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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Robert Doyle : “Selfish rabble got what it deserved.” ORLLY? #occupymelb

Oh yeah. Tricksy police in Sydney smashed #occupysydney at approximately 5am this morning. Maybe 40 or so arrests, camp destroyed. Video seized along with arrested. Pride. Integrity. Guts.

I’m beginning to believe that Robert Doyle may not be the sharpest tool in the shed.
Either that, or he assumes his audience are fools.

In an opinion piece in the Sunday Herald Sun (‘Selfish rabble got what it deserved’, October 23, 2011), the Lord Mayor makes numerous assertions regarding the nature of the occupation, its aims and composition.
These claims are supplemented by straight-forward abuse.
According to the Lord Mayor, those who occupied the City Square were a “self-righteous, narcissistic, self-indulgent rabble”; lying, violent, thugs, both comically-amateurish malcontents and–simultaneously–professionally-trained vandals, acting under the influence of sinister forces of strange and exotic origin.
A brief survey of the contribution to public discourse by the numerous trolls populating Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms reveals that the sentiments expressed by the Lord Mayor find their echo in the quasi-demented outpourings of this unpaid army. To cite just one of many possible examples: local yuppie Cameron Voss (“Website Producer at Australian Football League”) tweeted that he wished more than 20 occupiers had been injured by police on Friday. (Then again, he is a Hawthorn supporter.) As Andrew O’Hagan wrote in the October 6 edition of the London Review of Books: “Twitter is marvellous in the way a school playground is marvellous: full of life, full of information, and heaving with bullies.”
So much for the bullies.
Well, not quite.
Robert asks:
And what of the promises of Occupy Melbourne spokespeople during the week in the media – that they would vacate City Square peacefully once requested to do so?
What of their specific requests to police that they be given some notice so they could leave peacefully?
Good questions. What promises? Made by whom? And with what authority?
On Thursday, October 20, Occupy Melbourne released a media statement regarding the fact that Inspector Bernie Jackson of the Melbourne East police station met with protesters to discuss a potential eviction scenario. It declared that his statement would be discussed at the General Assembly that evening. A further media release on the morning of the eviction (Friday, October 21) stated that Occupy Melbourne intended to remain at the Square.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Again, look at the video footage. Peaceful? Hardly. And how do these protesters explain the knives, hammers, bricks, bottles and flammable liquids that we found in their illegal tent city? What were they for?
Obviously believing himself to have scored a coup, Robert repeats himself:
THE protest was infiltrated by professionals: what were those knives, hammers, bottles, bricks and fuel for?
Why, what possible use could anybody have for knives, hammers, bottles, bricks or fuel? Possibly, to cut things, hammer things, store liquids, anchor ropes and to keep things warm. If the Lord Mayor believes such mundane items pose a threat to public safety, he could ban carpenters, cooks, builders and other ‘professionals’ from entering the CBD.
You know it makes sense.
And the final irony?
“We are the 99 per cent,” they chanted.
But they are not the 99 per cent.
Literally-speaking, Robert is of course correct: 3,960,000-plus people simply won’t fit into the City Square. As a former English teacher, however, he should be familiar with the use of metaphor. Further, as a literate politician, Robert should also be familiar–even if only roughly–with the field of economics, and the use of such rhetoric is derived from the Nobel-prize winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz.
In the May issue of Vanity Fair, Stiglitz wrote an article titled ‘Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%’, in which he claimed that the top 1 percent of the US population control 40 percent of the national wealth, and proceeded to elaborate why this fact, and others like it, spells trouble.
He concludes his brief analysis as follows:
The top 1 percent have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live. Throughout history, this is something that the top 1 percent eventually do learn. Too late.
Aside from having a poor command of rhetoric and economics, Robert would also appear to have a slippery grasp of fundamental legal principles. Thus:
NO ONE gets arrested for protesting: you have to escalate it, break the law, get violent. And there were more than 50 arrests.
In reality, people get arrested because the police decide to arrest them. They are then sometimes charged. Sometimes they’re not.
On Saturday, many more than 50 people were detained by police. Not all of them, however, were charged with a criminal offence. Some were released. Those charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a properly-constituted court of law.
In short: Robert Doyle is a fucking cunt (Geoff Lemon, Heathen Scripture, October 22, 2011).

from the blog slackbastard


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ben Courtice:This is not what democracy looks like!

Yesterday's police riot has drawn out the politics of the state government quite clearly. The Herald Sun, a reliable conservative mouthpiece for much of the time, summed it up with their first paragraphs in today's edition. 
"The Battle of City Square wasn't quite over but the result was never in doubt when a quiet policeman dropped a comment that said it all.
"Now they know we mean it," he mused, munching on a sandwich after hours of riding herd on the rag-tag coalition of protesters camped in the square. "No more Christine Nixon stuff."
It's a bit too convenient to have an officer actually say what the Herald Sun (and their attack dog Andrew Bolt) have been imputing for some time: that the police were feminised and made soft while they had a woman commissioner. Now with her and her successor smeared and removed, and the Herald Sun's favourite conservative party in power, the police have given us a showing of what the conservatives like: jackboots stomping on the face of dissent - almost literally, yesterday.
Of course it's not a good look for the police force to have such political statements out there. I hope they are contacting the Herald Sun with complaints about the presentation of this comment that allegedly came from one of their officers. But it is no doubt an accurate description of what yesterday was about. We have conservatives in government. They want to crush unions, give free rein to the coal and gas industries, discriminate against gays, ban wind turbines, log ancient forests, and the list goes on. And they don't want anyone getting in their way.
Anyone who might have occasion to protest ought to be worried about this, even the 500 or so who rallied just before we did this morning for their right to own vililfied (allegedly dangerous) breeds of dog. This is a government that won't tolerate dissent and they will bring out the goons of the riot squad if they feel like it. Unions, you need to go beyond motions of endorsement: we need to ensure yesterday's precedent for police behaviour is overturned. Climate campaigners, anti-war protesters, equal marriage rights people - you need to be there too. You could be next.

 Professional bully-boys
Those riot squaddies were thrilled yesterday, like professional bully-boys. They were lapping it up. The regular constables in the front lines were more sullen, like they might prefer to be off eating doughnuts or issuing fines or whatever it is police enjoy doing, not committing acts of violence. Not so the psychos of the riot squad: you could see it in their eyes.

Having once been sent to a conservative, private boys' school for a few years, I have a bit of a prejudice against traditionalist schoolmasters. Robert Doyle's demeanour always reminded me of such like. The upright clean-looking public face, but concealing a man who rules by being the biggest bully in the playground. It's just an impression, but I give full support to the demand roundly applauded in today's general assembly of the protesters: Doyle must resign.

Protest democracy
The protesters held calm with amazing determination. There were a few people screaming at the cops, a few people understandably very shaken and upset. But there was no attempt to fight back that I saw. We moved slowly away as we were pushed, even as they tried to drag away anyone who appeared to be leading or holding the protesters together.
It was difficult to make decisions. The "human microphone" is a great system for relaying information, or ideas, when nothing else is available. In this system, the crowd repeats the words of the speaker to shout the message to the broader rally. But it's not a way to have an open discussion.
As we were occupying an intersection at the end of the mall, a group with a megaphone inserted themselves into the middle of the protest and used this to communicate, amplified (and reinforced) by a "human mic" conveying their orders. They did not allow people with new proposals to put them to the gathering, even though there was no pressure from the police at that point. The "human mic" in this situation only reinforced this little clique of self-appointed leaders.
The amorphous, leaderless nature of the protests is due to the extremely broad nature of the Occupy movement. This need not be a negative, although it will probably need to be transcended in coming weeks as a degree of focus (like demands for example) will probably be necessary for the movement to keep drawing in more of the 99%.
Having an agreed facilitation group - elected, recallable, accountable - and an agreed decision making method (as we did at today's peaceful march and general assembly) is essential, or else we are vulnerable to manipulation by cliques who may not have the same perspectives as the rest of the crowd. Keeping to decisions agreed by general assembly is a good way to keep such groups in line with the overall will of the group. 
As the extreme provocation by the police shows, we need to keep our own group controlled and cohesive. We don't all have to agree on everything, but we have to know when to maintain unity around the decided course of action. Votes today were taken with 90% majority needed to pass. That has a lot of authority!
When the rally drags on, when people are tired (and bruised and distressed from the police violence) is when we need to be most sensitive to unity, cohesion, and keeping the peace. As people are worn out (by physical strain, or by the stress of confrontation) the protest can easily become dominated by a small militant minority. Just because you personally are fine with arrest, rain and marching all day, is not an argument for the rally to do it. To stay united, we have to travel at the speed of the slowest. We may not be lightning fast, but we will be bigger and stronger.
Bigger and stronger, and more focused, is how this movement can grow. Remember, we don't need City Square. As long as we are still organising, they haven't defeated us. As long as we are growing, we are winning. Thanks to everyone who has joined in, and keep on joining in because we can show the conservative government that they can't get away with a police state to force their 19th century agenda down our throats.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
Ben Courtice's blog Blind Carbon Carbon is about climate change, socialist ideas, activism and sustainability. He lives in Melbourne (Australia) and his writing is based on his involvement in movements for social change. Click on this link to his blog.





Thursday, October 20, 2011

John Pilger:The Son of Africa claims a continent’s crown jewels



On 14 October, President Barack Obama announced he was sending United States special forces troops to Uganda to join the civil war there. In the next few months, US combat troops will be sent to South Sudan, Congo and Central African Republic. They will only "engage" for "self-defence", says Obama, satirically. With Libya secured, an American invasion of the African continent is under way.

Obama's decision is described in the press as "highly unusual" and "surprising", even "weird". It is none of these things. It is the logic of American foreign policy since 1945. Take Vietnam. The priority was to halt the influence of China, an imperial rival, and "protect" Indonesia, which President Nixon called "the region's richest hoard of natural resources... the greatest prize". Vietnam merely got in the way; and the slaughter of more than three million Vietnamese and the devastation and poisoning of their land was the price of America achieving its goal. Like all America's subsequent invasions, a trail of blood from Latin America to Afghanistan and Iraq, the rationale was usually "self defence" or "humanitarian", words long emptied of their dictionary meaning.

In Africa, says Obama, the "humanitarian mission" is to assist the government of Uganda defeat the Lord's resistance Army (LRA), which "has murdered, raped and kidnapped tens of thousands of men, women and children in central Africa". This is an accurate description of the LRA, evoking multiple atrocities administered by the United States, such as the bloodbath in the 1960s following the CIA-arranged murder of Patrice Lumumba, the Congolese independence leader and first legally elected prime minister, and the CIA coup that installed Mobutu Sese Seko, regarded as Africa's most venal tyrant.

Obama's other justification also invites satire. This is the "national security of the United States". The LRA has been doing its nasty work for 24 years, of minimal interest to the United States. Today, it has few than 400 fighters and has never been weaker. However, US "national security" usually means buying a corrupt and thuggish regime that has something Washington wants. Uganda's "president-for-life" Yoweri Museveni already receives the larger part of $45 million in US military "aid" - including Obama's favourite drones. This is his bribe to fight a proxy war against America's latest phantom Islamic enemy, the rag-tag al Shabaab group based in Somalia. The RTA will play a public relations role, distracting western journalists with its perennial horror stories.

However, the main reason the US is invading Africa is no different from that which ignited the Vietnam war. It is China. In the world of self-serving, institutionalised paranoia that justifies what General David Petraeus, the former US commander and now CIA director, implies is a state of perpetual war, China is replacing al-Qaeda as the official American "threat". When I interviewed Bryan Whitman, an assistant secretary of defence at the Pentagon last year, I asked him to describe the current danger to America. Struggling visibly, he repeated, "Asymmetric threats ... asymmetric threats". These justify the money-laundering state-sponsored arms conglomerates and the biggest military and war budget in history. With Osama bin Laden airbrushed, China takes the mantle.

Africa is China's success story. Where the Americans bring drones and destabilisation, the Chinese bring roads, bridges and dams. What they want is resources, especially fossil fuels. With Africa's greatest oil reserves, Libya under Muammar Gaddafi was one of China's most important sources of fuel. When the civil war broke out and Nato backed the "rebels" with a fabricated story about Gaddafi planning "genocide" in Benghazi, China evacuated its 30,000 workers in Libya. The subsequent UN security council resolution that allowed the west's "humanitarian intervention" was explained succinctly in a proposal to the French government by the "rebel" National Transitional Council, disclosed last month in the newspaper Liberation, in which France was offered 35 per cent of Libya's gross national oil production "in exchange" (the term used) for "total and permanent" French support for the NTC. Running up the Stars and Stripes in "liberated" Tripoli last month, US ambassador Gene Cretz blurted out: "We know that oil is the jewel in the crown of Libyan natural resources!"

The de facto conquest of Libya by the US and its imperial partners heralds a modern version of the "scramble for Africa" at the end of the 19th century.

Like the "victory" in Iraq, journalists have played a critical role in dividing Libyans into worthy and unworthy victims. A recent Guardian front page carried a photograph of a terrified "pro-Gaddafi" fighter and his wild-eyed captors who, says the caption, "celebrate". According to General Petraeus, there is now a war "of perception... conducted continuously through the news media".

For more than a decade the US has tried to establish a command on the continent of Africa, AFRICOM, but has been rebuffed by governments, fearful of the regional tensions this would cause. Libya, and now Uganda, South Sudan and Congo, provide the main chance. As WikiLeaks cables and the US National Strategy for Counter-terrorism reveal, American plans for Africa are part of a global design in which 60,000 special forces, including death squads, already operate in 75 countries, soon to be 120. As Dick Cheney pointed out in his 1990s "defence strategy" plan, America simply wishes to rule the world.

That this is now the gift of Barack Obama, the "Son of Africa", is supremely ironic. Or is it? As Frantz Fanon explained in 'Black Skin, White Masks', what matters is not so much the colour of your skin as the power you serve and the millions you betray.

20 October 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Joe Strummer Quotes


“Authority is supposedly grounded in wisdom, but I could see from a very early age that authority was only a system of control and it didn't have any inherent wisdom. I quickly realised that you either became a power or you were crushed”

“If I had five million pounds I'd start a radio station because something needs to be done. It would be nice to turn on the radio and hear something that didn't make you feel like smashing up the kitchen and strangling the cat.”


“And so now I'd like to say - people can change anything they want to. And that means everything in the world. People are running about following their little tracks - I am one of them. But we've all got to stop just following our own little mouse trail. People can do anything - this is something that I'm beginning to learn. People are out there doing bad things to each other. That's because they've been dehumanised. It's time to take the humanity back into the center of the ring and follow that for a time. Greed, it ain't going anywhere. They should have that in a big billboard across Times Square. Without people you're nothing. That's my spiel.”

“The future is unwritten.”

“We aren't particularly talented. We try harder!”

“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistance. Talent will not. There is nothing more common then unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and Determination alone are Omnipotent.”

“It is fun to be alive. It's a hell of a lot better than being dead.”


“Yeah, all those things, responsibility, pressure. It's a bit stressful. I try and come to terms with it by not thinking about it.”  

“When you're out to get the honey you don't go killing all the bees”


“People can change anything they want to, and that means everything in the world. ”

 “Everybody has a story to tell.”

 “You've gotta be slightly stupid.”

 “I want to grow up with my audience. I don't expect to be getting through to the younger pop crowd. I learned that from Paul Simon.”

 “A lot of people... use a calculator!”

“As the floods of God

Wash away sin city

They say it was written

In the page of the Lord

But I was looking

For that great jazz note

That destroyed

The walls of Jericho

The winds of fear

Whip away the sickness

The messages on the tablet

Was valium

As the planets form

That golden cross Lord

I'll see you on

The holy cross roads

After all this time

To believe in Jesus

After all those drugs

I thought I was Him

After all my lying

And a-crying

And my suffering

I ain't good enough

I ain't clean enough

To be Him

The tribal wars

Burning up the homeland

The fuel of evil

Is raining from the sky

The sea of lava

Flowing down the mountain

The time will sleep

Us sinners by

Holy rollers roll

Give generously now

Pass the hubcap please

Thank you Lord”



“And the pebbles fight each other as rocks/And my father bends among them/Two hands outstretching up to me/Not that I can hear.”

Rock Art & the X-Ray Style

“When you blame yourself, you learn from it. If you blame someone else, you don't learn nothing, cause hey, it's not your fault, it's his fault, over there.”

“What I like about playing America is you can be pretty sure you're not going to get hit with a full can of beer when you're singing and I really enjoy that!”

Anyway, it's good to be sent back to the underground. There's always a good side to bad things and the good side to this is that at least everyone has to go back down.

I began thinking there should be an American phrase book, 'cause I've got an Italian phrase book, and an Arabic one... now a British one. I think it'd be pretty good to have an American phrase book.

I have a weird life because I live on songwriting royalties, which are a strange income. Sometimes it rains, sometimes it doesn't.

I think we're going to have to forget about the radio and just go back to word of mouth.

With The Simpsons you can go back to work with a keen heart.

Yeah, all those things, responsibility, pressure. It's a bit stressful. I try and come to terms with it by not thinking about it.

 “I sometimes look at myself, I'm sitting with a biro and a cigarette packet, desperately scrawling dribble on it. And sometimes I put down my fag pack and think, what am I, a grown man, doing at this hour of the night? Then I banish that thought, pick the fag pack up again.”

''The way you get a better world is, you don't put up with substandard anything.''

(Interview at Bizarre Festival in Germany, 21th Aug. 1999)



''All the power's in the hands of people rich enough to buy it.''

(''White Riot'' - 1977)



''We're all going to have to learn to live together and develop a greater tolerance

and get rid off whatever our fathers gave us in the way of hatred between nations.''



''Everyone has got to realise you can't hold onto the past if you want any future.

Each second should lead to the next one.'



On political leaders he admires:

''Well, I kind of got off all that because it all seems to be such a power trip. Political people,

to get elected you've got to be on a power trip, and you can't trust anybody on a power trip.

I can't see a way out of this.'' (1999)



''Lawrence of Arabia always was my hero.

I think it's great to come from England to lead the Arabs.''



''Everything's fucked! It's down to individual people to make life enjoyable.

I don't have anything more to say than that. I think people should avoid the world fucking them up.

People are becoming too uptight, treating their children bad, being negative.'' (1999)



''I hate it when I go out and I see parents going, 'don’t do that', or 'stop doing that'

when some kid's just hanging off a staircase or something.

There's too much of this, 'don't do that'. The whole thing baffles me.'' (1999)



''I will always believe in punk-rock, because it's about creating something for yourself.

Part of it was: 'Stop being a sap! Lift your head up and see what is really going on in the political, social and religious situations, and try and see through all the smoke screens.'' (July 2002)

About the continuing globalization of the world:

''We can at least be optimistic in (that) it forces the renegades and the underground to get it together.

The worse s--t gets, the more interesting the underground becomes. So I'm always quite hopeful.

I believe in human beings. Human beings won't let this happen.

We won't all end up robots working for McGiant Corp or whatever. It can't happen.'' (July 2002)

''You gotta be able to go out there and do it for yourself.

No one's gonna give it to you.''

''I never really bothered to spend too much time thinking about what was done, you know?

'Cause, you put a record out, there's no way you can change it once it's out.''

''It's difficult, when you're involved in a group, to stand all the way back.

It's part of your life. It doesn't seem real that other people know about it.

At the end of the day, it doesn't seem possible, maybe.''

''I'm a very harsh critic of my own work, if you like, because I'm trying to get the standard really high. So, obviously, it's better to criticize it - you know what I mean?- rather than accept it at face value.''

''To write good songs you have to be somewhere between a genius and a village idiot.''

''People have told me songs I've written have changed their life.

That's remarkable. That keeps your faith.”

''Whether it's jazz or punk or anything else, you have to fight against the purists who

want to narrow the definition. That's what kills music because it stifles it to death.''

''I have a big legacy of The Clash to live up to and I don't intend to uriny on a legend.

I intend to build forward into the next century. The music has to be by the musicians, and there's too much changing things by the record company.

I got a message for everyone in a record company: We don't care if you lose your job!

You ruin music and I'll get all the smoothers out off the way, the people who smooth the sound off.

Let the musicians have the music the way they want it,

and not the way you think the grandmothers and 3-year olds will gonna buy it.

'Cause this is not about 3-year olds or grandmothers... This is Rock and Roll!''

(Interview at Bizarre Festival in Germany, 21th Aug. 1999, Joe's 47th birthday.)

''There's nothing but bad news in the newspapers to make us live in a constant state of paranoia. That's what they want because it keeps people in fear.''

''We were brought up to believe that science and engineering were going to make the world

a better place. Now we've got pollution and everything and it seems we've come to a halt.

But I think we've got to retain some faith in believing tomorrow will be better than today.''

''If I had five million pounds I'd start a radio station because something needs to be done.

It would be nice to turn on the radio and hear something that didn't make you feel

like smashing up the kitchen and strangling the cat.''

''I'm strange, actually, you know? I'm kind of like one of those people that picks up

small and interesting bits of wood and doesn't want to let go of them.

Or, you know, I'm fascinated with the wrapper on a sardine can. A little cuckoo.''

''I've got no doubt the fourth dimension exists.

But is it just like the world we're trying to escape from?

I need to know if you're allowed to smoke in there...''




Saturday, October 08, 2011

John Cummins and the fight for the right to organise by Joe Loh

The events depicted in this footage relate to a particular period of history when the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) was deregistered in 1986. (Click underline to film)

The Union was fighting for its survival and John Cummins was arrested and jailed countless times as he fought for the right to represent BLF members.

In one particular court appearance when John was challenging an injunction imposed by the Victorian Supreme court preventing him from entering construction sites, he defiantly stated to the Judge:
“I reserve the right – as any self respecting union official would – to service my members. In fact, any trade union official worth their salt must reserve that right. It’s a right that is upheld by the United Nations and international covenants to which Australia is a party and signatory. It can’t be denied I have members. I reserve the right to discharge my duty”.  



        

Naomi Klein: Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now

I was honored to be invited to speak at Occupy Wall Street on Thursday night. Since amplification is (disgracefully) banned, and everything I say will have to be repeated by hundreds of people so others can hear (a k a “the human microphone”), what I actually say at Liberty Plaza will have to be very short. With that in mind, here is the longer, uncut version of the speech.

I love you.

And I didn’t just say that so that hundreds of you would shout “I love you” back, though that is obviously a bonus feature of the human microphone. Say unto others what you would have them say unto you, only way louder.

Yesterday, one of the speakers at the labor rally said: “We found each other.” That sentiment captures the beauty of what is being created here. A wide-open space (as well as an idea so big it can’t be contained by any space) for all the people who want a better world to find each other. We are so grateful.

If there is one thing I know, it is that the 1 percent loves a crisis. When people are panicked and desperate and no one seems to know what to do, that is the ideal time to push through their wish list of pro-corporate policies: privatizing education and social security, slashing public services, getting rid of the last constraints on corporate power. Amidst the economic crisis, this is happening the world over.
And there is only one thing that can block this tactic, and fortunately, it’s a very big thing: the 99 percent. And that 99 percent is taking to the streets from Madison to Madrid to say “No. We will not pay for your crisis.”

That slogan began in Italy in 2008. It ricocheted to Greece and France and Ireland and finally it has made its way to the square mile where the crisis began.

“Why are they protesting?” ask the baffled pundits on TV. Meanwhile, the rest of the world asks: “What took you so long?” “We’ve been wondering when you were going to show up.” And most of all: “Welcome.”

Many people have drawn parallels between Occupy Wall Street and the so-called anti-globalization protests that came to world attention in Seattle in 1999. That was the last time a global, youth-led, decentralized movement took direct aim at corporate power. And I am proud to have been part of what we called “the movement of movements.”

But there are important differences too. For instance, we chose summits as our targets: the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the G8. Summits are transient by their nature, they only last a week. That made us transient too. We’d appear, grab world headlines, then disappear. And in the frenzy of hyper patriotism and militarism that followed the 9/11 attacks, it was easy to sweep us away completely, at least in North America.

Occupy Wall Street, on the other hand, has chosen a fixed target. And you have put no end date on your presence here. This is wise. Only when you stay put can you grow roots. This is crucial. It is a fact of the information age that too many movements spring up like beautiful flowers but quickly die off. It’s because they don’t have roots. And they don’t have long term plans for how they are going to sustain themselves. So when storms come, they get washed away.

Being horizontal and deeply democratic is wonderful. But these principles are compatible with the hard work of building structures and institutions that are sturdy enough to weather the storms ahead. I have great faith that this will happen.

Something else this movement is doing right: You have committed yourselves to non-violence. You have refused to give the media the images of broken windows and street fights it craves so desperately. And that tremendous discipline has meant that, again and again, the story has been the disgraceful and unprovoked police brutality. Which we saw more of just last night. Meanwhile, support for this movement grows and grows. More wisdom.

But the biggest difference a decade makes is that in 1999, we were taking on capitalism at the peak of a frenzied economic boom. Unemployment was low, stock portfolios were bulging. The media was drunk on easy money. Back then it was all about start-ups, not shutdowns.

We pointed out that the deregulation behind the frenzy came at a price. It was damaging to labor standards. It was damaging to environmental standards. Corporations were becoming more powerful than governments and that was damaging to our democracies. But to be honest with you, while the good times rolled, taking on an economic system based on greed was a tough sell, at least in rich countries.

Ten years later, it seems as if there aren’t any more rich countries. Just a whole lot of rich people. People who got rich looting the public wealth and exhausting natural resources around the world.
The point is, today everyone can see that the system is deeply unjust and careening out of control. Unfettered greed has trashed the global economy. And it is trashing the natural world as well. We are overfishing our oceans, polluting our water with fracking and deepwater drilling, turning to the dirtiest forms of energy on the planet, like the Alberta tar sands. And the atmosphere cannot absorb the amount of carbon we are putting into it, creating dangerous warming. The new normal is serial disasters: economic and ecological.

These are the facts on the ground. They are so blatant, so obvious, that it is a lot easier to connect with the public than it was in 1999, and to build the movement quickly.

We all know, or at least sense, that the world is upside down: we act as if there is no end to what is actually finite—fossil fuels and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions. And we act as if there are strict and immovable limits to what is actually bountiful—the financial resources to build the kind of society we need.

The task of our time is to turn this around: to challenge this false scarcity. To insist that we can afford to build a decent, inclusive society—while at the same time, respect the real limits to what the earth can take.

What climate change means is that we have to do this on a deadline. This time our movement cannot get distracted, divided, burned out or swept away by events. This time we have to succeed. And I’m not talking about regulating the banks and increasing taxes on the rich, though that’s important.
I am talking about changing the underlying values that govern our society. That is hard to fit into a single media-friendly demand, and it’s also hard to figure out how to do it. But it is no less urgent for being difficult.

That is what I see happening in this square. In the way you are feeding each other, keeping each other warm, sharing information freely and proving health care, meditation classes and empowerment training. My favorite sign here says, “I care about you.” In a culture that trains people to avoid each other’s gaze, to say, “Let them die,” that is a deeply radical statement.

A few final thoughts. In this great struggle, here are some things that don’t matter.

§ What we wear.
§ Whether we shake our fists or make peace signs.
§ Whether we can fit our dreams for a better world into a media soundbite.
And here are a few things that do matter.
§ Our courage.
§ Our moral compass.
§ How we treat each other.

We have picked a fight with the most powerful economic and political forces on the planet. That’s frightening. And as this movement grows from strength to strength, it will get more frightening. Always be aware that there will be a temptation to shift to smaller targets—like, say, the person sitting next to you at this meeting. After all, that is a battle that’s easier to win.

Don’t give in to the temptation. I’m not saying don’t call each other on shit. But this time, let’s treat each other as if we plan to work side by side in struggle for many, many years to come. Because the task before will demand nothing less.

Let’s treat this beautiful movement as if it is most important thing in the world. Because it is. It really is.

Friday, October 07, 2011

John Pilger:The ‘getting’ of Assange and the smearing of a revolution

The High Court in London will soon to decide whether Julian Assange is to be extradited to Sweden to face allegations of sexual misconduct. At the appeal hearing in July, Ben Emmerson QC, counsel for the defence, described the whole saga as "crazy". Sweden's chief prosecutor had dismissed the original arrest warrant, saying there was no case for Assange to answer. Both the women involved said they had consented to have sex. On the facts alleged, no crime would have been committed in Britain.

However, it is not the Swedish judicial system that presents a "grave danger" to Assange, say his lawyers, but a legal device known as a Temporary Surrender, under which he can be sent on from Sweden to the United States secretly and quickly. The founder and editor of WikiLeaks, who published the greatest leak of official documents in history, providing a unique insight into rapacious wars and the lies told by governments, is likely to find himself in a hell hole not dissimilar to the "torturous" dungeon that held Private Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower. Manning has not been tried, let alone convicted, yet on 21 April, President Barack Obama declared him guilty with a dismissive "He broke the law".

This Kafka-style justice awaits Assange whether or not Sweden decides to prosecute him. Last December, the Independent disclosed that the US and Sweden had already started talks on Assange's extradition. At the same time, a secret grand jury - a relic of the 18th century long abandoned in this country - has convened just across the river from Washington, in a corner of Virginia that is home to the CIA and most of America's national security establishment. The grand jury is a "fix", a leading legal expert told me: reminiscent of the all-white juries in the South that convicted blacks by rote. A sealed indictment is believed to exist.

Under the US Constitution, which guarantees free speech, Assange should be protected, in theory. When he was running for president, Obama, himself a constitutional lawyer, said, "Whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal". His embrace of George W. Bush's "war on terror" has changed all that. Obama has pursued more whistleblowers than any US president. The problem for his administration in "getting" Assange and crushing WikiLeaks is that military investigators have found no collusion or contact between him and Manning, reports NBC. There is no crime, so one has to be concocted, probably in line with Vice President Joe Biden's absurd description of Assange as a "hi-tech terrorist".

Should Assange win his High Court appeal in London, he could face extradition direct to the United States. In the past, US officials have synchronised extradition warrants with the conclusion of a pending case. Like its predatory military, American jurisdiction recognises few boundaries. As the suffering of Bradley Manning demonstrates, together with the recently executed Troy Davis and the forgotten inmates of Guantanamo, much of the US criminal justice system is corrupt if not lawless.

In a letter addressed to the Australian government, Britain's most distinguished human rights lawyer, Gareth Peirce, who now acts for Assange, wrote, "Given the extent of the public discussion, frequently on the basis of entirely false assumptions... it is very hard to attempt to preserve for him any presumption of innocence. Mr. Assange has now hanging over him not one but two Damocles swords, of potential extradition to two different jurisdictions in turn for two different alleged crimes, neither of which are crimes in his own country, and that his personal safety has become at risk in circumstances that are highly politically charged."

These facts, and the prospect of a grotesque miscarriage of justice, have been drowned in a vituperative campaign against the WikiLeaks founder. Deeply personal, petty, perfidious and inhuman attacks have been aimed at a man not charged with any crime yet held isolated, tagged and under house arrest - conditions not even meted out to a defendant presently facing extradition on a charge of murdering his wife.

Books have been published, movie deals struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the assumption that he is fair game and too poor to sue. People have made money, often big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive. On 16 June, the publisher of Canongate Books, Jamie Byng, when asked by Assange for an assurance that the rumoured unauthorised publication of his autobiography was not true, said, "No, absolutely not. That is not the position ... Julian, do not worry. My absolute number one desire is to publish a great book which you are happy with." On 22 September, Canongate released what it called Assange's "unauthorised autobiography" without the author's permission or knowledge. It was a first draft of an incomplete, uncorrected manuscript. "They thought I was going to prison and that would have inconvenienced them," he told me. "It's as if I am now a commodity that presents an incentive to any opportunist."

The editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, has called the WikiLeaks disclosures "one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years". Indeed, this is part of his current marketing promotion to justify raising the Guardian's cover price. But the scoop belongs to Assange not the Guardian. Compare the paper's attitude towards Assange with its bold support for the reporter threatened with prosecution under the Official Secrets Act for revealing the iniquities of Hackgate. Editorials and front pages have carried stirring messages of solidarity from even Murdoch's Sunday Times. On 29 September, Carl Bernstein was flown to London to compare all this with his Watergate triumph. Alas, the iconic fellow was not entirely on message. "It's important not to be unfair to Murdoch," he said, because "he's the most far seeing media entrepreneur of our time" who "put The Simpsons on air" and thereby "showed he could understand the information consumer".

The contrast with the treatment of a genuine pioneer of a revolution in journalism, who dared take on rampant America, providing truth about how great power works, is telling. A drip-feed of hostility runs through the Guardian, making it difficult for readers to interpret the WikiLeaks phenomenon and to assume other than the worst about its founder. David Leigh, the Guardian's "investigations editor", told journalism students at City University that Assange was a "Frankenstein monster" who "didn't use to wash very often" and was "quite deranged". When a puzzled student asked why he said that, Leigh replied, "Because he doesn't understand the parameters of conventional journalism. He and his circle have a profound contempt for what they call the mainstream media". According to Leigh, these "parameters" were exemplified by Bill Keller when, as editor of the New York Times, he co-published the WikiLeaks disclosures with the Guardian. Keller, said Leigh, was "a seriously thoughtful person in journalism" who had to deal with "some sort of dirty, flaky hacker from Melbourne".

Last November, the "seriously thoughtful" Keller boasted to the BBC that he had taken all WikiLeaks' war logs to the White House so the government could approve and edit them. In the run-up to the Iraq war, the New York Times published a series of now notorious CIA-inspired claims claiming weapons of mass destruction existed. Such are the "parameters" that have made so many people cynical about the so-called mainstream media.

Leigh went as far as to mock the danger that, once extradited to America, Assange would end up wearing "an orange jump suit". These were things "he and his lawyer are saying in order to feed his paranoia". The "paranoia" is shared by the European Court of Human Rights which has frozen "national security" extraditions from the UK to the US because the extreme isolation and long sentences defendants can expect amounts to torture and inhuman treatment.

I asked Leigh why he and the Guardian had adopted a consistently hostile towards Assange since they had parted company. He replied, "Where you, tendentiously, claim to detect a 'hostile toe', others might merely see well-informed objectivity."

It is difficult to find well-informed objectivity in the Guardian's book on Assange, sold lucratively to Hollywood, in which Assange is described gratuitously as a "damaged personality" and "callous". In the book, Leigh revealed the secret password Assange had given the paper. Designed to protect a digital file containing the US embassy cables, its disclosure set off a chain of events that led to the release of all the files. The Guardian denies "utterly" it was responsible for the release. What, then, was the point of publishing the password?

The Guardian's Hackgate exposures were a journalistic tour de force; the Murdoch empire may disintegrate as a result. But, with or without Murdoch, a media consensus that echoes, from the BBC to the Sun, a corrupt political, war-mongering establishment. Assange's crime has been to threaten this consensus: those who fix the "parameters" of news and political ideas and whose authority as media commissars is challenged by the revolution of the internet.

The prize-winning former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook has experience in both worlds."The media, at least the supposedly left-wing component of it," he writes, "should be cheering on this revolution... And yet, mostly they are trying to co-opt, tame or subvert it [even] to discredit and ridicule the harbingers of the new age... Some of [campaign against Assange] clearly reflects a clash of personalities and egos, but it also looks suspiciously like the feud derives from a more profound ideological struggle [about] how information should be controlled a generation hence [and] the gatekeepers maintaining their control."
 
6 October 2011

Naomi Klein: Protesters Are Seeking Change in the Streets Because It Won't Come From the Ballot Box

“My biggest fear was that the Obama presidency was was going to lead this generation of young people into political cynicism and political apathy,” Klein says. “But instead, they are going to where the power is. They are realizing the change is not coming in Washington because politicians are so controlled by corporate interest, and that that is the fundamental crisis in this country.” Naomi Klien Click on Link for intrview.