Wreck of the Old 99(%)
At end of the summer I came around to the opinion that the President's political skills were lacking. His mastery of legislative infighting, of the bully pulpit, political positioning, the executive office conceptually. President Obama's basic efficacy came into question. He seemed to continually betray a certain degree of in-experience. Others had the same lingering concerns, but I also thought it likely by mid summer the President and his advisors were transitioning to re-election positions and to their best guess of the landscape and personalities that they would face a year on. There was (is) nothing forgone about the election, reading the tea leaves right, he can still decide his own fate. The notable thing about the late summer was the depth and intensity of the anti government and anti institution mood in this country. The manner in which it both fed off of and drove disfunction Why the Massive Wealth of the 1% Could Ruin the Economy - Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee - Business - The Atlantic.
It was tempting, at first, to write off the Occupy Wall street sit-ins as a Tea Party counter-protest. As if August's Tea Party tantrums directly spawned October's #OWS. But there had been signs for some time that there was a broad spectrum of discontent (and impatience) all drawn from a very real sense of insecurity as history moved on from the structure of the post war world to the emerging world of the twenty-first century EconoMonitor : Nouriel Roubini's Global EconoMonitor º Full Analysis: The Instability of Inequality. While this sense of unease was shared by both, each had their own set of antecedents. The surprising aspect of the #OWS events was the extent of their appeal nationally and internationally, occupy sites opened up in the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. There was even overlay of common-cause recognition by individuals involved in various Arab Spring demonstrations The Globalization of Protest - Joseph E. Stiglitz - Project Syndicate.
The #OWS library was significant micro-institution even before its destruction when the Zuccoti park encampment was taken down and it was torn asunder. It attracted more than its share of media and enforcement attention. It had a symbolic nature as a seat of ideology for the movement (as well as its own web site Occupy Wall Street Library | The People's Library at Liberty Plaza Looking over the #OWS library via its Library-thing page OWSLibrary's books | LibraryThing just some of the books that attracted my attention were:
Hedges / Death of the liberal -- Orwell / Road to Wiggen Pier -- Cavanough / Alternatives to economic globalization -- Zizak / Parallax view -- Tabbii / Griftopia -- Klien / Shock Doctrine -- Edward Herman / Manufactured Consent -- Hannah Arendt / Crise de Culture -- Joseph Stiglitz / Globalization and its discontents -- Stephane Hessel's / Indignez Vous -- Saul Alinsky : Rules for Radicals -- Alan Badiou / Meta Politics.
A mix of journalistic commentators and academics of the left. All signaling a certain non conformism. A leftover radicalism from the anti-world trade movement of a decade ago. Mostly a mood of deep disenchantment at the state of the western world. My sister had bought one of these books, Hessel's (a leader of the French Resistance and postwar diplomat, ). A recent essay (reprinted in a slim volume Time for outrage! which I read and recommend highly. Beyond that, of political treatises on how to fairly organize and order a mass society, or trenchant economic analysis, there are some, but no torrent of flaming revolution. It's work to be a dissident in American society, but even then take care to signal it, segregate and channel yourself professionally and geographically to where this is acceptable. In communicating or agitating for genuine change the hard borders and boundaries of what is permissible will be found very quickly Will Extremists Hijack Occupy Wall Street? - NYTimes.com.
John Rawls generated a bit of media mastication with the articles Rawls on Wall Street - NYTimes.com: and a week or so later by the Washington Post Justice, inequality and the 99 percent - The Washington Post. In the first is the idea the structure of a society should serve the entire society, this sits above any other possible notion of law or justice that can be conceived. If it does not serve, the public has the right to change it, this is the primary subject of justice. The second, in the Washington Post, has a thought that goes to latent assumptions lurking in the current structure. Life in our culture is the result of two lotteries: a pre-birth lottery of potential innate abilities and a post-birth lottery of social position and inherited wealth. Again the question is: what structure would you recommend if you had no information on what you would receive from these lotteries? Economic analysis is often best left to economists, at least until it is translated to human condition. I have seen some mention that the post-war economic order, "Bretton Wood", produced a world of complexity largely immune from proscriptive action, and a economic discipline incapable of being communicated effectively to the next generation of technocrats responsible for it.
There are different ways of regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement. As civilly disobedient campers Republicans aim to discredit OWS - The Insiders - The Washington Post. This in accordance with their sedentary mode of protest, opinions of which vary little between sympathizers and non-sympathizers. The consensus is that the movement is undisciplined their message opaque. Another way of looking at them is as the engaged activist vanguard of the 99%. This requires distinguishing the 99% from #OWS. The two are not synonymous of course. They are side by side movements. The 99% is more generally a conceptual category for more conventional political engagement We Are the 99 Percent. That the Occupy Movement was an opening gambit for a longer conversation on change and expectations. Lawrence Lessig's notion of common cause between #OWS movement and the Tea Party was interesting and I thought welcome Lawrence Lessig Something More Than Polarization. Lessig got push back on this Lawrence Lessig: A Reply to the @EdgeofSports: Who Exactly Are the 99%?:, but his point is taken. These two sides of aspirational populist change are not about to form joint committees and work together, but they could do worse by considering Lessig's charge that our politics is caught in a spiraling cycle of well-funded interest that is corrupting governance.
If nothing else the occupy movement found justification by the outsized and strident reaction to it by various mayors, police, right wing press outlets How OWS confuses and ignores Fox News and the pundit class. - Slate Magazine (such as the New York post), and studied indifference by the Main Stream Media. This spoke loudly of a reflexive recognition by certain elites of their stake and place in this game. Their interest in maintaining a muted awareness of wealth imbalance. The plain visibleness of their discomfort and reaction was an instructive gift.
If the #OWS is a self selecting activist set. The 99% is the population they speak from and desire to speak to. The 99% are those who will most fully feel what is being called the Lost Decade IMF Chief: World Could 'Face A Lost Decade' : The Two-Way : NPR. The ten years it will now take to resume growth over population and regain full employment levels. Until then it will be a culture shaped by unemployment, crushing student loan debt, tight money - for starting new business. Glacial recovery that feels little better than recession The study that shows why Occupy Wall Street struck a nerve - The Washington Post. We are expected to live vicariously off the reflected light of the celebrities of a winner-take-all-culture. Signing off on laws and mores that make their success. And all of it one step colder and weaker than the most disdainful trickle-down theory of health, mental and material well being.
Money, wealth, is essentially frictionless. Goods raw, finished, almost so, on wheels and portable. People; not so much. This is the meaning of globalization. The cost of the dislocation is borne by ordinary people. As that sinks in it is often with a dimmer view of our dismantled industrial sectors for those who realize all the ways they are affected. Globalizing free trade has been fought since the end of the cold war by trade unions, and later anarcho-radicals of the "Seattle Movement". Two decades of free trade agreements were acquiesced to on the notion that free trade would bring unalloyed benefit to all our lives. Now it is seen by many as having also brought along a financial economy unconcerned with, even at odds with the interests of the real economy and the ordinary people whose well-being depend on it. The 99%, to the extent they want to be thought of or think of themselves in any particulr way, are about middle class concerns and Arab Spring sympathies. Inevitably they gained a raised awareness of corporatism's ambivalent public utility and the financial worlds closed sub-rationality from the 2008 recession, much will never look the same again.
The current flailing morass of the European Union places things in a sharper perspective. The problems in Europe resemble the foreclosure crisis of two years ago. A great deal of money pushed onto that which could not hold the weight of the en-valuation placed on it, done so in a distinctly obfuscatory manner - credit swaps and the like. And again it suggests a systemic failure of the international financial markets. Here between eager to please politicians, eager to be pleased populaces and trade imbalances that left Northern EU banks with cash to over-invest lazily. The implicit question is: what is the world we want? Does our chosen (given) economic system allow us by nation by region or by individual and enterprise to be just what we want no more no less. This is the argument for slow and artesian-al ways of being, ways denied.
There were a couple of articles I read which looked at the economies of southern europe against those of northern europe (and the US) 4 Reasons Why Italy's Economy Is Such a Disaster - Jordan Weissmann - Business - The Atlantic. Much more of Italy's economy is taken up in small or midrange businesses for that reason and their craft approach to their products the hallmark of modern capitalism, economy of scale will never admit competition with northern factories. No token poverty is the result, but a thorough hollowing of a national economy. No country or people gets to choose their values or lifestyle, the economic system dominates and restricts choice Democracy is on the retreat in Europe - The Washington Post. There was a similar argument made for Greece. I mislaid the link for that; however, the argument ran that while Germans never get tired of identifying their southern neighbors and lazy and profligate, Germany largely created the modern Greek nation in the nineteenth century (another article explains some of this Goce - "Greece"-Made in Germany). Greece is marked by the stamp Germany put on it. A combination of romantic desire for a theatre of classical language and culture, and for what we now call a service economy. A southern playground of trade and unwound recreation.
There is an inextricable character of growth in consumer-culture market capitalism. Populations always grow, aggregate demand grows. Always there is the pressure of scarcity against resource, Technological innovation must continually pace this pressure. This can produce a crisis of change. An ongoing destruction beyond creative destruction. A change that outpaces a culture's institutions ability to provide stability. Outpaces an economies ability to provide adequate level of employment, a livelihood for all who live. An economic culture that demands a frenzy of consumption.
The Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court was a turning point, one that will become infamous with time. A moment that enshrined money, big money, as the dominant voice, nearly the only voice in our politics. A decision that placed all others into deliberate positions of subordination. Hierarchical structures always self replicate, ant-ethical by their nature from ever becoming different. New entities forms come and go, always in the same forms. There is no real change. This was a large part of the argument for the #OWS movement foregoing program liberalism and establishment institutions, and returning to the streets. It is not believed that any of the old-line desire change, or have the ability any longer to effect change. The future will hold either a crony market capitalism that is an instrument of existent wealth. How they would have and define it. Or rather something sustainable for the rest of us Is Modern Capitalism Sustainable? - Kenneth Rogoff - Project Syndicate. As the projection on side of Verizon building as protesters marched across Brooklyn Bridge after the breakup of the Zuccotti camp stated:Another world is possible.
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