Subject: "ON THE WALKING WOUNDED AND RE-ORGANIZING THE COMMUNITIES."
Thanksgiving Day 2012
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Many of you probably know the 17th-century English saw, popular at protests against the enclosures of public space by the early capitalists of England, who took the necessary precautions to assure that their actions were in accordance with their laws . . .
The law locks up the man or woman
Who steals the goose from off the common
But leaves the greater villain loose
Who steals the common from under the goose
This was the informal theme of the International Conference we held Monday, November 12, at Nanterre, where more than a dozen scholars and community activists from six nations, met for 12 hours, from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, to discuss their experiences and questions such as where do good ideas come from, and how can we possibly recognize important information without these ideas? Community organizers play an important role in helping communities achieve mental clarity each day in the often bewildering “information revolution” which we are now experiencing. It starts with perceptions and predispositions . . . .
The discussions at our November 12 Conference reflected a wide diversity of experiences –in the UK, the USA, Spain, southern France, Tunisia and Palestine— and the ideas were firmly anchored in the experience of community organizing, of one kind or another. From this common experience emerged the capacity to interpret the flows of information which were shared in every conversation and every discussion.
The November 12 Conference on “Community Organizing”
Our Compte Rendu
For more information about our November 12 Conference, please see ; CEIMSA Bulletin N°450
A. Round Table Discussion #1 :
Moderator : M. Francis Feeley, Professeur à L’Université de Grenoble.
1. Didier Giraud ……..……
2. Kawthar Guediri ….…...
3. Rehan Majid …...……….
4. Dominique Jégou …...…..
5. Hugo Persillet ……..……
B. Round Table Discussion #2 :
Moderator : M. Ronald Creagh, Professeur émérite à l’Université de Montpellier.
6. Kathy Coit …………....…
7. Jordi Forcadas ….………
8. Alexandre Lefebvre …….
9. Christophe André …….…
10. Nicolas Haeringer …...….
C. Round Table Discussion #3 :
Moderator : M. Hugo Persillet, Activiste avec l’association L’ORAGE, un coopérative d’éducation population à Grenoble.
11. Marielle Giraud ………....
12. Christine Majid ……….....
13. Habib El Garés ..................
14. Simon Morin ………….….
D. Michael Albert’s Presentation of Parecon and IOPS.
The Conference opened with Francis Feeley describing some of the contradictions in his life, which in many ways have determined his ideas and behavior over the years. He had acquired anti-organization biases from his experiences as a youth in South Texas, where the Hispanic population living around him were harshly discriminated against by what sometimes seemed as a hyper-organized phalanx of prejudiced people, a convivial community of white middle class bigots who presided over many varieties of physical, economic, and psychological violence against the Hispanic majority where he grew up on the Mexican border. He experienced the truth of the old adage: “The only thing worse than a nigger is a nigger-lover.” In south Texas, if you were ‘white” and didn’t share the prejudices toward Hispanics, you were worse than a “Mescan.” In polite society these feelings were not articulated, but they were nevertheless expressed. This racist community had to be disorganized from top to bottom before it could be reorganized to accommodate the legitimate human needs of all residents. The Civil Rights Movement across the United States, and later the massive anti-Vietnam War Movement were two important political forces which helped to achieve this transition toward a newly organized society where prejudice played a less important role, many years after his departure from the region.
At the first Roundtable Discussion on November 12, speakers referred to Martin Buber’s notion that community appears to always imply an external threat –real or imaginary-- which serves to bring people into cooperative relationships. The central question addressed at this first meeting, between 10h and 12h30, was: What is the role of the organizer in formulating aims and making people conscious of their motivations? Dominique Jégou began the discussion by expressing a certain skepticism about the role played by “outside agitators.” What gives an outsider the right to enter a community and manipulate peoples’ emotions in order to achieve a chosen end, even if he thinks his goal is morally superior to what actually exists in the community? After a brief reflection on this question of principle, Dominique shared with us his experiences living in solidarity with harshly persecuted Rom families in Grenoble during the winter of 2010-2011, where many were repeatedly rendered homeless due to violent police actions and widely held public indifference.
Didier Giraud, following Dominique, described his activities in a small town in Brittany, defending Basques (who were not terrorists) and later the “Voyageurs” in the region who, for Didier, represented a necessary social diversity which must be preserved and protected. The homogeneity of French social life is, he said, a threat to life itself, as the population becomes more paralyzed by a pathological desire to conform to some imaginary "Norm" (which can never be achieved, anyway). In this spirit, he described his experience of taking a group of 20 people on a field trip across the region to visit a series of concentration camps used by the Germans during World War II to clean up French society by rounding up the Roms, who were forced to sell their belongings, with the hope of staying alive a little longer, to the local population looking "good deals at low prices".
After Didier, Kawthar Guediri described in some detail her experiences with organizing Palestinians in Gaza, where each setback produces greater solidarity. The heartbreaking descriptions of personal losses, were followed by descriptions of warm reunions and new discussions of strategies and tactics to remain in the struggle against Israeli apartheid, selective assassinations, and massive violence against innocent communities.
Then, Rehan Majid described his experience in Leeds, working with the UK network, Coalition Against the War, and the diverse ethnic groups who oppose militarism. His experiences in Kashmir, where the Indian military have played a heavy-handed role in security and surveillance for many years now, made him conscious of the psychological effects of being an object of suspicion in what can only be described as an armed camp of military personnel., who have usurped all feeling of human dignity and left most residents highly vulnerable to the caprice of men with deadly weapons.
Finally, Hugo Persillet spoke about the very real form of popular education, not just for the tranfer of information, but also for the experience of sharing. Referring to the works of Paulo Friere, Hugo insisted that the teacher-student relationship in popular education is completely dissolved, and community sharing becomes the new norm, where each participant is both teacher and student. This, he argued, is the most efficient way to transfer information and ideas, because it does not construct artificial barriers between people which inhibits the immediate practice testing new ideas. This empowerment of ordinary people in popular education is necessary for constructing an authentic community in which everyone has a vested interest in good decision-making that produces autonomy, independence, and solidarity, and reduces alienation.
At 12h30 discussions continued over lunch.
We returned to the Amphitheater B-2 shortly after 13h30. The second Roundtable was moderated by Ronald Creagh, who quietly organized the ground rules of 15-minute presentation, with a 7-minute Q&A following each presentation. The discussion at this second meeting revolved around experiences confronting obstacles and constraints while engaging in community organizing. What are the consequences of “reductive thinking” when trying to mobilize a community with specific strategies and tactics? What is the difference between an “community organizer” and a “community leader”?
Christophe Andre began this discussion by explaining his motivation for organizing Utopian Festivals in Grenoble. The coming together of creative people to compare their experiences and to talk about projects –past, present, and future—constitutes a source of energy by which many more people become inspired. This experience of synergy has a multiplying effect, providing new ideas and energy to an ever-growing community. He uses interpersonal relationship techniques to replace traditional leadership formations with collective consensus, o that new relationship are encouraged and opportunities to express solidarity are plentiful throughout the days of the Festival. He is particularly interested in broadening the use of films in generating group discussions.
After several questions, Kathy Coit followed Christophe by describing her experiences organizing a Squat in 14th Arrondissement of Paris in the late 1970s. Her motivations for entering into the area, the solidarity she discovered with the residents of the neighborhood over the issue of a municipal plan to build a highway through the neighborhood, and problems she confronted with the ever-changing type of residents in the Squat over a period of a year-and-a-half. There was much discussion on changes within the political environment since Paris in the 1970s.
THE REVOLT OF THE POPULATION OF THE 14th ARRONDISSEMENT TO A PROGRAMME OF URBAN RENEWAL
by Katharine Coit
In 1975 a few of us found out that there would be a program of urban renewal in a working class part of the 14th arrondissement of Paris similar to that which had demolished a large part of the 13th arrondissement to rebuild hi-rise apartments far too expensive for the former inhabitants, sending them out to the distant suburbs. We held a meeting to inform the population of the 14th concerned. Out of this meeting a committee was created to spread the word and to find ways to prevent or modify this program. The inhabitants were encouraged to refuse any offers of rehousing or payment for their homes. In some cases building were squatted to prevent their destruction. In spite of no recognition from the city of the association defending the inhabitants, this action was partially if not fully successful in the long run. The city was obliged to devise a new program that was much less destructive, saving the street pattern and some of the buildings, allowing some of the population to remain.
Next, Alexandre Lefebvre followed Kathy talking about his experiences organizing the community where he lives in Grenoble. The “outside threat” which served to bring the community together was the municipal plan to make a huge tunnel a nearby mountain and build a highway through the community, along the Isère River. The fear derived from the well-known practice of wealthy individuals and large corporate interests coming into this area and violating laws such as the building codes, with the calculated cost of the fine as part of the total expense. Historically, legal prohibitions have not always been effective, and the anxiety of waking with a construction site at your front door was a real concern. This fear facilitated the organization of resistance, which eventually won the right for a municipal referendum, which defeated by popular vote the project of building a high way through the Ile Verte district of Grenoble. In the discussion that followed, Alexandre also described his interests in a software exchange project, in which new software is actually designed for specific purposes and exchanged free of charge for other services.
Nicolas Haeringer, editor of the journal Movement, described his coverage of “Occupy Wall Street”. Working in Marseille, he gained access to major players in the Wall Street movement and followed them closely as the movement split off into many different factions. Occupy banks, occupy house mortgages, and occupy student debt are only three of the dynamic factions that have evolved across the North American continent, mostly, but not limited to large cities. Nicolas described the new tactic called "Rolling Jubilee," to buy distressed student debts from financial firms, and then canceling it so that borrowers do not have to repay. Public fundraising events provide the capital to purchase these debts, often for pennies on the dollar. This was just one of the many creative tactics of taking back public space and public services, such as education, which should be free.
Jordi Forcadas followed Nicolas by describing his experiences organizing street theater in Barcelona, and going into Squats regularly to recruit actors. The scripts are developed by the actors themselves, and the theater is performed to an unsuspecting audience in public places. Rarely is the public informed that what they have just witnessed is theater. The goal of this popular art is to raise public consciousness of important social issues. Jordi insists that success is measured by the quality of change in people after experiencing these events, the transformation from the role of passive victim to consciously oppressed, thereby joining a group or class identity and learning to push back against identified oppressors.
Resumé en français
par Jordi Forcadas
La conférence a essayé de faire une approximation à la méthodologie proposée par le théâtre et la pédagogie de l'opprimé (Augusto Boal et Paulo Freire).
Nous avons donc questionné l'actuel système éducatif, celui où deux cents personnes sont assises devant une autre, appellé professeur, qui lit ses cours d'un cahier. Ceci est une éducation monologique où, comme disait Freire, l'éducation devient bancaire et nous sommes dépositaires de connaissances sans pourtant avoir développé un esprit critique.
Pour mieux comprendre la situation en Espagne, nous avons repris deux concepts essentielles du théâtre de l'opprimé: victime et opprimé. Notre situation actuelle mène un grand nombre de citoyens à se sentir victimes d'un système, où l'envergure de l'oppression structurelle est si importante qu'il est très compliqué de la changer. Tout cela entraîne une impuissance qui peut devenir une résignation inopérante.
Notre méthode prétend récupérer une attitude politique à partir d'une conscience critique. Être opprimé veut dire ne pas accepter les impositions arbitraires et exiger une justice et une éthique plus humaines. L'objectif est une recherche collective d'alternatives, tout en regroupant la plus part de profils sociaux possibles.
Pour continuer le débat, nous avons proposé un exercice plus pratique. Parmi le théâtre image, le corps des assistants a représenté par moyen d'images les concepts de politique et activisme.
À travers les interprétations suggérées par les images, nous avons établi un parallélisme entre les deux mots, leurs points en commun et leurs divergences. La politique est mal vue par la majorité de citoyens, surtout par les jeunes. Cela est dû à la situation actuelle et au rôle que les hommes et femmes politiques ont adopté pour servir avec soumission la sphère économique.
Pour finir, nous avons énuméré ce qui a été consolidé depuis le 15 mai 2011:
- Groupes de lutte contre les hypothèques, groupes de dénonce à travers l'art et d'autres groupes de résistance. Organisations locales qui travaillent chez leurs communautés suivant une ligne de résistance.
Les défis les plus urgents à faire face sont les suivants:
- Consensus de différents groupes qui sont liés au mouvement des indignés.
- Être capables de choisir des représentants avec pouvoir de décision qui puissent rentrer dans un dialogue social avec tous les agents et institutions.
- Maintenir les groupes existants afin qu'ils ne perdent pas leur élan initial dû à l'usure et au passage du temps.
Following the discussion around Jordi’s presentation we broke for coffee and cake; then we gathered for the third and final Roundtable discussion at 16h30. At this table we continued our discussion on challenges to community organizing: What compromises and alternatives have had to be invented to resolve unexpected problems. How have the solutions to local problems affected larger global concerns, such as environment, war, health, and growing rates of poverty?
Hugo Persillet moderated this discussion. He invited Marielle Giraud to begin the discussion by describing her experience with the international community of Esperantists, of which she has been a member for many years. Psycho-linguistic resistance to nationalist ideology occurs when you speak Esperanto; you simply find yourself feeling and thinking differently, she explained. She gave the example experiences on two different trips she had made to China. Traveling with a French friend, she found herself entirely integrated on a bus heading into the mountains in China. Beside her sat an old man in his 80s. As they talked she became aware that he was a famous physician, for whom a medical center had been named in the city of …..
A little more than a year later, she hosted him at her home in a village in Brittany. In his retirement, he had taken up art, and was particularly fond of sculpting in wood. In a rather remarkable way, he was able to fashion his own tools for working the wood. He also made appliqué panels with sand, wood, leaves, and any other materials which happened to catch his fancy. The point Marielle thought it important to note was that individual creativity was as base a collective experience. The inspiration, the encouragement, the innovation came from social relations, and the international language of Esperanto tapped new experiences, and new sources of energy which crystallized unexpected and often delightful expressions. It represented a successful amalgam of unity in diversity –one language, many experiences.
« Résistance linguistique et Esperanto », un resumé par Marielle GIRAUD.
Une élite de possédants, une classe moyenne, la masse des deshérités : cette représentation pyramidale de l’ordre mondial proposée par Alinski s’applique tout autant à l’état mondial des langues.
Sous l’égide d’une langue dominante, une quinzaine de langues contrôlent l’essentiel de la communication linguistique. Une centaine d’autres sont officiellement reconnues. Parmi les autres - environ 6000 - 90% sont actuellement menacées. Leur extinction, prévue au rythme moyen d’une langue par semaine pendant un siècle, signifie la perte d’un patrimoine essentiel sur les plans scientifique, culturel et humain.
Au cours de l’Histoire, les rapports de domination entre les langues ont largement contribué à la manipulation identitaire des masses par les Etats en quête d’éléments constitutifs d’ identités nationales exploitables, notamment en matière de patriotisme. C’est en réaction à ce phénomène que le Dr L. Zamenhof, né en 1859 au cœur des conflits ethniques en limite de l’Empire russe, entre Polonais, Lithuaniens, Allemands, Russes et Juifs, créa la langue internationale Esperanto, conçue comme instrument d’un pacifisme concret entre les hommes.
Destiné à permettre entre les individus des contacts égalitaires directs, exempts de conflits nationalistes, ethniques ou religieux, tout en contribuant à la sauvegarde de la diversité linguistique, l’Esperanto, « langue sans frontières », a pris place désormais parmi les outils pratiques d’une résistance originale contre l’ordre planétaire dominant.
Christine Majid described her experiences founding and directing an association designed to help the destitute population of immigrants living in Leeds. The Project Manager for Positive Action For Refugees and Asylum Seekers (PAFRAS) began as a desperate attempt to find food and shelter for Christine’s neighbors who were loosing the benefits of a dying system of social services. The “reforms” of Margret Thatcher were in full swing, and these people simply had no place to go. Her efforts aimed literally to keep as many as she could alive, and then to involve them in the process of pushing back, so that they would not regress into a passive dependency. She does this by inviting them to join her in administrative and political work, soliciting funds and commodities for the more prosperous population and remaining visible on the streets of Leeds. Their contribution to the community is to remain poor so that others can become rich, and they demand a recognition and an allowance for their services, as the Commonwealth degenerates into private property held by the few.
Habib El Garés followed Christine’s discussion with a presentation on Arab Spring in Tunisia and its aftermath. He talked about the events that led up to the Arab spring in Tunisa beginning in December er 2010. On December 17, 2010, at 11h30, Mohamed Bouazizi, a young a street vendor, emulated himself in front of a government office in the rural Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid. The local police had confiscated his cart and the vegetables he had purchased the day before. Before his death on 4 January, Tunisia's President Ben Ali made a televised visit to the hospital room where Bouazizi lay in a comma. Bouazizi’s last words on the street corner before he lit the match were: “How do you expect me to make a living?”
The history of Tunisia, according to Habib, is a history of colonization, wave after wave for the past 2,800 years. The Phoenicians crossed from the Eastern Mediterranean to establish Carthage around 800 B.C. Between the 5th century and the 3rd century BC, Greeks challenged the Phoenician dominance of the area; then in 201 BC, the Punic wars with Rome began, ending with the complete destruction of Carthage in 146 BC. In 439 AD, the Vandals invaded the region; then came the Byzantines in 533. In 670 they were invaded by the Arabs; then Turkish pirates came and stayed beginning in 1574. In 1881, Tunisia became a French Colony, negotiating its independence only in 1956. This colonial history speaks to a collective experience of organizing a community form the top down. The invaders brought a kind of social order, based on economic and/or military might; the indigenous population adapted as best they could each time to the new order imposed on them, but, as Habib pointed out, this adaptation was not a passive acceptance; instead the indigenous population were challenged to learn the rules of a new game, and to play it as best they could to their own advantage. This explains the resilience, the resourcefulness, and the creativity of the Tunisian people today, who are faced with a regressive regime attempting to impose new constraints on the population in guise of religious dogma. We may anticipate that the new resistance will take many forms.
The third Roundtable discussion ended with a discussion by Simon Morin, who participates with the international group “Post K,” which concerns itself with post-capitalist economics, and the Grenoble associations, “Antigone” and “Faranches.” Simon described his experiences working with economic theory and trying to make theory relevant to the everyday lives of people living in the community where he is active. The need to act and to analyze the effects one is having in the community requires clear communication with people one can trust and interact with directly. When problems arise of many different kinds, the need to have the vocabulary, concepts, and categories necessary to resolve problems, whether in interpersonal relations or with factions within the community, is of primary importance. Simon’s experience has taught him to share the problems he confronts and to rely on discussions with other members of his community to find solutions that go beyond his private interests and meet the social interest of the community for the maximum benefit of himself and the group of which he is a part.
We concluded the day on Community Organizing with a talk by Michael Albert on “Participatory Economics” and the recently established association, The International Organization for a Participatory Society (IOPS). In a very original encounter, Michael provoked his audience with seemingly aimless questions, which soon crystallized to make apparent to everyone that democracy in our lives is sorely lacking. He went on to explain the principles of Parecon and the practicalities of how to make it work in everyday life. His presentation was conducted in an unorthodox manner, with much humor and occasional self-criticisms. Likewise, the introduction he made to the new international network which he and others from the ZNet Collective initiated about six months ago, was compelling. Already some 4,000 people, representing local chapters in cities and towns in over 90 countries, have joined IOPS. [The home page of IOPS can be found at: http://www.iopsociety.org/.] Michael described the motivations behind this organization, and the outline of its mission. It is essentially a bottom-up organization, based on consensus decision-making. One of its guiding principles is to nurture an environment of DIVERSITY, so that alternative forms of social interaction can be invented and develop to prosper in the future. The future should be determined by those who live it; we today should aim at improving our own lives with the intention of also contributing to the well being of future generations, when possible. In the Q&A after his talk, he emphasized that IOPS was not a political party, that the political tradition of Democratic Centralism must be reformed to encourage alternative formations within a consensus to assure the general well being. Imaginary threats to this collective well-being, and other manipulations which attempt to legitimate the adoption of authoritarian “security measures” must be exposed and dealt with, if diversity is to prosper. Without mentioning it by name, Michael Albert invoked Robert Michel’s famous political theory, “the Iron Law of Oligarchy” (1911) and suggested that by adopting specific measures in decision making, which are now being promoted by IOPS, such a social division of labor could be averted.
Following the conclusion of Michael Albert’s two-hour presentation, Francis Feeley concluded the conference at 21h, with a few words, thanking the participants for their generosity in sharing valuable experiences at this meeting, from which many valuable ideas were drawn. The proceedings of the entire conference were filmed and will be published on the Internet before Christmas.
The next move was our rendez-vous at Le Restaurant Bouillon, Belle Époque restaurant in the Latin Quarter of Paris; there we gathered to continue our conversations over good food and drink, until after midnight.
In the 7 items below, CEIMSA readers may discover new needs to become acquainted with a community organizer, someone who can help to disolve the alienation that reduces our lives so drastically to clichés and formula thinking, somone prepared to help us deprogram our minds and learn to accept our birthright to be human among humans, to free ourselves from everyday delusions.
Item A., is a commentary from the reading of R.D. Laing’s The Politics of Experience.
Item B., sent to us by University of Pennsylvania Professor of Finance, Edward S. Herman is a recent article by the Israeli newpaper, Haaretz, on Israeli self-deceptions.
Item C., from NYU Professor of Politics, Bertell Ollman, is an article by by James Petras, on “Tropical Storm Sandy: Natural or Political Disaster?”
Item D. is a commentary on "Sabra et Chatila, 30 years later…."
Item E., from University of California Professor of Art, Fred Lonidier, is an announcement for the November 26 opening of an Art Exhibit in San Diego, California on “socially engaged practices from 1991-2011.”
Item F. is an artivle by Richard Wolff on Obama’s re-election.
And finally, we offer CEIMSA readers a rare opportunity to view the creative response to 21st –Century bondage :
Rolling Jubilee: Buying Up Distressed Debt, Occupy Offshoot Bails Out the People, Not the Banks
An offshoot of Occupy Wall Street has launched a new movement called "Rolling Jubilee" to buy distressed debt from financial firms, often for pennies on the dollar, and then canceling it so that borrowers do not have to repay. The people who incurred the debt in the first place then get a certified letter informing them they are off the hook. Typically, financial institutions sell debt for pennies on the dollar to third parties who either try to collect on it or bundle it up for resale. However, the Rolling Jubilee activists say they are buying up the debt in order to "liberate debtors at random through a campaign of mutual support, good will, and collective refusal." Tonight, Rolling Jubilee is holding a sold-out benefit concert in New York City to continue its anti-debt fundraising. The group says it has already raised $129,000 through online donations, which is enough to buy approximately $2.5 million worth of defaulted loans, due to their steep markdowns. We’re joined by Pamela Brown, a Ph.D. student in sociology at the New School and one of the organizers of the Rolling Jubilee. She also is participating in the Occupy Sandy efforts to organize local relief efforts to people hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
Director of Research
Université de Paris 10
From the One-Hundredth Monkey: On the murders in Gaza . . . .
From Francis Feeley :
Date: 22 November 2012
Subject: The gadarene swine fallacy.
The GSF is the fallacy of supposing that because a group is in the right formation, it is necessarily on the right course; and conversely, of supposing that because an individual has strayed from the group and isn't in formation, that he is off course. The individual may seem lost to the group but not off course to an ideal observer.
Background: Gadara was the ancient city of Palestine southeast of the Sea of Galilee and subsequently destroyed. The name was later adopted by a district east of Jordan and called Gadarenes, or Gergesenes. It was the site of the famous miracle of the swine, in which Jesus conjured demonic spirits into the body of swine and let them perish in the sea. The story is recounted in the Synoptic Gospels.
This fallacy is elucidated in R.D. Laing's Politics of Experience. Here is an excerpt from that work:
From an ideal vantage point on the ground, a formation of planes may be observed in the air. One plane may be out of formation. But the whole formation may be off course. The plane that is 'out of formation' may be abnormal, bad or 'mad,' from the point of view of the formation. But the formation itself may be bad or mad from the point of view of the ideal observer. The plane that is out of formation may also be more or less off course than the formation itself is.
The 'out of formation' criterion is the clinical positivist criterion. The 'off course' criterion is the ontological. One needs to make two judgments along these different parameters. In particular, it is of fundamental importance not to confuse the person who may be 'out of formation' by telling him he is 'off course' if he is not. It is of fundamental importance not to make the positivist mistake of assuming that, because a group are 'in formation,' this means they are necessarily 'on course.' This is the Gadarene swine fallacy.
From Edward A. Herman :
Date: 21 November 2012
Israel's 'right to self-defense' - a tremendous propaganda victory
By Amira Hass
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 Kislev 6, 5773
One of Israel's tremendous propaganda victories is that it has been accepted as a victim of the Palestinians, both in the view of the Israeli public and that of Western leaders who hasten to speak of Israel's right to defend itself. The propaganda is so effective that only the Palestinian rockets at the south of Israel, and now at Tel Aviv, are counted in the round of hostilities. The rockets, or damage to the holiest of holies - a military jeep - are always seen as a starting point, and together with the terrifying siren, as if taken from a World War II movie, build the meta-narrative of the victim entitled to defend itself.
Every day, indeed every moment, this meta-narrative allows Israel to add another link to the chain of dispossession of a nation as old as the state itself, while at the same time managing to hide the fact that one continuous thread runs from the 1948 refusal to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes, the early 1950s expulsion of Bedouin from the Negev desert, the current expulsion of Bedouin from the Jordan Valley, ranches for Jews in the Negev, discrimination in budgets in Israel, and shooting at Gazan fishermen to keep them from earning a respectable living. Millions of such continuous threads link 1948 to the present. They are the fabric of life for the Palestinian nation, as divided as it may be in isolated pockets. They are the fabric of life of Palestinian citizens of Israel and of those who live in their lands of exile.
But these threads are not the entire fabric of life. The resistance to the threads that we, the Israelis, endlessly spin is also part of the fabric of life for Palestinians. The word resistance has been debased to mean the very masculine competition of whose missile will explode furthest away (a competition among Palestinian organizations, and between them and the established Israeli army ). It does not invalidate the fact that, in essence, resistance to the injustice inherent in Israeli domination is an inseparable part of life for each and every Palestinian.
The foreign and international development ministries in the West and in the United States knowingly collaborate with the mendacious representation of Israel as victim, if only because every week they receive reports from their representatives in the West Bank and Gaza Strip about yet another link of dispossession and oppression that Israel has added to the chain, or because their own taxpayers' money make up for some of the humanitarian disasters, large and small, inflicted by Israel.
On November 8, two days before the attack on the holiest of holies - soldiers in a military jeep - they could have read about IDF soldiers killing 13-year old Ahmad Abu Daqqa, who was playing soccer with his friends in the village of Abassan, east of Khan Yunis. The soldiers were 1.5 kilometers from the kids, inside the Gaza Strip area, busy with "exposing" (a whitewashed word for destroying ) agricultural land. So why shouldn't the count of aggression start with a child? On November 10, after the attack on the jeep, the IDF killed another four civilians, aged 16 to 19.
Leaders of the West could have known that, before the IDF's exercise last week in the Jordan Valley, dozens of Bedouin families were told to evacuate their homes. How extraordinary that IDF training always occurs where Bedouin live, not Israeli settlers, and that it constitutes a reason to expel them. Another reason. Another expulsion. The leaders of the West could also have known, based on the full-color, chrome-paper reports their countries finance, that since the beginning of 2012, Israel has destroyed 569 Palestinian buildings and structures, including wells and 178 residences. In all, 1,014 people were affected by those demolitions.
We haven't heard masses of Tel Aviv and southern residents warning the stewards of the state about the ramifications of this destruction on the civilian population. The Israelis cheerfully wallow in their ignorance. This information and other similar facts are available and accessible to anyone who's really interested. But Israelis choose not to know. This willed ignorance is a foundation stone in the building of Israel's sense of victimization. But ignorance is ignorance: The fact that Israelis don't want to know what they are doing as an occupying power doesn't negate their deeds or Palestinian resistance.
In 1993, the Palestinians gave Israel a gift, a golden opportunity to cut the threads tying 1948 to the present, to abandon the country's characteristics of colonial dispossession, and together plan a different future for the two peoples in the region. The Palestinian generation that accepted the Oslo Accords (full of traps laid by smart Israeli lawyers) is the generation that got to know a multifaceted, even normal, Israeli society because the 1967 occupation allowed it (for the purpose of supplying cheap labor) almost full freedom of movement. The Palestinians agreed to a settlement based on their minimum demands. One of the pillars of these minimum demands was treating the Gaza Strip and West Bank as a single territorial entity.
But once the implementation of Oslo started, Israel systematically did everything it could to make the Gaza Strip into a separate, disconnected entity, as part of Israel's insistence on maintaining the threads of 1948 and extending them. Since the rise of Hamas, it has done everything to back up the impression Hamas prefers - that the Gaza Strip is a separate political entity where there is no occupation. If that is so, why not look at things as follows:
As a separate political entity, any incursion into Gazan territory is an infringement of its sovereignty, and Israel does this all the time. Does the government of the state of Gaza not have the right to respond, to deter, or at least the masculine right - a twin of the IDF's masculine right - to scare the Israelis just as Israel scares the Palestinians?
But Gaza is not a state. Gaza is under Israeli occupation, despite all the verbal acrobatics of both Hamas and Israel. The Palestinians who live there are part of a people whose DNA contains resistance to oppression.
In the West Bank, Palestinian activists try to develop a type of resistance different from the masculine, armed resistance. But the IDF puts down all popular resistance with zeal and resolve. We haven't heard of residents of Tel Aviv and the south complaining about the balance of deterrence the IDF is building against the civilian Palestinian population.
And so Israel again provides reasons for more young Palestinians, for whom Israel is an abnormal society of army and settlers, to conclude that the only rational resistance is spilled blood and counter-terrorizing. And so every Israeli link of oppression and all Israeli disregard of the oppression's existence drags us further down the slope of masculine competition.
From Bertell Ollman :
Date: 15 November 2012
Subject: New essay by Petras - Tropical Storm Sandy: Natural or Political Disaster?
See below for the best thing I've seen on Hur. Sandy. Touches all the right bases. Perfect for your list. Petras produces one of these every few weeks. You really should use more of his stuff.
Tropical Storm Sandy: Natural or Political Disaster?
“Homes still lack power a week on”.
Financial Times11/5/12, p. 3
“Households suffer without power as temperatures fall and storm looms”.
Financial Times11/6//12, p. 3
“Climate change needs action but it has a cost”
Financial Times11/5/12, p. 4
“City accused of not acting on plan”
Financial Times11/1/12, p. 3
What has the world’s biggest and most costly ‘national security state’ have to do with securing the life, livelihood and property of the global financial capital of the world? Virtually nothing!
Ten days after tropical storm Sandy struck, over 730,000 people still lacked electricity in New York and New Jersey and nearly 150,000 in New York City. Nearly 50,000 families are without housing; hundreds of thousands wait in the cold for water, food and gasoline deliveries. Millions crowd barely operating public transport, as tempers flare: commuters push and shove to get to work, school and to meet their daily obligations.
Mainstream media emphasize the ‘forces of nature’, blaming the storm for the losses. The ‘alternative media’ point to climate change. The former ignore the fact that the socio-economic impact of the storm is result of political-economic decisions; the latter overlook the specific short-term policies which could have prevented or lessened the impact of the storm. Imperial Capabilities and Domestic Neglect
Three long and short-term inter-related factors were responsible for the loss of over a hundred lives and $50 billion dollars in property damage: Neo-liberal policies, climate change and militarist empire building leading to domestic neglect and decay. Addressing these policy issues helps us answer most of the questions raised byte multitude of angry New York and New Jersey residents. Compilation of the questions from the victims would include: Why no civil defense – no serious effort at crises prevention? Why no protective levees, protective walls, evacuation plans? Why prolonged delays in state delivery of food, water, gas? Why the breakdown in the recovery of electricity by the private utility companies, especially in poor neighborhoods? Why the breakdown of the infrastructure?
These and other basic questions point to long-term, large-scale structural weaknesses, especially the misallocation of hundreds of billions of dollars in public resources from domestic priorities to empire building and financial bailouts. Militarism Abroad Amidst Domestic Decay
The US government annually spends over $800 billion dollars on weapons, overseas military bases (over 700), military roads, highways, bridges and troop transport; it spends unpublished billions funding clandestine proxy wars, private mercenaries, Special Forces ‘operations and puppet regimes on four continents. Federal, state and municipal regimes spend billions on “Homeland Security” and its local subsidiaries engaged in spying on 40 million US citizens and persecuting Muslim citizens and residents while arresting, deporting and profiling millions of Hispanic and Asian immigrants.
Inappropriately named, “Homeland Security” actually creates domestic insecurity via police state methods and by failing to protect and secure the lives, property and livelihood of millions of US citizens, as shown so clearly by the plight of millions in the aftermath of tropical storm Sandy.
Homeland Security, with its million-member bureaucracy and subsidiaries has had years to prepare for massive storm-induced coastal flooding and power outages. Official reports, prepared by experts three years prior to Hurricane Sandy, high-lighted the vulnerability of power stations, subway systems and high rise apartments. But Homeland Security was too occupied with X-raying and sniffing travelers at airports, train and bus stations and tapping citizens’ phones, faxes and internet communications. At least 10 days before the storm hit the Eastern coast, the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA) was informed of its trajectory and likely impact. Yet nothing was done to mobilize temporary housing and gasoline reserves. Instead the FEMA functionaries sat passively in their offices and after the storm, registered the requests of the desperate scores of thousands of homeless victims. FEMA’s top bureaucrat, Craig Fugate, told the victims they should not expect any prompt recovery. “This will not be done in months. This will not be done in a year” (Financial Times, 11/5/12, p.3.).
Yet millions of dollars flow daily to NATO proxies in Libya, Somalia and Syria. The seeming paralysis and obvious inefficiency of Homeland Security is not due to lack of personnel, information or funds. It is no accident that Homeland Security is not prepared to intervene on behalf of US citizens in crisis. Their personnel are trained, rewarded and promoted according to the number and “quality” of terrorists suspects they identify and monitor. They are at their best (or worst) in profiling and entrapping Muslim suspects and activists and not in mobilizing tankers and ships to transport gasoline and bring mobile homes for the homeless disaster victims.
When it comes to mobilizing a naval armada for the Persian Gulf to intimidate Iran or to supply Israel with the most up-to-date weaponry, the Pentagon “engages” post-haste; but when it comes to evacuating thousands of elderly, disabled and vulnerable Americans trapped in high-rise apartments without light or heat, the Marines are nowhere to be seen.
Obviously the empire is “efficient” abroad and homeland security is deficient at home because empire politics dominate the political agenda as defined byte President, the Congress and their state and local satraps. Neo-liberalism and the Making of Natural Disasters The Stock Market was upend running in two days. Their electronic board was lit. Billion-dollar bets were flashed to millionaire traders, while two million residents of Greater New York shivered in darkness. Was this telling us what and who have class priorities to essential services? In his first term, the Obama regime poured $4trillion of public money to save the Wall Street speculators. The latter have recovered and surpassed pre-crises profit margins. New York State and municipal governments have granted multi-billion dollar tax concessions towel Street and private corporations, while the public infrastructures, subways, transport, highways, electrical systems and civil defense have been starved for funds.
The “storm” did not “cause” the human disaster! Neo-liberal policies, as well as the financial and political powers backing them, ensured that the City and its most vulnerable citizens would be adversely affected. Infrastructure deteriorations, breakdown of water and sanitation and prolonged electrical blackouts are products of public disinvestment and private profit-taking; delays in repairing the electric grid are products of cuts in the labor force. While the state and federal government compiles detailed data files on every mosque, and Muslim charity donor and whoever else might voice criticism of the State of Israel, it has no ‘data’ on our vulnerable elderly and disabled citizens trapped in high rises, public housing and nursing homes. These citizens suffered cold, thirst and hunger in darkness and many lacked medicine. Some died. None existed in the priority registries of Homeland Security.
The tax write-offs, granted to Wall Street firms, could have financed the entire upgrading of our civil defense; public ownership and investment could have upgraded and secured our electrical grid. Environmentally and socially conscious politicians would have given priority to implementing the recommendations from expert scientists and engineers to meet the rising dangers from earth warming and climate change. Instead, free market ideology dictated that the promotion of finance, insurance and real estate capital in New York and New Jersey should dominate the public agenda. Climate Change
New York City, the self-appointed cultural and intellectual center of the United States, had recognized the dangers of climate change: its public officials had even appointed a committee of experts to study the problem. They issued timely report warning of the dire consequences of doing nothing. Typical of New York City politics, such critical committee reports would have provided ‘symbolic gratification ‘for liberals, the illusion that something ‘progressive’ might be in the works. And so speakers at radical forums could congratulate themselves that they had spoken up about the consequences of climate change. And then came Sandy.
In fact virtually nothing had been done. Worse, nothing is being done even at the most immediate and tragic level of aiding the millions of victims. Governor Cuomo utters meaningless threats to ConEd for the prolonged delays and blatant failures to restore power. The sufferers, backed up at the gas stations, vent their anger against each other. Price gouging is rampant. Private charities, neighbors and citizens make do with micro-aid programs. The vast US Empire crumbles internally from the dry rot of decaying infrastructure. Its citizens slosh through overflowing sewers. President Obama opposed carbon controls while promoting the massive extraction of more coal, oil and gas through techniques like hydraulic fracking and more carbon dioxide and green-house gases fill the air. The world-famous New York Philharmonic can play a “Requiem for the New Atlantis” as more waves inundate lower Manhattan. Meanwhile, the impregnable Wall Street re-locates inland; its move financed by the impoverished upstate municipalities’ massive tax write-offs to the billionaires.
Long live the Empire State! Long live the Big Apple!
Date: 22 September 2012
Subject: Sabra et Chatila, 30 ans.
Sur le blog de Raoul-Marc JENNAR
From Fred Lonidier :
Date: 30 August 2012
Subject: Art Exhibit in San Diego, California on “socially engaged practices from 1991-2011.
© Leticia Chavez and the University Art Gallery
LIVING AS FORM (the nomadic version)
socially engaged practices from 1991-2011
November 26, 4:00 - 6:30 pm
UC San Diego, Structural and Materials Engineering (SME) Performance Space
Roundtable with Nato Thompson (chief curator, Creative Time) Agitprop, Cog*nate Collective, The Periscope Project and Torolab, moderated by Grant Kester (Professor of Art History, UCSD)
For this roundtable discussion, five local artist collectives working in the San Diego-Tijuana region, who were commissioned for Living as Form (The Nomadic Version), are joined by Creative Time chief curator Nato Thompson. The discussion will be moderated by UAG gallery director and UCSD professor of art history, Grant Kester.
Since January 2007, Nato has organized major projects for Creative Time such as The Creative Time Summit (2009 and 2010), Paul Ramirez Jonas's: Key to the City (2010), Jeremy Deller's It is What it is with New Museum curators Laura Hoptman and Amy Mackie (2009), Democracy in America: The National Campaign (2008), Paul Chan's acclaimed Waiting for Godot in New Orleans (2007) and Mike Nelson's A Psychic Vacuum with curator Peter Eleey. Previously, he worked as Curator at MASS MoCA where he completed numerous large-scale exhibitions including The Interventionists: Art in the Social Sphere (2004) with a catalogue distributed by MIT Press. His writings have appeared in numerous publications including BookForum, Frieze, Art Journal, Art Forum, Parkett, Cabinet and The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest. The College Art Association awarded him for distinguished writing in Art Journal in 2004. He curated the exhibition for Independent Curators International titled Experimental Geography with a book available by Melville House Publishing. His book Seeing Power: Socially Engaged Art in the Age of Cultural Production is due out by Melville House in December 2012.
Was founded in 2007 by artist David White with the help of numerous other individuals. The goal of the space was to blur the lines between the individual Artist, the Studio, the Gallery and the Neighborhood; and to re-imagine the form of the Gallery as tool for long term engagement with a particular locality. This engagement is implemented through collaborations across individuals, artists, small businesses, community activists and institutions. Some of these collaborations include the Agitprop reading and performance series established by poet James Meetze and currently curated by K. Lorraine Graham; a collaboration with the San Diego Museum of Art in creating the Summer Salon Series- (just completing its third year) an annual fourteen week series of installations, performances and talks that range from local to internationally recognized artists; and projects such as There Goes The Neighborhood - a four day event series that works with artists, activists, small businesses and neighborhood groups to produce installations, talks and performances that draw attention to, and offer an innovative forum for dialogue on issues relevant to changing conditions throughout San Diego's first ring neighborhoods. Agitprop's work has been featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, The New Children's Museum and at the 2010 California Biennial and in publications such as ArtForum and Wired magazine.
Cog*nate Collective was founded in 2010, with the intent to engage the various groups that inhabit the San Diego/ Tijuana border including vendors, both formal and informal, and the thousands crossing between the two nations. Cog*nate's projects aim to analyze and create conditions for exchange between these groups across social, cultural and economic registers to activate the crossing as a space for public dialogue. After a year of research at the Mercado de Artesanias de la Linea, Cog*nate founded Espacio cognado/Cog*nate space within the market, located between the lanes of US-bound traffic at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Since the summer of 2011, Cog*nate space has served as a space to develop and carry out site-specific interventions in collaboration with shop owners and pedestrians at the crossing, and also served as exhibition space for shows with local artists from both sides of the border. The space has housed a workshop series for children who live and work at the crossing, and collaborations with Tijuana Poetry collective Colectivo Intransigente and Tijuana audio/visual collective BULBO. The space has also hosted an artist exchange/residency with Montreal based Art Center Dare-Dare, and an artisan residency with Mujeres Mixtecas, a Tijuana collective of Indigenous Artisans. As part of the UC San Diego University Art Gallery's iteration of Living as Form (the nomadic version), Cog*nate's newest endeavor is Borderblaster, which brings together the voices of vendors, artisans, artists, and activists in a series of conversations, readings, and interviews. Cog*nate Collective is coordinated by Amy Sanchez and Misael Diaz.
THE PERSICOPE PROJECT
The Periscope Project is a not-for-profit organization (501(c)3 pending) comprised of a space and cooperative, committed to the transdisciplinary nexus of art, architecture, and regional urban issues. It is operated by a rotating group of core individuals (currently, James Enos, Molly Enos, and Charles Miller). Operating as studio workspace occupied by a rotating core cooperative, and re-programmable exhibition and event space in a unique urban context, the project works to provide amenities for students, artists, designers, scholars and activists working with and in response to their urban environment. TPP occupies five arranged intermodal shipping containers on a sliver lot in San Diego's East Village. These unique architectural circumstances provide readymade work, exhibition, and community organizing space, while simultaneously existing as an architectural counterpoint to the status quo of San Diego's urban landscape-enriching a dialog about how these spaces come to be, and what is to become of them.
Raúl Cárdenas Osuna is the founder and director of Torolab(est. 1995, Tijuana), a collective workshop and laboratory of contextual studies that identifies situations or phenomena of interest for research. Research themes that Torolab have developed until now range from the identity of the border region, to housing and security, to community building and survival, to public space, to economic and ecological sustainability, to nutritional poverty. Torolab's work has been shown nationally and internationally at various venues, including: MoMA New York; Museum of Modern Art of Louisiana, Denmark; Museum of Contemporary Art of San Diego; LA(X)ART, Los Angeles; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museum of Contemporary Art of Sydney; the Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York; Havana Biennial; Liverpool Biennial; 2004 Beijing Biennial of Architecture; 2011 Mercosur Biennale; and 2009 Lyon Biennale.
Grant Kester is Professor of Art History, and Director of the University Art Gallery at the University of California, San Diego. Kester is one of the leading figures in the emerging critical dialogue around "relational" or "dialogical" art practices. His publications include Art, Activism and Oppositionality: Essays from Afterimage (Duke University Press, 1998), Conversation Pieces: Community and Communication in Modern Art (University of California Press, 2004) and The One and the Many: Contemporary Collaborative Art in a Global Context (Duke University Press, 2011). His curatorial projects include Unlimited Partnerships: Collaboration in Contemporary Art at CEPA Gallery in Buffalo, New York in 2000 and Groundworks: Environmental Collaborations in Contemporary Art at Carnegie Mellon University in 2005. Kester's essays have been published in The Blackwell Companion to Contemporary Art Since 1945 (Blackwell, 2005), Theory in Contemporary Art Since 1945 (Blackwell, 2004), Poverty and Social Welfare in America: An Encyclopedia (ABC-Clio, 2004), Politics and Poetics: Radical Aesthetics for the Classroom (St. Martins Press, 1999), the Encyclopedia of Aesthetics (Oxford University Press, 1998), and Ethics, Information and Technology: Readings (McFarland, 1997) as well as journals including Afterimage, Art Journal, E-Flux Journal, October, Variant (Scotland), Public Art Review, Exposure, The Nation, Third Text, Social Text and Art Papers. He is currently completing an anthology of writings by art collectives working in Latin America, in collaboration with Bill Kelley.
From Richard Wolff :
Date: 14 November 2012
Subject: Obama’s Re-Election.
The Political Economy of Obama's Re-Election
Wednesday, 14 November 2012 00:00
By Richard D Wolff, Truthout | Op-Ed
The Right just suffered a defeat, the middle continues to weaken amid elusive economic recovery and the resurgent Left in Europe grows and strengthens. Many conditions for resurgence of OWS or its reincarnation are in place.
Capitalism's crises, especially when deep and long-lasting like today's, polarize its politics. Left and right are reinvigorated by improved opportunities to advance their respective economic agendas. The middle, long in power and deeply complicit with capitalism, gets blamed for the crisis and its social costs. The resurgent right uses the crisis to advance classic demands on behalf of business and the rich for yet more wealth, income, and freedom from government regulation and taxes. The resurgent left uses the crisis to argue that capitalism's injustice, inefficiency and waste show the need for transition beyond it. The middle tries to hold on, hoping that capitalism's intrinsic instability, its recurring cycles, will produce an upturn before the people abandon the middle. Such an upturn could "stabilize" politics, undermine the appeal of the Left and Right, and be credited to the middle's policies. This struggle of right, left and middle provides an entry point into the political economy of Obama's re-election.
Political polarization caused by capitalist crises is clearest today in the economy most damaged, so far. Greece's two main parties of the middle alternated power for decades, but they suddenly dropped to a combined 35 percent of the vote in the 2012 elections. Left and right parties surged into sudden political prominence. They are winning mass support as people abandon the political middle. They resent the crisis and bailouts chiefly of banks, corporations, stock markets and the rich. They hate austerity policies that shift the costs of crisis and bailouts onto them by cutting public jobs, services and supports just when they are most needed.
A parallel drama unfolds in the US. The crisis since 2007 produced a resurgent right in the tea parties. They blamed the crisis on poor people abusing credit, immigrants abusing US law and institutions and governmental economic interventions. A few criticized Wall Street, but quieted when reminded about the Right's chief financiers. Thus the resurgent right married social concerns (oppositions to abortion, birth control, gun control, church-state separation, etc.) to enthusiastic support for capitalism.
Tea party members expressed that marriage by reviving old tirades against "socialism." They secured financing not only by carefully avoiding any critique of capitalism, but also by insisting that capitalists would resume prosperity and growth if freed of government regulations and taxes. The right sought to use the crisis to advance the classic capitalist agenda of maximizing wealth, income and freedoms for the corporate elites and the richest 1 percent to 10 percent of individuals.
The Left in the US lacks the Right's financing opportunities. It also inherits the last 50 years of state persecutions and corporate attacks that destroyed once-strong political parties (populist, socialist and communist) and labor unions' former militancy, size and power. A resurgent left slowly and arduously re-gathers people and resources to organize itself into a social force. Occupy Wall Street (OWS) thus emerged only years after the tea parties in the US, and after a resurgent left arose in Europe. OWS was far less organized and financed than either of them. Its nonetheless astonishing growth demonstrated the vulnerability of the middle (traditional Republican and Democratic establishments) and the powerful potential of a new left.
The middle, as servant/guarantor of capitalism, fundamentally opposes an anti-capitalist left. The middle likewise fears that the Right's program could generate a popular backlash threatening capitalism. Occupying the middle in US politics (as traditional Republicans and Democrats always have), Obama's job is to protect the economic status quo and manage crisis turbulence like a steady pilot. He works to undermine the appeal and/or organizations of both resurgent right and left while waiting/hoping for the capitalist cycle's next upturn. Upturns happen when wages and costs fall far enough to offer profit opportunities that induce capitalists to invest again.
Obama offers "hope and wait" for an upturn while not significantly increasing taxes or regulations for corporations and the rich. That is what the political middle does. Obama's slight increase in regulation (e.g. Dodd-Frank) and merely talking about raising the richest individuals' tax rates further galvanized the Right and its financing. Obama had taken such small steps to counteract left accusations that the costs of crisis and bailouts were being shifted onto average people through mass unemployment, home foreclosures and austerity policies. Crises polarize by making the political middle increasingly difficult to hold.
Because of the tea parties' size and financing, Obama tried to accommodate, moderate and compromise more than repress them. That cost him the enthusiasm of his supporters since 2008. Because of the ultimately greater threat of OWS's mass appeal and because the OWS organization and financing were weak, Obama repressed more than accommodated it (coordinated mayors bulldozed encampments, police harassed, etc.). That produced a deeper enmity whose consequences will soon unfold.
The resurgent right captured control of a significant portion of the Republican Party. It forced the Romney campaign to waver between middle and right. Thereby the Right's interpretation of the causes and cures for the economic crisis became the major challenge to the middle. While Romney wavered, Obama championed the middle. Meanwhile, a repressed OWS (and others such as the Green Party) could not make candidates contend with interpretations of the crisis as the product of a capitalism sacrificing the 99% for the benefit of the 1%.
The 2012 election thus tested what the resurgent right could achieve when functioning as a massively-funded, major component of Romney's campaign. Obama's victory shows that the Right lost to the middle; too many voters rejected its analyses and programs. Without a seriously contending left, the 2012 majority preferred the middle, despite having lost confidence in it continuously since 2008.
The crisis continues and may worsen over the next year or two. The economic decline that helped produce OWS has deepened (e.g. average real weekly wages fell 2.5 per cent from October 2010 to October 2012). The Right just suffered a defeat. The middle weakens further as economic recovery remains elusive. The resurgent left in Europe grows and strengthens. Many conditions for resurgence of OWS or its reincarnation are in place.
RICHARD D WOLFF
Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City. He also teaches classes regularly at the Brecht Forum in Manhattan. Earlier he taught economics at Yale University (1967-1969) and at the City College of the City University of New York (1969-1973). In 1994, he was a Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Paris (France), I (Sorbonne).
From Code Pink :
Date: 15 November 2012
Subject: Celebrating their Tenth Anniversary.