Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Occupy Together: Building A National Network and Creating Radical Alternatives Via Mass Movement


Read. Study. Educate. Organize. Mobilize. Take Action. Spread the word...

Mark my words: This is the most important and profound opportunity to radically change the direction of this country since the 1960s. So don't hesitate any longer--Join and participate in this extraordinary national movement wherever you are. NOW IS THE TIME...





September 23rd, 2011 · Sam · Announcements

Welcome to OCCUPY TOGETHER, an unofficial hub for all of the events springing up across the country in solidarity with Occupy Wall St. As we have followed the news on facebook, twitter, and the various live feeds across the internet, we felt compelled to build a site that would help spread the word as more protests organize across the world. We hope to provide people with information about events that are organizing, ongoing, and building across the U.S. as we, the 99%, take action against the greed and corruption of the 1%.

We will only grow stronger in our solidarity and we will be heard, not just in New York, but in echoes across the world.

For more information about us, the movement, and answers to questions, please check out our FAQ.

Important note: Occupy Together will never ask for any monetary donations. We suggest that, if you want to donate monetarily, that you visit this site to help those who currently Occupy Wall St.

Moderator Training Offered in IRC

October 11th, 2011 · Ella · Announcements
Infinity circle from the original Occupy Wall Street livestream is offering training for other moderators in an IRC. He’s noticed there are some serious problems with users spamming, soliciting, or hijacking the movement. He’ll be on the channel as often as possible to answer questions about moderating, go over proper moderator etiquette, and fill you in on some techniques he’s learned over the last three weeks. It would be great to have everyone who is heading up moderation to touch base with him, so pass this along amongst your group!

IRC Channel is here:

Creating an Occupy Directory

October 8th, 2011 · Ella · Announcements
Now that we’ve implemented MeetUp as a tool for starting, creating, updating and spreading awareness of solidarity actions across the world it’s time we shift our efforts towards gathering other useful information. Our objective is to make an Occupy Directory containing all of the contact information from each location. This will allow for better communication amongst the various occupying groups. Also, we want to be able to properly direct all of these press requests we’re receiving!

We’re asking that all general public contacts as well as contacts for working groups are sent to us via the form on our contact page. In addition, we are suggesting that each occupation choose a liaison to act as a go-between for communication with us and other organizations and groups. For example, we see the possibility to be able to facilitate some nation wide conversations via IRC or phone conferencing. Please be aware that these contacts will be public! We will not require you to provide a name or any other personal information, feel free to create an email solely for the use of public contact if you are concerned with privacy.

The form will automatically populate a public google document that Occupy Together will maintain (deleting duplicates, updating information, fixing broken links, etc.) This will be available for anyone to access. Again, we are concerned for your privacy so please do not send us any personal information.

We hope that this will serve the needs of individual groups as well as this ever-expanding movement.

Important Update Regarding Actions

October 5th, 2011 · Ella · Announcements
If you’ve started seeing Occupy Together in your daily email box as we have, you probably know the word is spreading like a wildfire. The site has recently been linked on, Adbusters, tweeted by Michael Moore and sent out in a newsletter. WHEW! Talk about growing exponentially!

You have to remember, when we started this we were merely two designers who couldn’t get to NYC to support in person. We saw these solidarity actions forming in other areas and though “you know, it would be great to gather this information and make it readily available and easily accessible for everyone!” Little did we know we’d go from listing 4-5 locations in one night to receiving hundreds of emails in a day. We were slowing the flow of information because us volunteers weren’t able to keep up. This was a huge issue for us to solve because if we’re not making this information as accessible as possible then we’re not helping the movement.

This is where the internet gets awesome. Through this process we’ve been in touch with some very incredible and talented people with much more technical knowhow than we will ever have. The beauty of it all is that this just started as an idea by two and has grown into a collaboration by many. We are all in this together, it only takes one (or in our case two) to take the jump and you’ll find others to support and join you along the way.

We were contacted by the good people at, who got in touch because they heard we were in need of some technical assistance and advice. They listened to our pressing issues at hand: adequate server space for site performance, SEO & RSS issues, and what seemed to be most daunting of all, our inability to keep up with all of the information we’ve been sent. They talked us through all of these issues, but most helpfully, showed us how we could use as a tool to provide real-time event listings and updates. Who would have known there was a site out there that was made SPECIFICALLY for this kind of DIY, grassroots activity

All of the volunteers talked it over… we work in the spirit of the movement. No one is leading, everyone has a chance to voice concerns and we all make important decisions together. We all decided the best way to foster the growth of this movement and provide access to information around the world was to use as the method of finding, listing, and updating events. The GREAT thing about all of this, is that it’s completely in line with the whole idea of this decentralized movement. Any single person can start an action in their area, and where one stands up there will likely be another to join you! Plus, you don’t have to belong to the site to view the information and is very concerned with user privacy. So, if you’re not a Facebook or social media user, no fear! You can still get real time information and updates in your area too!

Long story short, we’re going to integrate meetup tools into For the most part there won’t be a huge difference. You will look on the map for your location and once you find it you’ll click on a link that will take you to a page with all of the information of solidarity actions being organized in your area!

We hope you all understand and share our sentiment on this decision. We’ve done our best to add all existing locations that were on our website, and we will continue to add the events that were emailed to us through tomorrow. However, now you are all individually empowered to add new and update old information at any time!

Lastly, we want to mention that we’re very aware of the server problems we’ve been encountering. We will have a new home on our very own dedicated server here within the next 24-48 hours. You have all been great in being patient with us and supporting us. We hope we won’t wear your patience out as we wait to move to our new home!

Occupy Together

Major Site Restructuring Due to Number of Cities Organizing

October 2nd, 2011 · Sam · Announcements

Wow, the groups organizing and occupations popping up across the country is growing exponentially by the day. So much so that, in order to have proper navigation and organization on the site, we had to begin categorizing these pages by state. Because of this, every occupation’s permalink has been changed. We’re sorry for this inconvenience, especially if you have directly linked to our page, but it was necessary for people to quickly find what they were looking for on our site. We ask all of those who previously linked to their occupation’s page on our site to update their link accordingly.

Again, we apologize for the inconvenience and hope that this change will prevent us from having to do any major overhauls in the future.


In solidarity with Occupy Wall St.,

Occupy Together

Occupy San Francisco Takes It To The Streets

September 30th, 2011 · Sam · Announcements
We will be posting a lot more videos from different places across the country. All of these are so incredibly inspiring that, as I write this, I have goosebumps. We will let you know how to submit your videos shortly.

Nobody Can Predict The Moment Of Revolution ( Occupy Wall Street )

September 26th, 2011 · Sam · News
A really great video from Occupy Wall Street.

Source: Occupy Wall Street

The Occupy Portland Model

September 26th, 2011 · Ella · Announcements
We’ve witnessed an exponentially growing list of communities that are banding together with our brothers and sisters on Wall St. by organizing solidarity actions in their cities. This rise in support has been incredibly inspiring and has promoted many of you to become active in organizing an event in your area. Through the enthusiasm and excitement of wanting to show your support you are all working diligently to organize events in a short amount of time. As we have followed some of theses group’s efforts we’ve seen many different approaches to organizing. We’ve also fielded many questions on advice and how to information on effectively organizing. We wanted to feature Portland as an example for those of you would like a model to follow or to take from as they have done a great job joining and organizing efforts in a very short amount of time. Of course, each group dynamic is going to vary and what worked for Portland may not work for you, but at least this will give you an idea of how others are doing it.

A couple of members from Portland filled us in on their process:

Basically it all comes down to networking and extensive planning. The initial construction of the Occupy Portland Facebook group was backed by some pretty frequent tweeting. Once we started getting a huge following, there were more and more discussions popping up on the Facebook group. We were discussing where it should be, what Portland laws were regarding “urban camping”, as well as a number of other concerns. We then held a General Assembly to further organize where were all in consensus with our future actions and demonstration details. After we compiled notes from the GA, we discussed them further on the Facebook group. Once we had the frame work of what everyone wanted and expected we set up a Facebook page and web site to better organize and announce future details.

Advice using Twitter:

Sending messages to those working at Occupy Wall Street was definitely helped us gain notice. People are heavily following #occupywallstreet, #takewallstreet, #usdor, as well as a number of other widely used hash tags. Each tweet sent out would include a tag with a trending tag, my city (#pdx) as well as a link to the facebook group.

Also we paid attention to the amount of followers people had, and mentioned them as well.

Portlanders were watching, so they were bound to jump on board once they knew about a protest here. Nearly all of us are using Twitter, so they used the same approach when spreading the group link around the internet.

Advice using Facebook:

We first started a Group that opened up discussion to hear out everyone’s ideas, concerns and thoughts on how they could help. This was a very important stage in our organizational efforts.

General Assembly:

I think the most important thing for us was using the General Assembly model and making each decision everyone’s decision. This helped us remain unified. Legal assistance, bike deliveries, medics, photographers, people who can stream the protest, and similar topics were brought up. We covered nearly all the bases, and most of us left with a pretty hefty amount of notes. Notes from the General Assembly were posted online on a page for everyone in the Portland group to see.

Legal Advice:

Contact your local National Lawyers Guild early on for legal advice in your area. We are holding a seminar with the National Lawyers Guild so that we can become versed in the proper execution of a demonstration like this. They have confirmed that legal observers will be present durring our demonstration. We are also planning to hold a meeting with them where we discuss the importance of nonviolence and the proper way to conduct oneself in civil disobedience.

Additional Thoughts:

It’s extremely important to make sure extensive preparation goes into a something this big. Some people have certain contacts who would be useful, others are volunteering to do a specific job. It all comes as we address what needs to be seen and done upon Occupation.

We stressed something several times: this needs to remain non-violent. Remaining peaceful helps the overall image of this nationwide movement. If things do become violent, we acknowledge that staying calm only helps the cause. If we have arrests then we will have the footage immediately uploaded. It helps those in NYC by showing that the cops are abusing our rights, and that this thing is nothing like the misleading media says.

Helpful Links: Find up to date information on the NYC General Assembly. News, video feed, forum & chat. Working Draft of the Principles of Solidarity National Lawyers Guild

A Really Great Article About Occupy Wall St. In The Guardian

September 25th, 2011 · Sam · News
There was a really fantastic article that is making its rounds across the internet as the United States still sits in a media blackout on this topic. It will only be a matter of days, however, that this story spreads wider across the country. Already, many are beginning to hear about what is happening with those who Occupy Wall St. and the ripple effect it is having across the country.

Check out The Guardian article, it’s a good read (and don’t forget to share it with all of your friends).

“We might do well to consider the collapse of the European colonial empires. It certainly did not lead to the rich successfully grabbing all the cookies, but to the creation of the modern welfare state. We don’t know precisely what will come out of this round. But if the occupiers finally manage to break the 30-year stranglehold that has been placed on the human imagination, as in those first weeks after September 2008, everything will once again be on the table – and the occupiers of Wall Street and other cities around the US will have done us the greatest favour anyone possibly can.”

Should National Efforts Unify & Align With A National/International Event?

September 25th, 2011 · Ella · Announcements
Brothers and Sisters on Wall St.,

We’ve been busy over at helping people become aware of solidarity events in their area taking place and organizing. There have been many expressing that it would be a good idea to organize a national event in solidarity with Occupy Wall St. so that our voices of support can be heard louder. We would like to communicate with you on Wall St. and see how we can be most supportive of your efforts.

We’ve been discussing this topic here:

We also have someone who has suggested and will facilitate a national conference call if beneficial. Discussed here:

Occupy Together would ultimately want the word from those of you on Wall St. before we’ll organize, endorse and promote any national event. At Occupy Together we stand by the developing mission of Occupy Wall St., but we are not representatives for Occupy Wall St.

Please get in touch, we’re able to communicate with many occupying groups at once and would be able to help form a louder voice across the nation.


Occupy Together

It’s Been a Busy Day

September 25th, 2011 · Sam · News

We’ve had a huge response the last couple of days and unfortunately, the blog portion of this site has suffered a bit because of it. We are still trying to get a solid footing as we maintain the webpage, the facebook page, and the twitter feed. What you have seen so far is the product of a three person effort to provide the Occupy community with a space to organize, promote, and support this movement and it’s really been a 24/7 effort to keep things up to date. Luckily, it seems that a lot of you have been willing to lend a hand so that this will become even more efficient. Thank you all for your support so far.

There was a large march in NYC that resulted in an estimated 80 arrests. Many protestors endured police aggression, pepper spray and mace, baton beatings, and harassment during their march this afternoon. Little to no media coverage has been so far, even after such a challenging day. Still, the protestors remain steadfast and determined as the rest of country slowly begins to get word of what is happening.

Many other events, demonstrations, and assemblies were held around the country including Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Jose in solidarity with Occupy Wall St. We hope that these all went well and would love to hear any news about these events that participants have to offer.

We have begun to add pictures on our Photos page from flickr sites. If you have any photos from your events, please contact us with either a .zip/.rar of your photographs or a link to your flickr page.

More downloadable posters have been added as we continue to provide a free mode of distributing information and gaining awareness about this movement. With the media largely silent, we will need to take it upon ourselves to gain numbers and even stronger momentum.

We wish everyone the best as they continue to organize and demonstrate. Stay safe, stay peaceful.

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Naomi Klein On the Power, Beauty, and Necessity of the Occupy Wall Street Movement and Where It Must Go

Naomi Klein leading an open forum on Thursday, October 6, Day 21 of Occupy Wall Street. (Photo: David Shankbone [4])


I completely agree with Naomi...


Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now
by Naomi Klein
11 October 2011
The Nation | Op-Ed

I was honored to be invited to speak at Occupy Wall Street on Thursday night. Since amplification is (disgracefully) banned, and everything I say will have to be repeated by hundreds of people so others can hear (a k a “the human microphone”), what I actually say at Liberty Plaza will have to be very short. With that in mind, here is the longer, uncut version of the speech.

I love you.

And I didn’t just say that so that hundreds of you would shout “I love you” back, though that is obviously a bonus feature of the human microphone. Say unto others what you would have them say unto you, only way louder.

Yesterday, one of the speakers at the labor rally said: “We found each other.” That sentiment captures the beauty of what is being created here. A wide-open space (as well as an idea so big it can’t be contained by any space) for all the people who want a better world to find each other. We are so grateful.

If there is one thing I know, it is that the 1 percent loves a crisis. When people are panicked and desperate and no one seems to know what to do, that is the ideal time to push through their wish list of pro-corporate policies: privatizing education and social security, slashing public services, getting rid of the last constraints on corporate power. Amidst the economic crisis, this is happening the world over.

And there is only one thing that can block this tactic, and fortunately, it’s a very big thing: the 99 percent. And that 99 percent is taking to the streets from Madison to Madrid to say “No. We will not pay for your crisis.”

That slogan began in Italy in 2008. It ricocheted to Greece and France and Ireland and finally it has made its way to the square mile where the crisis began.

“Why are they protesting?” ask the baffled pundits on TV. Meanwhile, the rest of the world asks: “What took you so long?” “We’ve been wondering when you were going to show up.” And most of all: “Welcome.”

Many people have drawn parallels between Occupy Wall Street and the so-called anti-globalization protests that came to world attention in Seattle in 1999. That was the last time a global, youth-led, decentralized movement took direct aim at corporate power. And I am proud to have been part of what we called “the movement of movements.”

But there are important differences too. For instance, we chose summits as our targets: the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the G8. Summits are transient by their nature, they only last a week. That made us transient too. We’d appear, grab world headlines, then disappear. And in the frenzy of hyper patriotism and militarism that followed the 9/11 attacks, it was easy to sweep us away completely, at least in North America.

Occupy Wall Street, on the other hand, has chosen a fixed target. And you have put no end date on your presence here. This is wise. Only when you stay put can you grow roots. This is crucial. It is a fact of the information age that too many movements spring up like beautiful flowers but quickly die off. It’s because they don’t have roots. And they don’t have long term plans for how they are going to sustain themselves. So when storms come, they get washed away.

Being horizontal and deeply democratic is wonderful. But these principles are compatible with the hard work of building structures and institutions that are sturdy enough to weather the storms ahead. I have great faith that this will happen.

Something else this movement is doing right: You have committed yourselves to non-violence. You have refused to give the media the images of broken windows and street fights it craves so desperately. And that tremendous discipline has meant that, again and again, the story has been the disgraceful and unprovoked police brutality. Which we saw more of just last night. Meanwhile, support for this movement grows and grows. More wisdom.

But the biggest difference a decade makes is that in 1999, we were taking on capitalism at the peak of a frenzied economic boom. Unemployment was low, stock portfolios were bulging. The media was drunk on easy money. Back then it was all about start-ups, not shutdowns.

We pointed out that the deregulation behind the frenzy came at a price. It was damaging to labor standards. It was damaging to environmental standards. Corporations were becoming more powerful than governments and that was damaging to our democracies. But to be honest with you, while the good times rolled, taking on an economic system based on greed was a tough sell, at least in rich countries.

Ten years later, it seems as if there aren’t any more rich countries. Just a whole lot of rich people. People who got rich looting the public wealth and exhausting natural resources around the world.

The point is, today everyone can see that the system is deeply unjust and careening out of control. Unfettered greed has trashed the global economy. And it is trashing the natural world as well. We are overfishing our oceans, polluting our water with fracking and deepwater drilling, turning to the dirtiest forms of energy on the planet, like the Alberta tar sands. And the atmosphere cannot absorb the amount of carbon we are putting into it, creating dangerous warming. The new normal is serial disasters: economic and ecological.

These are the facts on the ground. They are so blatant, so obvious, that it is a lot easier to connect with the public than it was in 1999, and to build the movement quickly.

We all know, or at least sense, that the world is upside down: we act as if there is no end to what is actually finite—fossil fuels and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions. And we act as if there are strict and immovable limits to what is actually bountiful—the financial resources to build the kind of society we need.

The task of our time is to turn this around: to challenge this false scarcity. To insist that we can afford to build a decent, inclusive society—while at the same time, respect the real limits to what the earth can take.

What climate change means is that we have to do this on a deadline. This time our movement cannot get distracted, divided, burned out or swept away by events. This time we have to succeed. And I’m not talking about regulating the banks and increasing taxes on the rich, though that’s important.

I am talking about changing the underlying values that govern our society. That is hard to fit into a single media-friendly demand, and it’s also hard to figure out how to do it. But it is no less urgent for being difficult.

That is what I see happening in this square. In the way you are feeding each other, keeping each other warm, sharing information freely and proving health care, meditation classes and empowerment training. My favorite sign here says, “I care about you.” In a culture that trains people to avoid each other’s gaze, to say, “Let them die,” that is a deeply radical statement.

A few final thoughts. In this great struggle, here are some things that don’t matter.

What we wear.
Whether we shake our fists or make peace signs.
Whether we can fit our dreams for a better world into a media soundbite.
And here are a few things that do matter.

Our courage.
Our moral compass.
How we treat each other.
We have picked a fight with the most powerful economic and political forces on the planet. That’s frightening. And as this movement grows from strength to strength, it will get more frightening. Always be aware that there will be a temptation to shift to smaller targets—like, say, the person sitting next to you at this meeting. After all, that is a battle that’s easier to win.

Don’t give in to the temptation. I’m not saying don’t call each other on shit. But this time, let’s treat each other as if we plan to work side by side in struggle for many, many years to come. Because the task before will demand nothing less.

Let’s treat this beautiful movement as if it is most important thing in the world. Because it is. It really is.

Editor’s Note: Naomi’s speech also appeared in Saturday’s edition of the Occupied Wall Street Journal.

This story originally appeared in The Nation.
Copyright © 2011 The Nation – distributed by Agence Global.


[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

How To Join the Occupy Wall Street Movement Nationwide


As I've been saying since Day One: The most important, pivotal, and necessary social movement in this country today--by far--is the 'Occupy Wall Street' movement which in the past three weeks alone has become a major national political force with a thriving network of corresponding actions and demonstrations taking place in over 25 cities throughout the country including Chicago, Los Angeles, Toledo, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Detroit, Cincinatti, Portland, San Francisco, Oakland, Washington D.C., Boston, and Atlanta. It's way past time for us all to get on board and spread the word. To monitor exactly what's going on and why please click on the link above and remember that the rest--as always--is up to you...



The resistance continues at Liberty Square and worldwide!

User Map

Sign Language from socially_awkwrd on Vimeo.

October 15th Global Day Of Action
Posted Oct. 12, 2011, 3:57 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

Hi, we write you from the International Commission of Sol, in Madrid (Spain). We know that you have a lot to do in the USA, as we have here in Spain, but the 15O is coming and we need you to make a milestone in history out of it. It's the great chance we expected to start a real global revolution! This is what we are doing, and could be wonderful if you join us:

Please spread the web page of the call, the graphic material and the videos And please send us your videos, banners, posters to so that we can compile them and put them in common. Send all of this through your mailing lists, to all your contacts, but also to all your friends.

Explain to everybody that this is not just one mobilization. It's more of "we are reinventing ourselves". Tell the occupiers how the movement is popping all over the world that extend from the streets of the Middle East to Wall Street. Also tell the occupiers that over 650 cities have already confirmed they will do an event on October 15th . You can check in and if a city plans to do an event invite; tell them to add it to the map. Explain to them that 15O is the moment to wake up all of us together and especially tell them that it is in their hands to make it a success. It's not any more about parties, organizations or unions. The call should come from all of the organizations and from the people of the world like you. There is a text that could be very useful to send this last message: "who are you?"

It would be great to tell your friends abroad to spread it through their countries. We need one revolution in each single city of the world.

For a further explanation about the mobilization and a more specific plan there is a document written by the international network takethesquare.

In order to promote and discuss the activities for October 15th, everyone is encouraged to participate and to organize local meetings to plan the details and discuss the preparation of the events for the 15th. There will also be a chat an audio-chat (mumble: Download in Port:64738, see the tutorial in and a collaborative document pad open to everybody, so during the 48 hours people from all the world will be able of talking about the ideas and activities decided in their squares with every other occupation in the world! All the channels will be open for everybody...just participate!


#OWS Stands In Solidarity With 100 Arrested At Occupy Boston
Posted Oct. 11, 2011, 11:52 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

Occupy Wall Street would like to express our support and solidarity with both the people of Boston and the 100+ arrested at Occupy Boston last night. We commend them for their bravery in standing their ground at great personal cost to assert the right of the people to peaceful assembly in public spaces.

We condemn the Boston Police Department for their brutality in ordering their officers to descend upon the Occupy Boston tent city in full riot gear to assault, mass arrest, and destroy the possessions of these peaceful women and men. We condemn them for ordering this attack in the middle of the night. These people were not simply protesters holding a rally, it was their home, it was their community and it was violated in the worst possible way by the brutal actions of the BPD. Furthermore:

The Boston Police Department made no distinction between protesters, medics, or legal observers, arresting legal observer Urszula Masny-Latos, who serves as the Executive Director for the National Lawyers Guild, as well as four medics attempting to care for the injured. [emphasis mine]

These actions go beyond unconscionable, they're unthinkable. If this was war, the BPD could be found guilty of war crimes:

Chapter IV, Article 25 of the Geneva Convention states that "Members of the armed forces specially trained for employment, should the need arise, as hospital orderlies, nurses or auxiliary stretcher-bearers, in the search for or the collection, transport or treatment of the wounded and sick shall likewise be respected and protected if they are carrying out these duties at the time when they come into contact with the enemy or fall into his hands.

Every day the actions of the BPD, NYPD, etc. continue to remind us that the police no longer fight to "protect and serve" the American people, but rather the wealth and power of the 1%. With each passing day, as the violence of the state continues to escalate, the myth of American "democracy" becomes further shattered.


And we are what democracy looks like. We do not fear your power and we will continue to fight for a better world. We will never stop growing and each day we'll continue to expand, block by block and city by city. We call upon others to join us, to take a stand against these ever encroaching threats to our liberty. We commend the brave actions of our sisters and brothers in Boston and condemn the BPD leadership. We call upon the rank-and-file police officers of this country to disobey such orders and remember that they protect and serve the people. You are one of us, the 99% and we're too big to fail.


Chris Hedges On the Impact of the Occupy Wall Street Movement On Political and Economic Elites in the United States

A group of people listen to a man talk about economic theories as the Occupy Wall Street protest continues in Zuccotti Park in New York, on October 9, 2011. The movement has inspired more than 200 Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, seeking volunteers for protests and fostering discussion. (Photo: Ozier Muhammad / The New York Times)

Why the Elites Are in Trouble
by Chris Hedges,
10 October 2011
Truthdig | Op-Ed

Ketchup, a petite 22-year-old from Chicago with wavy red hair and glasses with bright red frames, arrived in Zuccotti Park in New York on Sept. 17. She had a tent, a rolling suitcase, 40 dollars’ worth of food, the graphic version of Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” and a sleeping bag. She had no return ticket, no idea what she was undertaking, and no acquaintances among the stragglers who joined her that afternoon to begin the Wall Street occupation. She decided to go to New York after reading the Canadian magazine Adbusters, which called for the occupation, although she noted that when she got to the park Adbusters had no discernable presence.

The lords of finance in the looming towers surrounding the park, who toy with money and lives, who make the political class, the press and the judiciary jump at their demands, who destroy the ecosystem for profit and drain the U.S. Treasury to gamble and speculate, took little notice of Ketchup or any of the other scruffy activists on the street below them. The elites consider everyone outside their sphere marginal or invisible. And what significance could an artist who paid her bills by working as a waitress have for the powerful? What could she and the others in Zuccotti Park do to them? What threat can the weak pose to the strong? Those who worship money believe their buckets of cash, like the $4.6 million JPMorgan Chase gave a few days ago to the New York City Police Foundation, can buy them perpetual power and security. Masters all, kneeling before the idols of the marketplace, blinded by their self-importance, impervious to human suffering, bloated from unchecked greed and privilege, they were about to be taught a lesson in the folly of hubris.

Even now, three weeks later, elites, and their mouthpieces in the press, continue to puzzle over what people like Ketchup want. Where is the list of demands? Why don’t they present us with specific goals? Why can’t they articulate an agenda?

The goal to people like Ketchup is very, very clear. It can be articulated in one word—REBELLION. These protesters have not come to work within the system. They are not pleading with Congress for electoral reform. They know electoral politics is a farce and have found another way to be heard and exercise power. They have no faith, nor should they, in the political system or the two major political parties. They know the press will not amplify their voices, and so they created a press of their own. They know the economy serves the oligarchs, so they formed their own communal system. This movement is an effort to take our country back.

This is a goal the power elite cannot comprehend. They cannot envision a day when they will not be in charge of our lives. The elites believe, and seek to make us believe, that globalization and unfettered capitalism are natural law, some kind of permanent and eternal dynamic that can never be altered. What the elites fail to realize is that rebellion will not stop until the corporate state is extinguished. It will not stop until there is an end to the corporate abuse of the poor, the working class, the elderly, the sick, children, those being slaughtered in our imperial wars and tortured in our black sites. It will not stop until foreclosures and bank repossessions stop. It will not stop until students no longer have to go into debt to be educated, and families no longer have to plunge into bankruptcy to pay medical bills. It will not stop until the corporate destruction of the ecosystem stops, and our relationships with each other and the planet are radically reconfigured. And that is why the elites, and the rotted and degenerate system of corporate power they sustain, are in trouble. That is why they keep asking what the demands are. They don’t understand what is happening. They are deaf, dumb and blind.

“The world can’t continue on its current path and survive,” Ketchup told me. “That idea is selfish and blind. It’s not sustainable. People all over the globe are suffering needlessly at our hands.”

The occupation of Wall Street has formed an alternative community that defies the profit-driven hierarchical structures of corporate capitalism. If the police shut down the encampment in New York tonight, the power elite will still lose, for this vision and structure have been imprinted into the thousands of people who have passed through park, renamed Liberty Plaza by the protesters. The greatest gift the occupation has given us is a blueprint for how to fight back. And this blueprint is being transferred to cities and parks across the country.

“We get to the park,” Ketchup says of the first day. “There’s madness for a little while. There were a lot of people. They were using megaphones at first. Nobody could hear. Then someone says we should get into circles and talk about what needed to happen, what we thought we could accomplish. And so that’s what we did. There was a note-taker in each circle. I don’t know what happened with those notes, probably nothing, but it was a good start. One person at a time, airing your ideas. There was one person saying that he wasn’t very hopeful about what we could accomplish here, that he wasn’t very optimistic. And then my response was that, well, we have to be optimistic, because if anybody’s going to get anything done, it’s going be us here. People said different things about what our priorities should be. People were talking about the one-demand idea. Someone called for AIG executives to be prosecuted. There was someone who had come from Spain to be there, saying that she was here to help us avoid the mistakes that were made in Spain. It was a wide spectrum. Some had come because of their own personal suffering or what they saw in the world.”

“After the circles broke I felt disheartened because it was sort of chaotic,” she said. “I didn’t have anybody there, so it was a little depressing. I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

“Over the past few months, people had been meeting in New York City general assembly,” she said. “One of them is named Brooke. She’s a professor of social ecology. She did my facilitation training. There’s her and a lot of other people, students, school teachers, different people who were involved with that … so they organized a general assembly.”

“It’s funny that the cops won’t let us use megaphones, because it’s to make our lives harder, but we actually end up making a much louder sound [with the “people’s mic” [4]] and I imagine it’s much more annoying to the people around us,” she said. “I had been in the back, unable to hear. I walked to different parts of the circle. I saw this man talking in short phrases and people were repeating them. I don’t know whose idea it was, but that started on the first night. The first general assembly was a little chaotic because people had no idea … a general assembly, what is this for? At first it was kind of grandstanding about what were our demands. Ending corporate personhood is one that has come up again and again as a favorite and. … What ended up happening was, they said, OK, we’re going to break into work groups.

“People were worried we were going to get kicked out of the park at 10 p.m. This was a major concern. There were tons of cops. I’ve heard that it’s costing the city a ton of money to have constant surveillance on a bunch of peaceful protesters who aren’t hurting anyone. With the people’s mic, everything we do is completely transparent. We know there are undercover cops in the crowd. I think I was talking to one last night, but it’s like, what are you trying to accomplish? We don’t have any secrets.”

“The undercover cops are the only ones who ask, ‘Who’s the leader?’ ” she said. “Presumably, if they know who our leaders are they can take them out. The fact is we have no leader. There’s no leader, so there’s nothing they can do.

“There was a woman [in the medics unit]. This guy was pretending to be a reporter. The first question he asks is, ‘Who’s the leader?’ She goes, ‘I’m the leader.’ And he says, ‘Oh yeah, what are you in charge of?’ She says, ‘I’m in a charge of everything.’ He says, ‘Oh yeah? What’s your title?’ She says ‘God.’ ”

“So it’s 9:30 p.m. and people are worried that they’re going to try and rush us out of the camp,” she said, referring back to the first day. “At 9:30 they break into work groups. I joined the group on contingency plans. The job of the bedding group was to find cardboard for people to sleep on. The contingency group had to decide what to do if they kick us out. The big decision we made was to announce to the group that if we were dispersed we were going to meet back at 10 a.m. the next day in the park. Another group was arts and culture. What was really cool was that we assumed we were going to be there more than one night. There was a food group. They were going dumpster diving. The direct action committee plans for direct, visible action like marches. There was a security team. It’s security against the cops. The cops are the only people we think that might hurt us. The security team keeps people awake in shifts. They always have people awake.”

The work groups make logistical decisions, and the general assembly makes large policy decisions.

“Work groups make their own decisions,” Ketchup said. “For example, someone donated a laptop. And because I’ve been taking minutes I keep running around and asking, ‘Does someone have a laptop I could borrow?’ The media team, upon receiving that laptop, designated it to me for my use on behalf of the Internet committee. The computer isn’t mine. When I go back to Chicago, I’m not going to take it. Right now I don’t even know where it is. Someone else is using it. But so, after hearing this, people thought it had been gifted to me personally. People were upset by that. So a member of the Internet work group went in front of the group and said, ‘This is a need of the committee. It’s been put into Ketchup’s care.’ They explained that to the group, but didn’t ask for consensus on it, because the committees are empowered. Some people might still think that choice was inappropriate. In the future, it might be handled differently.”

Working groups blossomed in the following days. The media working group was joined by a welcome working group for new arrivals, a sanitation working group (some members of which go around the park on skateboards as they carry brooms), a legal working group with lawyers, an events working group, an education working group, medics, a facilitation working group (which trains new facilitators for the general assembly meetings), a public relations working group, and an outreach working group for like-minded communities as well as the general public. There is an Internet working group and an open source technology working group. The nearby McDonald’s is the principal bathroom for the park after Burger King banned protesters from its facilities.

Caucuses also grew up in the encampment, including a “Speak Easy caucus.” “That’s a caucus I started,” Ketchup said. “It is for a broad spectrum of individuals from female-bodied people who identify as women to male-bodied people who are not traditionally masculine. That’s called the ‘Speak Easy’ caucus. I was just talking to a woman named Sharon who’s interested in starting a caucus for people of color.

“A caucus gives people a safe space to talk to each other without people from the culture of their oppressors present. It gives them greater power together, so that if the larger group is taking an action that the caucus felt was specifically against their interests, then the caucus can block that action. Consensus can potentially still be reached after a caucus blocks something, but a block, or a ‘paramount objection,’ is really serious. You’re saying that you are willing to walk out.”

“We’ve done a couple of things so far,” she said. “So, you know the live stream? The comments are moderated on the live stream. There are moderators who remove racist comments, comments that say ‘I hate cops’ or ‘Kill cops.’ They remove irrelevant comments that have nothing to do with the movement. There is this woman who is incredibly hardworking and intelligent. She has been the driving force of the finance committee. Her hair is half-blond and half-black. People were referring to her as “blond-black hottie.” These comments weren’t moderated, and at one point whoever was running the camera took the camera off her face and did a body scan. So, that was one of the first things the caucus talked about. We decided as a caucus that I would go to the moderators and tell them this is a serious problem. If you’re moderating other offensive comments then you need to moderate these kinds of offensive comments.”

The heart of the protest is the two daily meetings, held in the morning and the evening. The assemblies, which usually last about two hours, start with a review of process, which is open to change and improvement, so people are clear about how the assembly works. Those who would like to speak raise their hand and get on “stack.”

“There’s a stack keeper,” Ketchup said. “The stack keeper writes down your name or some signifier for you. A lot of white men are the people raising their hands. So, anyone who is not apparently a white man gets to jump stack. The stack keeper will make note of the fact that the person who put their hand up was not a white man and will arrange the list so that it’s not dominated by white men. People don’t get called up in the same order as they raise their hand.”

While someone is speaking, their words amplified by the people’s mic, the crowd responds through hand signals.

“Putting your fingers up like this,” she said, holding her hands up and wiggling her fingers, “means you like what you’re hearing, or you’re in agreement. Like this,” she said, holding her hands level and wiggling her fingers, “means you don’t like it so much. Fingers down, you don’t like it at all; you’re not in agreement. Then there’s this triangle you make with your hand that says ‘point of process.’ So, if you think that something is not being respected within the process that we’ve agreed to follow then you can bring that up.”

“You wait till you’re called,” she said. “These rules get abused all the time, but they are important. We start with agenda items, which are proposals or group discussions. Then working group report-backs, so you know what every working group is doing. Then we have general announcements. The agenda items have been brought to the facilitators by the working groups because you need the whole group to pay attention. Like last night, Legal brought up a discussion on bail: ‘Can we agree that the money from the general funds can be allotted if someone needs bail?’ And the group had to come to consensus on that. [It decided yes.] There’s two co-facilitators, a stack keeper, a timekeeper, a vibes-person making sure that people are feeling OK, that people’s voices aren’t getting stomped on, and then if someone’s being really disruptive, the vibes-person deals with them. There’s a note-taker—I end up doing that a lot because I type very, very quickly. We try to keep the facilitation team one man, one woman, or one female-bodied person, one male-bodied person. When you facilitate multiple times it’s rough on your brain. You end up having a lot of criticism thrown your way. You need to keep the facilitators rotating as much as possible. It needs to be a huge, huge priority to have a strong facilitation group.”

“People have been yelled out of the park,” she said. “Someone had a sign the other day that said ‘Kill the Jew Bankers.’ They got screamed out of the park. Someone else had a sign with the N-word on it. That person’s sign was ripped up, but that person is apparently still in the park.

“We’re trying to make this a space that everyone can join. This is something the caucuses are trying to really work on. We are having workshops to get people to understand their privilege.”

But perhaps the most important rule adopted by the protesters is nonviolence and nonaggression against the police, no matter how brutal the police become.

“The cops, I think, maced those women [5] in the face and expected the men and women around them to start a riot,” Ketchup said. “They want a riot. They can deal with a riot. They cannot deal with nonviolent protesters with cameras.”

I tell Ketchup I will bring her my winter sleeping bag. It is getting cold. She will need it. I leave her in a light drizzle and walk down Broadway. I pass the barricades, uniformed officers on motorcycles, the rows of paddy wagons and lines of patrol cars that block the streets into the financial district and surround the park. These bankers, I think, have no idea what they are up against.


Chris Hedges [7]


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Paul Krugman On What the Corporate Plutocrats and Wall Street Oligarchs Really Fear

Panic of the Plutocrats
October 9, 2011
New York Times

It remains to be seen whether the Occupy Wall Street protests will change America’s direction. Yet the protests have already elicited a remarkably hysterical reaction from Wall Street, the super-rich in general, and politicians and pundits who reliably serve the interests of the wealthiest hundredth of a percent.

And this reaction tells you something important — namely, that the extremists threatening American values are what F.D.R. called “economic royalists,” not the people camping in Zuccotti Park.

Consider first how Republican politicians have portrayed the modest-sized if growing demonstrations, which have involved some confrontations with the police — confrontations that seem to have involved a lot of police overreaction — but nothing one could call a riot. And there has in fact been nothing so far to match the behavior of Tea Party crowds in the summer of 2009.

Nonetheless, Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, has denounced “mobs” and “the pitting of Americans against Americans.” The G.O.P. presidential candidates have weighed in, with Mitt Romney accusing the protesters of waging “class warfare,” while Herman Cain calls them “anti-American.” My favorite, however, is Senator Rand Paul, who for some reason worries that the protesters will start seizing iPads, because they believe rich people don’t deserve to have them.

Michael Bloomberg, New York’s mayor and a financial-industry titan in his own right, was a bit more moderate, but still accused the protesters of trying to “take the jobs away from people working in this city,” a statement that bears no resemblance to the movement’s actual goals.

And if you were listening to talking heads on CNBC, you learned that the protesters “let their freak flags fly,” and are “aligned with Lenin.”

The way to understand all of this is to realize that it’s part of a broader syndrome, in which wealthy Americans who benefit hugely from a system rigged in their favor react with hysteria to anyone who points out just how rigged the system is.

Last year, you may recall, a number of financial-industry barons went wild over very mild criticism from President Obama. They denounced Mr. Obama as being almost a socialist for endorsing the so-called Volcker rule, which would simply prohibit banks backed by federal guarantees from engaging in risky speculation. And as for their reaction to proposals to close a loophole that lets some of them pay remarkably low taxes — well, Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of the Blackstone Group, compared it to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

And then there’s the campaign of character assassination against Elizabeth Warren, the financial reformer now running for the Senate in Massachusetts. Not long ago a YouTube video of Ms. Warren making an eloquent, down-to-earth case for taxes on the rich went viral. Nothing about what she said was radical — it was no more than a modern riff on Oliver Wendell Holmes’s famous dictum that “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.”

But listening to the reliable defenders of the wealthy, you’d think that Ms. Warren was the second coming of Leon Trotsky. George Will declared that she has a “collectivist agenda,” that she believes that “individualism is a chimera.” And Rush Limbaugh called her “a parasite who hates her host. Willing to destroy the host while she sucks the life out of it.”

What’s going on here? The answer, surely, is that Wall Street’s Masters of the Universe realize, deep down, how morally indefensible their position is. They’re not John Galt; they’re not even Steve Jobs. They’re people who got rich by peddling complex financial schemes that, far from delivering clear benefits to the American people, helped push us into a crisis whose aftereffects continue to blight the lives of tens of millions of their fellow citizens.

Yet they have paid no price. Their institutions were bailed out by taxpayers, with few strings attached. They continue to benefit from explicit and implicit federal guarantees — basically, they’re still in a game of heads they win, tails taxpayers lose. And they benefit from tax loopholes that in many cases have people with multimillion-dollar incomes paying lower rates than middle-class families.

This special treatment can’t bear close scrutiny — and therefore, as they see it, there must be no close scrutiny. Anyone who points out the obvious, no matter how calmly and moderately, must be demonized and driven from the stage. In fact, the more reasonable and moderate a critic sounds, the more urgently he or she must be demonized, hence the frantic sliming of Elizabeth Warren.

So who’s really being un-American here? Not the protesters, who are simply trying to get their voices heard. No, the real extremists here are America’s oligarchs, who want to suppress any criticism of the sources of their wealth.

The Centrality of the Occupy Wall Street Movement to Social and Economic Justice in Our Time

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways but the point is to change it"
--Karl Marx

"Brooks' column against empathy goes a long way towards making the moral case for the Republican austerity agenda, without coming right out and saying so. That's especially true if you look at it as a moral agenda: one that turns a dispassionate eye towards the people who will bear the brunt of it, and endure a great deal more pain and anxiety in the process

But Americans caught in the teeth of this recession aren't necessarily buying the conservative moral argument that it's our own fault. Elizabeth Warren [31] put succinctly the understanding that moved so many to "occupy Wall Street."

Warren also drew applause for her tough talk on Wall Street. "The people on Wall Street broke this country, and they did it one lousy mortgage at a time. It happened more than three years ago, and there has been no real accountability, and there has been no real effort to fix it."


This is a great piece on the specific philosophical, moral, and ethical dimensions of the current economic and political crisis in this country and what the various ideological responses to them in both theoretical and practical terms actually MEANS to the masses of people being victimized and destroyed by this crisis's ongoing fallout. By brilliantly slashing through the blatantly self serving and self righteous bluster and pompous 'morally supremacist' rhetoric of such conservative/reactionary figures as the New York Times columnist and resident house "philosopher" David Brooks, Herman Cain (the number one avatar of the craven philosophy of 'Uncle Tomism' in modern American politics today) and the leading Tea Party followers in Congress of Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman like Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul (not to mention their fervent allegiance to such insidiously influential and rabidly pro-capitalist economic gurus as Alan Greenspan and Friedrich Hayek), the author of this article Terrance Heath goes to the very heart of the massive struggle being undertaken at this historical moment in the streets of New York and across the country as well as the corporate and governmental lobbying centers of Washington D.C.


Occupy Wall Street: Demanding Justice
by Terrance Heath, Campaign for America's Future [3] Report
7 October 2011

It's been a while since empathy [4] — the uniquely human capacity to recognize and share the feelings experienced by others, that science even suggests is hardwired in us — when President Obama [5] included it in the qualities he sought in a Supreme Court appointee, and conservatives [6] from Glenn Beck [7] to Sen. Jim Sessions [8]. So I was surprised to see columnist David Brooks [9] turn the spotlight on empathy again.

However, when I put it in the context of popular and growing movements like Occupy Wall Street [10] and We are the 99 Percent [11], and even the movements in Wisconsin and Ohio, I was not surprised to see Brooks holding forth on the shortcomings of empathy. The success of these progressive movements constitute a powerful challenge to conservatives.

"The problem comes when we try to turn feeling into action. Empathy makes you more aware of other people’s suffering, but it’s not clear it actually motivates you to take moral action or prevents you from taking immoral action.

…Empathy orients you toward moral action, but it doesn’t seem to help much when that action comes at a personal cost. You may feel a pang for the homeless guy on the other side of the street, but the odds are that you are not going to cross the street to give him a dollar.

…Nobody is against empathy. Nonetheless, it’s insufficient. These days empathy has become a shortcut. It has become a way to experience delicious moral emotions without confronting the weaknesses in our nature that prevent us from actually acting upon them. It has become a way to experience the illusion of moral progress without having to do the nasty work of making moral judgments. In a culture that is inarticulate about moral categories and touchy about giving offense, teaching empathy is a safe way for schools and other institutions to seem virtuous without risking controversy or hurting anybody’s feelings.

People who actually perform pro-social action don’t only feel for those who are suffering, they feel compelled to act by a sense of duty. Their lives are structured by sacred codes.

Brooks makes an interesting point in the conservative case against empathy, by first arguing that no one is against empathy, and then arguing why sometimes one should be. He instead argues for strong moral codes that allow "pro-social" action without empathy, driven instead by duty. It doesn't end up with any answers. It doesn't replace empathy, because with empathy comes compassion, and Brooks almost extolls morality driven action that may be void of compassion.

We take care of the poor because we "must." Because "God" commands us to. But it doesn't mean we have to "expand our moral imaginations" [12] (as President Obama put it, in his Tucson speech [13]) and put ourselves in their shoes or put ourselves in their places. Moral judgment like that Brooks favors over empathy allows for a separation between "us" and "them," it casts "them" as "Other," and puts a comfortable distance between "us" and "them." Empathy requires some level of identification with another, and a recognition of some basic degree of commonality.

Empathy makes casting moral judgments upon others more complicated and more difficult, because seeing something of our reality in them gives them a context — a "story" like our own, which frames their choices and actions with complexities that bleed over into our stories and those of others.

For conservatives like Brooks, empathy in government becomes even more troublesome, because it subverts morality by shielding people from the consequences of their sins [14].

"When you are the president in a financial crisis, you have the power to pave roads and hire teachers. That will reduce the suffering of real people who would otherwise be jobless. You have the power to streamline regulations and reduce tax burdens. That will induce a bit more hiring and activity. These are real contributions.

But you don’t have the power to transform the whole situation. Your discrete goods might contribute to an overall turnaround, but that turnaround will be beyond your comprehension and control.

Over the past decades, Americans have developed an absurd view of the power of government. Many voters seem to think that government has the power to protect them from the consequences of their sins. Then they get angry and cynical when it turns out that it can’t."

Sins? Sins, did you say? What sins?

Brooks' moral case for a "do nothing" (or at little as possible) approach to the economic crisis is not only classic conservatism, but fits nearly into the conservative worldview that George Lakoff nailed in his book Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think [15]:

"Competition is necessary for a moral world; without it, people would not have to develop discipline and so would not become moral beings. Worldly success is an indicator of sufficient moral strength; lack of success suggests lack of sufficient discipline. Dependency is immoral. The undisciplined will be weak and poor, and deservedly so.

Strict Father Morality demonstrates a natural Moral Order: Those who are moral should be in power. The Moral Order legitimizes traditional power relations as being natural, determining a hierarchy of Moral Authority: God above Man; Man above Nature; Adults above Children; Western Culture above Non-western Culture; America above other nations. (There are other traditional aspects of the Moral Order that are less accepted than they used to be: Straights above Gays; Christians above non-Christians; Men above Women; White above Non-whites.)

Since to participate in the promotion or preservation of immorality is itself immoral, it is a moral requirement to eradicate immorality—through "tough love" if possible but through punishment if necessary—in every aspect of life, both public and private, domestic and foreign."

Put plainly, the better off are better off because they are better people. The poor, the unemployed, the underemployed, the uninsured, etc, are solely to blame for their condition. The have-nots are have-nots because they "have not" the right moral character. The most recent example of this is Herman Cain's recent statement on joblessness and inequality [16].

Joblessness, unemployment, the economic crisis, the foreclosure crisis. You name it, conservatives blame it all on the sins of "Others." Maybe it's Blacks and Latinos that caused the foreclosure crisis [17]. Maybe its gays and same-sex marriage that caused the economic meltdown [18]. And the over 15 million jobless Americans are jobless because the just are looking and hoping hard enough [19].

Rounding out this trip through the conservative mindset by way of Brooks and Cain is Ron Paul's recent appearance on The Daily Show [20]:

The Daily Show [21]

Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes [22],Political Humor & Satire Blog [23],The Daily Show on Facebook [24]

'Do you worry that you trust us more than you should," Stewart asked, expressing his concern for unregulated markets.

"When I talk to young people, and I talk to a lot of them," Paul replied. "I say, if we can get your freedom back just remember the decisions you make affect yourself and you can't come crawling to the government for some help. When I make a decision or the government makes a decision, it's for everybody. When you make a bad decision, it only hurts you. So, if you have great faith in people, then you have to say, well, the people are the politicians. And quite frankly, the people I know in Washington aren't capable of telling you what you ought to do."

But the issue to Stewart is one of public empathy.

"Doesn't trusting the people also then accept the fact that people won't let their fellow man be in a position where they fail?" Stewart asked.

It's worth repeating: "When you make a bad decision it only hurts you." It runs counter to common sense. If I decide, starting today, to drive on the left side of the road and to ignore speed limits, that's a decision that's likely to hurt me. But it's not only going to hurt me. Given the certainty that my decision will cause an accident, it will hurt the other party. They could suffer a loss of property, depending on the damage to their car. They could suffer a loss of health or even a loss of life if they are severely injured as a result of my decision to flout "government" regulations that "tell me what I ought to do"; like which side of the road I should drive on, or how fast I should go.

What decision would the other party have made that hurt them? Merely to drive home along the same route they always take, and abide by the traffic laws. Now, you could say that it's their fault because they could have chosen another route, thus avoided me. In other words, It was their fault for being on the road, even if they were following the rules.

But common sense tells you it was my decision that hurt them. The law would certainly see it that way, and my consequences could include a fine and/or jail time for vehicular homicide. Our laws recognize that the choices people make have consequences for other people, whose only fault was doing what they were supposed to be doing. Common sense and the law recognize that situations like these call for accountability.

Cast the same story in the context of the economic crisis, substitute Wall Street for yours truly, and middle- and working-class Americans for the injured party, and conservatives like Brooks, Cain, and Paul essentially say: It's their own damn fault.

Brooks says Americans have an "absurd" idea that government exists to "protect them from the consequences of their sins." But it's the consequences of the sins of others government protects us from, when it works. The reality is that for decades government has failed to protect us from the sins of others who fall into the category of "corporate persons," and that's the source of the anger and cynicism Brooks mentioned.

Steve Benen [25] asks:

Has Brooks ever actually spoken to anyone who’s falling further behind? As poverty rates reach one in six, does the columnist sincerely believe systemic sin is responsible? With unemployment over 9%, is Brooks convinced that all the jobless deserved to be forced from their jobs?

As for the role of the state, Brooks believes the public simply needs to be conditioned — stop thinking government will provide a net, and you won’t be disappointed when government intervention seems inadequate.

The reason that movements like Occupy Wall Street and We Are the 99 Percent have taken off is because millions of Americans have actually spoken with someone who's falling behind. We do so every day. We don't have to go far to find them, because they are often our friends, neighbors and family members. Those of us who are still hanging on in this recession live and work beside others who are in the same precarious position, just a step or two from falling — or being pushed — into the abyss.

That's the reason, as Bryce Covert [26] writes, that the other 99% of us are crying out.

While signs at the protests have many, many messages — from BP to Iran to capital punishment — the affiliated Tumblr, We Are the 99 Percent [11], exposes what’s motivating people to get on the streets. With over 700 submissions at this point, Americans from all over have been writing down personal stories to explain their frustrations. While those protesting on Wall Street have grievances that are far ranging, those on the Tumblr are almost all sparked by a combination of a few common things: joblessness, debt, and low wages. They are the stories of those who can’t make ends meet. These days, that covers a lot of us.

As spontaneous as these movements seem, the truth is they've been building for a long time. As Andy Kroll writes, they stem from a "decade from hell," for middle- and working-class Americans.

In recent months, a blizzard of new data, the hardest of hard numbers, has laid bare the dilapidated condition of the American economy, and particularly of the once-mighty American middle class. Each report sparks a flurry of news stories and pundit chatter, but never much reflection on what it all means now that we have just enough distance to look back on the first decade of the twenty-first century and see how Americans fared in that turbulent period.

And yet the verdict couldn’t be more clear-cut. For the American middle class, long the pride of this country and the envy of the world, the past 10 years were a bust. A washout. A decade from hell.

Paychecks shrank. Household wealth melted away like so many sandcastles swept off by the incoming tide. Poverty spiked, swallowing an ever-greater share of the population, young and old."This is truly a lost decade," Harvard University economist Lawrence Katz said of these last years. "We think of America as a place where every generation is doing better, but we're looking at a period when the median family is in worse shape than it was in the late 1990s."

That it happened at the same time that that the top 1% enjoyed record low taxes [27] and captured the lion's share of income [28], isn't lost on the millions of Americans in the other 99%. The 1% took a hit to their stock portfolios when the at the start of the recession [29], but have since recovered. It's no coincidence that we see America as more divided between haves and have-nots than ever before [30].

Take a look at a new poll from the Pew Center on People and Press, showing that the number of Americans who think we’re a country divided into the “haves” and “have nots” shot up by 10 percent over the past three years, after a bit of a decline the year prior:

Brooks' column against empathy goes a long way towards making the moral case for the Republican austerity agenda, without coming right out and saying so. That's especially true if you look at it as a moral agenda: one that turns a dispassionate eye towards the people who will bear the brunt of it, and endure a great deal more pain and anxiety in the process

But Americans caught in the teeth of this recession aren't necessarily buying the conservative moral argument that it's our own fault. Elizabeth Warren [31] put succinctly the understanding that moved so many to "occupy Wall Street."

Warren also drew applause for her tough talk on Wall Street. "The people on Wall Street broke this country, and they did it one lousy mortgage at a time. It happened more than three years ago, and there has been no real accountability, and there has been no real effort to fix it."

Young Americans, joined by everyone from airline pilots to labor unions and U.S. Marines (about as far from "hippies" as one could imagine) have occupied Wall Street for weeks now, because they know who "broke" the economy. Americans are occupying Washington, D.C., because they know who "broke" the economy, who allowed it to happen, and who still hasn't done much of anything about it. We have been living with the consequences of "sins" not our own, because our government failed to protect us from the sins of others. Namely, Wall Street.

Americans are occupying their own cities all over the country [32], because they know in a crisis this big, the scene of the crime is in our own cities, our neighborhoods, and sometimes even in our own living rooms; because we have friends or family who are getting laid off because of local/state budget cuts [33] that state/local jobs cuts [34] that are slowing down what passes as a recovery [35]; because we are or have children who are graduating off a cliff [36] into a jobless recovery and an economy with no place for them; because foreclosures have left our neighborhoods struggling with blight [37]; because the future we dreamed up for our children is in peril.

For all these reasons and more, Americans are taking to the streets [38]. There's a line that runs from the Wisconsin protests [39], connecting them. Instead of hardening our hearts against each other, the economic crisis has "sharpened our instincts for empathy" and, as President Obama said in his Tucson speech, caused us to "remind ourselves of all the ways that our hopes and dreams are bound together." We have not used it as an opportunity to turn on each other. Instead, a sense of shared struggles has empowers us to demand accountability and justice [40].

In his opening address to the Take Back The American Dream conference, Van Jones [41] reminded those who were inspired by Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, "You inspired him first." What's happening now — what we've seen in Occupy Wall Street, in We Are the 99 Percent, in the protests in Wisconsin and Ohio, etc. — is that we are inspiring each other. We may have inspired Obama again, if the White House's change in tune is any indication. But the real game-changer beyond 2012 may be that we are inspiring each other. The real game changer may be a belief embodied in the Wisconsin protests, theAmerican Dream movement [42], and Occupy Wall street, not only that — as Van said — "something can be done," but that we can make it happen.