In the Streets

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Enacting the Impossible
(On Consensus Decision Making)
David Graeber

On August 2, 2011 at the very first meeting of what was to become Occupy Wall Street, about a dozen people sat in a circle in Bowling Green. The self-appointed “process committee” for a social movement we merely hoped would someday exist, contemplated a momentous decision. Our dream was to create a New York General Assembly: the model for democratic assemblies we hoped to see spring up across America. But how would those assemblies actually operate?

The anarchists in the circle made what seemed, at the time, an insanely ambitious proposal. Why not let them operate exactly like this committee: by consensus.

"Occupy Oakland Reports to Occupied London"
Anonymous Comrades

[This dispatch was composed by J. and read out at the General Assembly of Occupy London in front of St Paul's Cathedral at 7:30, Thursday 27th October. Appended to it are two messages that came in from S. and D. later in the evening, and which have been passed on to the Occupied Times of London. IB]

"To our sisters and brothers at Occupy London, from Oakland, California, greetings.

On Tuesday there were about 2000 of us on the streets in Oakland. There were some scuffles and gas attacks by the police during a march which wound its way during the evening to the Plaza where the eviction had taken place early in the morning.

The march arrived at 14th and Broadway about 7.30 p.m. Cops from throughout California had blocked all entrances to the park, which was no simple matter as it has about six approaches. Cops were also stationed at all the freeway entrances, recalling a demo last year that managed to block the 880 freeway during rush hour.

So within the space of 12 hours we had a diabolical inversion whereby the police were occupying Oscar Grant Plaza while we, the 99%, occupied the streets.

The Man Behind Occupy Wall Street
Seth Fiegerman

Forget the labor unions. A University of London anarchist and anthropologist is a major force behind the protest movement.

When he's not busy brainstorming how to tear apart and rebuild America's democratic system, David Graeber prefers to think about simpler things, like why we still don't have flying cars.

Graeber, a professor at the University of London and a widely respected anthropologist, has achieved a new level of fame in recent weeks for his early influence on the Occupy Wall Street protests that began in New York City and have since spread around the world.

The Wall Street Journal declared Graeber to be "the single academic who has done the most to shape the nascent movement," while Bloomberg Businessweek declared him to be the "anti-leader" of Occupy Wall Street who generally abstains from the limelight even as his writings,
including a new book on the history of debt and the influence of money, serve as an "intellectual frame" for the protesters.

Anthropologist Graeber Turns Radical Side Loose in Zuccotti Park Protest
Drake Bennett

David Graeber likes to say that he had three goals for the year: promote his book, learn to drive, and launch a worldwide revolution. The first is going well, the second has proven challenging, and the third is looking up.

Graeber is a 50-year-old anthropologist -- among the brightest, some argue, of his generation -- who made his name with innovative theories on exchange and value, exploring phenomena such as Iroquois wampum and the Kwakiutl potlatch. An American, he teaches at Goldsmiths, University of London.

He’s also an anarchist and radical organizer, a veteran of many of the major left-wing demonstrations of the past decade: Quebec City and Genoa, the Republican National Convention protests in Philadelphia and New York, the World Economic Forum in New York in 2002, the London tuition protests this year.

Occupy to Self Manage
By Michael Albert

I have yet to see my nearest large occupation, Boston, or the precursor of all U.S. occupations, Wall Street. Instead, I have been on the road for the past six weeks in Thesselonika and Athens Greece; Istanbul and Diyarbikar Turkey; Lexington, Kentucky; London, England; Dublin, Ireland; and in Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia Spain.

In all these places, I talked with diverse individuals at many meetings and popular assemblies. I met people involved in occupations, as well as audiences assembled by my hosts to hear about participatory economics. Beyond addressing assigned topics, my own priority was to learn about local movements. I repeatedly asked what folks struggling for many months wished to say to other folks first embarking on similar paths.

No More Bubble-Gum
Mike Davis

Who could have envisioned Occupy Wall Street and its sudden
wildflower-like profusion in cities large and small?

John Carpenter could have, and did. Almost a quarter of a century ago
(1988), the master of date-night terror (Halloween, The Thing), wrote
and directed They Live, depicting the Age of Reagan as a catastrophic
alien invasion. In one of the film’s brilliant early scenes, a huge
third-world shantytown is reflected across the Hollywood Freeway in
the sinister mirror-glass of Bunker Hill’s corporate skyscrapers.

They Live remains Carpenter’s subversive tour de force. Few who’ve
seen it could forget his portrayal of billionaire bankers and evil
mediacrats and their zombie-distant rule over a pulverized American
working class living in tents on a rubble-strewn hillside and begging
for jobs. From this negative equality of homelessness and despair, and
thanks to the magic dark glasses found by the enigmatic Nada (played
by “Rowdy” Roddy Piper), the proletariat finally achieves interracial
unity, sees through the subliminal deceptions of capitalism, and gets
angry.

Very angry.

Occupy The World! To the Barricades Comrades?
William Bowles

Four years ago in a Ministry of Defence Review, the Whitehall Mandarins,
more astutely than any so-called Lefty, determined the following:

“The Middle Class Proletariat — The middle classes could become a
revolutionary class, taking the role envisaged for the proletariat by
Marx. The globalization of labour markets and reducing levels of
national welfare provision and employment could reduce peoples’
attachment to particular states. The growing gap between themselves and
a small number of highly visible super-rich individuals might fuel
disillusion with meritocracy, while the growing urban under-classes are
likely to pose an increasing threat to social order and stability, as
the burden of acquired debt and the failure of pension provision begins
to bite. Faced by these twin challenges, the world’s middle-classes
might unite, using access to knowledge, resources and skills to shape
transnational processes in their own class interest.” — ‘UK Ministry of Defence report, The DCDC Global Strategic Trends Programme 2007-2036’ (Third Edition) p.96, March 2007

Yeah, I know, I'm always using this quote (I first used it four years
ago) but it illustrates the great intellectual divide between the
political class and the citizens they rule, including our Left, now made
so apparent by what the pundits are now calling the 'Occupy The World'
(OTW) movement. It seems that only our very own ruling class foresaw
OTW.

Russian Pirates Against Poverty Occupy St. Petersburg
Vladislav Litovchenko

ST. PETERBURG – The “Occupy Wall Street” movement of mass rallies that
has spread around the world has mostly missed Russia. Still, a group of
Russian Indignados are finding their own way to protest against
injustice and inequalities.

Unknown perpetrators raised a pirate flag on an administrative building
in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. This followed a similar symbolic assault
on Sunday, when a Jolly Roger was raised on a mast of the Aurora, a
historic cruiser long associated with the Russian Revolution that has
been converted into a museum, and is moored on St. Petersburg’s Neva River.

Reflections for the US Occupy Movement
Peter Gelderloos

After the courageous revolts of the Arab Spring, the next phenomenon of popular resistance to capture the world media’s attention was the plaza occupation movement that spread across Spain starting on the 15th of May (15M). Subsequently, attention turned back to Greece, and now to the public occupations spreading across the US, inspired by the Wall Street protests.

The Awakening in America
Ken Knabb

"A radical situation is a collective awakening. . . . In such situations] people become much more open to new perspectives, readier to question previous assumptions, quicker to see through the usual cons. . . . People learn more about society in a week than in years of academic 'social studies' or leftist 'consciousness raising.' . . . Everything seems possible -- and much more IS possible. People can hardly believe what they used to put up with in 'the old days.' . . . Passive consumption is replaced by active communication. Strangers strike up lively discussions on street corners. Debates continue round the clock, new arrivals constantly replacing those who depart for other activities or to try to catch a few hours of sleep, though they are usually too excited to sleep very long. While some people succumb to demagogues, others start making their own proposals and taking their own initiatives. Bystanders get drawn into the vortex, and go through astonishingly rapid changes. . . . Radical situations are the rare moments when qualitative change really becomes possible. Far from being
abnormal, they reveal how abnormally repressed we usually are; they make our 'normal' life seem like sleepwalking." --Ken Knabb, The Joy of Revolution

* * *

The "Occupy" movement that has swept across the country over the last four weeks is already the most significant radical breakthrough in America since the 1960s. And it is just beginning.

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