Written by Pete Dutro
Edited by Ryan Hoffman
To anyone who is not paying close attention to the news,
The CIA’s torture of detainees, the wars abroad, the financial crimes of the banking industry, the destruction of entire species of the animal kingdom, planetary climate change and what is going on with the police are all parts of the same paradigm. This is not hyperbole. This is oppression.
We are living through the sixth extinction event to happen on this planet, which is a result of human activity, and yet we are still debating whether or not it is true. It is predicted that within a decade there will be no more wild elephants, tigers, rhinos, Chinese alligators, red wolves, and many other creatures who suffer from poaching and habitat encroachment. The energy industry does what it wants without repercussion and often without paying for the rights to use public lands. While the big corporations sterilize the land, poachers in regions we have destabilized kill off the fauna to satisfy human demand for these animals. The house is on fire.
We now know that our excursions into folly abroad have not made us safer, but have enriched those at the very top while spreading misery and instability to those not in the upper 1%. We have also known that the rules do not apply to the upper 1% as they do to the rest of us. This has been clearly demonstrated by the fact that black men are killed by the police over trifling offenses yet not one banker has been held responsible for the the sub-prime collapse, arguably the greatest financial crime ever perpetrated. The emperor wears no clothes, yet the media is still blaming the victims
The Mainstream Media has never understood the tactics that are being employed now by protesters and proves this ignorance by comparing us to the so called movements of the past. I would argue what you see now is the current iteration of those past movements and that they never ended. The New York Times printed an Op-Ed by Zeynep Tufekci in which she concludes:
“Media in the hands of citizens can rattle regimes. It makes it much harder for rulers to maintain legitimacy by controlling the public sphere. But activists, who have made such effective use of technology to rally supporters, still need to figure out how to convert that energy into greater impact. The point isn’t just to challenge power; it’s to change it.”
Although I agree with her final sentence, she completely misses the point. The protests are a tactic to change the awareness and acceptance of cultural norms. We protest to make issue literacy socially relevant, because this is where real change happens. I do not think that Occupy Wall Street is given enough credit for the change it is bringing. The Affordable Care Act, Dodd-Frank, and the recent Senate Torture Report all had space made for them by the Occupy protests. This is remarkably fast in contrast to the decade it took for any of the Civil Rights Legislation to get enacted. Tufekci, like many media critics, mistakes the tactics for the movement and wants to see change happen at the speed of social media while ignoring the fact that there is always lag between protest and real change. Even though we can argue that the legislative attempts to fix the problems came quickly, the outcomes of those attempts has been less than inspiring because power is wielded in corporate policy and our laws are written by the corporations. Any result we get right now from our current politicians is tainted by Wall St.
Demonstrating that all our grievances are tied, and delegitimizing and exposing corruption is what we protesters are doing because we realize that public opinion matters more than ever. We no longer have national issues as we did back during the Civil Rights Era, we have more globalized issues that now require a different course of action. Conventional wisdom still thinks that power resides with politicians, which is naive in my view and why we chose to Occupy Wall Street. Power now resides in the corporations and they adhere to different views of how power works. The views of the corporate elite are probably best elaborated by Edward L. Bernays, the father of public relations and nephew to Sigmund Freud, in the opening paragraphs of Propaganda.
“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons— a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty million—who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.
It is not usually realized how necessary these invisible governors are to the orderly functioning of our group life. In theory, every citizen may vote for whom he pleases. Our Constitution does not envisage political parties as part of the mechanism of government, and its framers seem not to have pictured to themselves the existence in our national politics of anything like the modern political machine. But the American voters soon found that without organization and direction their individual votes, cast, perhaps, for dozens or hundreds of candidates, would produce nothing but confusion. Invisible government, in the shape of rudimentary political parties, arose almost overnight. Ever since then we have agreed, for the sake of simplicity and practicality, that party machines should narrow down the field of choice to two candidates, or at most three or four.”
What was started in the Arab Spring/Tenting/Indignados/Occupy is still continuing with the anti-police brutality/minimum Wage/anti-fracking/Keystone Pipeline/Hong Kong protests. It should not be lost on anyone that our critics miss the point about why there are no leaders in these types of protest, it scares them. They can no longer predict how the masses will react to their lies, which is why these types of protests are somewhat unpredictable, hard to sustain for extended periods of time, but have also not stopped. People are protesting in this country again because Occupiers proved to this generation that it is possible to speak truth to power.
On Sept 29th, 2011 we at the NYC General Assembly passed a document laying out a list of grievances. We maintained that all our grievances are linked, because our grievances are those of people that cannot abide the paradigm of oppression.