Edited version of my October 22 radio commentary. Sorry for repeating myself on Occupy Wall Street, but it seems pretty important. An acquaintance in Australia posted this to a discussion group the other day: This is I truly hope the very beginning of the reconstruction and the rediscovery of an American Left. I keep banging on about this, but American comrades must understand how this is galvanising the world. If the Left in America re-emerges as an historical agent, then a lot will become possible. All this, from what started as a small encampment in… Read More
The anarchists are not happy about this, and are trying to block its adoption by the General Assembly. If you like it, please attend, agitate, comment, circulate, whatever. If you don’t like it, please reflect on the size of the potential constituency for this agenda compared with that for your own. TEACH-IN: DEMANDS WORKING GROUP PANEL Saturday 3:00-5:00 PM 66 W 12th St Rm 407 Part of Day-long Teach-in sponsored by the New School Senate What’s the story about the proposed Jobs for All Demand? The Demands Working… Read More
The Book Bench: Why I Signed the Occupy Writers Petition : The New Yorker My Keynesian hunch about the current economic troubles is that when wealth is too much concentrated in the hands of people who don’t need to spend it, it stops circulating. I suspect that America spent its way out of the structurally similar Great Depression of the nineteen-thirties through a campaign of wealth redistribution that lasted decades—the government hired soldiers, gave college educations to veterans, granted pensions to senior citizens, and went to war on poverty—and that the transfer laid the groundwork for… Read More
Video of the great Jacobin debate on #OWS politics & strategy now up. Below the link, some of moderator Seth Ackerman’s comments: #OWS, a debate on left politics and strategy Held on Friday Oct. 14, 2011 at Bluestockings bookshop on Allen St. in New York City. From anarchism to demands, from the consensus process to “what next?” we covered the gamut of topics. When the discussion was over, Doug Henwood, who was on the panel, commented that it had been the most contentious left-wing gathering he’d ever participated in (and Doug’s participated in a… Read More
No doubt you’ve all heard and read about the huge and wonderful Occupy Wall Street satellite rally in Times Square this afternoon. This crowd was anything but the shiftless hippies of Ann Coulter’s imagining. I bet a lot of them were Democrats, which means that the process of productive disillusionment I’d hoped for in the summer of 2008 is finally kicking into gear, after a long delay: Enough critique; the dialectic demands something constructive to induce some forward motion. There’s no doubt that Obamalust does embody some phantasmic longing for a better world—more… Read More
This is the section on the Federal Reserve from my book Wall Street: How It Works and for Whom (Verso, 1997). The complete text can be downloaded here. It’s a little out of date—the Fed is more open now than it was 15 years ago, at least superficially—but it’s still fundamentally right. Two quick updates: 1) The Fed now releases summaries of its policy decisions right after the FOMC meeting. They’re somewhat sanitized, but still informative. 2) The annual profit it turns over to the Treasury has more recently been around $25 billion. Last… Read More
Bluestockings is at 172 Allen St, not 72 as I said earlier. 172! At least I got the time right: it’s at 7.
A reminder—I’m part of a panel organized by the excellent posse at Jacobin on Occupy Wall Street, along with Jodi Dean, Malcolm Harris, Natasha Lennard, and Chris Maisano. Bluestockings 172 Allen St (Stanton–Rivington) Manhattan 7 PM Likely to be crowded, and Bluestockings is small—so get there early!
[I haven’t been posting my radio commentaries here in a while. Here’s some of October 8’s.] Rethinking OWS Turning to larger issues, not only does Occupy Wall Street continue, it’s grown in numbers and prominence—several major unions marched in solidarity earlier this week in Lower Manhattan—and it’s spreading around the country. It’s focusing attention on issues of inequality and exploitation in a way we haven’t seen in ages. And Democratic politicians are looking pressured to say sympathetic things—though I suspect they’re just looking to take advantage of the thing for their own… Read More
Wall Street’s favorite economist, Ed Hyman, likes to annotate headlines and news snippets. In today’s morning report, he groups some under “depressing” and others under “encouraging.” Depressing Unions Join Wall St Protest (NYT) Senate Democrats proposed a 5% surtax on incomes over $1m (WSJ) Encouraging Merkel Ready to Aid Banks (IBD) The BoE expanded its bond-purchase plan to $420b from $300b (Bloomberg) IMF Considers Plan to Purchase European Bonds (WSJ) Gotta love that state when it supports The Market, eh?
[posted to Facebook] Jodi Dean One benefit of the model in use at occupy wall street is the possible formation of a group, collectivity, out of folks who have a hard time thinking and acting as a group. So, if we think of the occupiers as primarily people who don’t union membership as an option and don’t see any existing parties as persuasive, then they are trying to build a different kind of group. An interesting problem they face is how to describe it–it’s not an ‘identity category’ or an ‘interest group’ or… Read More
I know this will prompt more rebukes for trying to impose an anachronistic old left on the spontaneously new, but someone’s got to do it. I read this quote in the New York Times the other day. I know that that may not be the go-to medium for reports on Occupy Wall Street, but it’s not unrepresentative of some of the things I’ve seen and heard first hand from that quarter: “This is not about left versus right,” said the photographer, Christopher Walsh, 25, from Bushwick, Brooklyn. “It’s about hierarchy versus autonomy.” Autonomy in… Read More
The last day or two I’ve been seeing some complaints that the chant of the Occupy Wall Street protesters that “We are the 99%” casts the net too widely, effacing all kinds of class, race, and gender distinctions. Well, yes, probably so. But I still find it cheering. It is a fact that over the last couple of decades, much of the growth in total income in the U.S. has gone to the upper reaches of society. For example, based on Census data, between 1982 and 2010, the richest fifth of society… Read More
Just posted to my radio archives: October 1, 2011 Corey Robin, political scientist at Brooklyn College and author of The Reactionary Mind, on how the right thinks