Review: Occupy: Reflections on Class War, Rebellion and Solidarity

5 Star, America (Founders, Current Situation), Capitalism (Good & Bad), Civil Society, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Democracy, Misinformation & Propaganda, Power (Pathologies & Utilization), Voices Lost (Indigenous, Gender, Poor, Marginalized)
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Noam Chomsky

5.0 out of 5 stars Explosive Opening, Less Satisfying Conclusion, January 5, 2014

The book explodes on page one: no bankers arrested — none, zip, nada, rein — 7,762 Occupiers arrested from the first 80 in NYC on 24 September 2001 to the two arrested in SF on 15 June 2013. Talk about GRIFTOPIA — the police work for the thieves and arrest the owners!

There are a number of key insights within this book, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who wishes to pulse the state of the union — Chomsky, who eulogizes Howard Zinn throughout, brackets our current situation with two trenchant observations early on:

NO, the USA will not become a fascist state relying on force to repress the public. Impossible to do (to which I would add, the balance of power in relation to weapons is in the hands of citizens — even with Chinese and Russian and UN “men without a country secret bases” anyone shooting at citizens will be dead before sundown on the same day….IMHO)

NO, a general strike will not succeed in part because Occupy is still in the relative shadows and is incapable of organizing a general strike (to which I would add, the labor union leaders are also corrupt and/or inattentive, there is no labor movement in the USA anymore).

Where Chomsky (whom I have respected since I began to understand the concept of propaganda and public behavioral control through “soft” power) really excels is in emphasizing to Occupy and those following Occupy — he does this over and over again — that public power requires a public. As I found myself when I tried to mobilize Occupy to focus on electoral reform (see YouTube Steele Occupy Electoral Reform), Occupy was a loosely structured very very small mob, with only a semblance of cohesion in NYC and a couple of other places. Occupy was — and perhaps remains — its own worst obstacle. It lacks the ability to settle on a leadership structure authorized to engage the labor unions, the six small political parties blocked from the ballot by the two-party tyranny, or the Independents now quasi controlled by, a virtual front for Michael Bloomberg.

DISCLOSURE: I ran for President in 2012, accepted by the Reform Party, to put all the ideas in one place (We the People Reform Coalition) and to personally engage every other presidential candidate, all of whom failed the test — not a single one was willing to come together on the one issue that could help us all, electoral reform. I briefed my findings to Hackers on Planet Earth and published the lessons learned in Reality Sandwich, look for “How I Tested the Boundaries of the Two-Party Tyranny.”) My opinions may annoy, but they are rooted in real-world experience.

Buried within one of the interviews that were put together to create this book, is an emphasis on the need to reconstruct politics and the media to become community-based — bottom-up, face-to-face, community-based. I do not believe that Occupy has heard this message, but in fairness to them, neither have the Independents, the small parties, the labor unions, the angry young veterans, to debt-burdened students, or the volatile soccer moms seeing the American dream melting down before their wine-soaked pill-hazed eyes.

Chomsky is positive about the USA (as am I, continuing to believe in the Constitution, the Republic, America the Beautiful and the big heart of the average American). His prescription begins to disappoint the more I read it in answer to virtually every issue (foreign policy, capitalism): read, write, organize, outreach. I certainly agree, but what continues to frustrate me, just as it has frustrated Lee Ioacoca and John Bogle, among others: where have all the leaders gone? Mobs may not like the idea of leaders, but the fact is that leaders are catalysts for change and a major lever for achieving change: two kinds of leaders, direct (lead people) and indirect (lead ideas).

Chomsky's observation that social media trivializing relations between and among people is in my view very important. This tallies with his earlier observation that we have to get the public — not just isolated banks of committed activists — back into public governance.

The concept of solidarity and mutual support systems is touched on but not developed. This could be a book in and of itself — if one takes all of the core policies and core threats and devises localized solutions that do not need the government and do not need big agriculture, big energy, big health, big “justice” and so on, one has the beginning of a revolution. As John Perry Barlow has so famously said about the Internet (it interprets censorship as an outage and routes around it) so the time may have come to begin routing around state and national government, and start over from ground zero — the local community.

Chomsky offers some very helpful observations about the intersection of public relations and propaganda as a business; the incapacity of labor unions, the willful default of the “mainstream” media, and of course the prostitution of every president since JFK was assassinated, with Reagan and Clinton especially anti-labor and destroying hope for tens of millions of hard-working US citizens now not counted among the unemployed (the federal statistics are outright lies — the real unemployment rate is 22.4%, see where John Williams dishes out truth with a vengeance).

This book is praised by Chomsky:

America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy, 2nd Edition

These are books I have referred to in my comments above (I have written a summary of each book here at Amazon).

Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
State of the Unions: How Labor Can Strengthen the Middle Class, Improve Our Economy, and Regain Political Influence
Grand Illusion: The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny
Where Have All the Leaders Gone?
The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism
The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy
Who Stole the American Dream?
Transforming Leadership

I put the book down glad that Chomsky is still speaking out, and depressed at how much time has been wasted since Occupy first had a glimmer of the path to power. Had we Occupied the home offices of the Members of Congress and demanded the Electoral Reform Act that so many of us came together to create (see the eleven-point ELectoral Reform Act at BigBatUSA with important contributions from Richard Winger and Eva Waskill among others) — or had Ron Paul actually BEEN a real Libertarian and been willing in 2012 to invite Dennis Kucinich to be VP and campaign with a Coalition Cabinet such as I put together in 2012, America the Beautiful would be restored today.

Time is the one strategic variable that cannot be replaced nor purchased. It's time we give our existing Congress and President a choice, in time for 2014: pass the Electoral Reform Act of 2014. We do not lack for solutions, for money, or for integrity among the people. We lack for leadership and a will to come together.

Best wishes to all,
Robert David STEELE Vivas

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