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Forum Post: A response to Middleaged

Posted 5 years ago on Feb. 11, 2013, 7:44 p.m. EST by penguento (362)
This content is user submitted and not an official statement

This responds to a post by middleaged, found here: http://occupywallst.org/forum/occupy-movement-is-dying/#comment-927852

No need to apologize. I wasn't offended at all, I really was in the middle of some hectic deadlines and a business trip, and I wanted to take the time to respond to you in detail, rather than just dashing something out.

I think that you and I agree on more than a few things. Clearly, the major political parties are venal and venial and corrupt and bloated; and need either serious rejuvenation or replacement. We both agree that this has robbed the major parties of credibility and that the people are well and truly fed up with this whole state of affairs. Likewise, I think we agree that there is an opportunity for some third-party or third force to enter into the matter and take advantage of popular disgust at the current situation, and force change. And I will even agree with you that Occupy Wall Street could be that third force.

The problem is that OWS isn't doing anything to make it self into that third force. And here's why I think that this is so:

First, OWS blew its great moment of opportunity. After the financial meltdown, there was a popular wellspring of support for the whole idea. But, what did OWS do with that wellspring? If you look at the OWS activities and imagery from that time, OWS made some very serious mistakes: First, the imagery and language were taken right out of pre-World War II Stalinist propaganda. The posters could have been drafted by Stalin's art department. That's still true. The language itself could have been written by the Socialist Workers Party back in the 70s. One can only conclude that whoever wrote that stuff was heavily influenced by Soviet-style politics, and that was an instant turnoff for your average American. The fact that anarchists took control of OWS protests and tried to turn them into riots reinforced the turnoff. So right there, OWS lost the average American. And that tone continues to this day. Look at this forum: lots of undisguised anarchist/socialist theory, unmitigated by much to the contrary, and lots of abuse for anyone who advocates anything different. Now, it may well be that OWS and its adherents think that anarchism is the way to go, but their problem is that they've got to convince some significant majority of the other 300 million people in this country to go along with them. And that’s not going to happen, not the way they are doing it. OWS is getting smaller, not larger. It’s almost disappeared.

Next, the anarchist/socialist theory is combined with a marvelous arrogance. The anarchists around here are eager to insult and abuse anybody who dares to disagree with them, with the result that except for a very few persons such as myself, people who disagreed with them but were friendly enough or interested enough to engage in a dialogue have all left. The folks around here are still exceedingly cocksure about themselves. They don’t seem to get it that abusing people who disagree is a mistake -- they need to bring people into the fold and into the tent, not drive them out when they attempt to enter.

Next, the anarchist/socialist theory and its associated arrogance are bandied about in the pretty much complete absence of facts, and in most cases the complete absence of any actual experience in the working world or business world. Let me give you one example of many: one time, I remarked that the chief beneficiary of the GM bankruptcy was the United Auto Workers union pension fund. That's a true statement, and provably so. After the United States government, the next largest shareholder in GM is (actually, was – they’ve started to sell off their holdings) the UAW pension fund, which got those shares due to a special law passed to make sure that the UAW pension fund didn't go broke as result of the bankruptcy, which would have happened otherwise. I endured an enormous mountain of abuse heaped upon me for this statement by a bevy of snot-nosed little puppies who were absolutely sure that I was wrong, but who never bothered to check the facts, and apparently had never read a newspaper or listened to the news during the entire course of the GM bankruptcy. If they had bothered to read the newspaper or listen to the news during that time, even in a perfunctory fashion, they would have known that what I was saying was true. Likewise, when I made the statement, they could easily have checked before trying to trash me but they didn't, because they’re too arrogantly sure of themselves to bother with such a thing.

Next, the anarchist/socialist theory being peddled around here is pretty naïve. There's lots of quoting of Noam Chomsky (who has, notwithstanding his theories about workplace democracy, never worked in a real job in his entire life – he's been a college professor, specifically a linguist, since he got out of college, is actually quite wealthy, and has most certainly never actually ventured from the cloistered halls of academia to organize the hoi polloi), lots of talk about eliminating the monetary system, lots of talk about lots of things, by people who clearly don't have much work experience, or much understanding of business or economics. One has the impression that lots of the folks on this forum, and by extension in OWS, are 19 or 20-year-olds who are living away from home for the first time, just completed a 1st semester poly-sci course, and have fallen in love with the chapter on Marxism because it seems to offer such a perfect solution to everything. And of course, they have that arrogance and confidence that they know more than everybody else that only 19-year-olds can have. Some of it is particularly irritating/amusing to me because I'm nearly 60 years old and I worked a hell of a lot of jobs in my day, from cleaning toilets and digging ditches up to professional level jobs. And I have owned businesses for 15 years, so I speak from quite a lot of experience. More importantly, what they don’t get is that Chomsky and first-semester Marxism have zero credibility out there in the real world, even amongst leftists and union organizers and environmentalists and folks like that. Spouting that crap is the mark of a tyro, and isn’t going to get you anywhere in the real world.

Next, OWS hasn’t proven that its anarchist governance model can work in the real world. To the contrary, it's proven that it can't. The New York General assembly collapsed in disarray and infighting long ago, and hasn’t been successfully revived. There are reasons to think that that governance model can't work on anything other than a very small scale, but that's beside the point. OWS is peddling that model as the future of society – with notions of governing the entire country that way -- but wasn’t able to make it last two years in an organization of a few hundred people. So they're pushing a model of workplace governance that is as far as we can tell a complete failure. Why should people subscribe to that? OWS needs to explain how they're going to make it work in a nation of 300 million people, but once again, there’s too much arrogance to even try – or maybe nobody really has a clue.

Next, and perhaps most fatally, there's no actual interest in doing anything. For example, there's a lot of talk about workplace democracy, and worker-owned or communal enterprises, and about how they’re someday going to sweep the world. But no one here actually does anything about it – nobody actually goes out and tries to start a worker-owned enterprise or commune, everybody just likes to sit around and talk about it. If they tried it, they'd be surprised, because it's not as easy as they think it is. I know this because my current business is such a worker–owned, communal enterprise, and it's taken us quite a lot of time and a great deal of pain to make it work properly. So they'd find that it's a lot harder to make it work than they think, for different reasons than they think, and then they'd have to readjust their theories as a result of this experience. I suspect they know this, and that's why they'd rather talk about it than actually try it. Or maybe it’s all just bullshit.

I think it's the same way with anything else where there is some objective measure of success. You can hold a street protest and there's no way for anyone else to judge if you won or lost. But, if you open a business, communal or otherwise, you and everybody else will find out pretty quickly: either you can make a profit and make payroll consistently, and maybe pay some benefits and retirement, or you can't. And if you can't, you’ve lost, and your business is gone. It looks to me that no one around here is actually willing to take that gamble, big talk notwithstanding. And that's a pity, because if OWS can get some worker-owned enterprises up and running and prove that their theories actually work, and they can turn enough of a profit to pay people, they’d get some street creds, and maybe win some people over. But this is another one where if you suggest it people heap abuse on you, or give you a million reasons why they can’t.

None of this is, I might observe, fatal. OWS could and should do some introspection and failure analysis, and learn from the mistakes I've enumerated above. That learning process could then be used to build a stronger organization with more realistic goals that could actually attract people. And that might in turn become the genesis of a new political movement or political party. But it doesn't look like that's happening. The people around here are very self-assured, their own inexperience and lack of knowledge notwithstanding; and they are clearly by and large not willing to engage in either introspection or failure analysis. And so this site and OWS in general will muddle along for a little while until eventually everybody gets out of school and has to get a real job, and then it will probably die. It wouldn't have to -- it's doing it to itself -- but that’s what it’s doing.



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[-] 2 points by ericweiss (575) 5 years ago

how about doing something that 80% of Americans already say they want?
is from an OWS working group in NYC

[-] 2 points by Middleaged (5140) 5 years ago

Okay, thanks. Looks like a valid point of view, a kind of realistic view, or a cautionary view of OWS. I sort of sensed and found some older people in this forum, but can think of a couple that certainly might be called arrogant.

I'm thinking there is real depth in OWS & this forum from the organic farmers, counter culture philosophy, and European style Anarchist. There might also be some humanist experiential psychology also flowing in OWS... this idea of Love as a power and as an ideology.

You are sort of pointing out the OWS Model is not a business, but more of a community event or a kind of townhall meeting. I think you are right to say they are trying to govern or simulate governing.

I'm not 100% sure that your idea that they should all try to form a business and get practical education & experience is on the money. I think you are giving them a very practical approach.

It should be said that OWS may succeed, progressives may succeed, but not in the vision of syndical anarchy. The country may recognize the corruption in congress and the White House, but decide to fix the capitalist, socialist, corporate, and constitutional system. I'm just thinking this country is so capitalist it can't move off of that mark.

You brought up a lot of points that I had not heard or thought about regarding the posters looking very Stalinist or Marxist. And I had not heard that OWS Anarchist tried to Riot. I had heard something about the Black Bloc guys trying to provoke violence or vandalism... I just don't know who they are.


It seems to me that the university protestors from the 1980s or 1960s were always ahead of the normal population in the US when it came to knowing the evils of the CIA, US Wars, WTO, IMF, G8, G20, and the big Corporations in General. So I am not sure we might be better off viewing the OWS as a continuum of US and European Activists from the 1960s.

The conservitives that I worked with in the past would deny protestors have any value. I found this strange since one guy was from Michigan where unions had been so strong. I think we have to be careful what conclusion we draw with regard to the purpose or value of OWS.

Your practical approach does have value. You are asking, well where are we going? What are we going to do? What is it going to accomplish?

I think you are pointing out that NYGA or NYCGA would do better by creating smaller automous groups that are delegated to make decisions... I haven't really followed the group. Looks like Occupy Sandy and Occupy Rolling Jubilee are smaller groups that were successful.

Noam Chomsky does seem like a very smart guy. He simplifies ideas and seems very well read. hard not to admire him. I'm not sure why he never got involved in some international group to help humanity. Chomsky has a bad reputation with the Right Wing which has had control of our country since the early 1900s. I don't think Chomsky can even get on the Radio since he is Defacto banned. I always though he was banned for being Socialist and Americans don't like to admit that we have a socialist system. But ... it might be that Chomsky is banned for his Anarcho-Syndicalism view.

You might be right about something else too. As people get older and have families, they have to tend to making money ... so they may not take on OWS projects. This Forum might have a lot of young poster though I have seen older posters myself.

I can't really speak to if OWS is losing steam. I doubt I would ever protest in the wintertime in the USA or Europe. Like you I suppose the simplest success I can imagine is a kind of corporate reform, financial reform, tax reform, accounting and auditing reform....

Could be you are witnessing young people in the USA learning some important stuff for their future reference and future political knowledge. The 2007-2013 Crisis and Recession will influence a couple of generations. Hopefully these generations will be serious about corruption and getting corporations to follow the Rules.

In this way the OWS Movement and the Financial Crisis of 2008 might be as instructive as the Writing of Marx. I can't see the USA ever having politicians talk about Marx or bring him up at all. But Marx wrote about Corruption. Somehow we have to get people to look at the 2008 Financial Crisis and the 1990 S&L Crisis and get people to demand stronger accounting of our US Businesses.

[-] 1 points by penguento (362) 5 years ago

I think you have to focus on concrete actions. It's easy to call for tearing down the fundamental pillars of the economy and social structure, but then what? What are you replacing them with? And how are you going to do it in a way that avoids chaos? You have to know the answers to these questions, if for no other reason than to gain support. If you don't know, people won't support you. They'd much rather stick with the devil they know than go with one that's undefined and unknown.

Chomsky's not banned. He makes big bucks on the speaking circuit and selling books. He probably doesn't appear on TV much because it doesn't pay enough. He's smart, no doubt, but he's never, ever been a working man himself, never worked in a factory or as a laborer, never gone into a place like that and tried to organize the workers, never done anything at all to try to put his theories into practice; and he doesn't even have any formal academic training in labor or economics. So he's a completely amateur armchair quarterback, never been in a game, never even been on the practice field, never even took sports classes in college, and he's sitting there in his armchair telling people how to call the plays and run the game. Would you buy that same thing for a football team? I don't think so, but lots of people around here apparently would 'cause they buy it from Chomsky.

[-] 2 points by DSamms (-294) 5 years ago

Chomsky's been documenting exactly the same problems and issues we discuss here, only he's been doing it since the the 1960s (a Vietnam War protestor). His credibility rests upon the fact that he has been saying pretty much exactly the same thing for all these years. You do not have to like him, but I respect him for his political analysis and its factual underpinning. Interestingly, when I asked him about his documentation, excessive documentation in my opinion, he replied that without exhaustive documentation for each of his assertions, he would have been dismissed as a crank long ago... (FWIW, Dr. Chomsky and I corresponded on a variety of subjects in the late 1980s and early 1990s.)

However, I too like concrete actions and do not think anarchism, in any of its present forms, will provide much in the way of concrete political actions other than protest and confrontation. Care to discuss a withdrawal of consent to be governed under the Constitution by voters in a general election?

[-] 2 points by penguento (362) 5 years ago

Withdrawal of consent to be governed . . . interesting concept, but it sounds problematic. Since the Constitution covers a geographic territory, it'd have to be an all-or-nothing proposition in some part of it. It's hard to see how you could have some folks in a place governed by it, but not others. And of course, if such a thing were successful someplace (assuming it's constitutional, no humor intended), then what would you replace it with? You'd just have to come up with another one.

[-] 1 points by DSamms (-294) 5 years ago

Everything we wish to accomplish is problematic. But nothing will be accomplished without removing Ds and Rs from power simultaneously since both serve elite interests.

This "interesting concept" is the underlying foundation of our self-governance and Constitution. Voting in elections implicitly conveys our consent to be governed by our government under the Constitution. What an explicit withdrawal of consent by a majority of voters would accomplish is to de-legitimize the political parties (by rejecting their candidates) and shutdown the U.S. government by preventing the next House of Representatives from seating a quorum... It does not affect or change the Constitution.

Thus, I hold that such a vote should also have, as a primary purpose, a stated goal of calling an Article V convention, since there is no other Constitutional avenue for setting the government aright and shutting the government down, while useful in the short run, is not a long-term solution.

If you'd like, I can forward you a more complete argument.

[-] 2 points by penguento (362) 5 years ago

I see some practical issues in such a vote, but that's a different question. By all means post it, or a link to it. I'd be interested in reading about it. Then I can comment a bit more intelligently on it.

[-] 1 points by Middleaged (5140) 5 years ago

You are right in that Adults, organic farmers, or whatever need some structure to build on. yes, younger adults may ask for caos and ripping down all structures. But, ... most people won't agree and will never agree. Once you have some appreciation of education, then you appreciate some traditions, then you appreciate your home or the things you now have, then you want to protect your family from economic Shocks or Shocks to your business or Income... In the End most people that are Adult will want to Preserve Most of the Structure.

There was even some film of Anarchy in Spain on the Internet if you followed some of the Arnarchy Stuff. The Workers union created Anarchy in a whole city in SPain. They ended up creating structure very fast. The only difference was that people were more happy with the jobs they ended up with ...and they got food in an equal way ... maybe they got money eventually in an equal way. The Business Managers and Plant Managers simply had to work with the Union in a kind of power sharing arrangement after the Take Over. Sounds like it went on for a long time.

There is just no way to replace markets or Capitalism. Even the Black Market or Underground market is still Capitalism. Yeah, there are communes or cooperatives or farms or Kibutz, but they need money of some kind in the end... What if some of the kids want to go to a special college, then... you need state social education to help the kids.

I still think Chomsky is Banned. Anyway he admits that he is helpless in a garden if you have checked some of the videos. I wish I was Chomsky, but I doubt if any University would ever hire me, make me part of the staff, and ... wonder if I have the patience to work at the University level, exhanging ideas, taking criticism, taking coaching from doctorate level advisors, and reading all those books.

I have my life already. I won't go into debt by going into Law School or Entering a University Program.

Anyway, Media and Politicians are not working on the Primary Problems of our Economy ... and Economists in our Government drank the Kool Aid a long time ago. There is no intelligent life in Government or Media. This country is going to Tank for 10 more years. You will see huge problems with Elderly in about 10 years. I don't buy Beef any more, the price is double what I think it is worth. Matter of fact i don't buy much produce anymore either... it is also about Double what I think it should be. I have health care, but I don't afford to see specialists, so I don't get my health issues taken care of. I figure if I have a heart attack, stroke, or get Diabetes i will be bankrupt in 10 years... I'm in a sort of age for cancer now, that would also bankrupt me.

[-] 0 points by penguento (362) 5 years ago

You’re covering a lot of ground here, so let me take this in chunks.

You’re right, once you are a little bit older and have a family and some possessions, anarchistic chaos doesn't seem so attractive. And that's what some of the folks around here don't seem to get – they talk about expropriating property and redistributing it without compensation and according to their own notions, they talk about some vague economy without money in it, they talk about a country and workplace that are somehow magically run without any rules at all except for those that arise out of these consensus meetings that they think will happen everywhere, all at once. And they don't seem to get some very important things:

First, to the average person all of this smells very chaotic, and all very subject to the arbitrary whims of whoever happens to be in charge. And that, to the average person is all very unappealing, because they have things that they wish to protect, and they are not interested in some sort of long-term, chaotic transition during which they could lose everything in the interests of some Greater Good imposed upon them by somebody else.

Second, folks around here don't seem to grasp that a lot of this looks very silly and unrealistic, and a lot of it isn’t what most people actually want. A country without money? How could that work? Why would you want it to work? Complete, total horizontal democracy in a country of 300 million people that's 3,000 miles wide? How could that possibly work? How’s everyone really going to have a say at such meetings? How on earth will you ever get anything decided if everybody gets to have a say – no matter how silly or unproductive -- about everything?

Nobody around here seems to have the answer for any of these questions. It's expected that everybody else will take it as an article of faith that somehow it will all magically work out. And what they are not getting is that nobody's willing to take such an enormous gamble as an article of faith.

It’s also taken as an article of faith that everyone will be happy spending the rest of their life being a worker bee in the socialist hive. Stripping businesses and people of “excess wealth”? Who decides what’s excess? Why should people give up what they have earned? And who decides what they haven’t earned? They don’t get it that the average person envies the rich not because he thinks it’s unfair, but because he’d like to be rich too, and if he got the chance, he’d do it. And if he got the money, earned or otherwise, he’d have a mansion and a Ferrari and all the rest. Don't believe me? Look at the behavior of lottery winners -- I don't see too many of them donating all the money to charities, or starting anarchy-syndicalist co-ops with the money. Mostly, they quit working and buy a mansion and a Ferrari.

Fo the rest, having worked hard and saved all their life and built up a business, a person feels perfectly entitled to a nice speedboat or sports car, and some money in the bank and some investments, and they’re not interested in giving it up because somebody else decides they’re “too rich.” And contrary to what people around here think, most people aspire to those things, and aren’t interested in socio-political theories that will take them - or the opportunity to get them -- away. Don't believe me again? Look at the guys around you with good union jobs. They spend the money on expensive pickups with camper shells, and nice bass boats, and maybe a hunting cabin up in the hills; and they spend their weekends hunting and fishing, not attending boring political education seminars.

At the end of the day, most people aren’t interested in some amorphous greater collective good, and certainly aren’t interested in sacrificing their own welfare for it. They work for their own family and some small social group, and the goal is to get as much as possible for that group, period, even at the expense of others. That’s why tax breaks are so popular – I get something and you pay. And nobody on the getting side ever has any problem with it. That may not be very pretty, but that’s reality.

Chomsky – I have no doubt he’s sincere; and he may be a prophet without honor in his own land, but banned – certainly not. MSNMC and all the other liberal outlets let guys like that on the air all the time. And Chomsky’s got a bunch of books and articles out as well, and is on the speaking circuit – for serious money -- all the time. His problem isn’t that he’s banned, it’s that nobody but impressionable young college students cares about what he has to say, particularly on workplace politics. And why should they? His notions of an anarchistic workplace are silly, and he has no – and never has had – any skin in the game, or real experience in the trenches. Have a read about anarcho-syndicalism here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarcho-syndicalism. Tell me how realistic you think it is. It’s all nice and fluffy and warm, but think about the real-world, make-a-payroll-every-Friday, run-a-great-big-business, run-a-great-big-country implications of it. Chomsky’s not just against this government, he’s against any government. Try to run anything larger than a tiny co-op on a small island with those concepts, and you’d be out of business and starving pronto, and so would your workers. Chomsky’s views are the idle musings of a guy who’s comfortably ensconced in a very sweet, very well paid, tenured position who will never, ever have to worry about any of this himself, and will never, ever put his own skin on the line to test his own theories. If you’re looking for a revolutionary hero, I much prefer Che Guevara. I don’t agree with him, but he was willing to put his own neck on the line for what he believed. That, I can respect.

Health care – There's a lot you could say there . . . it certainly is expensive, but on the other hand, I’ve been pretty ill and pretty badly injured myself a few times and had some major surgery, and had some mighty fancy things done to save my ass so I could sit here and write this, and it all looked pretty expensive to me. I’ve also worked some for the pharma industry and I know they spend billions of dollars on research every year, and billions more on great big high-tech factories where they make that stuff; and the hospitals are filled with very fancy, very, very expensive equipment they bring to bear on you, and the doc spent 10 years getting the knowledge to treat you, and all those people that wait on you hand and foot cost money. So it all costs a lot of money, and if you’re the guy on the receiving end of all of that, and if they manage to re-assemble you after you’ve mangled yourself like humpty-dumpty, why shouldn’t you pay for the privilege? You’re kidding yourself if you think those costs are going to go away, and there aren’t enough 1%ers to pick up the tab. If you want coverage for everybody – and I do – you have to accept the fact everybody’s going to pay a hell of a lot for it. The places that make universal health care work tax the living shit out of everybody, rich and poor, to make it work. That’s okay, just be honest about it. Voodoo arithmetic doesn’t cut it.

As far as letting the government run it, my own experiences aren’t encouraging. About a year ago, my aged mother became very ill and needed 24/7 care (and spent a good part of that year in hospitals hooked up to a lot of that very, very expensive equipment). Medicaid would have picked up a bit of it (not much, but we needed what we could get) and she was a slam-dunk as far as meeting eligibility requirements, so I applied for the Medicaid benefit. They put us through bureaucratic hell, wanting this piece of paper, then that, going silent for a month, then deciding the first one was now too old and they needed a newer copy, etc., etc. – all the very worst sort of stereotypical bureaucrat bullshit that makes for jokes. My mother’s now been dead for two months and we’re still waiting to hear about whether she qualifies. Frankly, I much prefer taking my chances with the private system.

Media and politicians – I agree. American news reporting, left and right, is a joke – they’re all shills for somebody or other. I watch BBC when I want an impartial reporting of news. And both political parties and decadent and corrupt. We need a viable third party. If only one would arise.

[-] 1 points by Middleaged (5140) 5 years ago

I don't have a problem with any of your comments. I agree that most people don't want to be involved in politics, want to keep what they have, and when they get some money and benefits ... they do tend to buy a vaction home, a new car, truck, ski doo, quad vehicle, cabin ... There are those that have family property that gave them wealth and they may have fought their neibors to keep it. There are probably a lot of rich people that did some shady stuff to keep the power to make money or just to make the money and get rich. Seems like you have to tilt the table in your own favor to get rich. Like insider trading kind of stuff. But this is the human condition. Some people are already rich, but most of live in a world where education is expensive and everything else goes up in price every year. So, a few are rich already. How do we take anything from them without hurting people that are not rich.

The AMT Tax was designed to do this. However it was corrupted in committee or in congress or by lobbyist. So now families with kids will start paying higher taxes ... and the rich will still have loopholes to keep them from paying any taxes.

Anyway the Solution probably has to come through a tax system. But the liegislative process is corrupted. Everyone know this. No one is solving the problem.

Was going to say we come down to looking for Principals.

What are the prinicpals we can follow to correct the problems, the systemic risk, the corruption, the influence of big money, etc.

The principals have to be found in Law & in the Constitution. Any Anarcho-Syndicate should form committees and delegate representives ... which means they do the same thing as government. And it means their is an equal chance of corruption and cults of personalities, of abuse of power, or monopolies, or wars.... We see corruption in Unions after all.

So we agree. The simple solutions that people will join together on would be Amendments to the Constitution, and to laws that address conflicts of interest and the influence of Big money, Corporations, and the Wealthy.

But the Human Condition seems to include the fact that Western & European men will wage war ... and Prices of our Goods & Property & Services in our Economy will rise to unsustainable Levels ... and our Empires, countries, or dictatorships will collaspe. This is what is happening in Health Care, Education, US Court Systems, Meat Prices, US Labor Rates, US Hotels, US Car Prices, US Home Prices and US Entertainment Prices (I never buy tickets to anything, never stayed in a real resort for a vacation, and don't see myself paying for Education in the next 10 years).

Corporations do seem to excellerate the time of collaspe. They form cartels and tilt the table so they have more of a monopoly or oligopoly. In the end, Executives in corporations take huge salaries & Benefits will suppressing wages, outsourcing jobs, automating, and adding robots to the workforce. They have a big interest in create cheap workforces. But the economy doesn't operate without consumers, so in the end we collaspe. Probably this just looks like Third world countries with very poor & very rich. The poor can be happy, have families, sing kareoke, go dancing at night, come to work tired the next day,.. and be spiritual if they want. The rich just do other things...

I won't defend Chomsky as he is not in need of assistance or whatever. Chomsky is smart and I'll leave it at that. But anyone who learns to be critical and think things through with logic is a little Subversive. This is something that Chris Hedges says. So, you have one guy that is critical, but works outside of the system. And you have another guy that works in the government system, is loyal to his career, learns a lot, always is at work on time. These two guys are sort of in opporistion, but they are both valid paradigms.

One guy works in the government, has to make decisions, has to stand up and explain what he is doing and how his people are going to accomplish their mission. This is leadership. And this is why governments protect their own people so well.

It is always easy and maybe even infectious to criticize a Leader. Could be this is why governments in Latin American countries get overthrown ... well, aside from CIA covert actions to change the government... It is easy to condem & Criticize.

But we can learn some logic from Chomsky. Chomsky is not aligned with any power, so he can be honest and can look without an investment and without drawing his salary from any of the power players in the game. This is very important. Look at our Kiss ass Media ... how they continued to support the Iraqi war. The media has a conflict of interest ... we don't have a free press. But we still have some guys like Chomsky.

[-] 1 points by Middleaged (5140) 5 years ago

Complete, total horizontal democracy in a country of 300 million people that's 3,000 miles wide?

Above Quote is from you post below on this date. I wanted to look at this in my own way. I don't really know enough history of the USA to know what it was like to set up the first 13 colonies and a federal government. Of course the Federal Government didn't have any budget when it started out. This means something.

OWS anarchist or activists may be thinking more about a country in which the federal government has less power to "Wage War, Build the Worlds Largest, most expensive Military, and build a world wide military presence", ... but also look at our Federal Prison System which is the largest in the world and ... obviously if you are a banker you have little chance of going to Jail for Fraud, but we will chage citizens with consentual crimes like taking drugs, possessing marijuana, or chosing a lifestyle of some sort.

We can immediately see a solution to a federal government with incentives to start wars, occupy military bases around the world, and build the biggest state of the art military.

I have nothing against the economic benefit of military spending, but clearly this creates an out of balance economy that not everyone can participate in. Our founding fathers would never have been able to imagine an economy built on defense spending.

What else do see as abusive federal power?

How about the regulators of the Banks, Insurance, and Financial Instruments. We have the FTC, SEC, CFTC, OCC, Treasury, FDIC, NCUA, ... and probably others along with the Federal Reserve which operates on a Charter. How are they doing earning their salaries in the Federal Government? Maybe the states are now sophisticated enough to Regulate their own banks and prosecute crimes in banks in their states .... maybe this would put Wall Street under the prosecution of someone like Elliot Spitzer, who would be under pressure to be corrupted. Now it seems like a good thing to share with states the jurisdiction for Financial Crimes.

Anyway... really was thinking about the original vision of government. Starts small in a town, then a county, then a state, then a Country. Isn't this a kind of horizontal government. The weird thing is organizations like unions or interest groups (501(c) soft money, PACs, and Lobbyist).

Maybe the OWS horizonal government vision is just setting aside interest groups and pulling power back to states, counties, and towns....

[-] 1 points by Narley (272) 5 years ago

Outstanding post. Very insightful. For me it was a wakeup call. I finally conceded to myself this forum is not the place for me. And I’m not sure OWS is the place for me. I’m not mad at anybody and not trying to undermine OWS. This post just gave me a moment of clarity. I simply don’t agree with probably 75% of the posts I read here.

So, I will take my leave. I wish OWS the best; and maybe it will eventually grow into something I can identify with. I’ve been on this forum for about a year under different names trying to say what I believe. Alas, I think it’s been in vain. Maybe I will stop by occasionally just to see what’s going on. But for now I’ve had enough. Let us part friends.

[-] 1 points by freakzilla (-161) from Detroit, MI 5 years ago

great great post

[-] 1 points by vaprosvyeh (-400) 5 years ago

Probably one of the best posts on this forum I've read so far. Thank you.

[-] 0 points by OTP (-203) from Tampa, FL 5 years ago

I have to say, after reading all of that, I take it as one of a challenge.

[-] 2 points by penguento (362) 5 years ago

You should take it as a challenge, in a positive way. The country's looking for alternative solutions. All you have to do is have one that actually works. And prove it.

The solutions are no doubt there, but people must craft and implement them -- and I mean here real on-the-ground solutions that can be implemented in this lifetime and will actually pay the bills for the people who get involved. Do that, and you'll get traction. But high-level political posturing doesn't count -- there's no there there, and people can smell it quickly.

[-] -1 points by alldone (32) 5 years ago

This post gives me hope. If nothing else Occupy has brought together a lot of thoughtful people who sense there is something fundamentally wrong with the way modern society is organized and the direction in which it is evolving.

But the throwback to the Soviet era replete with symbolism, class warfare language and politburo intrigue is definitely doing a lot of harm.

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

class warfare has gone on for all human history. Why do you think the Soviets own that?

[-] 1 points by alldone (32) 5 years ago

True, but the Soviets took it to a whole new level by elevating it to the dark art form of propaganda.

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

OWS may be against the class warfare against the working/middle class (the 99%) but others inaccurately attach Soviet to that effort.

[-] 1 points by alldone (32) 5 years ago

If we are to achieve any meaningful change we have to get past the "us and them" mentality and move to the "we."

We are responsible for the current mess.

The we mentality leads to solutions, while the us and them mentality leads to abrogation of responsibility and always looking for some one to blame.

Those who seek power have always used the tactic of dividing people in order to gain power and nothing more. Let's not keep repeating history's mistakes.

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

We the people must assure that power and wealth is no longer concentrated amongst the 1%.

That is fair. That is just. So as long as the 1% supports that goal they can be "with us".

Any in opposition is not with "us".

How is that?

[-] 1 points by alldone (32) 5 years ago

Yes, I agree but to a point. I've been re-reading quite a bit of Orwell's work lately and his observation that "The real division is not between Conservatives and Revolutionaries but between Authoritarians and Libertarians." provides the clearest insight into both the problem and the solution.

I think we all agree that ultimately it is all about power. But there is a bit of Wizard of Oz going on here. Remember in the last part when Dorothy pulled back the curtain to reveal that the wizard was nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

Well that, I believe, pretty well sums the modern-day world. We have the power and always have but have also always delegated (at least in democracies) that power to our representatives, who quickly become corrupted by power to create the subset of 1% of elites.

Every time we talk in terms of us and them and how much power the 1% have all we do is simply reinforce the perception of our helplessness. In other words, we get taken in by the smoke and mirrors and fail to see the reality for what it really is and, hence, how to go forward.

My key objection to all the protests, sits-ins, clenched fist symbology, outright anger is that is all directed at a phantasm. Not that the 1% is a phantasm but the phantasm is that they have the power.

In the Game of Thrones there is a scene where Varys (I think) says something like “power lays where people think it lays.”

At the moment everyone thinks it lays with the 1% and all Occupy, unfortunately and unintentionally, is doing is reinforcing this perception, this phantasm.

If Occupy is fizzing out it is because it is directing all the energy at fighting this phantasm. The reason why no solution is emerging is because there is no solution to a phantasm. Fighting phantasms leads to nothing more than bickering, in-fighting and frustration.

Instead of trying to fight this phantasm we should be looking at ways to expose this phantasm and the best way to expose this phantasm is by starting to use the power the Internet has given us in constructive rather than destructive ways.

[-] 1 points by inclusionman (7064) 5 years ago

Occupy is not fizzing out. There is nophantasm the 1% really has taken over the peoples govt.

However WE are the most powerful force in the country and we have begun exercising it.

As long as we keep fighting the forces that have bought our govt we'll be fine.