Posted by Jeff Woods
Mon, Oct 31, 2011
In a surprise victory for Occupy Nashville today, the state of Tennessee declined to defend the governor’s crackdown on protesters at Legislative Plaza and accepted a court order banning more arrests—at least for now. Federal Judge Aleta Trauger said she’d already decided to issue her temporary restraining order anyway, even if the state opposed it.
“I can’t think of any more quintessential public forum than the Legislative Plaza,” she said, calling the governor’s actions “clear prior restraint of free speech.” She said she was “most gratified” and “not too surprised” that the state was conceding the first round in the lawsuit filed this morning by Occupy Nashville and the ACLU.
The two sides agreed to negotiate ways to accommodate the protesters while maintaining public safety at the Plaza. They were given until Nov. 21, at which point they’ll go back to court. If there’s no deal, then Trauger will decide whether to make her injunction permanent. Oh yes, the state also agreed to return the protesters’ tents, soggy sleeping bags and other possessions that troopers confiscated on the first night of arrests and tossed into the back of a pickup truck in the Plaza garage.
The lawsuit catalogs all the many ways the protesters say the governor and the state of Tennessee have trampled on their rights. Free speech and free association have been denied at probably the most prominent public forum in the state of Tennessee, and it was done on the fly with flimsy legal authority and without notice, the lawsuit says.
From Counter Currents: http://www.countercurrents.org/jensen311011.htm
By Robert Jensen
31 October, 2011
There’s one question that pundits and politicians keep posing to the Occupy gatherings around the country: What are your demands?
I have a suggestion for a response: We demand that you stop demanding a list of demands.
The demand for demands is an attempt to shoehorn the Occupy gatherings into conventional politics, to force the energy of these gatherings into a form that people in power recognize, so that they can roll out strategies to divert, co-opt, buy off, or — if those tactics fail — squash any challenge to business as usual.
Rather than listing demands, we critics of concentrated wealth and power in the United States can dig in and deepen our analysis of the systems that produce that unjust distribution of wealth and power. This is a time for action, but there also is a need for analysis. Rallying around a common concern about economic injustice is a beginning; understanding the structures and institutions of illegitimate authority is the next step. We need to recognize that the crises we face are not the result simply of greedy corporate executives or corrupt politicians, but rather of failed systems. The problem is not the specific people who control most of the wealth of the country, or those in government who serve them, but the systems that create those roles. If we could get rid of the current gang of thieves and thugs but left the systems in place, we will find that the new boss is going to be the same as the old boss.
My contribution to this process of sharpening analysis comes in lists of three, with lots of alliteration. Whether you find my analysis of the key questions compelling, at least it will be easy to remember: empire, economics, ecology.
Continue reading at: http://www.countercurrents.org/jensen311011.htm
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/10/31-3
A remarkable shift in mass public opinion is occurring right before our eyes. It does not happen often. Normally, only when there is a severe breakdown in public confidence about the future.
Now is such a time.
Millions are demanding clear explanations for the economic turmoil surrounding their lives and rejecting en masse standard platitudes from an increasingly discredited political establishment.
Fox-News pundits, Heritage Foundation business scholars, glib right-wing loud mouths and two-faced politicians from both major parties have been exposed as stand-in ventriloquists for the wealthy – shockingly, all in a few short weeks.
It all began with only a few hundred protestors camped out on Wall Street challenging conceited notions of the one percent.
Through it all, the Occupy Movement is discovering what my generation learned during the civil rights, antiwar, feminist and gay rights struggles begun some 65 years ago – the ideas of the rich and powerful just don’t stand up.
They don’t hold water. That is, they do not accurately explain what is happening around us, the measure most rational people use to determine if something is true or false.
There was bitter political conflict with the status quo during the conformist “American Dream” decade of the 1950s.
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/10/31-3
By Anne Applebaum
28 Oct 2011
My friend J grew up in Chicago, but spent his summers in a small town on a Michigan lake. His family, because they came from the city and because they were “summer” visitors, were slightly more privileged than those who lived in the town. Nevertheless, the town considered itself “middle class” and the children observed no social distinctions playing together. J told me recently that he had been back to that town and found it utterly changed: shops were boarded up, houses were being repossessed, cars were old. He no longer had much in common with people he had known as children, some of whom were now unemployed, all of whom had far lower incomes than he.
J isn’t a hedge-fund manager or a plutocrat, but he is a member of the American upper-middle class, a group which is now sociologically and economically very distinct from the lower-middle class, with different politics, different ambitions and different levels of optimism. Thirty years ago, this wasn’t the case. A worker in a Detroit car factory earned about the same as, say, a small-town dentist, and although they might have different taste in films or furniture, their purchasing power wasn’t radically different. Their children would have been able to play together without feeling as if they came from different planets.
Now they couldn’t. Despite all the loud talk of the “1 per cent” of Americans who, according to a recent study, receive about 17 per cent of the income, a percentage which has more than doubled since 1979, the existence of a very small group of very rich people has never bothered Americans. But the fact that some 20 per cent of Americans now receive some 53 per cent of the income is devastating.
I would argue that the growing divisions within the American middle class are far more important than the gap between the very richest and everybody else. They are important because to be “middle class”, in America, has such positive connotations, and because most Americans think they belong in it. The middle class is the “heartland”, the middle class is the “backbone of the country”. In 1970, Time magazine described middle America as people who “sing the national anthem at football games – and mean it”.