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The end of politics as usual: The case for welcoming racists and gun nuts into Occupy

October 30, 2011 5 comments

I find this woman fascinating. She has expressed an opinion that has been labeled anti-Semitic and probably is. Should she be expelled from the Occupy movement? Should she have lost her job?

Assume, for a moment, that she really is an egregious anti-Semite. What then should we do with her?

Then there was the guy who walked through an Occupation site in Seattle with a rifle. This also occurred in Atlanta (pictured above).

The actions and statements of these individuals raise some difficult problems for the Occupy movement that will have to be dealt with sooner or later — perhaps in the form of proposals by well-meaning but misguided folks who do not want their protest associated with that of racists, and the like. I like the exchange (below) between three folks with differing opinions on the significance of the guy in Atlanta showing up to an Occupy site with his rifle:

shoelessjoe2555: so what is he going to do if they kick them out? shoot the police? How is that peaceful or helpful at all? what a dumbass

420PATROCK: @shoelessjoe2555 You Obviously don’t like freedom. If I am using my 1st amendment and was physically forced to leave I’d be fighting till death! I SUPPORT THE 2ND AMENDMENT OF THE U.S. CONSTITUTION! WE ALL SHOULD!! Can’t believe the ignorance of my fellow citizens!

shoelessjoe2555: @420PATROCK LOL. its not about the first ammendment. You can use the first ammendment, but that has nothing to do where your BODY PHYSICALLY IS!! IF it is illegal to gather in streets, that has nothing to do with your 1st ammendment right to free speech. No one is trying to silence you. There just telling you that you must respect the other laws as well. People are emotional, and bringing an assault rifle sets the wrong example. What if others take your lead, and bring guns, but they are crazy?

shoelessjoe2555: @420PATROCK What if someone who may not be as stable as you are, brings a gun, and when the police tell him that he has to move, he opens fire. The police will have to retaliate, and innocent people will get hurt. All of that, because one dumbass decided to bring an AK-47 to a protest. This isnt about protection, this is about attention. You cold have just as easily brought a concealed pistol, just in case and not told anyone, if it was just about protection. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!

420PATROCK: @shoelessjoe2555 YOUR FULL OF WHAT IFS! It’s because of ignorant people like you that people like me DIE! You have no clue! READ THE 1ST AMENDMENT! … PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!! WHEN THAT IS VIOLATED.. you have the 2nd amendment.

420PATROCK: @shoelessjoe2555 Watch Occupy AZ. video. They have the right idea. Border Guard. Maybe you should educate yourself and participate in your state. Maybe get involved with the public or a Militia. You obviously have no clue what is going on. I bid you farewell sir.

ABGAN100: @shoelessjoe2555 If some one is unstable they are going to kill regardless of the law look a Andrew Brevick in Norway he dressed up as a police officer and then shot and killed nearly 80 people men women and children no one was able to oppose him because of Norway’s strict gun laws. If some one is intent on killing no law is going to stop them, and the police rarely arrive one time.

The concerns raised by the behavior of these individuals usually appears to us in this form, “Do you endorse, support, or agree with these statements or behaviors?” It also has been used in an attempt to discredit the Occupy movement. This is how the media plays them up, and how the state wants the question to be posed.

That it appears both as a personal question of endorsement, and, at the same time, a political question is not a coincidence. Since, we constitute both the media and the state, the latter only reflect our attitudes. In fact, the incidents resonate precisely because they induce a response from us — they are a provocation. Which is not to say they were consciously or deliberately done. Rather, the provocation is independent of the intention.

So, let’s make two sets of assumptions: in the first, the guy is a sincere believer in gun rights or a gun nut (depending on your leanings). And the woman is really an anti-Semite Jew-hater. In the second set of assumptions, both are plants designed to discredit the Occupy movement and to make people uncomfortable with it. It is an attempt to establish a narrative to create the conditions for marginalizing and crushing the Occupy movement.

I would argue either set of assumptions present all of us with the same options: political or direct. The political option is to respond to the provocation, irrespective of the intentions that are behind it, to “distance” the Occupy movement. The second option is that of association: refuse personally to associate with the individuals concerned.

The first option is appropriate to a political movement, and if the Occupations are to become merely political, that will do it. On the one hand will be all the people against guns or racism in any form. In the case of guns some will favor gun control, others will be responding to their fears, still others will have pacifist arguments. In the case of the woman’s anti-Semitic remarks, similar divisions will apply. Against both will be people who raise constitutional issues, or are themselves anti-Semitic or NRA members. Voting will be held, and, depending on the character of the voting process in each Occupy site, a resolution of consensus will pass or be defeated.

Whether or not the proposal passes to distance the Occupy movement from these disturbing behaviors the fact is, the Occupy movement will be politicized and subjected to one after another of these sorts of things. Someone will always be able to say or do something provoking a demand for a collective response both within and without the Occupy site.

Of course, this sort of politicization of the Occupy movement, in fact, may be difficult or impossible to derail, since, in the present context of capitalist relations, we are entirely political animals. However, an argument should at least be made for why this process is neither inevitable or necessary.

The real question raised by the Occupy movement is whether voluntary association is to replace the state, i.e., “politics as usual”. While no proposal can constitute a definitive establishment of the Occupy as a merely political movement the possibility still exists that this is what it will become in the final analysis unless clearly opposed.

We need to be clear on one thing: association is not normal for us. It requires us to do stuff we are not used to doing: like making up our own mind about what is right and acting on this decision ourselves.  Association requires each person to make her own decision on how to constitute her personal relationships and associations — there is no shortcut for this. There is no “one size fits all” approach to this process; it is by its nature empirical – the result of personal experiment and reflection. Gradually, I imagine, people learn how to establish those relations best suited to their own individual preferences.

I can’t say for sure that this is accurate, but it seems to be the only way it can happen. At least, I know of no other way.

The problem is that not just society, but each of us emerges from capitalist society with all the birthmarks of the previous epoch. Frankly, we are not nice people — we are greedy, selfish, hostile, antisocial; and we praise these vile attributes as virtues. People are going to be attracted to the Occupy movement with a range of anti-social attitudes and behaviors — not all of them as easily identifiable as a gun owner striding through the crowd; or, as bizarre as the proposal to run the Zionist jews out of the country.

What’s more, here is a big hint: if, by some luck of the draw, we actually do realize a stateless society, these same folks are not going to be magically transformed into model citizens of the commune — nor will pedophiles, rapists and serial murderers for that matter.

The Occupy movement has the potential to become what the Tea Party has become: just another political movement contending for power. And, it can become as successful as the Tea Party — in other words, not at all; just another voice in the cacophony of democracy

Or, there is a small possibility that it can become the “non-state” — society managing its own affairs directly and unmediated by politics. The deficiency of the Occupy movement is that most of the participants are entirely unaware of this other possibility. But, that is how shit works, unfortunately. The non-state is created out of the efforts of folks completely motivated by political ideology. They do it because they have no choice; because politics itself only starves them and defeats them.

However, since this is the nature of all politics presently, even the collapse of the Occupy movement into just another failed politcal movement will produce another associative movement of the same type in the future.

The Great Financial Crisis: The end of capitalism?

October 20, 2011 Leave a comment

I figured I would take a step back to gain some perspective on events like Occupy Wall Street and the unfolding crisis in Europe, in order to figure out just what all of these events mean for us. The Great Financial Crisis provides the broad back drop for a number of these events. At root, the financial crisis expresses all the contradictions inherent in money and exchange itself; it, therefore, goes to the heart of things in a way nothing has in the past 30 years or so. But, what is money? What does it imply about our present society? The answers to these questiions took me back to the very earliest writings of Karl Marx, and to Anitra Nelson’s work, “MARX’S CONCEPT  OF MONEY:  The god of commodities”.

Below is the result of my investigation.

Marx once offered that, with credit, people serve as the money. Which throws an interesting light on the financial crisis: To put it simply, with the financial crisis people could no longer serve as money. Notice I did not say, “they could not pay their debts”; rather they could not serve as the money in the economy. They were supposed to convert their physical selves into money for the purpose of creating inflationary economic growth. But, at some point, this conversion reached its limit.

In other words, before the financial crisis, working people were figuratively coining themselves to maintain their standard of living.

The cancerous nature of debt is somehow captured by Marx’s simple phrase: With credit, people stand in for money. But, he also called credit money the highest form of money; essentially saying people standing in for money perfected money itself. While money begins in the alienation of human capacities and talents, the highest form is when the person herself functions as her own money. She literally becomes the material embodiment of her own alienation from herself.

So, when, as now, the person is no longer able to stand in for money – to function in her person as her money – what happens to the alienation? And, what happens to the capitalist relations of production based on this alienation?

Marx’s observation on credit money demonstrates the difference between money and an ex nihilo currency like the dollar. It also shows why gold may be money, but money is not gold. Which is to say commodity money is not the essence of money but only its form.

The debate over whether Marx had a nominalist view of money or a commodity view of money is simply a debate over politics. The ambiguity detected in his view by some is nothing more than a confusion of the legal definition of money with its essence. The state defines what is to serve legally as money, but it cannot define money itself. Money, the social relation, is outside its control.

Whether money is legally defined as gold or silver or even ex nihilo dollars is a state function — i.e., a political question. Despite this legal definition, however, money must take the form of a commodity; and, moreover, no political act of the state can alter this. For instance, the state can legally determine that money is to be denominated in dollars, but it cannot create the money that is to be denominated in dollars. It is, therefore, entirely possible that the legal definition of money and the actual thing serving as money may differ. Moreover, this is not only possible, it is inevitable for reasons having nothing to do with money itself. Since the legal definition of money is a political act, while the thing actually serving as money arises from material relations, the possibility exists already in the abstract of a divergence between the one and the other — that each devolve on a different instrument. Having devolved on different objects, each now serves as the condition of the existence of the other.

But, this contradiction already precedes the legal definition of money, and is given in the existence of money itself: first, in that money is no “thing”, but a social relation that must take the form of a socially valid object. Second, in the act of exchange, when money serves as a mere token of itself. Third in the division of money into various instruments: gold, silver, credit money; and the division of money into various functions: medium of circulation and measure of value.

Anitra Nelson describes Marx’s earliest writings on money as “disconcerting and confusing”, particularly his analogy of money to God. Aside from the confusion over the analogy, Nelson argues Marx appears ambiguous: is money real or imaginary? Is it a commodity or simply a thing gaining its value from market forces? She definitely wants Marx to put his foot down somewhere in his early writings and state unambiguously that money is a commodity.

Nelson’s problem with the money-God analogy shows the extent to which she misses Marx’s point. She takes from the analogy that Marx comes close to reducing money to an idea or concept, and commerce into religious ritual, etc. This ambiguity, she argues, continues all the way through Marx’s mature works; and she blames it for present confusion within Marxism.

In fact, the money-God analogy is not the least ambiguous: In religion, one loves ones neighbor, not because it is right, but because it is God’s commandment — the means of getting into Heaven. It is an act of love based completely in selfishness. This interpretation is obvious from Adam Smith’s writings on down, with private gain as the entire motive for social cooperation. Money appears in this analogy as the God of commerce because it is the aim and object of all commercial activity.

I think Marx, in these writings, is not describing money at all, but the material premise of money in social relations. Before money exists as a thing — whether that thing is a piece of paper or a precious metal — it exists as money relations — i.e., relations between individuals in society who alienate their labor in the act of exchange of commodities.

By the end of her review of Marx’s earliest writings, Anitra Nelson thinks she has established that Marx, while offering a “richer and more social” theory of money has provided us with no tools for the technical analysis of money. She argues that his passages on credit have no technical content; that they are only intelligible as political-philosophical criticism. She also argues that Marx never produces an explicit analysis of the relation between money and value.

She seems to be saying all of this might be forgiven if he addressed these issues later in his more mature works, but Marx does not. In fact, as she points out, Marx maintains the “images and analogies” of his earliest works through his later works without much development. Her argument points to a refutation of the view dividing Marx’s work into two periods: his earlier works and his mature works. If she is correct in her analysis Marx’s earlier view on money, the state, etc. get carried into his later works in almost complete form. From her argument, the emphasis on young Marx with his theory of alienation versus the older economic determinist Marx is bullshit. While far from conclusive, she indicates Marx’s view of society, his condemnation of the state and of money characterizes his entire works.

(In this regard, Maximilien Rubel’s 1973 work, “Marx, theoretician of anarchism“, becomes entirely plausible. Rather than situating Marx in opposition to anarchism, Rubel argues Marx was from the first an anarchist who sought to place anarchism on a scientific basis. Rubel’s argument clarifies a number of things for me personally; like, for instance, why Bakunin was the first to translate Capital into Russian, despite their differences.)

While she is very pointed in her allegations of Marx’s paucity of technical details regarding money she’s less clear about what he did argue. If Nelson is correct that Marx’s early views on money underwent little substantial development later, how would she summarize his view? At the risk of overstepping my bounds, I would offer this summary based on Nelson’s own analysis:

First, money is not a thing, but a reflection of a material defect in the organization of society, no matter the form this reflection takes. This reflection merely gives a definite socially valid form to the social relations that have completely escaped the control of mankind. Attempting to control money without gaining control over these social relations is a waste of time and effort. This is precisely because money itself implies we have no control over our material social relations. Marx’s criticism of primitive communism (or anarchism) with its various proposals to reform money relations consists entirely of this.

Second, as a material, money is rooted in the exchange of commodities itself; it cannot be abolished without abolishing exchange. In its simplest form, money essentially is the commodity and emerges directly out of the commodity as commodity money. No matter the subsequent forms of money that emerge, ultimately all refer back to this initial defect arising out of exchange itself. Once again we are led back to the conclusion that all attempts to reform money are no more than attempts to overcome the defects of exchange. In crises the reversion to hard money is simply an attempt to bring exchange under the control of society expressed as hunger for hard money.

Third, because social production operates in and through exchange of commodities, the importance of money must increase along with exchange. Money becomes an independent power dominating society, despite being only a product of society. Stripped of religious analogy, money becomes the necessary mediator of all social intercourse, including politics.

This last point shows the limitation of Nelson’s analysis: her preoccupation with money as a concept versus money as commodity ignores that in all of this money is an inanimate object. She, in fact, stumbles over this very conclusion. She writes:

“Neither a sword(sman), horse(rider) nor land(user) need be, that is in themselves are, automatic powers over people. Only in a particular social context do they represent or actively become specific instruments or kinds of social power. Land, horse and sword are however palpably physical resources or instruments, even if socially defined entities, while money is not necessarily physical since its relevant quality is wholly social. Money is a term for a social function rather than for a specific material object.The use of money as universal purchasing power is dependent entirely on social acknowledgment, on a well-established custom and social order based on market exchange; it is absolutely unnatural or supernatural, purely social. The analogy between money and sword, horse or land is too vague and probably misleading: they are all means of social power, but what seems just as important is the distinction that might be made between money and the others. Money has no power in itself as a sword does as a dangerous instrument, or a horse as a handy vehicle, or land as a means of subsistence, regardless of social structure. Significantly this might suggest, by implication, that Marx already conceives of money proper as a commodity, as gold say, rather than as tokens or paper, because then a limited correspondence is more easily made between money and the others. ”

My takeaway from Nelson is this: money can’t become a social power until it emerges as a distinct part of the social division of labor within society. Money emerges as an independent social power subsequent to the emergence of individuals whose activities are uniquely bound up with the functions money must perform in the act of exchange. What Marx in these early works appears to be feeling his way toward is not, “What is money?”, but “What is Capital”; i.e., what is money as an independent power in society.

The technical details of money appear absolutely insignificant from this vantage point. Marx is not concerned with what material serves as money, but with the social qualities of money as an independent social power standing over against the mass of society.

Nelson argues that Marx’s insistence that money ultimately must be a commodity flies in the face of late 20th Century credit money. This, she argues in her preface, has led Marxist theorists away from Marx’s analysis and into the nominalist camp, which he opposed. Yet, she admits, “credit money dominated British currency even in Marx’s day.” This implies either Marx ignored the actual existing domination of credit money in exchange during this period, or thought that, as a mere “technical detail” it had no more importance in the analysis of money than he gave it.

She should have at least investigated the latter possibility — that despite the specific technical changes in form, in the final analysis money had to be a commodity. Accepting this assumption by Marx would have forced her to examine the implications of ex nihilo currency for exchange itself. If indeed money ultimately has to be a commodity, what are the implications of an entirely ex nihilo currency economy, where no commodity money exists or can exist? In other words, what are the implications of this necessity for the sort of financial crisis we are now experiencing? It is true, Nelson’s book was completed well before the present financial crisis, but even before its publication the world had been hit by a series of financial crises of increasing scale. Rather than accepting observations of useless academic Marxists who conceded to the apparent stability of an ex nihilo financial system, Nelson should have been the first to point out how all the contradictions discovered by Marx in the category of money were of necessity contained in all subsequent forms of money that emerged later. This implies that ex nihilo money itself was a massive catastrophe in the making.

Connect the above idea with Marx’s argument that with credit money the individual herself was now effectively the money, and with the tell-tale unsustainable growth of consumer debt in the last quarter of the 20th Century, the outline of the present crisis appears in all its glory. If money is the negation of private property, and credit money the highest form of this negation, the implication of this crisis is obvious. Once the working class can no longer stand in the place of money, once they can no longer coin themselves by sinking deeper into debt, the estrangement of the individual from herself has reached its end-point.

Can capitalism be far behind?

Categories: political-economy

NIGHT TRAIN TO WALL STREET

October 9, 2011 Leave a comment

There is this vision that keeps arriving. The muddle heads on television, even those who encourage viewers to “Lean Forward,” seem completely at a loss when asking themselves and each other what this movement may mean, this organic rising of a people to stand and occupy the scene of the crime, Wall Street. The great question is how long will this last. How long will it last and how large will it become. Those with the greatest interest in seeing this movement disappear quietly into the night are holding their collective breaths, while their talking heads heap verbal garbage upon the people, sounding, it might be said, a great deal like Marie and Louis XVI while dining and discussing the riff raff hanging about the palace in the summer of 1789.

The vision is this: NIGHT TRAIN TO WALL STREET. Mobilization of people from Boston to Atlanta and points West could stand together, each weekend a different city could use Amtrak to fill every car and make the run to Penn Station and move in concert to Wall Street for the purpose of creating this image: You want to keep things at the economic status quo of injustice, you will have to do so against the will of your own people.

Remember, it is the image we seek here.

Did the pentagon raise? Yeah, about two o’clock in the morning it turned orange, started to glow and got about two feet off the ground. But that was never the point. It was the image we wanted to create; you want to wage this war, you’re going to have to wage it against your own people. Were we the majority? Probably not. But we were enough. A. Hoffman

We are talking about an awful lot of congressional districts here folks. Using Amtrak is a symbol of the people itself. And train rides are fun and exciting. In any event, it would sure shake them up on Wall Street and D.C. Think about it.

All Aboard?

Threecrow

The General Assembly and social revolution

October 7, 2011 1 comment

In his first address to the International Workingmen’s Association, Karl Marx noted two developments he thought were important backdrops to its founding, which he called, the “victory of the political economy of labor over the political economy of property”: 1. The fight for the ten hour day, and 2. The cooperative movement, which proved modern production did not need the profit motive and could be self-managed.

Marx argued:

After a 30 years’ struggle, fought with almost admirable perseverance, the English working classes, improving a momentaneous split between the landlords and money lords, succeeded in carrying the Ten Hours’ Bill. The immense physical, moral, and intellectual benefits hence accruing to the factory operatives, half-yearly chronicled in the reports of the inspectors of factories, are now acknowledged on all sides. Most of the continental governments had to accept the English Factory Act in more or less modified forms, and the English Parliament itself is every year compelled to enlarge its sphere of action. But besides its practical import, there was something else to exalt the marvelous success of this workingmen’s measure. Through their most notorious organs of science, such as Dr. Ure, Professor Senior, and other sages of that stamp, the middle class had predicted, and to their heart’s content proved, that any legal restriction of the hours of labor must sound the death knell of British industry, which, vampirelike, could but live by sucking blood, and children’s blood, too. In olden times, child murder was a mysterious rite of the religion of Moloch, but it was practiced on some very solemn occasions only, once a year perhaps, and then Moloch had no exclusive bias for the children of the poor. This struggle about the legal restriction of the hours of labor raged the more fiercely since, apart from frightened avarice, it told indeed upon the great contest between the blind rule of the supply and demand laws which form the political economy of the middle class, and social production controlled by social foresight, which forms the political economy of the working class. Hence the Ten Hours’ Bill was not only a great practical success; it was the victory of a principle; it was the first time that in broad daylight the political economy of the middle class succumbed to the political economy of the working class.

But there was in store a still greater victory of the political economy of labor over the political economy of property. We speak of the co-operative movement, especially the co-operative factories raised by the unassisted efforts of a few bold “hands”. The value of these great social experiments cannot be overrated. By deed instead of by argument, they have shown that production on a large scale, and in accord with the behests of modern science, may be carried on without the existence of a class of masters employing a class of hands; that to bear fruit, the means of labor need not be monopolized as a means of dominion over, and of extortion against, the laboring man himself; and that, like slave labor, like serf labor, hired labor is but a transitory and inferior form, destined to disappear before associated labor plying its toil with a willing hand, a ready mind, and a joyous heart. In England, the seeds of the co-operative system were sown by Robert Owen; the workingmen’s experiments tried on the Continent were, in fact, the practical upshot of the theories, not invented, but loudly proclaimed, in 1848.

What I find interesting is that while he thought it was important enough to mention it at the time, this explicit contrast — the political economy of labor versus the political economy of property — does not seem to appear in the volumes of material written about his thinking — at least I see no evidence that it holds any prominent place in the scholarly work on Marx’s thinking.  Moreover, so far as I can tell, this formulation (two competing political economies) doesn’t even appear in any other work of his. At least, I can say, I have never encountered it before.

It is at times like this I wish he were alive so I could smack him — or at least, ask him why he spent so much time disclosing the “political economy of property” and so little time examining the “political economy of labor.” But, the answer is obvious: he wrote for, and to, working class. There was no need to disclose the “political economy of labor”, since it was already in a form the working class could immediately understand and grasp.

The “political economy of property”, what we today call economics and politics was the political economy of illusory being. While, in the “political economy of labor”, human beings were present already in their directly comprehensible actuality. This flows directly from his materialist conception of history: in their struggle and in their self-managed productive activity, the working class had no need for theory; no need for an “other” to explain to them what they were doing. What they are doing is directly comprehensible to them as the empirical response to their actual circumstances.

No one can render this response more profound, nor is there any need for special explanations of these activities. This is where he comes to conflict with others in the anarchist/socialist/communist movement of his day; this, I think, is the sole basis of his differences with other communist thinkers of the 19th Century: No one needed to dictate to the working class what it must do. No one needed to disclose to it the necessities of its own movement.

The problem with this view for many communist activists, I think, is that the “political economy of labor” is driven by the “political economy of property”. And, the political economy of property” is being driven by the concentration of property into an ever smaller number of hands. This is not just a concentration of economic power, it is also the concentration of political power (hence, political economy).

Many people will admit the inevitable concentration of economic power while treating the concentration of political power as accidental. Or, they treat the first as necessarily detached from the latter. In fact, both the concentration of economic power and the concentration of political power occur simultaneously.

Moreover, they not only proceed together, each reinforces the other. It is silly to expect, for instance, that you can have a world economy dominated by a handful of huge capitals, without implications for the politics of the nations composing the world economy.

But, this process not only proceeds with the concentration of economic and political power within each nation, but by competition between national capitals during which one national capital emerges as dominant over all the others. The lesser national capitals lose their sovereignty in one sphere after another, and their politics is hollowed out – although it appears, for some time after, on the surface, that nothing has changed.

In fact, everything has changed and this is revealed suddenly in a crisis.

For a time national politics continues as before — elections are held, the political gangs succeed each other to waste the nation’s wealth. In the crisis the apparent prosperity of these nations are revealed to be no more than income drawn on fictitious financial instruments issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, funded entirely by the profits squeezed from those nations themselves.

On the other hand, in the dominant nation, politics is driven by the broadening of the interest of property beyond the national borders. The state assumes the role of the manager of the interest of the total national capital, not so much as formerly within the confines of a single state, but in the interest of this national capital bound up with its far-flung holdings in every nation.

The Fascist State is, first and foremost, the manager of a global holding company, whose relation to the national politics is no more than that of company with an important, but subordinate subsidiary. The national politics is reduced to a mere department of its global interest. Where, and under what conditions, the extraction of surplus value occurs, is determined not by national politics, but by conditions within the world market as a whole. What factory is located where, which national labor force is to be used in which process, is determined by its global interest.

The “national interest” has completely escaped the sphere of national politics here as in the dependent nations. However, in the latter, the hollowing out of the national politics appears as the domination over the national politics of the interest of a foreign power, and, for this reason, is understood empirically by all classes in those nations as such; in the dominant nation it is less clear what the source of this disconnect between the national interest and the national politics might be.

How does this divorce between national interest and national politics arise? Where does it come from?

If the mystification of the national politics of the dependent nations consists entirely of an “other”, alien, national interest — and, thus, appears to be wholly foreign to its own “political economy of property”; the mystification inherent in the divorce of the national interest from the national politics of the dominant nation is altogether inexplicable because there is no outsider to blame for this divorce — no foreign interest, no external power dominating the national politics.

It is, on the one hand, far easier for the consciousness of the working class to be awakened in dependent nations for this reason, yet remain wholly within the bounds of mystification created by its dependent position; while it is of immensely more difficult to awaken the consciousness of the working class in the dominant nation. Yet, once awakened, the mystification of its actual position in society can very rapidly disappear.

If this hypothesis is correct, the significance of the GAs and of their predecessor, the Tea Party, is obvious. Once the working class of the dominant nation takes control of events into their own hands, all the mystifications and illusions of the “political economy of property” will vanish. In its place will be the political economy of labor — in which all relations between individuals will appear in their directly social form.

I love this shit!

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

October 2, 2011 6 comments

Declaration of the Occupation of New York City

This document was accepted by the NYC General Assembly on september 29, 2011


As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.

As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.

They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *

To the people of the world,

We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.

Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.

To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.

Join us and make your voices heard!

*These grievances are not all-inclusive.

Categories: Off Blog, Uncategorized

Voices from Occupy Wall Street posted to Gonzo Times

October 2, 2011 2 comments

I am posting a series of interviews I did last weekend at the Occupy Wall Street event in New York City. I want to present these interviews to folks not because I think the folks I interviewed have profound insight into this event, but because I think they are authentic voices of the event itself.

I went down to New York City with a desire to see the action for myself, unfiltered — to understand, based on the opinions of the participants themselves, just what they were trying to accomplish with their action. My questions were simple and direct: Why are you here? What do you do? Why did you choose to protest on Wall Street and not in Washington? How do you think Wall Street effects it control over American politics? How did you get to the point where you decided to take action? Who are the influential voices in political development, e.g., who do you read?

I had hoped to understand both the strengths and limitations of the event without inserting myself into the discussion. Therefore, I had no agenda, no goal beyond listening, no opinion on the topics the participant spoke to. I think the result can be very enlightening both for similar events now planned or in progress in various cities around the country.

You find the interviews here