Ultimately, we are protesting not only on behalf of the 99% left behind, but on behalf of the 1% as well
The truth is dwindling rain forests, spreading deserts, mass tree die-offs on every continent; looted pensions, groaning burdens of student debt, people working two or three dead end jobs; children eating dirt in Haiti, elders choosing between food and medicine… the list is endless, and we will make it no longer possible to hold it in disconnection from the money system. That is why we converge on Wall Street, and anywhere that finance holds sway.
We protest not only at our exclusion from the American Dream; we protest at its bleakness. If it cannot include everyone on earth, every ecosystem and bioregion, every people and culture in its richness; if the wealth of one must be the debt of another; if it entails sweatshops and underclasses and fracking and all the rest of the ugliness our system has created, then we want none of it.
Speaking to our brethren on Wall Street, no one deserves to spend their lives playing with numbers while the world burns. Ultimately, we are protesting not only on behalf of the 99% left behind, but on behalf of the 1% as well.
We could make lists of demands for new public policies:
- tax the wealthy,
- raise the minimum wage,
- protect the environment,
- end the wars,
- regulate the banks.
But what needs attention? The power structures, ideologies, and institutions
While we know these are positive steps, they aren’t quite what motivated people to occupy Wall Street. What needs attention is something deeper: the power structures, ideologies, and institutions that prevented these steps from being taken years ago; indeed, that made these steps even necessary. Our leaders are beholden to impersonal forces, such as that of money, that compel them to do what no sane human being would choose.
Disconnected from the actual effects of their policies, they live in a world of insincerity and pretense. It is time to bring a countervailing force to bear, and not just a force but a call.
Our message is, “Stop pretending. You know what to do. Start doing it.” Occupy Wall Street is about exposing the truth. We can trust its power. When a policeman pepper sprays helpless women, we don’t beat him up and scare him into not doing it again; we show the world. Much worse than pepper spray is being perpetrated on our planet in service of money. Let us allow nothing happening on earth to be hidden.
It can be perpetuated for a while longer, perhaps, but only at great and growing cost. We, the 99%, are paying that cost right now, and as the environment and the social fabric decay, the 1% will soon feel it too. We want those who operate and serve the financial system to wake up and see before it is too late.
The god they serve, the financial system, is a dying god
We can also point out to them that they sooner or later they will have no choice. The god they serve, the financial system, is a dying god. Reading various insider financial websites, I perceive that the authorities are flailing, panicking, desperately implementing solutions they themselves know are temporary just to kick the problem down the road a few years or a few months.
The strategy of lending even more money to a debtor who cannot pay his debts is doomed, its eventual failure a mathematical certainty. Like all our institutions of exponential growth, it is unsustainable. Once you have stripped the debtor of all assets – home equity, savings, pension – and turned every last dollar of his or her disposable income toward debt service, once you have forced the debtor into austerity and laid claim even to his future income (or in the case of nations, tax revenues), then there is nothing left to take. We are nearing that point, the point of peak debt.
The money machine, ever hungry, seeks to liquidate whatever scraps remain of the natural commons and social equity to reignite economic growth. If GDP rises, so does our ability to service debt.
But is growth really what we want?
- Can we really cheer an increase in housing starts, when there are 19 million vacant housing units on the market already?
- Can we really applaud a new oil field, when the atmosphere is past the limit of how much waste it can absorb?
- Is more stuff really what the world needs right now?
Or can we envision a world instead with more play and less work, more sharing and less buying, more public space and less indoors, more nature and less product?
At risk of revealing the stars in my eyes, let me call it a revolution of love
What else but love would motivate any person to abandon the quest to maximize rational self-interest? Love, the felt experience of connection to other beings, contradicts the laws of economics as we know them. Ultimately, we want to create a money system, and an economy, that is the ally not the enemy of love. We don’t want to forever fight the money power to create good in the world; we want to change the money power so that we don’t need to fight it. I will not in this essay describe my vision – one of many – of a money system aligned with the good in all of us. I will only say that such a shift can only happen atop an even deeper shift, a transformation of human consciousness.
Happily, just such a transformation is underway today. We see it in anyone who had dedicated their lives to serving, healing, and protecting other beings: people, cultures, whales, children, ecosystems, the waters, the forests, the planet.
Read the whole essay here.
Today the BBC reports “worldwide protests against austerity and what protesters call corporate greed.”
Veterinary surgeon Alex Briault will fully understand the protests. In the Veterinary Times, Vol. 41 – No. 18 – May 09, 2011, he wrote:
We can’t have a win/lose gameplan – there are going to be so many losers that the winners are going to find it increasingly difficult to hide from their anger.
He writes about fellow vet Bruce Crowther who works part-time for the Fairtrade Foundation as: “Someone who has seen the effects of the existing, neoliberal capitalist venture, and is doing something to soften the unceasing blows it inflicts on the world’s poor.”
“With thoughts only of maximizing the money they can extract for themselves, through hubris, ignorance and by exploiting the byzantine lack of transparency in the system, bring the whole confidence trick to the edge of collapse, and insist on being rescued.
“Within months, those same people are receiving egregious rewards for…who knows what?”
Calling the system comprising bankers, financiers and politicians a Mafia
“How to justify calling the system comprising bankers, financiers and politicians a Mafia? Here’s how. If we don’t co-operate, rather than threatening us with a swim with the fishes, they threaten to take themselves away (to run with the tigers? – I think they may find those Asian Tigers have their own competitive financiers). With these menaces, they demand payments via the tax system for protection – from financial insecurity? There is no accountability – it is the victims who have to pay for their mistakes through public spending cuts, while they squirrel away their loot in tax havens.
“They parasitize the system of which they claim to be a cornerstone. Murderous? Not deliberately, but so long as funding is diverted from global health budgets, education, agriculture, veterinary services, lives are being lost as a result of their selfish gambling. Accounts of the psychology of real mafia bosses describe despotic psychopaths unreachable by reason. Fred the Shred may not have been a despotic psychopath, but for him and people like him reason extends to the bottom line and no further.”
His wide-ranging article which ends with some instances of good alternative proposals can be read here.
Tom Underwood from Chicago writes “A small degree of shame would be helpful at this point”
The Occupy Wall Street movement is not class warfare: “It’s one thing for the masses to not understand the value of what you do. It’s quite another for them to feel that their money is being taken to help keep you propped up. A small degree of shame would be helpful at this point.”
And in Britain!
In America yesterday, the International Business Times reports that a well-disciplined coalition of community groups allied with Occupy Wall Street to hold a rally in front of the apartments of billionaires including Rupert Murdoch, Koch Industries vice president David Koch and New York Private Bank & Trust CEO president Howard Milstein.
They carried oversized cheques showing how much less the wealthy will pay when New York’s 2% ‘millionaires’ tax’ expires at the end of the year.
One organiser, Doug Forand, said: “99% of the residents of New York are going to suffer from this tax giveaway so the one per cent who already live in absolute luxury can put more money in their pockets.”
Escaping tax may be legal but it’s unfair
The protest-ridden London G20 summit in April 2009 ended with the ‘leaders’ declaring that they would take action against tax havens but the BBC website publishes Action Aid’s dramatic graphic itemising current practice.
David McNair, senior economic justice adviser at the charity Christian Aid, says: “We are facing austerity, governments are cutting basic services,” he says. “If companies are getting away with escaping tax, this may be legal but it’s unfair.”
Ban Ki-Moon: prophetic words: growing social unrest, weakened governments and angry publics
Before the 2009 G20 meeting, Radio France Internationale reported that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon wrote an article in the Guardian arguing that more than just economics is at stake and warning that unless decisive action is taken, the crisis could lead to “growing social unrest, weakened governments and angry publics who have lost all faith in their leaders and their own future”.