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INTERMITTENT NOTESXML

Stray Voltage

OWS graphicOakland police may have been the first, but they won't be the last. Police riots are just waiting to happen all over the country. Although the OWS movement has a ton of problems to deal with this one has at least a reasonably plausible tactical fix: a consistent, widespread, highly repetitive message that the banksters are out to steal public pensions, including in particular police pensions — the OWS movement is, if you stop to think about it, altogether on the side of the police. It's a Republican-style tactic, one that would certainly resonate with older, e.g., more senior, police officers.

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Comments


This is precisely what I shouted out to the riot police at the Toronto G20, June 2010: "The G20 want to take your pensions!" But did they listen? The other thing I called out as they marched past in their full gear: "Don't panic. No one is going to hurt you!" The rest is history...


As a foreigner looking in, it is amazing to me how long it has taken the public to see what even people in the street here have long seen. It is a testament to the power of American political mythology and also to its corporate media. The intellectuals turn it round and round, but the reality is simple: your political system is that of an empire, and its politicians, including the president are all serving those who financed their campaigns. Your system is broken: it serves big money and big business, not in any sense the people. It is a representative government, but not of the states and towns of the US, but of its multinational corporations, who are indifferent to almost anything except the bottom line and extending power; and above all, the government serves big finance and the armaments industry, as Eisenhower warned (although it was rather two-faced, since he had no problem deploying it — always on the premise that "we had to do it"). The US is the most bellicose and dangerous country on earth, and it will go the way of the other empires.


John's observations are correct, but they are also true of almost all the other Western countries. This is because they are all republics, either of the crowned or the un-crowned variety. The only difference is that the American Republic is so much more militarized than the others largely because it was the only true global power standing after the Second World War. The whole "republic vs. empire" theme is very misleading because almost all these countries are ruled by small coteries commanding massive wealth.

What is a "republic" after all? Historically, there seem to have been two primary models:

1. A heavily decentralized popular commonwealth composed of economically self-sufficient households and individuals. Some areas of colonial English America and of the early American Republic corresponded to this ideal. So did the Boer Republics in South Africa prior to the British conquest. The independent Cossack hosts might also count. Today, only Switzerland qualifies as a close approximation of this version of the republican ideal on a national level.

2. A regime formally committed to legal equality and regularized judicial procedures which ultimately act as little more than a mask for the dominance of oligarchic interests of some sort. This has been the far more prevalent form of "republic". Examples include the cities of the Hanseatic League, the north Italian Renaissance-era city-states like Venice and Medici-ruled Florence, and ultimately all Western European countries including their offspring in the Americas.

Being an oligarchic republican regime of the latter sort, the contemporary American establishment can tolerate a fair bit of petty infighting within its ranks. Every evening as they tune into CNN and its fellow media organs, viewers can glimpse a highly stylized exhibition of such infighting designed precisely to gull them into emotional attachment onto one side or the other. Even though the different parts of the American establishment differ only by dint of careerist rivalry and tactical judgment, this soap opera has been very capable of sucking in otherwise relatively worldly European, Canadian and Australasian audiences.

Many bourgeois Western and Central Europeans in particular, while rightly indignant at the brutish arrogance of the Bush II Administration, were completely taken in by the soothing words of the puppet Obama. Not to mention all the rubbish about the wonders of the behemoth in Brussels that they have long imbibed.

Even many people in the Third World, who are far more sensitive to the harm caused by US foreign policy, still retain a great deal of naiveté about that country's internal political situation.

That said, I do think European public opinion will wake up more quickly than that of the US, if for no reason other than the fact that the EU does not command the world's reserve currency and so gets hit with the double blow of both monetary and fiscal austerity whereas the US can still get away with monetary laxity alongside fiscal austerity. Consequently, European police officers are likely to see their pensions disappear before their American counterparts, and therefore will get hit in the face by reality all that much more quickly.


Excellent comments by J. Of course, it is the overwhelming influence of the US on the world stage that makes it "different," even though every country has its own mythologies that the politicians play on.

Returning to the topic of OWS and the political system, integral to this problem is the abusive treatment of the personhood of the corporation as it is now established in US law, and also the law that allows corporations to fund campaigns. And of course, the great underlying cause of this present crisis is that corporate finance — Wall St. at the top of this pyramid — has engaged in the most massive fraud in world history. In this fraud the government and regulatory agencies and rating agencies all colluded. As mentioned above, the great problem is precisely this collusion of vast corporate interests and government — the well-known "revolving door." [see the several articles and interviews of Bill Black at http://neweconomicperspectives.blogspot.com].


Good article by Marshall Auerback:

"What is taking place is nothing less than a financial coup d'etat by the Eurozone’s rentier class."

http://neweconomicperspectives.blogspot.com/2011/11/financial-coup-detat-in-making.html


Great initiative!

Missoula, Montana, Votes Against Corporate Personhood: "Corporations Are Not Human Beings"

http://blog.buzzflash.com/node/13142

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