Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Global Reach of the Occupy Wall Street Movement in Text and Pictures

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Right Here All Over (Occupy Wall St.) from Alex Mallis on Vimeo.

Occupy Wall Street Marks One Month
Posted Oct. 17, 2011
by OccupyWallSt

Occupations Spread to Over 100 US Cities

Movement For Economic Justice Gains Global Momentum

Liberty Square, New York, NY — One month ago today about 2,000 people rallied in Lower Manhattan and marched up Broadway. Stopping at Zuccotti Park an estimated 150 stayed the night and began an encampment. Renaming the space “Liberty Square,” we kicked off a protest against bank bailouts, corporate greed, and the unchecked power of Wall Street in Washington. In the last month, the message of “We are the 99%” has won the hearts and minds of over half of Americans (according to a recent Time survey) and is gaining ground globally, with 1500 protests in 82 countries this past Saturday (October 15).

“I am here to celebrate the 30th day of this protest against corporate power,” said Karanja Gacuca from Liberty Square, a former Wall Street analyst who now organizes with Occupy Wall Street. “Concerned about the egregious Wall Street bonuses — particularly after the industry accepted a tax-payer bailout and the middle class continues to be squeezed — I believe it's time for a fairer system that provides health care, education, and opportunity for all, and rejects corporate influence over government.”

Inspired by the uprisings across the Arab world, and fueled by the feelings of anger and helplessness of everyday Americans, in the past month Occupy Wall Street has:

Gone Global: On October 15th, protests were held from North and South America to Asia, Africa and Europe, with over 1,500 events in 82 countries, as part of a global day of action.
Flourished with Diversity: Occupiers of different ages, races, walks of life, and political beliefs have joined the movement. The mix grew quickly to include students, elderly people, families with children, construction workers on their lunch breaks, unemployed Wall Street executives, Iraq & Afghanistan veterans, moms, and many others.

Gained Support in the Heartland: Occupy actions are happening all across middle America, from Kethcum, ID to Kalamazoo, MI, from Orlando to Anchorage. Every day financial contributions arrive along with clothes, food, and notes of support from all across the country. A couple from West Virginia who have been sending supplies to Liberty Square occupiers writes: “We are so grateful for all of you involved in this defense of America. We firmly believe this is ‘it.’ If we can't grab this democracy this time, we'll sink and it will be a long time before we will have this opportunity again. Thank you for taking time from your busy life to be there.”

Changed the Conversation: The people-powered force of shared anger at a broken system that profits the top 1% at the expense of the rest of us has shifted our national dialogue. The Occupy Wall Street protest has become a cultural phenomenon, mentioned everywhere from jokes on Saturday Night Live to the solemn dedication the national memorial to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by President Obama Sunday. We, the occupiers, have shown our country how to come together and respect differences while working together to build a movement for change. What a month, and we are only getting started!

Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #OWS is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.


From Tahrir Square to Times Square: Protests Erupt in Over 1,500 Cities Worldwide Posted Oct. 16, 2011, 1:08 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

Tens of Thousands in Streets of Times Square, NY

Tens of Thousands Flood the Streets of Global Financial Centers, Capitol Cities and Small Towns to "Occupy Together" Against Wall Street Mid-Town Manhattan Jammed as Marches Converge in Times Square

New York, NY -- After triumphing in a standoff with the city over the continued protest of Wall Street at Liberty Square in Manhattan's financial district, the Occupy Wall Street movement has spread world wide today with demonstrations in over 1,500 cities globally and over 100 US cities from coast to coast. In New York, thousands marched in various protests by trade unions, students, environmentalists, and community groups. As occupiers flocked to Washington Square Park, two dozen participants were arrested at a nearby Citibank while attempting to withdraw their accounts from the global banking giant.

"I am occupying Wall Street because it is my future, my generations' future, that is at stake," said Linnea Palmer Paton, 23, a student at New York University. "Inspired by the peaceful occupation of Tahrir Square in Cairo, tonight we are are coming together in Times Square to show the world that the power of the people is an unstoppable force of global change. Today, we are fighting back against the dictators of our country - the Wall Street banks - and we are winning."

New Yorkers congregated in assemblies organized by borough, and then flooded the subway system en mass to join the movement in Manhattan. A group calling itself Todo Boricua Para Wall Street marched as a Puerto Rican contingent of several hundred playing traditional music and waving the Lares flag, a symbol of resistance to colonial Spain. "Puerto Ricans are the 99% and we will continue to join our brothers and sisters in occupying Wall Street," said David Galarza Santa, a trade unionist from Sunset Park, Brooklyn. "We are here to stand with all Latinos, who are being scapegoated by the 1%, while it is the bankers who have caused this crisis and the banks who are breaking the law."

While the spotlight is on New York, "occupy" actions are also happening all across the Midwestern and the Southern United States, from Ashland, Kentucky to Dallas, Texas to Ketchum, Idaho. Four hundred Iowans marched in Des Moines, Iowa Saturday as part of the day of action:

"People are suffering here in Iowa. Family farmers are struggling, students face mounting debt and fewer good jobs, and household incomes are plummeting," said Judy Lonning a 69-year-old retired public school teacher. "We're not willing to keep suffering for Wall Street's sins. People here are waking up and realizing that we can't just go to the ballot box. We're building a movement to make our leaders listen."

Protests filled streets of financial districts from Berlin, to Athens, Auckland to Mumbai, Tokyo to Seoul. In the UK over 3,000 people attempted to occupy the London Stock Exchange. "The financial system benefits a handful of banks at the expense of everyday people," said Spyro Van Leemnen, a 27-year old public relations agent in London and a core member of the demonstrators. "The same people who are responsible for the recession are getting away with massive bonuses. This is fundamentally unfair and undemocratic."

In South Africa, about 80 people gathered at the Johannesburg Securities Exchange, Talk Radio 702 reported. Protests continued despite police efforts to declare the gathering illegal. In Taiwan, organizers drew several hundred demonstrators, who mostly sat quietly outside the Taipei World Financial Center, known as Taipei 101.

600 people have begun an occupation of Confederation Park in Ottawa, Canada today to join the global day of action. "I am here today to stand with Indigenous Peoples around the world who are resisting this corrupt global banking system that puts profits before human rights," said Ben Powless, Mohawk citizen and indigenous youth leader. "Native Peoples are the 99%, and we've been resisting the 1% since 1492. We're marching today for self- determination and dignity against a system that has robbed our lands, poisoned our waters, and oppressed our people for generations. Today we join with those in New York and around the world to say, No More!"

In Australia, about 800 people gathered in Sydney's central business district, carrying cardboard banners and chanting "Human need, not corporate greed." Protesters will camp indefinitely "to organize, discuss and build a movement for a different world, not run by the super-rich 1%," according to a statement on the Occupy Sydney website.

The movement's success is due in part to the use of online technologies and international social networking. The rapid spread of the protests is a grassroots response to the overwhelming inequalities perpetuated by the global financial system and transnational banks. More actions are expected in the coming weeks, and the Occupation of Liberty Square in Manhattan will continue indefinitely.

Occupy Wall Street is a people powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #OWS is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations.The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, Greece, Italy and the UK, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people who are writing the rules of the global economy are imposing an agenda of neoliberalism and economic inequality that is foreclosing our future.


October 15th - Global Day Of Action Posted Oct. 15, 2011, 6:12 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
NYC Live Updates

12:40 a.m. Police are barricading Washington Square Park from the public. Property not people.
12:12 a.m. Police are advancing on bystanders standing outside the South side of Washington Square Park.
12:09 a.m. Police have sealed the North and South side of Washington Square Park.
11:54 p.m. Police in riot gear are advancing on peaceful occupiers in Washington Square Park.
11:34 p.m. Police are massing at Washington Square Park. Police are moving on #occupychicago
9:48 p.m. 3,000 at Washington Square now, about to have a General Assembly, 70 arrests total for today.
9:02 p.m. 42 arrests on 47th.
8:50 p.m. 700 reported in Washington Square Park. Music and food there.
8:30 p.m. Scanner says riot cops in full gear, nets out, headed to the crowd, 47th and 6th.
8:11 p.m. White shirt just ordered #NYPD line AWAY from barricades. Crowd ROARS
8:08 p.m. Tension escalating, police ordering protesters to step away from barricades.
8:02 p.m. Mario: 4 paddy wagons and arrests at 46 and 6th ave.
8:00 p.m. Police are arresting occupiers at 46th and 6th.
7:30 p.m. Unconfirmed estimates ranging as high as 50,000 people in Times Square.
6:45 p.m. Police have trapped people in times square with barricades.
6:35 p.m. A horse just went down. Crowd is going wild. NYPD says anyone near barricade is going to jail. This is is inexcusable. (Source)
6:22 p.m. Police on horseback arrive. Police pulling people out of crowd and attacking them. Protesters are rushing barricades.
6:10 p.m. Police in riot gear retreat.
6:05 p.m. Police are in riot gear.
6:00 p.m. Backup has arrived. Estimated 15,000 in Times Square
5:49 p.m. Orange nets along Broadway.
5:45 p.m. Five thousand more on their way from Liberty Square and other locations.
5:30 p.m. Thousands arrive in Time Square. Now livestreaming:

5:13 p.m. March now 7 blocks from Times Square.
4:18 p.m. March from Washington Square Park is at 20th St and 6th Ave.

3:40 p.m. March from Washington Square Park is at 11th St and 6th Ave. At least five thousand strong.

3:36 p.m. It appears that Twitter is censoring our updates.
3:26 p.m. General Assembly of Washington Square Park marches on Times Square. 8th st and 6th ave.
3:19 p.m. Zombie group arriving in Washington Square Park. Hundreds march from Liberty Square to Citibank at 555 La Guardia Place in solidarity with arrested occupiers.
2:43 p.m. Around four thousand in Washington Square Park. Around three thousand in Liberty Square.
2:28 p.m. Police at 555 La Guardia Place are arresting occupiers in Citibank who are attempting to close their accounts.
2:23 p.m. At least 22 arrested in Citibank.
2:19 p.m. Citibank action 555 La Guardia Place. Occupiers are inside and currently being arrested.
1:57 p.m. March from Liberty Square reaches Washington Square Park. Thousands in the General Assembly meet them chanting, "Wall Street, no thanks - we don't need your greedy banks."
1:49 p.m. March from Liberty Square passes Waverly Place, nears Washington Square Park.
1:29 p.m.. Two thousand are gathered for General Assembly in Washington Square Park. Thousands more are marching to meet them.
1:23 p.m. At least twenty NYPD vehicles heading to Washington Square Park.
1:16 p.m. March from Liberty Square to Washington Square Park passes 6th and Broome.
1:05 p.m. Poetry cipher broke out during the Bronx General Assembly on the 4 train.
12:54 p.m. Bronx Police hold entrance to subway open for Bronx General Assembly - march heads downtown for free, filling two entire cars.
12:35 p.m. March from Liberty Square to Washington Square Park passes Church and Chambers - numbers more than a thousand.

From Liberty Square to Chase
We will then march to student meet up at Wash. Sq. Park


Wall Street And Broadway

Washington Square Park -
Student meet up and student loan lender bank action

1PM - #SankofaDay
Sponsered by the Malcolm X Grass Roots Movement
Liberty Plaza/Zuccotti Park

New York Public Library Main Entrance
42 and 5th avenue


The Occupation Party & Facebook


Washington Square Park, NY


The 1% Have Addresses. The 99% Have Messages
Posted Oct. 15, 2011, 11:43 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

Life sure is tough for those at the top and it must get awfully lonely. Working day and night to ravage the global economy through neoliberal policy is a thankless job. The following website lists the names of many powerful financial executives and it's time we all sent them a warm thank you for the hard work they've been doing ;)


October 15th Call to Action
Posted Oct. 14, 2011, 11:08 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

Over the last 30 years, the 1% have created a global economic system - neoliberalism - that attacks our human rights and destroys our environment. Neoliberalism is worldwide - it is the reason you no longer have a job, it is the reason you cannot afford healthcare, education, food, your mortgage.
Neoliberalism is your future stolen.

Neoliberalism is everywhere, gutting labor standards, living wages, social contracts, and environmental protections. It is "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." It is a system that ravages the global south and creates global financial crisis - crisis in Spain, in Greece, in the United States. It is a system built on greed and thrives on destablizing shocks.
It allows the 1% to enrich themselves by impoverishing humanity.

This has to stop!
We must usher in an era of democratic and economic justice.
We must change, we must evolve.

On October 15th the world will rise up as one and say, "We have had enough! We are a new beginning, a global fight on on all fronts that will usher in an era of shared prosperity, respect, mutual aid, and dignity."

Actions in NYC

October 15th: Occupy Banks from Mary Matthews on Vimeo.

Actions worldwide

Take The Square


#OWS VICTORY: The people have prevailed, gear up for global day of action
Posted Oct. 14, 2011, 8:51 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

People power triumphs over Wall Street’s bid to end the protests mayor bloomberg and Brookfield Inc. back down on eviction world prepares for day of action Saturday October 15 in 950+ cities in 82 countries. We Are Winning!

NEW YORK, NY – Over 3,000 people gathered at Liberty Plaza in the pre-dawn hours this morning to defend the peaceful Occupation near Wall Street. The crowd cheered at the news that multinational real estate firm Brookfield Properties will postpone its so-called “cleanup” of the park and that Mayor Bloomberg has told the NYPD to stand down on orders to remove protesters. On the eve of the October 15 global day of action against Wall Street greed, this development has emboldened the movement and sent a clear message that the power of the people has prevailed against Wall Street.

“We are winning and Wall Street is afraid,” said Kira Moyer-Sims, a protester from Portland, Oregon. “This movement is gaining momentum and is too big to fail.”

“Brookfield Properties is the 1%. They have invested $24 billion in mortgage-backed securities, so as millions face foreclosure and eviction due to predatory lending and the burst of the housing bubble that Wall Street created, its not surprising they threatened to evict Occupy Wall Street,” said Patrick Bruner, an organizer with Occupy Wall Street from the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn. “But Brookfield and Bloomberg have backed down and our movement is only growing as the 99% take to the streets world wide to call for economic justice.”

The early morning announcement from the Mayor’s office in New York came after 300,000+ Americans signed petitions to stop the eviction, and flooded the 311 phone network in solidarity with those in Liberty Square. At 6 AM this morning, 3,000+ New Yorkers, unions, students, and others joined the occupiers in the square to send a clear message to the 1% who want to silence this peaceful assembly of the 99%. Donations poured into the protesters from Italy, England, Mexico and many other countries by everyday people hoping to help the movement grow.

“For too long the 99% have been ignored as our economic system has collapsed. The banks got bailouts and we’ve been sold out, ” said Harrison Schultz, business analyst from Brooklyn . “Wall Street’s greed has corrupted our country and is killing our planet. But today we celebrate victory and vow to keep fighting for justice and change on Wall Street, and in over 100 cities in the US and over 950 cities globally.”

On October 15th, Occupy Wall Street will demonstrate in concert over 951 cities in 82 countries and counting as people around the globe protest in an international day of solidarity against the greed and corruption of the 1%.

Occupy Wall Street is a people powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #OWS is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations on the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Spain, Greece, Italy and the UK, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people who are writing the rules of the global economy and are imposing an agenda of neoliberalism and economic inequality.


Liberty Square has grown exponentially over the last three weeks. It is time to form a second General Assembly in Manhattan. We expect more to follow.

On October eighth at three in the afternoon a General Assembly will convene in Washington Square Park. At the same time Anti-Flag will play an acoustic set in Liberty Square in solidarity with our movement's expansion.

We are growing. Block by block – city by city. We will see change in this country, in this world. It will happen sooner than you can imagine.


AFT fully endorses Occupy Wall Street
Posted Oct. 6, 2011, 4:48 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

The American Federation of Teachers Local 1839 fully endorses Occupy Wall Street.

In solidarity on behalf of our Local,

Ivan S. Steinberg, President AFT Local 1839

William Calathes, Executive Vice President AFT Local 1839


This Site Has Nothing To Do With Us
Posted Oct. 6, 2011, 11:48 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

We are not a political institution.


#ows Takes Foley Square With Union Brothers And Sisters
Posted Oct. 6, 2011, 4:03 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt

The American Dream has been stolen from the world. Workers are told that they aren't allowed health care, shelter, food. Students are told that they aren't allowed jobs, and that they will be in debt for the rest of their lives, unable to declare bankruptcy. The 1% has destroyed this nation and its values through their greed. The 1% has stolen this world. We will not allow this to occur.

The Struggle Continues: The Theoretical and Practical Dimensions of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, Our Political Economy and the State, Part III

Notes From the Multitude:
An Occupation Reader

“The same people who are murdered slowly in the mechanized slaughterhouses of work are also arguing, singing, drinking, dancing, making love, holding the streets, picking up weapons and inventing a new poetry.”

The Fight for ‘Real Democracy’ at the Heart of Occupy Wallstreet
by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri

Demonstrations under the banner of Occupy Wall Street resonate with so many people not only because they give voice to a widespread sense of economic injustice but also, and perhaps more important, because they express political grievances and aspirations. As protests have spread from Lower Manhattan to cities and towns across the country, they have made clear that indignation against corporate greed and economic inequality is real and deep. But at least equally important is the protest against the lack -- or failure -- of political representation. It is not so much a question of whether this or that politician, or this or that party, is ineffective or corrupt (although that, too, is true) but whether the representational political system more generally is inadequate. This protest movement could, and perhaps must, transform into a genuine, democratic constituent process.

The political face of the Occupy Wall Street protests comes into view when we situate it alongside the other “encampments” of the past year. Together, they form an emerging cycle of struggles. In many cases, the lines of influence are explicit. Occupy Wall Street takes inspiration from the encampments of central squares in Spain, which began on May 15 and followed the occupation of Cairo’s Tahrir Square earlier last spring. To this succession of demonstrations, one should add a series of parallel events, such as the extended protests at the Wisconsin statehouse, the occupation of Syntagma Square in Athens, and the Israeli tent encampments for economic justice. The context of these various protests are very different, of course, and they are not simply iterations of what happened elsewhere. Rather each of these movements has managed to translate a few common elements into their own situation.

In Tahrir Square, the political nature of the encampment and the fact that the protesters could not be represented in any sense by the current regime was obvious.

The demand that “Mubarak must go” proved powerful enough to encompass all other issues. In the subsequent encampments of Madrid’s Puerta del Sol and Barcelona’s Plaça Catalunya, the critique of political representation was more complex. The Spanish protests brought together a wide array of social and economic complaints -- regarding debt, housing, and education, among others -- but their “indignation,” which the Spanish press early on identified as their defining affect, was clearly directed at a political system incapable of addressing these issues.

Against the pretense of democracy offered by the current representational system,
the protesters posed as one of their central slogans, “Democracia real ya,” or “Real
democracy now.”

Occupy Wall Street should be understood, then, as a further development or permutation of these political demands. One obvious and clear message of the protests, of course, is that the bankers and finance industries in no way represent us: What is good for Wall Street is certainly not good for the country (or the world).

A more significant failure of representation, though, must be attributed to the politicians and political parties charged with representing the people’s interests but in fact more clearly represent the banks and the creditors. Such a recognition leads to a seemingly naive, basic question: Is democracy not supposed to be the rule of the people over the polis -- that is, the entirety of social and economic life? Instead, it seems that politics has become subservient to economic and financial interests. By insisting on the political nature of the Occupy Wall Street protests we do not mean to cast them merely in terms of the quarrels between Republicans and Democrats, or the fortunes of the Obama administration. If the movement does continue and grow, of course, it may force the White House or Congress to take new action, and it may even become a significant point of contention during the next presidential election cycle. But the Obama and the George W. Bush administrations are both authors of the bank bailouts; the lack of representation highlighted by the protests applies to both parties. In this context, the Spanish call for “real democracy now” sounds both urgent and challenging.

If together these different protest encampments -- from Cairo and Tel Aviv to Athens, Madison, Madrid, and now New York -- express a dissatisfaction with the existing structures of political representation, then what do they offer as an alternative? What is the “real democracy” they propose?

The clearest clues lie in the internal organization of the movements themselves --specifically, the way the encampments experiment with new democratic practices. These movements have all developed according to what we call a “multitude form” and are characterized by frequent assemblies and participatory decision-making structures. (And it is worth recognizing in this regard that Occupy Wall Street and many of these other demonstrations also have deep roots in the globalization protest movements that stretched at least from Seattle in 1999 to Genoa in 2001.)

Much has been made of the way social media such as Facebook and Twitter have been employed in these encampments. Such network instruments do not create the movements, of course, but they are convenient tools, because they correspond in some sense to the horizontal network structure and democratic experiments of the movements themselves. Twitter, in other words, is useful not only for announcing an event but for polling the views of a large assembly on a specific decision in real time. Do not wait for the encampments, then, to develop leaders or political representatives. No Martin Luther King, Jr. will emerge from the occupations of Wall Street and beyond. For better or worse -- and we are certainly among those who find this a promising development -- this emerging cycle of movements will express itself through horizontal participatory structures, without representatives. Such small-scale experiments in democratic organizing would have to be developed much further, of course, before they could articulate effective models for a social alternative, but they are already powerfully expressing the aspiration for a “real democracy.”

Confronting the crisis and seeing clearly the way it is being managed by the current political system, young people populating the various encampments are, with an unexpected maturity, beginning to pose a challenging question: If democracy -- that is, the democracy we have been given -- is staggering under the blows of the economic crisis and is powerless to assert the will and interests of the multitude, then is now perhaps the moment to consider that form of democracy obsolete? If the forces of wealth and finance have come to dominate supposedly democratic constitutions, including the U.S. Constitution, is it not possible and even necessary today to propose and construct new constitutional figures that can open avenues to again take up the project of the pursuit of collective happiness? With such reasoning and such demands, which were already very alive in the Mediterranean and European encampments, the protests spreading from Wall Street across the United States pose the need for a new democratic constituent process.

The Struggle Continues: The Theoretical and Practical Dimensions of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, Our Political Economy, and the State, Part II

Lucas Jackson/Reuters
A protest march through the financial district of New York on October 12

"Ultimately, what matters to the politically disobedient is the kind of society we live in, not a handful of policy demands."
--Professor Bernard Harcourt

"What kind of social organization can replace capitalism?"
--Slavoj Zizek


While Professor Harcourt is absolutely correct to assert that what we are witnessing in the 'Occupy Wall Street' rebellion nationwide is a fundamental political resistance to the current forms of government and 'free market' regulatory/deregulatory frameworks that dramatically further enrich the wealthy at the expense of everyone else--and especially the great majority of people in this country (most of whom-- we should never forget-- are from the poor and working classes and NOT merely the 'middle class') it is important that we don't ignore, lose sight of, or underestimate the meaning of the larger material and ideological reality. And that is the fact that this 'political disobedience' is not merely a question of going "beyond the social, ideological, and economic paradigms informed by the Cold War." That's obviously a PART of it but to simply maintain as Harcourt does in this piece that what is most important or valuable is the relative size of government and/or the existence of the resistance to the discredited mythology of 'free markets' is to miss the even far more important and necessary point and question that Slavoj Zizek so crucially asks: "what social organization can replace capitalism?" Without critically, systematically, and effectively addressing and answering that paramount question in terms of both radically transforming institutional structures of political economy AND (yes) "ideology" one is just wasting precious time and 'whistling in the wind.' Because what Professor Harcourt himself subconsciously winds up doing in his own analysis of the "limits and consequences" of "old fashioned Cold War ideologies" in the conclusion to his piece below is to ultimately acknowledge Zizek's larger point that it's not just a matter of us and the demonstrators on behalf of Occupy Wall Street merely asserting what we're against and determining what we obviously DON'T WANT, but it is a matter of collectively deciding via struggle and coordinated mass action what we DO WANT. And that speaks to both of the basically identical questions raised respectively by Zizek and Professor Harcourt of "what kind of social organization do we want/what kind of society do we want to live in?" That "replacing capitalism" (which we should stongly remind Professor Harcourt is quintessentially an "old fashioned ideology" from both the Cold War era and before) is essential to this short and long term process of determining exactly "what kind of society we want to live in" is something that cannot be avoided or neglected in any way--especially in any serious political discussion of "kinds of regulation" and "how wealth is distributed" in society. The incontrovertible evidence of this fact can be found in the dialectical synopsis of Harcout's own analysis found in his final two paragraphs--a conclusion that neither he, us, nor the Occupy Wall Street movement in general can possibly responsibly avoid or logically deny :

"...the fundamental choice is no longer the ideological one we were indoctrinated to believe — between free markets and controlled economies — but rather a continuous choice between kinds of regulation and how they distribute wealth in society. There is, in the end, no “realistic alternative,” nor any “utopian project” that can avoid the pervasive regulatory mechanisms that are necessary to organize a complex late-modern economy — and that’s the point. The vast and distributive regulatory framework will neither disappear with deregulation, nor with the withering of a socialist state. What is required is constant vigilance of all the micro and macro rules that permeate our markets, our contracts, our tax codes, our banking regulations, our property laws — in sum, all the ordinary, often mundane, but frequently invisible forms of laws and regulations that are required to organize and maintain a colossal economy in the 21st-century and that constantly distribute wealth and resources.

In the end, if the concept of “political disobedience” accurately captures this new political paradigm, then the resistance movement needs to occupy Zuccotti Park because levels of social inequality and the number of children in poverty are intolerable. Or, to put it another way, the movement needs to resist partisan politics and worn-out ideologies because the outcomes have become simply unacceptable. The Volcker rule, debt relief for working Americans, a tax on the wealthy — those might help, but they represent no more than a few drops in the bucket of regulations that distribute and redistribute wealth and resources in this country every minute of every day. Ultimately, what matters to the politically disobedient is the kind of society we live in, not a handful of policy demands."

Exclusive online commentary from The Times

October 13, 2011
Occupy Wall Street’s ‘Political Disobedience’

The Stone is a forum for contemporary philosophers on issues both timely and timeless.

Our language has not yet caught up with the political phenomenon that is emerging in Zuccotti Park and spreading across the nation, though it is clear that a political paradigm shift is taking place before our very eyes. It’s time to begin to name and in naming, to better understand this moment. So let me propose some words: “political disobedience.”

Occupy Wall Street is best understood, I would suggest, as a new form of what could be called “political disobedience,” as opposed to civil disobedience, that fundamentally rejects the political and ideological landscape that we inherited from the Cold War.

With the Cold War decades behind us, a new paradigm of political resistance has emerged.

Civil disobedience accepted the legitimacy of political institutions, but resisted the moral authority of resulting laws. Political disobedience, by contrast, resists the very way in which we are governed: it resists the structure of partisan politics, the demand for policy reforms, the call for party identification, and the very ideologies that dominated the post-War period.

Occupy Wall Street, which identifies itself as a “leaderless resistance movement with people of many … political persuasions,” is politically disobedient precisely in refusing to articulate policy demands or to embrace old ideologies. Those who incessantly want to impose demands on the movement may show good will and generosity, but fail to understand that the resistance movement is precisely about disobeying that kind of political maneuver. Similarly, those who want to push an ideology onto these new forms of political disobedience, like Slavoj Zizek or Raymond Lotta, are missing the point of the resistance.

When Zizek complained last August, writing about the European protesters in the London Review of Books, that we’ve entered a “post-ideological era” where “opposition to the system can no longer articulate itself in the form of a realistic alternative, or even as a utopian project, but can only take the shape of a meaningless outburst,” he failed to understand that these movements are precisely about resisting the old ideologies. It’s not that they couldn’t articulate them; it’s that they are actively resisting them — they are being politically disobedient.

And when Zizek now declares at Zuccotti Park “that our basic message is ‘We are allowed to think about alternatives’ . . . What social organization can replace capitalism?” ― again, he is missing a central axis of this new form of political resistance.

One way to understand the emerging disobedience is to see it as a refusal to engage these sorts of worn-out ideologies rooted in the Cold War. The key point here is that the Cold War’s ideological divide — with the Chicago Boys at one end and the Maoists at the other — merely served as a weapon in this country for the financial and political elite: the ploy, in the United States, was to demonize the chimera of a controlled economy (that of the former Soviet Union or China, for example) in order to prop up the illusion of a free market and to legitimize the fantasy of less regulation — of what was euphemistically called “deregulation.” By reinvigorating the myth of free markets, the financial and political architects of our economy over the past three plus decades — both Republicans and Democrats — were able to disguise massive redistribution toward the richest by claiming they were simply “deregulating” when all along they were actually reregulating to the benefit of their largest campaign donors.

This ideological fog blinded the American people to the pervasive regulatory mechanisms that are necessary to organize a colossal late-modern economy and that necessarily distribute wealth throughout society — and in this country, that quietly redistributed massive amounts of wealth to the richest 1 percent. Many of the voices at Occupy Wall Street accuse political ideology on both sides, on the side of free markets but also on the side of big government, for serving the few at the expense of the other 99 percent — for paving the way to an entrenched permissive regulatory system that “privatizes gains and socializes losses.”

The central point, of course, is that it takes both a big government and the illusion of free markets to achieve such massive redistribution. If you take a look at the tattered posters at Zuccotti Park, you’ll see that many are intensely anti-government and just as many stridently oppose big government.

Occupy Wall Street is surely right in holding the old ideologies to account. The truth is, as I’ve argued in a book, “The Illusion of Free Markets,” and recently in Harper’s magazine, there never have been and never will be free markets. All markets are man-made, constructed, regulated and administered by often-complex mechanisms that necessarily distribute wealth — that inevitably distribute wealth — in large and small ways. Tax incentives for domestic oil production and lower capital gains rates are obvious illustrations. But there are all kinds of more minute rules and regulations surrounding our wheat pits, stock markets and economic exchanges that have significant wealth effects: limits on retail buyers flipping shares after an I.P.O., rulings allowing exchanges to cut communication to non-member dealers, fixed prices in extended after-hour trading, even the advent of options markets. The mere existence of a privately chartered organization like the Chicago Board of Trade, which required the state of Illinois to criminalize and forcibly shut down competing bucket shops, has huge redistributional wealth effects on farmers and consumers — and, of course, bankers, brokers and dealers.

The semantic games — the talk of deregulation rather than reregulation — would have been entertaining had it not been for their devastating effects. As the sociologist Douglas Massey minutely documents in “Categorically Unequal,” after decades of improvement, the income gap between the richest and poorest in this country has dramatically widened since the 1970s, resulting in what social scientists now refer to as U-curve of increasing inequality. Recent reports from the Census Bureau confirm this, with new evidence last month that “the number of Americans living below the official poverty line, 46.2 million people, was the highest number in the 52 years the bureau has been publishing figures on it.” Today, 27 percent of African-Americans and 26 percent of Hispanics in this country — more than 1 in 4 — live in poverty; and 1 in 9 African-American men between the ages of 20 and 34 are incarcerated.

It’s these outcomes that have pushed so many in New York City and across the nation to this new form of political disobedience. It’s a new type of resistance to politics tout court — to making policy demands, to playing the political games, to partisan politics, to old-fashioned ideology. It bears a similarity to what Michel Foucault referred to as “critique:” resistance to being governed “in this manner,” or what he dubbed “voluntary insubordination” or, better yet, as a word play on the famous expression of Etienne de la Boétie, “voluntary unservitude.”

If this concept of “political disobedience” is accurate and resonates, then Occupy Wall Street will continue to resist making a handful of policy demands because it would have little effect on the constant regulations that redistribute wealth to the top. The movement will also continue to resist Cold War ideologies from Friedrich Hayek to Maoism — as well as their pale imitations and sequels, from the Chicago School 2.0 to Alain Badiou and Zizek’s attempt to shoehorn all political resistance into a “communist hypothesis.”

On this account, the fundamental choice is no longer the ideological one we were indoctrinated to believe — between free markets and controlled economies — but rather a continuous choice between kinds of regulation and how they distribute wealth in society. There is, in the end, no “realistic alternative,” nor any “utopian project” that can avoid the pervasive regulatory mechanisms that are necessary to organize a complex late-modern economy — and that’s the point. The vast and distributive regulatory framework will neither disappear with deregulation, nor with the withering of a socialist state. What is required is constant vigilance of all the micro and macro rules that permeate our markets, our contracts, our tax codes, our banking regulations, our property laws — in sum, all the ordinary, often mundane, but frequently invisible forms of laws and regulations that are required to organize and maintain a colossal economy in the 21st-century and that constantly distribute wealth and resources.

In the end, if the concept of “political disobedience” accurately captures this new political paradigm, then the resistance movement needs to occupy Zuccotti Park because levels of social inequality and the number of children in poverty are intolerable. Or, to put it another way, the movement needs to resist partisan politics and worn-out ideologies because the outcomes have become simply unacceptable. The Volcker rule, debt relief for working Americans, a tax on the wealthy — those might help, but they represent no more than a few drops in the bucket of regulations that distribute and redistribute wealth and resources in this country every minute of every day. Ultimately, what matters to the politically disobedient is the kind of society we live in, not a handful of policy demands.

Bernard E. Harcourt is chair of the political science department and professor of law at The University of Chicago. He is the author of several books, most recently “The Illusion of Free Markets: Punishment and the Myth of Natural Order.”

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dennis Kucinich and Chris Hedges on the 99 Percent and the Radical Democratic Character of the Occupy Wall Street Movement

Dennis Kucinich and Chris Hedges on the 99 Percent
6 October 2011

by Congressman Dennis Kucinich and Chris Hedges, Truthdig | Audio Interview

This week on Truthdig Radio in collaboration with KPFK: Rep. Dennis Kucinich and Chris Hedges explain why the 99 percenters are “the best among us.” Plus: Occupy L.A., Obama’s “secure communities” and modern midwifery.

Listen to the show:

Chris Hedges on "the best among us":

The occupation on Wall Street has spread to cities across the country, with protesters camping out in downtown Los Angeles since Saturday. Reporter Howie Stier has been at the scene every day. He files this report:

Chris Hedges on “the best among us”:

Rep. Dennis Kucinich on the 99 Percent Movement, his new jobs bill and the redistricting that could force him from office (rush transcript below):

The occupation on Wall Street has spread to cities across the country, with protesters camping out in downtown Los Angeles since Saturday. Reporter Howie Stier has been at the scene every day. He files this report:

The White House is trying to thread the needle on immigration by reprioritizing deportation rules. Leilani Albano has this report from Free Speech Radio about the so-called secure communities program:

Below is a rush transcript of the Dennis Kucinich interview. A full transcript will be posted soon.

Peter Scheer: Earlier today, Josh Scheer spoke with populist Congressman Dennis Kucinich about the 99 Percent Movement, his new jobs bill and the redistricting that could force him from office.

Josh Scheer: Congressman, we’re talking about H.R. 2990. What is it, and what is it going to do for America?

Rep. Dennis Kucinich: Well, what it will do, it’ll help secure America’s economic future by providing the resources to build America’s infrastructure. With 14 million people out of work, and the government saying well, we can’t create any programs because we can’t afford it, we’re missing something that is fundamental to our economy, and that is that while the Fed has been busy creating over $2 trillion for banks since the fall of 2008 through programs like Quantitative Easing [Rounds] 1 and 2, and you’ve got banks that got $700 billion in bailouts and they, too, can create money out of nothing through fractional reserve banking—meanwhile, we’re being told that the government can’t do that. Well, actually, it’s a sovereign power that resides in the government: the ability to coin or create money. I’m saying government needs to reclaim that power, spend the money into circulation to create jobs, to put millions of people back to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, water systems, sewer systems, and put the Federal Reserve under Treasury so we have control over what they do, and end fractional reserve banking, which in this historic period has actually helped to contribute to the wave of speculation that swamped our economy in 2008.

Josh Scheer: In the bill itself, you talk about the 14 million people unemployed, the 12 million people in low-wage jobs, 3 million estimated homeless. What exactly do you think your bill [is] going to do, and then what about the Obama jobs bill that he’s been kind of promoting?

Rep. Kucinich: We need to go very deep into the underlying questions of why do we have poverty in America? Why is the wealth of the country being accelerated upwards? And one of the chief reasons is our monetary policy, which in 1913 was privatized, which gave the Federal Reserve the ability basically to direct the economy through the banks and be able to create money out of nothing, give it to banks. And banks are using money right now for mergers, acquisitions, parking it, gaining interest, but they’re sure not, you know, helping to create jobs on Main Street, which is why in August we had a defined stall in job creation. So what we need to do is to reclaim the power of government to be able to spend money into circulation and not borrow from the banks. Why should we have to borrow money from China to fund our economy? Or Japan, or South Korea? Why should we have to borrow money from banks? The government itself has this power to be able to get our economy moving, to create the jobs. We need a job program of New Deal-type proportions. And that’s what I have ready; I have the actual infrastructure job numbers and all the infrastructure categories on how we can put 7.2 million people to work creating good, full-time, permanent jobs with good take-home pay, distributed evenly across the United States, and create an average of 16,500 new jobs per congressional district.

Josh Scheer: Now, I want to ask you, because the way you’re talking and the way—obviously, there’s a lot of problems going on in this country, and we see these protests across the country like Occupy Wall Street. I wanted to get your take on that. What do people in Congress—but especially you—when you see this, what do you guys think?

Rep. Kucinich: Well, first of all, I think that the occupation of Wall Street is a very important protest that needs to gather strength around the country. Because Americans have to be visible in our objections to the fact that the wealth in our country is being concentrated at the top. And unemployment leads to the concentration of wealth. When you have the top 1 percent of Americans owning half of the country’s stocks, bonds and mutual funds; when you have the top 1 percent of America taking in more of the nation’s income than at any time since the 1920s; we have to be concerned about the impact on our democracy, because an economic democracy is a precondition of a political democracy. And so what’s happening in our economy is manifestly unjust; people have finally caught on; they’re taking to Wall Street and cities across the country to be heard about the demand that we have a government that is responsive to the practical aspirations of people for jobs, health care, education, retirement security and peace.

Josh Scheer: You know, I was just at Occupy L.A. today, and there were a lot of peace signs and people—obviously, the wars are important. And obviously, you’ve been a strong opponent of the war since it first started. What do we need to do with the wars? How much is this costing us?

Rep. Kucinich: Well, if you look at Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes’ report on Iraq alone, they said that—they called that the $3 trillion war. The cost of the war in Afghanistan this year hit the half-trillion dollar mark. We are squandering the resources of our nation on wars—the war in Iraq based on lies, and the war in Afghanistan based on an abysmal misreading of history. We need to start understanding that every bomb that’s being dropped and every war machine that’s being put together is really a denial of the educational aspirations of our children; a denial of the crisis in housing we have with the rising foreclosures; a denial of the unemployment problem. Why can’t America get its priorities straight and say that our priority should be to create jobs for all, health care for all, education for all, housing opportunities for all, retirement security for all, and peace? Why can’t America stand for that instead of becoming so famous as standing for war wherever our government so chooses to wage war?

Josh Scheer: There was a Pew study, actually, a Pew poll that says one in three veterans of the post-9/11 military believes that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not worth fighting at all. So, I mean, it’s not even with just the general public or the Congress; it’s now with soldiers who are actually fighting, or were fighting, in those wars. So, I mean, we obviously have to do something about that. I want to get into something that also came out today, a poll that says Congress’s approval ratings are at 14 percent, very obviously a low. And I want to know what you can do in Congress, and what other members of Congress—are they doing anything? Do they care about these polls?

Rep. Kucinich: Well, Congress should pay attention to how the American people feel about the declining economy. This is a synergistic matter; it’s Congress, it’s the administration, it’s a failure of the government to be able to address people’s practical aspirations for jobs and health care and education, retirement security, for peace. And government has become too much of an insider’s game. And as a result, the American people are finding that 14 million are unemployed; 50 million people without health insurance; 6.5 million people will lose their homes, perhaps, in the next year to foreclosure; business is failing. Meanwhile, the wealth accelerates to the top, wars continue. People have a right to be upset with their government—Congress, the administration—and they have a right to demand that their basic concerns be met, and that’s not happening. And it’s really a function of the failure of both political parties; of the legislative and the executive branches of government; failure of the judicial branch of government with its decision on Citizens United and before that Buckley v. Valeo, which basically have given corporations carte blanche to be able to set an agenda for their own narrow concerns, adverse to the broad interests of the American people. America’s in trouble. But it’s not as though we can’t chart a path out of that trouble. And so that’s what my legislation, H.R. 2990—called the NEED Act, the National Emergency Employment Defense Act—that’s aimed at putting America back to work. You know, imagine—imagine, instead of 14 million people out of work, we chopped it down and could cut the unemployment in half in this country with a bill that just has the simple concept of instead of borrowing money from banks or China, Japan, South Korea, we spend the money into circulation—which, by the way, is consistent with Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution. The founders understood the importance of that provision to coin or create money. And so that’s what this legislation is based on. It really is one of the most important pieces that is in the Congress right now to deal with the problem of massive unemployment, which is really undermining our democracy.

Josh Scheer: Now, I want to ask you—I’m angry, obviously; we see the Occupy Wall Street people, they’re angry; there’s a lot of angry people in this country, with the approval ratings and everything else. But we don’t maybe want to vote Republican; we don’t want to be part of the tea party; we, obviously, maybe no one will vote for the president, the current president. What do we do? I mean, what do you do if you’re just angry? Should we just go out and protest and make our voices heard?

Rep. Kucinich: Well, let’s talk about the nature of any protest movement. The importance of protest is—and particularly today—is that people become visible. It is through our personal physical presence, through our own visibility merging with others, that we are able to demonstrate, en masse, our objection to the current affairs. And this is a very powerful statement. It’s consistent with our constitutional privilege of freedom of speech and right to assemble, and it’s consistent with the American tradition that wherever change was brought about, it was not brought about because Washington suddenly decided, through its munificence, that one day it would create a situation where people of color would have full rights; where one day it would create a situation where women would have the right to vote; one day it [would create] a situation where there would be a health care program for seniors. So many of these movements started in the streets. And so we really need a movement for economic justice, and the only place it’s going to start is in the streets. But not, you know—it’s profound that we’re seeing Wall Street be the target, because people are making the connection. Instead of just coming outside the Capitol, they’re going outside Wall Street. It’s a different kind of “capital,” c-a-p-i-t-a-l. And that kind of capital has great power to direct the affairs of our nation. And that’s something, that the awareness of the Wall Street occupiers is such that all over the country people are starting to pay attention, and they’re starting to create similar protests in their own communities. And frankly, I think there are millions and millions of Americans who are demanding a level of economic change that the system currently can’t even begin to comprehend; and yet the failure of the system to do so will result in the system being dramatically changed within the next few years.

Josh Scheer: Well, I just want to wrap up with one quick question about your redistricting. And I know that you’ve been redistricted, and I want to let our listeners know what they can do for you, but also, what’s the situation in Ohio?

Rep. Kucinich: The district that I’m running in right now is a district that has been created through the merging of two congressional districts, the 10th district—or three congressional districts—the 10th District, which I represent; the 13th District, which Betty Sutton represents; and the 9th district, represented by [Marcia] Kaptur. So 54 percent of the registered Democrats from my district are in a new district, and 34 percent are from Ms. Kaptur’s district, and 12 percent from Ms. Sutton’s district. So at this point, it looks like I’m headed for a primary against my friend from Toledo, Marcia Kaptur. It’s nothing that I sought, but the Republicans drew a district that extends a hundred miles along Lake Erie. So, you know, I have a primary election on March the 6th, and I am preparing for it. Because the election’s now—it’s about, oh, roughly about 153 days. And so it becomes urgent that I organize and do all the other things that are necessary to be able to get people involved in the campaign.

Josh Scheer: And then, obviously, you’re on H.R. 2990, and I just want to let people know again it’s the [National Emergency] Employment Defense Act. And you can write your congressman, if you’re listening to this in any other part of the country, to vote for it. Thank you so much for joining us.

Rep. Kucinich: I appreciate being on the phone with you, and I look forward to speaking with you again.

Josh Scheer: Oh, yeah. Have a great day, Congressman.

Peter Scheer: That was Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich speaking with Truthdig’s Josh Scheer.

Norman Kelley Calls Out President Obama On His Chutzpah Vis-A-Vis Black America


I'm a big fan of Kelley's work and have been for a long time--even when he's dead wrong. I especially liked his 2004 tome entitled The Head Negro in Charge Syndrome: The Dead End of Black Politics (Nation Books), which though flawed is still a serious, honest, and insightful attempt at a genuinely independent and critical theoretical analysis of black political thought and practice in the United States. Really good to see him and his often intellectually scathing and deeply incisive work again...He's a real social and cultural critic as well as political analyst and we sorely need many more like him generally--and especially in the African American intellectual and politically activist community nationwide...

Norman Kelley

Washington, District of Columbia, USA


Norman Kelley is an independent journalist, author, and former segment radio producer at WBAI 99.5 FM Pacifica Radio. He has written for Society, L A Weekly, The Brooklyn Rail, The Village Voice, The Nation, New York Press, Newsday,, The Black Star News, New Politics, Black Renaissance/Noir, and The Bedford Stuyvesant Current. He is also the author of the "noir soul"/ mystery series that features "Nina Halligan" in Black Heat (Amistad), The Big Mango (Akashic Books), and A Phat Death (2003). Norman Kelley was also a contributing writer to Brooklyn Noir (Akashic Books, 2004) and DC Noir (Akashic Books, 2006) and Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs at the Turn of the Millennium (Random House 2000). He edited and contributed to R&B (Rhythm and Business): The Political Economy of Black Music (Akashic Books, 2005; 2002).

Obama's Chutzpah Performance Before the CBC
by Norman Kelley

Watching Obama telling the Black Congressional Caucus to stop its bellyachin' has got to be one of the greatest chutzpah performances of all time.

Here's a guy who even cratered his own accomplishments by being the master of pre-emptive compromise, yet he's going to get an attitude that black elected officials and blacks are pissed at his poor performance as a leader?!

And don't forget, days before his appearance at the CBC event, he showed what a man of steel he was by doing what all American politicians are great at: genuflecting before the state of Israel.

Meanwhile it's been reported that Obama okayed that country getting "bunker buster" bombs, which will undoubtedly be used on suspected Iranian nuclear facilities.

Yet cynical Republicans sensing weakness and some Jewish Americans are trying to drum up a "Jewish problem" for Obama because he wants Israel to stop building settlements and get down to negotiating with the Palestinians.

Let's face it: he ain't a real Christian devotee of Israel like Rick Perry.

Obama's real complaint regarding the black electorate? They aren't fully appreciative of the symbolic importance of him being the first black president, which surely dwarfs their economic despair.

I mean, get your priorities right, people!

The 99% Anthem: "This Land is Your Land"
October 09, 2011 09:50PM
Predator Drone Strikes on Wall Street Banskters! Yowza!
October 04, 2011 08:23PM
A Pot of Cain Calling a Kettle of Perry Black!
October 02, 2011 10:04PM
The Post's "Niggerhead" article Is Missing the Photo
October 02, 2011 05:01PM
Carl Bernstein on Hacking, Murdoch, and Journalism
September 29, 2011 10:18PM

Norman Kelley On Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land" As An Anthem for the Occupy Wall Street Movement

Woody Guthrie, 1912-1967

Norman Kelley


Norman Kelley is not only right about the greatness (and inspiring endurance) of Woody Guthrie's justly famous and seminal protest song but it's a very nice and even comforting irony that another fine contemporary singer/songwriter and political activist Tom Morello (formerly of the '90s legendary politically radical rock group RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE) sang Guthrie's classic song acapella accompanied by his acoustic guitar at the 'Occupy Wall Street' site for thousands of very appreciative demonstrators gathered there just two days ago. The roaring and highly enthusiastic response that Morello received from the crowd only further validates the eternal social relevance and deep political clarity of this song and everything it says about this country and its people...(Note: Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen also sang this song in its entirety at the Lincoln Memorial at President Obama's inauguration celebration in January, 2009)


OCTOBER 9, 2011
The 99% Anthem: "This Land is Your Land"

The 99% movement needs to crystalize its ideas in a basic simple song. I suggest an American classic: THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND--words and music by Woody Guthrie

Norman Kelley
Washington, District of Columbia, USA

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me


I've roamed and rambled and I've followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me


The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
This land was made for you and me


As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there
And that sign said - no tress passin'
But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!


In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office - I see my people
And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin'
If this land's still made for you and me.

Chorus (2x)

A Tribute To The Ongoing Intellectual, Social, and Moral Legacy of Derrick A. Bell, 1930-2011

Derrick A. Bell, 1930-2011

Patricia J. Williams


Still another tribute to the profound and lasting legacy of the late, great African American scholar, activist, theorist, and teacher Derrick Bell (1930-2011) by one of his many outstanding, renowned, and deeply appreciative students, African American scholar, law professor, social critic, and writer Patricia Williams...


Professor Derrick Bell, 1930–2011
Patricia J. Williams

October 11, 2011

The Nation

I met Professor Derrick Albert Bell when I was 19 years old. I was an undergraduate, but a student of his had invited me to sit in on one of his classes in constitutional law at Harvard. At that point in my life, I was thinking of going on for a PhD in… linguistics? Urban studies? Sociology? Maybe art history. I was lost in the something-or-other stage of my life and couldn’t for the life of me make up my squishy, floaty mind.

Professor Bell’s lecture fixed all that. He had that class divided into interest and advocacy groups, taking various sides in the Supreme Court cases they were studying. The teams were arguing with each other like mad, and the passion and purpose flying around that room were like tangible objects. You had to duck to avoid getting laser-beamed by the sharp, whizzing commotion of high-octane ideas.

When I actually got to law school, I discovered that not every class was like Professor Bell’s. This was around the same time that The Paper Chase came out, which highlighted the harsh questioning of the Socratic Method that then reigned supreme in most of legal academia. I cowered with my classmates in fear of what often felt like mockery or derision. In addition, there were not a lot of women in law school in those days—we were only 8 percent of the class—and sexism was only beginning to be addressed as just possibly inimical to the educational process. I had expected to love law school. Instead, I hated it within the first ten minutes.

Derrick Bell is the only reason I didn’t leave. As he had in that first glimpse of his teaching, he made ideas come alive. He made the dry pages of treatises vivid; he never let us forget the human stories behind every tract, every suit, every appeal. He imbued legal education with a sense of purpose and responsibility: we weren’t there for ourselves alone, but to live up to a calling and to become of service. He helped me reframe the sense of isolation and intimidation I felt as causes, as precisely the reasons there was an obligation to stay the course.

Until Professor Bell, people like me—females, African-Americans, students who weren’t wealthy, who weren’t legacies—were left to our own devices to try to penetrate the Old Boys network. We had to discover that secret societies even existed before we could try to break down the doors; and we had to comprehend how many deals were made in eating clubs before we could understand why invitation to those high tables was not merely about the potatoes au gratin.

There was every manner of institutional insularity in those days, calculated to shut out most of the world. In contrast, Professor Bell’s door was always open. His mind was always open. Always soft-spoken, always polite, he made others’ doors open too—he supported disability, elderly and gay rights long before any of that was part of the national conversation. He worked to get more women on the faculty when few others thought their lack an issue. Over time, his efforts changed not only Harvard but the way all law schools treated students. He spoke truth to power in a way that removed that notion from mere cliché. And he created family in the unlikely setting of a law school.

I had the great fortune to work as a research assistant for him, updating the first two editions of his textbook Race, Racism and American Law. It was the best job I ever had, not only because of what I learned about the practice of law but because he connected me to a practice of being. He was what Malcolm Gladwell has called a “nodal” person: anything worth knowing could be found through him. With all due respect to Kevin Bacon, Derrick Bell was only two or three degrees removed from everyone on the planet.

A few years after I graduated from law school, Professor Bell urged me to think about teaching. It was not a career path I ever would have considered otherwise. This was at a time when there were virtually no women in law teaching—to say nothing of women of color. He said he just saw me as teaching; and so it was. It would be too easy to say he was visionary like that; but the truth is he made things happen. He believed in a broadly inclusive mandate for equality that was boundless and prescient. He pushed and he pulled and he checked in on his students. He made friends with them for life. He was so unqualifiedly selfless that many of us called him Father Derrick—not because he was ever paternalistic but because he was such a wise provider to those of us stumbling about in a professional world that was new, inscrutable and not altogether welcoming. He was a mentor before we had a word for it.

Like legions of others, I felt like a daughter among extensive and extended family. And as such, I, we, suffered constantly from sibling rivalry—we all wanted to be Derrick’s favorite child. We came and we went, we visited and lunched, we darted in and out of his life like hummingbirds eternally hungry for succor. But if he made us feel “as though” we were family, we were always aware of his real family, the vital core that was his pride and joy. His first wife, Jewel, and his second wife, Janet, were true intellectual companions, both as warm, funny and kind as he. And his sons—Derrick, Douglas and Carter—were his heart. I was fortunate—and old enough—to have watched those three remarkable sons grow up. I baby-sat for them, walked the family dogs with them, shared so many lovely moments. They were delightful, polite, thoughtful children; and all three have grown up to be great-souled, good-hearted and gentle human beings. What greater pride can there be.

Derrick Bell touched more people than most of us mere mortals could ever dream. He was a great man precisely because there were no conditions upon his energies. He had a huge capacity for love, for justice and for justice as a form of love. Like all the greatest teachers, his influence remains eternally generative.