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We kick the ass of the ruling class

People's Justice: Where does our authority and power derive?

Posted 9 months ago on June 28, 2014, 4:07 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: Badiou, Philosophy, Authority

Written by Micah White, PhD

Nothing is more offensive to our innate sense of justice than the continuing freedom of known financial criminals - financier fraudsters who used money as a weapon to commit well-documented crimes, stealing homes and jobs and life-savings from our parents, our friends, our comrades and neighbors. Blankfein et al are jetting around free as birds... and getting richer each fiscal quarter. Meanwhile we fear our piling up bills, pull our hair and wonder aloud, "Why haven't the guilty bankers been arrested? Why has not a single corporate megabank been put on trial? Why is Goldman Sachs still alive?" only to be reminded that our current system is unwilling, unable and unequipped to dispense justice on mega-banks.

If the regulators and the police and the courts and the President won't bring justice, then we the people must, right?

But how? By what right do "we, the people" have to take the law into our own hands? By what authority can we go out and handcuff the CEOs, put Chase on trial and pass a fair sentence? How do we step outside the established law and use vigilante justice while still being confident that what we are doing is righteous and just? At its core this is an essentially philosophical problem about the nature of authority that has been debated for centuries by revolutionary thinkers like Plato, Nietzsche, Benjamin, Derrida, Deleuze and now Alain Badiou, the 75 year old master philosopher, whose timely solution provides the ground for the mass arrest of the bankers.

In his recent book, The Rebirth of History, Badiou begins by unraveling the "we are the 99%" paradox which has plagued our movement: how can we be the 99% if only 1% of the world's population ever participated in our GA? Where does our authority and power derive if we are not the majority? Rather than increase the number of people in our movement - a process that destroys our insurrectionary impulse - Badiou argues that we must rid ourselves of the electoral notion that authority "emerges in the form of a numerical majority." Instead it is from events like Occupy - "historical riots, which are minoritarian but localized, unified and intense" - that the true "general will", or the abstract desires of the people, emerges... an argument that makes perfect sense when we consider how minuscule the first day of the Tahrir Uprising was and yet those people were better expressing the desires of their entire country than the tens of millions who stayed home.

Many of us already see our movement as the manifestation of the general will. For Badiou, it is now matter of courageously asserting that we represent an absolute truth about how the world should, and will from now on, be governed. We legitimize ourselves, Badiou argues, in the grand gesture of asserting that we are a "new political possibility". And we find our strength in "the authority of truth, the authority of reason." This explicit connection between authoritarian impulses and our horizontal movement may be surprising but Badiou believes an open embrace of people power is secretly what we desire, if not need. It is "precisely this dictatorial element that enthuses everyone just like the finally discovered proof of a theorem, a dazzling work of art or a finally declared amorous passion - all of them things whose absolute law cannot be defeated by any opinion." By whose authority will we arrest the bankers? In the end, the answer is simple: by our own authority as representatives of the people's will.

We are coming for you first, Goldman Sachs.

Micah White, Phd



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[-] 3 points by Axis116 (63) 9 months ago

We derive our power from being right.

[-] 1 points by MattHolck0 (2883) 9 months ago

and recording events

[-] 3 points by trashyharry (3155) from Waterville, NY 9 months ago

The freedom to walk down the street eating a hot dog you got for free is not real freedom.The freedom to vote for one or the other corporate candidate,neither of them concerned in the least by any issue that is relevant to 99% of the people is not freedom.The freedom to work at a job that pays less than the total of your bills is not freedom.The freedom to choose only those careers that can provide the means in the future to pay off huge debts incurred while in college is not freedom.The freedom to become a drug dealer because drugs and addicts are plentiful while jobs that pay enough to live on are not,is not freedom.Choosing to join the military because there is no suitable employment that pays a living wage is not real freedom.A foolish slogan from Mao's Cultural Revolution is still being used,but instead by Capitalists when they point to their rigged and overvalued stock markets which have created so much wealth for Elites since the Great Recession:"A cake in the picture appeases hunger." While the Elites travel between their gated estates and restricted access sections of our cities,bridges collapse and children are blown away by tornadoes and killed because there is no money to build safe rooms for them.There is no money to fix our crumbling infrastructure,or educate our young people.Millions of Americans' lives are ruined and wasted by unemployment.Americans will eventually realize that the Cake in the Picture of Capitalism is not going to help them with the difficulties they face in their day-to-day lives. Capitalism no longer has a use for them,except as impoverished participants in a Servant Economy,or permanently unemployed "excess labor." We the People must either submit,or commit to change.Hopefully sooner,rather than later.

[-] 2 points by publius31 (75) from Fort Lee, NJ 8 months ago

Our authority, like all authority, comes from supporting and advocating a position we believe in, and then convincing people we are correct, and then, applying our personal power by voting on that opinion and having it either become a law or fail to get a majority and start advocating the opinion again or giving up. But the dice Are loaded against us. We never get to use our fundamental voting right and responsibility, because we don't vote for laws, we vote for men who then sell our amassed votes that were given to him, for his own benefit. Representatives don't represent. If they did we wouldn't need to beg them to represent us after we voted for them. The Constitution needs changed so the people vote on the laws. We vote for 'The Voice' and 'American Idol', so we can vote on laws. A Constitutional Amendment along these lines is needed so we each have as much power as the next man: . The legislative function of the United States shall be performed directly by the people according to legislation that the people enact. 2. The right of citizens to directly vote for the laws under which they live shall not be abridged by the United States or by any State. See assosactualdemocracy.com.

[-] 2 points by Crackpot (53) 8 months ago

What are the procedures for amending the US Constitution?

The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures.

The Constitution provides that an amendment may be proposed either by the Congress with a two-thirds majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate or by a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the State legislatures. None of the 27 amendments to the Constitution have been proposed by constitutional convention. The Congress proposes an amendment in the form of a joint resolution. Since the President does not have a constitutional role in the amendment process, the joint resolution does not go to the White House for signature or approval.


[-] 2 points by publius31 (75) from Fort Lee, NJ 8 months ago

That is correct. To achieve Actual Democracy we must get 2/3 of Congress to vote to put themselves out of a job. And it will happen. It will happen because we will elect only representatives, Congressmen and Senators, who agree to do so. And because it is the absolutely right thing to happen for our nation.

[-] 1 points by Crackpot (53) 8 months ago

It was a lot easier when there were only 13 States. It would possible to know and have met and have rapport with the Senators and Members of the House from every State. But not 539 of them!.

[-] 1 points by publius31 (75) from Fort Lee, NJ 8 months ago

We did it 16 times since the Bill of Rights was passed, the First 10 Amendments. And most of them have been about expanding the number of people who could vote: 15th enabled every citizen regardless of race to vote. 17th made senators elected directly by the people and not the state legislature. 19th enabled women to vote. The 26th lowered the voting age to 18. It is far from impossible. And every one of the Amendments mentioned expanded the number of voters. The one offered to enact Actual Democracy would make every citizen a voter directly on the laws. Nothing else is democracy, freedom, or equality.

[-] 2 points by publius31 (75) from Fort Lee, NJ 8 months ago

We derive our power from our cooperation in government. With our votes we delegate our political power to our representatives. They take that power then use it against us. We complain, they laugh, get bought and paid for, and keep laughing. Revolution after revolution removes the 'bad representatives', or 'bad government' and replaces it with one honest, sincere, working for the people government, that shortly uses the power for its benefit: corruptible human nature. The answer? Vote directly for the laws under which we live: live in an actual democracy. Don't delegate away our voting power, be the legislature ourselves. That has the side effect of also being complete political equality: see http://assosactualdemocracy.com


[-] 1 points by JackHall (413) 9 months ago

“Our current system is unwilling, unable and unequipped to dispense justice on mega-banks.”

We owe it ourselves and to our ancestors and descendants to read the Declaration of Independence often. Once a year is not enough. This is a measurement for Americans to determine how far the country has drifted.from where it started as 13 colonies. What was most important for them should also be most important for us.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

We have a right to Occupy Wall St. and all other places. The people have been corralled by their own government.


The Declaration of Independence may be the key document. It authorizes the American People to alter or abolish the government and institute a new one, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Signed by the delegation from all of the colonies.

Something like a maximum wage and a 99.99% tax bracket will keep billionaires from wasting money gained by unregulated transactions. For instance, $1 billion, spent at the rate of $100,000/day would take 27 years to be exhausted. The $1 billion in an account earning 2% interest would generate $20 million that year. The $1 billion would take 60 years before exhausted earning 2% interest. At 3% it would take 130 years.

What would anyone spend $100K a day for that doesn’t impact the life and liberty of anyone else in a negative way? Buy a fleet of personal jets, sports cars, mansions, palaces, horses, islands? How would it be spent to have a positive impact on promoting the General Welfare of the People?

The results we can see in front of us raises the question. One out of 12 New York City residents is a millionaire. Should the standard of living and quality of life in New York City be a lot higher?

Why are rents so high in New York City? Real Estate prices are basic to cost of living. There are many cogs in the economy that need adjustment for a better life for all. We have the computing power to figure this out. It takes the political will to make the changes.

[-] 1 points by greevar (1) 9 months ago

What's the point in punishment? What good is meting out any "justice"? What use is authority? If our "justice" system has been indication, it's that punishment and crime are just reactionary measures to deviant behavior derived from underlying social problems. We aren't going to help our society by taking freedom away from those that exploit us. Punishment will not deter others from filling the power vacuum that would emerge if we remove the corrupt. As long as unequal power and its means to accessing it remain, there will always be someone exploiting it.

The more measured response is to render that power inert. That means dissolving the concentration of resources (e.g. human capital, industry, energy, commodities), make them abundant, and distribute them as widely as possible. The day people can voluntarily contribute in the ways they are most fulfilled, is the day we can say we are free people.

The Occupy movement, if I may be so bold, ought to form a new paradigm rather than act within the confines of the old one. That would be like trying to make a triangle into a square; the existing limitations don't allow it.

What I'm trying to say is that, focusing on the people exploiting a broken system is a distraction from solving the system itself. Putting BoA, Goldman Sachs, and their ilk on trial won't make a difference. The problem is that the system encourages and rewards exploitation. It gives incentive to create as much scarcity as possible and concentrate resources. It rewards a pyramid hierarchy. Render exploitation unprofitable, create as much abundant resources and means of production with tools for people to produce goods for themselves.

Most of all, if we want to stop the "1%" from exploiting us, we need to stop participating in their system.

[-] 1 points by trashyharry (3155) from Waterville, NY 9 months ago

LOL! "Drivin' the Train-High on Cocaine,Casey Jones had better,Watch that Speed ! Trouble Ahead ! Trouble Behind ! Don't You Know that Notion...just crossed my Mind ?"