Monday, October 31, 2011

Occupy Wall Street and the Money Power

Matt Stoller has a perceptive take on Occupy Wall Street and its political significance at the moment in Occupy Wall Street: The Primary the President Never Had? Alternet 10/24/2011: "What the occupiers have done, perhaps unwittingly, is force political elites to choose, at least publicly, between their funding stream and their popular legitimacy." And he writes:

The gravitational pull of the occupiers is remarkable to behold. Tea Partiers are angry at the stolen thunder. Wall Street tycoon Larry Fink (who is on the investor, not the banks side) offered praise for the protests. Liberal Democratic groups like Moveon and Democracy for America have a new language and group to organize around, instead of defending the White House. Labor now has another horse to back, a motley energetic group calling itself the 99 percent, rather than a mild center-right Democratic elite class. Big-dollar liberal donors are excited to find a way to tap into this "energy." The occupiers are considered a new pole in the political system, "Krugman's army," perhaps.
Glenn Greenwald has a perceptive take in The importance of protests Salon 10/30/2011:

Ever since I began writing about politics, the most frequently asked question I’ve encountered has been: but what can we do about all of this? The reason I find the Occupy movement to be one of the most important, exciting and inspiring political developments of the last decade is that it provides the definitive answer to that question. Though still in what I hope is its incipient stage, this protest movement proves that citizens of all different backgrounds and even ideologies (though sharing common interests) possess the ability to unite, pose a threat to seemingly invulnerable power factions, and demand change beyond the mere act of voting once every two years — and that they can endure and even grow in the face of abusive police force. Though it has already accomplished substantial good, the protest movement hasn’t yet achieved all of that, but it has provided the template and made manifest the possibility.

... oligarchs in a corrupted society will be free from any meaningful checks from the government they own and control, and will continue to pilfer from the rest of the society until resulting social unrest on the part of ordinary citizens becomes too disruptive and threatening to their interests. Put another way, an oligarchical class that operates without any fear in its collective heart of the citizenry will continue to assemble and protect its ill-gotten gains without limits. That is why this protest movement is so vital — so indispensable — because it is precisely that fear in the hearts and minds of the elite classes that has been so destructively lacking. [my emphasis in bold]
I'm happy to see that a group of progressive media figures has decided to put more of a focus on the anti-democracy Citizens United Supreme Court decision. (Paul Blumenthal, Campaign Finance Reformers Launch Progressive Effort To Remove Money From Politics Huffington Post 10/26/2011)

The current crooked Supreme Court is not only corrupt but more and more crassly partisan. Just as in the New Deal when the "nine old men" on the Supreme Court did all they could to torpedo the New Deal programs, today's Roberts Court is using their position to more permanently entrench the power of money to control the political institutions that are supposed to be representative democratic institutions but are failing to play that role at this moment in some very serious ways, Greece possibly being the most painful example right now.

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