30 November 2011

many are waiting for their lives to begin again

Many people in the US and around the world have realized that their lives has been taken away by the minority, who continue to use them and get richer.  The unemployment in the US has endured for an extended period that many have run out of unemployment insurance and are now homeless. Those that are still receiving unemployment benefits beyond the normal period could see their unemployment benefits run out in 1 January 2012.  This will mean that those going into poverty will increase an d homelessness would likewise increase.  There are more homeless families that ever before. Yet they are coping with the plight that has been handed to them by the One Percent.
Many in the world have adopted the principles that the US were first to promote: Freedom of Speech, Right to Address Grievances, Equality under the law, the Rule of Law (civil society), a military under the control of the people, ability to better one’s  economic state without being hampered by an elite, and the ability to change things for the betterment of all.  Unfortunately, the One Percent have perverted all these principles in the US and the world.

The population of the world is trying to take back their lives and the freedoms that have been stolen by the elites.  The elites are not going to give their control up easily as the wealth that they have accumulated has made them addicted to excess and control.  In the process they not only have destroyed the global economy, but have destroyed the environment and created a dependence on fossil fuels.  Creating a sustainable environment is a necessity and the only way to prevent complete disaster. Likewise, creating a more equitable world is  not a ‘pipe dream’ but is absolutely essential.  The challage is  how are we going to achieve this. 

29 November 2011

Black Friday was a success?

According to the preliminary estimates, spending on Black Friday was up. Somehow, this is good news by the media, but actually is covering up the very sad state of  most Americans.

On Black Friday, shoppers mobbed stores in a frenzy buying the 'bargains' offered by stores, particularly the 'big box' stores. Americans demonstrated that they were still addicted to the consumerism handed to them by the marketing firms representing the large corporations. There was one case where a woman pepper sprayed her fellow shoppers to get to some cheap waffle makers. My compliments to this woman for showing what has become the hallmark of the Christmas... greed and uber consumerism. Uber consumerism is the desire for useless items for the sake of buying. (see http://wealthartisan.com/2010/04/07/uber-consumerism-explained/ .)  No amount of  goods satisfies those who have been drawn in by the myth created by the One Percent. It is an addiction that can never be satisfied leading a person to accumulate an increasing amount of credit.

Americans are apparently oblivious  that they are giving money to the same corporations that have: laid them off, made them go into more debt to live the myth of the American Dream, handed over the majority of the profits to the corporate executives while paid the majority of workers a fraction of the wages that they deserve, and outsourced American jobs. 

Furthermore, Americans should have had compassion for the non-unionized, part-time workers who were forced to work on the Thanksgiving holidays so the corporations could get richer.  If any thought that were helping them keep their jobs by shopping on Black Friday? This is not likely as as they will receive little over-time, if any.  The 'drug' of consumerism has made the American populus blind to the plight of others.

The increase of profits on Black Friday still does not hide the bleak reality in the U.S: unemployment, homelessness, under-employment, stagnant wages, mortgage payments exceeding market value and strangling credit card debt.  If shoppers are spending more, it was only on Black Friday, and will not and cannot continue on during the holiday season. Where is the money coming from? The media controlled by the One Percent failed to notice this. The message was 'see .. it is getting better.. things are returning to normal... The Occupy Movement is a group that is of little consequence and powerless to tinfluence the masses."  In other words, the One Percent is giving an message subliminally to the public, "You are our slaves. . Nothing can pull us from the grip we have on you." 

There is not too much rejoicing in ‘Whoville’ this Christmas.  The Grinch (Wall Street) has apparently stolen Christmas for many (if you consider Christmas as the celebration of consumerism, which it has become)  However, it is hoped that many will celebrate Christmas, by not going into debt, giving money to the One Percent and giving simple gifts and enjoying being with family and friends. Most of all, it is hoped that Americans will remember that this is the time to give to ones that are less fortunate,  and contemplate on how they as individuals can bring Peace to the Earth, not conflict.  As the citizens of  Dr. Seuss's Whoville showed the Grinch that Christmas was more that consumerism,  the 99% in America can show the 1% that they know the real message of Christmas.

Unfortunately, the One Percent only is looking at how much profits that they will make on the consumer and economic slaves that they have created.  You can be assured that they have not one small bit of remorse for this situation that they have created for the global population. 

22 November 2011

Make Black Friday a Black Friday for ‘big box’ department stores, credit card companies and national banks

Protest consumerism by boycotting ‘big box’ stores, only buy necessities if need be from them, buy in local businesses and thrift shops on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgivings. ) Say thanks to the plutocracy for giving us the opportunity to be your economic slaves.   Protest the minimum wages without benefits of the workers that are forced to work on Black Friday. In addition, tear up your credit cards.  Also (if you haven’t already) transfer your money to a credit union or local bank.  Vote with your pocket books. Send a message to the plutocracy that U.S. public wants fair wages, the end of income disparity, good benefits (if not universal health care for all workers, and outsourcing stopped. As mentioned before, there are small ways to support the Occupy Movement. Ultimately, this is to signal to the One Percent that the Ninety-Nine Percent have the power and your days are numbered  in being able to control our economy and our political system for you own benefit. Here is one example that will hurt the multi-nationals on a day when a great deal of profit is generated for them, not their workers. This call is nothing new, in fact it is called Buy Nothing Day (BND) has been a movement for several years, but now it has a new meaning with the Occupy Movement (see http://www.adbusters.org/campaigns/bnd .)  So why stand in line like consumer zombies, break the bonds that the plutocracy have placed on the One Percent.

Referring back to the earlier blog on transition for the Occupy Movement, I found this excellent article by Trevor Malkinson located on  Beams and Struts titled ‘The Occupy Movement and the Participatory Transition’ (http://www.beamsandstruts.com/bits-a-pieces/item/654-the-occupy-movement-and-the-new-participatory-fellowship . ) The article states that transforming the movement forward is a natural phase. The author states that not only the Occupy Movement is protest, but in its actions have been setting up the prototype for a participatory, cooperative, inclusive, moral and civil society.

Transitioning the Occupy Movement: From Protest to Action (Addendum)

As stated in the earlier blog entries, it is now time to transition the Occupy Movement to be part of the everyday life of citizens, to take down the structure that the plutocracy has created from within. While, I still think that a working convention/conference would be the best vehicle to galvanize the Movement, there are other ways to start making change in small ways in your neighborhood, workplace, university, local city councils, online connections etc.  On the other hand, the Movement still needs to keep up demonstrations, but probably relinquish the idea (at least for the winter time) of occupying public spaces to concentrate on broadening support. This occupying of public spaces has become  somewhat of an obsession with some in the Movement and is distracting from the overall message. 

In an article by Luis Moreno-Caballud and Marina Sitrin (both participants in Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Madrid) titled “Occupy Wall Street beyond the encampments”in the online magazine Yes! on 21 November 2011 (http://www.yesmagazine.org/people-power/occupy-wall-street-beyond-encampments ) they state that the Occupy Movement in Madrid has transitioned from occupying public spaces to organizing cooperatives in neighborhoods and other activities.
In the article they state:
The evictions and threats to the physical occupations in the United States have again raised the question of the future of the movement. The question isn’t whether the movement has a future, but what sort of future it will be. For example, should our energy be focused on finding new spaces to occupy and create encampments? Should we be focused more in our local neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces? Is there a way to occupy public space with horizontal assemblies, yet also focus locally and concretely?
Further on in the article, the authors state:
Rather than reproducing the logic of the traditional “sit-in,” these occupations (in Madrid and New York) quickly turned to the construction of miniature models of the society that the movement wanted to create—prefiguring the world while simultaneously creating it. The territory occupied was geographic, but only so as to open other ways of doing and being together. It is not the specific place that is the issue, but what happens in it. This is what we could call the first phase of the movement. Solutions began to be implemented for the urgent problems, like the absence of truly representative politics and the lack of access to basic necessities, such as housing, education, food, and health care. In Spain and in the United States, this first phase saw the creation of two problem-solving institutions: the general assemblies and the working groups.

It is quite clear from my perspective, that Madrid is showing the path to the next phase in the Occupy Movement. The Movement should broaden, still concentrating on demonstrations and the agenda that is still being pushed by the plutocrats (including the organization of a conference in New York), and begin to focus more on the local by helping the unemployed, the homeless, confronting the plutocracy on a local scale, implementing assemblies for decision-making, advocate local direct democracy, encourage democracy in the work place and other actions still yet to be conceived.  These ideas will be expanded in other blog entries that I intend to post.

21 November 2011

How can the Occupy Movement transition from protest to action? (Part II)

There is a glimmer of hope coming from the Occupy Movement.  In these turbulent times, the Movement cannot stall but must transform itself quickly to respond to the mounting problems facing the global community.   It can be clearly stated that the U.S. Congress will not act in the best interest of the 99% , neither will other governmental bodies, E.U., IMF etc. who are frantically manipulating financial markets, proposing austerity programs with the gamble that everything will resolve itself.  It is obvious that the world leadership is not equipped to make the necessary changes to correct the situation or are willing or able due to their commitment to the plutocracy; neither are they willing  to engage with the Occupy Movement. 

At this crucial juncture, the Occupy Movement and all the entourage that support it must evolve into a more structured organization with key leadership to confront the emerging political situations and the decrepit and self-serving plutocracy.  Although the Movement espouses a leaderless organization, it is becoming increasingly apparent that leaders with faces must emerge to foster the embers that have been started so that it can become a roaring fire.  This leadership could come from existing members of Congress, European Union leaders, mayors, union leaders, industrialists, economists, political scientists, environmentalists, urban/regional planners. urbanists, and others.  There are probably many who are ‘waiting in the wings’ to enter the discussion from the most prominent to ordinary citizens.  As with any movement, key leaders with integrity and conviction must be at the forefront. This is the success of all movements in the modern era (e.g.  Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Bishop Tutu, the Dalai Lama, Lech Walesa, Vaclav Havel , Pope John Paul II, Jaime Lerner,  and Dr. Martin Luther King.)  What is striking about these leaders that they championed a cause outside of the political system then moved into an elected or a higher position.  The exceptions would be Mahatma Gandhi, Bishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama and Dr. Martin Luther King, who deliberately remained outside of direct political office. It is unfortunate that it appears that President Obama is too linked to the plutocracy that he cannot lead such a movement.  There is a tremendous ‘brain-trust’ in the world and persons with integrity who can come to the forefront.  If past history is an indicator of the future then leaders will emerge.  It is only hoped that they will be of such character to be an inspiration and self-less, understanding their role and their responsibility to a global population anxious for real change.

It is also very apparent that the opposition, the plutocracy, is mounting a smear campaign against to prevent the solidification of the Occupy Movement.  While there was some toleration in the beginning, it was apparent that the plutocracy was threatened after it was certain that the movement would not dissipate.  You can imagine one of the financial leaders on Wall Street stating to the Mayor Bloomberg  of New York, “Enough is enough. It is time to stop the Occupy Movement. Now!”  The tried and true tactics of repression reminiscent of other movements is very apparent in the police action taken in Oakland, San Diego and New York.  The powers in Wall Street are stepping up their pressure by requesting a ‘smear campaign’ against the Occupy Movement including its leaders.  Of course, the ’mouthpiece’ of the plutocracy, Fox News, has been putting out propaganda from the onset against the Occupy Movement.  Criticism without presenting an alternative is usually the signs of an organization which is declining and facing significant threat to its validity. 

Emerging from the conservative spectrum is a guarded appreciation of the Movement.  Many are noticing that the protestors are not unemployed youth, but the retired, teachers, factory workers, professors, minorities, and economists—a movement with broader diversity than the Civil Rights Movement  or the Vietnam War Protest. The Tea Party is being increasingly being perceived by the conservative Intelligentsia as shills, crying about how government has been the downfall and looking back at some fantasy time that there was limited government, lower taxes, less regulations and everyone was prosperous and happy.  They are offering no innovation and are not inclusive, almost exclusively white and Republican.  In addition, it is evidently clear that they have been hijacked by the Koch brothers and others of the ‘economic nobility’ to ‘microphone’ their message. While there are allegations by the Tea Party that George Soros is behind the Occupy Movement, this can not explain the genuine out pouring of support for the Occupy Movement and its associated global network.  It is anticipated that a majority of those supporting the Tea Party will become disillusioned and will come into the ranks of the Occupy Movement.

In the meantime the Occupy Movement is discussing inequality, mortgage forgiveness, debt reduction for student loans, a sustainable environment, participatory and direct democracy, infrastructure investment, free public education and a myriad of other topics.  Within these topics are both liberal and conservative methods to achieve them.  What is also impressive to the conservatives and inviting is that the protestors are doing this within the legal system and within the principles of the U.S. Constitution. They are not quoting Marx, Lenin, Mao or Kropotkin, and advocating the demise of capitalism and democracy, but a fairer capitalism and true democracy, not a front for the plutocracy.  Although the Movement has naturally attracted those who are attracted to some of the tenets of these Marxist and Anarchist philosophies.  It should be noted that the appreciation of Marx’s criticism of capitalism is crucial for understanding the abuses of capitalism.  Likewise, Kropotkin offers insight on mutual-aid, small business (guild) cooperation , participatory democracy and the abuses of State power.  The overall message of the Occupy Movement is that capitalism has been distorted by the plutocracy to serve their ends and creating an under-class with no economic or political rights.

It is my recommendation that the next step for the Occupy Movement is to convene an international working conference so that all involved can congregate and discuss the next step in a public manner.  Out of this conference should come a clear agenda, demands and a plan of action that is clear to all those participating in the Occupy Movement.  Like the movement itself it has to be certain that not only key leaders are there, but also allow anyone who would like to participate to join the discussion and the further solidification of the organization.  There should be an open call to all those interesting in changing the political and economic environment from all spectrums, conservative and liberal.  Out of this conference should come : 1) A declaration summarizing the key points that the Movement supports signed by key leaders (members of US Congress, mayors, European Parliament Members, economists, political scientists etc.); 2)a document detailing the situation leading up to the formulation of the Occupy Movement and suggested action; and  3) A directive for future action and organization.  The conference should be held in New York City, the birthplace of the Occupy Movement. There should also be other related events such as plays, music, poetry reading, and smaller working groups scattered around the city. This should not be a staid convention, but a celebration imbued with openness, not exclusion. It will be a major event that will take a tremendous amount of work and funds.   The obvious time for this meeting would be in the Spring of 2012 before the Republican and Democratic Conventions. 

This is an obvious continuation of the Occupy Movement. While setting up tents, protesting and peaceful disturbance has made the Movement visible, it must transition to another stage that will be more organized and begin to set in motion action that will begin to transform the political, social/cultural environment of the globe.  This will take years, if not decades to develop and evolve.  However, there is no alternative. To continue in the same unsustainable path is without hope and will result in everything staying the same with the One Percent controlling the Ninety-Nine Percent.

I would like to end the blog with a series of quotes from leaders that led successful non-violent movements that transformed the world:

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Mahatma Gandhi

Non-violence is the greatest force at the disposal of mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of destruction devised by the ingenuity of man.
Mohatma Gandhi

Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life.
Dalai Lama

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights.
Bishop Desmond Tutu

None of us know all the potentialities that slumber in the spirit of the population, or all the ways in which that population can surprise us when there is the right interplay of events.
Vaclav Havel

In my country we go to prison first and then become President.
Nelson Mandela

If anyone has two tunics, he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.
Jesus of Nazareth

You have learnt how it was said: 'Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.' But I say to you, Offer the wicked man no resistance. If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; if a man takes you to law and would have your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone orders you to go one mile, go two miles with him.
Jesus of Nazareth

Michael Corcoran, 15 November 2011, , “Smear Campaigns Fuel Shutdowns of Occupations Across Country”,Truthout, http://www.truth-out.org/smear-campaigns-fuel-shutdowns-occupations-across-country/1321386431

Steve Croft, 20 November 2011, “The Pledge: Grover Norquist's hold on the GOP”, CBS News (60 Minutes Interview with Grover Norquist), http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57327816/the-pledge-grover-norquists-hold-on-the-gop/
Authur Delany, 20 November 2011, “Super Committee Failure: Bush Tax Cuts Obstacle To Deal (UPDATE)”, The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/20/supercommittee-fail_n_1103722.html

Mohamed A. El-Erian, 19 November 2011, “OWS: From Building Awareness To Maintaining Momentum”, The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mohamed-a-elerian/occupy-wall-street_b_1103499.html

Adam Hartung, 18 November 2011, “Occupy Wall Street deserves more attention than the Tea Party”, Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/adamhartung/2011/11/18/occupy-wall-street-deserves-more-attention-than-the-tea-party/2/

E.D. Kain, 18 November 2011, “Has Occupy Wall Street Outworn its Welcome?”, Forbes, http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2011/11/18/has-occupy-wall-street-outworn-its-welcome/

Jeffrey Sachs, 17 November 2011, “Message to Wall Street”, Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-sachs/message-to-wall-street_b_1015943.html

Greg Sargent, 19 November 2011, “How Wall Street really views the protesters”, Washington Posthttp://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/post/how-wall-street-really-views-the-protesters/2011/11/19/gIQAfvSObN_blog.html

Sam Stein,  20 November 2011, “Super Committee Member Jon Kyl Turns Eye Towards Saving Pentagon From Trigger Cuts (UPDATE)”, The Huffington Post,  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/20/super-committee-jon-kyl_n_1103821.html
__________,21 November 2011, “Debt-reduction panel spirals toward failure”, Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/21/us-usa-debt-idUSTRE7AJ0KE20111121

__________,20 November 2011, “Risks of global recession mounts”, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/20/us-economy-global-idUSTRE7AJ0RZ20111120

___________,21 November 2011, “Global economic outlook grim, China tells U.S. trade”, Reuters, http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/11/21/us-china-usa-economy-idUSTRE7AK0BD20111121

How can the Occupy Movement transition from protest to action? (Part I)

There is ‘buzz’ over several online sources about the transition of the Occupy Movement to the arena of real politics.  At first, the major theme of the Occupy Movement was awareness of the domination of the minority (the 1% or the plutocracy) over the majority (the 99%.)  This was not a widely known phenomena or ‘rallying cry’ before the Movement.  However, now one can say the vast majority of citizens in the U.S. and the world understand this undisputable fact and are behind significant reform and transformation of the global political and economic environment. . The  winds of change are in the air in New York, Los Angeles London, Madrid, Cairo, Tunis City, Damascus, Sydney and other numerous locations around the world. The global population is fervently watching  the Movement and hoping that it will blossom into one that will result in a more just world where the Majority (the 99%) are participating and determining decisions affecting their lives, not the Minority (the 1%.)

The struggle will not be an easy one as already seen in Egypt, Tunisian, and Syria.  The plutocracy will not give up easy, but ultimately and predictably, their hold over the world will dissipate.  The problem for the Occupy Movement is going from this initial point to becoming an integral factor in shaping future events.

Contrast the hope that is being generated by the Occupy Movement with the overall chaos and confusion that are besetting the governments of the world as they attempt to bolster up a system  that is faltering and are rushing towards another economic crisis, perhaps worse than the initial crisis of 2008. The U.S. Congress Super Committee is presently debating spending cuts mostly in social programs (Medicare, Social Security), while not addressing spending on infrastructure, education, housing forgiveness for housing mortgages or student loans or other credit, revising the tax code for higher income brackets/higher taxes for the One Percent, eliminating loopholes that subsidize multi-nationals and special interest groups and not undertaking significant reform of financial institutions. Of course, a discussion of creating a sustainable economy, decreasing the gap between rich and poor and environment are not even on the agenda; neither are significant cuts in defense.  The Super Bi-Partisan Committee is presently primarily stalled due to the refusal of the Republicans to budge on any kind of revenue increases including closing the loop holes for the high income bracket, non-renewal of the Bush tax cuts (mostly favoring the top income brackets.)  Behind this refusal to increase taxes is Grover Norquist, a lobbyist, not a Representative of Congress, who has had Republican Members of Congress sign a commitment to no new taxes.  This ‘speaks’ clearly of the corruption that the Republicans are entwined.  It is tragically evident that the very structure of politics in the U.S. is being controlled by lobbyists and special interests. There is a high likelihood that there will not be an agreement, argument will pursue over defense spending cuts, and further conflict with erupt over the automatic cuts with the end result being deadlock. This is all politically motivated particularly on the side of the Republicans to malign the Democratic Party and to set a rallying call for change in administrations for the upcoming elections.  All of these discussions on both sides are political posturing without any attempt to address the underlying problems.

It is clear to most that the plutocracy is calling the shots.  Is there little question that the plutocracy would not support decreases in defense spending when the military-industrial complex is intimately entwined with it?.  A large majority portion of the U.S. budget is spent on inflated military equipment that is mostly over-budget and not needed for modern warfare.  This has nothing to do with actual defense for the U.S., but everything to do with transferring tax revenue to the wealthy.  Our ‘war on terror’ is another deception brought to the U.S. public by the plutocracy to gain access to resources and to nation-build to put these countries in the sphere on U.S. control.  The economic crisis is actually beneficial to the war machine as young men and ladies are going into the military due to the poor economic situation and decreasing benefits for workers. Likewise, it is apparent that no reform in the financial institutions which caused this problem will be subject to necessary reforms to protect the consumer from gambling with their money.  It is evident by very knowledgeable economists, including those at the IMF, that draconian cuts without these other measures such as investment will lead to another recession and those who are unemployed or under-employed being without necessary services for health, housing and support.  It should be noted that the extension of unemployment benefits is not be considered by the Super Committee.  The next step is automatic cuts of which fifty percent would be in defense spending.  There will be skillful maneuvering by the U.S. Congress to weasel out of this, causing delay and a stalemate. Their masters, the plutocracy, will not allow this to happen.  U.S. Congress and even the President must obey them, because the plutocracy puts the money into the Congressional campaigns.  (It should be noted that a large amount of money goes into media, which they control, so get immediately get some of their money back.) The dog will not bite the hand of the person who feeds it. Meanwhile in the European Union, there are talks of austerity measures, increasing financial assistance to the economies of Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain, often referred to as PIGS.  On both sides of the Atlantic, legislatures are failing to see the overall deteriorating condition of the public and focusing on financial manipulations which will be ineffective. While the situation has been building for years, it is now coming to a crux in the last couple of months.  There is an ever increasing gap between the public and the political institution around the world.  Tragedy and promise are spiraling in an interconnected vortex leading to collapse or rejuvenation.  You can almost hear a cosmic roulette croupier exclaiming, “round and round she goes and where she stops nobody knows.” 

In the next blog entry, I will discuss my suggestion to the Occupy Movement to transform into a more solidified movement capable of action.   Also, I will give the references that I used, which come from reliable and well-respected journalists and experts.  In the blogs after this, I want to proceed back to how some of the perceived agenda of the Occupy Movement can be implemented in cities.  This will be somewhat a reformulation of an earlier ‘thread’ that I had introduced concerning how cities can lead  an economic and political up-turn.   While this is somewhat disjointed, I think that the Occupy Movemnt has opened up a new paradigm that will be a better format to understand the role of cities in this a transformative process.  Although the number that presently read my blog are few, I am hopeful that they will understand the logic behind the shift.

19 November 2011

taking back or ‘occupying' our cities starts with the individual

This is a revolution that is individual and personal. On all accounts, the 99% in the U.S. have fallen victim to the environment that the plutocracy has created. They are the: unemployed; under-employed;  families struggling with mortgages; homeless; older persons experiencing employment discrimination; the youth of American being forced into the military due to economic necessity and often coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan disabled mentally or physically and  often unable to find a job; small retailers who are losing their business because of 'big-box' stores; retirees losing or seeing their pensions falling a significant amount of money;  .... .  In Mexican Spanish dialect, the poor are referred to as los marginales (the marginal), not los pobres (the poor)  This distinction is one which means that those who are poor are not only economically deprived but have been pushed to the margins, ignored by society and the government.  They have no voice. In the U.S., not only have the poor been marginalized by the plutocracy, but so have the Middle Class which is shrinking with many entering the ranks of the impoverished daily. The 99%  in the world can now see that they have become marginalized economically and politically.  The global economic crisis has opened up all of our eyes.  The plutocracy does not value individuals except as their tools to acquire further wealth. Each in our own way must take back our city, our state, our nation and our world.  There is no hope that our government at any level or our present political parties have any interest of engaging in anything that will improve the lot of the majority. All austerity measures and financial manipulations by the plutocracy are means to keep the System going so that they can continue to exploit the masses and natural resources. There is little doubt that austerity cuts will mean more unemployment, less taxes due to decreased consumer spending (the unemployed can't afford, new cars, homes), stagnant wages  and will plunge the world into another recession.   If you expect the U.S. Congress to miraculously come together to develop both cuts and tax increases and eliminating loop holes for the wealthy, create jobs and lead us to a sustainable world, you are deluded.  The change in this poisoned environment with not come from it creators, but from the 99%. Everyone must consider what s/he can do to help the Occupy Movement even in small ways.

16 November 2011

The Occupy Movement is Full of Socialists, Marxists, Anarchists, Homeless and Crazy People whose primary objective is to eliminate capitalism and democracy.. Au contraire, mon frère.

The question for many has been: Who are the leaders behind the Occupy Movement? If one listens to the ‘mouthpieces’ of the plutocracy in the U.S.,  the impression is that those in the Occupy Movement do not represent the majority or the Ninety-Nine Percent, but are a 'rag-tag'  bunch of radical activists conspiring to bring chaos and disaster to 'The American Way of Life' and U.S. democracy. (''The American Way of Life' is now a hollow concept which has been destroyed by the plutocracy. Also, U.S. democracy likewise has been hijacked by them through powerful lobbies and their political machines which have bought politicians, including the U.S. President and all prominent world leaders. To expect any reform from these lackeys that will result in change for the global community is fantasy.)   This is blatant propaganda from the plutocracy meant to distract and diffuse a popular uprising which threatens their stranglehold on the global economy and political environment. 

From all reliable sources it can be proven that those involved in the movement are clearly representative of the majority, supported by the majority and count among them as supporters experts with intelligence and experience to lead the the U.S. and the world into a new era of sustainability, giving prosperity to the global community, not to the few.   This frightens the plutocracy who are clueless, and entrenched to protecting their place. Many in the plutocracy  must be already acknowledging that they must  join the revolution. Others in the One Percent blindly believe that suppressing the movement, continuing to buy their candidates to continue their 'feeding' off the decay of a system, 'playing' with financial markets and causing more to sink into poverty due to austerity program without fueling the Movement further because they think the U.S., public is apathetic and reigned in by limited democracy controlled by them, have no idea what will be unleashed. The Occupy Movement will only get larger and stronger. We are witness to a tragic time, but one where the entire  globe population  has been re-energized to see a world filled with light and hope instead of dreary sacrifice for the Ninety-Nine Percent while the rich continue on with their complete dismantling of the Middle Class.

At the present moment, the Occupy Movement adeptly has not attempted to push leaders to the forefront and have deliberately stated it is a leaderless organization. This is a smart and very political move in a world still controlled by the plutocracy.  No doubt if leaders would emerge in this early stage regardless of their intelligence, honesty and conviction they would be demonized by the media that the One Percent control.  The plutocracy has already shown that they can spew venom and will resort to violence to protect their position.  However, is it really a leaderless movement?  This may not be exactly true. But, it is not the ‘ghosts’ of Jerry Rubin, Eldridge Cleaver, Lenin or Marx who are the ‘brain trust’ of the Occupy Movement but level-headed individuals such as economists, political scientists, sociologists and myriad other experts who are supporting and apparently giving advice to this movement behind the scenes, yet gaining nothing but the satisfaction that they are on the right side of history.   Although there are some radical elements, as in any movement, the vast majority are discussing correcting capitalism to better serve the public, participatory democracy and economic prosperity and sustainability for the entire global population, not just the few (the One Percent.)  These are concepts which have been discussed at length in various forums for at least twenty years and are the ‘stuff’ of reform, but not belligerent and destructive.  They are proposals whose time is right to start to implement. .
In a recent commentary (15 November 2011) in The Guardian by Ha-Joon Chang whose title is: “ Anti-capitalist? Too simple.  Occupy can be the catalyst for a radical rethink” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/15/anti-capitalist-occupy-pigeonholing .), he  recounts that the vast majority of those protesting are not anti-capitalist Anarchists or Marxists, but average people wanting to have a capitalist system that brings about more prosperity, not less and evens out the disparity between rich and poor.  For most, except for those protecting the One Percent, this is what capitalism is about.. allowing for everyone to be prosperous and incentives for those with abilities to stimulate further prosperity to have greater wealth, but not wealth that controls the very lives of the majority.  Henry Ford, not exactly a Marxist, paid his workers enough so that they could afford to buy Ford products.  The concept that consumers for products manufactured in the U.S. are dependent on the buying power of the public has been ignored and substituted for a population that is enslaved to credit due to declining real wages yet attempting to maintain a decent standard of living.  Likewise, the ethos of the noblesse oblige, that those who are better off have the obligation to serve the public, has ceased to part of the ethics among the rich.  That this group is absolutely morally bankrupt is evident in the acceptance of bailouts and tax breaks, making them richer, while the majority became more impoverished and burdened with debt or reduced to poverty and homelessness.  Chang also states that capitalism varies in countries such as France, Germany, Sweden, Japan, U.K. and the U.S. in fairly dramatic ways.  For example, in Germany and Japan, workers have a significant role in running the corporations. Such a concept in the U.S. would probably be labeled as Socialist and under-mining capitalism.  Yet, both countries are very capitalistic in nature.  He reminds the reader that minimum wage and child labor laws were once considered radical in the U.S. and other developed countries.  It would also have been a radical idea a century ago that certain companies could be broken up, such as the Standard Oil Company.  To summarize and to expound upon his ideas, capitalism can be dramatically altered to serve the social needs of the populous and not just the few.  This notions mirrors the sentiment of many over the last two centuries who suggested alternations in capitalism such that the many share in prosperity. The evolution of capitalism need not be an evolutionary confrontation as depicted by Marx, but more of significant adaptation as expressed by modern political/economic critics such as Jeremy Rifkin and Amory Lovings. 
In this polarized environment where the plutocracy is fighting reform, they should be reminded that reform will come because the vast majority of the public demands it and that efforts either through creating ‘dead-locked’ legislatures or using force against non-violent ;protestors eventually will only accelerate the movement.  The end result will be significant reform. This is proven by the reforms of the early 1900s and those of the 1930s related to the New Deal. 
The anxious public must be reminded that in democratic nations, this is part of the inherent process which has happened in previous times (i.e., freedom of slaves, rights of women to vote, social security, economic and political equality for African-Americans.  We still have a civil society protected by constitutions, laws and democratic institutions to bring about reform in a peaceful manner in developed countries and some developing ones, such as Turkey, Brazil, Chile and Argentina (although the latter are still struggling with the development of civil society.)  At the present time, the movement is in its beginning phase. Soon will come agendas, leaders, changes in the existing parties or new parties, reforms will be made and governments will usher in a new era, hopefully better and pointing to an improved future for the vast majority of their citizens and the global population.
There is much that still has to be done. But, his is the stuff that makes history and change a marvelous thing to experience.  Let all of the global society engage in peaceful dialog and introspection, not resistance to outmoded notions which should be abandoned.  As in the former Czechoslovakia, South Africa and in the U.S. during the Civil Rights Movement, those who protected the status quo fell to those who championed a just cause.  Like these other movements there will be violence against the non-violent by security forces (as already witnessed in Oakland and New York), attempts to discredit the Movement through the media and other elements and inadequate political responses to ‘band-aid’ the situation such as debt manipulation and austerity programs before things start to give way to reform. The vast majority of the world population, clear-thinking political and economic experts and emerging leaders are poised to bring the revolution into full swing. It is clearly evident that the present state of the politics, economics and environmental protection is woefully inadequately and unsustainable and will soon collapse. Every citizen regardless of education, income or status must participate to make sure that the transition is not one of disorder, confusion and tragedy, but one of dynamic excitement, rejuvenation, enlightenment and above all peaceful. The Occupy Movement is the only option for a economic and political system that is now collapsing.  Therefore, we as global citizens, must nurture it, support it and utilize it as a vehicle for transformation. 

15 November 2011

The Revolution Has Begun!!

In a chaotic, fractal, self-organizing, scale -less  and emerging manner, bearing all the characteristic of a complex entity, it is evident that : The Revolution Has Begun!! 
It emerged in Liberty Square (AKA Zuccotti Park) in New  York City on 17 September, 2011 and bore the name “Occupy Wall Street.:” The Occupy movement is now not only in the U.S., but has manifested itself in Canada,  Europe, Mexico and South America. as indicated by a recent map posted by the Guardian on 18 October 2011, (see http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/interactive/2011/oct/18/occupy-protests-map-world .)  

What led up to this moment that has sparked the imagination of the world and is giving some glimmer of hope?  It was not overnight.  It had been building up for at least thirty years.  During this period of time,   the middle class was steadily being eroded; high productivity of workers was not shared by corporate entities, but went into the funds of financial institutions which lent the money back to the workers—essentially making most of the those in the developed world ‘economic slaves’ to the plutocracy;  manufacturing was being relocated to China and other developing countries making most of the developed world consumer economies; natural resources (including petroleum products) were being increasingly exploited; the environment was being further degraded; the rich became obscenely wealthy;  and democracy became to be dominated by a plutocracy composed of multi-national corporations and the “economic nobility (the 1%. )  All these actions which did not serve the majority of the world’s citizens, but brought about a financial collapse in 2008.  The impact of the actions of the plutocracy became evident to the global population.  There were warning signs and experts noted the eventual collapse, but the global economy and their citizens were both riding on the crest of unsustainable credit (deluding themselves that this would continue) that eventually and predictably broke down.  Because of the crisis, the world discovered that “the Emperor has no clothes” meaning that the global population had been blinded to the control that had been increasingly exerted by the global plutocracy over the majority.  Now, that the blinders are off, many people are wondering: What now? 

Meanwhile, the plutocracy, reacting to this crisis, is spinning into chaos unable to manage this crisis through normal means.  They are creating more debt and forcing austerity on the masses (not on the ‘economic nobility’ or the multinational which are getting richer) as solutions.  In the meantime, unemployment is increasing or stagnant, under-employment is increasing, foreclosures are increasing, more people are without health insurance and the majority are increasly seeing their incomes shrink. The  media (controlled by the plutocracy) is: treating this movement and the growing disenchantment with the plutocracy by not or minimally reporting the growing agitation or tainting it as dominated by radicals and malcontents, by  focusing on the Republican primaries whose candidates firmly and naively believe that high taxes, and government regulations including energy regulations are the problem, and by distracting the public by obsession with the gossip of celebrities (also part  of the One Percent), ‘human interest stories’ and crime.  (This Roman Empire used the same strategy. When the society was breaking down the games in the Coliseum became more violent and extravagant. ) 

The picture is becoming clear as to their reaction to the Occupy Movement. As all plutocracies have reacted in the past, the repression has now begun. On Tuesday morning of 15 November 2011,, Liberty Square was cleared by the NYPD for safety and sanitation reasons. Those that protested were arrested. They will be allowed back into the park,  but can not put up tents.  Other evictions are pending in other cities associated  with the Occupy Movement (see the Huffington Post of 15 November 2011:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/15/zuccotti-park-cleared-occupy-wall-street_n_1094313.html  .) This is a clear sign that the plutocracy is rearing up its head and will further inflict harm on those who oppose them.  The next phase of this movement is still developing, but it is unlikely that such repression will cause its demise, but will help it to grow.  The battle lines are being drawn, similar to the Civil Rights Movement, but this time it is global.

Soon, the public will have a new distraction.   The ‘saber rattling’ has begun over the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iran. This was very apparent during the most recent Republican candidate debate held on 12 November 2011 when asked about a possible war with Iran over their acquisition of nuclear weapons. One can be certain that the Neo-Conservations , their associates such as the Koch brothers the military-industrial complex and the Israeli lobby were in the background encouraging and ‘feeding them their lines.”   (Also, this is a tried and true method by plutocracies throughout history-- when you are being attacked at home, create an enemy and start a war.  This is exactly what is happening in Iran and now the U.S. is now mirroring their stance. ) A war with Iran will fully collapse the political and economic systems of the U.S. and Europe by creating more debt. The U.S. and the globe will sink into a deep recession with enormous consequences to the political, social and economic chaos which may have disastrous consequences.  

Unfortunately, all these have events are mirrored  in other revolutions, such as the French, Russian, American and Chinese revolutions. However, on the other hand, there are recent examples of peaceful transitions in Egypt and Tunisia.   Earlier models would be the Velvet Revolution in former Czechoslovakia, the Solidarity Movement in Poland, the South African transition led by Nelson Mandela and the Indian War of Independence led by Mahatma Gandhi.   We have also been witnessed to peaceful movements such as the protests of the Madres de Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, the civil rights movement in the U.S. and The Occupy Movement has been adamantly stressing non-violence. The plutocracy knows how to deal with violence, but do not know how to deal adequately with peaceful protest and will consume itself trying.  Again, the outcome of this situation is unknown and could become violent. There are already indications that protestors will be the victims of the police forces around the world.  This will only change when the police lay down their arms and join the protestors. At this moment, it will become apparent that the movement is in full-swing and will not stop until there is a dramatic shift in how democracy and the global economic environment is structured.
This is an exciting time to be living and experiencing a truly global revolution.  The message is simple: The One Percent has ‘occupied’ the Ninety-Nine Percent.   Although this is a simple message, the underlying environment is complex and fraught with questions.  As stated in my beginning statement, the Occupy Movement has all the characteristics of a complex entity…particularly of a fractal.  The rules of the fractal have been established in the Occupy Movement and have started to manifest itself in the society at large around the world.  As with any fractal, it grows and is scale-less feed by the iteration of its initial rules.  It also has taken on the characteristic of a networked fractal which is constantly changing due to feedback.  What will be the result of this emerging fractal is uncertain at this time.  Will a set of demands be made?  Will leaders emerge?  Will there be new political parties formed?   These and other questions still lie waiting to be answered.  One thing is certain, the answers will not come from the existing global leaders or organization such as the G-20, WTO, UN, European Union or any think tanks.

If this blog is about urbanization and particularly concerning the complexity of urban relationships, why am I discussing the Occupy Movement?  It is because that I believe that the Occupy Movement will have an effect on urban living, structure and governance.  How will  urbanism will change globally due to this up swell of public dissatisfaction with the plutocracy?  In future blogs. I will explore how income disparity, employment, sustainability, democracy and governance can be handled given the precepts that are being established by the growing Occupy Movement.