Thursday, October 06, 2011

Independent reporting of #OccupyWallStreet

I was unhappy with the poor journalistic coverage of the #OccupyWallStreet protests, so I went to Wall Street myself to see what’s going on, and report on it.

It’s the quality of the coverage, not the amount that's the problem. It’s been on the nightly news every night for the past week, but there has been little “serious” reporting.

By “serious” reporting, I mean such things as contacting the park’s owners asking for an official statement. The protesters are occupying Zuccotti Park, owned by the same company (Brookfield Office Properties NYSE:BPO) that owns the adjacent skyscraper. An obvious step would be to contact them asking for a statement, but I could find no journalists that had yet done so. Well, if “journalists” aren’t going to do this, I can do this myself. I sent an email to their VP of Communications. I got a response, which I posted to my blog. When I posted it, I also Googled the sentences from the official statement, and found no results. I was indeed the first one “reporting” on this. Since then, others have mentioned the official statement, probably by picking it up from the #OccupyWallStreet Twitter hashtag that links to my blog.

Brookfield's official statement expressed their frustration with how the protesters were breaking the rules of the park (my blog post shows a picture I took of the posted rules). In particular, they haven’t been able to do their daily maintenance and cleaning of the park for the past three weeks. For a reporter, that leads to the obvious question: is the park staying clean? and if so, how? The answer reporters would find is this: the protesters themselves are taking care of this. They are exhorting people to not litter, they are making sure the trash cans have fresh bags and patrol the park picking up litter. They make sure the trash bags are set out in the right place to be picked up by the city’s garbage service

If I were a reporter, I would then follow this thread: The protest started as a chaotic event put together haphazardly via Twitter and the Internet, with no actual leader. How, then, were they able to organize a garbage detail? The answer is self-organization. Protestors have developed a General Assembly of all the people that gives authority to the “Central Committee,” made up from the hard-core protesters who are sleeping in the park night after night. The Central Committee has many subcommittees, like the “Media Team” responsible for recording the proceedings or the “Arts and Culture Committee”, responsible for making signs and running the drum circle, and the "Sanitation Committee" team keeping the park clean. They have organized the park into specific areas, dedicated to different tasks.

Let’s follow this thread even further. The protesters aren’t allowed to have a bullhorn or loudspeaker. How, then, can a person address the General Assembly, in the middle of a bustling city, reaching the hundreds of protesters spread throughout the park? The answer is the “People’s Microphone”. A speaker speaks in short phrases. Those nearby then repeat the phrases, shouting so that those in back can hear. The People’s Mic is powerfully emotional, driving home the point of solidarity. Although, it’s occasionally ironic when a speaker says things like we are all individuals or “we must think for ourselves”.

More than just the amplifying the voice, there is a system for selecting speakers. There is a "Stack" of speakers expressing desire to speak, with their position on the stack dynamically adjusted so that all points of view get equal time, or so that shy women get pushed ahead in the stack to counterbalance loud males. The audience gives feedback, from up/down thumbs, to raised hands with wiggling fingers ("twinkles") to express enthusiastic support, like clapping, but without drowning out the speaker with noise. (Apparently, this structure was inspired by the Spain "Indignados" protests from back in May.)

This organization is visible on the live streaming video and other efforts the Media Team has used to exploit social media to their cause. Inspired by the New York occupation, other groups in most major cities have already started their own occupations, or plan to do so soon. In my own Atlanta, they plan for this coming Friday. These new occupations share the same organization, e.g. the General Assembly, the People’s Microphone. When somebody writes the definitive book on this, I’m sure this organization model will become a blueprint for protests years from now.

As time has gone on, established liberal/progressive organizations have lent their support to the occupiers. The crude hand-made signs from the first couple weeks are giving way to slick printed placards. The question is, as time goes on, will the movement be lead by the hard-core who slept night after night on the cold hard ground and who have worked to create their own organization, or will it cede control to established political operatives? As we saw with the Tea Party, a grass roots effort was quickly hijacked by skilled politicos.

The point I’ve been trying to make with the last few paragraphs is that there is a “story” here. I started with the obvious task of asking the owner of the park for an official statement about the occupiers of the last three weeks, and following those threads, I saw a story emerge that is different than the standard narrative of “just-another-protest”.


There are many other aspects of this that go unreported. One I find especially important is the loving nature of the protest. If you look at photographs in the news, you see the typical angry protester. This is the sort of action shot newsrooms prefer, i.e., showing the emotion of the scene.

But the protest isn’t angry. Quite the opposite, it is loving and accepting. If you go up to protesters with the opposite political view and debate them, they will express their undying love for you and ask for you to join them to increase the diversity of viewpoints. I did this myself, and watched this happen to others, including cops. This attitude pervades everything they do, and is frequently reinforced by the hard-core occupiers.

This is the opposite of what happened during the protests against the Iraq war, the protests against the last Republican convention in New York or the violent protests during every G8 summit. Not only is this different than most other protests, it is the similar to the hyper-tolerant “Burning Man” festival that takes place in the Nevada desert every summer. Whether it’s Burning Man or Occupy Wall Street, there is a cultural shift somewhere here. Now I feel compelled to go to Burning Man next year, just to track this thread down.

In many ways, the press treats this protest the way they treated the Tea Party, completely distorting the story. Journalists ignored the mainstream of the Tea Party and instead focused on the fringe. Instead of showing the hundreds of signs calling for smaller government, reporters instead focused on the one sign showing Obama as Hitler. In the end, this reporting became self-fulfilling. The Republican fringe disaffected with the establishment were convinced by this reporting, believing that they, too, should join the Tea Party, thus derailing it.

This is a particular danger to the Occupation movement. They still haven’t defined themselves, and risk letting the press define the movement for them. They started out with the idea that occupying Wall Street for weeks would be a good way to get their message out, but they are still trying to come to consensus on what, precisely, their message is. The press (and critics) claim they need a message and that they need a concrete list of demands, but I’m not sure that’s true. This is something else, something new, something that doesn’t need to be defined by the old.

In that way, it’s like the Internet. When the Internet appeared on the scene 20 years ago, it wasn’t like anything that predated it. Yes, you could define it in terms of the old, as a digital library, as an electronic form of mail, or as a communications network, but none of these descriptions captures the essence of what the Internet really is.

In particular, there is the problem with the “filter bubble”. While the Internet can expand a person’s universe, it gives people the power to shrink it. People create a “filter bubble” around themselves, using tools of the Internet to pass only those things they agree with. For example, Google watches what people search for, profiling them, and sorts the results for that individual. They see their own small universe reflected back, rather than the big universe.

That’s why, despite appearing nightly in the news, the occupiers feel the press is ignoring them. This protest has become the most important thing in the world -- among the people in their filter bubble and those in their social network. It becomes difficult for them to imagine that this isn’t the most interesting thing to everyone else as well. They apparently don’t comprehend that the “news” just reflects what the organizations think their audience wants to hear. If the public doesn’t seem to care, neither does the press.

There is much more to this filter bubble. An obvious problem is that people filter out opposing political views. But they also filter out intellectual arguments that otherwise agree with them. They’ve filtered their view of the world so that political arguments are black-and-white, rather than grey. In their filtered view, politics is about propaganda and rhetoric, rather than debate.

I interviewed the hard-core protesters, those sleeping in the park overnight. I found only propaganda. They could repeat word-perfect the propaganda about the execution of Troy Davis case, but none of the details from the Wikipedia entry on the case. They could repeat the propaganda of Al Gore on Global Warming, but none of the science from the UN IPCC that declares the scientific consensus on the issue. They could repeat the economics of Michael Moore, but not that of Paul Krugman, Nobel laureate, writer of the popular liberal/progressive blog “Conscience of a Liberal” at the New York Times and author of a college textbook giving an introduction to economics. For example, the protesters say “the rich get richer but the poor get poorer,” whereas Krugman says “the rich get richer but the poor go nowhere”. This is due to a profound disagreement about a basic economic concept and the economic data.

As the protesters try to define themselves in order to come up with a coherent political platform, they are hindered by this filter bubble. The forces will drive them to come up with something that excites their small group, but which will prove unacceptable to the larger world. I think they have to learn to reach outside their bubble if they want to actually influence things and to become to the Democrat Party what the Tea Party is to the Republican Party.

I get the impression that the entire Occupy Wall Street movement needs a “[citation needed]” footnote. Wikipedia uses this technique to allow anybody to challenge an unsupported assertion. Anybody can insert this footnote, expressing to the reader that (as yet) the assertion isn’t supported. Anybody else can find supporting evidence, and replace the [citation needed] to a footnote pointing to a reliable source. If no citation can be found, the assertion is eventually deleted.

I’m concerned by the lack of scholarship because of the history of populism. The occupiers were inspired by the Arab Spring, where the people took their countries back from powerful dictators. But they forget that those dictators similarly took power at the head of populist movements that removed their predecessors and that they ruled “in the name of people”. Colonel Gaddafi didn't promote himself to General because that was presumptuous, he was just a man of the people.

I found the occupiers had the same totalitarian attitude, though they don’t see it as totalitarian. Yes, their loving acceptance of those who disagree with them is astonishing, but it’s totalitarian. It asks that people give up their individuality to the state the occupiers are creating. Rather than free speech, the protest has a sort of "managed speech" to make sure everyone has equal time. There is also the flip side, that not to join the movement or to disagree with the protesters means that you are working against the interest of the people.

We have seen this before in history, such as during the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. After they ran out of nobles, the Committee for Public Safety started beheading political rivals -- even those of their own party who helped overthrow the royalty. Their implicit thinking was this: I support the people. Therefore, if you disagree with me, you are acting against the people and must be beheaded. Or to paraphrase in the modern idiom, “you are either with us or against the people”.

The protesters have been settling on the idea that the conflict is the 99% against the 1%. But since the country is evenly divided between Democrat and Republican, they represent, at best, the interests of 50% against the 1%. No matter how poor, Republicans don’t see socialism as being in their own interests. Instead of chanting "We are the 99%" they should be chanting "We are the 50%", but they seem immune to seeing things from this perspective.

I personally experienced this duality between populism and totalitarianism. I had chosen a table in an empty area away from the crowd to type up my notes. I didn’t realize it, but it was near the General Assembly area that would soon become crowded. Members of the Media Team came up to me and insisted I move, so that they could set up a tripod and camera on the table to take pictures of the General Assembly. I refused. I tried to do this as nicely as possible, with a pleasant demeanor, but of course, I was being a jerk. I didn't like they way they insisted, but also I wanted to test them, to see what would happen when somebody didn't go along with their demands.

Of the three people, one was nice. He smiled, shook my hand, and said “peace”. I’ll bet he’s been to Burning Man. But the other two were nasty. The second guy, visibly twitching in anger, made unspecified threats that I had better move. The third person, tried to argue. She claimed that the protest had prior right to this spot, since they had been occupying the park for weeks (a fallacious argument, since the owners declare the park open to everyone equally). She then argued that this was for the entire group, to get the word out about the protest, to which I answered that I’m not part of the protest, that I don’t share their views. Her final argument was the totalitarian argument: this is for the people. She then proceeded to say that she was going to setup the tripod anyway, and that if I didn’t move, she would accidentally step on my laptop computer, because her attention would be on taking pictures and not where she was stepping.

Again, I admit to being a jerk here. But I’m a libertarian, which means I’m interested in the connection between populism and totalitarianism, which we libertarians see as the same thing. I wanted to experiment with it.


Back to reporting. I see it as a struggle between the “story” and some sort of “narrative”. Take, for instance, the most reported event of the protest, the arrest of 700 protesters as they tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge. However you treat the story, you have to struggle with the “narrative” that “police oppress protesters”. Here’s what happened. The occupation is of the park in Wall Street. Last Saturday they marched from there intending to go to the park right on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge, then back again. The march was planned ahead of time. The protest leaders talked to the police about it. The police told them to stay off the roadway to avoid blocking traffic, and instead use the pedestrian walkway one level above the roadway. The protest leaders widely communicated this to other protesters.

But at the same time, some protesters were hoping for a confrontation with the police, because mass arrests would get them on the news (I overheard two protesters discussing this). Others were passing out pamphlets on what to do when arrested and urging people to write the phone number of the National Lawyers Guild on their arm. Some of those arrested were among the Central Committee, who would have been the most likely to have known they should not have been on the roadway.

When the protest happened, many protesters followed the correct path above the roadway, but many others incorrectly chose the roadway. After about 700 had taken to the roadway, the police closed off both ends of the bridge, preventing them from escaping and arrested them all. Eventually the errant protesters were given summons for causing a public disturbance. Protesters accuse the police of causing the problem by letting protesters out onto the roadway in the first place rather than informing them to take the pedestrian way. They also point out that shutting down the bridge for hours caused much more of a public disturbance than letting the protesters pass for 15 minutes. Regardless of any agents provocateurs on both sides, though, it’s a good bet that the bulk of the 700 who got arrested were just sheep, going along with the crowd.

For me, that’s the “narrative”: stupidity and ignorance on both sides cause things like this, rather than malicious intent - barring a few on both sides who want to see the problem escalate.

The arrests themselves were interesting. The protesters above, on the pedestrian level, were not arrested, but shouted/chanted encouragement to those below. There was confusion about how to act during the arrests. Should they do so in the nice, polite, accepting manner that defines the niceness of the movement? Or should they act like traditional protesters, lock arms, and passively resist? They seemed to be split half and half. Again, I blame the media: protesters watch the news, and try to copy how they see protesters act, making the news retroactively correct.

That “the revolution will not be televised” is a famous political song describing the 1960s political movement. The 2011 alternative is a revolution on Flickr, Tumblr, and streamed live. Look at the photographs from the bridge arrests. Almost everyone, both among the protesters and the police, has either traditional cameras or smart phones. You see a standoff between the police and the protesters, with each side pointing cameras at the others. Pictures taken facing into the crowd show a sea of cameras facing right back. Every one of these cameras is connected to cyberspace. Some of them even use applications to send the pictures and videos live to the Internet, so they are preserved even if the police confiscate the cameras and delete the pictures.
The Internet is a force multiplier. There are actually only a couple hundred protesters sleeping night after night in the park. But their hard-core determination inspires a couple thousand during the day, 10,000 watching the live stream, and a 100,000 participating via social media.

In one incident, there was a traditional news team from Fox News, trying to do an interview. The interviewee went on a tirade against Fox News. Those within the filter bubble of the protest loved it, but of course, it’s perfectly useless to a news station reporting on the protest.What I found interesting about this incident was the claim by the Fox News reporter that the protesters can’t get their message out without the mainstream media. But that's false. The protesters are getting the message out via the Internet just fine. Indeed, neglect is preferable to the distortions as the media tries to pigeonhole the protest into their preferred narratives.

By the way, while Wall Street may be responsible for bad things, it is Wall Street who financed putting a million miles of fiber optic cables crisscrossing continents and under oceans. It is Wall Street that financed the thousands of cell towers. It is Wall Street from which venture capital comes to finance startups like Twitter. Thus, tweeting “Down with capitalism” from your iPhone for those around the word to read seems to be the most ironic thing a person can do. The live stream from the protest site, shared with 12,000 (at this moment) people across the Internet is a testament to Wall Street's allocation of capital that these protesters fight against. [Obligatory Monty Python reference]

That the protest is dominated by Internet savvy youths exploiting social media is frequently mentioned. But what is not mentioned is the fact that the protesters are overwhelmingly college students, or recent graduates who still haven’t found jobs. They aren’t just any college students, but the stereotypical sort that you might expect to be involved in campus activism, such as graduate students in “Gender Studies.” I found nobody with engineering or science degrees, but many from arts and acting colleges. After talking with one guy for a while about unemployment and his difficult in finding a job after college, I found out that he was a “poet.” I’m not sure he understood that employers aren’t looking to hire poets. The only person I met that had a political science degree was one of the police officers “keeping the peace.”

The protesters are also predominantly white with blacks underrepresented. On the flip side, blacks are over-represented in the police force. The protesters often compare themselves to the Civil Rights Movement, but the photographs of the recent arrests often show black policemen arresting white protesters. I don’t know if this is a vindication of the Civil Rights Movement or if there is still more work to go, to get the blacks better ensconced in middle-class American to send their kids off to college with that combination of privilege and entitlement that turns them into protesters.

The makeup of the protesters also led to amusement among the cops, stationed in pairs on all four sides of the park. For some, their normal beat is in the poor areas of New York City. The police, who daily see the struggle of the real poor, had little use for protesters complaining about jobs while they carried around expensive MacBook computers paid for by their parents.

I mention the racial makeup for a specific reason. The Tea Party was also predominantly white, which was frequently reported in the news, despite the fact that guidelines tell reporters to avoid mentioning race when it’s not relevant. They nonetheless reported it because it fit the narrative they wanted to tell about the Tea Party (that it has a racist component). In much the same way, they don’t mention the racial makeup of the Occupation because it doesn’t fit their narrative.

Every night is like a blowout bash you organized in college. After everyone has gone home or passed out, you sit on the top of the dorm with close friends, too excited to sleep, but too tired to do anything else but sit around in small groups and chat. That’s the vibe from the park at 2 a.m.: Quiet hours started at 10 p.m., most everyone has left, many are now asleep over there in the sleeping areas, but many are still too excited to go to sleep themselves. They huddle together in intimate groups around the park, discussing things.

I think it’s the intimacy and restrained excitement at night that is part of the real story here, not the hubbub during the day that the press tries to mold into their narrative of just-another-protest. What makes this different are those protestors staying night after night in the park. Yet, news reporters flock the scene at 2 p.m., but are absent at 2 a.m. I can’t understand why somebody like the New York Times isn’t sending a reporter down there to embed themselves in the occupation, sleeping there for a week and perhaps writing a Pulitzer prize-winning story.



Conclusion


Here's my point: the press and pundits have already decided on the "narrative" that's independent of what's really going on. For example, many Republicans and Fox News commentators insist that this is "planned" by the left for some nefarious purpose. It isn't (although that might change if politicos seize control of the occupation). Conversely, the Left has a narrative about police oppression that isn't quite right, either.

I see a different narrative. The love and acceptance of dissenting views is huge. The intimacy of the occupation over night is amazing. The excitement from the live stream and Twitter feed is infectious. The populism hinting at totalitarianism is frightening. The occasional irony is amusing. More citations are needed.

I think there is something interesting going on here. It’s not just another protest. I think it’s a more enduring addition to our culture. A decade from now, when the U.S. invades France over a cheese dispute, protesters will “occupy” the streets using the same principles being developed now.

66 comments:

Corey Nachreiner said...

Thank you for very insightful and different perspective of this event. Very interesting... and helps me question my own perceptions of this situation from afar.

On a side note, I too have been thinking of the "Filter bubble", after seeing a TED talk on it... However, I did a quick Google experiment among some peers to test it. We searched for "wall street" on Google. All four of us all got the exact same results. On one hand, we work in the same industry. On the other, we are all quite different (I won't go into detail how, but we are). So for that one search, I couldn't find any evidence of the "filter bubble." Perhaps I need to dig deeper.

theprez98 said...

Rob,

Great post. It's pretty sad, but not surprising, that the media is once again lazy in basic journalism.

Robert Graham said...

I see it occasionally with Google (I run multiple browsers).

But the bigger issue is the self-selected bubble. It looked to me like #OccupyWallStreet was going to be BIG from the beginning, but I assumed that was just my distorted view from the bubble, so I waited a week before checking it out.

Mythmaker said...

Thank you for the insightful post.

Generalisations are a terrible thing, no matter where they come from.
We do not need to "take down the banks" or "take down wall street."
What we need is the rule of law, specific bankers, hedge fund managers and politicians need to be held accountable for the laws that have been broken.
Privilige was a word that originally meant "private law". A law for the rich and powerful that was different from the law for the commoners.
People are angry about the impunity of the rich.

patrick o'hayer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Timothy Caldwell said...

The park has its own tables. Species of theft? Hardly.

maggiesboy said...

Like you I was dismayed with the lack of coverage of the NYC occupation particularly how it was organized.

Your post is the first I've seen to describe the Assembly process in action, but you missed an important thread. You didn't mention the process came to the NYC General Assembly from Spain an the May 15th movement there. Here is their write up Quick Guide .

More later have to get my granddaughter to preschool.

groobiecat said...

As I feared last week, the Tea Party is trying to co-opt the #OWS movement. I posted the differences between the two on my blog several days ago, and have been fighting off Tea Partiers like wack-a-mole zombies at the occupywallst.org website forum for days now. But it's now official: they're trying to co-opt #OWS in predictable borg-like, anti-democratic fashion:

This was tweeted this am by #OWS:

THIS IS NOT OUR SITE AND IT REEKS OF EVIL: www.occupyparty.org #ows #astroturfing

I was afraid of this--they're trying to conflate #OWS with TP idiocy. I tried to begin to separate the two in my own post here:

http://groobiecat.blogspot.com/2011/10/tea-party-vs-occupywallstreet-party.html

In typical Tea Party fashion, they're uninterested in democracy or dialogue, they just force their world onto everyone else. I tried to reach out to them on the forum, but no more.

Groobiecat
http://groobiecat.blogspot.com

Robert Graham said...

Awesome video from Reason.com:
http://youtu.be/50rpJ7EQWuI

Lamarskii said...

Very good insightful post. I consider myself "Tea Party" which in my mind is NOT Christian, NOT White, and NOT organized. The "Nation Tea Party" (the one with NWO stooge Sarah Palin) is a NWO distraction and not of the People. The REAL TEA Party are the people that RON PAUL awake up and have started asking questions. So GROOBIECAT, you are tea part, even though you might not agree with everything RON PAUL stands for. As a matter of fact, I think, GROOBIECAT is more TEA PARTY than Sarah" the stooge" Palin. As time goes by people will understand that #OWS is really END THE FED which RON PAUL has been saying for twenty plus years. So, GROOBIECDAT the TRUE TEA PARTY which started as a fundraiser for Ron Paul is the TRUE progenitor of #OWS. GROOBIECAT IS THE TEA PARTY.

Alex Chaffee said...

Citation Needed: the song was actually "The Revolution Will *Not* Be Televised" and was written during an era in which television was the voice of authority. In the world of the song, if something was televised, it was a lie, or at least what the Man wanted you to hear, and thus a tool of oppression. One of the great lines of the song is "the revolution will not fight germs that may cause bad breath" :-)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Revolution_Will_Not_Be_Televised

Thanks for the reporting!

Marc said...

Very interesting reporting. Thank you for making the effort.

Pinguino said...

I read a lot of critiques saying that these young, white, educated protesters are for some reason hypocrites. Are we to believe that they should just accept their privilege 'no questions asked' and be happy that they are fortunate enough to own macbooks?

And yet I never see pundits giving them even an ounce of credit for spending their time and energy advocating for the interests of poor and working class people who are NEVER represented or given a fair voice in the corporate media.

Is it such a foreign idea in this country that people would act in the general interest of all people than merely to maximize their own short term gains?

patrick o'hayer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teresa said...

We fight for the rights of the 99% whether or not they want us to. We are fighting to get corporations out of politics -- it is that unhealthy relationship that led to many of our economic woes today.

I can't believe that all the hundreds of students at Occupy Wall Street are art students. Two of the original members I spoke to at Occupy Chicago are math and biology students. What about the Granny Brigade?

Thank you for your coverage of this movement, and the media's misrepresentation of it. I hope more people read this page.

chucklingabit said...

@Pinguino .. Whether valid or not, the point isn't that relatively privileged kids are standing up for the poor. Indeed, that would be, per se, admirable (even if their particular methods and proposed solutions might not be.) But most of the relatively privileged folks there are talking about their OWN supposedly sad tale. And those tales are often drenched in the stink of irresponsibility and greed.

When a kid from an upper middle class family goes to art school, willingly gets 80K dollars in debt, and then whines that he can't find a high-paying job as a poet, and so wants to forcibly take other people's money so that he can be paid 20$ / hour doing whatever he feels like, some of us find that both sad and amusing.

Nectar said...

You should go to Burning Man to follow up - based on your OWS article I believe you'd find it fascinating...Thanks for a fun article

Pinguino said...

@chuck

Thanks for responding, I think that the caricature that you paint is definitely worthy of some criticism, and we can all wish our poet friend the best of luck in his career, given the choices he has made. You can hand pick the unemployed "poets" from OWS just as much as you can hand pick the "racists" from the Tea Party protests, but its a diversion from the ultimate point: Wall St got away with some messed up sh*t here.

But to focus on him and completely ignore, as the media so often does, the tireless efforts of genuine do-gooders associated with this kind of left wing activism is a grave mistake. Can we agree that doing so plays into the hands of the MSM's false, distorted narrative of the protests?

Is it better, in your opinion, that the poor and working people of America have no voice whatsoever?

10b6c00e-f105-11e0-a14c-000bcdca4d7a said...

I would love to believe that the 'kook' left and the 'kook' right want the same thing.

But the evidence, even with this expose, seem dissimilar.

The people's tea party, which was protesting before there was a tea party. Protesting the criminal actions of the Federal Reserve, protesting and voting for Ron Paul long ago... these people get it.

They see the real problem is Government sponsored corporations. And they direct the protest at the source.

The OWS group are just tilting at windmills, smokescreen set up by the Fed to distract attention away from the autonomous decisions they keep making to destroy the economy.

I see OWS with demands for more regulations... this is exactly what the Fed wants.

me again said...

We fight for the rights of the 99% whether or not they want us to. We are fighting to get corporations out of politics -- it is that unhealthy relationship that led to many of our economic woes today.


no,i'm tired of people blaming CAPITALISM and corporations ..the hand that feeds them and their families from the start.Not a MENTION of the union donations to democrats for decades? Can i teach in a public school without funding a union that funds the democratic party even though I am against abortions and other wrongs the democrats support.wheres my right to work and NOT fund democrats under the guise of union dues..wake up people,quit biting the hand that feeds you.bite the hand that demands it from you

chucklingabit said...

@Pinguino
Ditto, thanks for replying :-]

I think I made that pretty clear when I said "Whether valid or not, the point isn't that relatively privileged kids are standing up for the poor. *Indeed, that would be, per se, admirable* (even if their particular methods and proposed solutions might not be.)"

I love when people stand up for the poor. I work in the nonprofit and social good sector. I make tremendous personal efforts to assist and stand up for the dignity of the poor. And I love it when folks *choose* to do the same.

What I don't like is when (many privileged) people fall on hard times, and advocate for the theft of trillions of dollars (erase the debt), or a minimum wage of $20 (say goodbye to the vast majority of our jobs), or when they advocate for the destruction of capitalism.

Those responsible for the financial crisis should be thoroughly investigated and held accountable, if they broke the law. Politicians should be held accountable for their votes, and their actions. We should do our best to stamp our corruption and cronyism.. It's probably hard to find anyone who disagrees with that, and -- insofar as *that* is the message behind the majority of those who occupywallstreet -- I can get behind them.

But I am forced (until sometime later this week, and to some extent even after I visit them myself), to base my opinions on the evidence I have seen as reported by others. And that evidence *generally* indicates that those 1%-who-call-themselves-99% are irresponsible and dangerous in terms of their proposed solutions.

I'll be happy to revise my view of this group as I encounter further evidence. I hope they turn out to be a group who argues for personal responsiblity, ending cronyism, the rule of law, ending corruption and an America with tremendous personal liberty. But most of what I've seen so far indicates that these folks who are so against corruption and abuse of power desire either FAR greater government intrusion into our lives, anarchy or some other unjust or foolish outcome.

Mackenzie said...

Howdy!

My degree's from an engineering school, and I expect to be spending some time with OccupyDC this weekend.


Also, to what Pinguino said: this friend speaks my mind.

Robert Graham said...

Excellent reporting from Forbes taking a poll what protesters thing:
http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2011/10/07/some-say-occupy-wall-street-protesters-aimless-facts-say-otherwise/

maria lima said...

Interesting angle...I confess to it being sort of unexpected when I linked to it from CatoInstitute.

My take in the entire thing is that while there are some 'nice', well intended, 'loving' individuals, maybe even in the organizational hierarchy of this movement. in its majority it is comprised of sadly naive, spiritually and emotionally adrift people like the poet mentioned. I know my view will seem calloused and that it will be challenged by the 'thinkers' that have posted here, starting with the author..but my view is based on the many randomly selected and mostly young people I have seen interviewed. Their responses when asked WHY THEY ARE THERE are for the most part vacant stares, a mad search for words they can't even express: THEY DON'T KNOW WHY THEY ARE THERE! Truth is I think they have nothing better to do and are caught up in the excitement of this thing.

The 'all you need is love..I love you,man' ambiance described by the author, I hate to say, IS NOT AND NEVER WILL BE THE REAL WORLD! Those people can't in all honesty even be called well intentioned. They are aimless, and vulnerable to be snatched up by people with a very REAL, very dangerous agenda. By dangerous I mean a threat to our nation, the things this country stands for that enabled them to be there in the first place!

I hate to say it...but this is not a good thing. Not in any way. I see all the comparisons to the Tea Party and have to say, those expressing those comparisons obviuously DO NOT in reality know the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party represents a movement to Restore our nation to a place of honor and well being...to the values it was founded on. I know that sounds corny..but it is TRUE of the 'tea party' groups I have encountered. This group, this protest..I don't know what they want because THEY don't know what they want. As for their love, I have definitely encountered some VERY non-loving types tweeting comments in response to my own tweets..full of hate and insult. Not very loving at all!

Well, I know I'm rambling, but my point, with all due respect to the author, is that this is a rather naive vision of AWS and its purposes at their best, and does little to expose the treat of THE REAL intentions of those who will be swooping in for the takeover.

Lamarskii said...

The recent Modern usage of TEA PARTY was on the anniversy the BOSTON TEA PARTY on Dec 16, 2007. The group you refer to used the word "Porkulous" until it made a concerted effect to hi-jack the TEA PARTY term in 2009 after the Obama election. The Tea Party term had been in continuous use by the Ron Paul groups since Dec 16, 2007. the #OWS group seems to be a group funded by George Soros. The TRUE TEA PARTY is not a formal group; It was and is spontaneous. Attempts to use the term to shift attention from a creative effort to solve our problems to an "us vs. them" paradigm are despicable.

Robert Graham said...

Maria,

That's a reasonable analysis, especially from the libertarian point of view.

But I think that people live up to the reporting they see on the news. When the news reports angry, crazy, defiant protesters, then the angry, crazy, and defiant join the protest. I saw something more calm, more accepting, more loving. If the media reports that, then maybe it won't turn into a Reign of Terror.

Lamarskii said...

The recent Modern usage of TEA PARTY was on the anniversy the BOSTON TEA PARTY on Dec 16, 2007. The group you refer to used the word "Porkulous" until it made a concerted effect to hi-jack the TEA PARTY term in 2009 after the Obama election. The Tea Party term had been in continuous use by the Ron Paul groups since Dec 16, 2007. the #OWS group seems to be a group funded by George Soros. The TRUE TEA PARTY is not a formal group; It was and is spontaneous. Attempts to use the term to shift attention from a creative effort to solve our problems to an "us vs. them" paradigm are despicable.

Pinguino said...

@chuck

I'm quoting you:

"What I don't like is when (many privileged) people fall on hard times, and advocate for the theft of trillions of dollars"

To me this describes the behavior of the banks (with full cooperation of Congress AND Bush & Obama admins of course!) during and after the financial crisis of '08. I'm talking not just about TARP but about the low interest rate bonanza from the Fed as well as the widespread foreclosure fraud. And to go back further the last 30 years, its the general result of the lax regulatory, tax-loophole, crony lobbyist climate in DC as well.

That being said I think it's pretty clear what the OWS is REALLY all about, and you don't need to ask Forbes.com to explain it to you.

People on this site can probably tell I'm not a libertarian, but in the spirit of what the original article was about I encourage and challenge folks to get outside of their "filter bubble" and check out some left of center news and opinion. And I don't mean the NYtimes, AR Sorkin's coverage of the protest was pretty shocking in its pro-bank bias. If you truly want to understand OWS, look for how they articulate their own positions. There's a lot of distortion and misinformation out there, trying to be divisive.

M. Ohki said...

Very good research and an interesting take on it. Like political parties, the problem with the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street is that, as you say, they don't need a central message or demand. The central message, if there is one, is "we don't like the way the system works now". Like the political parties, and like Tea Party, others are trying to funnel this widespread sentiment into their agenda, but also like those, that just maintains the system as-is and another populist group will pop up soon after.

And that's why the party system itself needs to be dismantled, rather than Wall Street. My belief in small government shouldn't be tied to fanatical levels of anti-abortionism or the blatant anti-capitolism that the RNC pushes with huge tax cuts for huge corporations. I'm 5% Republican, 3% Libertarian, 3% Democrat and 1% anarchist. The rest doesn't fit with any political party or movement, because it doesn't line anyones pockets. I believe that puts me in the 99% politically, but we all kowtow to whatever party we have the highest percentage in because we're told it's the only way "our guy" will ever get elected. Funny, if we disagree with him 95% of the time, how is he "our guy"?

zillamod said...

There is a list of formative demands on www.OccupyTogether.com. They are almost entirely leftist-socialist in nature. Regardless, of the chummiest appearances in whatever ray of media out there; there's not a lot of tolerance for the Liberty dialect in this social movement. My personal witness of these events is a thinly veiled or even outright vociferous hostility at anything Tea Party or Libertarian. But ..in all fairness would you see pro-leftists at a Tea Party MeetUp? OccupyTogether is fostered through Global Revolution: http:www.globalrevolution.es . They are not trying to hide the fact that they want capitalism dead. Others with the Socialist Alliance are not at all shy or cagey about love of totalitarian rule. They blog about it. They are just fine cornering the groundswell so they can paper their agenda over critical-mass malcontent. In America an anarcho-communist obstructionists have free speech. While it's actually very very scary that this is exactly how communists "do" their revolutions; I believe in the fairly susbtantial counterweight of Americans who will never *ever* rely on "someone else" to just determine the direction of government based on a hazy, emotionally drawn faceless system of ideals. As long as there is no accountability, competence or legitimate sightly path to resolve ongoing corruption you can expect this type of gathering to happen -from the right OR the left. #OccupyAmerica has not been described as an "angry mobb" by anyone yet. The media treatment of the Tea Party was fairly visceral in terms of "mobb rule" labels. #OccupyWallSt has had the rather instant dignity in the media of being labeled a "revolution". Whose revolution, if any, is yet to be determined.

chucklingabit said...

@ Pinguino said...

"To me this describes the behavior of the banks (with full cooperation of Congress AND Bush & Obama admins of course!) during and after the financial crisis of '08. I'm talking not just about TARP but about the low interest rate bonanza from the Fed as well as the widespread foreclosure fraud. And to go back further the last 30 years, its the general result of the lax regulatory, tax-loophole, crony lobbyist climate in DC as well."

At best this attitude strikes me as "two wrongs make a right."

You can be against the bailouts, and still against folks who advocate theft or seek massively increased government intervention in our lives. Perhaps surprisingly, they are not mutually exclusive.

In fact, it's quite natural to be both opposed to the bailouts (whether in political theory or in practice), and against further government intervention in our lives, especially since the bailouts just were an example of massive government intervention in our lives.

It's not me who is being inconsistent here...

Pinguino said...

@chuck

The difference here is that the way Wall St robbed the US taxpayers was real, it happened. And it happened in such a huge way that there is finally some backlash in the form of OWS.

The regular people never got a bailout, and no that's not what they are asking for here, and with the current admin/congress it's not something that you need to be afraid of. What OWS wants is a limit to the unchecked power of banks, and they want some steps towards social reforms.

Of course this all is lost when snarky media types who reduce the activists to caricatures, 'oh look at their macbooks.' If you believe those deceptions, you'll never understand.

Look, you don't have to try and argue libertarianism to me. I don't buy it, never will. I'm sticking to my point that these protesters are mostly legitimate, with real grievances, advocating on behalf of people who are powerless in society, and are being distorted by corporate media.

My compliments to Robert Graham for writing a thoughtful and honest article, with a clear distinction between fact and opinion. We all gotta start bursting these bubbles that we are in.

Thanks for the convo Chuck! All the best.

seydlitz89 said...

Thanks for an interesting take on this. I would mention that you seem to be looking at things from your own "filter bubble" as well, actually the usual libertarian one which sees no conflict between economic freedom/power and democracy/representative government.

That, and the actual basic problem that we are dealing with is imo the breakdown of a social system, so what exactly do we replace it with? The protestors as you describe them are dealing with that and coming up with their own answers, but that won't work on the level of the mass state.

Since the institutions are all crumbling we have to replace them with something else, but how does one replace institutions at the level of individuals working together? You can't which means we have to go back to the basic unit, the community and rebuild from there . . .

chucklingabit said...

@Pinguino

I think it's nice that you're optimistic as to their motivations and optimistic that the more absurd solutions that some of them are proposing would never be be achieved. I try to be optimistic too. I guess it's not surprising given our differences in opinion philosophically that we are coming to different conclusions.

All I can say is that I suspect many folks were optimistic that the center would hold in Revolutionary Russia, France, the US, Germany, Libya, Iraq, etc, etc, etc.

I cannot choose to support a group based on whether I think they'll get away with their *perhaps* well-intentioned, but dangerous ideas. I have to judge them based on the evidence I have of them, and that evidence, derived from reporting on their goals and methods -- just so far! I am going there either tonight or in the next 7 days -- tells me that many, many of them are in favor of policies that I believe would be damaging and/or outright immoral.

"Thanks for the convo Chuck! All the best."

Ditto!

zillamod said...

CORRECTION ON "MOBB" LABELING : Rep. Eric Cantor just labeled #OccupyWallSt as a mob.

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7383837n

Robert Graham said...

"A Citizen's Guide to Reporting on #OccupyWallStreet"
http://www.citmedialaw.org/blog/2011/citizens-guide-reporting-occupywallstreet

maria lima said...

Fair enough, Robert, not a bad way to consider it. I am in the Ft. Laud area, and we are having our own version of OWS, began building this afternoon. I'm going to stop by and 'check it out'...granted, it may not have the same feel or spirit at all. I'll let you know what I think. However, I hope you will consider my point about how at the very least, these folks are going to be used!

darkuncle said...

the comments here have unexpectedly left me with some optimism that there is still hope for civil discourse on the Internet after all. for the most part, nicely done folks.

Rob said...

Great post. Glad someone's taking time to actually write about this after trying to learn something, rather than finding a journalistic can on the shelf and stuffing them in it. I confess, I had figured that with the youth of the protesters that they were likely jobless lefties. They are, but it's more than just that.

Ivy Jayne said...

"The protesters have been settling on the idea that the conflict is the 99% against the 1%. But since the country is evenly divided between Democrat and Republican, they represent, at best, the interests of 50% against the 1%. No matter how poor, Republicans don’t see socialism as being in their own interests. Instead of chanting "We are the 99%" they should be chanting "We are the 50%", but they seem immune to seeing things from this perspective."

First of all, citation needed on "evenly divided between Democrat and Republican". Additionally, I do take issue here with your characterization of the movement as basically socialist, or the implication that Republicans, even poor ones, don't share any of the concerns of the protesters. Aren't these the same kind of generalization that you accuse the mainstream media of making? The fact that there is massive and expanding wealth and income inequality in the country doesn't automatically point to "socialism" as the remedy. Perhaps some of the protesters are calling for the dismantling of capitalism as you say, but that isn't how I read the "99%" thing at all. It seems to me very straightforward that there is a huge gap between the richest and the rest (which has not always been the case but is a trend that has accelerated greatly in the past 25 years), that the middle class is shrinking, that debt loads are high, that wages have not kept up with the cost of living, and jobs are scarce. These are facts and you don't have to be liberal to think that there should be some structural changes to the economic system or the tax code to remedy these inequalities. Conservatives know that the capitalist system depends upon a middle class with the resources to consume goods and services. Therefore they also have an interest in increasing the wealth of the 99%. This can certainly happen within the context of a regulated capitalist economy...

Ivy Jayne said...

"The protesters have been settling on the idea that the conflict is the 99% against the 1%. But since the country is evenly divided between Democrat and Republican, they represent, at best, the interests of 50% against the 1%. No matter how poor, Republicans don’t see socialism as being in their own interests. Instead of chanting "We are the 99%" they should be chanting "We are the 50%", but they seem immune to seeing things from this perspective."

First of all, citation needed on "evenly divided between Democrat and Republican". Additionally, I do take issue here with your characterization of the movement as basically socialist, or the implication that Republicans, even poor ones, don't share any of the concerns of the protesters. Aren't these the same kind of generalization that you accuse the mainstream media of making? The fact that there is massive and expanding wealth and income inequality in the country doesn't automatically point to "socialism" as the remedy. Perhaps some of the protesters are calling for the dismantling of capitalism as you say, but that isn't how I read the "99%" thing at all. It seems to me very straightforward that there is a huge gap between the richest and the rest (which has not always been the case but is a trend that has accelerated greatly in the past 25 years), that the middle class is shrinking, that debt loads are high, that wages have not kept up with the cost of living, and jobs are scarce. These are facts and you don't have to be liberal to think that there should be some structural changes to the economic system or the tax code to remedy these inequalities. Conservatives know that the capitalist system depends upon a middle class with the resources to consume goods and services. Therefore they also have an interest in increasing the wealth of the 99%. This can certainly happen within the context of a regulated capitalist economy...

Robert Graham said...

Ivy,

Well, I was being a bit disingenuous, as the split is really 1/3 each for Democrat, Republican, and Independent. Here is a link to the 2011 Rasmussen Poll.

I know you think you are being in the interests of the 99%, but that's like that famous joke about Boy Scout helping the old lady across he street, where the punch line is that old lady didn't want to go. Not all of the 99% you claim to represent want to go in your direction.

Sir Lags Alot said...

"The regular people never got a bailout, and no that's not what they are asking for here"

Excuse me? Total forgiveness of all debt is NOT a bailout? When did that happen?

sujal said...

Great post.

Minor correction: It's the "Democratic Party", not "Democrat party."

Democratic is the adjective usage, even in proper nouns like the party name, and Democrat is the noun (He is a Democrat, a member of the Democratic Party).

Sujal

mzcellani said...

"In much the same way, they don’t mention the racial makeup of the Occupation because it doesn’t fit their narrative."
Well, from your own reporting we learn that they are very loving. It seems a safe bet, then, that they are not racists,though they are predominately white.
You imply here that anyone owning some personal property, laptops, phones etc has no right to protest on behalf of the poor, that they should be happy with their lot in life since somehow they managed to snag some electronics and that they have no business criticizing illegal, unethical and/ or immoral behavior on Wall Street because Wall Street does good things. All of this is nonsensical.Further, I wouldn't credit Wall St. too much in having funded start-ups, it was the people investing who did the funding, not some executives who work on Wall St. who invested their own money.
You somehow managed to mist the tea partiers that are there, as well as the Ron Paul supporters (!). Some 'reporting. You had a story YOU wanted to tell, and then went and found it. Who is hey cares what the park owners have to say? What they say tells us nothing about this movement nor the protesters other than they are protesting in a park.
Strange how you think people defending or supporting "the people" are tyrants. I guess you really do mean to see every man for himself, even against the oligarchy. Which must mean, you defend the oligarchy from the people. At least you kept it polite here.

Biirna Strongheart said...

As a member of a local occupy group I stumbled on this post when looking for other people blogging about the movement. I found your article to be insightful, intelligent, and englightening. There were so many things that you accurately point out as flaws, and that we need to work on. Thank you for your cricitcism, and for your credit. I plan on sharing this post with the other members of occupy Athens Georgia.

Deprima said...

Tear down this Wall St!

Michael J. Fitzgerald said...

Great piece... I learned more from this bit of news and analysis than any place else... congrats.

Barry said...

Mythmaker said...


" We do not need to "take down the banks" or "take down wall street."
What we need is the rule of law, specific bankers, hedge fund managers and politicians need to be held accountable for the laws that have been broken."

Please note that this in fact would be 'taking down the ...',
in the same sense that removing the nobility's 'rights' and privileges would be taking the nobility.

If we ever got to a point where Wall St lived under something approximating the laws that the other 99.9% live under, that would be an immense take-down.

solar-joe said...

Very interesting to get a first person account. Thanks for the info Rob.

It seems one problem with the occupation narrative is there is no narrative. You can't blame the press entirely the confusion. Presumably these people are advocating for a more even distribution of wealth which usually means tax code changes. But instead they are whining and advocating childish ideas about abandoning capitalism. They do a disservice to themselves and all those who are suffering. What do they expect to accomplish here - nothing.

A lot of people are unemployed and suffering they don't know who to blame. Wall Street can take some blame; so can individuals who fail to adapt to changing market conditions. I wanted to study history in college but I knew it was not needed in the job market so I studied engineering. I read history as a hobby.

In my work I see a lot of unemployed fathers. Everything was great when they made tons of money in the trades when construction was booming. 9 out 10 of them saved nothing and borrowed heavily to buy big houses, cars, boats and jet skis. Now invariably they attribute their unemployment to various conspiracy theories involving Wall Street and the politicians. I try to talk to them about learning new skills that are more in demand. It falls on deaf ears. These are good hard working people but they are not life long learners. They seem to feel that they are owed a living working as a carpenter or sheet rock installer because that is what they have always done. Its sad; they, their children and families suffer the stresses of poverty. In a free market the whole idea is to adapt to change. The human cost of failing to do so is high.

I see these people every day. It is very difficult to help someone who is focused on blaming others.

note 1; The chant from the 1968 democratic convention in Chicago was "The whole world is watching" (via TV network news)

note 2; doesn't matter who installed the fiber optic cable.If it had been installed by slaves would that mean they couldn't protest slavery? The point is better stated - capitalist allocate capital wisely, and all benefit from the results.

Colonel Nikolai said...

I enjoyed your account. It is worthwhile. Keep doing it.

But I sincerely question the claim you make regarding how wall street made all this technology possible, etc, etc. It's libertarian mythology of magical markets.

Most of the "high-technology" and the computer industry itself that allowed for this technology to come into being was made possible by the government making war with money from taxes, paid for by you and me. This isn't recent, either. Its what we've been doing for 5000 years at least. You should consider that coins were first invented to pay soldiers.

But more recently: Integrated circuits, high-speed data communications, the Internet itself were all from government sponsored programs to aid in the waging of war.

Not that business had nothing to do with it: they certainly play a role. But there is a longstanding cooperation where the government tests things and tries things and later businesses come along to monetize it. It is not and never has been a pure system, sorry, it really undermines the libertarian myth.

matsyendra said...

http://groobiecat.blogspot.com/2011/10/tea-party-vs-occupywallstreet-party.html

"There were other factors that fueled the Tea Party, including the inherent racism of the movement."

The logic is so simple here, I have to wonder if the people who keep repeating this mantra know they are lying. Just because the President is black, doesn't mean it's because he's black. It's because he's President. If Clinton were elected, would that make them inherently sexist? While many of the placards were hateful and tasteless, there have been hateful and tasteless against expressions against every president. When Bush was in office they largely came from protesters on the left. When Obama became President they largely came from protesters of the right. There is no need to wonder why a group of right-leaning protesters would be more aggressive against a left-leaning President. Even though both Bush and Obama supported the bailouts, they disagreed with Obama on even more issues, such as guns and health care. That, and it was simply passage of time -- the movement had grown larger. If the Tea Party were inherently racist, there would be numerous clear examples of them making unabashed statements about race. Being so large, and under such scrutiny, they wouldn't able to hide such communications. Yet there is no such evidence. So the argument -- that they must be racist because there is no other explanation why some unsophisticated and angry people might do unsophisticated and angry things -- seems nothing but a dishonest rationalization for name-calling.

solar-joe said...

When I was researching parallel processor behavior at Bell Labs way back in 1983 we found that giving too much responsibility to a central managing processor resulted in lower efficiency. We also found that giving too much responsibility to the parallel sub-processors resulted in lower efficiency. It turns out that the greatest computational efficiency was attained when the central processor performed limited high level planning and the low level parallel processors performed number crunching sub-tasks selected by the the manager. Both extremes were inferior. A compromise moderate solution was best.

I think the Federal govt control vs local businesses and individuals are analogous. I realize this does not have the sex appeal of an extremist view like Ron Paul's "abolish the Fed" or the left's "abandon capitalism". But if your interested in real data, the data seems to indicate what we have now is best. We just need to fine tune it.

Civility note 1; The tea party is not racist, although I do disagree with them on 90% of their views.

civility note 2; If you want you can link just about anything to war; foot powder, bread, tires, meatloaf, refrigerators, plastic, lumber, toilet paper, stairs, eyeglasses, underwear, paint, pencils, shoes, balloons, bookshelves,....

Capitalism may be cruel, but to say it is not a major facilitator of innovation is silly. Many communist systems pushed for aggressive technological development to facilitate war also but things did not work out very well.

Colonel Nikolai said...

OT: solar-joe the point was not that "it's all about war" (and how the heck is this, even though it's not my claim, _uncivil?_) but that there is a longstanding cooperation between government and commerce. Government takes on projects that no private entity could sustainably do. The breakthroughs are made and later the private sector monetizes the innovation.

Gadfly said...

I think the "leaderless" is itself a myth. There's a separate central circle, policed by a security squad. The 99ers website was created June 2010. Add that to the reporting.

http://socraticgadfly.blogspot.com/2011/10/more-proof-occupywallstreet-has-ows.html

ralph said...

I love this post. I nearly fell off my chair when you said you are a Libertarian! You are funny! Libertarians are not funny, they are earnest, deadly, deadly dull and earnest, like accountants.
Are you sure you are really a Libertarian? There was another Libertarian on here and his post sounded like the real thing, the world is not nice or loving, etc.

A great piece of writing!

Robert Graham said...

Ralph,

Libertarians can be quite funny. We've successfully infiltrated all parts of the system through our skill in blending in, by looking and sounding like everyone else. That includes the ability to crack jokes.

brain activist said...

When you say that in the future "this organization model will become a blueprint for protests years from now," do you think that once there is a "blueprint", it's totally different from this organic evolution we're seeing? There can only be one first time, then it's all different. Now, solutions are arriving on the fly as problems arise. That's the beauty and excitement that gives such power to this moment IMO.

Player Down said...

I think if a word was not spoken by any one in any city the point of silence would reflect that there is a primary problem in our country. Not rich kids reacting to no jobs,or angry young people with no direction home,but more importantly the overall financial problem in this country has morphed to a point where there are no imminent solutions. That would,IMO,really bring the wrath onto Wall St and the politicos who keep the wheels of a runaway train greased with no option for a viable solution. Then the general populous would reflect the problems thru the election process.

0stresslife said...

Great post. I learned so much more from your post than from all of the other "sources of information." Fantastic reporting.

vv said...

what Robert described as "people's microphone" is basically a form of networking, called Mesh Networking.
details at http://daihinia.com/about

1N2U3M4B5E6R7S said...

Get your head out of your ass! you seem to be glossing over certain ascpects of the protests that you disagree with. For example, the basic blantant contradiction of using means of social meadia (created and promoted by corporations) to protest corpoations! Or. For instance the 99% vs. 1% You realize this is a global anti-semitic chant right? Dig deeper and you will see this movement DOES have plenty of funding. (check out Adbusters.com scrubbed website) OH wait, that's also completely ignoring the recent news of your pro socialist, communal protesters refusing to handout some of THEIR food to the homeless who have flocked to those WITH while they are WITHOUT! The hypocracy of humans shouldn't surpirse me anymore. I'm sorry. Put your heads snuggly back up there.

1N2U3M4B5E6R7S said...

Get your head out of your ass! you seem to be glossing over certain ascpects of the protests that you disagree with. For example, the basic blantant contradiction of using means of social meadia (created and promoted by corporations) to protest corpoations! Or. For instance the 99% vs. 1% You realize this is a global anti-semitic chant right? Dig deeper and you will see this movement DOES have plenty of funding. (check out Adbusters.com scrubbed website) OH wait, that's also completely ignoring the recent news of your pro socialist, communal protesters refusing to handout some of THEIR food to the homeless who have flocked to those WITH while they are WITHOUT! The hypocracy of humans shouldn't surpirse me anymore. I'm sorry. Put your heads snuggly back up there.

1N2U3M4B5E6R7S said...

COMMENT MODERATION = CENSORSHIP (hypocracy again)

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Robert Graham said...

A guy with the handle "1N2U3M4B5E6R7S" two comments back criticizes the fact that I do comment-moderation. The reason I do this is because of spam, so I let the next spam message through to demonstrate an example. The blog will be filled with comments like that if I did not have comment-moderation turned on.

Except for spam or obvious trolls, I don't block comments. I even allow douchebag comments, like the ones from 1N2U3M4B5E6R7S, who can neither spell "hypocrisy" nor use it correctly in a sentence (just because you don't like something doesn't automatically make it hypocrisy).