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More on Adbusters Call To Save The Soul of Occupy, Banks Kill Medicare, Fed Goes Left?

April 14th, 2012 - by:

Listen: This week’s News Dissector Radio Show. Interview with Michael Lerner of Tikkun Magazine and Michael Levitin of The Occupied Wall Street Journal

***Dissector Essay: Here We Go Again in The Battle for The “Soul” of Occupy;
Fear of Co-optation Leads to Self-Destructive Polemics

By Danny Schechter

Perhaps my problem is that I live in too many worlds at the same time, while many political eras live in me.

That may be why I responded so negatively to a recent polemic wrapped up in a poetic communique from Adbusters, the culture jammers in Canada, who do so much good work (and often so creatively) battling the consumption virus promoted by big corporations many of us have grown to despise.

I respect their magazine and marvel at the impact they have had in helping to stir Occupy Wall Street into existence. They clearly feel a sense of ownership in the movement and act not just as the midwife that promoted the occupy idea, but as the guardians of their version of the movement’s essence/brand, as if they own the copyright and have to defend it aggressively in the court of public opinion.

Their latest communiqué, directed to “ jammers, occupiers and Springtime dreamers,” is offered up almost like a new commandment from the mountaintop of political purity, warning one and all “that a new enemy is in their midst that is … threatening to neutralize our insurgency with an insidious campaign of donor money and cooptation.”

Batten down the hatches! Defend the ramparts! Fly the flag!

They then call for a “fight to the finish” to defend the “soul of Occupy” that they claim is menaced by a “THEY” that is out to get us like some boogie man that acts like a virus and can’t be resisted.

Will “Black Block” militants become their enforcers?

Who is this THEY? Nefarious bankers on Wall Street? The CIA and Blackwater type mercenaries? Karl Rove and the Koch Brothers?

Nope, their new enemy is pictured not an external threat representing the status quo but an internal one they have no use for..

Read on: “First they silenced our uprising with a media blackout… then they smashed our encampments with midnight paramilitary raids… “ And now? They are planning to destroy all that that we built.

Suddenly the brutal police raids on Occupy and the initial media indifference are conflated with alleged operatives of the Obama campaign on a stealth mission of “cooptation.”

There’s no real evidence cited, but that’s not the point of this appeal to fear and unity. Political paranoia is always driven by what COULD happen, not, necessarily, what is happening,

The political theory behind all this is that Occupy is not just the vanguard or organizer of the revolution but the revolution itself, and it is in danger of being stifled by reformers who fear its imminent success in toppling capitalism.

How realistic is that?

This worst case scenario is projected as a coordinated and calculated strategy by groups they putdown in terms reminiscent of the way the Chinese cultural revolution demonized and stigmatized millions of people as counter revolutionaries. Whatever its motives, that tore the Chinese Revolution apart deploying strident ideology to silence a “class enemy.”

Were there class enemies? Sure, there always are, but thousands of innocent people were accused and abused by ultra leftists on a mad mission from Mao.

Today’s self-appointed and unelected commissars of new consciousness say they see a new set of counter-revolutionaries out to snuff Occupy.

They ask:

“Will you allow Occupy to become a project of the old left, the same cabal of old world thinkers who have blunted the possibility of revolution for decades? Will you allow MoveOn, The Nation and Ben & Jerry to put the brakes on our Spring Offensive and turn our struggle into a “99% Spring” reelection campaign for President Obama?

Is this really what is happening or is it more like a conspiratorial fabrication? Is this type of insulting language really appropriate for a movement that claims to be democratic and inclusive?

MoveOn and Van Jones have denied they are trying to control the movement, refuse to speak in its name, and couldn’t steal its thunder if they wanted to. Mother Jones is reporting that Occupy has actually co-opted MoveOn, pushing it into more militant action.

The Nation is just one magazine of many that has been sympathetic to Ocupy, but also supports the more structured but very democratic resistance in Wisconsin that Ad Busters ignores.

Ben & Jerry are individuals, former business partners, who want to help by raising money for Occupy after consulting with many activists on how they could be helpful. They seem sincere to me.

Why is all this so threatening? Why the fearful and purist denunciation? Can’t they respect people who unlike Occupy’s hardcore activists don’t make decisions at General Assemblies.?

Occupy has, in the recent past, sought coalitions with labor unions and black community groups that often have more traditional leadership structures. They haven’t tried to dictate politically or impose their internal processes on allies and supporters. Why this intolerance now?

By the way, I have been pouring my heart (and bile) out in books, blogs and films and opinion pieces on about the failures of the Obama Administration in combating the financial crimes that enabled the depression we are coping with. My latest exposes O&B’s campaign’s pandering on terrorism and threatening Iran.

Move On would not help me promote my work, neither has the Nation, really, or, for that matter, Ben & Jerry, whose work I admired more before they sold their company to a mainstream corporation (although they have been engaged in admirable campaigns challenging military spending for years.)

That doesn’t make them all sell-outs, even if in the eyes of some, they have become the “enemy” because they aren’t “horizontal” enough, or anti-capitalist enough, or anarchistic enough and may act more like reformers than Adbuster-certified revolutionaries.

On Friday, NYU hosted a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Port Huron Statement, the founding document of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) that sparked activism in the 1960’s.

Former SDS leader Tom Hayden was on hand to tell his some stories about that era.

He noted that the central idea of Port Huron, “participatory democracy,” also appears in Occupy’s first declaration, suggesting continuity with the so-called “old thinkers” that
Adbusters gratuitously derides.

He also recounted how liberals with whom SDS were aligned at first demanded that their movement become more outspokenly anti-communist, even as the movement rejected the cold war and wanted a domestic focus.

When SDS wouldn’t go along with this arrogant old left thinking, (funded in part by the CIA), there was an internal “trial” and interrogation that led to SDS being defunded and ousted from its offices when the locks were arbitrarily changed..

According to Hayden, it was a scene right out of Kafka, not unlike the tone of this recent communiqué.

SDS stood true to its principles and politics and refused to work with the people who tried to control them.

The result: they grew more influential. They successfully resisted cooptation and fought for racial justice and against the war in Vietnam. They supported organizing on campuses and in communities. They challenged the Democratic Party, which later also fragmented over the war with Richard Nixon the ultimate beneficiary of all the discord.

SDS couldn’t find a way of bridging its own ideological divides, and the movement broke into warring factions that led to an organizational implosion. There also was plenty of paranoia and repression with the government covertly pitting one group against the other, using the FBI. racism and phony patriotism.

There is plenty of blame to go around. Is There may be parallels here with this call to “save the soul” of Occupy?

Can we learn from this destructive history of acrimony and sectarianism or are we doomed to repeat it?

News Dissector Danny Schechter wrote Occupy: Dissecting Occupy Wall Street (Cosimo Books) based on his coverage for his NewsDissector.net blog, Al Jazeera.com and other outlets and also directed a TV film on the organization of Zuccotti Park. Earlier, he was an activist in the civil rights, anti-war and anti-apartheid movements. A new book The London Recruits (Mrelin) recounts his recollections of his involvement in the South African revolution. Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org

For more on this debate on all sides, visit Twitter: https://twitter.com/#%21/search/%23defendoccupy


Mother Jones: How Occupy Co-opted MoveOn

The 99% Spring campaign trains gray-haired progressives to ditch their internet petitions and take to the streets.

If you’re one of the millions of people who get emails from MoveOn.org,
then you’ve probably heard of the “99% Spring.” Far from another
clickable internet petition, it is possibly the largest attempt ever to
train people in nonviolent protest techniques. Some Occupy types have
criticized the effort as a scheme by Democratic operatives to co-opt their movement.
But the reality is probably the opposite: It seems that America’s
best-known progressive fundraising organization is now taking its cues
from Occupy Wall Street.

“It’s clear that the sorts of tactics we’ve engaged in in the past are
no longer enough,” Justin Ruben, MoveOn’s Executive Director, wrote in
an email to his staff last week, arguing that the growing corporate
influence on policy-making has left the group little choice but to take
to the streets. In a subsequent interview with Mother Jones, he
added, “We know that whoever wins in November, they are still going to
be listening more to the 1 percent than to the rest of us because our
political system is completely broken. So we don’t have the luxury of
not engaging in this kind of action.”

Political Corruption Deepens: Presidential candidates likely to pass on public money

• Fluent: ‘Obamas’ 2011 tax returns: $790K earnings; $162K in federal income tax’

Media Chiefs Pay Themselves Bankster Salaries: CBS Chief Leslie Moonves collected nearly $70 million last year

•Fluent: ‘On TV, legions of ‘strategists.’ A few probably really are.’

Economy


Simon Johnson, Baselinescenario.com: How The Banks Stole Medicare

The world’s largest banks have been accused of many things in recent years, including taking excessive risk in the run-up to 2008, doing great damage to the American economy by blowing themselves up and then working hard to resist any sensible notions of financial reform.

All of this is true, but it misses what is likely to be the most profound negative impact of the banks’ behavior on most Americans. The banks’ actions led directly to an increase in government debt, which in turn has made the reduction of that debt by “cutting runaway spending” a centerpiece of the Republican presidential campaign to date.

As a result of this pressure, Medicare now stands on the brink of being eliminated as a viable form of social insurance. Yet the executives who lead these banks – and the politicians with whom they work closely – will not be held accountable this election season.

How is this possible? The economic mechanism through which a bank-led financial crisis has a broader adverse fiscal impact is straightforward. The recession that deepened sharply in 2008 implied a deep loss of tax revenue, mostly because people lost their jobs. Lower revenue means larger government deficits, particularly when the government also provides unemployment insurance. This deficit implies a surge in government annual borrowing and in its stock of debt.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the total increase in federal government debt because of the severe financial crisis will end up around 50 percent of gross domestic product. Let’s call that $7.5 trillion in today’s money (our G.D.P. per year is currently around $15 trillion).

Here’s how that calculation works. In January 2008, when almost no one expected a financial disaster, the C.B.O. forecast that by 2018 federal government debt would be just over 20 percent of G.D.P. Once the severity of the problems brought on by the credit contraction after the collapse of Lehman in September 2008 became clear, the C.B.O. redid this medium-range forecast – now taking a view on what debt would be after a difficult economic recovery to trend growth.

Mediachannel1.org: 27 Statistics About The European Economic Crisis That Are Almost Too Crazy To Believe The Economic Collapse

The economic crisis in Europe continues to get worse and eventually
it is going to unravel into a complete economic nightmare. All over
Europe, national governments have piled up debts that are completely

The Fed Turns Left

William Greider, The Fed Turns Left

Washington is lost in a snarl of confusion, cowardice and wrongheaded ideological assumptions that threaten to keep the economy in a ditch for a long time. That prospect is not much discussed in the halls of Congress or the White House. It’s as though the crisis has been put on hold until after the presidential election.

As almost everyone understands, nothing substantial will be accomplished this year. President Obama is campaigning on warmed-over optimism and paper-thin policy proposals. Republicans propose to make things worse by drastically shrinking government spending, when the opposite is needed to foster a real recovery. The president, like the GOP, embraces large-scale deficit reduction. In these circumstances, it’s just as well that the two parties cannot reach agreement. After the election they may make a deal that splits the difference between bad and worse. In the worst case, they might inadvertently tip the economy back into recession.


Iran Nuclear Talks Begin

NYT: ISTANBUL — Talks between Iran and six world powers about the aims of its nuclear-enrichment program began on Saturday morning with a plenary session of all parties. European and American officials suggested that a serious commitment from Iran to negotiate may be enough to continue the talks at another round in late May, possibly in Baghdad, as Iran has suggested.

•Fluent: ‘With Time Short, US Meets Iran for Nuclear Talks’

•Daily Beast: Iran Meeting Isn’t Expected to Produce a Deal on Nuclear Capabilities

*Why Not A Nuclear Free Zone like Wellington NZ?

Shock: M&G: US Secret Service agents recalled for misconduct

A dozen Secret Service agents, sent to Colombia to provide security for President Obama have been relieved of duty after allegations of misconduct.

BBC: American Nazi Party registers first Washington lobbyist

Photo of the Day: I saw this Guardian Eyewitness photo and thought you should see it.

HUMOR: Borowitz Report: North Korea Expelled from Axis of Evil
Ahmadinejad Cites ‘Lack of Evil’

PYONGYANG (The Borowitz Report) – Just hours after an embarrassing launch of a rocket that crashed to the ground in a little over a minute, North Korea suffered another blow to its prestige as it was expelled from the Axis of Evil.

The decision was announced by the presiding Chairman of the Axis of Evil, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who cited as the reason for the expulsion North Korea’s evident “lack of evil.”

“There are a lot of evil countries out there, Iran for one, who are trying to terrify the world by developing nuclear weapons,” he said. “When North Korea launches a so-called ‘rocket’ and it goes about twenty feet before blowing up, that just makes it harder for the rest of us.”

A spokesman for the erstwhile evil nation objected strongly to Mr. Ahmadinejad’s statement, saying it was “totally unfair to judge how evil a country is based on one crappy rocket.”