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Sunday, December 11, 2011

TarheelDem: "A Global Corporatist Imperial Multi-National Regime" - #OWS Day 86

Gilded Age

[Update: FDL liveblog: Live Blog for #Occupy Movement: International Human Rights Day Actions Plus Occupy SF Raided]
Only those who do not intend to co-opt the movement can co-opt the movement. That is not ironic. That is not a paradox. That is a contradiction. Because what happens when the whiff of co-option occurs is that the movement fragments and in doing that loses the power that co-option would bring.

Only sociopaths do not participate honestly in the general assembly process. And only people who do not yet experience the failure of all institutions are impatient with the wrangling that is required to reach a consensus for there is no easy way out. Remember that when there is pressure to streamline the consensus process.

If Democrats are either one of these, they will self-exclude. The remainder are likely to be clear about the failure of the Democratic Party.

We all have to deal with our own phantoms. There never before has been the collapse of a global corporatist imperial multi-national regime. Just from its own internal incompetence, deception, and arrogance. Not even the Occupy Wall Street movement worldwide has grasped the depth, complexity, and danger in that failure.
- TarheelDem - 2011/12/10
TD's full comment:
Democratic fundraising letters are drafted by media consultants who live in Washington and base their framing on focus groups operated by DC pollsters. And the conventional wisdom in DC is that the poor don’t vote but the middle class, especially the elderly middle class, do. The first Democratic fundraising letter I ever got was in around 1985–after Mondale got trounced by Ronald Reagan. At that point, the Democrats decided that for survival they had to do what Republicans did. And they fell into the trap of thinking they could outspend Republicans.

Also, prior to 1965 “poor” meant poor whites. When Robert F. Kennedy wanted to highlight poverty in America, he went to West Virginia. LBJ’s campaign ad about poverty showed poor white children. And in fact the number of whites in poverty is higher than the number of African-Americans or Latinos in poverty–but the proportion of African-Americans and Latinos in poverty is double or triple that of whites.

When the white working middle class in the South deserted the Democratic Party because of desegregation and growing antiwar sentiment among Democratic politicians and the white working ethnic Catholic middle class deserted the Democratic Party because of the anti-war sentiment, school busing, and opposition to Roe v. Wade, those voters ceased to be economic voters and became “values” voters.

Left in the Democratic Party in the South were the pro-business “progressives” (Atlanta, the city too busy to hate–became–Atlanta the city too busy to care) and African-Americans who were beginning to have economic opportunities. (Notice the absence of the comma) Elsewhere, the Democratic Party became a patchwork of causes–women’s movement, environmental movement, ….who developed non-profit lobbying presence in DC and through the 1970s moved important legislation. And who beginning in the 1980s and intensifying in the naughts because of the impoverishment of the middle class depended more and more on wealthy and even corporate donors. And slowly became driven by the Democratic Party leadership instead of driving that leadership. The evolution of the veal pen was the logical result of this trend. The poor were not an “identity” among those causes, Marian Wright Edelman notwithstanding.

The triangulation of Bill Clinton’s pushing through welfare reform that allowed the program to be starved to death is a symptom of a politician responding to this trend among voters for the Democratic Party.

The conservative strategy this entire time was to use wedge issues to suck the folks who would have benefited from progressive policies out of the Democratic party and to put institutional barriers and ideological barriers against the coalescence of an outside progressive movement. Marginalization of progressives was part of that, but so was the creation of the great conservative-Republican Wurlitzer that was first used to purge the party of “Rockefeller Republicans” and later turned on Democrats who even gave lipservice to progressive ideas. The Republican strategy was to create a permanent Republican majority of the gullible 99%, for the 1%, by the 1%. And they nearly succeeded in 2002. Individual Democratic politicians said to their voters “Me too”. They saw what happened to Max Cleland; they saw how John Kerry was swiftboated.

Had not George W. Bush so bungled the response to Hurricane Katrina and had not the financial bubble burst in 2007, likely the Republicans would have succeeded in locking down the system. They are still trying, and they depend on progressive focus remaining on the President of the United States (this is not excusing him) and ignoring the city councils, state legislatures, mayors, governors, courts, secretaries of state, attorney generals, and state and county party apparatus. And the fact that no one ideological opinion is dominant in US politics. Therefore, purity of ideology cannot win an election—even Republicans are not pure conservatives (in terms of their own rhetoric).

Progressives found out in Florida and Ohio that secretaries of state and attorneys general are important. They found out in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan that governors and state legislatures are important. They are finding out in Atlanta, Oakland, Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles, among other cities that mayors and city councils are important. And in Boston that circuit court judges are important.

The progressive movement now knows clearly that it is back to where it was in 1895, without influence in a party, on the streets, and facing police crackdowns.

I’m not talking about the lefty part of the progressive movement. Or the labor part of the progressive movement. But the anti-corruption part of the progressive movement. The “pragmatic” part of the progressive movement. The “electoral strategy” part of the progressive movement.

We are now in a fight we haven’t seen in our lifetimes. It is clearly now a fight for the survival of the Bill of Rights. Historical analogies fail. And we should be clear that it has become much more difficult over the past 30 years for citizens and politicians to make moral choices–greed, fear, pride are so managed by a system of expectations and institutional rewards and punishments. The logic of the political-economic bureaucratic machine (h/t Lewis Mumford, Pentagon of Power) pervades the 1% in a way that is destructive of the natural and economic environment that brought them their riches and power. They have stripmined everything. And they are applying paramilitary policing against the phantoms of their imagination.

This is a time of judgment in which illusions are being stripped away, one by one. That process is global. It cannot be co-opted. It cannot be suppressed. It is clear that every single human institution worldwide has failed us–every single one–this is not hyperbole. Name one that hasn’t. Chris Hedges had only part of the story in identifying the five institutions of the liberal establishment as having failed us.

So let’s pronounce them failures and figure out how we get out of this mess. Holding accountable key guardians of those institutions accountable is part of how we get out of this mess. So is having an inclusive movement to build alternatives from the components of the institutions that have failed. Every community is now a laboratory (a fancy name for workplace) for continuing the Enlightenment experiment in society, assessing the failures. And that is what the Occupy Wall Street locations (some encampments, some just regular meetings have been doing. Electoral politics is premature now because (1) there are folks in those institutions who have been working to prevent the failure and those who have persisted in the logic of the institution, (2) the process of bringing accountability is also broken, and (3) the electoral process in general is also broken. Until those are fixed, the electoral process is irrelevant no matter how you participate in it. And not participating in it doesn’t change the fact that it is broken and broken to the point that it does not matter what an individual voter does; the machine will grind on in spite of mass boycott.

Only those who do not intend to co-opt the movement can co-opt the movement. That is not ironic. That is not a paradox. That is a contradiction. Because what happens when the whiff of co-option occurs is that the movement fragments and in doing that loses the power that co-option would bring.

Only sociopaths do not participate honestly in the general assembly process. And only people who do not yet experience the failure of all institutions are impatient with the wrangling that is required to reach a consensus for there is no easy way out. Remember that when there is pressure to streamline the consensus process.

If Democrats are either one of these, they will self-exclude. The remainder are likely to be clear about the failure of the Democratic Party.

We all have to deal with our own phantoms. There never before has been the collapse of a global corporatist imperial multi-national regime. Just from its own internal incompetence, deception, and arrogance. Not even the Occupy Wall Street movement worldwide has grasped the depth, complexity, and danger in that failure.

#OccupyEverywhere!

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