email@example.com (Devrim Anarsist Faaliyet / Istanbul) | 05.03.2012 16:55 | London
An anarchist criticism to
As an activity of “99%”
An anarchist criticism to
As an activity of “99%”
REVOLUTIONARY ANARCHIST ACTION
Occupy Wall Street: From Beginning to Today—5
The Features of the Activity—6
‘Peaceful’ and ‘Nonviolent’ Activity—6
‘Depoliticism’ and ‘Spontaneity’—7
Social Media as an Organizer of Public Opinion—8
Demands of the Activity—8
Socio-Economic Groups in the Activity—12
Known and Unknown Realities about the Activity—12
Not Peaceful But Reconciling Way of Action—18
Active Individual or the Individual of Activity?—19
Occupy or ‘sitting for a long time as an activity?—21
Is the Activity a Simulacra?—23
‘Not Anti Capitalism, But Capitalism for Everybody’—24
To know the unknown—25
Changes in US: “Obamaean Changes in Glass Steagall—27
Reflection to Turkey—30
It is not a coincidence to analyse the phenomenon, which is brought to our agenda through the news, web sites etc. for the last several months, at a time when breaks/changes in the capitalist system obviously reveal themselves. To talk about an activity “occupy” which mobilized USA, to examine and discuss it and make it discussed, is the actual desire of this text.
While we have been examining a method of opposing, which seems pretty rightful, we have questioned the source of this rightfulness through the text. We have tried to present a study which refers many subjects, varying from the social character of the participant groups, to their economic conditions, from the created effects of the activity to what it wants to create, from the conception of the opposition which was desired to be the representation on the world, to the supporters of this opposition.
While discussing the activity, for sure, we were limited temporally, which made us evaluate the things which were written or scribed just before the process of the planning of this text and just before this text has been finished. Although any situation which comes up after the text is done, will not take its place, we have made some predictions related to near future in this context.
As it was mentioned before, the text intend to question and discuss the conception which perceives the activity of “occupy” as rightful and as a movement. While doing so, it wants to analyse an activity, which is embraced by opposing groups all around the world, through the data which are tried to be presented completely.
These data are clearly stated in the first part of the text, which contains two parts. The second part which is more comment, approaches the activity not only in itself but also as a new conception of opposition, considering the data given. Together with all these, wants to present an interpretation which evaluates to practice.
Occupy Wall Street: From Begining To Today
On 17th September 2011, the Canadian activist group Adbusters launched a series of actions in Zucotti Park in New York. The “%99 activists” who were against the social and economic injustice, against the increasing rates of unemployment, and at the same time against rage and corruption, ‘occupied’ Wall Street. They made their activities visible with the slogan of “We are %99” which is later embraced by many change supporters all around the world. This activity, which has started in New York, immediately spread to other states of America. And after, it has spread to all around the world...
On 13th July 2011, when the activity, which Adbusters Foundation was planning to make in Wall Street, was began to be heard, probably the Adbusters itself couldn’t figure out that this would become that much popular. This plan had targets such as to increase the people’s effect on the “democratic governance”, to reveal that the bank owners, who are at the background of the last financial crisis, are obviously favored and protected and also the citizens were charged to pay for this kind of economical failures. Method was determined. The method was determined as creating a symbolic place which come up in the protests in Tahrir Square in 2011 and “decision making in the way of consensus” method which was being used in common decisions by Spanish activists again in 2011. The Zucotti Park, where the actions were held, being a private property and the position of the police who can not come in the park without the permission of the land owner, made Zucotti Park a symbolic place. It can be said that it was not so hard for the participants to create their own symbolic culture, who created the symbol of their activities as a dancer figure on the Wall Street Bull.
Internet groups such as Anonymous had supported the action. These groups supported the action by calling people, who were in touch with them, to Wall street. This was a good sign to see that the social network sites and communication technologies were being used very efficiently. Action started on 17th of September, two days later it was spreading on Facebook and action videos were uploaded on Youtube on the same day. On 22nd of September the movement was massified.
According to the American media, the reason for the actions to become so massified, was because of Barrack Obama who had not carried out the adjustment plans for banking sector and sufficiently intervened with financial impostors after elections. In different places of the world, with the groups which adopted the slogan of “We are %99”, the world media explained the movement having created a global effect in this way; the groups which were aiming and expecting social and economical changes in the system could fit in their demands under this slogan.
Canadian based Adbusters Media Foundation was established in 1989by Kalle Lasn and Bill Schmalz in Vancouver. Adbusters define itself as ‘a global communication network which consists of promoters,educators, students, writers, activists and artists who are defending the new social dynamism of communication era’. The group which is often mentioned with their campaigns as anti-capitalist, publish an “add-free” magazine around the world with 120.000 circulation. The magazine, from past to present with many participants such as, Christopher Hedges, Matt Taibbi, Bill McKibben, Jim Munroe, Douglas Rushkoff, Jonathan Barnbrook, David Graeber, Simon Critchley, Slavoj Zizek, Michael Hardt, David Orrell organized many campaigns. Here are some of these; Buy Nothing Day TV TurnoffWeek and Occupy Wall Street. Kalle Lasn who is one of the founders of Adbusters and who is awarded as the best national magazine of Canada in 1999, tells the aim of Adbusters in these words:” What we are trying to do is, to lead a new type of social activism, we are going to use all the power of media not to sell goods but to sell ideas.” (1)
The Features of the Activity
Even though it is obvious that the movement is concentrated on avoiding from any certain ‘politics’, it is realized that the movement has a characteristic line in general. Let’s make the features of Wall Street activity whose “stand declares being specific and new“ had already created this a new way of opposition, become clear by the press and their manifestations.
‘Peaceful’ and ‘Nonviolent’ Activity
It is obvious that the most evident expression of method in the opposing arena was being ‘peaceful’ and ‘nonviolent’. The movement, making forever peaceful actions, pointing their democratic demands to the right addressee in a peaceful way and waiting for a peaceful answer in this manner, cursed violence and didn’t absorb the movements, which has adopted to use violence as a way of struggle till this moment(1),and a new way of struggle - in other words the necessity of protesting not with guns but with guitars, music and dance, in a ‘celebratory’ way and ‘nonviolent civil disobedience actions such as sitting actions for long time’ were adopted.
While Chris Hedges, the writer of Wall Street Journal was talking about “a mass whose has no weapons against inaction rather than civil disobedience” (2), he declared in the same journal in his writing on solidarity principles that “today we define ourselves as bounded to each other with the bond of common respect, understanding and love, adopting the way of peaceful civil disobedience, as a community made up of individuals who are politically independent from each other and we proudly continue to our resistance in Liberty Plaza.”.(3)
However, in Turkey, manifestation of nonviolent and peaceful action find an explanation in Dilek Zaptç?o?lu’s writing published in Birikim journal: “While Mary, 70 year-old, white, retired teacher and 22 year-old Afro-American Mark are playing guitar and singing together with 45 year-old unemployed, Hispanic Jose, and believe that the world can only change like this, in Turkey “brother people” are collectively killing men on the mountains, regarding this as a way of struggle.” (4)
‘Depoliticism’ and ‘Spontaneity’
The movement, at the same time adopted spontaneity - in other words spontaneity as a tool - not the ones who embrace any certain politics, but different people who has different conditions -for example a student who graduated from a $60.000 college and a retired teacher- are intended to be massified at a common ground.
The Wall Street activity refuses politics due to the possibility that politics can reveal the polarization between two opposing opinions and can divide the massive movement and in the general assemblies not the demands and strategies for future but the daily problems of Wall Street were discussed ‘in a transparent decision making process’
One of the launchers of the movement David Graeber, was saying these, relating with consensus, in other words practices of direct democracy: “ It was, in the least, a wild gamble, because as far as any of us knew, no one had ever managed to pull off something like this before. Consensus process had been successfully used in spokes-councils — groups of activists organized into separate affinity groups, each represented by a single “spoke” — but never in mass assemblies like the one anticipated in New York City. Even the General Assemblies in Greece and Spain had not attempted it. But consensus was the approach that most accorded with our principles. So we took the leap.”
Wall Street activity and this kind of actions gain a seat in the symbolic spaces, get organized over this space and also the demands and problems and their solutions are all shaped over this symbolic space.
The usage Zucotti Park in Wall Street, which become the heart of the finance sector, having passed to demonstrators actually or symbolically, along with the celebratory atmosphere in Zucotti Park, the space itself become the ‘activist’. So that, it was no more demands and problems which were calling the demonstrator, it was the space itself. The people who came to the demonstration, were sometimes becoming an activist and sometimes an audience which can turn into a potential to increase of massification. As Ecehan Balta explained by saying “People think that even more than demands, it is being there itself, as a way of politics.” (5) the place and amusing inviting style of the space, most of the time become a large part of the organizer.
Social Media as an Organizer of Public Opinion
It is a reality beyond doubt that using the social media networks very effectively such as Facebook, Twitter etc. is one of the biggest powers of today’s Wall Street activity while molding public opinion. And also as the activity’s launcher, the media team called Adbusters organized the activity directly on social media networks such as blog, Twitter, Facebook etc. and during the activity the most popular shares was about the Wall Street activity and all these obviously support this argument.
Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt commented on the role of social network, saying; “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.”(6)
Demands of the Activity
The declaration, which was published about the organization as consequence of the work done on 15th of October, is not only revealing the efforts of the activity to organize itself but also it will be useful to comprehend the demands and the future plans of the work. The demands in the declaration of %99 are stated like this:
· Present political system is emphasized to work for the interest of wealthy people and make them heard only, and it is told that all private funding of political campaigns shall be replaced by the fair, equal and TOTAL public financing of all federal political campaigns.
· As a progression of this subject, the decision of The Supreme Court which allowed the private companies and big syndicates to finance the election campaigns in 2010, should be cancelled immediately,
· Also any public official either elected or unelected (these people and their family members) should be banned from ever being employed by any corporation, lobbying firm or business, and having any kind of relation with the private sector in their term or until 5 year after employment is completed,
· Public officers (and their family)should be banned to have any kind of present, donation or service from any private person or corporation for lifetime,
· Tax system should be changed in order to put higher tax rates for the ones who has higher income and the legal gaps which enables to evade tax should be suppressed,
· Adequate health insurance for all citizens,
· Environmental protection agency should be given the authority to shut down the corporations which intentionally damage the environment and to punish these people. The CO2 emission should be controlled according to the international standards,
· National debt should be regulated in order to have a certain rate of national income till 2020, for that purpose, the companies which return profit form the wars, and which profit by high pricing the medical service and drugs should not be public supported,
· Jobs should be created sufficiently for all citizens,
· The loan debts of the students in higher education should be relieved and repayments should be deferred for the periods of unemployment. (loan debts are about $830 million)
· Residence permit for immigrants and right of education for their children, should be accorded,
· The laws concerning national defense should be refocused according to the geopolitics of the 21st century, army personnel in some unnecessary military bases abroad, should be pulled back and the war industry should be blocked to resume wars for profit,
· Job loss which is caused by technological developments and export of jobs (to where labor is cheap) should be well examined and new targets should be defined according to the necessities of 21st century,
· So as to reform the infrastructure of manufacturing industry, the corporations in manufacturing should be supported with tax reduction and Public Investment Program should be put into action in order to provide job up to the %10 of 46 million poor citizen,
· Accords should be signed with the countries which manipulate the exchange rates,
· In order to control the financial sector tightly, Glass Steagall Act which has been removed slowly since 1980, should be restored,
· The people who get to lose their houses during the estate crisis, should be supported and instead of giving financial help to the banks which refuse to drop the interest FED should directly support this people,
· Rather than put up these houses immediately, legislation about the subject should be examined; specific conditions of property owners, who are in danger, should be taken to notice,
· During the election campaigns every candidate should be given the right to broadcast for equal duration on public TV and radio,
· The soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq should immediately be pulled back and psychological and general medical needs should be met and jobs should be created.(7)
In the manifestation published, the politic works for the future of the activity are explained in 10 articles below:
1. Executive Committee of 11 people (or another suitable odd number) is formed in the 11 cities where occupy movements have occurred. (these executive committees are resembled to the continental congresses in the struggle for American Independence, 235 years ago.)
2. Executive Committee of every city deals with subjects such as public relations on local level, permissions for meetings, etc. and the most important organizes the election of the necessary 870 delegates for National General Assembly until 4th of July in 2012.
3. Executive Committees, form election committees in each electoral district - nearly 235 districts all around USA -. They prepare the ballots and invite every citizen to be a delegate in the National General Assembly - the works for National General Assembly is going to start on 4th of July and it will gather in October-.
4. Delegates will be elected by the election of eligible voters. Two delegates -one male and one female- will be elected in every electoral district. (Woman’s present representation is told to be unequal in political mechanisms, and it is emphasized that woman and man delegate’s numbers should be equal.)
5. Executive committees are responsible for the elections of the necessary number of delegates for National General Assembly and for funding.
6. In the National General Assembly, which is going to be held in the city of Philadelphia, a petition for a redress of grievances is going to be discussed and voted. For that purpose delegates select working groups and their directors as they need.( Philadelphia is symbolically important since he independence of United States was declared in this city in 1776)
7. The petition for a redress of grievances which will take its last form till October, will be reported to every candidate of every party before the general elections in November 2012.
8. National General Assembly delegates will allow the coming government to solve these problems in reasonable time. (suggested time 1 year)
9. If the new government can not solve the problem; the delegates will start to prepare for the Third Party and in the by-elections in November 2014 the candidates will be chosen.
10. Either delegates or any of the participants is NEVER going to call for violence. Delegates are going to swear that they will NEVER accept any financial contribution, job or present from any company syndicate or from a private source. Funds that are donated for the executive committees, are only going to be used for local meetings, for publishing the elections and for the expenses of the delegates for the national meeting. So as to secure transparency, donations and expenses will be published regularly and prominently for all citizens.
When it comes to demands, demands such as the “separating of the big trusts, in other words to enact anti-trust acts which can be seen back in the history, in other words to provide a real free market in free market and guaranteeing of the fairplay rules” (8), by the state; caused tremendous effect in the public opinion.
Socio-Economic Groups in the Activity
While the Wall Street activity is being discussed as a new way of opposing, as an engine for future transformations and that it formed a new spirit is going on its style highlighting the individual, gives us clues to understand the socio-economic structure of the participants.
It is loudly spoken that this kind of tradition of action is coming from a liberal tradition which we are not very used to. Adult individuals who doesn’t want to leave their individuality, believe that the system would change with their volunteer collectives (and also believe that this change would be nonviolent), demanding the right to criticize the structures of government and the right to be informed by free media and solidify their individuality on this liberal ground.
The protests which were described as rebellion against the culture that money has created and to the objectivation of human, are carried out -as it is understood from the demands- by middle class people who ‘can not pay for his/her rent, who is educated but can not find a job, who can not get a qualified health service, who is exposed to environmental pollution’ and who thinks that his/her existence is in danger ‘from now on’. It is among the discussions that this class which is complaining about not being able to get job, wage, home loan and pension, actually attempt to moderate and soften capitalism and upright the social side of the state.(9)
When the effect of Mortgage Crisis in 2008 began to be seen obviously among the middle class and as it became obvious that the prosperity and comfort of the middle class were actually coming from the banks, even it is a little bit late we started to see this class on the streets. Although the W.A.S.P (white, Anglo-Saxon, protestant) character of the protesters started to break down as the movement expanded, it would not be right to deny that this group had an important effect while determining the demands. In an atmosphere where it is discussed that the thing which bore the Wall Street activity was human rights and sense of freedom, it looks like that this socio-economic group will play the key role while determining the future and the quality of the movement.
Known and Unknown Realities about the Activity
Wall Street activity seems to achieve to band together many ideas from different regions all around the world. It will be useful to have a look to such wide range from anarchists to socialists, from liberals to conservatives, to the richest billionaires.
Industrial Workers of the World(IWW): “The General Defense Committee of the Industrial Workers of the World stand in solidarity with our brave brothers and sisters at Occupy Wall Street. We denounce and detest the intimidation, harassment, and brutality exhibited by the New York Police. The actions of the police lay bare the true nature of Wall Street and Capitalism.
We call on all those that still retain a sense of humanity to show their support of the working class by refusing to engage in the brutal silencing of dissent. The only individuals who remain unaffected by the volatility of capitalism, globalization, and the stock market are those who are getting richer from furthering the disparity of all workers through calculated economic calamity. We support all of our brave fellow workers on the front lines of this occupation throughout the United States, and those like it across the world.
We recognize that the true occupying forces are the wealthy ruling classes, their institutions, and the States that legitimize their power. The police and military forces that protect their masters› wealth and power are just as guilty as their masters. Only by uniting as workers and standing together as a class, can we take back our streets and our workplaces.”
Flint Occupy (IWW) 1936-1937
Occupy action was first made as a protest by IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) in 1936-37. This occupy was a sit-down protest which was made by the workers who were working in automobile industry. (Flint Sit-Down Strike). Actions of 1936-37 Flint Sit-Down Strikes have a significant role in transforming fragmented and weak worker associations in locals into a big worker’s union (United Auto Workers) and in accelerating of the syndicate action in automobile industry in USA.
The transition from organising small and fragmented campaigns, into organising big and strong campaigns was a new type of organization. This type was first used in Michigan-Flint against General Motors. To organize Flint was a very hard and dangerous work. In 30 December 1936, the workers entered the facilities and the occupation started. Along with the occupation union workers started the strike and went out of the facilities and they blocked the other worker’s entrance for work. In this occupation workers sit on the machines in the manufacture in order to stop physical working and they didn’t let the management in.
General Motors paid 200.000 dollars to the state court and asked for interference in an effort to get the activists out. And in 11 January 1937 the police tried to get in. Some of the activists were responding with water, spewing out the fire-hose while the others were breaking the glasses in order not to let their friends inside, be effected by teargas.When 6 hours was surpassed, the police were still out, couldn’t get in. When GM tell the workers to go out on February 1st, union had already expanded the occupation to the Chevrolet facilities. At last GM suggested to negotiate. On 11th of February GM signed an agreement that it will recognize the union actions of UAW.
The next year the number of the UAW members, which was 30.000, reached 500.000. And thus occupation was heard all around the world.
The writers of the books Multitude and Empire, Autonomous Marxist Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt said: “These movements have all developed according to what we call a “multitude form” and are characterized by frequent assemblies and participatory decision-making structures. 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.”(10)
Kumi Naidoo, the International Executive Director of Greenpeace and Phil Radford, the Executive Director of Greenpeace USA: “We know that there is broad-based democratic support for a rapid transition to renewable energy, but fossil-fuel companies are corrupting climate politics worldwide. Greenpeace is determined to play its part in ensuring that our governments and corporations deliver what the people want - a peaceful, equitable, green planet. Greenpeace is no stranger to peaceful occupations -- some may say that we have even made a habit out of it! So it should come as no surprise that we share the ideals of the Occupy movement. This is just the beginning of a mass movement for change and we stand shoulder to shoulder with them in their peaceful endeavor. Like all movements, it will take time for the ideals to crystallize into concrete demands for change that everyone can agree on, but we encourage them to stand firm and continue on their path. The peaceful, non-violent public dialogue we are seeing at the occupy events worldwide is a vital part of a healthy democracy. We have always recognized we cannot have a healthy planet without citizens who are willing to collectively raise our voices and participate in a functional political process. When decisions are made only for the good of the few, human lives and ecological health are put in peril. We stand – as individuals and an organization – with Occupiers of all walks of life who peacefully stand up for a just, democratic, green and peaceful future.” they declared.(11)
“Greenpeace while suggesting hydroelectric power plants as an alternative to the dirty energy, it says that micro power plants should be increased for a clean world. This environment organisation which says that state has a major role at thi point, is a real proof for the impossibility of an ecology struggle which ignore capitalism”probably we don’t need a cartridge referring to greenpeace, actually it would be enough to give see also to texts related to hydroelectric power plants. (1)
The writer of Historical Capitalism and The End of the World as We Knew It, Immanuel Wallerstein said: “Even if the Occupy Wall Street movement were to begin to peter out because of exhaustion or repression, it has already succeeded and will leave a lasting legacy, just as the uprisings of 1968 did. The United States will have changed, and in a positive direction. As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” A new and better world-system, a new and better United States, is a task that requires repeated effort by repeated generations. But another world is indeed possible (albeit not inevitable). And we can make a difference. Occupy Wall Street is making a difference, a big difference.”(12)
The president of Service Employees International Union, which is organized in public and health services, Mary Kay participated in the occupy activity on Brooklyn Bridge, and said:”I’m really confident that the local control, local decision making is going to create a new path for the next phase of the Occupy movement,”. (13)And she added:”We will support whatever the decision making is inside of the movement.” And also Stephane Lerner, who is a leading activist in SEIU and participated actively in Wall Street activity, said in an interview with AlterNet: “large-scale sit-ins, occupations, and other forms of nonviolent civil disobedience that must inevitably overcome court injunctions and political pressures.” (14) and and thus he puts forward the method. Besides, when interviewing with Ezra Klein thorough Washington Post, he is asked ‘‘what the exact demand is’’ and he answers: “I think that’s an interesting question. I don’t know the answer because we’re in uncharted waters as a country. But it’s important to realize it’s not the only thing happening. There are lots of people with concrete demands about principal reduction and closing corporate loopholes. We haven’t had a shortage of demands and solutions. We’ve had a shortage of mass movements that are courageous and heroic and driven by a sense of right and wrong. So if we can get more and more people into the streets and activism, that will give more force and energy to the demands.”(15)
David Graeber who is told to be one of the launchers of ‘Occupy Wall Street’ activity and an anarchist anthropologist said: “Protesters are coming from middle class families. Young people did what they need to and now each of them has $80 thousand debt. Besides, they either have a future, nor a job. The system let the youth down. Because the cash was flowing to Wall Street in other words to the predatory financial structure, which was established with government support, rather than job creating and establishing a economic order where talented young people can find jobs. It is also the same in the political system. American Youth voted for Barrack Obama and democrat candidates as they believed that this people were representing ‘change’. But in the end, they only find a regime which rescue Wall street and patronize no one else, getting closer to right wing and acting like conservatives. To make a change requires a heroic effort. Why? Because both Democrats and Republicans are in the hands of the rich. That is very difficult to change by elections”.(16)
One of the richest people of the world, George Soros who stated that he can understand the feelings of Wall Street protesters, said: “ “Actually, I can understand their sentiments, frankly, because there are a lot of people, for instance, running small businesses, who saw their credit cards being raised from 8 percent to 28 percent and they were relying on that credit to run their business, and a lot of them actually were put out of business,” Soros said. At the same time, the decision not to inject capital into the banks but to effectively relieve them of their bad assets, and then allow them to earn their way out of a hole, gave the banks bumper profits and that allowed them to pay bumper bonuses,” he added. “As I say, I can sympathize with their grievances.”
Democratic Congress Campaign Committee started a petition and asked the participant to sign under the statement: ”I find the action of the occupiers of Wall Street justified.”
The Special Adviser to Secretary General of United Nations Ban Ki-Moon, ex-director of UN Millenium Promise Alliance, Secretary of Kofi Annan and as a professor in Colombia University, Keynesian economist Jeffrey Sachs, writes in his article on the web journal Huffington Post: “The Wall Street elite seems completely befuddled by the Occupy Wall Street movement. The demonstrators are called “unsophisticated” or misguided, or much worse (mobs, communists, and more).” (17)And later, he goes on in his speech at the square of Wall Street activity ”You are the first people to do this after such a long time. You get the right message. We are %99. But %1 couldn’t get it yet. That’s why don’t ever give up to tell the truth to them. They are slow at understanding, sooner or later they will understand. A civilized country has to do something against the %1. We could have helped for people to be more qualified, trained and educated. We could have helped the factories to be more productive. State exists for this reason. This was already suggested for help. We need a president who believes that state is a solution for us. But what Ronald Reagan had done was to wipe out all the taxes of the uppers and to wipe out all the profits of the lower and drove the country into inequality. I have voted for Obama as I believe that he could do this. However I now see that he is also eating at campaign dinners. You are doing a wonderful job. History was written like this. This will reverse the things in our country. The only thing I can do for you is to support you. Go on!”
Another Keynesian economist, recipient of a Nobel economy prize, Joseph Stiglitz who was the former Senior Vice President and Chief economist of the World Bank, says in his speech at the square of Wall Street: “You are right to be angry. The truth is the system is not working right. It is not right according to them to say that there are too many unemployed people while we have too much to fulfill. It is not right that we are drawing people out of their houses when we have so many homeless people. Our financial market has an important role to play. They are supposed to allocate the capital and manage risk. But they misallocate the capital and created the risk. We are bearing the costs of their misdeeds. There is a system where we socialize loss and privatize gains. That it not capitalism, that is not market economy. That is a distorted economy and if we continue doing that we won’t succeed in growing we won’t succeed in creating a just society.” (18)
“Tea Party Movement” takes its name from the protests in 1773 in Boston Harbour, against the taxes which are applied by England. The participants protested the taxes by throwing the tea into the sea about 240 years ago. In 2009 most of the movements of protest in many states of USA, are made against overtaxing, by mostly WASP and Republican protesters who also see that Democrat Obama didn’t keep his promise of change. The anti-Obama members of the Tea Party Movement who reflect the intense liberal character of the movement, rising conservative and nationalist rising are quite reactive to the crisis.”
Another Nobel Prized, Keynesian economist who was working as Adviser to Secretary General of United Nations, Paul Krugman says: “Something is happening here, sooner or later, the rising of a such popular rebellion, directs the anger to the right addressee to - the bank riches- which was not like this in Tea Party Movement”. In his article at New York Times he writes that “Occupy Wall Street Movement” is growing and states that “the bosses of Wall Street, who were despising and ignoring at first, are complaining about the going on protests”, they are asking if “they not understand what we are doing for American economy”. And he adds: “Money talks in American politics. The money of financial sector tells that any politician who dares to criticize this sector even at the mildest tone, will be punished. This situation is proved with the shifting direction of the sector’s money flowing to the Republican candidate Mitt Romney and leaving Barrack Obama. (19) Also he emphasizes that the reasons for accusing the protesters of communism, are the hysterical reactions to everyone who say that this system is deceitful, since these rich Americans are fed by a system and in which only their interests are protected.
The president of USA, Barrack Obama, the vice president of Germany, Angela Merkel and General Secretary of United Nations, Ban Ki Moon are among the politicians who say that the righteous rebellion of Wall Street protests need to be paid attention.
Not Peaceful But Reconciling Way of Action
Demands are not the only reason for the Wall Street -sittingforlongtime- activity to become visible and widespread. The ‘peaceful’ method from the beginning caused to discuss these kind of activities on a legitimate ground, not only in the United States but also in many different places of the world. This may be one of the underlying reasons for why this activity was talked that much in newspapers, televisions, news sites, social networking sites.
Like demands, the method of the activity was also not extreme. They especially avoid ‘sharp’ action methods. While they became popular, this issue was one of their biggest deals. In the first weeks of the activity, decidedly refusing the action methods of the groups such as Black Bloc -which was among them- and also their effort to move away these groups, (moreover, they harshly stopped Black Bloc when they were smashing the windows of the banks) made it clear that which method the participants of Wall Street would insist on; ‘we can not become crowded with such violence actions’.
Besides excluding the groups such as Black bloc; the efforts to create a new meaning for occupy as an activity, was enough to clarify the statement of peace.
‘sittingforlongtime’ activists who are talking about the unfair distribution of income and corruption for profit, are not maintaining an attitude opposing or against the capitalist marketing economy which is based on profit. The issue at the roots of their being peaceful is supposed to be this, itself. It is better to be more clear and annihilate the ambiguity. A new (and a more correct) word is a must, for this kind of demands and for methods that run through these demands; it is reconciling. This word which means to put aside the clash of ideas or interests by mutual concessions and to be adapted, seems more suitable to describe these ‘sittingforlongtime’ activists who -from the very first beginning- try to camouflage their ambiguous attitudes to the power (not only to government but also power with its social meaning) by means of ‘peaceful’ method. We have stated that this kind of action is not peaceful but reconciling. As a result, only common ground to meet power, in order to reconcile as the participants of the activity demanded to, must have this kind of method. This method should be defined as a must, which is beyond choice in accordance with the demands. Activity by rising a so-called peaceful style, is actually imposing reconciling as its real character and moreover it is excluding the ones who doesn’t accept to reconcile. Participants are preventing their reconciliation to be discussed by drawing the issues as violent or non-violent. That’s why this issue has to be understood not as a matter of violence or nonviolence but as the attempt to form a basis for reconciling of the%99 with %1.
We don’t know how many people will come together by this method of activity which is in accordance with these demands and approved by many media organizations (and probably by many capitalists). Nevertheless we can more or less guess that who will like this reconciling style the most.
Active Individual or the Individual of Activity?
This list of ‘homogeneous ’(20) demands’ which comes up from a mass formed by such heterogeneous (21) characters of individuals brings back a question; ‘what kind of a direct democracy?’ It is clear that any disagreement about the future of the activity or demands, will cause to divide the mass in other words to end the Wall Street activity which creates itself by public visibility. In this context the principle of depoliticism which was embraced by the activity, becomes the most protection requiring principle as the guaranty of its massification and depoliticism as a principle is shaping a new form of politics.
Although having a declaration through which the demands are announced directly, and paving a way for the process of being a party; the activity is creating a puzzle by saying that ’everyone is telling what they want to say. there is no clear demands’ and forming a puzzling ‘freedom of expression’ atmosphere. This activity is a typical exemplification of American democracy where everybody can say what they want to but can change nothing. The formula of incorporating with many anti-capitalists while it has direct demands for sustainability of capitalism is hidden here, ‘you can not harm capitalism but you can be against it’.
USA representative of International Communist Movement, stated his testimony related with the decision making process in the general assembly -of Wall Street activity- in which he participated. He explained in these words: “When threat of Bloomberg was the order of the day, there was no significant discussion in general assembly. Assembly approved the decisions and the suggestions of the working groups without discussing them. The only thing which the moderators of the meeting open to discussion was about the director of Manhattan district, who limited the performances of the drummers with two hours. Nothing was discussed about the future of the movement. The questions such as which strategies should the movement practice to go over its own limits or how the movement can get rid of being defeated -which seems really inevitable in Zucotti Park and what kind of tactics could be put forward, were not even asked. (the duration of speaking was arbitrarily limited with1 minute by the moderator) Then how can we explain the tendency on these people to dominate the movement?”
We know this method very well. Working groups and committees offer the decisions -which were already decided among them - to the ‘general assembly’ which is working by so-called direct democracy. Nevertheless the issues which are discussed in the assembly, are neither about the future of the activity nor about which route should be taken, but at the best the discussion in the assembly is about how long brass band will play. And this forms a system which is exactly similar to what representative democracy is today. Like the very democratic election system when we are choosing one of the plans which are designed by the ’wise’ who have designed those plans instead of us, our future is surrounded by the ’freedom’ of choosing one capitalism to another and our life is limited with ‘speaking for one minute at most’ under the name of direct democracy.
Direct democracy is possible when every individual in the community has an unlimited right to speak, and when interferes in everything related with her/his life. This experience, which makes it obligatory to have a sharing environment in which individuals, whose vital and political awareness are equal, can freely express themselves; will not be possible in an atmosphere in which individuals can not share their awareness with a community, and in which their ideas are not allowed to be discussed in consensus method.
Wall Street activity needs depoliticism to present homogenous demands through a heterogeneous community. Thus the activity aims to grow easily, pretends to care about the individual’s right to speak, and claims to practice ‘direct democracy’. Why is the concept of direct democracy is used with impunity?
%99 activity saying that they are the rebellion of the majority against the tyranny of the minority, stated that they are going to put forward the demands of the majority against the minority. On the contrary demands seem to meet the wants of the dominant socio-economic group. Therefore the demands of the people who were left as ‘minority’, became invisible with the weapon of depoliticism . So is it possible to have an exact direct democracy when this invisible minority is associated with the majority, on a basis of common politics, and in which the minority is represented with this majority politics?
Aiming to grow in number or to be visible, depoliticism is blessed and that’s why the most democratic decisions of the general assemblies are about how much bigger they can grow. As an another consequence, the people, participating in the activity, while consuming the celebratory atmosphere, they are also experiencing the satisfaction of the ‘fighting spirit’. The emphasize on ‘individualism’ is only an illusion. Instead of creating people who are not only ‘protesting’ something in their life but also finding solutions and freely dreaming and practicing these solutions, this activity is no more than creating people who are a part of the mass.
On the other hand, while the expression of direct democracy is so popular in the ‘activity’, ‘politically’ we can see that this a process of creating a party.
Activity is planning to proceed according to the demands of the ‘National General Assembly’ which is going to be organized by the management committee made of 11 people, in October. The demands of the National General Assembly are going to be presented to all the candidates of all parties which participate in 2012 elections. If those parties ignore the demands or do not clarify any of the demands after being selected and having said that they would take part, then the movement announced that they are going to start the process for being the 3. party in 2014 by-elections.
The people who are excited with the outcry of ‘real democracy’ against the last failure of representative administration in USA which we often see in the press or in the public opinion, attempted a ‘study of intention’ starting through the experience of direct democracy in the area of activity in order to understand the demanded ‘real democracy’. Nevertheless, this activity which bless depoliticism and negate anti capitalist association and create an ‘ activity association’ is condemned to fade. What could this activity have done rather than turning its face to representative democracy in the political area?
We are asking ‘a real direct democracy’ because the concept of direct democracy is also perverted like many concepts which are emptied and consumed, and its reality is turned into a ‘show off element’. In such an atmosphere, those people who refer to any method except direct democracy in terms of decision making and operation, wouldn’t hesitate to populate the concept of direct democracy as they populated the concept of occupy.
Occupy or ‘sitting for a long time as an activity’?
Occupation is a kind of activity in which people who are oppressed react directly to the injustice of the oppressor and stop the working for a short or long time. Occupation as an act of protest was first made by IWW (International Industry Workers) in 1936-1937. Union workers including anarchists, stopped the worker’s entrance to the factory, just after they had started the strike, and then they sat on the machines and blocked all the production process in the factory. Besides the occupants didn’t let the management in during the occupation and they continued to occupation till their demands were answered. .(22)
Let’s think of an occupation of a coffee store. What is expected from the activists who have troubles with the coffee store and start an action calling to ‘occupy the store’? The internal working of the store and it’s buying-selling process is expected to be stopped or blocked for a short or long time, isn’t it? However, what is going on in ‘occupy’ Wall Street activity?
What is going on in Wall Street is having a ‘ celebratory sitting for long time activity’ in Wall Street, in Zucotti Park -which is a private property-. Here, why this activity is called ‘Occupy Wall Street’ even though it is more ‘just’ to talk about a peaceful and settled activity of tax-paying citizens rather than talking of a blockage of the working in the stock-market street, an occupy for short or long time. Considered that structurally the individuals who are participating in the Wall Street activity do not have an existential mission in Wall Street buildings, this doesn’t make any disruption in the working of Wall Street. Besides, this activity, do not have an aim to stop or disrupt the actual working of Wall Street and this situation obviously shows us that this activity need to have been called something else than ‘occupy’.
To call a situation and the power to call it like that, bear the danger of changing its meaning and its nature completely with the actual practice of the people who go for it. Do the people who called the activity -which is not actually an occupy- as occupy; want to take the advantage of the ‘symbol’ or ‘effect’ of this name which contains a radical directness/ immediateness? This activity has a risk to create a new ‘occupy’ definition, to exclude the ones who doesn’t occupy as this one did, intentionally or not, manipulating the meaning of the word occupy.
Then, intentionally or not who benefit from the manipulation of the action occupy? A symbolized activity which doesn’t ever disrupt the sustainability of the working, does not annoy or disturb the addressee and also becomes a democratic symbol of capitalism.
We first saw the mask of Guy Fawkes in the movie ‘V for Vendetta’ in 2006. The mask was used by an anarchist character who was struggling against the authoritarian government. The mask was the symbol of an anti-authoritarian who blow up the parliament building and tried to kill the king James 1st. Afterwards the mask was started to be used in actions by Anonymous hacktivists. It became an important symbol in Wall Street.
However Time Warner (one of the biggest media company, the company which Warner Brothers is belong to) makes money over the right of usage and selling of the each V masks. A wall street activist invited everyone to resistance in these words: “Buy a V mask and join resistance! But it is sold out in the costume store so you need to wait till next friday.” Besides Time Warner announced that last year made profit of 28 billion dollars.
On the best seller list of masks in amazon.com, mask of V surpassed Batman, Harry Potter and Darth Vader and became the first on the list. Rubbie’s costume announced that this year they sold 100.000 of this mask and that the mask of V is the bestselling one. Company produces these masks in Mexico or China which are sold for 6 $.
Warner Bross do not comment on the mask’s being used in actions, but it doesn’t seem to be complaining.
Is the Activity a Simulacra?
What happened in Zucotti Park often associated with the actions going on in Tahrir Square. We have talked about the Wall Street participants base their origin of their method on the social activation in Egypt. Likewise, the known social websites were on the front. In Tahrir, webs like Twitter, Facebook were used in maneuver of organized rebellion in the streets. Nevertheless people in Wall Street who are really competent to use these webs, created an activity on these webs and wanted to shift this activity to a rebel on the streets. And they had the possibility to do so since the mass who would like to join the activity were already living their socialization on these webs.
In Tahrir, after the mobilization started, despite all the efforts of the government to disconnect the communication, activists mobilized through these webs. They were on the streets and they communicated well through these webs. And the government having realized the danger, set out to forbid these social webs.
Adbusters, the organizer of the Wall Street is already a media organization. Editor of the namesake magazine, Micah White says that they organized the very first activity through e-mail. In other words, firstly, the place of this activity is the realm of these networking sites. Activity get its spatial organization started on a virtual basis. Afterwards, actualize this activity in Zucotti Park. This is an important detail to realize the distinction between the things happening in Wall Street and happening in Tahrir Square. The difference between people who go out to the streets to ‘overthrow’ the pressure mechanism in their life and Wall Street activity is burning as much as the action of young Muhammed Bouazizi.
It seems that the coming together of many people, from different social groups and contrary to what hasn’t happened for long time, their activity to do some things together, legitimated what was going on in the Wall Street. It is quite reasonable that the people who are living the happiness of opposing, affirm the situation in which coming together is just an activity. However we don’t negate this character of coming together as an activity but we emphasize the discontinuity of coming togethers. Apart from the fading, faded discussions, activity provides its continuity from some other activities which are totally unrelated. The participants of Wall Street who are doing gardening in the middle of the city, and deciding which songs should be sung, in consensus assemblies, are compensated with the rebels who risk their lives in Tahrir.
We are watching an actualization of a social illusion of an activity which has spatially created itself in virtual. Reality of unreal... Wall Street activity as a simulacra...
‘Not Anti Capitalism, But Capitalism for Everybody’
The characteristic feature of the demands which the activity announced through the social networking sites, is figured as the mass is rebelling against the companies not for the struggle with poverty but with impoverishment. The mass which doesn’t want to pay for the crisis in 2008 and which is disturbed by the unequal distribution of income, and who is against the companies monopolizing in free competition economy and reducing ‘tax paying citizen’s’ ability of free maneuver through the trusts and cartels, wants a ‘real free competition market and more responsible capitalism’.
This whole of demands which is wanted from an institution such as the state, which asks for the people’s right for the chance and ‘freedom’ to raise by stepping on the others, is not new in the eyes of state. A Keynesian law package Glass Steagall which was brought into force just after the Great depression in 1929, in order to separate deposit banks and investment banks and provide a state interference to the companies. It is clear that this activist mass, many of whom rely on the democratic moves of Obama, wants what they are promised, in other words they want which was already their right, they want it back. These people, who want the free market economy to work considering the society and whose possibility to climb the social ladder is declining, want the ‘state’ to guarantee the conditions for fairplay. These ‘tax-paying citizens’ who ask for the guarantee of the state, do not refuse to benefit from capitalism, still they want their share to grow bigger through the state interference. Whereas the state is in charge with the interests of the group which is called %1 by %99 and it is pretty incoherent ‘to call the state for duty’.
Of course this mass which is shaped through its demands, do not have a homogenous structure. We know that there are people in the Wall Street activity who accept anti-capitalism as a vital predetermination, who analyse the power as a problem and who do not try to reform the capitalism but dream of destroying it completely in order to create a new life. However the heterogeneity of the people who are experiencing different social and economic inequalities, guarantee the depoliticism of the activity. It is obvious that demands of a mass of people whose majority has ‘something to lose’ can not have the same radicalism and revolutionism of the ones who has nothing to lose.
The return of the depoliticism can not go further than ‘saying somethings in the same park’.
To know the unknown
On the other hand, there are many interesting people and institutions who support the activity. Of course it would be very cutting corners if we make a label operation through the supporters of the activity. But still -at least for the careful readers - we think that it shouldn’t be ignored that some of the demands are compromising with some of the supporters o
firstname.lastname@example.org (Devrim Anarsist Faaliyet / Istanbul)
Original article on IMC London: http://london.indymedia.org/articles/11838