaller slice of a slow-growing pie.”

A few days before the bailout was passed,  I quoted Lenin in these pages. He once argued: “The capitalists can always buy themselves out of any crises, as long as they make the workers pay.” What has been striking, particularly recently, has been the brazen and callous nature in which these payments have been extorted.

Last Friday, 47 million Americans had their  food stamp benefits cut. These provide assistance to those who lack sufficient money to feed themselves and their families. Individuals lose $11 (£7) a month while a family of four will lose $36. That will save the public purse precious little – bombing Syria would have been far more costly – but will mean a great deal to those affected. “Before the cut, it was kind of an assumption you were going to the food bank anyway,” Lance Worth, of Washington state,  told the Bellingham Herald. “I guess I’m just going to go $20 hungrier – aren’t I?”

The cut marks the lapse in stimulus package ushered in four years ago. But while the recession is officially over, the poverty it engendered remains. Government figures show  one in seven Americans is food insecure. According to Gallup, in August, one in five said they have, at times during the last year, lacked  money to buy food that they or their families needed. Both figures are roughly the same as when Obama was elected. This negligence will now be compounded by mendacity. Republicans propose further swingeing cuts to the food-stamp programme; Democrats suggest smaller cuts. The question is not whether the vulnerable will be hammered, but by how much.

The impetus behind these cuts are not fiscal but ideological. Republicans, in particular, claim  the poor have it too easy. “We don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people into lives of dependency and complacency,”  claimed former Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan. “That drains them of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives.”

The notion that food “drains the will” while hunger motivates the ambitious would have more currency – not much, but more – if the right wasn’t simultaneously doing its utmost to drive down wages to a level where work provides no guarantee against hunger. In last week’s  paper for the Economic Policy Institute, Gordon Lafer, an associate professor at the University of Oregon, revealed the degree to which conservatives have been driving down wages, benefits and protections at a local level after their victory at the 2010 midterms.

He writes: “Four states passed laws restricting the minimum wage, four lifted restrictions on child labour, and 16 imposed new limits on benefits for the unemployed. With the support of the corporate lobbies, states also passed laws stripping workers of overtime rights, repealing or restricting rights to sick leave, and making it harder to sue one’s employer for race or sex discrimination.”

That’s why 40% of households on food stamps have at least  one person working. And the states most aggressive in pursuing these policies, Lafer points out, had some of the smallest budget deficits in the country.

Immediately after Obama’s election in 2008, his chief of staff to be, Rahm Emmanuel, said: “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” The crisis didn’t go to waste. But it is the right that has seized the opportunity. Not content with  balancing the budget on the bellies of the hungry, it is also fattening the coffers of the wealthy on the backs of the poor.

Source

US super-rich hit new wealth record five years after financial crisis

September 17, 2013

Five years after the financial crisis, America’s super-rich have recovered all their losses to see their wealth reach an all-time high.

According to Forbes magazine the 400 wealthiest Americans are worth a record $2.02 trillion (£1.4tn), up from $1.7tn in 2012, a collective fortune slightly bigger than Russia’s economy. In another sign of fizziness at the top of the economy, the cost to enter the billionaires’ club has also gone up to levels not seen since the 2008 crash. In 2013, an aspiring plutocrat needs at least $1.3bn to make the Forbes list – the highest since just before the collapse of Lehman Brothers sent stock markets plummeting.

Bill Gates has been named as the richest American for the 20th year in a row, with a personal fortune of $72bn. The computer entrepreneur turned philanthropist recovered his position as the world’s richest man in May, when he overtook mobile phone tycoon Carlos Slim, who had held the top spot for the previous four years.

Gates, the university drop-outwho founded Microsoft and has given away $28bn since 1994, saw his fortune grow by $6bn since 2012, partly helped by a rise in Microsoft’s stock price since August.

In second place is Warren Buffett, the investor feted for his shrewdness, who recently bought Heinz. Buffett, with a fortune of $58.5bn, was one of the biggest gainers in 2013, which helped him retain his place on the list. The outspoken founder of software company Oracle, Larry Ellison, takes third place with a $41bn fortune.

The richest woman in the US, and the world, is Christy Walton, who inherited a retail fortune when her husband died in 2005. Walton is estimated to be worth $35.4bn, thanks to her shares in the world’s largest supermarket Walmart, which has annual sales of $466bn and employs 2.2 million people worldwide – a workforce bigger than the population of Slovenia. She shares the Walmart fortune with her brother-in law Jim and sister in law Alice, who take sixth and seventh place on the list, with around $33bn each.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg edged into the top 20 after his personal fortune doubled to $19bnas the tech company’s stock price revived over the summer, following a wobbly stock market debut in 2012.

But the social media tycoon is not the youngest on the list. That title belongs to his former dorm mate and Facebook co-founder, Dustin Moskovitz, 29, just a few days younger than Zuckerberg.

Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York who made a fortune with the eponymous news and data company, retains his place as America’s richest politician. Bloomberg, worth $31bn and America’s 10th richest individual, is due to stand down as mayor in December.

According to Forbes, one in 10 of the top 400 richest Americans are foreign-born. These include George Soros, the Hungarian-born investor, who ‘broke the Bank of England’ during the sterling crisis in 1992 and was wrongly pronounced dead by Reuters earlier this year. Others include Ukranian-born serial investor and London dweller Len Blavatnik ($17.8bn); Russian-born Google co-founder Sergey Brin ($24bn) and the Australian-born media tycoon Rupert Murdoch ($13.bn). Forbes reported that 34 people had slipped out of the rich list, including oilman T Boone Pickens, who lost his shirt investing in wind power at a time of falling gas prices, cutting his fortune to $950m, while AOL founder Steve Case saw his fortune fall to $1.2bn as an investment in LivingSocial, a rival to online discount website Groupon, turned sour.

Source

From Global Voices for Justice, a two-part interview with poet Joshua Clover, one of the recently triumphant Davis Dozen. The first part addresses Occupy and philosophy and crisis theory; the second part, on culture and poetry, is above. Clover reads two poems. The second concerns the problem of “how to set fire to fire”; the first contains the following lines: “You know all too well | that the best poetry is not | the least revolution | you know also that poetry | is the best way available to you | to affirm this truth.” Among all else that gets discussed, someone at The Poetry Foundation chose to transcribe the following: 

I take an almost mystical satisfaction from poetry’s strangeness and it’s strange beauty and that satisfaction is important to me and I want to preserve it. But, I don’t think that poetry is a satisfactory revolutionary force. The thing that I’ve been saying for several years now is, listen, it’s a good time for poets to get out in the streets and struggle and it will make their poetry better… don’t figure out what kind of poetry you can write to make the world better, get out into the streets and struggle and your poetry will change for it.

Speaking of The Poetry Foundation, Clover and Juliana Spahr applied for a job there last year; their letter is well worth a read as well. 

Submitted by:  afieryflyingroule

Global protest grows as citizens lose faith in capitalism, politics and the state
The myriad protests from Istanbul to São Paulo have one thing in common - growing dissent among the young, educated and better-off protesting against the very system that once enriched them. And therein lies the danger for governments.
June 23, 2013

The demonstrations in Brazil began after a small rise in bus fares triggered mass protests. Within days this had become a nationwide movement whose concerns had spread far beyond fares: more than a million people were on the streets shouting about everything from corruption to the cost of living to the amount of money being spent on the World Cup.

In Turkey, it was a similar story. A protest over the future of a city park in Istanbul – violently disrupted by police – snowballed too into something bigger, a wider-ranging political confrontation with prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has scarcely been brought to a close by last weekend’s clearing of Gezi Park.

If the recent scenes have seemed familiar, it is because they shared common features: viral, loosely organised with fractured messages and mostly taking place in urban public locations.

Unlike the protest movement of 1968 or even the end of Soviet influence in eastern Europe in 1989, these are movements with few discernible leaders and often conflicting ideologies. Their points of reference are not even necessarily ideological but take inspiration from other protests, including those of the Arab spring and the Occupy movement. The result has seen a wave of social movements – sometimes short-lived – from Wall Street to Tel Aviv and from Istanbul to Rio de Janeiro, often engaging younger, better educated and wealthier members of society.

What is striking for those who, like myself, have covered these protests is often how discursive and open-ended they are. People go not necessarily to hear a message but to take over a location and discuss their discontents (even if the stunning consequence can be the fall of an autocratic leader such as Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak).

If the “new protest” can be summed up, it is not in specifics of the complaints but in a wider idea about organisation encapsulated on a banner spotted in Brazil last week: “We are the social network.”

In Brazil the varied banners underlined the difficulty of easy categorization as protesters held aloft signs expressing a range of demands from education reforms to free bus fares while denouncing the billions of public dollars spent on stadiums for the 2014 World Cup and the Olympics two years later.

"It’s sort of a Catch-22," Rodrigues da Cunha, a 63-year-old protester told the Associated Press. "On the one hand we need some sort of leadership, on the other we don’t want this to be compromised by being affiliated with any political party."

As the Economist pointed out last week, while mass movements in Britain, France, Sweden and Turkey have been inspired by a variety of causes, including falling living standards, authoritarian government and worries about immigration, Brazil does not fit the picture, with youth unemployment at a record low and enjoying the biggest leap in living standards in the country’s history.

So what’s going on? An examination of the global Edelman Trust Barometer reveals a loose correlation between the ranking of a country on the trust scale and the likelihood of protests. The trust barometer is a measure of public confidence in institutions compiled by the US firm Edelman, the world’s largest privately owned PR company.

In 2011, at the time the Occupy movement was being born in Zuccoti Park on Wall Street, the UK and the US were both firmly placed at the bottom of the “distrusters” while Brazil topped the “trusters”. By this year Brazil had dropped 30 points on the table, while Spain and Turkey, which have both seen protests this year, were both in the distrusted category.

Paul Mason, economics editor of BBC2’s Newsnight and author of Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions, has argued that a key factor, largely driven by new communication technologies, is that people have not only a better understanding of power but are more aware of its abuse, both economically and politically.

Mason believes we are in the midst of a “revolution caused by the near collapse of free-market capitalism combined with an upswing in technical innovation” – but not everyone is so convinced.

What does ring true, however, is his assertion that a driving force from Tahrir Square to Occupy is a redefinition of notions of both what “freedom” means and its relationship to governments that seem ever more distant. It is significant, too, that many recent protests have taken place in the large cities that have been most transformed by neoliberal policies.

Tali Hatuka, an Israeli urban geographer, whose book on the new forms of protest will be published next year, identifies the mass mobilisations against the Iraq war in 2003 as a turning point in how people protest. Hatuka argues that, while previous large public protests had tended to be focused and narrow in their organisation, the Iraq war protests saw demonstrations in 800 cities globally which encompassed and tolerated a wide variety of outlooks.

"Most recently," Hatuka wrote in the journal Geopolitics last year, "this spirit has characterised the Arab spring and New York’s Occupy Wall Street, which were protests based on informal leadership and a multitude of voices."

"Up to the 1990s," she said last week, "protests tended to be organised around a pyramid structure with a centralised leadership. As much effort went into the planning as into the protest itself. And the [impact on the] day after the protest was as significant as the event itself. Now protest is organised more like a network. It is far more informal, the event itself often being immediate."

Hatuka cautions against generalising too much – distinguishing between the events of the Arab spring, where mass protests were able to remove regimes, and protests in western democracies. But she does point to how the new form of protest tends to produce fractured and temporary alliances.

"If you compare what we are seeing today with the civil rights movement in the US – even the movements of 1989 – those were much more cohesive. Now the event itself is the message. The question is whether that is enough."

She suspects it is not, pointing to how present-day activism – from the Iraq war demonstrations onwards – has often failed to deliver concrete results with its impact often fizzling out. Because of this, current forms of protest may be a temporary phenomenon and may be forced to change.

Another key feature of the new protests, argues Saskia Sassen, a sociology professor at Columbia University, New York, is the notion of “occupation” – which has not been confined to the obvious tactics of the Occupy movement. Occupations of different kinds have occurred in Tahrir Square, Cairo, in Gezi Park, Istanbul, and during widespread social protests in Tel Aviv, the Israeli capital, in 2011.

"Occupying is not the same as demonstrating. Many of the [recent] protests made legible the fact that occupying makes novel territory, and thereby a bit of history, using what was previously considered merely ground," Sassen wrote recently. "Whether in Egypt, the US, or elsewhere, it is important that the aim of the occupiers is not to grab power. They were and are, rather, engaged in the work of citizenship, exposing deep flaws and wrongs in their polity and society.

"This is a very peculiar moment," Sassen told the Observer. "This form of protest is very amorphous in comparison with the movements that came before." She argues that one distinguishing factor is that many of the protest movements of the past decade have been defined by the involvement of what she calls "the modest middle class", who have often been beneficiaries of the systems they are protesting against but whose positions have been eroded by neoliberal economic policies that have seen both distribution of wealth and opportunities captured by a narrowing minority. As people have come to feel more distant from government and economic institutions, a large part of the new mass forms of dissent has come to be seen as an opportunity to demonstrate ideas of "citizenship".

"Often what people are saying is that you are the state. I’m a citizen. I’ve done my job. You’re not recognising that."

Sassen’s belief that many of the recent protests are middle-class-driven appeared to be confirmed overtly – in the case of Brazil, at least – by President Dilma Rousseff, when she acknowledged that the new middle classes “want more and have the right to more”.

For an older generation of political theorists, as Sassen admits, not least those from a Marxist background, the current trends have sometimes been puzzling. “I remember talking to [British Marxist historian] Eric Hobsbawm – a dear friend. He asked me: ‘What’s up [with Occupy]?’ I said it is a very interesting movement. But his reply was: ‘If there is no party, then there’s no future.’”

Indeed, it was precisely this concern two years ago that led Malcolm Gladwell – in a controversial essay for the New Yorker, Small change: why the revolution will not be tweeted – to ask a similar question: whether networks of activists modelled on social media and with “weak tie-ins” can sustain themselves in the long run.

"The old pyramid way of organizing protests does have its limitations, but so too do the new ways of organizing," says Hatuka. "Often it does not feel very effective in the long run. People will often go for a day or two and these protests are not necessarily offering an ideological alternative."

Source

I hope desperately that these are just the first hiccups leading to volcanic eruption that will change humanity forever. Keep dreaming, keep thinking & talking about the type of world you’d like to live in, keep movement building, keep building solidarity, keep engaging, stay active, encourage each other, build community.

We will either erupt into an unprecedented revolutionary period or the slow neo-liberal crawl to hell, creating dystopian security states and powerful oligarchies alongside massive slums will continue to slowly cultivate. I think the first is actually more likely than the latter. This world is unsustainable. This trajectory is unsustainable. We were born in this time & we are the ones who have the responsibility to shape what it will become. 

TW: brutal police repression at Gezi Gardens in San Francisco June 13, 2013
This morning around 2AM we were were woken up from our encampment at Gezi Gardens by about 200 police officers & SWAT personnel. Immediately, they detained several members of the community, arrested several and corralled the rest of us out.
Three brave tree sitters were able to stay in their tree platforms while the police raided camp. Graciela was able to video the following recording of police cutting the rope that sitter was holding, causing him to fall roughly 40 feet to the ground.
He is in the hospital & his condition is unkown. We shared the video with media across the Bay Area, but we don’t know if they will air it. Please view & share this video so that the world can know what about San Francisco police brutality but be aware that this likely caused serious, potentially permanent injury.
Here’s the video that Graciela recorded of the incident!

TW: brutal police repression at Gezi Gardens in San Francisco 
June 13, 2013

This morning around 2AM we were were woken up from our encampment at Gezi Gardens by about 200 police officers & SWAT personnel. Immediately, they detained several members of the community, arrested several and corralled the rest of us out.

Three brave tree sitters were able to stay in their tree platforms while the police raided camp. Graciela was able to video the following recording of police cutting the rope that sitter was holding, causing him to fall roughly 40 feet to the ground.

He is in the hospital & his condition is unkown. We shared the video with media across the Bay Area, but we don’t know if they will air it. Please view & share this video so that the world can know what about San Francisco police brutality but be aware that this likely caused serious, potentially permanent injury.

Here’s the video that Graciela recorded of the incident!

sustainableprosperity
sustainableprosperity:

The Next American Revolution Has Already Begun: An Interview With Gar Alperovitz
Saturday, 08 June 2013 10:08By Gar Smith, The Berkeley Daily Planet | Interview
Gar Alperovitz, currently a Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, has been writing books about wealth, democracy and national security for 48 years. In addition to serving in several government posts (including Special Assistant in the US State Department), Alperovitz is a founding principle of The Democracy Collaborative and a boardmember at the New Economics Institute.
What Then Must We Do? (his latest book and his twelfth since 1965) is a breezy, conversational read filled with somber forecasts, hopeful alternative economic strategies and lots of surprising facts and stats (Some examples: If the nation’s personal wealth were divided evenly, a family of four would receive $200,000 a year. The hourly US minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is now $2 less than it was in 1968. The US is such a large country “You can tuck Germany into Montana!”)
What Then Must We Do? (the title is borrowed from Tolstoy) explores a challenging premise: “The coming painful decades may be the prehistory of the next American revolution – and an evolutionary process that transforms the American system, making it both morally meaningful and ecologically sustainable.”
Daniel Ellsberg calls this book possibly “the most important movement-building book of the new century” and Juliet Schor, author of True Wealth, hails it as “the most compelling account yet of how we can move beyond the piecemeal, project–by–project transformation of our political economy to truly systemic change.”
Alperovitz recently took time from his busy schedule to discuss the arguments in his new book and explore the ramifications of social and economic change in an era of pending systemic collapse. 
Gar S: You point out that 400 plutocrats in the US now own more wealth than 180 million other Americans. A scale of inequality that ranks as “medieval.” Shortly before his assassination, Dr. King noted America’s problems could not be solved without “undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power.” 
Gar A: The concentration of wealth in this country is astonishing. 400 individuals—you could seat them all on a single airplane—own as much wealth as 60 percent of the rest of the country taken together. I was describing this distribution as “medieval” until a medieval historian set me straight: wealth was far more evenly distributed in the Middle Ages. When you ask where power lies in our system, you are asking who owns the productive assets. And that’s the top 1 percent—in fact, the top 1 percent of the 1 percent. It is a feudalistic structure of extreme power. It is anathema to a democracy to have that kind of concentration of wealth. More and more people are beginning to realize the extent and reach of corporate power and the power of those who own the corporations. The Koch brothers get a lot of publicity, but it’s a much wider phenomenon. 
You mentioned Martin Luther King, citing some of the quotes I included in the book. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, and we will be doubtless be hearing a lot about that and Dr. King’s leadership on racial equality and civil rights. I worked with him on neighborhood ownership questions we were looking at in the Senate at the time; and then again, a few years later, when he came out against the Vietnam War. He was also questioning the distribution of wealth, citing the “triple evils” of racism, economic exploitation and militarism. At the end, right before he was assassinated, he even began to talk about changing the economic power structure, even occasionally, using the words “democratic socialism.” In this era of difficulty we would do well to remember Dr. King as a visionary who was beginning to step out beyond the cramped consensus to ask far deeper questions about the nature of America and the possibilities for a different future for this country. That is our challenge today. 
Gar S: You argue that it was not politics but circumstance (the Great Depression, followed by WW II) that precipitated the New Deal’s progressive change and the country’s post-war economic prosperity. I was surprised by your assessment that an economic collapse on the scale of the Great Depression is no longer likely. Could you explain? 
Gar A: Despite the systemic problems a crisis collapse of the scope and scale of the Great Depression is not likely. Here are a few reasons. First, the size of ongoing government spending stabilizing the economy is much, much larger than it was at the time of the Great Depression. Government spending—the floor under the private economy, if you like—was at 11 percent in 1929, now it is roughly 30 to 35 percent of the economy (depending on the year, and whether we are in recession.) The economy may decline rapidly, but the floor is three times higher than it was during the 1930s. Second, today we have built-in economic “stabilizers”—spending that kicks in to help offset the decline when recessions begin to get underway: unemployment insurance, food stamps, and so on. Then there is the sea change in politics. The American public now holds political leaders responsible for making sure the economy works—or at least does not totally fail. There is a heavy political price for any politician who fails to deal with truly massive economic pain. Perhaps most importantly, when push comes to shove, major corporate leaders also support action to counteract truly major economic contractions. You saw it in 2008 and 2009 when business leaders demanded action—including the stimulus plan. 
So massive and sustained economic collapse of the kind that opened the way for extremely unusual and far-reaching policy change in the Great Depression and New Deal era, though not impossible, is no longer likely. This is not to say great recessions, ongoing economic pain, and high unemployment may not occur for long periods of time. Indeed, that is what we face at present. 
Gar S: The new word for economic performance is no longer “growth” but “stagnation.” One percent of the country controls so much wealth but—unlike the middle class and working poor—the rich don’t spend a significant part of their wealth. 
Gar A: This prospect of stagnation—or “punctuated stagnation,” as I write (there may be small intermittent upticks; plus oil and other commodity price explosions)—is very important to grasp. I believe (along with many observers) that we are entering an era of deepening stagnation and political stalemate. One problem is lack of demand in Keynesian terms, but I think it’s far deeper than that. We are returning to a pattern of stagnation that was common before the Depression collapse, on the one hand, and the extremely unusual conditions that prevailed during the postwar economic boom, on the other. 
A short form of the argument would be this: in the first quarter of the twentieth century, up to World War I, there was decay, decline, and indeed major recession and almost depression. We don’t know what would have happened; World War I intervened, bailing out the economy. Same story with the Great Depression: World War II, not the New Deal, solved the economic problem in the second quarter of the century. In the third quarter of the century the post-war economic boom—brought about partly by savings built up during the war, partly by military spending in the Korean War, Vietnam War, and the big military budgets of the Cold War, and partly because US competitors (Germany, Japan, and many others) had been significantly destroyed—was an extremely unusual boom moment—the greatest sustained boom in our history. But thereafter the pattern of economic difficulty resumed in the final quarter of the century. Even though military budgets are high today in absolute terms, they are comparatively small as a share of GDP. And I think nuclear weapons now preclude an industrial-scale global war like World War I or World War II. We can have small horrible wars, but they don’t function economically in the way that larger wars did previously. 
Now these difficulties could be resolved if you had sufficient political power to mount a traditional Keynesian solution. But what is significant—and this is the heart of the matter—is that such a solution is no longer available, politically, for a number of reasons. I could go into a lot of them, but the principal one is the decline of organized labor. Labor union membership, the muscle behind progressive politics, was at its peak of around 35 percent just after the war, but is now down to the 11 percent range (and the 6 percent range in the private sector). Liberal reform now lacks an institutional basis. So that’s a picture of decay, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy way out. 
Gar S: You argue that “evolutionary reconstruction” does not flow from reform or revolution but rather “from building institutions, workplaces and cultures concerned with democratizing wealth.” How significant are cooperative enterprises in today’s economy. Could you describe the current state of America’s cooperative economy? 
Gar A: Given that the economy is unlikely to truly collapse and provoke explosive change—for all the reasons I have indicated—and given that a “reform” solution like the New Deal is extremely difficult in the absence of a strong institutional power base for liberalism (e.g. labor unions), we face an extremely unusual political situation. I believe we are entering an extended period, a multi-decade period, in which the dominant reality is likely to be one of erratic growth, stagnation, periodic inflation, substantial political stalemate and decay. 
In such a context, the prospects for near-term change are obviously not great—especially when such change is conceived in traditional terms. On the other hand, for precisely such reasons, there is likely to be an intensified process of much deeper probing, much more serious political analysis, and much more fundamental institutional exploration and development. In fact, this is already well underway. Beneath the surface level of politics-as-usual, continuing political stalemate and the exhaustion of existing approaches have begun to open up some very interesting strategic possibilities. These are best understood as neither “reforms” (policies to modify and control, but not transcend, current corporate-dominated institutions) nor “revolution” (the overthrowing of current institutions), but rather a longer-term process of “evolutionary reconstruction”—that is, institutional transformation that unfolds over time. 
Like reform, evolutionary reconstruction involves step-by-step nonviolent change. But like revolution, evolutionary reconstruction changes the basic institutions of ownership of the economy, so that the broad public (rather than “the one percent”) increasingly comes to own more and more of the nation’s productive assets. As the old system decays, an evolutionary reconstruction would see the foundations of a new system gradually rising and replacing failing elements of the old. 
Though the press doesn’t much cover this, such processes are already observable in many parts of the current American system. Some numbers: There are now ten thousand worker-owned companies of one kind or another in the country. And they are expanding over time, and they’re becoming more democratic rather than less. There are 130 million people who are members of one or another form of cooperative. A quarter of American electricity is produced by either municipal ownership or cooperatives. Twenty-five percent of American electricity is, in other words, “socialized.” There are neighborhood corporations, land trusts, and other municipal and state strategies. One can observe such a dynamic developing in the central neighborhoods of some of the nation’s larger cities, places that have consistently suffered high levels of unemployment and poverty. In such neighborhoods, democratizing development has gone forward, paradoxically, precisely because traditional policies have been politically impossible. 
All this has been building in scale and sophistication to the point that growing numbers of people now talk about a “New Economy.” It doesn’t yet compare to the giants of Wall Street and the corporate economy, of course. But it is growing to the point where challenges are also becoming possible. Move Your Money campaigns have seen billions transferred out of Wall Street banks into credit unions and local and community banks. If you add up the credit unions they are the equivalent of one of the largest US banks, knocking Goldman Sachs out of the top five. 
I see this era as something akin to the decades before the New Deal, the time when experimentation and development in the state and local “laboratories of democracy” laid down the principles and programs that became the basis for much larger national policies when the right political moment occurred. 
Gar S: You clearly show that regulating Wall Street doesn’t work and breaking up large banks is unlikely to last. The conservative Chicago School of Economics, you point out, had a solution: essentially any business “too big to regulate”” should be nationalized. “Take them over; turn them into public utilities.” Could large banks really be taken over and transformed? 
Gar A: The old conservative economists were right: Regulation doesn’t work; they capture the regulators. Anti-trust doesn’t work; if you break them up, they re-group. Look at Standard Oil. Look at AT&T and the telephone companies. In fact, the major banks are even bigger now than they were in 2008 when they were deemed “too big to fail.” They imperil the entire economy. So ultimately the only answer, logically, is to take them over at some point. Milton Friedman’s revered teacher, H.C. Simons, the founder of the conservative Chicago School of economics, was one of the first to point out this logic. He argued that this was necessary because it was the only way to preserve a genuinely free economy. 
Can it be done? We just did it in one form: In response to the financial crisis the federal government essentially nationalized General Motors and A.I.G. and was in a position to do the same with Chrysler and several major banks because of the huge injections of public capital that were required to save them from bankruptcy. At one point, Obama frankly told the bankers that he was the only one standing between them and the pitchforks. What happens when the next financial crisis occurs (as most observers on left, right and center think inevitable)? Or the one after that? 
There are also already alternative models at hand. Most people don’t realize this, but the federal government currently runs 140 different government banks. They aren’t always called banks, although sometimes they are, like the Export-Import Bank and the National Cooperative Bank. But sometimes they take the form of small business loans programs or agricultural programs. Then there is the Bank of North Dakota, a public bank that has been there for ninety years. It’s a state-owned bank, very popular with small business but also labor. Twenty states have introduced legislation to create public banks of their own. States have huge tax flows, which could capitalize such banks. Once you start to look more carefully, beneath the surface of media attention, it may be that far more is possible much earlier and much faster than many now imagine. 
Gar S: If you don’t like corporate capitalism or state socialism, what’s left? Shouldn’t a fundamental goal be to prevent accumulations of great wealth. Once great wealth or power is attained, there is a tendency to fear the majority and seek to protect one’s fortune at all costs. 
Gar A: That is a fair question, and most people don’t face it squarely: “If you don’t like corporate capitalism, where the corporations dominate the political system, and you don’t like state socialism, where the state dominates the system by virtue of its ownership, what do you want?” I think the developments reported on in the book point towards something very American, something that might be called “a community sustaining system”—one in which national structures and regional structures and local structures are all oriented to producing healthy local community economies, and thereby healthy and ecologically sustainable democratic communities. 
We are at a very remarkable moment in American history: Even as we face massive economic, social and environmental challenges, more and more people are beginning to see that politics as usual doesn’t work, that the problems are fundamental to the system itself. These issues are on the table for the first time in many decades. So there needs to be an answer at some point, in terms of system design, to the question of what a system looks like that isn’t corporate capitalism and isn’t state socialism but begins with community and how we build it. 
The truly central question is who gets to own the nation’s wealth? Because it’s not only an economic question, it determines politics in large part. The corporate capitalist system lodges such power in the corporations and tiny elites. An alternative system must begin at the bottom and democratize ownership from the bottom up—all the way from small co-ops and neighborhood corporations on up through city and state institutions and even, when necessary, regionally and nationally. 
I think we can see the outlines of such a model already emerging in developments in the New Economy. It might be called a “Pluralist Commonwealth.” Plural forms of common wealth ownership. Worker ownership, co-ops, municipal utilities, neighborhood land trusts, state ownership of certain national firms. Plural forms. It’s not very sexy language, but it attempts to get to the idea that you must change ownership of wealth in many different ways in order to achieve democratic results and achieve cultural changes that allow us a democratic solution to the systemic problem. The key thing is that just below the surface of media attention a great deal is going on—many, many new developments that move in the direction of democratic ownership, starting at the very grass roots level, and moving up. 
All of this ultimately also puts “the system question” on the table. We need a serious and wide-ranging debate around a broader menu of institutional possibilities for America’s future than the stale choices commonly discussed on both left and right.

Looking forward to hearing Daniel Ellsberg speak in Berkley in a few hours. We’ll try & take notes & share some of the best lines/points with you all. 

sustainableprosperity:

The Next American Revolution Has Already Begun: An Interview With Gar Alperovitz

Saturday, 08 June 2013 10:08By Gar SmithThe Berkeley Daily Planet | Interview

Gar Alperovitz, currently a Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, has been writing books about wealth, democracy and national security for 48 years. In addition to serving in several government posts (including Special Assistant in the US State Department), Alperovitz is a founding principle of The Democracy Collaborative and a boardmember at the New Economics Institute.

What Then Must We Do? (his latest book and his twelfth since 1965) is a breezy, conversational read filled with somber forecasts, hopeful alternative economic strategies and lots of surprising facts and stats (Some examples: If the nation’s personal wealth were divided evenly, a family of four would receive $200,000 a year. The hourly US minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is now $2 less than it was in 1968. The US is such a large country “You can tuck Germany into Montana!”)

What Then Must We Do? (the title is borrowed from Tolstoy) explores a challenging premise: “The coming painful decades may be the prehistory of the next American revolution – and an evolutionary process that transforms the American system, making it both morally meaningful and ecologically sustainable.”

Daniel Ellsberg calls this book possibly “the most important movement-building book of the new century” and Juliet Schor, author of True Wealth, hails it as “the most compelling account yet of how we can move beyond the piecemeal, project–by–project transformation of our political economy to truly systemic change.”

Alperovitz recently took time from his busy schedule to discuss the arguments in his new book and explore the ramifications of social and economic change in an era of pending systemic collapse. 

Gar S: You point out that 400 plutocrats in the US now own more wealth than 180 million other Americans. A scale of inequality that ranks as “medieval.” Shortly before his assassination, Dr. King noted America’s problems could not be solved without “undergoing a radical redistribution of economic power.” 

Gar A: The concentration of wealth in this country is astonishing. 400 individuals—you could seat them all on a single airplane—own as much wealth as 60 percent of the rest of the country taken together. I was describing this distribution as “medieval” until a medieval historian set me straight: wealth was far more evenly distributed in the Middle Ages. When you ask where power lies in our system, you are asking who owns the productive assets. And that’s the top 1 percent—in fact, the top 1 percent of the 1 percent. It is a feudalistic structure of extreme power. It is anathema to a democracy to have that kind of concentration of wealth. More and more people are beginning to realize the extent and reach of corporate power and the power of those who own the corporations. The Koch brothers get a lot of publicity, but it’s a much wider phenomenon. 

You mentioned Martin Luther King, citing some of the quotes I included in the book. This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial, and we will be doubtless be hearing a lot about that and Dr. King’s leadership on racial equality and civil rights. I worked with him on neighborhood ownership questions we were looking at in the Senate at the time; and then again, a few years later, when he came out against the Vietnam War. He was also questioning the distribution of wealth, citing the “triple evils” of racism, economic exploitation and militarism. At the end, right before he was assassinated, he even began to talk about changing the economic power structure, even occasionally, using the words “democratic socialism.” In this era of difficulty we would do well to remember Dr. King as a visionary who was beginning to step out beyond the cramped consensus to ask far deeper questions about the nature of America and the possibilities for a different future for this country. That is our challenge today. 

Gar S: You argue that it was not politics but circumstance (the Great Depression, followed by WW II) that precipitated the New Deal’s progressive change and the country’s post-war economic prosperity. I was surprised by your assessment that an economic collapse on the scale of the Great Depression is no longer likely. Could you explain? 

Gar A: Despite the systemic problems a crisis collapse of the scope and scale of the Great Depression is not likely. Here are a few reasons. First, the size of ongoing government spending stabilizing the economy is much, much larger than it was at the time of the Great Depression. Government spending—the floor under the private economy, if you like—was at 11 percent in 1929, now it is roughly 30 to 35 percent of the economy (depending on the year, and whether we are in recession.) The economy may decline rapidly, but the floor is three times higher than it was during the 1930s. Second, today we have built-in economic “stabilizers”—spending that kicks in to help offset the decline when recessions begin to get underway: unemployment insurance, food stamps, and so on. Then there is the sea change in politics. The American public now holds political leaders responsible for making sure the economy works—or at least does not totally fail. There is a heavy political price for any politician who fails to deal with truly massive economic pain. Perhaps most importantly, when push comes to shove, major corporate leaders also support action to counteract truly major economic contractions. You saw it in 2008 and 2009 when business leaders demanded action—including the stimulus plan. 

So massive and sustained economic collapse of the kind that opened the way for extremely unusual and far-reaching policy change in the Great Depression and New Deal era, though not impossible, is no longer likely. This is not to say great recessions, ongoing economic pain, and high unemployment may not occur for long periods of time. Indeed, that is what we face at present. 

Gar S: The new word for economic performance is no longer “growth” but “stagnation.” One percent of the country controls so much wealth but—unlike the middle class and working poor—the rich don’t spend a significant part of their wealth. 

Gar A: This prospect of stagnation—or “punctuated stagnation,” as I write (there may be small intermittent upticks; plus oil and other commodity price explosions)—is very important to grasp. I believe (along with many observers) that we are entering an era of deepening stagnation and political stalemate. One problem is lack of demand in Keynesian terms, but I think it’s far deeper than that. We are returning to a pattern of stagnation that was common before the Depression collapse, on the one hand, and the extremely unusual conditions that prevailed during the postwar economic boom, on the other. 

A short form of the argument would be this: in the first quarter of the twentieth century, up to World War I, there was decay, decline, and indeed major recession and almost depression. We don’t know what would have happened; World War I intervened, bailing out the economy. Same story with the Great Depression: World War II, not the New Deal, solved the economic problem in the second quarter of the century. In the third quarter of the century the post-war economic boom—brought about partly by savings built up during the war, partly by military spending in the Korean War, Vietnam War, and the big military budgets of the Cold War, and partly because US competitors (Germany, Japan, and many others) had been significantly destroyed—was an extremely unusual boom moment—the greatest sustained boom in our history. But thereafter the pattern of economic difficulty resumed in the final quarter of the century. Even though military budgets are high today in absolute terms, they are comparatively small as a share of GDP. And I think nuclear weapons now preclude an industrial-scale global war like World War I or World War II. We can have small horrible wars, but they don’t function economically in the way that larger wars did previously. 

Now these difficulties could be resolved if you had sufficient political power to mount a traditional Keynesian solution. But what is significant—and this is the heart of the matter—is that such a solution is no longer available, politically, for a number of reasons. I could go into a lot of them, but the principal one is the decline of organized labor. Labor union membership, the muscle behind progressive politics, was at its peak of around 35 percent just after the war, but is now down to the 11 percent range (and the 6 percent range in the private sector). Liberal reform now lacks an institutional basis. So that’s a picture of decay, and there doesn’t seem to be an easy way out. 

Gar S: You argue that “evolutionary reconstruction” does not flow from reform or revolution but rather “from building institutions, workplaces and cultures concerned with democratizing wealth.” How significant are cooperative enterprises in today’s economy. Could you describe the current state of America’s cooperative economy? 

Gar A: Given that the economy is unlikely to truly collapse and provoke explosive change—for all the reasons I have indicated—and given that a “reform” solution like the New Deal is extremely difficult in the absence of a strong institutional power base for liberalism (e.g. labor unions), we face an extremely unusual political situation. I believe we are entering an extended period, a multi-decade period, in which the dominant reality is likely to be one of erratic growth, stagnation, periodic inflation, substantial political stalemate and decay. 

In such a context, the prospects for near-term change are obviously not great—especially when such change is conceived in traditional terms. On the other hand, for precisely such reasons, there is likely to be an intensified process of much deeper probing, much more serious political analysis, and much more fundamental institutional exploration and development. In fact, this is already well underway. Beneath the surface level of politics-as-usual, continuing political stalemate and the exhaustion of existing approaches have begun to open up some very interesting strategic possibilities. These are best understood as neither “reforms” (policies to modify and control, but not transcend, current corporate-dominated institutions) nor “revolution” (the overthrowing of current institutions), but rather a longer-term process of “evolutionary reconstruction”—that is, institutional transformation that unfolds over time. 

Like reform, evolutionary reconstruction involves step-by-step nonviolent change. But like revolution, evolutionary reconstruction changes the basic institutions of ownership of the economy, so that the broad public (rather than “the one percent”) increasingly comes to own more and more of the nation’s productive assets. As the old system decays, an evolutionary reconstruction would see the foundations of a new system gradually rising and replacing failing elements of the old. 

Though the press doesn’t much cover this, such processes are already observable in many parts of the current American system. Some numbers: There are now ten thousand worker-owned companies of one kind or another in the country. And they are expanding over time, and they’re becoming more democratic rather than less. There are 130 million people who are members of one or another form of cooperative. A quarter of American electricity is produced by either municipal ownership or cooperatives. Twenty-five percent of American electricity is, in other words, “socialized.” There are neighborhood corporations, land trusts, and other municipal and state strategies. One can observe such a dynamic developing in the central neighborhoods of some of the nation’s larger cities, places that have consistently suffered high levels of unemployment and poverty. In such neighborhoods, democratizing development has gone forward, paradoxically, precisely because traditional policies have been politically impossible. 

All this has been building in scale and sophistication to the point that growing numbers of people now talk about a “New Economy.” It doesn’t yet compare to the giants of Wall Street and the corporate economy, of course. But it is growing to the point where challenges are also becoming possible. Move Your Money campaigns have seen billions transferred out of Wall Street banks into credit unions and local and community banks. If you add up the credit unions they are the equivalent of one of the largest US banks, knocking Goldman Sachs out of the top five. 

I see this era as something akin to the decades before the New Deal, the time when experimentation and development in the state and local “laboratories of democracy” laid down the principles and programs that became the basis for much larger national policies when the right political moment occurred. 

Gar S: You clearly show that regulating Wall Street doesn’t work and breaking up large banks is unlikely to last. The conservative Chicago School of Economics, you point out, had a solution: essentially any business “too big to regulate”” should be nationalized. “Take them over; turn them into public utilities.” Could large banks really be taken over and transformed? 

Gar A: The old conservative economists were right: Regulation doesn’t work; they capture the regulators. Anti-trust doesn’t work; if you break them up, they re-group. Look at Standard Oil. Look at AT&T and the telephone companies. In fact, the major banks are even bigger now than they were in 2008 when they were deemed “too big to fail.” They imperil the entire economy. So ultimately the only answer, logically, is to take them over at some point. Milton Friedman’s revered teacher, H.C. Simons, the founder of the conservative Chicago School of economics, was one of the first to point out this logic. He argued that this was necessary because it was the only way to preserve a genuinely free economy. 

Can it be done? We just did it in one form: In response to the financial crisis the federal government essentially nationalized General Motors and A.I.G. and was in a position to do the same with Chrysler and several major banks because of the huge injections of public capital that were required to save them from bankruptcy. At one point, Obama frankly told the bankers that he was the only one standing between them and the pitchforks. What happens when the next financial crisis occurs (as most observers on left, right and center think inevitable)? Or the one after that? 

There are also already alternative models at hand. Most people don’t realize this, but the federal government currently runs 140 different government banks. They aren’t always called banks, although sometimes they are, like the Export-Import Bank and the National Cooperative Bank. But sometimes they take the form of small business loans programs or agricultural programs. Then there is the Bank of North Dakota, a public bank that has been there for ninety years. It’s a state-owned bank, very popular with small business but also labor. Twenty states have introduced legislation to create public banks of their own. States have huge tax flows, which could capitalize such banks. Once you start to look more carefully, beneath the surface of media attention, it may be that far more is possible much earlier and much faster than many now imagine. 

Gar S: If you don’t like corporate capitalism or state socialism, what’s left? Shouldn’t a fundamental goal be to prevent accumulations of great wealth. Once great wealth or power is attained, there is a tendency to fear the majority and seek to protect one’s fortune at all costs. 

Gar A: That is a fair question, and most people don’t face it squarely: “If you don’t like corporate capitalism, where the corporations dominate the political system, and you don’t like state socialism, where the state dominates the system by virtue of its ownership, what do you want?” I think the developments reported on in the book point towards something very American, something that might be called “a community sustaining system”—one in which national structures and regional structures and local structures are all oriented to producing healthy local community economies, and thereby healthy and ecologically sustainable democratic communities. 

We are at a very remarkable moment in American history: Even as we face massive economic, social and environmental challenges, more and more people are beginning to see that politics as usual doesn’t work, that the problems are fundamental to the system itself. These issues are on the table for the first time in many decades. So there needs to be an answer at some point, in terms of system design, to the question of what a system looks like that isn’t corporate capitalism and isn’t state socialism but begins with community and how we build it. 

The truly central question is who gets to own the nation’s wealth? Because it’s not only an economic question, it determines politics in large part. The corporate capitalist system lodges such power in the corporations and tiny elites. An alternative system must begin at the bottom and democratize ownership from the bottom up—all the way from small co-ops and neighborhood corporations on up through city and state institutions and even, when necessary, regionally and nationally. 

I think we can see the outlines of such a model already emerging in developments in the New Economy. It might be called a “Pluralist Commonwealth.” Plural forms of common wealth ownership. Worker ownership, co-ops, municipal utilities, neighborhood land trusts, state ownership of certain national firms. Plural forms. It’s not very sexy language, but it attempts to get to the idea that you must change ownership of wealth in many different ways in order to achieve democratic results and achieve cultural changes that allow us a democratic solution to the systemic problem. The key thing is that just below the surface of media attention a great deal is going on—many, many new developments that move in the direction of democratic ownership, starting at the very grass roots level, and moving up. 

All of this ultimately also puts “the system question” on the table. We need a serious and wide-ranging debate around a broader menu of institutional possibilities for America’s future than the stale choices commonly discussed on both left and right.

Looking forward to hearing Daniel Ellsberg speak in Berkley in a few hours. We’ll try & take notes & share some of the best lines/points with you all. 

Eurozone unemployment hits new high with a quarter of under-25s jobless; overall unemployment now at staggering 12.2%
June 2, 2013

Protesters who picketed the European Central Bank on Friday are planning a second day of action across European cities as anger grows over austerity measures that many blame for taking Eurozone unemployment to an all-time high.

In rain and strong winds, members of the Blockupy movement cut off access to the ECB’s Frankfurt headquarters and vowed to keep up the disruption on Saturday in a financial hub they describe as a seat of “dictated austerity”. Their action came as official figures showed eurozone unemployment hit a new high last month with young people again the hardest hit – almost one in four are now out of work.

Unemployment in the crisis-stricken currency bloc rose to 12.2% for April, according to Eurostat, the statistics office of the EU. At 24.4%, youth unemployment was double the wider jobless rate and up from 24.3% in March. The problem was most extreme in Greece where almost two-thirds of those under-25 are unemployed. The rate was 62.5% in February, the most recently available data.

The numbers come days after eurozone leaders unveiled plans to get more young people into work as they faced warnings about the risks of civil unrest, long-term economic costs and fears that a generation could lose faith in the European project.

In Frankfurt Blockupy protesters blamed the troika of institutions it says is pushing austerity measures on southern Europe: the ECB, the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and perhaps most importantly, capitalism. Blockupy’s Roland Süss said: “With the blockade of the ECB we are making the European resistance against the devastating poverty policy visible. It’s an expression of our solidarity with the people in southern Europe whose existence is threatened by the austerity programs.”

Blockupy, a European version of the Occupy Wall Street movement, put the number of activists blocking the ECB at 3,000. There was a more conservative estimate of between 1,000 and 1,500 from police, who used pepper spray to prevent the protesters breaking into the central bank’s high-rise building. Protesters also targeted Deutsche Bank’s headquarters and Frankfurt’s airport. The movement and other anti-austerity groups are threatening rallies throughout European cities on Saturday, including London.

While France and Germany responded to growing anger at youth unemployment this week with a new jobs plan, labor market experts warn that any measures will take time to turn the tide after 24 consecutive monthly rises in the jobless level. Economists say things will get worse before they get better for the 19.4 million people in the eurozone out of work.

In the wider EU area unemployment stood at 11%, as the rate rose in all but nine countries compared with a year earlier. The biggest rises in overall joblessness on a year ago were in Greece, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal. Youth unemployment in Spain is 56.4%, in Portugal 42.5%. Italy recorded its highest overall unemployment rate since records began in 1977, at 12%, with youth joblessness at 40.5%. Economists said that the rise in unemployment was fairly broad-based with rises in so-called core countries as well, including Belgium and the Netherlands. The rate in France was 11%.

Ireland recorded one of the biggest falls in unemployment, down to 13.5% from 14.9% a year ago. That compares with a rate of 7.7% for the UK, where youth unemployment is 20.2%.

Source

Update: Today, the clashes sparked by this outrageous reality continued in Frankfurt, Germany with thousands on the streets. See video here.

#Occupy Capitalism

Wal-Mart workers plan a fresh protest, this time in Bentonville
May 29, 2013

The last time most people heard about OUR Walmart, it was the busiest shopping day of the year and some Wal-Mart employees had walked off the job. They were members of the union-backed group and they had defied the biggest private employer in America by holding protests at stores around the country on the Friday after Thanksgiving. The group’s full name is Organization United for Respect at Walmart, and its members were asking for a greater number of full-time jobs, with predictable schedules and wages that could provide their families a decent life. (I wrote about the movement in December.)

Now OUR Walmart members are planning another protest on another important day: the company’s annual shareholder meeting. It takes place at Walmart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., on June 7. OUR Walmart says about 100 members from the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Washington, Miami, and a dozen other cities will head to Bentonville this week in a bus caravan they’re calling the “Ride for Respect.” They expect to arrive by Sunday, June 2.

“This is the first time in my life I’m standing up for something I know is right,” says Barbara Getz, who is 45 years old and makes $10 an hour as an overnight stocker in Store No. 5334 in Aurora, Colo. “Walmart is the biggest retailer in the world, and we want them to set a high standard.” Among the group’s requests: full-time work for those who want it, with a minimum yearly salary of $25,000. Dominic Ware will be on a bus, too. He’s a 26-year-old part-time employee at Store No. 5434 in San Leandro, Calif. He makes $8.65 an hour. “My plan is to make a lot of noise and be direct and be respectful,” he says.

Walmart has been opposed to unions since Sam Walton opened his first store in Rogers, Ark., in 1962. And, though OUR Walmart says it isn’t seeking legal recognition, executives have criticized its efforts. “Our annual shareholders’ meeting is a celebration of our 2.2 million associates who work hard every day so people around the world can live better,” says Walmart spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan in an e-mail. “The Union and its subsidiary, ‘Our Walmart,’ is comprised of a few number of people, most of whom aren’t even Walmart associates and don’t represent the views of our associates. This latest publicity stunt by the unions to generate attention for their fleeting cause won’t impact the festivities.”

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The People’s Record Memorial Day Dedication 
Sergeant Shamar Thomas (photo source)
Sergeant Shamar Thomas is a veteran marine sergeant who stood up to a hoard of NYPD officers in militarized gear that were preparing to assault protesters at Occupy Wall Street. His heroic stand caused the officers to back-down and retreat and immediately became one of the most memorable moments of the Occupy Wall Street protest. This Memorial Day, we salute him! Here’s the video of his face-off with NYPD.
Click here for a complete list of The People’s Record’s Memorial Day dedications. 
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From our 2012 Memorial Day posts.

The People’s Record Memorial Day Dedication 

Sergeant Shamar Thomas (photo source)

Sergeant Shamar Thomas is a veteran marine sergeant who stood up to a hoard of NYPD officers in militarized gear that were preparing to assault protesters at Occupy Wall Street. His heroic stand caused the officers to back-down and retreat and immediately became one of the most memorable moments of the Occupy Wall Street protest. This Memorial Day, we salute him! Here’s the video of his face-off with NYPD.

Click here for a complete list of The People’s Record’s Memorial Day dedications.

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From our 2012 Memorial Day posts.

Upcoming United States actions:

May 18th: ‘Operation Green Jobs’ March from Philadelphia to Washington, DC organized by the Poor People’s Economic and Human Rights Campaign.

May 18th to 23rd: the  Home Defenders League Week of Action against the banks and foreclosures in Washington, DC.

May 18th to 20th: there is a  weekend of protests against the closure of schools in Chicago.

May 22nd:  Stop the Frack Attack People’s Forum in Washington, DC.

May 25th: Protests against Monsanto everywhere

May 25th to June 3rd: March from Philadelphia to Harrisburg against prison spending.

June 1st:  Get on the Bus For Bradley Court Martial Trial  with buses leaving from Baltimore, MD, Washington DC, New York City and Willimantic, CT.

June 14th to 16th:  Trade Justice Action Camp in Bellingham, WA by the Backbone Campaign

June 24th to 29th: is the beginning of “ Fearless Summer” that starts “ an epic summer of actions.

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Reblog with your own additions to the list.