In this most recent installment, Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Immy Humes listens to members of the longtime unemployed tell how the Occupy movement inspired them. There is something in the emotional core of this short film that captures perfectly, I think, the life-affirming realization of “Holy shit, this is really happening and it’s wonderful” that went on for those few months last Fall. Almost more than any other document I’ve seen about Occupy Wall Street, this one really speaks to the kind of experience I personally had there. It captures what it inspired in many people.
For our 99ers, an informal group of jobless New Yorkers who have exhausted their 99 weeks of unemployment benefits, the Occupy Wall Street movement came as a dream fulfilled.
As the protests took root in Zuccotti Park, the 99ers found a mass of people who care about the plight of the jobless and want to do something about it. As seen in last week’s episode of our video series, “Occupy Meets MacArthur’s Tanks,” Occupy Wall Street is just the latest in a long line of American protest movements demanding economic justice. The emergence of the Occupy movement, one 99er said, felt “like the early stages of a revolution.”
And then the question arose: What do America’s jobless want? As the video shows, the 99ers have some answers.
The financial industry is trying desperately to wriggle out of the controls that Dodd-Frank imposed on them. Occupy the SEC, a very, very smart bunch of current and former financial industry executives weigh in with critiques and suggestions concerning the government’s implementation of the “Volcker Rule” that limits the kind of derivative packaging that caused the financial meltdown. Since the meltdown, Goldman Sachs has been trying to get their little grubby hands back on the money faucet. They’re spending Romney-type money on lobbyists, including hiring Barney Frank’s former staffer that got the reforms passed to help overturn those very reforms!
The most common complaint about the Occupy movement is that it does not present a clear and coherent position.
“Occupy the SEC is a group of concerned citizens, activists, and financial professionals with decades of collective experience working at many of the largest financial firms in the industry. Together, we make up a vast array of specialists, including traders, quantitative analysts, compliance officers, and technology and risk analysts. Like much of the 99%, we have bank deposits and retirement accounts that are in need of protection through vigorous enforcement of the Volcker Rule. Our experiences working inside the financial industry have informed our answers to the questions proposed, making us well-suited to understand and anticipate how the proposed implementation, should it stand, will affect us and the rest of the general public.
The United States aspires to democracy, but no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power…”
That last sentence should be the first line of the Declaration of Independence 2.0
Here’s the best mainstream overview, from TIME. If you read between the lines—and the wipe off its condescension—the truth appears… which is that the fuckers at Goldman Sachs and the champagne drinking overlords on Wall Street are being countered by experienced folks who know the financial industry grimoire inside and out.
Meet the Financial Wizards Working With Occupy Wall Street (Mother Jones)
In this two hour compilation of speeches, the brilliance of Malcolm reaches through time and space to touch us and remind us of the harsh truth that almost a half century after the man was killed America is still struggling with most of the same problems we were struggling with back then. Technology, drugs and the silhouettes of cars may have changed, but the reptilian brain still keeps us anchored in the murk of class war, racism and injustice.
When I “get into” a certain topic or musical genre or filmmaker or author or TV show, I’m one of those people who has to devour all of it. The whole thing. I don’t stop until I’m done and burping it up.
Recently it’s been the not-so twin topics of the “Laurel Canyon” rock sound of the late 1960s/early 1970s and plowing through the major works of The Frankfurt School, that have occupied a lot of my spare time. I’m especially enjoying re-reading the work of the Freudo-Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse, books I first read, well, thirty-some years ago. Although some of the groundbreaking ideas of Marcuse and the Frankfurt School seem rather more obvious today than they would have in the 1960s at the height of their influence, there are many useful concepts to be re-discovered there that are more relevant today than they have ever been. Marcuse’s work is ripe for a new generation—specifically this very restless up and coming generation—to pick up on, perhaps via the intermediary of someone who could popularize his admittedly somewhat difficult to read philosophy.
Although his name, sadly, rings few bells in 2012, Professor Herbert Marcuse was the “father of the New Left” with his influential books like Eros and Civilization, One Dimensional Man, and Counterrevolution and Revolt. For an elderly professor with a thick German accent, Marcuse was an intellectual rockstar in the 60s and early 70s. Back then, his work was discussed with the same seriousness as Marx’s or Sartre’s or Carlos Castaneda’s. He was denounced by right-wingers like Governor Ronald Reagan who was incensed that Marcuse’s salary was paid for by California’s taxpayers.
I discovered Marcuse in a fairly roundabout way. As I’ve written about before elsewhere, I was a huge Ayn Rand head when I was a kid. Ironically, it was via an article published in her magazine The Objectivist (“Herbert Marcuse, Philosopher of the New Left” by George Walsh) that I first came across the ideas of the New Left. Not all that long afterwards, I became much more interested in the types of philosophers that Rand and her disciples decried as academic barbarians, dangerous irrationalists and mutilators of student’s minds, than I was in Rand herself.
Not only did I find that the ideas of the New Left resonated more with my own innately experienced view of the world around me, it also seemed clear that if the ideas of Marcuse and the Frankfurt School terrified the Ayn Rand brigade as much as they obviously did, then they must also be more authentic ideas, too.
But the problem with some middle-aged infomaniac like yours truly recommending that you seek out the work of Herbert Marcuse is that few people actually reading this far will even bother to visit his Wikipedia page let alone buy one of his books. Books seem to have a lifespan of about fifteen years (with some major exceptions, of course) and no one wants to read an old book. Especially not these days, so how would it be that these ideas could spread in the culture again and flourish the way they once did? That’s tough. As a former book publisher, I can tell you for sure: it’s worse than tough, it’s nearly impossible.
This event originally took place at the Roundhouse in London, between the 15th and 30th July, 1967. Aside from the grandfatherly Marcuse, the well-respected éminence grise of the assembled, the participants included anarchist prankster Emmett Grogan of the Diggers (who fucked with the heads of the attendees by delivering a translated speech of Hitler’s and passing it off as his own), performance artist Carolee Schneeman, Julian Beck of The Living Theatre, Paul Goodman, Gregory Bateson, poet Allen Ginsberg, R.D. Laing, Francis Huxley, “Auto-Destructive art” movement and “Art Strike” founder Gustav Metzger and Black Power leader Stokely Carmichael.
The Congress on the Dialectics of Liberation was organized by the American “anti-psychiatrist” Joe Berke and others from the Institute of Phenomenological Studies. The idea was to spontaneously create a “free university” to revolutionize the masses, a notion inspired by Alexander Trocchi.
The event drew together the bohemian culture of New York’s Lower East Side with Europe’s own rebel groups in art, literature, politics and psychiatry, producing what has been justly described as the ‘numero uno seminal event of [London] 67’, a sometimes joyous but often angry anti-coalition of ‘politicos’ and ‘culture wizards.’
‘All men are in chains’, runs a flyer for the congress. ‘There is the bondage of poverty and starvation: the bondage of lust for power, status, possessions. A reign of terror is now perpetrated and perpetuated on a global scale. In the affluent societies, it is masked. There, children are conditioned by violence called love to assume their position as the would-be inheritors of the fruits of the earth. But, in the process, they are reduced to little more than hypothetical points on a dehumanized co-ordinate system. …We shall meet in London on the basis of a wide range of expert knowledge. The dialectics of liberation begin with the clarification of our present condition.’
The congress opened on the morning of the 15th with a lecture by the anti-psychiatrist R.D. Laing and closed on the 30th with a lecture by the Digger Emmett Grogan, following an happening by Carolee Schneemann and a performance by the British pop group The Social Deviants the previous evening. Gregory Bateson, Stokely Carmichael, Paul Goodman and the German philosopher, Herbert Marcuse were amongst other public figures who spoke. There were seminars in the afternoons and films and poetry readings in the evenings. ‘The Provos were there from Amsterdam. There were students from West Berlin, political activists from Norway and Sweden as well as a large contingent from the New Experimental College, Thy, Denmark. There were representatives from the West Indies, Africa, France, Canada, America, Holland, India, Nigeria and Cuba,’ and remarks by the poet Susan Sherman, one of Berke’s friends, who covered the congress for Ikon magazine.
The congress radicalised many black (and white) people in the audience and acted as an (ironic) influence on the Women’s Liberation movement. It also led to the foundation of the anti-university of London in Shoreditch in 1968, a further important experiment in radical education.
On February 12th in London, the Dialectics of Liberation conference was reenacted with the original organizers, and actors playing the roles of leading speakers. It’s difficult for me to say much more about a theatrical performance I haven’t seen, but this is an interesting idea to get certain ideas back into currency again. Apparently there were also earlier performances at Occupy London and a twenty-first century version of the Congress, called the Dialektikon, is planned for later this year in London. You can read more about it on their website.
McGhee is an attorney and the Washington, DC office director of the Demos think tank. You may have noticed her on MSNBC before, or even Fox News, but this is the first time I’ve seen her in a situation where she’s had such a sustained media platform. McGhee shines here. What a refreshing, sparkling—and incisive—intelligence to see in a younger person. I must say, I’m super impressed by what this young woman had to say here and by what she represents about the up and coming generation. This is someone looking at the world with her eyes wide open and what she says here about how “The Millennials” (those born between 1978 and 2000, representing 80 million Americans) view the current state of affairs cuts straight to the heart of the situation they have found themselves coming of age in.
We already know what the Tea Party “elders” (are any of them young?) think needs to happen, but they’re the ones who’ll be dying off soon, anyways, so fuck them!
If you want to understand what the younger generation are likely to demand of society, moving forward, this interview is a very, very good place to start. This is a very important document of our times. Big picture stuff. It’s also one hell of a bravura talkshow appearance!
One thought I had watching this interview was what a great future President Heather McGhee would make and I doubt very much that I am the only one who was watching and thinking that thought. She’s too young now to run for President, of course, but imagine a progressive wet dream ticket for 2016 of Alan Grayson and Heather McGhee! I think they’d make a formidable team.
McGhee is the most articulate new liberal voice on television since Rachel Maddow. Crooks and Liars editor Tina Dupuy and Heather McGhee need to meet, pronto, if they don’t already know each other.
Before the police dragged them off, the members of Pussy Riot, the Russian day-glo balaclava-clad punk rock protesters, sang their anthem “Revolt in Russia” (“Revolt in Russia – the charisma of protest / Revolt in Russia, Putin’s got scared!”) near the Kremlin. Their inspiration for a style of resistance never before seen in Russia, was the riot grrrl punk movement, including groups like Kathleen Hanna’s Bikini Kill, and flash mobs. The young women of the collective, average age 25, have revealed only the smallest details about their lives. None will divulge their day jobs. They only use first-names.
In the two weeks since their mid-January action, the all-female group has become a potent symbol of anger at the status quo in Russian society and their videos have gone viral all over the world. Like many young people in Russia, the members of the Pussy Riot collective are furious at Vladamir Putin’s plans to seek the presidency again and his return was the impetus behind the formation of the group (as well as their song “Putin Has Pissed Himself”). From The Guardian:
“We understood that to achieve change, including in the sphere of women’s rights, it’s not enough to go to Putin and ask for it,” said Garadzha. “This is a rotten, broken system.”
Her bandmate Tyurya said: “The culture of protest needs to develop. We have one form, but we need many different kinds.”
The band began writing songs with lyrics such as: “Egyptian air is good for the lungs / Do Tahrir on Red Square!” and performing on trams and in the metro. Videos of the flash gigs began spreading across the internet. When the protest leader Alexey Navalny was jailed for 15 days after his arrest during Russia’s first post-election protest on 5 December, three members of Pussy Riot took to the roof of the jail where he was being held, setting off red flares as they sang “Death to prison / Freedom to protest!”
The fear of arrest long ago left the band members, steeped in the tradition of illegal protest. “We have experience with it, we’ve been detained at protests before,” said Tyurya. “It’s not scary – you’re surrounded by good, normal people, those who protest against Putin.”
All eight women were detained during the Kremlin performance, questioned and released. Most got off with administrative fines rather than the 15-day jail sentences often doled out to those who stage illegal protests.
“The revolution should be done by women,” said Garazhda. “For now, they don’t beat or jail us as much.”
“There’s a deep tradition in Russia of gender and revolution – we’ve had amazing women revolutionaries.”
The band is getting ready for its next performance, something that usually takes a month to pull together. Its members don’t discuss plans on the telephone or give away details, out of fear that the security services will disrupt the project. Is what they do art or politics? “For us it’s one and the same.”
Despite projected temperatures of -20C, tens of thousands of protesters are expected to march on Bolotnaya Square, across from the Kremlin, on Saturday. The Russian presidential election will be held on March 4. Vladimir Putin, is, of course, expected to win handily.
Read more: Feminist punk band Pussy Riot take revolt to the Kremlin (The Guardian)
French director Henry Chapier’s 1968 documentary American Summer is a companion piece to Sex-Power which DM featured a couple of months ago. What I said about that film applies to American Summer: ” Revolution has never been sexier, more romantic, existential or just plain goofy when seen through the prism of the nouvelle vague.”
In American Summer we’re confronted with a bunch of white California militants who’ve aligned themselves with the Black Panther movement during the trial of Huey Newton. The film captures a moment in which the youth movement of the Sixties was becoming restless with passive forms of resistance against the Vietnam War and civil inequality, a time in which giving peace a chance was being supplanted by a naive and relatively unrealistic notion of revolution. The ideology was becoming more radical and language more provocative, but little action was actually being taken by the children of privilege. It was mostly a theoretical revolution composed of words and salutes. “In dreams begin responsibilities”...but most of us were still dreamers.
Featuring clips from speeches given by Black Panther party militants, an interview with Black Panther Party information secretary Kathleen Cleaver, concerts, a Black Panther military parade and music by Quicksilver Messenger Service.
Against the backdrop of a global uprising that is simmering in dozens of countries and thousands of cities and towns, the G8 and NATO will hold a rare simultaneous summit in Chicago this May. The world’s military and political elites, heads of state, 7,500 officials from 80 nations, and more than 2,500 journalists will be there.
And so will we.
On May 1, 50,000 people from all over the world will flock to Chicago, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and #OCCUPYCHICAGO for a month. With a bit of luck, we’ll pull off the biggest multinational occupation of a summit meeting the world has ever seen.
And this time around we’re not going to put up with the kind of police repression that happened during the Democratic National Convention protests in Chicago, 1968 … nor will we abide by any phony restrictions the City of Chicago may want to impose on our first amendment rights. We’ll go there with our heads held high and assemble for a month-long people’s summit … we’ll march and chant and sing and shout and exercise our right to tell our elected representatives what we want … the constitution will be our guide.
And when the G8 and NATO meet behind closed doors on May 19, we’ll be ready with our demands: a Robin Hood Tax … a ban on high frequency ‘flash’ trading … a binding climate change accord … a three strikes and you’re out law for corporate criminals … an all out initiative for a nuclear-free Middle East … whatever we decide in our general assemblies and in our global internet brainstorm – we the people will set the agenda for the next few years and demand our leaders carry it out.
And if they don’t listen … if they ignore us and put our demands on the back burner like they’ve done so many times before … then, with Gandhian ferocity, we’ll flashmob the streets, shut down stock exchanges, campuses, corporate headquarters and cities across the globe … we’ll make the price of doing business as usual too much to bear.
Jammers, pack your tents, muster up your courage and prepare for a big bang in Chicago this Spring. If we don’t stand up now and fight now for a different kind of future we may not have much of a future … so let’s live without dead time for a month in May and see what happens …
for the wild,
Culture Jammers HQ
Below, footage of the confrontation between Chicago police and protesters at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago:
While the Occupy Movement energy seems to have dissipated in many cities, Oakland is keeping it alive. Yesterday a demonstration turned nasty.
In the video below, the cops seem to be enjoying themselves as they point their guns in the direction of the protesters. As the rifle-toting bulls laugh themselves silly, I wonder if they really have any idea as to who they are protecting and from what? These images remind me of the People’s Park demonstrations of 1969. I see the same arrogance and ignorance in the faces of the cops I saw four decades ago. And the kids on the streets protesting are as idealistic and determined as the cops are clueless. The only difference this time around is the movement will not be stopped.
Oakland Local reports:
Occupy Oakland organizers envisioned this weekend as a “move-in day” which would allow them to rechristen the controversial movement by occupying a vacant building and turning it into a “social center.” Flyers distributed Saturday at a noontime rally at Frank Ogawa (aka Oscar Grant) Plaza announced an ambitious schedule of musical performances, arts & crafts, workshops on foreclosure defense, gender dynamics, and bike repair, forums, and a film festival.
The Oakland Police Department, however, had other plans. As a crowd estimated at around 1,000 people marched Eastward from the Plaza, toward Laney College, more than 50 police officers in riot gear began to trail them from the rear. One woman was arrested when she fell behind police lines, and officers pushed an elderly man to the ground, though he was not arrested.
As the crowd massed at Laney and crossed a wooden bridge, more officers converged from other sides, blocking exits to city streets. Several tense stand-offs ensued, although the tension was broken somewhat by the humorous sight of a man sitting in a chair telling the police he wanted to revise the chant from “F—-the police” to “F—- police brutality.”
The march continued on to East 10th, where more police were sighted, then up 12th Street, near Fallon, close to the location of the move-in target, the vacant Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center. A ring of riot police, some wielding shotguns, others with batons, guarded the facility. After a protestor moved a fence, police deployed tear gas into the crowd, then declared unlawful assembly.
After several tense minutes, the marchers moved West on 12th, then South on Oak Street. Another showdown ensued in front of the Oakland Museum. A line of police stood at 10th Street, and marchers with homemade shields began to advance on them. Before they could get close, however, OPD let off a fusillade of CS canisters, flash-bang grenades, and beanbag pellets into the crowd. The wind blew most of the tear gas back into the police line, but the demonstration of firepower proved effective, and the crowd retreated.
A cat-and-mouse-game then ensured for the next hour, as police slowly pushed the marchers back to the Plaza. There were several arrests as police advanced, but very few instances of violence and few if any acts of aggression against police. Unlike other Occupy Oakland marches, there were no projectiles or liquids thrown at police. By 4 p.m., the march, still several hundred strong, had returned to Ogawa Plaza, awaiting further actions.
Earlier in the day, organizer Adam Jordan outlined the vision of what Occupy Oakland had hoped to accomplish. “The move-in day is hypothetically and hopefully going to be a multi-use center with free school workshops, free food, free meals, and a meeting place to have for Oakland, for the people, by the people. We see the need to help other people. Going through the system has not been working for a lot of people.”
Occupy Oakland’s positive aspects, Jordan said, were often not looked at “because of the rhetoric from City Hall.” The movement, he said, was here “to make it better for everybody.”`
Moreover, he said, the movement is worldwide. “If anyone has an Internet connection, they’ll realize they now have an Occupy Nigeria, an Occupy Taiwan, and Occupy London, an Occupy Netherlands.I met a guy from Occupy Edmonton…this is a world movement. You think it might go away here, it’ll come back like a weed, because it’s everywhere.”
This footage just uploaded to YouTube by brettnchls captures just one skirmish on a day when there were many. At the 2:05 mark someone appears to be injured and protesters are calling out for a medic. If anyone thinks tear gas cannisters, smoke bombs, flash bang grenades or rubber bullets are relatively harmless, try getting hit by one in the face.
Tonight in New York, revered graphic designer Milton Glaser (do a Google Images search if that name doesn’t ring a bell) will take part in a panel discussion with Mirko Ilic about the creation of powerful politically driven graphics. The event is hosted by Reality Sandwich creative director, Michael Robinson
This panel discussion features graphic design legend Milton Glaser and award winning designer/illustrator Mirko Ilic focusing on graphic design’s ability to convey how power is effectively used and distributed, and justice is fulfilled. Based upon Glaser and Mirko’s book The Design of Dissent: Socially and Politically Driven Graphics, the authors will discuss how today’s image makers and corporate shamans can use design to create the more beautiful and just world we all know is possible.
This event is co-sponsored with Evolver/Reality Sandwich. Hopefully they’ll put a videotape of the discussion online soon.