What I Learned at the Revolution

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Orson, Oct 31, 2011.

  1. Orson Member

    What I Learned at the Revolution

    Full disclosure: I've been a Democrat my whole life--a moderate Democrat, but clearly to the left of the great big line that perversely divides this country. When you are young it's easy to be idealistic--to believe strongly in America and the great opportunity everyone here has to achieve the American Dream. Over time my youthful idealism became beaten down as I watched elected leaders both Republican and Democrat relentlessly fail to find long-term solutions to our country's problems, year after year and election after election. My idealism gave way to pragmatism and finally caved into apathy.

    Why I Went; Observations of OWS

    When Occupy Wall Street began, my initial reaction was strongly skeptical--mostly because I'd given up on believing any real change was possible in America since corporations are now people and money is now speech. The movement appeared so chaotic and unfocused. How could it change anything? It looked like a bunch of anarchist hippies at a commune. But I was curious and read the websites and articles, gathered a lot of information and watched countless videos, and I found the "We are the 99%" concept very intriguing for its possibilities.

    After watching media reports on Occupy Wall Street and discussing it with friends, five of us decided we wanted to see what was happening for ourselves and planned a trip for early November. Three of us ended going up much sooner. When word began coming out on Thursday (10/13) that Mayor Bloomberg was going to order the park cleared to be cleaned, and that protesters would not be able to return to the park with their tents, sleeping bags and the other necessities for the occupation to continue, we decided we would go immediately to New York. We could be there in time for the Friday morning showdown with the police.


    I'm not sure what we thought we could accomplish by being there, but we wanted to see Occupy Wall Street and this moment in history firsthand. It was very early in the morning (or very late at night) when we finally got to New York City, but we immediately headed down to the park. Just getting through the crowd into the park itself was an adventure, and there were plenty of police around who did not give off that "welcome to New York" vibe at all.

    The park was alive with energy and it felt as if the entire world was there and all talking at once. Moving through the crowd, you heard all kinds of conversations taking place. Watching long-haired guy in the Rastafarian hat talk to old guy in slacks and a button-down shirt was a funny sight. That they were agreeing on things was fascinating. Around you in the crowed you heard random sounds of music being played, people singing and various smaller groups chanting, calls for volunteers to do this or that. There was the smell of cigarettes and, yes, the occasional whiff of weed.

    Naturally, the standard-issue stereotypes were well represented: anarchists, hippie/love children, veteran protest-anything types, ganja-soaked career students, and any others you can name. The park was cramped with so many people showing up, and while some of the new arrivals fit easily into the cliched categories above, many more were just regular people. I met a plumber, an insurance agent, a ton of teachers, a nurse, an accountant, a website developer and many others. These were not people typically given to protesting.

    Of course, there's a moonbat contingent there in all shapes and sizes and such costumed ridiculousness that the facepalms were many. That's to be expected, in my observation. You can't decide who gets to join and who doesn't. Sound familiar?

    The anticipation of what was to come in the morning when the police were expected to clear the park had created fear and apprehension, with people choosing whether to stay and be arrested or not. Many were concerned that getting arrested at Occupy Wall Street could cause them to lose their jobs. But there was also a stone-cold resolve among most we met that no matter what happened, the Occupation would not end. Bloomberg would have to order the police to drag the protesters out by force.

    Some chose to stay and be arrested because of a responsibility they felt to the movement to not cave into the demands of the authorities. Others believed it was their First Amendment right to be there and would not sacrifice that right. Some recognized the public relations value of such an incident. And yes, some were looking for a fight. There was clearly a contingent that wanted a confrontation with the police. You cannot herd cats, especially when some are assholes. This is a small percentage of OWS participants.

    My group would now be included among those arrested if it came to that. It was a complex decision that we didn't make lightly. If you believe there are serious problems in this country, that our elected leaders have failed us repeatedly, that America and Americans are hurting due to the choices being made by those in power, and that no other recourse exists for a redress of grievances, then it follows - at least for us - that it was a civic duty to stand (or actually sit) and resist any attempt to suppress OWS.

    The moment the word came that "Brookfield Properties" would postpone the cleaning was pretty damn magical. That's the only way I can describe the overwhelming joy that washed over that place and anybody there. This video shows that moment better than any way it could be described:

    Incidentally, seeing the 'human mic' in action is pretty cool--it's creative and effective and creates a common bond for those in the crowd. The hand signals are effective too, although comical at times. Lol. It can also be tedious and tiresome watching debates play out using this method.

    As you know if you have followed the news, some left to march immediately, which of course didn't go well. We stayed behind mostly because we wanted to keep talking to people and knew we would be going on the Times Square march.

    • Like Like x 10
  2. Orson Member

    Lessons Learned at the Revolution

    I learned that there's not one generally agreed-upon reason for being there among those I met. There are many common reasons, but not one simple answer, as people are attaching their own personal injustices to their participation in OWS. The people drawn to it have their own experiences that have motivated them into the streets whether it be income inequality, the tax system, health care, foreclosures, unemployment, bank bailouts, corporate money in politics, the Fed, and so on. Occupy Wall Street has tapped into an undercurrent of raeg about a host of ills that have beset the country. It has grown beyond the initial core organized by Adbusters and others.

    I learned that the ones who have been there the longest--the core of the campers--seem to have the most in common in terms of motives, and are the most strident anti-capitalists. They seek a new way for America to function, but don't have a real answer as to how that would work. Quite simply, capitalism isn't going away anytime soon.

    A lesson I first learned in Anonymous proved relevant here too. In any revolution there will be a core of radicals, but as movement grows, it becomes progressively more moderate from the center out. The further out from the philosophical core you went at OWS, the more the conversation was about what needed fixing, not about tearing the whole "system" down. Radicals are needed to push the limits of the movement; moderates are needed to keep it from spinning out of control.

    For the sake of this discussion, consider the "system" as that complex, intertwined set of people and institutions, both public and private, that impact how laws are now made, which leaders are elected, how decisions are reached and who holds influence on that process, and how and for whom the government functions.

    Wall Street is the easy, obvious target to embody the complex set of issues motivating those protesting. In my observation, the underlying motivation is that people feel they have been betrayed and that the American Dream is no longer possible for many. The greatest commonality is a belief that for too long the system has been rigged, the game is fixed for the benefit of the 1% and those in already in power. Wanting a level playing field and equal opportunity and protection isn't anti-capitalist. It's anti-bullshit.

    I learned that I'd been waiting for this moment without even realizing it was possible.

    I learned that Bloomberg’s habit of making consistently poor choices regarding this movement is the best thing that ever happened to it. When he made one of the world’s all-time bad political decisions--his call for the clearing of the park--he not only pulled in me and my friends, but also others, who were arriving from any state you could name. A steady stream of new arrivals kept arriving well into the next day, many motivated to get off their asses, just as we were had been, by Bloomberg's stupid decision. Many like me have returned home energized and are getting active locally.

    I learned that some outreach across the divide is happening. Republicans and Tea Party people were there, certainly a minority but more than enough to not go unnoticed. I hope they reach out to their friends and family and I think they will.

    I learned there's a very "anonymous" vibe at OWS. A heavy dose of "none of us speaks for all of us" and "there are no leaders" and that the power of ideas is what must prevail.

    It naturally follows, then, that there's the inherent tension that all of us have experienced with this approach, and it's the key reason why there's not yet any simple set of demands. A prime topic of almost every conversation was the need or lack thereof to have such a set of demands or even one demand. Growing tension continues over this.

    I also learned that I think having a set list of demands for the OWS movement may not matter as much as some think it does. "We are the 99%" allows people to come forward for their own individual motivations, injustices and goals. What is needed is public pressure to shift the dialogue in this country and change the debate. OWS is accomplishing this at least so far.

    I learned that fighting left v. right is stupid because it assumes that the elected left or right have any interest in fixing the the system since they benefit from it. We play the game so stupidly. An entire industry of media, pundits, blogs, websites, writers, TV and radio show personalities pound us every day with how wrong the other side is, with how the other side is full of bad people, and how we must fight them. We argue with each other over nonsense and matters of degree instead of demanding true accountability from the "system" and vigorously prosecuting the corruption in it that makes real progress and change impossible.

    I learned I am the 99%. My personal one demand is getting corporate and special interest money out of politics. I now believe that the majority of Republicans and Democrats at the Federal and state levels are unnaturally and irreparably influenced by money provided to them by corporations, super PACs of unlimited anonymous donations and other means. I think nothing else is possible unless that is changed first. And I believe this movement must be post-partisan if it is to succeed.

    If you read all of that, thank you.

    tl;dr: Shit is fucked up and bullshit.
    • Like Like x 20
  3. Orson Member

    Looking forward to responses and discussion if you can make it through that massive word count.
  4. Anonymous Member

    Thank you for going to the trouble of setting that out. Food for thought.
  5. FIFY!
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Anonymous Member

    I never expected to see such a well-written rant on WWP. Thanks Orson for raising the level a notch or two.

    This is an achievable and worthy goal.

    When the supreme court ruled that corporations have the right to donate to politicians campaigns I was dumbfounded. Why a tiny minority (corporate CEOs) should suddenly be granted immense political power to sway the electorate through donations to candidates is baffling.

    This will only lead to CEOs having a much bigger say in government than "we the people". It is not only anti-democratic but also anti-free-market. Why anti-free market? Because the one thing every CEO wants is for their company to destroy their competitors, leading to monopolies and oligopolies. We will be seeing less and less competition because the big companies will push for laws to protect their monopolies/oligopolies by making it harder for small innovative companies to enter the market and compete.

    This one ruling will set the US back economically and politically for decades to come.
    • Like Like x 4
  7. Anonymous Member

    It all goes back to the interest rate. Well, Greenspan set this all up. He lowered the interest rates for housing and then almost anyone could get a loan for housing. Mortgage companies were "pimping" for loans. He lowered the prime rate so low, that is was reasonable, yet he did not see the consequences.
  8. Anonymous Member

    I'm sorry mate, I couldn't
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  9. Anonymous Member

    Good summary. I think politicians caught taking money from corporations should be kicked out of congress, but for that to happen there needs to be a change in the law.
  10. Orson Member


    What I would like people to consider on this issue: Allowing these unlimited donations creates a disproportionate representation for the interests of the 1% at the expense of the 99%.

    Why Wall Street? Financial industry lobbyists spent more than all other lobbyists combined (including military/defense contractors) during the last election cycle. All of that money didn't go to Republications either. Don't have time to find the source now, but I will locate it and edit this post later.
  11. Durga Member

    This is operating on the assumption that the housing bubble was the root cause of the current economic situation. While I totally agree that the housing and sub-prime mortgage crisis were a huge blow to our economy, I believe that a major factor in the slow-to-non-existent recovery has been the fact that financial law and practices are severely skewed towards getting rich people richer and abusing the poor for the fact that they aren't rich. Rewarding CEOs for sending jobs overseas, for example, puts more American dollars into the hands of the rich while removing employment opportunities for the poor/middle class.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Interesting piece Orson, thank you.

    It's good to see some fact-based writing on WWP concerning #OWS.
  13. Horus Member

    I think it's awesome that USA is finally waking up to the massive societal inequalities that persist throughout the country. I am shocked every single time i visit at how poor the poor really are and that even the middle class is not doing as well as it used to. On the political system: The division between Republicans and Democrats has clearly failed, a two party system is not efficient in expressing democratic views. It polarizes society unnecessarily and does not allow for deviant views from the two mainstream opinions. (No, I'm not going to dox any of this, this is my personal view, take it or leave it).

    Wish life was so simple... :S Try reading "Fool's Gold" by Gillian Tett; everyone was in on the deal. It seamed so brilliant: Banks could diversify risk off their books through derivatives (CDA's or other types) and customers could receive a higher yield. Problem was that Bistro (this specific type of derivative model) was also used for mortgage loans, for which there is NO risk/ default history. Essentially banks gambled with other peoples money... so, yes, the mortgage loans were cheap, but what really rocked the financial sector was that the billion dollar mortgage backed derivative market was lost... Hope it makes sense! ;)
  14. Anonymous Member

    I'm not sure I would frame the issue of corporate campaign contributions as protecting the interests of the 1%. It's actually worse than that, more like protecting the interests of the the 0.00000001%, namely the people who decide on behalf of a company to donate to a politician, the CEOs.

    Corporations are supposed to represent the wishes of the stockholders, to make a profit so that the stock price goes up or so that the company pays dividends. But CEOs also have their own personal agendas, often times conflicting with the needs of a company's stockholders. If things get out of hand and a CEO puts her own agenda ahead of the stockholder's agenda, the stockholders can fire the CEO, but it's not easy for them to do so, and happens only quite rarely.

    When a CEO decides to donate to a politician, he does not need explicit approval of the shareholders. In effect one person gets to decide how to spend the money of potentially a hundred thousand people (the shareholders), without their permission, on whatever political cause the CEO sees fit. Even if a new law is put forward to require explicit permission from shareholders through voting anytime the CEO wants to donate to a politician, it *still* gives unfair political advantage to the handful of people who own large quantities of shares versus the vast majority of people who own little or none.

    I think that as this supreme court decision leads to abuses of the political system by CEOs, there will be a huge public outcry for it to be reversed by the court, or for laws to be passed that reverse it. Since most people won't see the negative effects right away, this will probably take decades, and it will probably take some obvious manipulation of government by a few CEOs that angers millions of people and gets big media attention.
  15. PresidentShaw Member

    Thanks for providing this insight from inside #OWS without all the hyperbole Orson.
    Much appreciated.
    • Like Like x 2
  16. Anonymous Member

    Thanks orson.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. PresidentShaw Member

    Let's not derail this awesome thread with sillyness such as this, if you really want to argue this let's make a new one mmmk?
    • Like Like x 2
  18. James Spader Member

    This is why, Shaw. THIS IS WHY.
    • Like Like x 3
  19. Anonymous Member

    Revolution. If not, Civil War.

    Go ahead and fight each other for the cause.

    I'll keep clapping at how 'Merkuns make idiots out of themselves.
  20. Orson Member

    I was wrong:
    You raise a valid point but I'd suggest we agree that moneyed interests are going to protect moneyed interests. That's the point of Lawrence Lessig from Harvard. Watch this video for more on the influence of money on elected officials, where Lessig discusses his new book Republic, Lost which deals with this issue directly. This was broadcast yesterday morning.

    • Like Like x 1
  21. salumi Member

    ^^^yes, that.
    • Like Like x 2
  22. Anonymous Member

    You really can't form a full opinion about the protest and its constituents without going there in person. Too many people are gung-ho about it or against it, basing their opnions on second or third hand accounts, that always come with a spin.

    Kudos to you for actually attending the protest with an open mind, and giving an objective opinion, and detail description of the imagery and atmostphere.
    • Like Like x 1
  23. Anonymous Member

    Um, which protest? I believe there is more than one.
  24. salumi Member

    • Like Like x 1
  25. Anonymous Member

    The protest mentioned in the OP, dickwad
    • Like Like x 1
  26. Anonymous Member

    "I met a plumber, an insurance agent, a ton of teachers, a nurse, an accountant, a website developer and many others."

    There is hope. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the rant, so thank you for that. I suspect that Orson might very well be a teacher, and if not; consider it carefully. You are needed where it matters.

    I´d hate to turn this into another debate about state-run education, but that is really what it all boils down to in the end. Corruption and abuse of power thrives on public ignorance, and teachers are The Ones who are perfectly positioned to inspire major sociophilosophical paradigm shifts. We need more of you clever fags in schools teaching the next bunch of anons to wise up, think for themselves and let the best ideas prevail. I think we can all agree on the impact teachers have had on our own lives, for better or worse, and I believe that investing time and effort into recruiting the best of us to teach the rest of us is an investment that cannot possibly fail.

    Money out of politics first, focus on good teachers second. Then...cake? Profit? Both maybe?
    • Like Like x 1
  27. Anonymous Member

    Then: no. We don't all have to go to NYC to have an opinion. Dickwad.
    • Like Like x 1
  28. kasiopeja Member

    Extraordinary perception, Orson, and I would like to add some of mine thoughts.
    The history of human kind is an exelent teacher, and we should "listen" to it occasionally.
    We are not blind for seeing present injustice, we might think that we know the Way out -> to divine human society, but we must be aware of so many mistakes that were made in the past revolutionary movements. We should make a new step forward, learning how to avoid repetitive mistake during the past.
    I could recommend all of you some useful books for that aim. First one should be: Foushe written by Stefan Zweig, about franch revolution, in 1789. Zweig said that he had written that historical biography to help future generations. And, I really learned a lot about human kind from this wise man.
  29. 00anon00 Member

    Thanks Orson. I once was a Democrat, but observations prove that it doesn't matter WHO is elected, it's the same old power structure. They arrange for us to change their faces every 4- 8 years. By the time politicians have gone through the election/fund raising/lobbying machine they are not one of "us" any more.
    Occasionally one of them goes rogue:

    Large groups of Americans acting against the status quo is the only way I know of that will work.
    • Like Like x 4
  30. Orson Member

    Thanks for the comments and discussion; please continue to comment. I've not been around here as much as I would like given the time I'm devoting to the Occupy effort in my own city. As I told Miranda, this becomes very real when you see people you know get pepper-sprayed for no good reason.

    I'll be posting some articles and reports in this thread that demonstrate the corrupt nature of our political system and the disgusting influence corporate money has on the process. Hope these articles spark further discussion and awareness.


    PDF Link:

  31. Orson Member

    Occupy the Agenda



    The high ground that the protesters seized is not an archipelago of parks in America, but the national agenda. The movement has planted economic inequality on the nation’s consciousness, and it will be difficult for any mayor or police force to dislodge it.

    A reporter for Politico found that use of the words “income inequality” quintupled in a news database after the Occupy protests began. That’s a significant achievement, for this is an issue that goes to our country’s values and our opportunities for growth — and yet we in the news business have rarely given it the attention it deserves.

    The statistic that takes my breath away is this: The top 1 percent of Americans possess a greater net worth than the entire bottom 90 percent, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.

    A new study by Michael I. Norton of Harvard Business School and Dan Ariely of Duke University polled Americans about what wealth distribution would be optimal. People across the board thought that the richest 20 percent of Americans should control about one-third of the nation’s wealth, and the poorest 20 percent about one-tenth.

    In fact, the richest 20 percent of Americans own more than 80 percent of the country’s wealth. And the poorest 20 percent own one-tenth of 1 percent.

    It would be easier to accept this gulf between the haves and the have-nots if it could be spanned by intelligence and hard work. Sometimes it can. But over all, such upward mobility in the United States seems more constrained than in the supposed class societies of Europe. Research by the Economic Mobility Project, which explores accessibility to the American dream, suggests that the United States provides less intergenerational mobility than most other industrialized nations do. That’s not only because of tax policy, which is what liberals focus on. Perhaps even more important are educational investments, like early childhood education, to try to even the playing field. We can’t solve inequality unless we give poor and working-class kids better educational opportunities.

    The Occupy movement is also right that one of the drivers of inequality (among many) is the money game in politics. Michael Spence, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who shares a concern about rising inequality, told me that we’ve seen “an evolution from one propertied man, one vote; to one man, one vote; to one person, one vote; trending to one dollar, one vote.”

    James M. Stone, former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, said in a recent speech that many members of Congress knew that banks needed to be more tightly regulated, perhaps broken into smaller pieces.

    “So why was this not done?” he asked. “One obvious piece of the answer is that both political parties rely heavily on campaign contributions from the financial sector.”

    • Like Like x 1
  32. Orson Member

    More later, don't want to overwhelm you with data.

    Here's something visual:

    • Like Like x 2
  33. amaX Member

    I'm very glad that I finally had the time to read your excellent observations on OWS, Orson.

    I am one of the 99%.
    • Like Like x 1
  34. Jeff Jacobsen Member

    There's an article by a pre-Internet activist giving advice to OWS at I tried to summarize his 10 points:

    1. Organize (or at least I think that's his point)
    2. Any leadership positions are temporary and recallable (Anonymous can ignore this one)
    3. Struggle against the media's propensity to define you by one small piece of you
    4. the movement should be completely transparent from top to bottom
    5. as your movement grows, eventually you'll need to switch from consensus to representative organization (my advice is, struggle hard to not get that complex that you need this switch)
    6. work with like-minded already existing groups
    7. Include the unemployed and poor, but understand they will need help as they help you
    8. Seek to spread the movement geographically
    9. Invite the unions, but understand their natural political prejudices
    10. Speak the language of your audience. Don't talk over anybody or use insider language when you are reaching out to the public.
    • Like Like x 4
  35. xenubarb Member

    "I learned I am the 99%. My personal one demand is getting corporate and special interest money out of politics. I now believe that the majority of Republicans and Democrats at the Federal and state levels are unnaturally and irreparably influenced by money provided to them by corporations, super PACs of unlimited anonymous donations and other means. I think nothing else is possible unless that is changed first. And I believe this movement must be post-partisan if it is to succeed."

    Agreed. This is me as well. I went down for Occupy Mission Bay's organizational meeting. The vision was of a peripheral satellite group in a San Diego neighborhood where people could come and talk, or provide support for the encampment downtown. We had an Occupy the Bridge march the next day and several hundred folks turned out. Many told me they didn't like the tone and atmosphere of downtown, where anger and violence are simmering just below the surface. They have been raided and their stuff taken. They were older folks who didn't want the hassle of going downtown and having to watch their backs. Or families with children who don't want to take their kids downtown to the socialist ghetto of dome tents.

    Some people want to be peripherally involved. Apparently that's not enough for the Occupiers here. As you note, the hard-core radicals are the ones camping out and running soup kitchens.

    But, there is no place for people not dedicated to feeding the fucking homeless. They can go four blocks east of the downtown encampment and be fed by numerous different agencies in East Village whose sole function is support of homeless people. They get food, medical care, a bed if they need to recuperate from an injury. I have a friend who lives in a canyon here. He's used these services in emergencies.

    The core of Occupy San Diego seems to be composed of these self-important activists who sneer if you're not a Dedicated Occupier, out there 24/7.
    The support group we were organizing in Mission Bay got called 'exclusive" because it's perceived by the core that it will draw people away from downtown. The whole point of an Occupy Mission Bay was to provide a place where older folks and families with young children can go to plan, discuss and participate. These are folks who won't go downtown anyway, so wtf are these morons gibbering about?

    I like the spin that people will go to Mission Bay "to avoid the homeless downtown." We live next to a place called Mission Valley. There are 1200 people living in a homeless encampment down there. They share our neighborhood. We don't need to go see homeless people downtown. We haz our own.
    (there are a few strident champions of the homeless at OSD who seem fucking obsessed by it and demand everyone else be too.)

    Then there are those who refer to this movement as a "revolution." Fucking hyperbolic bullshit. This isn't a revolution, comrade. Not yet, anyways.
    I didn't like the downtown people's hostility toward our local police. Some of those people got pissy when the cops had us leave the bridge after being there for two hours. It was dark. The bridge is dangerous, with a low guardrail. Nobody was seeing our signs from the road after the sun went down, but they still had to make a deal out of it.
    Twas the PD who closed the bridge for us for two hours to begin with! Thank you, SDPD, for closing the bridge and ignoring the moooing yaks trying to stir up something.

    I think Occupy 2.0 will be our turn at Making It Go Rite. These core activists alienate people who want to help, because they don't want to do ENOUGH.
    It's like fucking Scientology all up in there.
    Also, these stupid fucks use FACEBOOK for their communication and I heard some say they like it because they can drive posts they don't like down. A movement without a forum is teh stoopid.

    So I told those faggots CYA L8R. I can't work with people like that. They embody everything I hate about activism. Anonymous does it right. Anonymous makes protesting sexy again. Until a bunch of socialist hippies descend and grab control and take it over...but that can't happen because we are not politically correct and have the ability to crisp ears and fry minds.
    • Like Like x 2
  36. Anonymous Member

    if I may:
    11. The powers that be will continue to try to frame your activities in terms of a struggle between protesters and police; don't let them. Use of excessive force by LE is a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself.
    • Like Like x 1
  37. Anonymous Member

    (thank you for starting that off; another old activist here)
    12. Walk your talk. Be what you say.
    • Like Like x 1
  38. Anonymous Member

    lol old protest-fags-hivemind

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