Sunday, October 02, 2011

Occupy Wall Street: a "democratic moment"?

Years ago I heard Jerry Brown use the phrase "democratic moment" to describe those occasions on which genuine people's power asserts itself to change the course of the normal operations of governmental and political institutions.

Because even the most representative institutions can become blind and corrupted. And the blindness of the ruling elites in Europe and the United States right now is staggering, with their destructive austerity politics in the middle of a depression. A more recent Jerry Brown quote, this one from 2011, is relevant here:

You look back at history and all the elites, the ruling families of Europe in 1914 were feeling pretty good about themselves. And yet, it wasn't just a few months into the summer when they began what was an absolute catastrophe. So blindness is compatible with good breeding, good education and good relationships. Well, we don't even have that now in much of Washington.
It will take "democratic moments" to drive the political systems of the West back onto a more constructive track. In the US, a more fundamental transformation is needed than in Europe. For a genuine democratic renewal in the United States there will have to be a major rollback of the national security state and the foreign policies, wars and police state measures and mentality that are so much an integral part of it.

It may be in part the immensity of the problem that led some liberals to scoff at the scruffy hippies that started the Occupy Wall Street protests. That, plus lazy thinking and foolish illusions about the seriousness of the undemocratic turn of politics in the US and Europe.

The coincidence in time of the Occupy Wall Street protests with the Obama Administration's assassination of American citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan solely on the order of the President without even the pretense of charges, trials or the most minimal Constitutional procedures has affected how I understand both issues. Coincidental as the timing was, the two coming together highlight the increasingly outlaw conduct of the US government and the inability to date of the "democratic moment" which occurred in 2008 with the election of Barack Obama as President to restore the rule of law, progressive economic policies and a greater degree of social justice. And the steps that this Administration has made in that direction are in great danger of being reversed by a Republican President being elected in 2012 thanks to the failures of the Obama Administration, particularly its irresponsible embrace of austerity-based, Herbert Hoover economics.

The Occupy Wall Street protests are now being endorsed and joined by organized labor and have sparked solidarity protests all across the country.

Donna Jablonski reports for the AFL-CIO Now Blog Next Up Summit Supports Occupy Wall Street Protests 10/02/2011. He quotes from a declaration of the AFL-CIO Next Up Young Worker Summit in Minneapolis MN:

The world in which we live isn't working for the vast majority of people. The top 1 percent controls the economy, makes profits at the expense of working people, and dominates the political debate. Wall Street symbolizes this simple truth: a small group of people have the lives and livelihoods of working Americans in their hands.
And he provides a video from the conference:

Sounds good to me!

Current TV has an archive of Occupy Wall Street video reports.


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