White people can surprise you sometimes

Here’s a fun factoid that surprised me when I discovered it: 60% of white Americans think that the best approach to lowering the crime rate is attacking social problems, not tougher law enforcement. The exact question: Which of the following approaches to lowering the crime rate in the United States comes closer to your own view–do you think more money and effort should go to attacking the social and economic problems that lead to crime through better education and job training or more money and effort should go to deterring crime by… Read More

Angela Davis’ advice: identify with the defeated?

There are many things I admire about Angela Davis, and I have warm memories of being on a panel with her at Rethinking Marxism 2000. She was wise and very gracious. But she reportedly told the OWS gathering at Zuccotti tonight to: 1) identify with Troy Davis, and 2) study the Attica prisoners for pointers on how to become a “dangerous class.” I have two problems with this: 1) Troy Davis is dead. His execution was a crime, but as anything but a moral force, he’s dead. And 2) the Attica prisoners… Read More

Don’t get me wrong…

After the previous post, on the problems of leaderlessness, I don’t want people to get the wrong impression. I feel nothing but deep admiration and gratitude for the Occupiers—in Zuccotti and elsewhere, from Tunis to Melbourne. As I stepped out into the cold rain this morning to pick up the papers—which included that Roula Khalaf piece—I thought: man, it must suck to be camping out in this. But I’m so happy there are people who do it anyway. So when I post something like that Khalaf excerpt, I want to remind people… Read More

Complications of leaderlessness

From a piece in today’s Financial Times by their Middle East editor, Roula Khalaf: Well beyond the scene of bloodshed, the mood of Cairo was transformed, from euphoria to frustration. The memories of that glorious February moment in Egyptian history were fading as people were stuck back in the grind of daily life, finding that little had changed. In Tahrir Square, I looked for a monument to the revolution and its martyrs, but could find none, as if the upheaval has not reached its conclusion. The youth movements that mesmerised the Arab world… Read More

New radio product

Freshly posted to my radio archives, ending a three-week fundraising hiatus: October 28, 2011 sociologist Alex Vitale on cops and protest • journalist Sarah Jaffe on OWS, mostly

OWS: rising to discursive hegemony!

Well, maybe not exactly. But here’s the cover of the October 24 New Yorker:       Yeah, it’s funny. Caricatured elites protesting to defend privilege. But Occupying Wall Street is setting the agenda. Bourgeois organs have to respond, if only ironically. Bush’s speechwriter Matthew Dowd used to say that if you oppose us while still using our language, we’re winning. Looks like someone different is winning, at least for now.

Civil disobedience against NYPD’s stop & frisk

It looks like OWS is giving the movement against the NYPD’s stop & frisk policies—under which literally hundreds of thousands of young males are patted down by cops—a shot in the arm. This press release just in: For Immediate Release Activists to shut down 73rd Precinct in Brownsville Stop ‘Stop and Frisk’ Comes to Brooklyn New York, NY, Oct. 28, 2011 – Nonviolent civil disobedience is on the agenda as local activists, community members and religious leaders gear up to challenge the NYPD’s controversial ‘stop and frisk’ practices at the 73rd Police Precinct in Brownsville, Brooklyn.   The… Read More

Me, interviewed…

…by Sam Seder of Majority Report Radio: The Majority Reporters

It really is about that 1%

Wow, that top 1% is doing really, really well, you’ll not be surprised to hear. Everyone else, not so well. The Congressional Budget Office is out with some new stats on Trends in the Distribution of Income over the last three decades. Between 1979 and 2007, here’s how various slices of the population did in real (inflation-adjusted) income growth after federal taxes: top 1%: +275% next 19%: +65% middle 60%: +40% bottom 20%: +18% Or, in graphic form: The stairstep pattern—the higher you go up the income ladder, the stronger the growth—is remarkable…. Read More

Keynes on bizmen as “domestic animals”

This is from a February 1938 letter by John Maynard Keynes to Franklin Roosevelt, expressing his alarm at the return to slump in 1937–38, and offering suggestions on how to reverse it. I’ve cleaned up a few marks and jacked up the contrast to make it more legible. The whole letter is really worth reading; it’s full of sentences like “The handling of the housing problem has been really wicked.” The bourgeoisie doesn’t make them like these two anymore. (Click on the graphic to enlarge it.)   Thanks for the pointer, Mike Konczal.

Creeps busting brooms, stealing trashbags at OWS

A startling bit of news from last night’s OWS Demands Working Group meeting. Someone from the Sanitation Committee at Zuccotti reported that they’re in desperate need of brooms, dustpans, and garbage bags. Someone—cops? freelance thugs (as opposed to the professional uniformed thugs)? pranksters?—has been sneaking in at night and breaking the broom handles and stealing the dustpans and trashbags. Since keeping the park clean is Mayor Bloomberg’s preferred excuse for a clampdown, this is ominous. If you’d like to donate some of these goodies, please drop them by the park. The THE YIPPIE… Read More

The OWS Demands group meets

Last night, I went to the meeting of the OWS Demands Working Group, held in historic Tompkins Square Park, scene of many a riot and other kind of uprising in its 161-year history. There were about 75 people there, to discuss what to do with the draft set of demands that the group had passed past week. On Friday, I wrongly reported that the OWS General Assembly had rejected the draft and disavowed the working group. In fact, the GA hasn’t even discussed the issue. According to people at last night’s meeting, whoever controls the… Read More

Taking the measure of OWS

Pollster Doug Schoen, who’s worked for Bill Clinton and Michael Bloomberg, sent a researcher into Zuccotti Park on October 10 and 11 to take the measure of the Occupiers. Schoen wrote up his conclusions from this effort in a now-discredited op-ed in the Wall Street Journal: Our research shows clearly that the movement doesn’t represent unemployed America and is not ideologically diverse. Rather, it comprises an unrepresentative segment of the electorate that believes in radical redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence. As several writers have pointed out, notably Azi Paybarah, Schoen… Read More

Video interview with me…

…by the excellent Taryn Hart:

Those demands? Forget about them!

The OWS General Assembly disavows the Demands working group, saying, in a grandiose and narcissistic fashion, “We are our demands”: Demands Working Group. Is fame going to someone’s head?