Ben Cochran’s classic not-pology »« Someday, maybe social media will apply their rules consistently

When is the revolution?

#OccupyWallStreet is just the beginning — this movement needs to grow. We need another George Carlin.

The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they’re an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They’ve got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They’ve got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying ­ lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else.

But I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago.

You know what they want? Obedient workers ­ people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they’re coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the big club.

This country is finished.

Comments

  1. says

    Wall Street is the engine of growth for our economy, the productive sector that is leading us straight to untold prosperity. Just one more tax cut (this time to zero–I mean, be fair) for the rich, and our economy will soar.

    Where would we be without them? Probably at a very high unemployment rate and stagnation. Can you imagine?

    Or, as the libertarians will no doubt point out, we need to get rid of regulation. Never mind Randian Greenspan’s lack of oversight and what a great thing that did to our economy, the little bit of fraud that is caught should not be.

    Oh Wall Street, what a wonderful thing you are.

    Glen Davidson

  2. Dick the Damned says

    No, no! It’s the magic of the Market that controls everything, for your benefit. It is so! I heard Ronald Reagan say so.

  3. says

    Glen Davidson says:

    Just one more tax cut (this time to zero–I mean, be fair)

    You assume that zero is the baseline. It wouldn’t surprise me if the rich eventually start arguing for income subsidies. They’ll justify it using the same arguments they use to justify paying tax at a lower rate than their cleaners.

  4. Shriketastic says

    You assume that zero is the baseline. It wouldn’t surprise me if the rich eventually start arguing for income subsidies. They’ll justify it using the same arguments they use to justify paying tax at a lower rate than their cleaners.

    They already get subsidies. Tax refunds and breaks for things only they can afford, like jets or yachts. More and more every year, while recording more profits than ever before, and constantly lamenting that they don’t have enough.

  5. paul irvine says

    Most of the media are treating OWS as a joke.

    They are vastly underestimating the depth of feeling amongst ‘ordinary folk’ globally! We’ll see who has the last laugh.

  6. Abbie says

    I’m going to be attending the next (and subsequent) Occupy Vermont rally. I’m progressive but not the type who goes out and protests shit. This could be the start of something really positive.

  7. wyogold says

    I am so glad that some kids are now protesting Wall street. It only took them two years since the financial crisis to get away from their X-boxes and fight the man (if that is still the correct terminology?)

  8. says

    the media coverage of occupy wallstreet is proof of it. Yesterday the headlines all seemed to read “what do they really want, anyway?” as if they didn’t post a fucking manifesto on their website. It is bullshit.

  9. theophontes, feu d'artifice du cosmopolitisme says

    CNN has been dismissive of the protests at Wall street. They claim it is nothing like the “Arab Spring” revolutions in North Africa and the Levant. (Though protesters claim to be inspired by this phenomenon.) They are getting really condescending.

    I think the comparison is very relevant. There is a big gap (Deep Rift ™) between those who are “in the club” and appropriate all power and resources to themselves while those others, in the majority, have to make do with the crumbs. How is this different from what has happened in Tunisia, Libya or Syria? Yes, the modes of repression are quite different, but the underlying problems people experience at the hand of these robber barons is the same.

    Check this out too: CNN claim that TARP has earned 10 billion (compare that to the trillions of deficit that Wall street helped generate). Linky. Looks like a red herring minnow.

  10. says

    Economies probably started to have a system where people could trade things and ideas roughly equally.
    Clearly that is not happening now.
    I pretty much want to say that most, if not all, forms of economies have either been or are at this point in human history failures and that a new system needs to be devised.
    But maybe I’m just ranty sometimes.

  11. Ichthyic says

    IMO, Carlin died just in time.

    I can’t fucking imagine what he would think of the current mess.

  12. Hazuki says

    “And the people bowed and prayed… / To the neon God they made”
    “He said the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls / And tenement halls”

    Funny how a couple of hippie guitar players are suddenly becoming relevant again. I wonder how this looming disaster will all play out. If anyone remembers the ending to Phantasy Star II on the old Megadrive, well…

  13. cyberCMDR says

    The Republicans will probably figure out a way to make protesting against the rich to be equivalent to treason, because the rich are what made this country great. Before long if you protest against the growing disparity, you might get called before the The House Committee on Un-American Activities to explain yourself or get blacklisted.

    “He will make an excellent drone.” – Commander Data

  14. says

    The problem with revolutions is the totalitarian states that seem to almost always result, afterwards. It’s very rare indeed that you don’t wind up with the nastiest bastard in the revolution’s leaders floating to the top.

    Every so often, though, it’s a good idea to send a bunch of the rich and powerful to the guillotine. “Pour encourager les autres” – they’ll make sure they’re less obviously greedy for a while.

  15. says

    I’ve been joining the occupation downtown when I can, bringing as many provisions as I can carry – it’s definitely growing in numbers. I think tomorrow’s march may be the biggest gathering yet.

    For those demanding to know what exactly they expect to accomplish (and as noted above, who apparently can’t be bothered to go to their website), I have a little anecdote. I spoke to an old friend today. He told me that his rich, conservative friends are scared shitless. If the OWS movement accomplishes absolutely nothing else, it will have been a phenomenal success in my opinion.

    Perhaps OT, but the occupiers are requesting large capacity data storage devices. Vegan food bars, I understand. Socks & sweats, I get. But does anyone know what I can bring them for data storage? Is there something anyone can recommend that I can pick up at, say, a Radio Shack?

    -Iris the Idiot

  16. fastlane says

    Iris, they probably want high capacity USB drives or cards, so they can keep plenty of video recordings of police activity.

  17. frankensteinmonster says

    The problem with revolutions is the totalitarian states that seem to almost always result, afterwards.

    Not true. Actually, the majority of revolutions does not produce totalitarian dystopias. And even in those few cases when they do, the totalitarian regime is often quite short-lived and replaced by a more sane government. ( which in turn may be replaced with another totality, and the whole process may repeat itself a few times until the country settles into the attractor basin of democracy, chief example being the French revolution )

  18. BreadGod says

    Glen Davidson says:

    “Wall Street is the engine of growth for our economy, the productive sector that is leading us straight to untold prosperity. Just one more tax cut (this time to zero–I mean, be fair) for the rich, and our economy will soar.”

    I don’t know if you’re being serious or just a troll.

  19. amphiox says

    Looks like a red herring minnow.

    Can’t really blame them. Overfishing and climate change having decimated herring populations of all colors, resulting in an explosion in the population density of their minnow prey….

  20. herp says

    Sadly, once my wife finds a job we will be making almost 6 figures but will still be struggling to pay for child care, housing and food. We both have PhDs in science fields. This is all before we stack on the almost $100k of student debt that it took to get this far. I feel like there was a disconnect between what was originally the “get educated, be okay” mindset and what has actually happened.

    Revolution, I think, is too strong a word; though wouldn’t it be nice to have something like the protests for the Vietnam War in this generation…. The frustration is growing in the rising youth. this compounded with the current economic climate in the world results in critical analysis of who has the power and why they can not (or are not) doing something to fix it.

  21. Ichthyic says

    I don’t know if you’re being serious or just a troll.

    neither, he’s being sarcastic.

    get your irony meter fixed.

  22. amphiox says

    I don’t know if you’re being serious or just a troll.

    Neither. It’s called sarcasm.

    Admittedly somewhat difficult sometimes to recognize on-line, if one hasn’t had the opportunity to become familiar with writer. Though his second and final paragraphs should have been a big hint.

  23. Ichthyic says

    I feel like there was a disconnect between what was originally the “get educated, be okay” mindset and what has actually happened.

    I hear that one.

    before it was “get educated, live the American Dream”

    it was:

    “work hard, live the American Dream”

    soon it will be:

    “Be a serf! live the new American Dream”

    I weep for the next generation.

  24. h2atheist says

    You assume that zero is the baseline. It wouldn’t surprise me if the rich eventually start arguing for income subsidies. They’ll justify it using the same arguments they use to justify paying tax at a lower rate than their cleaners.

    This is already happening on the corporate side. Oil companies are receiving income subsidies. I’ve asked why companies that have a healthy income need public assistance, but never received a response.

  25. Ichthyic says

    It’s very rare indeed that you don’t wind up with the nastiest bastard in the revolution’s leaders floating to the top.

    that’s because those most qualified to actually lead, are the least likely to want to.

    There’s a famous quote to that effect which escapes me atm.

    IOW, we screw ourselves because in the end, most of us are happy to take up arms to change the situation, but not to take responsibility to actually make things work for everyone afterwards.

    I don’t know if this is inevitable, and so we are just fucked, but I have yet to see this change in my lifetime.

    until it does…

    anyway, even little things help.

    have you participated in your local government at all? even schoolboard meetings?

    the vast majority have not, because we all think we have something better to do.

  26. Velociraptor says

    @3

    You assume that zero is the baseline. It wouldn’t surprise me if the rich eventually start arguing for income subsidies. They’ll justify it using the same arguments they use to justify paying tax at a lower rate than their cleaners.

    “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it.”

    - Frederic Bastiat

  27. says

    have you participated in your local government at all? even schoolboard meetings?

    Nope. I know it’s traditional to blame the victim and say something like “people get the government they deserve” but I believe that the ability to participate in government is largely mooted. First off, there are all the various ways in which the vote has been gerrymandered or intercepted by layers that claim to “represent” me. I am, of course, perfectly capable of representing myself if I care to, so I assume that those who claim to be doing me a favor by representing me are, in fact, charlatans who have disempowered me. The way representative governments like this one evolve, you’re not capable of electing someone who actually has beliefs that might upset the applecart – there are plenty of layers of vetting that would prevent a reformer from gaining power. Indeed, “reform” – as we can see from Obama – has become a code-word for “business as usual”

    The notion that “we should try to participate” comes from the idea that the citizen participates in a “social contract.” That philosophy, conveniently, was promulgated by one of the vassals of stateism to help justify it. The social contract is a lie: none of us live under a government that exists as we would agree to it in all respects, given a choice – we’re handed a social contract that is already filled out in all interesting particulars, including our own signature! And the social contract we agreed to was by virtue of where we happen to be born on Earth.

    Challenges to participate parse to me as an invitation to waste my time.

  28. Ichthyic says

    “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that justifies it.”

    - Frederic Bastiat

    too true.

    Hence things like “Voodoo Economics” which is really a bastardization of supply-side economics, which really was a bastardization of a particular instance, in a particular country, in a particular time, when actually making life easier for those with the most capital actually DID help a particular economy.

    It was never meant to be a general rule to be applied to ALL economies, FFS!

    Instead, it has become merely a way to rationalize the guilt out of sheer greed.

    and we are where we are now because of 40 years of it.

  29. jose says

    First step, everybody go join a union. Every worker unionized.

    When that happens we can talk about something.

  30. Todd Morgan says

    Sounds like something I’d hear on Coast to Coast.

    Are the owners lizard people?

  31. Rasmus says

    Perhaps OT, but the occupiers are requesting large capacity data storage devices. Vegan food bars, I understand. Socks & sweats, I get. But does anyone know what I can bring them for data storage? Is there something anyone can recommend that I can pick up at, say, a Radio Shack?

    Odds are they’re talking about USB hard drives. You can pick them up in any store that sells consumer electronics. A typical drive will set you back about $80.

  32. says

    I’m not sure how much the American MSM have picked up now, but thanks to the intertubes (and the Iraq War), we can be grateful that a lot of Americans are now following the Guardian, and that would include its coverage of the protests http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/occupy-wall-street

    (This is also the newspaper, whose reporter doggedly pursued the Murdoch phone hacking story. )

  33. Ichthyic says

    First off, there are all the various ways in which the vote has been gerrymandered or intercepted by layers that claim to “represent” me.

    …and how does gerrymandering work; who sets that up, and why?

    how would you go about changing that?

    uh huh.

  34. Ichthyic says

    The notion that “we should try to participate” comes from the idea that the citizen participates in a “social contract.”

    because we should, and we do.

    regardless of whether you think so or not.

  35. nemothederv says

    Ever been to Salt Lake City? It’s an interesting town.
    For a long time, the tallest building there was the LDS temple.
    The Church
    Then statehood came along and this city became a capitol. The capitol building was built larger, grander and taller. The Temple was no longer the biggest building in town.
    Government
    Today the city is dominated by office buildings. The capitol building is dwarfed by these structures.
    Commerce
    The three pillars of our so called society. Is Mr Carlin right? Are we slaves used to hold these pillars up?

    Should we knock them all down? More importantly, if we do, what can we build to hold up the world in their place?

  36. says

    that’s because those most qualified to actually lead, are the least likely to want to.

    There’s a famous quote to that effect which escapes me atm.

    It might be this one straight out of the Hitchhiker’s Guide.
    That’s where I remember it from at least. Douglas may have had inspiration from elsewhere.
    But it does ring true, certainly.

  37. Ichthyic says

    Should we knock them all down?

    well, that was the opinion of one group, and they took action on that opinion and knocked down perhaps the single largest icon of the very concept of the rule of Commerce.

    So, you have an excellent real world example to learn from.

    has it had impacts?

    For better or worse, nobody can deny that it has.

    are you willing to personally take responsibility for attempting to remove the rule of commerce?

    because if the last 10 years have showed us anything, it is that it will beget much blood and suffering before any significant progress is made on that front.

  38. Alteredstory says

    Now when I waters the workers’ beer
    I puts in strychnine
    Some methylated spirits
    And a can of kerosene
    Ah, but such a brew so terribly strong
    It would make them terribly queer
    So I reaches my hand for the watering-can
    And I waters the workers’ beer:

    I am the man, the very fat man
    That waters the workers’ beer
    I am the man, the very fat man
    That waters the workers’ beer
    And what do I care if it makes them ill
    If it makes them terribly queer
    I’ve a car, a yacht, and an aeroplane,
    And I waters the workers’ beer.

    Now a drop of good beer is good for a man
    When he’s tired, thirsty and hot
    And I sometimes have a drop myself
    From a very special pot
    For a strong and healthy working class
    Is the thing that I most fear
    So I reaches my hand for the watering-can
    And I waters the workers’ beer:

    –Dr. R. E. W. Fisher 1938

  39. Ichthyic says

    Douglas may have had inspiration from elsewhere.

    yup, the original version is much older than that.

    curse you, now I have to go look for it.

    :P

  40. Blondin says

    Could Atlas shrug? I think Atlas has an inflated ego and over-estimates his own importance.

    Perhaps it’s time to burn John Galt in effigy.

  41. Ichthyic says

    while looking for the quote I was thinking of, I ran across this:

    “We find that at present the human race is divided into one wise man, nine knaves, and ninety fools out of every hundred. That is, by an optimistic observer. The nine knaves assemble themselves under the banner of the most knavish among them, and become ‘politicians’; the wise man stands out, because he knows himself to be hopelessly outnumbered, and devotes himself to poetry, mathematics, or philosophy; while the ninety fools plod off under the banners of the nine villains, according to fancy, into the labyrinths of chicanery, malice and warfare. It is pleasant to have command, observes Sancho Panza, even over a flock of sheep, and that is why the politicians raise their banners. It is, moreover, the same thing for the sheep whatever the banner. If it is democracy, then the nine knaves will become members of parliament; if fascism, they will become party leaders; if communism, commissars. Nothing will be different, except the name. The fools will be still fools, the knaves still leaders, the results still exploitation. As for the wise man, his lot will be much the same under any ideology. Under democracy he will be encouraged to starve to death in a garret, under fascism he will be put in a concentration camp, under communism he will be liquidated.”

    ― T.H. White

  42. khms says

    I’m not a citizen of the US, so I don’t have a vote in this either way (so feel free to ignore me, like I often ignore US citizens telling us what to do) – but I’d suggest, as the most effective change you could ask for, a change of your voting rules, towards proportional representation instead of the current system. For one, it is mostly immune against gerrymandering, for another, experience over here shows that it does lead to political change, and new parties do actually have a chance.

    Oh, and it would also be a good idea to make corporate campaign contributions illegal.

    It wouldn’t be a fast fix, but I suspect if you could actually swing it (and it doesn’t look good at the moment), it would give you a way to attack many future problems, not just what seems most pressing today. That’s certainly what it has done for us.

    It’s not that we’re living in a problem-free Utopia – it’s that most of us over here are under the impression that the politicians actually need to care about what we want, because, if they don’t, we can always have us a new party with different politicians – which threat is mostly good enough to make them at least not get totally stupid.

    (If you want a compromise voting system with both proportional and district winners in it, you could look at the (probably overcomplicated) German federal voting system, where everyone has two votes, one for electing a district winner, and one for the proportional part. That way you’d still have your local representative.)

    I think I’ll stop here. Anyone who managed to read until here can easily ask Google or Wikipedia for more info, and most people probably won’t read this far anyway.

  43. says

    Ichthyic @ 47

    Tres kewl. A long, long, long, loooong time ago I read TOAFK in which “A Candle in the Wind” was the last book. I hadn’t known there was another “installment”. Thanks.

    – TWZ

  44. Ichthyic says

    “When we don’t pay close attention to the decisions made by our leaders, when we fail to educate ourselves about the major issues of the day, when we choose not to make our voices and opinions heard, that’s when democracy breaks down. That’s when power is abused. That’s when the most extreme voices in our society fill the void that we leave. That’s when powerful interests and their lobbyists are most able to buy access and influence in the corridors of power –- because none of us are there to speak up and stop them.

    Participation in public life doesn’t mean that you all have to run for public office -– though we could certainly use some fresh faces in Washington. (Laughter and applause.) But it does mean that you should pay attention and contribute in any way that you can. Stay informed. Write letters, or make phone calls on behalf of an issue you care about. If electoral politics isn’t your thing, continue the tradition so many of you started here at Michigan and find a way to serve your community and your country –- an act that will help you stay connected to your fellow citizens and improve the lives of those around you.”

    points for whoever can name the author of that quote.

  45. says

    Do any of the Wall Street protesters have jobs?

    I didn’t think so.

    Instead of being poor all their lives, they could work for a living, live frugally to save money, and invest that savings in the evil stock market.

    Capitalism is wonderful thing. It has the advantage of actually working, unlike other economic systems (for example communism) that make everyone equally poor.

  46. says

    Well, of course. How else could you explain the sophisticated theology being put out (mostly) by CNN as ‘balanced political journalism’ that all conveniently seems to favor caving to the Rethuglicans?

    I mean, fuck. I’ve had someone give me the spiel about how the Rethuglicans get rewarded by their base for obstructionism but the Democrats need to cater to ‘everyone’; once I managed to get in the point that the Democrats have a base, suddenly all the comments about bases were referring to congressional and state elections rather than ‘general elections’ (ostensibly, those involving the President), and that things were different. When I dropped all pretense and called the double standard, their response was ‘politics is complicated’.

    And this was someone who knows what the Courtier’s Reply is, ffs.

  47. Andrew Clunn says

    I know! Screw the wealthy! We need simple common folk like Al Gore and Micheal Moore to lead us! Those evil media companies like FOX are just corporate shills, not like MSNBC! Fight the power! We are the revolution against the brain dead political zombies!

  48. says

    “Challenges to participate parse to me as an invitation to waste my time.”

    Riiight, all those rabid republicans/evangelicals who started at ground level, the school board, then elected city/council members, who then elected state senators, and then elected state governors, and then got batshit crazy US Reps elected.

    Those 27% of the people now control the agenda for the nation.

    Fuck you, and fuck your lazy ass for being too bothered to waste your time to make your community a better place.

    All politics is local.

  49. Ichthyic says

    points for whoever can name the author of that quote.

    hint:

    it’s entirely relevant to who you might consider voting for in the next big US election.

    and no, it wasn’t Michele Bachman.

    ;)

  50. Ichthyic says

    Do any of the Wall Street protesters have jobs?

    did you look before concluding they didn’t?

    no, I didn’t think so.

  51. Ichthyic says

    I know! Screw the wealthy! We need simple common folk like Al Gore and Micheal Moore to lead us! Those evil media companies like FOX are just corporate shills, not like MSNBC! Fight the power! We are the revolution against the brain dead political zombies!

    and speaking as one of the brain dead, would you care to add anything else?

  52. Andrew Clunn says

    Yes, that your inability to detect intentional irony makes me ashamed to call myself a libertarian :P

  53. Ichthyic says

    damnit, i hate when websites change their link structure.

    grrr.

    wow, in fact it appears that wonderful article in Salon has been rabbit-holed!!

    fascinating.

    if anyone can find the original text, post it?

    it was titled:

    Obama’s “bad negotiating” is actually shrewd negotiating.

    By Glenn Greenwald.

  54. says

    Human Ape – “Do any of the Wall Street protesters have jobs?”

    Why yes, a lot of them do. But with 10% of the population being unemployed due to the banksters crashing of the economy it’s not surprising that they want the American Dream that was sold to them and are willing to fight for it.

    And isn’t that the American Way? Fight for what you believe in?

    Instead of being poor all their lives, they could work for a living, live frugally to save money, and invest that savings in the evil stock market.

    Riiiight, there are just sooo many good paying jobs out there that anyone can do it.

    Apparently you are in the 1% economically that wants to repress the rest of us Americans.

  55. Alchemist says

    Dearest PZ

    Have you ever considered emigrating? New Zealand is a lovely place, and we’d be honoured to have you!

  56. says

    Instead of being poor all their lives, they could work for a living, live frugally to save money, and invest that savings in the evil stock market.

    Capitalism is wonderful thing. It has the advantage of actually working, unlike other economic systems (for example communism) that make everyone equally poor.

    If capitalism works, why is it not working?

  57. The Rat King says

    “Ohhh, some people don’t like you to talk like that. Ohh, some people like to shut you up for saying those things.
    You know that. Lots of people. Lots of groups in this country want to tell you how to talk.
    Tell you what you can’t talk about. Well, sometimes they’ll say, well you can talk about something but you can’t joke about it.
    Say you can’t joke about something because it’s not funny. Comedians run into that shit all the time.
    Like rape. They’ll say, “you can’t joke about rape. Rape’s not funny.”
    I say, “fuck you, I think it’s hilarious. How do you like that?”
    I can prove to you that rape is funny. Picture Porky Pig raping Elmer Fudd.”

    George was awesome indeed, but he would have had his way with you about your last post, PZ…

  58. amphiox says

    Do any of the Wall Street protesters have jobs?

    In a group as large as that? Yes. I can say that with near certainty without even checking.

    And some of those who do not have jobs now? They had jobs before. Probably not that long ago, before losing them thanks to the recent financial crisis. And I can say that with near certainty without even checking as well.

    Of course, not absolute certainty. Just near.

  59. Ichthyic says

    Could the author of that quote have been … PZ Myers?

    I know u…

    ;)

    it could have been, but it wasn’t.

    :)

  60. Ichthyic says

    makes me ashamed to call myself a libertarian

    well, then, we’re agreed.

    People should be ashamed to call themselves libertarian.

  61. Buffybot says

    No prize for me, then.

    Could swear I remember reading that in Pharyngula. Must’ve been a quote.

  62. Ichthyic says

    Could swear I remember reading that in Pharyngula

    I wouldn’t be surprised if you had read PZ saying something extremely similar; I think he would pretty much entirely agree with the sentiments contained in it.

    Probably one of the reasons I keep sticking around here.

  63. says

    Ichthyic: Well, that doesn’t really disagree with any assessment I’ve seen, well, ever. No one’s doing anything to effect actual change. No one’s going to do it. No one’s even going to allow it, because it means less for the moneyed interests and more for everyone else.

    But, apparently, we just need to keep trying to change the system from within.

    Because none of these filters exist.

    Because this is democracy.

    Now tell me, what is the democracy in telling someone that they cannot challenge the actions and claims of the political bodies by applying logic, because they do not understand how the body really works?

    And how the fuck is that different from saying that I can’t challenge the actions and claims of religion because I don’t know how religion really works?

  64. Aqua Buddha says

    It’s the kind of pointless street theater that would have made a serious revolutionary like Lenin shake his head

    Looks like the protests have converted the Washington Times op-ed page to Marxism-Leninism. That’s no small feat.

  65. Ichthyic says

    But, apparently, we just need to keep trying to change the system from within.

    in theory, it should work.

    in practice, it takes a fuckload of dedication and time and effort, from local to state to national, that I just don’t see.

    if you want to conclude from that that we’re screwed, you won’t find me disagreeing.

    I think we’ve been conditioned over millenia to consider leadership roles as being for “those guys that want power, not me”, so most do not choose to directly participate in their own governance.

    “A leader is one who, out of madness or goodness, volunteers to take upon himself the woe of the people. There are few men so foolish, hence the erratic quality of leadership.”
    ― John Updike

    I’m old enough to actually remember Nixon in office. I grew up with a generation of young people who did not want to be president of the United States.

    who wants to be president for the next term?

    Perry? Bachman?

    amazing.

    It’s obvious this is not the best even the GoP has to offer, let alone in all of America.

    and you can run that right down to your local mayor, or schoolboard, and likely be able to say the same thing.

  66. amphiox says

    But, apparently, we just need to keep trying to change the system from within.

    Well, it’s that, armed revolt, emigration, or suicide.

    The choice is yours.

  67. Mike de Fleuriot says

    Going to get beaten for this, but anyone want to tell me what the lizard bosses are going to do with all the money once that have stolen it from the slave class? That is a serious question.

    OWS is just a kid ranting about how it hurts, and until he stops the raving, and works with qualified people to solve the problems, the pain will continue.

    If you want an effective approach, use the crowd power and put ONE single business/chain group out of operation. Like what happened recently with Murdock’s newspaper, generate one will to stop all business with say Starbucks, and cause it to suffer major financial losses. Use that as your manifesto to the lizard bosses, that they will understand.

    Rioting and raving in the streets is just carnival time to the Wall Street folks, I would not be surprised to hear them shouting to see your tits!

  68. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Not quite a year ago I wrote an essay about economics in the US. Here’s some excerpts:

    . For a quarter of a century, from 1980 to 2004, while US gross domestic product per person rose by almost two-thirds, the wages of the average worker fell after adjusting for inflation. Over the three decades from 1972 to 2001, the wages and salaries of even those Americans at the 90th percentile (those doing better than 90 percent of their fellow citizens) experienced income gains of only 1% a year on average. Those at the 99.9th percentile saw their income rise by 181 percent over these years (to an income averaging almost $1.7 million). Those at the 99.99th percentile had income growth of 497%.

    Despite globalization, manufacturing output is not declining in the US. It’s been expanding, growing faster than the rest of the economy in recent years. It’s manufacturing employment that is shrinking.

    . It is not of course that things were great in the 1980s. During that decade, 13% of Americans between 40 and 50 years of age spent at least one year living in poverty, but by the 1990s, 36% did. Mobility has also declined. Social mobility is not as likely in the US as in Germany, for example.

    On the whole, life grows ever more insecure for working people. Capital’s share of all corporate income is the highest and the compensation of employees is the lowest that they have been in twenty-five years. Moreover, capital income is more concentrated than it has ever been. As the profit share went up, the CEO’s share of both the total wage bill and of corporate profits dramatically increased. By the mid-1990s CEO pay was about 5% of corporate profits. In 2003 their share was 10% of all profits. The percentage available for labor’s share decreased.

    In the 2006 holiday season the top 20 Wall Street firms together paid out an estimated $36 to $44 billion to their employees. The bulk of it went to those masters of the universe who were restructuring employment prospects for US workers and extorting concessions from workers to finance debt. From 2000 to 2006, all 93 million American production and nonsupervisory workers had real earnings increases of less than half of the combined bonuses awarded by the top 20 Wall Street firms for just one year.

    People are beginning to notice that the rich get richer and the poor and middle class get poorer. Pretty soon, even the rich are going to notice that other Americans are not happy about this.

  69. Ichthyic says

    Not quite a year ago I wrote an essay about economics in the US. Here’s some excerpts:

    BOOK.

    that is all.

  70. Ichthyic says

    but anyone want to tell me what the lizard bosses are going to do with all the money once that have stolen it from the slave class? That is a serious question.

    that’s when the others harvest the lizard bosses for meat.

  71. says

    Next time a plutonian apologist declares that the wealthy deserve their riches, that they’ve earned them under whatever rationale, the correct response is: No they haven’t. It is part of the duty of a society, and as those with the greatest means and power *their* responsibility in particular to maintain a stable and secure middle class. A middle class that has is too invested in society to imagine “rocking the boat” sufficient to dislodge them from their perch of privilege.

    The compact of allowing those capable of creating wealth retain control of it was that they “pay it forward”, not to their offspring and relatives, not to their class, but to the future for society as a whole. That they invest in education, people and newer technologies all necessary to create new jobs that would allow new entrepreneurs to pick up the reins going forward such that not just they, but all of society benefited more from their accumulation of wealth than confiscation for social purposes would.

    They have not kept that compact.

    They FAILED. It’s that simple. They’ve raped the middle class, stolen its accumulated wealth outright (foreclosures … on mortgages for homes overpriced because THEY provided the money driving up the price of housing faster than general growth and inflation) shipping jobs overseas without re-industrializing locally – despite *selling* continuing to sell locally – and left those remaining in so precarious a state that they’re outraged.

    That was a mistake, they should know. The always poor never had the comfort and security to lose. Their anger was the grinding malaise of discontent that the poor have worn as a crown of thorns throughout history. But but the falling behind and desparately hanging on middle class are PISSED OFF. They may not know who exactly, but they know that their lives are being torn from them. And what of their disenfranchised children? They’re adults now. They grew up in comfort, many struggling to make their way through exorbitantly overpriced education to get college degrees … and now they can get a job flipping burgers or selling Avon?

    Do they really expect the middle class – who KNOW it doesn’t have to be this way – are going to just take it? I suspect that somebody, somewhere has seriously dropped a decimal in doing the calculus of social discontent.

    – TWZ

  72. Blind Faithiness says

    On my way to DC tomorrow for “Stop the Machine” demonstration(Oct 6/Freedom Plaza) and to #OccupyDC(McPherson Square/ongoing).

    Check #OccupyTogether for protests and occupations close to you.

  73. says

    Icthyc writes:

    because we should, and we do.

    Did slaves have a social obligation to participate in the political system in which they found themselves?

  74. Ichthyic says

    Do they really expect the middle class – who KNOW it doesn’t have to be this way – are going to just take it?

    what was the reaction to Obama’s last budget proposal?

    specifically the part to increase the tax percent for the wealthiest Americans, which, btw, is NOWHERE NEAR what it was before Reagan was elected?

    yeah, when people stop voting republican, and when republicans stop saying that raising taxes on the rich is a no-go, THEN I will have some sense that people are actually angry about the death of the middle class in the US, and want to do something about it.

    It won’t happen. much of middle America has evidently been sold on the idea that being a serf is a good thing, so long as they aren’t “being attacked by terrorists”, or communists, or what have you (That famous quote by Herman Goerring comes to mind), and so long as they have their couches and TVs.

    so, in answer to your question…

    YES.

    They do indeed expect Americans to put up little more than token resistance to the death of even the IDEA of the middle class.

    I mean, we had hippies, and now the Tea Party?

    really?

    it’s fucking OVER man.

    It was well played so that the angry mob would never be quite sure who to come after with the pitchforks. They often, I’m sure much to the chagrin of the people watching, stab THEMSELVES instead.

    If you really think there is going to be a grand revolution, you’re past the sell by date.

    We had that chance.

    We failed.

  75. Ichthyic says

    Did slaves have a social obligation to participate in the political system in which they found themselves?

    this is inane, and insulting to even the memory of those that have suffered slavery.

  76. Ichthyic says

    There will be no grand revolution.

    there will either be an acceptance that everyone needs to involved in their own governance, or an acceptance that you prefer freedom FROM choice instead of freedom OF choice.

    As you can see, I hope for the former, that everyone will take what I quoted Obama saying to heart. People get old, they die, and are replaced. If you want to have a chance at replacing them with someone competent, you have to work towards that goal, as an individual, as a community, and beyond. in a representative system, you can get that chance. Even against the influence of money, even against good old boy networks.

    I expect the latter, however, that people will assume the role of serf with grumbling acceptance, and after a couple more generations, will not even recall what the idea of fairness and equality means, or having your own home, for that matter.

    It will look much like that part of Holy Grail where Arthur first meets up with the serfs gathering muck in the fields…

  77. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    BOOK

    Some years ago I co-authored a couple of textbooks. It was a lot of work for not a lot of compensation.

  78. Ichthyic says

    which is why writing textbooks is not the way to go with it.

    write popular history/economics book instead.

    like an extension of your essays, from personal experience, with added color.

    it’ll sell.

    hell, if Anne Coulter can make money off books, you can.

  79. Ichthyic says

    addendum:

    People want to KNOW how they got to where they’re at now.

    If you can show them that, while telling a good story at the same time…

    Ka-ching.

  80. azkyroth says

    Well, it’s that, armed revolt, emigration, or suicide.

    Or sitting on the sidelines sniping cynically at anyone who cares or tries until hell freezes over, I guess.

  81. Ichthyic says

    Or sitting on the sidelines sniping cynically at anyone who cares or tries until hell freezes over, I guess.

    like i said:

    grudging serfdom.

    soon we’ll be reduced to complaining that watery tarts tossing swords about is no basis for a system of government, while we rake the filth from the fields.

    Of course, those idiots with all the money will just *think* they’re riding horses though the muddy morass (but really it’s just coconut shells).

    last comment:

    there is no need to change systems of government.

    There is no need to overthrow the system of government.

    what is needed is for people to revolutionize THEMSELVES. Take action to take responsibility for how you, and your local community, are governed FIRST.

    then work your way up from there, always keeping in mind utilitarian ethos; that as a leader, you’re their to HELP PEOPLE, not yourself.

    as they old saying goes… If it were easy, everyone would have done it by now.

    but thems the choices, really.

    It’s hard as fuck to overcome centuries of well-ingrained cultural indifference to taking personal responsibility for your community.

    but there is no other way.

    none.

  82. Akira MacKenzie says

    Over the last couple of months, I’ve been ruminating about our nation’s current political situation and I’m left feeling as pessimistic as Ichthyic.

    I do what I can. I vote. I write letters to the editor. However, one can only do so much. I have bills to pay and need one of those “slave wage jobs” to keep from ending up on the business end of a collections agency. I have an Advanced Java class I have to pass to graduate. I can’t afford to play protestor and brandish a placard at Wall Street. I’d cheer on those who can, but I can’t help but feel a sense of futility at their actions.

    The upper class denizens of New York City aren’t afraid of a bunch of twenty somethings waving signs and chanting slogans. In point of fact, there was footage of a bunch of them standing on a balcony, laughing and sipping champagne, as they watched the protests. Middle America sure as hell isn’t impressed by them, writing them off as spoiled, hippie-wannabes who are spitting on America’s greatness who deserve to get maced and beaten down by the NYPD for raising such a ruckus. Passive resistance doesn’t work when the people you are trying to shame into supporting your cause are callous enough to cheer for your suffering.

    However, we don’t like violence, do we? We want to do everything as democratically and as bloodshed-free as possible, correct? The problem is that American society is hopelessly capitalist and individualistic. For every honest-to-goodness leftist you find here there are a dozen others who vehemently buy into the Protestant Work Ethic and the myth of Horatio Alger and no amount of facts, figures or polite reasoning will convince them that they are wrong. Just like the right-wing version of Christianity, our nation’s libertarian notions of economics is something that is woven into our ethos. It’s not “the economy, stupid.” It’s the culture. If you want to change American society for the better and bring about the progress that we desire, you have to go after its culture which seems willing to power dive into economic ruin just to maintain some ideological wet dream of “freedom.”

    The problem is that there are simply not enough of us to matter. The right-wing has the money and the power. The “center” isn’t interested in justice, they just want it quiet so they can watch Glee in peace. The Democratic party leadership has shown itself to be just as much a bunch of corporate whores as the Rethugs, and the various voting groups are not as unified as the GOP. The gay man and the union member might both be card-carrying Democrats, but Mr. Blue Collar will be more than willing to cross parties to screw the “fags” regardless of party. And as America and Europe’s economic woes get worse and worse, fear and envy will drive the West further and further into jingoism and paranoia.

    We are fucked.

  83. The Rat King says

    We are fucked.

    Too right.

    The best way to deal with it is to take a few steps back and watch from the sidelines. From there it becomes something like watching a train wreck; horribly, terribly fascinating.

  84. Ichthyic says

    The best way to deal with it is to take a few steps back and watch from the sidelines

    so… the opposite side of the pacific ocean is too far then?

  85. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    The problem is that there are simply not enough of us to matter. The right-wing has the money and the power. The “center” isn’t interested in justice, they just want it quiet so they can watch Glee in peace. The Democratic party leadership has shown itself to be just as much a bunch of corporate whores as the Rethugs, and the various voting groups are not as unified as the GOP.

    There’s a massive disconnect going on in many Americans’ minds. Hundreds of national polls confirm that Americans express optimism regarding their own life chances and those of their children. They are reluctant to describe their own circumstances in negative terms even as they tell interviewers that “people like them” are doing poorly. While they say that education and hard work will help people get ahead they also report anxiety about outsourcing, plants closing, permanent jobs being replaced with part-time and contingent work, the lack of career opportunities, and fear that if they lose their job they will only be able to get one with lower pay and no benefits. Americans are frustrated that their incomes are not keeping up with the cost of living and that they are being squeezed. They’re critical of corporate greed and dishonesty. They want the government to call these corporations, especially pharmaceutical and oil companies, to account. They’re worried that things will not get better. But they are not, in great numbers, hostile to the system. They express faith in the American Dream and continue to believe that individuals can overcome obstacles.

  86. Brownian says

    They express faith in the American Dream and continue to believe that individuals can overcome obstacles.

    Not one of the substances targeted by the ‘War on Drugs’ is as powerful, as delusion-inducing, and as dangerous as the one called American Dream.

  87. SmooveBB says

    I was unaware of this movement, thanks for the information PZ! We need to take a stand on the side of fairness and reason in this world – we only have one life to live!

  88. kerfluffle says

    I spent yesterday at my local “Occupy.” There are three primary groups which all overlap to some degree – professional activists, who were hanging out at anti-war rallies and union marches before this; Passionate college students; and those like me, who aren’t sure if it’s futile but couldn’t stay away.

    The pro activists are focused on getting huge crowds in each city, they honestly believe that an American Arab Spring will bring about change if they can get enough bodies. They watch who comes in, introduce themselves, take you to the welcome tent, show you where you can paint a poster or get some water. The college kids are painting those posters, some brought silk-screening material and made bandanas and t-shirts right there in the park. They love rhetoric and can argue for hours about what the demands should be. They get excited and sometimes angry.

    The rest of us, older and jaded, wander through the crowds finding each other. We gingerly pick up the signs that the kids paint and the activists pass out. None of them say exactly what we’re thinking. It’s cardboard rhetoric, a very flimsy weapon against billion dollar lobbying. We don’t wave them at the cars, we just stand there holding them, talking, quoting statistics that we already know.

    I’m going back and I’m not sure why. Maybe I’ve lost faith in other methods. Maybe I just want to show the kids that their passion is reaching somebody, even if it is futile. Maybe there is a part of me that believes we can have change if we just get enough bodies.

  89. monad says

    @32 Marcus Ranum:

    Nope. I know it’s traditional to blame the victim and say something like “people get the government they deserve” but I believe that the ability to participate in government is largely mooted.

    It has, but at the same time, nearly half the country is still voting Republican. If they stopped, and then stopped voting for Democrats once less corporatist candidates came along, it would make a difference. People do not get the government they deserve, but countries only get the worst they allow.

  90. Hazuki says

    We’ve long since passed a tipping point, in terms of infrastructure and economics. Too many brittle systems were allowed to continue for too long. Pricing structures and wage brackets became twisted; inequality rose; and the positions in control of the most money and power became filled with sociopaths, in a positive feedback loop of unnatural selection for same.

    The reason it feels like it’s all collapsing now is because it IS. Too many things got too brittle and they all interconnect, so a failure in one place will cascade throughout the system. And no one in power is interested in fixing any of it. It may be that we need to suffer horribly and see millions dead of starvation, exposure, and violence before anything changes, and further that that change will be slow and painful and violent. I just hope I die quickly and relatively painlessly.

  91. RRains says

    I find it hard to believe a crowd as smart as this finds the Occupy Wallstreet protesters admirable. I’ve been vaguely following the reports and hadn’t heard them coming up with any solutions. It wasn’t clear what the hell they stood for. So now they’ve finally released their list of demands and guess what it is…

    $20 per hour minimum wage whether you work or not, free everything, universal debt relief, not a hint of how they think it’s all going to get paid for. Just gimme, gimme, gimme… I’m sorry, but these people are morons. You think the country is screwed now, go ahead and put these idiots in charge, you’ll see real chaos.

    Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

  92. says

    RRains, you are being deliberately obtuse. From the top of your link:”This content was not published by the OccupyWallSt.org collective, nor was it ever proposed or agreed to on a consensus basis with the NYC General Assembly. There is NO official list of demands.”

    OWS is what the Teabaggers pretended to be; an actual spontaneous, populist uprising. It’s growing more powerful by the day.

    from the OWS website home page: Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence to maximize the safety of all participants.

    Clear enough?

  93. wren says

    GreatBigBore has been at the OWS since Sept. 17th. He has videos of the march up on youtube, in his Politics and Religion Tour. The OWS starts at 4.0, he visits the creation “museum” in earlier videos.

    Cheers

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