American Spring: ‘First we take Manhattan’

There are a couple of very interesting observations in the Lenin’s Tomb commentary upon the Occupy Wall Street circus (a circus yes, with the cops as clowns, dark knights of corporate order, threatening mayhem if you walk on a road).

I am particularly interested in the critique LT offers of the ‘list of demands’ that is not one. ‘Join the process’ is well and good, but inadequate when its clearly more than just a process call – but a need for solidarity when: ‘it must be a felicitous coincidence that JP Morgan Chase donated $4.6m to the New York Police Department on the same day that the same department engaged in a mass arrest of hundreds of#OccupyWallStreet activists marooned on the Brooklyn Bridge’.

If it can be said that ‘the occupation began with a deliberate strategy of having minimal concrete politics and no demands.  The idea was that the politics and tactics of the occupation would be agreed in the context of aparticipatory, open-ended symposium.  No doubt some of this is mired in what I would consider a destructive and caricatured anti-Leninism, but I can imagine it comes from real experiences and expresses legitimate desires’ then LT is correct to examine this. The assessment offered is fair, critical, but optimistic. Along the way, some excellent phrasings, for example the on the money appreciation of slogans: ‘The best slogan I’ve seen is, “How do we end the deficit?  End the war, Tax the rich.”  This has the virtue of being a popular demand, a concise point, and right on the money’ – right on the money, get it? Very good. But the section on rapid politicization after police crack-down rings true as well, and is reason to cheer. I think this is indicative of a wider atmosphere that we can diagnose in the anticipation of the coming actions in the UK as well – a politicization is underway, and directions are up for discussion. That itself is of interest.

Read the rest here:

LENIN'S TOMB

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 02, 2011

First we take Manhattan

Wall Street’s famously chaste, humble bearing may not be the secret of its charm.  When you ask what is, you begin to realise what the Right has accomplished.  It has plausibly retailed something as banal as markets, and all the variations and derivatives thereof, as a libidinised field of popular (competitive) participation, the final source of all wealth/value (stock markets delivering oodles of the stuff like ducks farting out golden eggs), and, if this isn’t a tautology, a genre of erotica.  The insurance company as an aphrodisiac.  Yet it had to occur to someone to give Goldman Sachs and allies something to worry about, a something from which they have thus far been protected.  Under the Obama administration, which treats the quack orthodoxies of investment bankers as technocratic panaceas, the politically dominant fraction within the US ruling class has rarely seemed more powerful and at ease.  In their home city, the banks and traders have colonised the political system to the extent that one of their own sons, Michael Bloomberg, can take office and actually run the city as a favour to them.  (Bloomberg declines remuneration for his services.)  This is 21st Century philanthropy.

“The whole world is watching,” the protesters chant. No doubt. The question is whether any of those watching will take this as a cue to join the occupation in solidarity.  Admittedly it is already an over-worked reference, but there are compelling, if distant, echoes of Tahrir Square in New York (and now, I understand, financial districts in Boston, Miami, Detroit, San Francisco, etc.), in the sense of a nascent attempt to find a new model commune.  What the occupiers seek to create is both a rallying point for oppositional forces, and a model of participatory democracy that, if replicated, would give popular constituencies the ability and authority to solve their problems.  We’ll come back to the model of self-government being debated in Zuccotti Park, but as far as rallying opposition forces and pricking the mediasphere goes, the occupation has been having some success. The critical moment has been the participation of the organised labour movement, with the direct involvement of transport and steel workers, and the solidarity of Tahrir Square protesters.  (A mass strike by transport workers in Egypt has just won a major victory, gaining a 200% pay rise, just months after the army outlawed strikes).  The context of which it partakes is a germinal revival of class struggle in the United States.  Doug Henwood, who initially expressed reservations about the (lack of) politics of the initiative, describes the situation as “inspiring”.  This is why the initiative has been greeted with the predictable sequence of tactful silence from officials, followed by open hostility, police brutality, threatening murmurs from Bloomberg and, finally, last night’s mass arrest – which I would imagine follows orders from the mayor’s office. Bloomberg, you’ll be relieved to know, is not exercised on behalf of multi-billionaires like himself, but those Wall Street traders on a measly $40-50k, inconvenienced by anticapitalist wildlife.
and it continues after a vid: read the rest, from para three: here
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