Chris Hedges on Occupy and the End of Empire

Brace yourself! It’s three hours of Chris Hedges, but he pretty much lays it all out.

I wanted to highlight one part where he addresses a question from a viewer about white supremacy and white privilege, which he seems to have a very good handle on.

At about 1:32:25 in, @MelkiJRussell asks, “Can Chris talk about the issues a Black man might face saying the same thing he says to a white audience?” to which I think Hedges gave a great answer: Continue reading “Chris Hedges on Occupy and the End of Empire”

Book Review: Debt: The First 5000 Years (in-progress)

David Graeber’s Wikipedia entry starts with “David Rolfe Graeber is an American anthropologist and anarchist“. Already you know things are going to be interesting.

I first heard of this book and Graeber in connection to the Occupy Wall Street protests. Apparently he played some part in starting them. He also was involved in the anti-corporate globalization protests of the late 1990s. Then I heard a reference to this book from none other than a Financial Times reporter. Okay, then. If the business press is interested in reading a book on money and debt by an anarchist anthropologist, I’ll bite.

I loved the cover. It’s a very effective illusion – I really thought that the cashier had placed my receipt on the book itself.

The book’s size looks intimidating, but it shouldn’t be. About a quarter to a third of the book is endnotes, and the main text is very straight-forwardedly written, which is a pleasure. Graeber covers a ridiculous amount of ground, but does so fairly thoroughly and entertainingly. Near the end, the quality craps out a little bit, and it seems a bit more hand-wavy. This, along with the rather large number of typos, leads me to suspect that the book was rushed out the door. The book is timely, to say the least, and so I can forgive it those flaws.

I’m marking this as in-progress because I read the book quickly, and I mean to re-read it more carefully and talk in more detail about the book’s contents. Until then, I’ll just say that the book talks about the following:

  • that the State and the Market were born together
  • that world systems have shifted between debt and coinage
  • that coinage and precious metals coincide with war and plunder
  • that debt is related to slavery
  • various non-monetary cultures, and
  • how daily life is a mixture of market relations, small non-monetary debts, and communism.

I highly recommend this book to anyone even remotely interested in the current economic crisis.

You can find it on isbn.nu.

If you are intrigued by this review, you can read Graeber’s essay Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology, which has some of the ideas of _Debt_ in an embryonic form.

Chris Jones and the Criminal Neglect of the SFPD

On Tuesday night, December 6th, the SFPD raided and destroyed the Occupy SF encampment. As a side note, related to the main story, there were 3 or so firefighters there – there was some piece of SFFD equipment holding up lights to further illuminate the already well-lit plaza. I talked briefly with a couple of the firefighters, and told them that their participation was shameful. One of them replied sarcastically, “Oh, I feel bad now”. My opinion of SFFD dropped significantly. But events the next night would raise my opinion again.

#OccupySF Walked into a crazy situation. 70+ riot cops marching into the GA.
6:29 PM, Dec 7th

On Wednesday evening, December 7th, people came back to Bradley Manning Plaza/Justin Herman Plaza to have a GA (General Assembly meeting). I came by a little bit late, and arrived to see 7 columns of 10 riot cops each positioned in the walkway (and more cops elsewhere) while people were gathered in the plaza. I came to be focused on a small aspect of that evening’s events, which I think is rather telling of our current situation. I tweeted from time to time, and include some of those tweets here to illustrate the events and mark them precisely in time.

The cops marched into the plaza and circled a small portion of it – about a third or a quarter. It seems that there was a little bit of time for people to decide whether to stay or not. One of my friends decided to stay in the plaza, willing to risk arrest for the sake of upholding our basic First Amendment rights to assembly and free speech. About 40 or so people and one tent were within police lines for over 2 hours during the ensuing standoff. It should be noted that lots of other people, including myself from time to time, were in the plaza, but outside of police lines – the police did not have enough numbers to surround the entire plaza.

At the edges there was quite a bit of verbal confrontation. Apparently Chris Jones was sitting on the raised embankment – for the most part cops were on or in front of that embankment. However, where he was, as Chris Jones points out in this video of the police attack, the police were standing inside the embankment. Nevertheless they had a problem with his position. He had a sign that said “Bill 1867 = George Orwell’s 1984”. Bill 1867 is also called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which, in the words of the ACLU, “would authorize the president to send the military literally anywhere in the world to imprison civilians without charge or trial…. No corner of the world, not even your own home, would be off-limits to the military.” That’s rather important to be protesting, and it adds a certain tang to the following events.

#OccupySF Two roughly arrested. One’s name is Christopher Jones. People are yelling for a medic or 911. REMEMBER: 415-285-1011
6:50 PM, Dec 7th

I was right in front of the police lines, keeping as close a distance to the cops as I could, and doing my part as one of the white people regularly yelling at police officers. To the right of me was a sudden scuffle, and two people were pulled over the embankment, dragged through the grass, and each jumped on by several cops. It looked pretty damn rough given the number of cops, the distance from the crowd, and the lack of urgency. I have to admit that I didn’t pay a lot of attention right away, but many of the people nearby were yelling about one of the arrestees. He was still lying prone on the ground a couple minutes after being zip-tied, even though the other arrestee seemed in reasonably good shape and had shifted to sitting up.

People started yelling for medical attention, for a medic, for 911. The cops stood around impervious. Eg:

SFPD cops stand around impassively as Chris Jones is lying on the ground shaking

Continue reading “Chris Jones and the Criminal Neglect of the SFPD”

Occupy/Decolonize Posters

Finn Cunningham said:

Hello,

Here are some posters that I’ve made that folks are welcome to print and use (some of them use the word Occupy which i know is problematic and also recognizable.) If there are any specific posters you’d like created, or certain quotes or phrases illustrated let me know. I injured myself in a fall last week so I have a lot of time right now to draw in bed. Also, if anyone wants to collaborate on larger works or be wheat pasting buddies feel free to email me.

Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

Occupy Your Mind

You might think from my lack of posting that not much has been going on. On the contrary, so much has been going on, and there’s so much I want to write, but I have been utterly busy in this extraordinary historical moment. This is a revolutionary time. What seems possible changes almost day-to-day. Politics are quite literally unpredictable.

I recently read a great account of a timid liberal’s changes through participation in Occupy Oakland. A homeless man below tells how Occupy Atlanta has saved him from crack addiction.

The Occupy movement has changed me, too. At first, I took an observer’s stance. A couple of weeks in, I joined the October 5th march around the city – a march that was extremely positive and open, without any feelings of fear or aggression. The police behaved well, blocking traffic to help the march (which I believe was unpermitted).

Continue reading “Occupy Your Mind”

Letter to Wikileaks Supporters: Bradley Manning’s hearing is FINALLY coming up!

This email was sent out to the Wikileaks Support Announcement list.

As I’ve said before, I believe that the most important task related to defending Wikileaks is to defend Bradley Manning. His pre-trial hearing (after more than 500 days in jail) will be announced any day now. We would love to have a large and immediate response to send a message to the powers-that-be.

We were able to improve Bradley’s conditions in jail through our activism. A large turnout will help Bradley get a public, instead of a closed, trial, which in turn tremendously improves his chances of going free or getting a shorter sentence.

Continue reading “Letter to Wikileaks Supporters: Bradley Manning’s hearing is FINALLY coming up!”

Žižek at Occupy Wall Street

Well, this is just a wonderful confluence. Slavoj Žižek spoke at Occupy Wall Street on Sunday, October 9th, 2011, at noon. Here is the YouTube video of it in two parts. The human amplification makes for slow going. Thanks to 600euros for transcribing, which I cleaned up below. Thanks also to visitordesign for posting the videos.

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2

Continue reading “Žižek at Occupy Wall Street”