I am getting frightened for the world. I have just been watching “The Company you keep” (imdb) – no download sorry. Wonderful people who stood up against the tyranny that was the Vietnam genocide were being called terrorists. Where do you draw the line for the Weathermen and colleagues in struggle?
To my lifelong shame my youth was spent with alcohol so when good people were struggling against the genocide in Vietnam I was learning life at the bottom of a university glass. Mind you, it was probably lucky, being so immature I would have done something stupid. By the time I was on marches in my 30s I was sensible enough to listen to the ropes from friends.
The movie draws on a very important theme – idealism. No matter how important the idealism might appear to be, it is just that – a set of ideas. And if we hold to ideas then it is not compassion that is the source. Compassion is the only constant. In the 70s and 80s before Thatcher finally drowned the movement, politically I saw this so clearly. Passionate, not necessarily compassionate, idealists stood up with their demands. I can’t remember which march it was but I was walking through Kennington, South London. There were some black people conscious of the march but most ignored it. It was this that began to turn me from the Trotsky Left – even though there were some black people on this part of the Left. I was young enough to be asking why all black people weren’t marching with the comrades in a racist society, but the Trot ranters had turned them off. And of course black people might have the colour of their skin in common, but why does skin colour make mentality the same? Lucky for me when I was politically active it was not ideals but the mass movement that guided me, I believe politically that is the nearest way that compassion can show its face, compassion for all people.
What about the dialogue of the movie and Occupy – OWS? When I looked at Occupy (Click OCCUPY in the tag cloud – scroll down on the left) there was a maturity amongst these young, lessons learned that were far beyond the naivete of the 60s and 70s. Our older movement (it shaped me even if I didn’t do anything at the time) opened the door but they didn’t understand that the establishment would be so severe in closing it. Almost genetically the young of Occupy are more sophisticated and have the survival tools to deal with the increasingly repressive 1%. But the 1% have too much power now, and are willing to use anything to keep it. Defenders of liberty in the movie were called terrorists, that was Redford’s licence but it was not a rant.
This movie was wrinkly and nostalgic, tremendous for me. But it discussed things I was never aware of at the time – the weathermen. I’m going to look into them, should people demanding freedom not know about them? Or is just me in my beerglass that didn’t know?
As I mentioned above I am getting frightened by a seachange. The last half century the black civil rights movement were heroes. The Black Panthers were generally considered to have gone a bit too far, the black 200m runners, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, were considered to have had bad taste exploiting sport for political reasons, but I don’t recall their being slated for what they stood up for. [It is worth reading wikipedia on “1968_Olympics_Black_Power_salute”]. They were black people standing up for their rights in a racist society, this was generally considered acceptable, this is the barometer of social opinion as I saw it, and at the time I wasn’t politically active – being drunk in the bottom of the university glass.
And for Vietnam the feeling was much the same. Students were rioting because they didn’t want to be in Vietnam. This wasn’t just a moral question so many of the young people were being drafted to go fight an unacceptable war. Retrospectively it is generally accepted that these people were fighting a wrong that their society should not have been perpetrating. Young people do these things. They haven’t learnt the discipline needed to have a family, they haven’t grown up enough to understand the way society is. This is the way the older generation perceived them especially in the UK where the older generation had been decimated by “World War 2”.
In “The Company You Keep” there was an underlying feeling that the Weather Underground were seen as terrorists by a significant group of people. To me this is a rewriting of history, but I intend investigating this to clarify. But there seems to be a social engineering approach that I picked up from the Terrence Howard FBI guy, and in this I was mindful of the horrendous young Tekkies in the movie “Enemy of the State”. The 1% don’t invest any more in trying to indoctrinate all the people, just sufficient investment to provide their enforcers. The horrific US right wing can stand up on their bought TV platforms, and spout all kinds of incoherent rubbish. These crazy puppets can demand all kinds of inhumane stuff, and their extremism makes Obama and his ilk, the mainstream government puppets appear normal. This is the balance, the balance that appeals to intellect. There is a right and a left so let’s find a “harmony” in the middle. So the crazies are dragged out, spout their tea party filth, and Obama and his drones appear OK because his sweet mouth is so plausible.
Significant in this process is the US hero, the young people who sign up for the “Land of the Brave”, either as soldiers or tekkies. You only need a few for the CIA and the FBI. Once their enthusiasm has sucked them in they beome pawns of indoctrination, and we have the heroes of the Civil Rights movement and anti-war movement painted as terrorists.
This is why Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning are getting hammered. These young people get sucked in, and then get indoctrinated. What they also have to know is that if they are ever tempted to blow the whistle on the indoctrination, on what is being done in their country, then they should know that life is not going to be worth living. A couple of days after writing this Bradley Manning was given 35 years for exposing the truth. Whilst part of me is outraged, another part of me just accepts that this sentence was inevitable, as is the persecution of Edward Snowden and any future whistleblower. There is genuine social outrage at these injustices but there is nothing that anyone can do.
Soldiers are being used less and less, because trained Blackwater thugs are much more malleable. Not only are those deluded people conned into believing they are fighting for their country but their country can disown them. So-called rules of war don’t apply to them because they are paid for by a private company. Mercenaries used to be a dirty word, now a mercenary is the soldier of choice for the US government. Mercenaries and arms dealers were shadowy people travelling the hellholes of the world making their dishonest living, now these people have been elevated by the right to heroic status.
Some TV I watch portrays life today as an improvement of 40-50 years ago. As an old man there are certain good old days stuff of my youth that I might like to harken upon. I would say we made more of our own enjoyment, and yet my parents’ generation were critical of our own lack of independence. Now Grumpy Old People moan about the proliferation of swiping pointless phone toys. Whilst such matters of social change might be peccadilloes, the power of the US state (and its allies) and the depths to which they have sunk “in defence of the realm” is to me staggering. And it is fear of this that racks me. On a selfish level I can only hope that the continuing extremism of their policies does not spread to my little retired haven. But that selfishness pales into insignificance for the fear I have for humanity if these people are not harnessed. And there is no sign of that harness. Family friends continue to live compromised lives ignoring the steps on this path of extremism their compromise is forcing them to take. Everyone else is doing it so it’s OK, I’ve got to make a living. Fear, I look at the little children in my school for whom a bump on the head whilst playing is a major setback and see that the slavery they are growing up into is far worse than the slavery I grew up for. When scifi presents visions of future enslaved societies we admire the imagination, we don’t see a future that follows from accepting today’s compromises. Were Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning our last chances for humanity?
Most people who know me would laugh at this. They know me as being extreme, my retired idyll has gone to my head. But it is only stepping back that gives discernment of what is truly happening. It is 20 years since I have properly lived in the UK, my probate year 10 years ago was very much on the periphery. At that time what people had come to accept from the financial corporatocracy was staggering. They had accepted Iraq with far less furore than the people of my generation accepted Vietnam – although there was no need for draft to do their evil deeds. Since the crash austerity
This brings me back to the movie “The Company you keep” and “The Weather Underground”. Here is the torrent for a documentary on “The Weather Underground”. It embarrasses me now to know that I was a young adult at the time, and I know nothing of these people of conscience. The 1% Vietnam War forced them into criminal action because legitimate democratic protest had been stifled and ignored. What is there to do now? There was no doubt a great deal of naivete amongst these people, and it highlights the level of maturity amongst Occupy. The documentary shows the strength of repression that existed then, so conversely it shows how strong the movement for change was; this is a major crit of Occupy they don’t appear to appreciate just how powerful the movement for change in the 60s and 70s was – maybe that is just their age?
But talking of discernment in some ways all of this is not important. I am just recovering from flu, and post-flu depression let this fear get to me. It’s all true but is it the priority? When I start meditating properly again after flu depression what will matter is no-self. In no-self there is peace. The present world of suffering can be attributed to the 1%, in all future worlds will the suffering be the same? What will be the same is that peace can be attained through detachment from the prevailing suffering? In our current world peace is not difficult to find. Walk off the beaten track, and you can find a heavenly niche where society’s desires don’t matter. It is important not to avoid responsibility, we are all ONE, but if people don’t listen it is not your fault. But still observing the way some people are so complicit in this world of exploitation cannot make anyone happy.
As a corollary here is a Democracy Now programme about Kathy Boudin, a member of the Weather Underground. As part of naivete maybe she went beyond their actions, becoming criminally involved with the Black Liberation Army ending up in prison for her part in the deaths that followed from a robbery. There is a wonderful interplay of humanity in this story brought out in the discussion that lasts from 10.42 until 51.30:-
Posts Tagged ‘hippy’
The older generation of world changers are completely divided. Their combined understanding and energy could easily have toppled the 1% before they did the damage they have done. But they have failed – and I include myself here, they have failed because they never desired consensus. We are a generation of ego-driven cult leaders. We all want people to follow us. This is why our generation was so easily bought off with representative democracy. We were happy representing others because that gave us a sense of leadership. When I look around at my generation I see many wise people all working in separate alleys, and that is what they are – alleys. There is no road to change but lots of alleys vaguely going in the right direction.
How has this divisive situation come about? We all thought we were right, and that being right was enough. Being right is enough for us as individuals but it does not matter one iota when it comes to social change. What matters there is a consensus for change, a modus operandi that does not seek an agreement of ideas, does not require the acceptance of ideas of others, but simply accepts that there is a need for a consensus of action. The ideas of our generation never accepted that. This is our failure.
When the young of OWS look at us and say “look at the world you have left us”, we all turn round and say we fought. We came out of the 60s and we fought. But we fought in alleys whilst the road of the 1% led unobstructed to huge profits, global war and economic deprivation for the masses of people in the world. We all felt right about our own alleys so we never bothered to join together. Our egos kept us separate and did only one thing – we were working for the 1% by using our egos and our abilities in our own alleys – alleys of distraction.
I can imagine so many of my generation if they were ever to read this saying “this is right if only people had listened to me when I was trying to mobilise”. But that is not it. There is no point in saying we want this type of mobilisation or that type of mobilisation. What we want is no egos. And consensus.
And this is what the young are teaching us now. The young are working together. They seem disparate yet they have a movement. There are provocateurs trying to disrupt but they are seeking consensus not agreement. Bury your differences and work concertedly. NOT, determine your differences and form parties or organisations that go along in an alley that can maybe do some good but is more likely to deflect from the struggle against the 1%. Before we could never answer the question “who was at fault?” Now we have an answer – the 1%. Whose responsibility is it to change – the 1%? This answer is unequivocal. My generation would say we demand this or that, all perfectly reasonable, but the young people say we will put our bodies on the line, work out our own way, but not hide from confronting the problem – the problem is the 1%.
So when the young say look at what the hippy generation left us, I for one will say unequivocally “I am sorry”. Our generation was too egotistical to seek a consensus.
On Friday 25 November Democracy Now spent the whole programme on a conference on Occupy held at New School, New York. The whole programme is worth listening to concerning Occupy – download here.
But I want to focus on the climate message. Naomi Klein begins by explaining why Occupy helped the Keystone XL pipeline.
Then she explained that Occupy has an “ecological consciousness” including:-
grey water system
In Seattle the media asked “what are the alternatives?” Since Seattle (anti-globalisation movement) people have been organising local movements, farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture, diversifying local economies, community-renewable energy, the “solutions to the economic crisis are the solutions to the ecological crisis”. These are not two problems but one solution.
“What do we want to build in the rubble of this failed system?” Solutions have to have the ecological crisis front and centre”, “these are where the jobs are”. Obama’s green imperialism that hasn’t taken off.
Later she spoke of how the movement might progress:-
“State power can just be as alienating as corporate power”. “State action can systematically devolve power to the community level”, but “we won’t get there without strong intervention”. She didn’t go into why the state would allow such a strong intervention, but perhaps now such realities don’t belong with Occupy.
She earlier described that Occupy is the “no kidding-around moment”. My age makes me feel that this moment is not unique in history, but I do feel that this is one of the few moments in peoples’ lifetimes where there is a unique air for change. It is a moment to mobilise. For me I missed Vietnam in ignorance, and I miss this one in retirement and location, but I hope it is mobilisation for many others. It is the moment to be grabbed by all and sundry in the West, it is the moment when grass roots trade unionists say that their unions are cap-in-glove to the 1% that the patchers turn round and say that left-wing activists will not hold together the Labour party, Democrats and other corrupted Labour movement parties. Occupy is the movement.
Here is the full talk at New School (2 hours) taken from her website:-
and here is a talk she gave at OWS.
The essence of these global Occupy movements is a complete change to the grass roots working for One Planet, and not capitulating to outmoded controlled negotiation for marginal profits.
I have one final fear. Following the the love and compassion of the 60s was the deregulation of Thatcher and Reagan that hastened the current crisis. If this “no kidding-around moment” is not siezed, what will the 1% do to us?
Tags: #O, Corporatocracy, hippy
When I grew up I became angry. I looked at the system and I started blaming the system for so many things that were wrong; to begin with I did not blame people. After throwing aside my conditioning in a few uncomfortable tempestuous years after university I gravitated to caring for children. But child care was a holding job, and I was looking for change – improvement, so I became a teacher. Teaching is my profession, it is where I belong, in my next life I will be a teacher, but in reality all I have done as a teacher is patch the system.
Does that sound bad? It doesn’t, does it? You kind of think of patching a bike to fix a puncture, once you have patched it up you can ride your bike. But when you start to analyse the system that was patched you realise that what you were patching up was a system that facilitated the wealth of the 1%. I was patching in order to make them wealthy, not helping people. Any credible caring that I managed within my career just left the students more a part of the system waiting to be exploited than any genuine education. I have no doubts on a personal level that I helped many students with their own self-worth, but in terms of creating a better society I contributed little. I was never allowed to. Education is integral to the exploitation by the 1%, no matter how much I tried within the system I could never alter that. Nor could all the others who were trying, and the situation is far worse now than it was when I started teaching.
I grew up just after the last generation that stood up against the system, my teenage years were the 60s. These people were saying “Make love not war”, it was the love generation, it was a caring generation. People like myself were only looking for a caring society, and we wanted to stand up for this. There was an excitement as many people searched for ways to develop this caring. It was a generation of innovation, the art world sought new means of expression and whilst there were charlatans, much that was art turned back barriers. There was an air of questioning the authority that could have developed society into one of compassion. Instead minds grew out of control seeking wider and wider expansion leading to the greed and deregulation of Reagan-Thatcher that was the beginning of the current financial crisis. Our parents and grandparents had experienced a world war, all they wished to do was to live comfortably and work for their families. The 60s questioned that and asked for a more caring society. Whilst the movement in my view was genuine, the results have been minimal. Many of the people were sucked back into the system, but it could be argued that as a result there has been a hippie sub-culture of businesses on the periphery of society.
But mostly the situation has gradually worsened. When I was young obtaining a mortgage for a house was difficult, there were rules – you could only borrow 2 and a half times your annual income. Whilst I bemoaned this at the time, it was an indication that banking was more careful. Although loans to dictators were immoral, they were at least sound financially – an oppressed people would always pay back through taxation. Before the recession credit was available for almost anything, and the ratio between the amount of money in circulation on computers compared to tangible assets is far too high to be safe. This has been caused by greed and deregulation, the two being closely linked as those who deregulated were doing it out of greed. From a society that had such great potential the result is recession and war for profit.
And what did I do? I patched it up. I went to school and I told the kids “trust me and you will pass your exams”, whilst this was true what good did it do them? Did I know the system was flawed? Of course I did, but my generation wore our hearts on our sleeves saying we will try hard. Now when I say “my generation”, of course it was not all the people. But in many ways these caring few gave younger people a direction and hope, but I think this ended with Thatcher and the ill-conceived miners’ strike. From that time until Occupy in general young people grew up to earn money, and they measured social value by the size of their bank balance. Whilst my generation didn’t help enough, it is the “Reagan-Thatcher” generation who sat back and allowed the economy to sink into the bank balances of the 1%.
And what did many like me do? We patched up. When the black students at my Inner City school got angry at the racism I attempted to make education more palatable. I tried to gain their trust, and was successful in some way. And the result some anger was dispersed, and often turned on themselves as failures. I was doing what I was paid for “keeping them in line”. Were they ever meant to be successful? Deep down I knew they weren’t, but when some looked for success I tried to give it to them. But it was never meant to be.
Was patching the right approach? Yes, marginally so. All the legions of people who were patching up, helped a little, but overall the tide of the exploiting 1% was far stronger. Is there a place for patching now? I don’t believe so. That is the way the system wants caring young people to be channelled – caring, patch up the system. They will not pay much for that caring, they will try to squeeze every last drop of blood from the people in caring professions. But all of us in caring patchwork professions must remember – financially we were still in the system. It was still our salaries in their banks. they still lent their money based on the salaries we put in – even though such a high proportion was credit that had no asset base.
If you care, don’t patch up – you are only being used. Find an alternate way. Form cooperatives – no bosses, but don’t trade in their currencies. Minimise your financial transactions and seek trade as barter or alternative currency as a way forward. From the hippies communities were developed, and whilst their trade motivations were not based on greed their money was still within the system. My generation gave up saying the system was too striong, the need to be alternative financially was not as strong as it is now.
No patch, no money – #O.
Tags: Corporatocracy, hippy, Occupy
At the end of this blog I am going to include the declaration read by Keith Olbermann which comes from the General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street, but what they are saying can be summed up as “Fix the System”. The system derides them for being naive, not having leaders, and not having demands. But the truth is if they wanted to understand it would be easy to do so; they just don’t want to. Be clear the 1% have and 99% are screwed, this is the system. This is no accident, it is not unfortunate that this has happened, out of all the resources that are available 1% are taking far more than they earn, of the 99% who are trying to earn they are having their homes taken, and they cannot pay medical bills. Is this right?
Instead of asking OCCUPY where are the leaders, OCCUPY can ask “where are the leaders of the 99%?” Where are the leaders of the ordinary people who have been voted for? Why are the 99% being naive in saying fix the system? Whose system is it? Surely as a democracy we can ask our leaders to look after our own interests, is that naive?
Are the 99% asking for handouts? No, they are asking for their taxes to be used to create an economy in which they can work. When they work, they earn money and then they spend; this is how an economy works. Unless it is hijacked.
So they are explaining how it has been hijacked. The system is working in the interests of the 1% only to the extent that working people work without any reward or security. This has changed. The capitalist system has developed over centuries starting from feudal landlords and the monarchy, to industry that then expanded to colonial exploitation, and then developed neo-colonial exploitation where exploitation primarily of Third World countries was controlled by finance mechanisms such as IMF, World Bank or GATT – modern-day conquistadores. In this neo-colonial stage, whilst the Third World were suffering and dying from hunger because of the policies of the corporatocracy, the peoples of the first world “democracies” developed a pleasant standard of living. Whilst the corporatocracy took from the Third World the system had some stability at least for the peoples of the First World, but following Reagan more and more measures have been introduced which have led to greater exploitation of the First World peoples. Whilst First World peoples have always been exploited, since the Second World War they have seen an increasing standard of living. This developing of personal wealth allowed these peoples to turn a blind eye to the exploitation of Third World peoples, but then the prevailing powers got even greedier and turned on the peoples of their own nations. This is the stage where we are at now.
What does Fix the System mean in this context? I suspect that for many of the 99% it would mean a return to the standard of living that was developing from the 60s – that continued through the 70s and 80s – maybe even 90s. Personally I find this unacceptable because I am equally concerned for the Third World peoples who have suffered ever since colonial expansion, but I think far less than this would suffice.
But what about demands? Suppose we are boarding a plane, and it breaks down. The passengers demand that the plane be fixed, and the airline says “be specific about your demands”. And the passengers say “we want the plane fixed so we can fly to our destination.” The passengers are not expected to understand which part of the engine needs fixing, nor do they expect to ask where does the money come from to fix the plane, nor do they expect to have to provide a pilot. It is understood that they earned their money, bought the ticket, and therefore the plane should fly them to their destination. Fix the plane.
Why should the passengers have to know how to fix the plane? The engine is a no-go area for most people, it is understood that the airline purchases and maintains the engine, employs the pilot and gets the plane to its destination. The passengers do not know what is going on, but they have paid so they don’t need to know. The functioning of the plane effectively is secret, and that doesn’t matter until things go wrong and the airline refuses to fix it. If the airline says what do you want us to do? The passengers say fix it, the airline says “what do you want fixed?”, and the passengers say “the plane”.
For some reason the 99% saying “Fix the System” is not acceptable. Why?
Personally I don’t think the majority of the 99% care that rich people are rich. I care, I have always cared because when a few people are rich many people are poor. But what has happened since the recession has been gross. The greed of the very rich has been obscenely excessive. Previously in the capitalist system there had been some form of trickle down as I have previously explained. Even though the rich got richer the peoples of First World countries had a developing standard of living. What happened in the recession? The puppet government, part of the system, gave the banks vast amounts of money – bailout. Following the bailout there was no trickle-down, and what was worse the bankers who caused the recession problem awarded themselves huge bonuses whilst they foreclosed on peoples’ homes. This obscene practice alienated so many people and was a key trigger in the start of the Occupy movement.
Previously people have not understood the economic system, but they worked, paid their mortgages, and generally found the system satisfactory because they could buy what they needed. And the rich were still greedy but there was an acceptable balance – not for me but for most people including my parents who had experienced the Second World War. Having suffered war they didn’t want to struggle for Third World peoples, they didn’t want to join the hippy movement of the 60s where my generation were dissatisfied with what was happening in society – specifically the Vietnam war. They wanted to work, bring up their family in their homes, and live a healthy life if possible.
It is the failure of people like my parents, it is their complacency and the complacency of the Thatcher generation that allowed the corporatocracy to gain such a grip on the system – the economy and the democracy. Whilst a few voices stood up, some in the Labour Movement, others for environmental causes and others for Third World Peoples, the majority drifted content with caring for families. But now that is not acceptable, the 1% have gone too far and people unite behind the needs of the 99% – to Fix the System.
There are many differing views under the umbrella of the 99%, and if these views crystallised as demands the demands would be endless. Some talk of Bildeberg and other cartels such as the Carlyle group. They might point at the inconsistencies of Free Trade, or laugh at the con game that is supply and demand. Some might start to argue for better representation by Democrats or by the Labour party, but in the end it is not specific demands that are required. The system is not working, it is up to the powers-that-be to fix it.
I have already discussed Aaron Russo and the Fed. As the system stands the Fed is a problem, changing the Fed or establishing a central bank like Michael Hudson says will not work. Under the present way the corporatocracy functions, they might work but the corporatocracy would quickly change what is happening. They would find another way of appropriating the Fed’s reserves, they would take control of any central bank. This is because quite simply the system is not working. The corporatocracy need to “Fix the System”. Making specific demands such as the Fed will only allow the corporatocracy to pretend to be reasonable, and give them the opportunity to change the way that they remain as the 1%.
The key to the way the 1% maintain control is secrecy. Whilst they use governments that are ostensibly democratic – elected representational democracies, the 1% manipulate behind the scenes, and control economic directions. If a specific demand was made they would find a way to accommodate such demands in part, and behind closed doors secretly manipulate so that the “new” system would still work in favour of the 1%. When the 99% say “Fix the System” they are making a considered position that requires the corporatocracy to fix the “plane”, and not tinker with the plane whose destination they have no intention of reaching. “Fix the System” means that the 99% can go back to work knowing they can bring up their families, keep their homes, and pay their medical bills to stay healthy.
Sadly I suspect that helping the Third World only figures rhetorically in this scenario.
Here is the statement:-