Some news reports have been painting the protesters as unfocused, or worse, as hopelessly confused and uninformed. Is there any truth to that?
Sure. In a world as complex as ours, we’re all uninformed about most things, even if we know about a few. I remember a police officer remarking of the protesters on the first or second day, “They think they know everything!” That’s how young people generally are. But in this case, noticing the over-concentration of wealth around Wall Street and its outsized influence in politics does not require a detailed grasp of what a hedge fund does or the current selling price of Apple stock. One thing that distinguishes these protesters is precisely their hope that a better world is possible. I might add that, for many Americans, such nonviolent direct action is the only chance of having a political voice, and it deserves to be taken seriously by those of us in the press.
How many people have responded to the Adbusters call? How large is the group? And how large has it ever been?
The original Adbusters call envisioned 20,000 people flooding the Financial District on September 17. A tenth of that probably ended up being there that day. Despite a massive Anonymous-powered online social media blitz, lots of people simply didn’t know about it, and traditional progressive organizations like labor unions and peace groups were uncomfortable signing on to so amorphous an action. Over the course of a difficult first week, with arrests happening just about every day, new faces kept coming, as others filtered out to take a break. The media coverage after last weekend’s mass arrests and alleged police brutality has brought many more. Now, during the day and into the night, one finds 500 or more people in the plaza, and maybe half that sleeping over.
Like I said, we’re in new territory, folks.
Citing common cause, the Transport Workers Union – one of the country’s largest unions with over 200,000 members – has announced its support for the Occupy Wall Street protests. They plan to join a Friday rally; other unions are following suit.
Here’s an online aggregator of stories about the Wall Street protests. We’re in new territory, folks!
The State Department concluded last month that the project, Keystone XL, would cause minimal environmental impact if it is operated according to regulations, and the proposed operator, TransCanada, has said the nearly 2,000-mile line would create 20,000 jobs in the United States.
And just what ARE the chances that the pipeline will be operated according to regulations?
Opposition groups around the country, though, said the federal study did not consider the effects of a major spill, while supporters said the nation’s economy had continued to worsen through summer and fall, making Keystone XL all the more crucial.
Youth of the world unit, because if you don’t, your elders are just going send the world down the next available hell hole in history.
… from South Asia to the heartland of Europe and now even to Wall Street, these protesters share something else: wariness, even contempt, toward traditional politicians and the democratic political process they preside over.
They are taking to the streets, in part, because they have little faith in the ballot box.
“Our parents are grateful because they’re voting,” said Marta Solanas, 27, referring to older Spaniards’ decades spent under the Franco dictatorship. “We’re the first generation to say that voting is worthless.”
And the Arab spring is the avant-garde.
Increasingly, citizens of all ages, but particularly the young, are rejecting conventional structures like parties and trade unions in favor of a less hierarchical, more participatory system modeled in many ways on the culture of the Web.
In that sense, the protest movements in democracies are not altogether unlike those that have rocked authoritarian governments this year, toppling longtime leaders in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Protesters have created their own political space online that is chilly, sometimes openly hostile, toward traditional institutions of the elite.
And democracies are being given failing grades, left and right.
Responding to shifts in voter needs is supposed to be democracy’s strength. These emerging movements, like many in the past, could end up being absorbed by traditional political parties,…. Yet purists involved in many of the movements say they intend to avoid the old political channels.
The political left, which might seem the natural destination for the nascent movements now emerging around the globe, is compromised in the eyes of activists by the neoliberal centrism of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. The old left remains wedded to trade unions even as they represent a smaller and smaller share of the work force. More recently, center-left participation in bailouts for financial institutions alienated former supporters who say the money should have gone to people instead of banks.
Still, Japan has shown what can be done, quickly, to overcome an energy crisis. It’s a good lesson for the United States, with its fragile electric grid, huge power needs and raging fossil-fuel addiction: Consumption doesn’t always have to go up.
I repeat: Consumption doesn’t always have to go up.
This asks a lot from ideologues whose heads are firmly buried in yesterday’s sand pile.
…the left must realize that when progressives achieved success in the past, whether at organizing unions or fighting for equal rights, they seldom bet their future on politicians. They fashioned their own institutions — unions, women’s groups, community and immigrant centers and a witty, anti-authoritarian press — in which they spoke up for themselves and for the interests of wage-earning Americans.
Today, such institutions are either absent or reeling. With unions embattled and on the decline, working people of all races lack a sturdy vehicle to articulate and fight for the vision of a more egalitarian society. Liberal universities, Web sites and non-governmental organizations cater mostly to a professional middle class and are more skillful at promoting social causes like legalizing same-sex marriage and protecting the environment than demanding millions of new jobs that pay a living wage.
A reconnection with ordinary Americans is vital not just to defeating conservatives in 2012 and in elections to come. Without it, the left will remain unable to state clearly and passionately what a better country would look like and what it will take to get there. To paraphrase the labor martyr Joe Hill, the left should stop mourning its recent past and start organizing to change the future.
The group’s lack of cohesion and its apparent wish to pantomime progressivism rather than practice it knowledgably is unsettling in the face of the challenges so many of its generation face — finding work, repaying student loans, figuring out ways to finish college when money has run out. But what were the chances that its members were going to receive the attention they so richly deserve carrying signs like “Even if the World Were to End Tomorrow I’d Still Plant a Tree Today”?
I don’t know what, if anything, will come of these Wall Street protests. But they anger out of which they grow is not going to disappear any time soon. It will deepen. What then?
If it gives way to despair, then this reporter’s obvious contempt for the protesters will seem sharp and realistic, if not wise. If that anger should take shape and organize, what then? The political system is vulnerable to well-organized and persistent anger. The Republicrats could have their death grip on government crumble in their grasp.
GOP presidential candidate and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, of Texas, touted ending the country’s wars, including the war on drugs, to a raucous packed crowd Friday at the LSU Union Theater.
As the Republican candidate with the strongest libertarian streak, Paul, 76, focused his talk on restoring personal and economic liberties and freedoms with his campaign motto “Restore America Now.”
Paul said he loves college campuses and meeting students on his “Youth for Ron Paul” tour. When he does, he said, “I find out the message of liberty is alive and well.”
Paul, who last campaigned in Baton Rouge in 2008, is running in a crowded GOP field of candidates led in the polls and fundraising by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has endorsed Perry.
In interviews with dozens of low-dollar contributors in the past two weeks, some said they were unhappy with what they viewed as Mr. Obama’s overly conciliatory approach to Congressional Republicans. Others cited what they saw as a lack of passion in the president, or said the sour economy had drained both their enthusiasm and their pocketbooks.
For still others, high hopes that Mr. Obama would deliver a new kind of politics in his first term have been dashed by the emergence of something that, to them, more resembles politics as usual.