FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Occupy is Alive; So is History

by ROB URIE

Political leadership in the West has calcified atop a set of existing facts and trajectory that assure rebellion in one form or another until they are reconciled. In addition to the economic divides between wealth and poverty, employment and unemployment, opportunity and the lack of opportunity, there is a generational divide that has left youth around the world on the outside of economic life.

Left out of the economic statistics is that today’s youth face a fundamentally different circumstance than that of recent generations. The young bear a disproportionate burden in higher rates of unemployment, higher levels of debt and fewer opportunities. In a system where economic power equates with political power, economic exclusion leaves youth and much of the rest of the broader population outside of existing political processes.

Within the prevailing political economy the internal logic is to build systems of political and economic repression rather than to create political, economic and social justice. This can be seen in the level of debt students are expected bear, in increasingly intrusive surveillance, in the militarization of the police, in the unresponsive politics of the mainstream political parties and in the absence of any sustained effort to create jobs for youth and other unemployed.

These conditions were not created by the young or by the multitudes that are likewise on the outside of economic and mainstream political life. They result from decades of ideologically driven policies that assumed that the secular deity of markets removed the need for thought, knowledge, information, and any notion of public life. This ideology supports a predatory economic order that has had disastrous consequences for vast majorities in the West. And yet it still drives economic and political decisions today.

Absent rapid self-correction by political leadership, the conclusion can rightly be drawn that the existing order is incapable of self-correction. In fact, the predominant governing ideology sees unjust social divide as virtue, the driving force behind human achievement. That this is a fundamentally different theory of social life than recent generations themselves experienced seems to have little bearing on the sustained commitment to it. Ideological commitment in spite of evidence to the contrary indicates a calcified political order.

Occupy Wall Street arose from a confluence of conditions that are similar in some ways to broader social movements like the ‘Arab Spring’ and different in others. Economic inequality didn’t become a broad political issue until the lack of economic opportunity for wide swaths of global populations became fact. Enlightened self-interest on the part of economic elites would have them giving a little to keep a lot. That they are choosing the path of repression instead suggests that the political and social divide runs much deeper than a mere difference of opinion.

Current economic conditions provide factual bases for this divide. There are far more unemployed than there are jobs for them. The gentlest count based on government statistics has four unemployed for every one available job. Were every job to be filled, three quarters of those currently unemployed would still be unemployed with no jobs available for them. Most of the jobs that are available don’t pay a living wage and fewer offer benefits by the day. These are obstacles over which no amount of positive thinking, the apparent solution favored by those in power, will prevail.

I leave more of the specifics to others. The point is that while psychology and theories of cyclical social rest and turmoil might have some bearing, there are entirely practical reasons why rebellion is here to stay until these problems are resolved. What this rebellion will look like will be a function of material conditions as they develop and the systemic response to them. To date this response has been discouraging and events unfolding in Egypt add new degrees of pessimism. This written, rebellion is both necessary and life affirming

Last, in New York OWS member Mark Adams was sentenced to 45 days in jail for his participation in the effort to secure a new Occupation space from Trinity Church after Zuccotti Park was cleared. This sentence is a travesty and the charges are overblown and clearly designed to silence OWS. Sympathetic readers can support Mark directly and by participating in OWS activities wherever they are taking place.

Rob Urie is an artist and political economist in New York

Rob Urie is an artist and political economist.

February 10, 2016
Eoin Higgins
Clinton and the Democratic Establishment: the Ties That Bind
Fred Nagel
The Role of Legitimacy in Social Change
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Aleppo Gamble Pays Off
Chris Martenson
The Return of Crisis: Everywhere Banks are in Deep Trouble
Ramzy Baroud
Next Onslaught in Gaza: Why the Status Quo Is a Precursor for War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Why Bernie Still Won’t Win
Sheldon Richman
End, Don’t Extend, Draft Registration
Benjamin Willis
Obama in Havana
Jack Smith
Obama Intensifies Wars and Threats of War
Rob Hager
How Hillary Clinton Co-opted the Term “Progressive”
Mark Boothroyd
Syria: Peace Talks Collapse, Aleppo Encircled, Disaster Looms
Lawrence Ware
If You Hate Cam Newton, It’s Probably Because He’s Black
Jesse Jackson
Starving Government Creates Disasters Like Flint
Bill Laurance
A Last Chance for the World’s Forests?
Gary Corseri
ABC’s of the US Empire
Frances Madeson
The Pain of the Earth: an Interview With Duane “Chili” Yazzie
Binoy Kampmark
The New Hampshire Distortion: The Primaries Begin
Andrew Raposa
Portugal: Europe’s Weak Link?
Wahid Azal
Dugin’s Occult Fascism and the Hijacking of Left Anti-Imperialism and Muslim Anti-Salafism
February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Neve Gordon
Israeli Labor Party Adopts the Apartheid Mantra
Kristin Kolb
The “Great” Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
Brian Foley
Interview With a Bernie Broad: We Need to Start Focusing on Positions and Stop Relying on Sexism
February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail