I visited New York City 6-7 October 2011.
First I met with Alexa O'Brien, one of the brilliant minds behind U.S. Day of Rage and its focus on Electoral Reform and non-violence as an absolute. [My memo that Fox news still has not read is here.]
Although they are also focused on a Constitutional Convention, as Lawrence Lessig has been, I reiterated the point that Electoral Reform is the one thing that can be demanded today (no later than 6 November, one year prior to Election Day), with severe consequences for every elected person if Congress fails to pass Electoral Reform by President's Day (February 2012), to include recall or impeachment, and camp-outs at their offices and in public spaces near their homes through to Election Day 2012.
Photos and Additional Comments Below the Line
A General Strike–a persistent General Strike– across the country if Electoral Reform is not passed by President's Day is to be discussed across all Occupy assemblies.
We will pursue a book on Electoral Reform, and there is discussion a small bus going across the country to hold teach-in circles on Electoral Reform and the root causes of revolution, while also stopping along the way to inspire new Occupy events as appropriate.
Next up will be an Electoral Reform candidate for the Presidency. Ron Paul and Gary Johnson are the only two candidates now running that could be that candidate, but others could be considered. Either of them may be central to an Independent candidacy assuming that the Republican Party will persist in putting forward a status quo candidate certain to lose (as Obama is certain to lose) if (a big IF) the Independent integrates electoral reform, a coalition cabinet, and a balanced budget prior to Election Day.
Next I met with a few members of the new Politics and Electoral Reform Working Group, it is a very squishy group not making much progress in part because most well-intentioned champions for change are not doing their homework or leveraging all that went before (e.g. Ralph Nader).
In a final meeting, a clear need for an Electoral Reform graphic was articulated, showing the Electoral Process today and how it protects the two-party tyranny that “elects” Presidents who receive only 30% of the eligible votes, in contrast, versus the proposed electoral reform (nine points that come together with total integrity).
The most important comment is that this is a self-sustaining bottom-up revolution. It is not going to die out, but absent a major push to demand Electoral Reform by 6 November with a President's Day (February 2012) deadline for compliance at the national and ideally the state and local levels as well, it will not make a difference for November 2012.
Right now the 2012 election is a crap-shoot. Even if an Independent candidate emerges, absent one committed to Electoral Reform and a Coalition Cabinet, the US is headed toward four more years of Griftopia.
This flag has the corporate logos of a number of private sector organizations that in the view of those assembled “own” the U.S. Government and have subverted the U.S. Government (in time of war that is treason punishable by death) to the point that it no longer represents We the People. We have a U.S. Government that is a front for corporations who profit from poverty (the #1 threat to humanity) and war (the #4 threat) while nurturing all the other threats to humanity and making impossible reasonable governance able to harmonize policies and create peace and prosperity for the 99%.
There is no question in my mind, after working my way through the assembled group (perhaps 500 people, down from the day before when the crowd was twice as large and police beatings occurred around town), but that all of these people are objecting to the lack of integrity in the U.S. Government–it's corruption that enables the corruption of Wall Street.
This is the other flag that was prominently displayed.
As I think of the various efforts by Fox News and others to demean these protesters for being against “capitalism,” I cannot help but be stunned by the difference between the intelligence of these protestors, who “get” that debt is a symptom of an out of control (or corporate i.e. neo-fascist) government, and Fox News et all, who have no idea what they are actually talking about. Capitalism is a process that can be moral or immoral–Steve Jobs was capitalism at its best, while Alan Greenspan remains capitalism at its worst, corrupt to the core. Financial terrorism is an apt term for what Goldman Sachs and others have done to entire economies.
Democracy is a process that can be moral and inclusive, or inverted to become totalitarian theater. When two parties shut out the other 63 parties, and shut out 50% of the eligible voters from even being on the ballot or in any way relevant to “the vote,” there is no democracy. This is a rigged criminal network or “inverted totalitarianism.”
What we have today is a US Government that has shaken down Wall Street for bribes (not the other way around), and that represents the 1% not the 99%. That is why this group is so brilliant in seeing that Electoral Reform is the root of the tree of Liberty that must be refreshed with the sweat, tears, and in necessary the blood of the 99%.
This group is fully self-sustaining, and with the tree cover and the warmth of city, I revised my view stated on Russia Today TV. This group will go through the winter, and if Electoral Reform is demanded on 6 November, this group will get bigger every week that passes without Electoral Reform legislation.
It is a lively group with a formal library in addition to a band, quiet hours from ten at night, and a constantly moving crew of volunteer trash and litter specialists who do a better job of keeping the place clean that the NYC Sanitation Department around the encircling police.
There are roughly 1 uniformed policeman for every ten protesters and one white shirt officer for every ten blue shirt policemen, with over 50 police vehicles parked in a ring around the small park and in adjacent blocks. Police overtime must be off the charts and the police presence in my view is severe over-kill. Incidentally, the number of under-cover cops inside the crowd is noteworthy, they are relatively easy to spot and the game of “spot the Fed” is alive and well within this culture that can be righteously described as a hacking culture–hacking for freedom, liberty, and the restoration of the Republic.
Celebrities drop in, here is Noami Klein, the police will not allow professional audio equipment even if this would deliver a voice level dissemination through the part, so a “human microphone” attempts to relay the speaker's words, it does not work worth a damn.
The media presence is spotty, and while the group has a media desk that seeks to help the media connect to the story, it is not as focused as it might be, one reason the group may be losing at this time relative to the much more focused information campaign against it on CNN, Fox, and elsewhere. Only the Russians and the Japanese appear to be doing honest reporting on the Occupy movement at this time.
Characters abound, as do small circles for art, discussion, and various forms of interaction. Although the group keeps lanes open, especially at night for fire safety reasons, and although the group embraces visitors and is a modest tourist attraction (all the tour buses stop on Broadway for a look across the park which is downhill from Broadway), the group at this time is primarily a physical presence in NYC, and a virtual presence online.
It is most important as an inspiration for like groups across the USA and now growing in other countries, including The Netherlands where the International Tribunal may join the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as an institution in the service of the financial interests that must be eradicated.
It is now known that the Philippines was brought down when Marcos refused to go along with additional demands for more gold from the Japanese stash (the Reagan support for his removal was about gold), and that Libya is about gold as well as water and oil. Rumors that Fort Knox may be empty are proliferating. In brief, the US Government is bankrupt in more ways than one, and is not representing We the People or democracy; it is representing Wall Street and war is a racket–and General Smedly Butler, USMC (Ret) put it so well is his own book, War is a Racket: The Profit Motive Behind Warfare [I recommend it be read together with Griftopia and William Greider's The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy.]
I have read and reviewed so many books at Amazon I normally point to just the two main lists, below
Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Positive)
Worth a Look: Book Review Lists (Negative)
but here I want to pay special heed to three books that I believe help understand this new generation of US revolutionaries. The rest of the world has suffered great physical oppression while in the US oppression has been more theatrical and the public has lived in a velvet-lined coffin.
If the wall of fear has come down overseas, it is my judgment that the wall of complacency has come down across America. When the troops comes home, they will find much more in common with these socio-economic and ideo-cultural warriors across the Occupy movement, than they will with the U.S. Government and Wall Street. Revolutions are not easy, and it is only after winning that the real problems begin. This is a revolution that will be won, and it will take a full quarter-century to undo the treason against the public that has flourished since the 1970's.
Howard Zinn, A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
Vaclav Havel, The Power of the Powerless
Jonathan Schell, Unconquerable World
My working papers for the trip: Working Papers.
NEW as of 18 October 2011:
Robert Steele: #OWS Non-Violence versus Violence
Robert Steele: Electoral Reform in a Box (DIY Kit)
Paul Fernhout: G. William Domhoff on Social Movements and Strategic Nonviolence