Among their findings:
- More than half (52 percent) of the families of front-line fast-food workers are enrolled in one or more public programs, compared to 25 percent of the workforce as a whole.
- The cost of public assistance to families of workers in the fast-food industry is nearly $7 billion per year.
Following that report, the National Employment Law Project found that the top fast food employers are the biggest beneficiaries of that assistance:
Additionally, the report found that the top five fast food companies profited a combined $7.44 billion while purchasing $7.7 billion in stock buybacks for the benefit of executives and investors.
People working in fast-food jobs are more likely to live in or near poverty. Meanwhile, fast food corporations are posting records in profits and buybacks while spending billions on advertising and millions on corporate jets.
If the stark difference between workers and executives becomes too much McDonald’s has sage advice for its employees: “Stop Complaining.”
But it gets even worse. Workers admit that their bosses routinely steal from them as well.
For these reasons and more, we are joining the #FastFoodGlobal day of action.
*Article originally posted on FastFoodGlobal.org
The liberal tendencies of some Occupiers severely undermined the movement’s strength; identifying them will make it easier to resist them next time.
In a country so devoid of genuinely left politics as the United States, it was little surprise that Occupy Wall Street (OWS), the most dynamic American social movement in decades, surged to the fore of national politics riding a robust wave of liberal euphoria. As I argue in Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street, OWS never would have attained historic proportions without tapping into the pervasive despair that plagued left-liberal and progressive circles after Obama’s failure to live up to the “savior of the left” hype that was so recklessly bestowed upon him in 2008.
But it was liberal support for a movement that a core organizing group of anarchists and anti-capitalist anti-authoritarians shifted in an autonomous, directly democratic, non-electoral, class struggle, direct-action-oriented direction that made OWS popular, radical, and radicalizing. Without the anarchists it would have been ineffectual; without the liberals it would have been irrelevant. By carving out space for liberals and progressives to engage with anarchist praxis, OWS made a profound contribution to the development of anti-authoritarianism in the USA and beyond.
However, some of the most debilitating obstacles that we encountered stemmed from a number of liberal tendencies infecting a predominantly radical anti-capitalist organizing network. No, I’m not talking about attempts to turn Occupy into a voter-registration drive for the Democratic Party, or run “Occupy candidates” in local elections, or morph the movement into a new, hip political party that “breaks all the rules.” No, those tendencies were always peripheral and idiosyncratic within OWS, and they were cloaked in the stench of putrefying electoralism.
Instead, I’m referring to unacknowledged, internalized perspectives and orientations infected with liberalism through their constant exposure to the individualistic, capitalist climate we endure in this country. I hope that by examining a handful of them (space and time do not permit a complete list), we can better resist them next time.
1. Liberal Libertarianism
What do you get when an activist partially digests a skewed counter-cultural anti-authoritarianism without having rid themselves of their lingering liberalism? That’s right, a Liberal Libertarian. The Liberal Libertarian is the person who has learned enough about the potentially heinous repercussions of coercion and exclusion to renounce authoritarian organizing structures, but takes this in such an individualistic direction that they also often dismiss even directly democratic structures and reject collective attempts to prevent boisterous individuals from completely disrupting assemblies, meetings, actions or any other collective endeavor.
If, at a large assembly of 200 people, one person is screaming out of turn about an unrelated topic and won’t take several offers from nearby people to step aside and discuss the issue; and this happens often enough for it to get to the point where most people would rather leave the movement than endure such excruciating experiences; and it’s known that there are myriad infiltrators and provocateurs, sent by both state and capital, among us, then most people would agree that a plan would have to be put in place to prevent one person from shutting down the work of hundreds. Not the Liberal Libertarian.
The Liberal Libertarian would rather see our collective efforts grind to a screeching halt than see one person “silenced” for any reason under any context.
The Liberal Libertarian doesn’t actually care about collective power; they simply seek individual self-realization. Take this quote from Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics, in a trailer for the film Occupy Love: “this movement isn’t about the 99% defeating or toppling the 1%. You know the next chapter of that story: which is that the 99% create a new 1%. That’s not what it’s about.” Instead of expropriating a ruling class whose obscene wealth is drenched in the blood of millions, the Liberal Libertarian just wants to multiply interpersonal emotional exchanges.
When that outlook begins to infect organizing spaces, the result can be disastrous unless we have procedures and decision-making methods that can withstand Liberal Libertarianism’s corrosive effects.
2. Outcome Neutrality
Liberal Libertarianism is reactionary because it isn’t really about transforming the underlying economic or political system. Instead, it aims to enact a more authentic rendition of popular liberal principles. So while the liberals of the Democratic Party don’t really value freedom of speech, the Liberal Libertarians (in conjunction with left-liberals and progressives) often see nothing more important than creating free speech zones where traditional liberal values can be fully upheld.
This is often extended even to those who verbally derail the movement and in the case of Occupy Toronto even to the presence of Nazis. At an event in Toronto, a group of Occupy organizers explained how their encampment was split in half over whether to allow Nazis their “right to free speech” within Occupy.
But to make matters worse, this “free speech” liberal prefigurative politics infects outlooks on organizing and political struggle to the point where some activists consider it oppressive to promote a tactical direction or political agenda. Outcome Neutrality is the result. It dictates that any political direction that any group or community decides to take is essentially as worthwhile as any other. It incorporates a libertarian emphasis on autonomy and decentralization, but drains left libertarianism of its proscriptive content and reduces it to laissez faire (in the literal sense) left politics.
I once heard a guy at OWS with generally pretty decent politics say that he wanted to create an anti-capitalist, anarchist society, but if another society wanted to have capitalism that would be fine with him since he didn’t want to “impose” his “opinion” on others. Politics dissolved into atomized opinions floating in a “free speech” pond. As long as everyone has the opportunity to express themselves then whatever follows is just “democracy.”
Certainly some of this is derived from the important realization that activists and organizers shouldn’t tell other communities or groups what to do and instead should work in solidarity with others toward collective liberation. But while an anti-authoritarian outlook eschews hierarchical organizing strategies that confine collective aspirations to plans and blueprints designed by others, solidarity is not a blank check.
Truly revolutionary solidarity strikes a balance between advocating for our anti-capitalist, anti-hierarchical politics and recognizing that these values and ideas must be freely adopted rather than mandated.
Our politics must maintain an anti-authoritarian normativity if they are to avoid falling into the liberal impotence of Outcome Neutrality.
3. The Opiate of the Virtual Collective Commonwealth
The historic movements of 2011 were often reduced to technology. According to the New York Times and many others, the Egyptian Revolution “began on Facebook” with the actions of a Google marketing executive living abroad. Then “what bubbled up online spilled into the streets” and, so the narrative goes, SMS and Twitter made mass mobilizations possible. While I’m not trying to minimize the importance that innovations in communications technology have had on popular politics, from the printing press to the newspaper, from the telegraph to social media, society’s fetishization of novelty inflates the importance of the latest social media technology at the expense of less innovative or headline-worthy, but far more crucial, components of struggle.
In other words, to say that Egyptian resistance “spilled into the streets” is to miss the fact that it had been living on the streets and in workplaces, homes, neighborhoods, mosques, and churches long before any Facebook group. Sure, social media was a catalyst in the Middle East and North Africa, Southern Europe, the USA and elsewhere, but in focusing so much attention on a single catalyst we not only ignore other catalysts, we obscure the necessity of having social and economic conditions to catalyze in the first place.
And those conditions are not generated in cyberspace. The excessive focus on social media distracts us from the lived dynamics of actually-existing spheres of human sociability, and it subtly promotes a liberal prescription for political problems: that political change is primarily about disseminating isolated ideas for atomized individuals to consider, rather than organizing collectively from the ground-up and compelling our oppressors to adhere to our power. As I’ve argued elsewhere, this is a variation of what I call “the idea as motor of history,” or the notion that change follows from enough people having come into contact with a transformative idea isolated from context.
In Zuccotti Park in the fall of 2011 there were a lot of people who thought that if we could just articulate the Occupy idea to enough people they would just have to come around to it because of its sheer righteousness. But although the Occupy idea was broadcast far and wide, it was not enough on its own in the absence of strong and sustained connections with concrete struggles. Many liberals argue that all we need to do is come up the right ideas to “fix the world,” but felled-forests-worth of visionary thought has been published for some time.
We don’t need another idea; we need the power to make it happen.
Although social media and 24-hour cable news rapidly accelerated the dissemination of Occupy across the country and around the world, it catapulted OWS into the spotlight before it had accomplished the organizing that needs to happen initially in order to develop the capacity to be able to incorporate thousands of new people. We were constantly playing catch-up and before we knew it the meteoric rise of OWS was followed by a correspondingly precipitous plunge once social media and cable news moved onto the next big thing.
In that way, OWS was like the pop sensation “Gangnam Style” by Korean singer Psy. For a brief window of time “everyone” sang the song and did the dance (often with an ironic detachment) just as they flooded parks and squares so they could tell their grandkids that they too had “Occupied.” But anyone who was caught blasting “Gangnam Style” (or organizing an Occupy event) a few months after it went out of style was considered hopelessly passé. Therefore, one of our most pressing questions is how to build a solid social movement that can withstand the inevitable social media hangover.
4. The Lens of the Live-Action Opinion Poll
Mainstream media coverage of political demonstrations essentially considers them live-action opinion polls that show what a large segment of the population thinks about an issue. Their liberal assumption is that the demonstration’s only value is its ability to communicate a public message to legislators. If the government accedes to the demonstration’s demand(s) it will be deemed a success, and if not (which is almost always) it is deemed a failure.
While only the most staunchly electoral activists fail to focus on the demonstration’s primary role as a catalyst for organizing society around a given issue, The Lens of the Live-Action Opinion Poll extends itself beyond its prominence in the media into how activists assess turnouts for their events. Because so many of our organizing efforts fail to generate mass support, the enormous turnouts that Occupy events generated lulled some into assessing crowds solely in terms of numbers without analyzing who the people were, what brought them out, and who they came with.
Successful movements don’t organize disaggregated, de-contextualized individuals; they organize tenants, migrants, workers, prisoners, community members, etc. based on issues directly affecting them on a daily basis. That’s part of the reason why the floods of people that surged into Occupy encampments flowed back out just as fast as they came in: the movement wasn’t sufficiently anchored in their everyday struggles.
For some new-age liberal types this question didn’t matter because through their post-identity politics they only saw a uniform sea of humanity. But this liberal discomfort with group identity manifested itself in a variety of ways such as opposition to the formation of People of Color Caucuses and organizing spaces, for example, and the promotion of a “melting pot” identity-less politics that saw everyone as “Occupiers.”
While the liberal outlook would have people lose the particularities of their oppression in an artificial unity oriented around grievances of the movement’s most well-off, a revolutionary outlook would have people find themselves through collective struggle and form links of solidarity across different planes of resistance.
5. The Myth of the Misinformed Officers of the 99%
John Steinbeck once wrote that “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” To that, I’d add, “Opposition to the police never took root in America because people see the police not as armed guardians of capital but as temporarily confused workers.” Of course, just as Steinbeck overstated the failure of socialism in America, I overstate the lack of opposition to the police, especially in working class communities of color. Nevertheless, as compared to many other countries around the world, the United States has had a deficiency of socialism and anti-police sentiment.
If you attend a relatively mainstream left demonstration in Latin America or southern Europe, for example, it’s quite common to hear anti-police epithets shouted and chanted without any audible dissent in the crowd. At an Occupy event, a cop could be brutalizing someone, yet shouting “fuck you” at the cop would inevitably attract the ire of several invariably white protesters.
A major reason for this is the misguided notion that the police are also part of the 99%. Space does not permit a full discussion of the limitations and problems with the 99% language, but suffice it to say that “the 99%,” just like “the working class,” when used politically is a normative rather than a purely descriptive phrase. So although the police work and are paid less than the 1% their entire raison d’être is to oppose the political advancement of the working class. Modern police forces emerged from Southern slave patrols and the need to repress labor disputes.
We need to eradicate the liberal notion that if we articulate our grievances precisely enough the police won’t bash our heads in. While in a few isolated cases some police officers might realize the reactionary nature of their profession and quit, they’d only be replaced by other working class people looking for some job security and authority, and their resignation wouldn’t address the structural nature of law enforcement as the bodyguard of the ruling class. You can’t reason with class rule.
Occupy didn’t come anywhere near threatening the ruling class and engaged in non-violent tactics but was, nevertheless, faced with systematic brutality. Imagine what the police would do if we managed to generate a powerful anti-systemic movement. The Black Panthers certainly found out.
When left to fester, these liberal tendencies leave us with activists who eschew collective political aspirations in favor of detached personal opinions, spend an inordinate amount of time trying to disseminate those opinions online while ignoring interpersonal social relations, block attempts to forge a united struggle and resist disrupters and infiltrators, ignore the particularities of oppression, and defend the police even when they’re assaulting peaceful demonstrators. Those exposed to these influences oppose building power in the name of a postmodern opposition to hegemony while simultaneously drain struggles of their ability and willingness to withstand repression.
Instead, we need to construct groups, movements, and projects that nourish person-to-person bonds in neighborhoods, apartment buildings, workplaces, and communities without getting lost in how many followers a group’s Twitter account has. We need to be vigilant against the attempts of isolated people to impose their priorities on everyone else in the name of their individuality (after all, the beauty of free association implies the option of free disassociation) and use organizing structures that are durable and designed to withstand interference.
And while recognizing the importance of humility and introspection every step of the way, we mustn’t be afraid to make our case for the reconstruction of society. To see calls for a world devoid of hunger and hatred as mere “opinions” on par with capitalist appeals to augment inequality and incarceration is to fall into the liberal trap of ceding contestations of power to our enemies. Successful struggle requires an anti-authoritarian normativity that rejects the bizarre liberal notion that the perspectives of oppressors are as worthwhile as those of the oppressed.
Mark Bray is the author of Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street. He is a member of the Black Rose Anarchist Federation and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and has been a political organizer involved in various groups and campaigns over the years. You can follow him on Twitter via @Mark__Bray.
This article was originally published on Roar Mag
— Ydanis Rodriguez (@ydanis) May 11, 2014
You are needed—Justice is in your hands. We’re encouraging solidarity actions in cities worldwide. Use orange paint.
— Pussy Riot (@pussyrrriot) May 11, 2014
— YourAnonLive (@YourAnonLive) May 11, 2014
Follow #FreeCecily on twitter to contribute to the conversation and lend support.
— Pussy Riot (@pussyrrriot) May 9, 2014
On Monday, we ask that you think about how our communities are being enslaved for profit by the prison industrial complex and the #NewJimCrow. In solidarity with the many who are in this abusive system, we ask that you wear orange.
Our friend and fellow occupier, Cecily McMillan is the victim of a sexual assault in which her breast was violently grabbed by an NYPD officer. She is now looking at 2-7 years in New York state prison after a guilty verdict came down from the jurors on May 5th. Nine jurors have officially petitioned the court for leniency in the sentencing of Cecily McMillan. It is clear that hard time in prison is a punishment that does not fit the crime.
If you are in New York City, we encourage you to come to the press conference at City Hall on Monday at 12pm: Facebook Page. Elected officials, occupiers and advocates of all stripes are calling for leniency in the form of community service instead of jail in anticipation of her sentencing on May 19th. We will then deliver 20,000+ petition signatures calling for #Leniency4Cecily.
If you have not signed and shared with your friends yet please do so now: http://bit.ly/CecilyPetition
If you are looking for ways to plug into the efforts to help Cecily, follow this Facebook page.
If we are not heard on the steps of City Hall, we are prepared to take this fight to Washington, DC. Please support that future effort by signing White House petition
We recommend that you check out Beyond Bars (http://goo.gl/Zolpsb) to see how you can work to fight the capitalist whirlpool of the prison industrial complex.
— Pussy Riot (@pussyrrriot) May 11, 2014
— Stan Williams (@stanisoccupying) May 10, 2014
First step: Sign the petition to free Cecily.
Next step: You are needed—Justice is in your hands.
Wear “Safety Orange” (aka blaze orange, or prisoner orange) to show your solidarity with Cecily McMillan and all political prisoners worldwide!
— Pussy Riot (@pussyrrriot) May 9, 2014
Occupy Wall Street Hero and Founding Zuccotti Cecily McMillan was physically assaulted by the NYPD on March 17, 2012 and then perversely convicted of assaulting the police officer who put her in the hospital. Cecily is now in prison at Rikers Island awaiting her sentencing, for up to 7 years in prison.
Alert: 8 Days remain until Cecily’s sentencing on May 19.
For updates from Cecily’s Support Team, follow justiceforcecily.com
This page has gone viral! Please click Like and Tweet on left side of page to keep it going!
After an incredibly inspiring visit to see Cecily McMillan in New York’s Rikers Island prison. Cecily was amazing! pic.twitter.com/wyu9NtgKmd
— Pussy Riot (@pussyrrriot) May 9, 2014
“We hope Americans will show as much support to Cecily McMillan’s case as the people in the United States did to us, when we were in prison. Cecily is completely anti-fear… she realizes what is going on and can take responsibility for everything that is happening.” – Pussy Riot
We are hoping that Manhattan court will not convict Cecily McMillan to prison term. Anyway,it’s time to start your own, american Pussy Riot.
— Pussy Riot (@pussyrrriot) May 7, 2014
[NEW YORK, NY] At 11:00am EST Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina of Pussy Riot / Zona Prava visited New York’s Rikers Island to meet with jailed Occupy founder Cecily McMillan (Zuccotti).
The purpose of Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina’s visit was to offer consolation and solidarity with Cecily and to learn more about the injustices she is experiencing.
The following is a statement from Cecily McMillan’s support committee regarding this morning’s visit:
“On May 9th, Nadezhda ‘Nadia’ Tolokonnikova and Maria ‘Masha’ Alyokhina, who were persecuted for their involvement in Pussy Riot, specifically their Punk Prayer performance in Moscow, Russia, met up with the Justice For Cecily Team in preparation for their visit to Cecily McMillan at Rikers Island. They were very interested to learn about the injustices in this case, specifically in the prosecutorial process and the nested relations between Wall Street, the justice system and elected officials. Nadia and Masha identified with Cecily’s plight, especially the disproportionate sentencing she faces. We thank Nadia and Masha for visiting, and hope their visit will draw attention to Cecily’s case in the larger context of stifling dissent whether here, in Russia or elsewhere in the world.”
Just spoke to @pussyrrriot leaving Rikers after visiting Cecily McMillan.
— Danny Shea (@danielshea) May 9, 2014
“We hope americans will show as much support to her case as the people in the United States did to us, when we were in prison.” @pussyrrriot
— Danny Shea (@danielshea) May 9, 2014
“Cecily is completely anti-fear…she realizes what is going on and can take responsibility for everything that is happening.” – @pussyrrriot
— Danny Shea (@danielshea) May 9, 2014
Masha Alyokhina, one of the Pussy Riot members, called Occupier Cecily McMillan a “hero.” Here’s that photo again. pic.twitter.com/fUTQxowYfo
— Colin Daileda (@ColinDaileda) May 9, 2014
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallStNYC) May 9, 2014
I am a general practitioner and sat in on some of the pre-trial and trial dates for my former client who was represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney. I found Judge Zweibel to be very biased in favor of the prosecution. He mad…
We are less than four years away from a decisive people’s victory in one or more nations. If our leaderless revolution can survive through mutation, innovation and escalation then we stand a good chance of flanking the dinosaurs and taking legislative control of a State after a period of sustained unrest.
Our people’s war is asymmetric. And it is to our advantage that we are the weaker side. In How the Weak Win Wars: A Theory of Asymmetric Conflict, military historian Ivan Arreguín-Toft does a statistical analysis of conflicts since 1800 in which one side had 10 times or more resources.
As a result of his military history research, Arreguín-Toft discovered two fundamental principles of people’s war.
Principle #1: The Weaker Will Win
Over time the weaker adversary is winning more frequently and that since 1950, the weaker side has won more often than not. This trend will continue; the advantages of being weaker, smaller, nimbler are growing.
Principle #2: Innovation is a Force Multiplier
The second principle is the most important of all: the weaker adversary tends to win conflicts when they act innovatively. If the weaker refused to mimic the stronger adversary’s actions then they won 63% of the time. In essence, we innovate; we win.
BREAKING #Justice4Cecily NEWS:
Nine members of the jury that convicted Occupy Wall Street protester of felony assault of an officer have signed a letter asking that the judge not sentence her to any prison time
“We the jury petition the court for leniency in the sentencing of Cecily McMillan,” the letter reads. “We feel that the felony mark on Cecily’s record is punishment enough for this case and that it serves no purpose to Cecily or to society to incarcerate her for any amount of time.”
One member of the jury told the Guardian a day after the verdict that they weren’t aware that McMillan was facing up to seven years in prison for their verdict: “Most just wanted her to do probation, maybe some community service. But now what I’m hearing is seven years in jail? That’s ludicrous. Even a year in jail is ridiculous.”
In the trial that lasted nearly four weeks, McMillan claimed that her arresting officer, Grantley Bovell, violently grabbed her breast, which caused her to rear back and strike him with her elbow. Officer Bovell testified that it was intentional. Photographs show a deep bruise on McMillan’s right breast.
Dear Jon Stewart,
The #Justice4Cecily team appreciates the attention you showed to Cecily McMillan’s case last night on The Daily Show, and we agree with your message of Justice for Some that resounds throughout the show. It has become more than abundantly clear since the financial crisis that there are two sets of laws in this country: one for Wall Street and the 1%, and another one for Occupy Wall Street and the 99%.
Unfortunately, your scoreboard of the number of arrests for both of these groups – “Wall Street: 1 – OWS: 1”, however in jest you presented it – gives the impression that somehow justice has been served for Cecily and for the millions of Occupy activists and supporters across the country and around the world. And with this we must respectfully disagree.
For Cecily, justice has most definitely not been served. Cecily was violently, and sexually, assaulted in Zuccotti Park on the 6th month anniversary of OWS in March, 2012. She sustained bruises on her right breast, ribs, arms, legs and back, underwent a seizure, had to be hospitalized, and still suffers from PTSD originating from the incident. The more than two-year delay in her criminal case has put her bright academic and political career on complete standstill.
Furthermore, the jury trial that convicted Cecily was rife with juridical missteps: suppression of key evidence, gag orders on Cecily’s attorney, and clear bias on the part of Judge Zweibel, who is well known as ‘a prosecutor in robes.’ Even the jury that convicted Cecily regretted their decision upon learning post-trial of the potential sentencing length. One juror told the Guardian:
“They felt bad. Most just wanted her to do probation, maybe some community service. But now what I’m hearing is seven years in jail? That’s ludicrous. Even a year in jail is ridiculous.”
Just as important is the lack of justice for the almost 8,000 Occupy activists who have been arrested in the last three years for peacefully protesting wealth inequality and corporate corruption of our democracy, and for the millions of people who have fallen into the 700% prison population increase of the United States since the 1970s. Cecily has been privileged to have good counsel and a support network of people to make her case for innocence, but countless others haven’t been so fortunate.
You have an important opportunity, Mr. Stewart, with this case to make a powerful statement about the need for reform of our justice system in order to serve all people fairly and blindly. Rather than leave your audience with an ambiguous answer to the question of Justice for Some? We kindly ask that you correct the record on your next show or invite a member of our team to appear and correct it ourselves.
Thank you, again, for standing up for the 99% and for justice for all.
The #Justice4Cecily Team
Cecily McMillan was unjustly found guilty of 2nd degree assault charge, and will be in confinement until her May 19th sentencing. Cecily’s current address is below, send her a letter of solidarity today!
Book & Case Numb…
Occupy trial juror describes shock at activist’s potential prison sentence
A member of the jury that convicted Occupy protester Cecily McMillan of felony assault against an officer yesterday now tells the Guardian he or she regrets their verdict. “I’m very remorseful about it,” the unidentified juror said. “Most just wanted her to do probation, maybe some community service. But now what I’m hearing is seven years in jail? That’s ludicrous. Even a year in jail is ridiculous.”
READ MORE AT GOTHAMIST.
Cecil McMillan’s supporters accused Judge Ronald Zweibel of repeatedly siding with prosecutors and showing hostility to the defence team and their supporters. Zweibel barred Stolar from citing past claims of violent conduct by Bovell. When supporters entered court wearing paper hearts on their chests in an attempted show of solidarity, the judge furiously sent out the jury and ordered a police officer to confiscate the hearts. When a handful chuckled from the gallery at McMillan’s bashful recounting of her university days in Wisconsin, Zweibel ordered them to shut up.
After expressing vague anger during a courtroom sidebar about a Guardian report last month that his court was struggling to find jurors who were not biased against to Occupy, Zweibel went on to impose a total gag order on Stolar and Rebecca Heinegg, McMillan’s second attorney, because of a seemingly innocuous remark Stolar made to the New York Times. McMillan’s supporters described this as a violation of their first amendment rights.
READ MORE AT GUARDIAN
ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Angry protesters took over an Albuquerque City Council meeting Monday night, calling for immediate change at APD, the ousting of both Albuquerque’s Police Chief and Mayor and more.
The meeting got out of control quickly about an hour after it started. Things got so chaotic and unruly that Chief Gorden Eden left and city councilors canceled the meeting.
The scene was unlike anything many people have seen in recent memory inside the council chambers. One person even tried to serve APD Chief Gorden Eden with a warrant for his arrest.
“This is no longer your meeting, this is the people’s meeting. This is democracy in action!” said protester David Correia to the city council.
“We have no control of this meeting! So if this is your meeting, go ahead,” said Albuquerque City Council President Ken Sanchez.
The meeting started like any other, but quickly deteriorated just after 6 p.m. during public comment. That’s when protesters took complete control, pushing many councilors to abandon their seats and leaving citizens to sit in their seats.
On May 19, Justice Is In Your Hands! #Justice4Cecily.
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallSt) May 9, 2014
Through several chants and “motions” of government, protesters made it clear they were upset with APD and city council “inaction,” demanding immediate change.
Protesters chanted phrases including “fire the damn Chief,” and “fire Mayor Berry.”
The outburst started when protester David Corriea, an assistant professor at UNM, took the podium during public comment. Corriea immediately directed his words towards Chief Gorden Eden.
“We now serve a people’s warrant for arrest on Albuquerque Police Chief Gorden! He is charged with accessory!” shouted Corriea as the group tossed arrest warrants in the air.
One woman even tried to hand Eden a warrant for his arrest. However, Eden got up and left without acknowledging the woman.
“We’re not leaving this podium, I am not leaving this podium!” Corriea continued to shout at Eden as he left the room.
Protesters kept their promise, not leaving the podium, and taking over when councilors tried to a take a break.
“We will be back in five minutes!” announced Councilor Sanchez.
Councilors took that break for about ten minutes, but protesters kept going.
“Quit sitting on your hands!” shouted one woman with a bullhorn.
Some councilors eventually returned to the chambers and Council President Ken Sanchez tried to defuse the situation.
“I would prefer to give people an opportunity to speak, we are here to listen to your concerns. Please respect the chambers,” said Sanchez.
But the plea was useless as Sanchez was nearly drowned out by protesters shouting.
“We have no control of this meeting, this meeting is official adjourned,” said Sanchez.
Councilors left, clearly upset, unable to get anything done to fix the troubled police department.
“They’ve got some serious problems that need to be addressed, but we can’t address them by not conducting city business,” said Sanchez.
It took protesters about a half-hour to clear out of city council chambers after the meeting was called off. No one was arrested. Councilors were supposed to talk about proposals to take away the mayor’s power to hire a police chief. They’re now hoping to do that in a special meeting on Thursday.
City Council Press Release – Meeting Adjournment»
Chief Gorden Eden sent out a statement Monday night:
“We understand there are those in our community who have expressed concerns about APD issues related to the Department of Justice report. We are working hard to make proactive improvements now and in conjunction with DOJ recommendations. While we welcome constructive discussions, we do not believe disruption of tonight’s city council meeting was a productive way to meet those goals.” –Chief Gorden Eden
We are calling for solidarity actions by occupiers worldwide. Demand #Justice4Cecily. Every day that Cecily is in prison. . .
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallSt) May 5, 2014
HOW TO HELP: #YouAreNeeded Fightback Fund
“The corporate state, which has proved utterly incapable of addressing the grievances and injustices endured by the underclass, is extremely nervous about the mass movements that have swept the country in recent years. And if protests erupt again—as I think they will—the state hopes it will have neutralized much of the potential leadership. Being an activist in peaceful mass protest is the only real “crime” McMillan has committed.” – Chris Hedges
We are devastated by the Jury’s verdict today. It has been clear from
day one that Cecily has not received a fair and open trial. The job of
a judge during a jury trial isn’t to guide the verdict to fit his
opinion. Judge Zweibel, who consistently suppressed evidence, has
demonstrated his clear bias by consistently siding with the
prosecution. In addition to suppressing evidence, he imposed a gag
order on Cecily’s lawyers, which is a clear violation of their 1st
Amendment Rights, and placed the burden of proof on the defense, not
the prosecution. He is rightly known as ‘a prosecutor in robes’.
Beyond Judge Zweibel, it is disgusting to see vast resources from
taxpayers wasted for over two years to prosecute Cecily. Manhattan DA
Cy Vance has refused to drop this case, pursuing maximum charges
against Cecily while ignoring police violence and misconduct. This is
unfortunately not isolated to Cecily’s case but is indicative of a
system concerned not with justice but with the unrelenting harassment
of dissenters and the powerless.
In the two years awaiting trial, Cecily was never offered anything
less than a felony charge, a charge that would stay with her for the
rest of her life. While awaiting a trial, Cecily has lived in limbo
for two years, not knowing what her future would be, forced to re-live
her trauma every one of those days. Beyond the sexual assault and
physical injuries she sustained, Cecily suffered PTSD and has had
difficulty finishing her master’s degree and continuing her work as a
union organizer and activist.
Despite the chilling precedent this verdict puts forth for activists,
we will not be deterred from seeking social and economic justice, as
evidenced in the courtroom today. Though we’ve held our tongues
throughout this trial as Cecily was personally attacked and degraded,
we could not stand silent today in the face of such a gross
miscarriage of justice. The people had to speak truth to power today
by standing up and will continue to do so as long as this justice
system continues to punish the 99% and protect the 1%.
As journalist Chris Hedges said in a recent article:
state, which has proved utterly incapable of addressing the grievances
and injustices endured by the underclass, is extremely nervous about
the mass movements that have swept the country in recent years. And if
protests erupt again—as I think they will—the state hopes it will have
neutralized much of the potential leadership. Being an activist in
peaceful mass protest is the only real “crime” McMillan has
We recognize that, as poorly as Cecily has been treated these past two
years, she was lucky enough to have an amazing support system
comprised of representation from the National Lawyer’s Guild and
Mutant Legal, as well as significant financial help from supporters of
Occupy Wall Street and a team of ten who tirelessly worked to bring
her case to light and support her through this trying time. It’s
harrowing to imagine how many unfortunate people encounter this system
without the resources Cecily had, though we know countless innocent
people are forced to plea to felonies and ruin their lives every day
in this building.
We will be fighting this unjust verdict in the court of appeals.
Cecily’s lawyers are optimistic, given the circumstances of the case
and the gross bias demonstrated throughout, that we can win on appeal.
Thank you all for your ongoing support throughout this trial. We know
that many share our outrage at this verdict, if you would like to get
involved in jail support, please visit justiceforcecily.com to learn
more about how to best support Cecily.
6pm rally at Liberty Square
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallStNYC) May 5, 2014
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallStNYC) May 5, 2014
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallStNYC) May 1, 2014
— Il Fatto Quotidiano (@fattoquotidiano) May 1, 2014
— AltrAgorà (@altrAgora) May 1, 2014
— 15MBcn_int (@15MBcn_int) May 1, 2014
— alex foti (@alexfoti) May 1, 2014
— Cs Cantiere (@Cantiere) May 1, 2014
— 99 Pickets (@99pickets) May 1, 2014
HAPPENING NOW: Hundreds of Detroiters storm Chase Bank chanting “Make The Banks Pay!” pic.twitter.com/OUZpVCRZYg
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallStNYC) May 1, 2014
— Stan Williams (@stanisoccupying) May 1, 2014
— ║░V☮ice ✪f Turkey░║ (@VOT99) May 1, 2014
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallStNYC) May 1, 2014
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallStNYC) May 1, 2014
What if you could receive a guaranteed basic yearly income with no strings attached? Didn’t matter how much money you made now, or in the future. Nobody would ask about your job status or how many kids you have. The check would arrive in the mailbox, no matter what.
Sounds like a far-fetched idea, right? Wrong. All over the world, people are talking guaranteeing basic incomes for citizens as a viable policy. Half of all Canadians want it. The Swiss have had a referendum on it. The American media is all over it: The New York Times’ Annie Lowrey considered basic income as an answer to an economy that leaves too many people behind, while Matt Bruenig and Elizabeth Stoker of the Atlantic wrote about it as a way to reduce poverty.
The idea is not new: In his final book, Martin Luther King Jr. suggested that guaranteeing people money without requiring them to do anything in exchange was a good way for Americans to share in prosperity. In the 1960s and early 1970s, many in the U.S. gave the idea serious consideration. Even Richard Nixon supported a version of it. But by 1980, the political tide shifted to the right and politicians moved their talking points to unfettered markets and individual gain from sharing the wealth and evening the playing field.
Advocates say it’s an idea whose time has finally come. In a world of chronic job insecurity, stagnant wages, boom-and-bust cycles that wipe out ordinary people through no fault of their own, and shredded social safety nets, proponents warn that we have to come up with a way to make sure people can survive regardless of work status or economic conditions. Here are five reasons they give as to why a guaranteed basic income might just be the answer.
It would help fight poverty
America is the richest country in the world, yet widespread poverty continues to afflict us. Social Security has arguably been the most successful program for reducing poverty in American history, dramatically cutting poverty among the elderly and keeping tens of millions above the poverty threshold. Why not expand it to all?
Matt Bruenig calculated that by giving everybody a mere $3,000 a year, including children (who would receive the money through their parents), we could potentially cut poverty in half. The program would be simple: you get it no matter how much money you make, which would prevent poor people from having to worry about losing the benefit. With everybody in it together, you get a much larger base of political support (one of the reasons means-testing has always been a back-door way of killing Social Security— it reduces support).
In the 1970s, the small Canadian town of Dauphin ran an experiment through a social policy called “Mincome.” Everybody in the town was allowed to get a minimum cash benefit during the duration of the program. Poverty was eliminated, because people living below the poverty line saw their income boosted through monthly checks. But the results were about more than an official line marking the poverty threshold. Mincome positively impacted the horrible conditions associated with the cycle of poverty. When people had a basic income, they were able to better care for their families, stay healthy and improve their education — all the things that help people stay out of poverty in the future.
It could be good for the economy
A basic guaranteed income has the potential to positively impact the economy in several ways, which is why economists from John Kenneth Galbraith to Milton Friedman have advocated it.
For one thing, it could help solve the problem of demand. The great driver of the economy in a capitalist system is something economists call “aggregate demand.” The Econ 101 lesson is simple: when ordinary people have money in their pockets, they spend it on goods and services, which in turn allows businesses to thrive because they are able to invest and to hire more people. Proponents argue that a basic guaranteed income would increase demand, which would help the economy to prosper.
But wait, wouldn’t people get lazy if they had a basic income? One of the things the Mincome researchers wanted to know was whether a guaranteed basic income would cause people to stop working. Despite all the dire predictions that had circulated in academic literature before the experiment, the Mincome effect on number of hours worked was actually quite small — hours dropped 1 percent for men, 3 percent for married women and 5 percent for unmarried women.
The decrease in hours was mostly the result of people taking the time to raise newborns, care for family members, and pursue their education — people did not cut back on work just to loaf around. In addition to activities which would serve as economic investments for the future, the experiment also resulted in things like fewer hospital visits and illnesses, all of which reduce public health costs. Many argue that a guaranteed basic income is also potentially good for entrepreneurship, making it easier for people to start a small business or switch careers.
It could have many benefits to society
Clearly, we want policies that help us create a more stable society where more people can reach their potential and fewer people resort to crime and violence. Advocates say a guaranteed basic income does just that.
Researchers found that during the Mincome years, more people in Dauphin finished high school, more adults pursued education, and students achieved higher test scores. As noted, people got healthier, too: Fewer people visited the hospital, mental illness decreased, and the number of work-related injuries went down. Plus, social ills like domestic abuse dropped.
As a recession hit and the center-left politics of the 1970s shifted rightward in Canada, interest in the Mincome experiment waned. However, Canadian economic researcher Evylen Forget notes that most people who participated in Mincome wish the program had continued, citing benefits like increased opportunity to pursue an education.
Canadians are now reviving the idea, many arguing that such programs would actually encourage people to work because they would eliminate welfare provisions that penalize the poor who take very low-paying or part-time jobs. In Brazil, advocates have pointed out that a basic guaranteed income could help guard against such scourges as child labor, while Swiss activists make the case that it would help people do more meaningful work, making for happier and better workers.
Philippe Van Parijs, a Belgian philosopher, argues that a basic income is a powerful tool for social justice, allowing everyone, no matter what their circumstances, the possibility to pursue their conception of a good life. He notes that a guaranteed basic income could address some of the issues associated with sexist divisions of labor in which women are expected to do more of unpaid, care-giving work in our society.
It might be more efficient than present systems
In the current patchwork of systems confronting poverty, like welfare, food stamps and vouchers, people can fall through the cracks. A guaranteed income could help solve problems caused by rules and restrictions that leave some without subsistence income when they need it.
It’s not just liberals and progressives who like the sound of a simple basic guaranteed income. Something streamlined appeals to conservatives who like versions that could replace existing tax credits and social assistance programs — though it’s important to note that most advocates don’t propose it as a full substitute for existing programs. The American Enterprise Institute’s Charles Murray points out that a streamlined system would obviate the need for people to fill out multiple forms and visit myriad offices to receive benefits. (In his book In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State, Murray suggested an income of $10,000 a year to anyone who was American, over 21 and out of jail.)
Let’s not forget simple human dignity
Why is living in dignity not a right? These days, even Americans who get up in the morning every day and report to full-time jobs may not earn enough for a decent standard of living. People like fast-food workers, big-box store employees, caregivers, beauty salon workers, and farm hands often can’t earn enough to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. Millions have seen no real increase in earnings in decades. Material security, as well as the intangible things that come along with it, like self-esteem and peace of mind, are often out of reach.
A guaranteed basic income is one way to help people to survive with dignity and free them from the humiliation of having to participate in criminal activity and accept abusive work conditions. Because everyone gets it, such a program might serve to eliminate the stigma of a hand-out. Of course, the payment has to be large enough that it helps people actually live in dignity, and some, like economist L. Randall Wray, prefer it as a supplement to something like a jobs guarantee program for this reason.
What’s clear is that our current capitalist system and social safety net have failed too many of us. It may be that in order to confront that epic fail, policy makers will need to get bolder in considering universal guarantees to all citizens.
*Lynn Parramore is an AlterNet senior editor. She is founding editor of New Deal 2.0, and author of Reading the Sphinx: Ancient Egypt in Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture. Follow her on Twitter @LynnParramore.
This article originally published on Alternet
THE AFTER PARTY WILL WORK FOR A GUARANTEED BASIC INCOME FOR ALL AMERICANS, REMOVAL OF CORRUPT POLITICIANS
DETROIT, MI — A grassroots alliance of community leaders and social justice activists is launching a new nationwide political party with a weekend of celebration and service in Detroit. The new party, dubbed the After Party, is a movement to inspire people of all ages to take decisive action in their communities to tackle growing inequality, the erosion of civil liberties, and rampant corruption in the political arena by promoting a platform of six principles that includes a guaranteed, inflation-adjusted basic income for all American citizens.
Priscilla Grim, founding organizer of Occupy Wall Street and co-creator of the We Are The 99% blog, said “The After Party is an opportunity for independent candidates to hack into the political system and bring deep systemic change by offering what people need most right now: a vision and a plan for a post-capitalist future that works for all of us.”
The Party will engage in a series of missions in the months leading up to the Fall election, and beyond, focused on cultivating new leadership, building local power bases and rooting out under-performing politicians.
“We’re done waiting for politicians to get a clue,” said Carl Gibson, an After Party spokesman, “We’re going to do this ourselves. Between now and November, we’re dedicated to driving out corrupt government officials who only represent those who pay them.”
The After Party plans to expand into several states in the coming months, opening up ballot access to local candidates who pledge to forgo corporate backing and further theParty Platform. After Partiers will also organize grassroots community betterment initiatives outside of the formal political system to provide alternative solutions to local problems.
“We don’t have another six to twelve months to wait for change,” said Detroit resident Demeeko Williams. “We want it now – right now. It’s time to send a jolt of electricity through the political system to let it know we are here, we’re not being represented and we’re coming for you.”
The After Party will launch on Friday, May 2nd at 7pm at historic Bert’s Marketplace in Eastern Market, 2727 Russell St, Detroit, MI 48207, with a signing of the Party Manifesto.
The After Party is a political movement for a democratic revolution in the USA.
Demeeko Williams, Detroit After Party
Priscilla Grim, After Party National Steering Committee
Carl Gibson, After Party National Steering Committee
In a boarded-up hotel along a windy country road, a couple dozen activists are gathered for a workshop. They are mostly women, and mostly over 40. The workshop is being held by Micah White, one of the instigators of Occupy Wall Street.
After the dust settled from Occupy, White packed up his bags in the Bay Area and moved here to Nehalem, a small town in one of the poorest counties in rural Oregon. Nehalem sits on the Pacific Coast, in the shadows of popular vacation destination Manzanita. But White isn’t here for a vacation, and he came to town with a mission.
The demise of Occupy left everyone with one question: “Now what?” Almost three years later, White is helping the founders of Occupy, US Uncut, and others to launch The After Party, a new political party on “a mission to restore democracy” and occupy the ballot box in time for the 2016 elections. How? By organizing statewide ballot initiatives, ousting corrupt officials, and encouraging everyday people to run for local and county offices.
Inspired by the success of Occupy Sandy organizing efforts, The After Party also seeks to turn communities into self-sufficient hotbeds of social action. White and the After Party team want to create what they call “mutual aid flash mobs,” citizen gatherings where people can do things like start a time bank, plant urban gardens, fix local roads, organize free healthcare clinics, and build tiny houses for the homeless. Nehalem, population 267, will be a test lab.
— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallSt) April 28, 2014
Foreclose On Wells Fargo: National Days of Action April 28 & 29
Can you imagine a political party that requires no membership or dues, that crowd-sources its funding, publishes every expenditure online, invites all citizens to help amend its platform, loathes the cult of the candidate, provides a direct vote mechanism for all citizens to hold its candidates accountable if they break a campaign promise, and whose first sales pitch was to encourage voters to studiously distrust them? Neither could we until bumping into the X Party: A Citizen Network, a new political player on the Spanish electoral scene that is completely re-drawing what a political party looks like.
They are betting that their novel approach to democracy will not only re-animate the more than 18 million voters disaffected with the current Spanish party system, but will also totally reshape how representative democracy functions. This is a bold ambition that seems be picking up steam as they announced a few weeks ago their slate of candidates for May’s European Parliamentary elections, topping the list is the swiss HSBC leaker and newly converted hacktivist Hervé Falciani whose lack of Spanish citizenship seems to unfaze the self-branded anti-party. In proper situationist fashion, Falciani’s exile to Paris under the protection of French Authorities, for the numerous death threats leveled against him after leaking the names and account information of more than 130,000 tax evaders, will guarantee that lesser known candidates sourced through the network will share the limelight and play a more crucial role during the campaign.
Comparisons to Edward Snowden aside, the selection of Falciani to lead the pack of activist-candidates under the X-Party ticket, is a clear sign on how serious they are about holding those responsible for the rampant fraud that lead to the economic crisis in Spain accountable. The nominating process culminated in March, after an open primary process in which more than 2,500 network interactants participated. The six nominated candidates represent different areas of expertise constituting what they call a “federation of competences,” and whose expertise reflects upon the thematic planks of their crowd-sourced platform: public transparency, radicalizing democracy, housing rights, and economic justice. Included on the list are economist Susana Martín Belmonte, former taxation delegate Raul Burillo, and housing rights lawyer Juan Moreno Yagüe. The number two on the list of candidates is M15 activist, performance artist, political theorist, and X-Party gestator Simona Levi. Simona graciously talked to us at length about this ambitious new attempt to hack the existing political system.
“Libraries are the future.” – Occupy Wall Street
This article is by Jane Carlin (Director, Collins Memorial Library at the University of Puget Sound) and Barb Macke (Associate Librarian, University of Cincinnati) and was originally publishe…
A message from our friends in Partido X. – OSN
Today we launch a campaign to hack European Parliament for real.
As it was explained in our previous communication, Hervé Falciani, (the computer specialist who provided several Courts of Justice from different countries with information about over 130 000 big tax evaders’ bank accounts in Switzerland, obtained when he was working for HSBC bank) is the candidate of Citizens’ Network Partido X (a citizens’ device for media guerrilla that serves the purpose of participating in electoral scenarios, and hacking political systems, in order to achieve a XXI century democracy. The project was launched a year and a half ago by a group of 15M/Indignados activists and has steadily grown quite fast) for the european elections, May 2014.
We think that this candidature is a hack that gives the Spanish and European citizens, and also the International Community, the opportunity to explain how the political class is in collusion with the financial elites and to report it, to fight against this practice and to establish mechanisms to control it. The participation of Falciani in the European Parliament and the work and projects already initiated by Citizens’ Network Partido X, will contribute to put an end to the impunity of big tax evaders.
As European citizens we can not miss this opportunity to unmask who are accomplices of the tax evasion fraud of the big fortunes in the European Parliament, the European Institutions and the Spanish Government.
Once in the European parliament, we will develop our work there and implement our projects to pursue Fiscal evasion of the great fortunes using information as a tool. Citizens’ Network Partido X and Herve Falciani have already launched this method at the service of all struggles and towards a global change.
This is why we invite all international activists to get involved in the campaign for making this information reach all international civil society.
These are the ways in which you can get involved in the international campaign:
1º Be active on social media (TWITTER y FACEBOOK)
Tuesday April 22
From 11AM Madrid’s time (UTC/GMT+1)
Hashtag #FalcianiVsJuncker and using the channel #EP2014
1 – Post at the indicated time the contents, your opinion, or tell how do you think your and other people’s fights are going to be benefited from having Falciani in the parliament.
2 – Share our contents:
4 – Forward this to other international activist that may be interested in participating
5 – If you have national or international press contacts you can ask them to contact us during the days following the launch of the campaign if they are interested in reporting about this story at: [email protected]
• Website in English http://partidox.org/en/
• Website in Spanish http://partidox.org/
• Occupy http://occupywallst.org/article/who-is-partido-x/
• National and International Press http://partidox.org/press/
About Hervé Falciani
POR FAVOR, NO USEIS EL HASTAG ANTES DE MAÑANA A LAS 11H
Mañana lanzamos una semana de campaña para explicar la oportunidad que tenemos de hacer un verdadero hack en el parlamento europeo.
Tal y como os explicábamos en nuestra anterior comunicación, Hervé Falciani (el informático que ha aportado a la justicia de varios países información que extrajo mientras trabajaba en el banco HSBC sobre más de 130.000 cuentas en Suiza de grandes evasores fiscales) será el candidato a las elecciones Europeas de Mayo de este año por la Red Ciudadana Partido X (un dispositivo ciudadano de guerrilla de la comunicación para la intervención en espacios electorales y para hackear los sistemas políticos con la idea de una democracia del siglo XXI, lanzado hace un año y medio por un grupo de activistas del 15M y que ha crecido imparablemente en muy poco tiempo)
Consideramos que esta candidatura es un hack y una oportunidad única para la ciudadanía española y europea y para la sociedad civil internacional para exponer, denunciar, combatir y controlar la connivencia de la clase política con la élite financiera y que la presencia, actividad y proyectos en marcha de la Red Ciudadana Partido X con Falciani en el Parlamento Europeo planteará serios problemas a la impunidad de los grandes defraudares fiscales.
Es una oportunidad que no podemos desaprovechar como ciudadanos para poder desenmascarar a diario quién y cómo en la Eurocamara y las instituciones europeas y el gobierno español es cómplice de la estafa a la ciudadanía que supone la evasión fiscal de las grandes fortunas de las que nuestros gobernantes son cómplices.
Una vez en el parlamento europeo, nuestra intención es poner nuestro trabajo allí y los proyectos para perseguir a traves de la información la evasión Fiscal de las grandes fortunas que la Red Ciudadana Partido X y Herve Falciani tiene ya en marcha al servicio de todas las luchas por un cambio global que hay en el mundo.
Por esto invitamos a todos a participar en esta campaña de visibilización para que esta información llegue a todo la sociedad civil a nivel internacional.
Formas en las que puedes colaborar en la campaña internacional
1º PARTICIPA EN redes sociales (TWITTER y FACEBOOK)
Martes 22 de Abril
A partir de 11am Hora de Madrid (UTC/GMT+1)
Hashtag #FalcianiVsJuncker y en el canal #EP2014
1 – Posteando a la hora señalada contenidos, tu opinión o contando cómo puede beneficiar a tu lucha y la de tus compañeros que Falciani entre en el Europarlamento.
2 – Compartiendo nuestros contenidos:
Falciani vs. Juncker: http://partidox.org/falciani-vs-juncker/
3 – Artículos del día en la prensa internacional en Argentina, Española, Anglosajona, Italiana que compartiremos con el Hashtag #FalcianiVsJuncker que compartiremos ese dia desde las cuentas principales en Twitter https://twitter.com/Partido_X y Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PartidoXPartidodelFuturo
4 – Pasa este una copia de este pad a otros activistas internacionales que creas que pueden estar interesados en participar.
5 – Si tenéis contactos de prensa a nivel nacional e internacional, que pueda hacerse eco de esta historia los dias de la campaña posteriores al lanzamiento pedidles que se pongan en contacto con: [email protected]
Web en inglés http://partidox.org/en/
En español: http://partidox.org/
Articulo en Occupy http://occupywallst.org/article/who-is-partido-x/
Prensa nacional e Internacional http://partidox.org/prensa/
A new organization has been launched by some of the Occupy Wall Street founders. It is what they hope will be the future for a populist movement in the U. S. and they want you to join its first mission a Flash Mob Mutual Aid action in Detroit, May 2nd. Did the Occupation of Wall Street in 2011 and the movement that followed it fill you with hope for the future?
Have you wondered “What Now” ? Tune in to A Deeper Look,Thursday April 24th at 9:30 am on KBOO. Justin Wedes, founding member of The New York City General Assembly and Micah White, PhD—Occupy Solidarity Network board member and former editor of Adbusters—will join host, Linda Olson-Osterlund to talk about the founding of The After Party, its platform, its manifesto and its plan for action.
Written by Ritchie Savage
Ernesto Laclau, who passed away on Sunday, April 13, 2014, is known primarily as an Argentinian political theorist who wrote about populism, socialism, and political discourse. Populism is commonly referred to as a type of politics that exalts the ‘people’ and pits them against the elite. Laclau’s work on populism and political discourse has important ramifications for how we can reconceptualize the role of new social movements, such as Occupy.
Even though the formula for populism is relatively simple, a conception of people vs. power, the genesis of the concept is complex. Initially, two bodies of academic literature emerged in two different regional contexts to explain certain cases. In 1934, an Italian sociologist named Gino Germani immigrated to Argentina, fleeing from Mussolini’s fascist regime. Once in Argentina, he wrote about what he saw as a new form of politics evidenced in the leadership of Juan Perón – a type of politics he characterized as a ‘national popular’ movement that blended aspects of democratic participation and authoritarianism. This model could also be extended to characterize the leadership of other mid-twentieth century Latin American politicians, such as Vargas in Brazil and Cardenas in Mexico. In this sense, Germani provided a kind of historical model for understanding this new form of politics in relation to the experience of economic and political development specific to Latin American countries, referred to as modernization.
However, in the United States, populism has come to mean something slightly different, with reference to different historical cases. Authors such as Richard Hofstadter and John Hicks, in writing about the legacy of populism in the U.S., refer back to the People’s Party of the 1890s – a grassroots political movement that developed out of a white farmers’ alliance in the South. These farmers cultivated the idea that they were an ordinary people oppressed by an elite, such as ‘big business,’ expressing the hardships they experienced as a result of the crop lien system. The interesting move that Hofstadter made in his essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics,” was to try to link up rhetoric propagated in the era of McCarthyism with this historical legacy traced back to the People’s Party. This led to a watershed both in the U.S. academic literature and even in the media, where it is now common to refer to examples of ‘populist rhetoric’ found in a tradition of U.S. politicians that spans from William Jennings Bryan to Barack Obama, but also in contemporary U.S. social movements, such as the Tea Party and Occupy.
It gets more complicated. Just as the term ‘populism’ has been used to refer to cases of politics in the U.S. from the 1890s to the present, it has been applied to two subsequent waves of politicians in Latin America, spanning from the aforementioned mid-twentieth century cases to figures like Venezuela’s Chávez (and now Maduro), Bolivia’s Morales, and Ecuador’s Correa in the present. Still yet, the term also found its application in Europe as theorists like Margaret Canovan and Paul Taggart have attempted to explain the emergence of European political parties in the late 1980s and early 1990s, such as Jörg Haider’s Austrian Freedom Party and Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front. Following this line of thought, there is much concern in the present about parties in Europe such as Golden Dawn in Greece and Jobbik in Hungary, as these parties are not only populist, but also display neofascist characteristics.
And now people talk about cases of populism present all over the world.
So, right wing or left wing, politician or movement, rhetoric or action, here or there, past or present – to what sort of thing does populism refer?
Laclau gave us the first iteration of his theory of populism in his 1977 classic, Politics and Ideology in Marxist Theory. He entered into the debate on populism, following the trail of Germani and other Latin American political theorists, in the discussion about Peronism. Laclau’s initial innovation in conceptualizing populism was to break with Germani’s model for understanding the specific form of Latin American populism as an outcome of processes of modernization. Instead, Laclau inaugurated a paradigm shift in conceiving of populism in broader terms as a form of political discourse. The utility of this new definition of populism was that it allowed for more comparisons to cases of political movements outside of Latin America, insofar as this definition was no longer bound up with historical processes of economic and political development specific to Latin America.
One of the most important characteristics of the new discursive definition that Laclau developed in this book was that populism as a discourse creates a separation and antagonism between the people and the power bloc. Not unlike previous political theories, such as that of Carl Schmitt, Laclau asserted that populist discourse constructs an ‘enemy.’ Populists point to those politicians with power in the sphere of institutionalized politics and blame them for not representing the interests of the people. Populists then claim to embody the interests of the people as a way to maneuver themselves into positions of power. With all of the cases Laclau considers, he shows how this populist discourse is one that can be employed, in ideological terms, across the political spectrum from Left to Right.
In, *Hegemony and Socialist Strategy, Laclau and Mouffe develop this conception of political discourse further, showing how a particular form of populist discourse can be utilized by the Left in order to foster political identities and fight for socialist causes. The idea of a discourse that pits the people against groups in power remains central to this theory. Following the theory of structural linguistics pioneered by Ferdinand de Saussure, Laclau and Mouffe add to this conception of political discourse that there are certain signifiers, such as ‘people,’ ‘nation,’ and ‘revolution,’ which can be utilized in order to foster political identities. The special quality of these signifiers is that they are capable of becoming saturated with many meanings. In this way, signifiers, such as the ‘people,’ when introduced in a political discourse can create stable political identities by linking together a vast plethora of democratic demands. For Laclau, creating forms of political discourse that revolve around these signifiers, which link demands and create identities, is the key to ushering in new forms of socialist and radical democratic change – for instance, to create more just forms of governance, to include marginalized groups in decision-making, and to enact policies geared toward the redistribution of wealth.
At this point, I think we can take Laclau’s fully formulated conception of populist discourse in his last book, On Populist Reason, and show how his theory is applicable to a movement such as Occupy. First you have what Laclau refers to as an ‘empty signifier,’ like ‘Occupy,’ which is devoid of specific content and can function as an umbrella concept for linking together democratic demands. The signifier ‘Occupy’ is also linked to an ‘antagonistic rift’ between the people and the enemy. In the discourse of Occupy, this would be the separation between the ‘99%’ and the ‘1%.’ Just as Laclau’s definition of populist discourse stipulates, the idea that “We are the 99%” provides for a political identity that embodies a notion the ‘people’ against the ‘1%,’ a conception of the enemy as an economic and political elite that is oppressing and exploiting us. It follows that ‘Occupy’ as an empty signifier was capable of taking, what were previously, a series of isolated democratic demands and now linking them together into a set of unified popular demands. Thus Occupy brought together workers demanding rights, students mired in debt, people discriminated against along lines of race and sex, immigrants demanding reform, and more
Perhaps one of the most important and controversial points that Laclau makes in On Populist Reason is that “populism is the royal road to understanding something about the ontological constitution of the political as such”. What he means is that populism reveals something that is at the heart of all forms of politics. Following thinkers such as Sigmund Freud, Claude Levi-Strauss, and Jacques Lacan, Laclau alludes to the fact that the unconscious is structured like a language, and populism itself is like a manifestation of the unconscious symbolic structure of the political. This idea has been interpreted as a threat to already existing normative democratic theories in a couple of different ways.
Among political theorists, one of the main concerns with contemporary cases of populism is that they constitute threats to institutionalized democratic politics, where in Latin America, cases of populism such as Chavismo are sometimes suggested as having authoritarian tendencies, and in Europe, new cases of populism invite comparisons to cases of both authoritarianism and fascism. Thus, if populism is tied to the very notion of the political itself, there would be no way to single out cases of politics as “populist” in order to signify that they pose a threat to democracy. In other words, if the very foundation of politics is based in a symbolic structure similar to what Laclau describes as populism, then one loses the ability to solely categorize certain right-wing or authoritarian political movements or regimes as populist.
But if Laclau is right, then populism might truly represent a much more complicated phenomenon. For Laclau, typically the event that sets off these symbolic processes of political identity formation is what he refers to as a ‘dislocation,’ which is a kind of real social crisis that presents an obstacle to being represented within language. For instance, it could be an economic crisis, like that of 2008, and our inability to completely wrap our minds around the center of the problem and what caused it. Political identity formations then emerge on the symbolic level to sort of fill in the gap – to be able to describe the cause of the crisis and the solution to it.
In this sense, we can see how populist movements of both the Left and the Right have emerged in the United States in the wake of the 2008 crisis, first the Tea Party and then Occupy. Both movements employ empty signifiers and link democratic demands around political identities in order to propose solutions to the problem. As the repercussions of the economic crisis have stretched to Europe, we might similarly look at the rise of Golden Dawn and Syriza in Greece.
Yet even though movements on both sides of the political spectrum might share some kernel of the same unconscious symbolic structure, this is not necessarily bad news. To view this as bad news would be to stress that from this perspective there is, in reality, simply a void in the center of all politics, which is constitutively lacking in any content and structured by unwieldy unconscious and linguistic forces. This view could lead to an extreme nihilism implying the idea of the death of politics or that authentic political action is impossible.
But for Laclau, this is good news. From his Marxist roots in Gramscian theory, he believed we could use and manipulate the symbolic structure of populist discourse in order to fight for progressive causes. And he led by example, becoming an important figure in Argentinian politics, sometimes even wielding a populist discourse to thwart his enemies. This is how I will like to remember him, as a kind of populist superhero.
Sometimes I think it is the lack of content, which the empty signifier implies, that constitutes a threat. There is the idea that with all this emptiness, and availability to absorb possible meanings, the empty signifier can really take up a lot of space. It can stand in for the people, after all. Sometimes the empty signifier can also be extremely destructive, in a paradoxically productive political sense. Laclau was aware of this – that empty signifiers are capable of taking up an important symbolic space, which allows for political action to take place.
Take the empty signifier, ‘Occupy,’ again. This is a potentially dangerous signifier, and that is why it was perceived as a threat by the Right. What does ‘Occupy’ mean, essentially? To take up space. Here we have a signifier that takes up significant symbolic space in our imagination, prompting us to take up more symbolic and even physical space. O-c-c-u-p-y. It almost exists, as Žižek would claim, as pure negation. Like Bartleby’s ‘I would prefer not to,’ there is no content to the negation. Even before Occupying ‘Something,’ there is the idea of ‘Occupy’ itself – to simply exist and take up space – symbolically, politically, physically.
This is not really a eulogy for Laclau, nor is it for Occupy, because these ideas are not dead.
Ritchie Savage recently earned his Ph.D. in Sociology from The New School for Social Research. He is currently working on the book, “Populism in the Americas,” and he teaches sociology courses as a Visiting Instructor at Pratt Institute and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Baruch College.