Even the gnarliest zit will eventually pop dry if you squeeze it with enough passion. Maybe that's what’s happening in America right now. Maybe too many people have been treated like they were nothing but puddly zits and squeezed like hamburger-fed teenagers going at their faces with needle-nosed pliers. Maybe, at last, America’s globalized aristocracy has gone too far. Just maybe Cornel West is right when he says that what’s happening now in NYC’s Zucchotti Park is the US Autumn version of the Arab Spring – a spreading revolution that’s long overdue.
Michael Moore recently lamented the Day the Middle Class Died – 30 years ago – as Ronald Reagan’s owners took over the economy, but maybe the message was coincidentally more foreshadow than lament. It could be that the seeds planted 30 years ago are about to be a harvest of weedy retribution for the elite. Maybe the American people still have it in them to change their world, to take back what’s theirs from the aristocratic thieves who’ve been ever so subtly, ever so steadily robbing them, trusting that no one would notice until the enslavement was complete – until the American dream was nothing more than eye candy illusions on TV sets, computer screens, and cell phones.
As AmpedStatus in conjunction with Anonymous (great hacker tools!) report, it started out as an earnest, if not terribly impressive, predictably under-reported protest (with some really well-done posters) against the financial institutions that have raped, savaged, and ruined our economy. But despite not getting anywhere near the kind of comically over-blown Tea Party attention Matt Taibbi and Keith Olbermann joke about, it hasn’t gone away. From Occupy Wall Street it’s spread to Occupy Boston, LA, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, DC, and many other cities (even Dallas, in the heart of atavistic Texas!) where the same establishment media tried so hard for so many days to ignore it. But like a sore tooth throbbing in the night, it won’t be ignored, especially with Nobel laureate economists like Jeffrey Sachs, Joseph Stiglitz, and Paul Krugman speaking out in support. The “Occupy Movement” has exploded in media all over the world. It’s settling in for a long run. Just starting typing “occupy” in the search box at the top of your Facebook page or browsing any of the independent media outlets and that much is obvious. Or start following it with the new monkey wrench in any good revolutionary’s tool box, Twitter.
Like most relatively anarchistic movements, OccupyWallStreet took a while to produce a list of demands. The final product is petulant, as raw and naïve as well, the US Declaration of Independence. Do you remember that one? The old folks got one of the youngest revolutionaries in the bunch to pen it so it would burn with the petulant fire of youth rather than chill with the cold, resigned cynicism of age. Patience wasn’t intended to be one of its virtues. And like so many other documents springing from kindred wells of inspiration, the OccupyWallStreet demands have deeper roots than the specific complaints express, no matter how directly they hit their marks.
Gandhi called it a conflict between the multiplication of wants, a much deeper pit than the whole world can fill, and the fulfillment of needs, something there’s still, but just barely, enough of for everyone of us 7 billion to get our shares. He claimed that what we need is to look at things in terms of trusteeship instead of ownership.
Not long ago someone went to a Citi bank to discuss an overdue loan. A few hours later he was dead on the floor of their fifth floor interrogation room. Don’t think about it too hard. It’s bad enough that the guy was murdered over a used car-sized debt. The really shocking thing is to learn that Citi Bank has interrogation rooms – where people are tortured, apparently, sometimes to death. What kind of world have we created?
It’s a world where an allegedly populist president, one who promised to reward “the Audacity of Hope,” one who reviled the diabolical despot he replaced for embracing police state policies, seems perfectly ok with ordering the US military to summarily execute a US citizen, without trial, over charges that were never substantiated any further than the noise of someone exercising his right of free speech. And now we find that the US government has long had a “secret panel” that can put Americans on a “kill list.” The most unfortunate thing about that, of course, is that it’s hardly a surprise and no one seems to care very much about it.
It’s a world where the salary penalty for being an American female is slowly disappearing, but not because women’s wages are rising. Rather, it’s because men’s wages are closing the gap by deteriorating in a race to the bottom with their competition overseas where so many American jobs have gone. Along with a greedy list of other evils, that’s the price of all that wonderful junk from Wal-Mart and the small car full of conflict mineral-infected electronics no one can live without any more.
It’s a world where someone that should be easily recognized as a thief can straight-facedly call himself a “trader” instead, and appear on a major network news show talking about how he is so eager for the economy to crash, how exciting the prospects are for him, how he “dream[s] of another recession” every night because of all the money he is so completely sure he is going to make as his victims, along with most everyone else, are abandoned to poverty that has all but been officially criminalized in the US.
It’s a world where US businesses can make obscene profits in an obscene industry cornering the world’s arms market – selling to both sides of conflicts, even ones with America’s own soldiers on one of those sides – if the economics are favorable. Yet, the American business establishment isn’t about to be dragged into so much as a watered-down, insurance company friendly, no where close to universal health care program without whining like there was hardly going to be any point in being billionaires anymore, even when what they engineer the system to charge for health care is increasing over twice as fast as core inflation and taking their profits into the stratosphere with it.
It’s a world where Americans are continually fed lines about how difficult – if not impossible – it is to get off the fossil fuel habit when other countries are doing just fine with the project. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) claims “We can’t compete with China to make solar panels and wind turbines,” yet America invented the modern solar cell and pioneered development and manufacturing of many renewable, sustainable energy resources. Why is converting to 21st century energy technology such a formidable problem for America, when a country like Germany where wages and expenses are higher can do it, where some of its greatest concentrations of heavy industry are planning on being at least 80% powered by environmentally responsible resources by 2050? Maybe it’s like German minister for the environment Franz Untersteller says, in Germany they believe in global warming, while in America we “have this Koch brothers,” a disease we sadly have not developed a vaccine for.
At least Jon Stewart can laugh at it. At least we don’t have a king beneficently bestowing a nearly meaningless right to vote on us like the female half of the population in America’s best bosom buddy country, Saudi Arabia. Because in America, we really do have choices and empowered citizen control of our government, right? Like, if 80% of us preferred that our government spend our tax money on health care instead of death and destruction fighting over last centuries energy resources – war that less than half of us could tolerate, it would make a difference, especially if a brand-new president promised it to us, right?
On the other hand, maybe it’s too late for that, when even the FOX “News” crew gets beaten on and pepper sprayed by the police. Maybe it’s come down to Occupy the Hood – all of them – and require in no uncertain terms that this is a world where each one of us has an equal right to an equal share in all our society produces, especially whatever part of it is made possible by the work of our own hands and minds – before the really impatient, disenfranchised, disempowered, and chronically abused come up with an American interpretation of a modern Greek tragedy.
Chances right now are better with every passing moment that the zit is popping in a city near you. This is your chance to be the face instead of the zit. Make it a happy one, grinning from ear to ear with promise of a future where determined ignorance, glorification of greed, and continually re-imaged forms of slavery are remembered only in history books. Occupy your own mind, and then occupy the world – before the ancient evil gets its footing back and does it for you.
Links directory (Really, visit them. Great stuff! The article text that they link from is in parentheses at the end of each line. And yes, the music is commentary. The lyrics for all the tunes have their own links because they are important!)
- Democracy Now! (Amy Goodman / Cornel West) – Cornel West on Occupy Wall Street: It’s the makings of a US Autumn responding to the Arab Spring (Cornel West is right)
- Reader Supported News – Taking the Bull by the Horns, Join the Occupation (happening now)
- AlterNet (Michael Moore) – 30 years ago today: The day the middle class died (recently lamented)
- The Hacker News – #RefRef - Denial of Service (DDoS) tool developed by Anonymous (great hacker tools!)
- AmpedStatus (David DeGraw) – A report form the frontlines: The long road to #OccupyWallStreet and the origins of the 99% Movement (it started out)
- InventorSpot (Ron Callari) – Taking the bull by the horns, “Occupy Wall Street” posters motivate campers (well-done posters)
- Countdown (Keith Olbermann) – Matt Taibbi on the evolution of the Occupy Wall Street protest (Matt Taibbi and Keith Olbermann)
- OccupyBoston (Boston)
- Occupy Los Angeles (LA)
- Occupy Chicago (Chicago)
- Occupy Philly (Philadelphia)
- OccupySeattle (Seattle) (Serious, just type “occupy” and then the name of some city that interests you into the search box on your favorite search engine (e.g., Google) and take your pick!)
- SFGate (Vivian Ho) – Occupy SF camp broken up by police (San Francisco)
- StatesmanJournal – Thousands demonstrate in Portland as part of Occupy Wall Street movement (Portland)
- AlJazeera – Wall Street protests spread to US capital (DC)
- AlterNet – 99% vs. 1% - The latest on the Occupy Wall Street movement: 853 cities across the world shoring up for the long haul (many other cities)
- Star-Telegram (Anna Tinsley) – Hundreds join anti-Wall Street protest movement in Dallas (Dallas)
- AlterNet – Jeffrey Sachs sings the praises of Occupy Wall Street (Jeffrey Sachs)
- Bwog – Stiglitz speaks at Occupy Wall Street (Joseph Stiglitz)
- New York Time (Paul Krugman) – Confronting the malefactors (Paul Krugman)
- Twitter – Results for #OccupyWallStreet (Twitter)
- Daily Kos (Chris Bowers) – First official statement from Occupy Wall Street (list of demands)
- truthout (Michael Nagler, Waging Nonviolence) – Economic crisis or nonviolent opportunity? Gandhi’s answer to financial collapse (Gandhi called it)
- Grist (Laura Wright Treadway) – Will my baby be the 7 billionth? (us 7 billion)
- Credit.com (Christopher Maag) – Citibank collections agents implicates in debtor’s death (discuss an overdue loan)
- Jakarta Post – Irzen ‘definitely murdered’ at Citibank branch: friend (dead on the floor)
- Salon – The due-process-free assassination of U.S. citizens is now a reality (summarily execute a US citizen)
- Yahoo!/Reuters News (Mark Hosenball) – Secret panel can put Americans on “kill list” (secret panel)
- New York Times (Sabrina Tavernise) – Gains made in equality of incomes in downturn (slowly disappearing)
- UK Guardian – America faces a jobs depression (American jobs have gone)
- Information Clearing House / BBC – The “market is toast” (so eager for the economy to crash)
- Information Clearing House (Barbara Ehrenreich) – Turning poverty into an American Crime (abandoned to poverty)
- North America Inter Press Service – US consolidated domination of global arms market in 2010 (cornering the world’s arms market)
- McClatchy – Job-based health insurance premiums rise sharply (charge for health care)
- AlterNet (David Degraw) – The economic elite have engineered an extraordinary coup, threatening the very existence of the middle class (economic coup)
- The Middle of the Road (gmyers2112) – Going for broke – will legislate for food (US CEO pay)
- Climate Progress (Joe Romm) – German state minister: We can decarbonizes with renewables because “We don’t have this Koch brothers” (have this Koch brothers)
- AlterNet – Jon Stewart on what American democracy looks like: Cops pepper spraying peaceful demonstrators (Jon Stewart)
- FOX News (Dick Rennan) – Occupy Wall Street arrests; Fox 5 crew and protesters hit by pepper spray, batons (FOX “News” crew)
- AlterNet – “Occupy the Hood”: Black protesters start chapter to educate, diversify OWS (Occupy the Hood)
- UK Mail (Martin Robinson) – Bloodied but defiant: 10,000 Greek strikers and police in running battles as debt-ridden country starts a 24-hour walkout (modern Greek tragedy)
- AmpedStatus – Welcome to the OccupiedUSA LiveStream News Room (videos) (city near you)
- Lady Gaga – You And I (LadyGagaVEVO) (happening in America right now) Lyrics
- Jason Derulo – Don’t Wanna Go Home (YouTube – JasonDerulo) (It’s settling in) Lyrics
- Michael Aranda – Atlantis (YouTube – michaelaranda) (America)
- Matt Darey pres. Urban Astronauts feat. Kristy Thirsk – Black Flowers (Aurosonic remix) (YouTube – dareyproducts) (a disease) Lyrics
- Above & Beyond pres. OceanLab – On A Good Day (YouTube – aboveandbeyondtv) (Make it a happy one) Lyrics
- Demi Lovato – Skyscraper (YouTube – DemiLovatoVEVO) (Occupy your own mind) Lyrics
- Mental Health Hotline (YouTube – tppolo009) (does it for you)