Tag Archives | Occupy Movement

Are American College Students The Coal Miners Of Today?

Via Counterpunch, Darwin Bond-Graham argues that students are positioned at a “choke point” in the debt economy:

Now that we know the debt situation is untenable for an entire generation, what are we going to do about it? UC Santa Cruz professor Bob Meister is advocating the university and the plight of the student as a starting point for a wider movement against debt. Historically students have been galvanizers, taking direct action at seemingly impossible moments. Will they do it now?

Meister compared the students of today to the coal miners of early industrial capitalism. Under that regime of production, coal miners had the power to shut down the economy because they labored away at the site of a singular choke point of value extraction upon which all the spinning looms and colonial plantations depended. Students now occupy a choke point, according to Meister. Student loans are assets in the books of banks and the personal fortunes of the wealthy 1%, used to leverage up debts throughout all other sectors of the economy, debts that penetrate into the social collective and reinforce financial servitude for the masses.

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Occupy Movement Buys Up Debts…And Forgives Them!

'Occupy' Zürich Lindenhof 2011-10-30 15-56-28Douglas Rushkoff describes a positive turn in the life of the Occupy movement, for CNN via his blog:

Much like President Obama, the Occupy movement is alive and well and entering its second term, thank you very much. It’s no longer about squatting in public parks, getting on the news, or — in some cases — getting arrested. No, instead this decentralized, bottom-up, anti-Wall Street effort is taking aim at your medical, student and other loans: It aims to relieve your debt.

Just as Obama appears to have left the lofty rhetoric of “being the change” behind him as he confronts the more practical realities of working a financial plan through an intransigent Congress, the occupiers have given up on winning media mindshare or public support and have turned instead to direct action that helps real people. In its Act 2, Occupy is just occupying the space where it’s needed.

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Can Debt Spark A Revolution?

Via the Nation, David Graeber on rebellion against indebtedness:

The rise of [Occupy Wall Street] allowed us to start seeing the system for what it is: an enormous engine of debt extraction. Debt is how the rich extract wealth from the rest of us, at home and abroad. Internally, it has become a matter of manipulating the country’s legal structure to ensure that more and more people fall deeper and deeper into debt.

Financialization, securitization and militarization are all different aspects of the same process. And the endless multiplication, in cities across America, of gleaming bank offices—
spotless stores selling nothing while armed security guards stand by—is just the most immediate and visceral symbol for what we, as a nation, have become.

As I write, roughly three out of four Americans are in some form of debt, and a whopping one in seven is being pursued by debt collectors. There’s no way to know just what percentage of the average household’s income is now directly expropriated by the financial services industry in the form of interest payments, fees and penalties…[data] suggests it is somewhere between 15 and 20 percent.

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On Fighting Against Hegemonic Urban Development

BayOfRage reveals infrastructure and redevelopment projects in Oakland (and beyond) as a means of reshaping cities for social control:

Further development will not open space for meaningful social activity and will only constrict it — In the slew of development projects coming down the pipe, residents will be free to consume, travel to and from work, or stay inside to not bother anyone.

Mistakes in architecture will never be repeated in future developments. The UC system learned the danger in building large plazas where dissident students could gather during the free speech movement at Berkeley. University of California campuses built since the sixties are subdivided into a number to smaller campuses, to better contain and neutralize student revolt. Housing projects are built to make the space transparent and easily surveillable, often by the administrators of social services. Likewise, we can be entirely sure that the city of Oakland will never allow the construction of another space like Oscar Grant Plaza, where thousands of people were able to gather, meet their needs and organize an assault against capitalism.

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A 2009 Letter From Occupy University Of California

Via We Want Everything, looking back on an Occupy California manifesto from calling for the disruption and occupation of university spaces, using tactics which are now more familiar:

Like the society to which it has played the faithful servant, the university is bankrupt. This bankruptcy is not only financial. It is the index of a more fundamental insolvency, one both political and economic, which has been a long time in the making. No one knows what the university is for anymore. We feel this intuitively. Gone is the old project of creating a cultured and educated citizenry; gone, too, the special advantage the degree-holder once held on the job market. These are now fantasies, spectral residues that cling to the poorly maintained halls.

For those whose adolescence was poisoned by the nationalist hysteria following September 11th, public speech is nothing but a series of lies and public space a place where things might explode (though they never do).

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More Than 100 Arrests By Midday Of Occupy Wall Street Anniverary

A year after it all began, the Occupy protests returned to the New York Stock Exchange this morning, with more than a hundred arrests notched by the early afternoon. Raw Story reported a few hours ago:
A New York University professor and an artist featured in The Nation magazine this month were among more than 90 people arrested early Monday morning as Occupy Wall Street marked its first anniversary with various demonstrations in New York City. “Just grabbed off sidewalk, along with everyone else,” artist Molly Crabapple said on Twitter shortly after being picked up by police. Elsewhere, Jacobin magazine founding editor Bhaskar Sunkara reported that NYU Social and Cultural Analysis professor Andrew Ross, was arrested as part of a demonstration in the lobby of the JP Morgan Chase building on Park Avenue. “Cops are never friendly, but these cops aren’t cops,” Sunkara said. “They’re militarized beyond comprehension.”
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Year Two Of Occupy Wall Street

What happens next? The Village Voice gives a glimpse at some of the projects Occupy organizers are now working on, as they form alliances with immigrant and labor groups, look beyond the physical occupation of high-visibility spaces, and ponder their next move:

The energy unleashed when these people found one another has given birth to a panoply of projects. The technological infrastructure of sites including interoccupy.net and occupytogether.org are helping these groups grow and coordinate.

Among the most notable is the national Occupy Homes movement, which operated locally in neighborhoods such as East New York but was most fully realized by activists in Minneapolis, Detroit, and Atlanta. By blocking the eviction of families from foreclosed homes—foreclosures often going forward in the face of banks’ poor documentation and even outright fraud—activists continue to call attention to one of the most direct ways that the crimes committed in the financial stratosphere impact regular Americans.

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New Studies Identify Sub-species of the Bourgeoisie

Picture: David Shankbone (CC)

Anti-capitalist agitprop has always lagged behind in producing the raw empirical support for the range of macro-economic theories deployed to oppose mainstream capitalist economics. As such, it often exhibits some of the same weaknesses inherent in freshwater capitalist macroeconomics. This may be because of the idealism and preferred style of argument inherited by the 19th Century First International cohort from their cultural surroundings. However, this traditional weakness is starting to be broken down. Some of the empirical work on the sociology of class, capital and power is now starting to emerge in popular form from the niche, highly specialized academic and policy journals that previously were the only places this sort of data was ever published.

As an example, one new research program has set out to assign names and faces to the abstract notion of the transnational capitalist class. Project Censored reports:

[W]e ask: Who are the the world’s 1 percent power elite?

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