Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Occupy the Future

Word on the street is that the Occupy Baltimore protesters are going to be IMMINENTLY routed from McKeldin Square. A couple of days? A week? Maybe two? Nobody knows, but the Mayor is rumored to be getting fed up with the occupation, and I’m sure that the Occupy protesters calling attention to the man behind the curtain, M.J. Brodie at the real City Hall, down on Charles Street (BDC), did not endear them to the city’s power structure.

Other cities have already ejected their occupations. Baltimore has employed an outwardly tolerant approach, but in reality, it’s almost certainly because our local occupation has been so ineffectual and silly that the politicians are laughing at the protesters behind the scenes. If they were a threat, they would be gone by now, and their lame applause at the BDC event probably reassured Mr. Brodie that they were no such thing. Still, even acknowledging that the man behind the curtain exists is itself a threat.

Me, I gave up on the local occupation a couple of weeks ago, after they were snowed by Brodie’s bullshit and actually applauded the little monster.

Revo, who was more enthusiastic about the Occupy movement from the beginning, only gave up hope last night, after attending the G.A. and realizing that in the face of imminent disaster for the camp at McKeldin Square, they were discussing bumper stickers and their triumphant glee over their YouTube hits for a video showing them acting like noisy children during Karl Rove’s recent talk at Hopkins. At the G.A. last night, the imminent eviction from McKeldin Square was apparently never discussed.

I’ll continue going to some marches. Most of the marches are actually organized by the unions, anyway, so they’re somewhat effective. The unions know how to organize.

I’ll continue to support the national Occupy movement too, as long as it stays focused on economic demands. I would like it to get more specific about those. Some of the reforms I would like to see:

A constitutional amendment clarifying that a corporation is not a person.

A constitutional amendment clarifying that money is not speech.

I happen to believe that the founding fathers never intended for corporations to be people or for money to be speech, because they probably had a dictionary, and they probably understood what the meaning of “is” is. Some federal judges need these things spelled out, though. Next we’ll have to be telling them that war is not peace and thought is not a crime.

The above two amendments to the constitution would, if enacted and enforced, go a long way toward reforming the system. They would clarify that the rights of the people supersede the rights of corporations, and that the right of individuals to free speech supsersedes the right of corporations to drown out their speech with money that speaks louder than words.

Others in the movement have also come up with very good ideas for reform. The original Occupy Wall Street group came up with this statement of purpose, which notes some specific problems that need to be addressed. One of the working groups of the New York protest has come up with the 99% Declaration. It contains a list of suggested reforms, which the group hopes to have representatives from all over the country vote on in a national convention on July 4, 2012 in Philadelphia. I agree with the ideas expressed therein, some more than others, but I certainly agree that all of these issues deserve to be part of the national debate.

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone magazine has been investigating the corruption on Wall Street since long before the Occupy movement began. His advice to Occupy Wall Street contains a specific list of reforms to the financial industry that would “hit bankers where it hurts” and would help return our government to serving the people. I particularly like the one where a tax on all trades would make the financial industry pay for its own bailouts, and return our tax money to us.

I think between these documents listed above, there is a useful start to getting our country back.

The Occupy movement, and the local occupation in particular, have also discussed some ideas that I consider really silly. Chief among them is this “consensus democracy” model that consists of endless discussion, open balloting via wiggly fingers (snap, twinkle, pop!), and where decisions are only made when a clique of people who all agree with each other manages to shout down or intimidate all other participants. It doesn’t work among 20 people. How is it going to work nationwide?

The worst aspects to the “consensus democracy” model being used in the Occupy movement are the lack of secret ballots, which means that individuals are easily intimidated by self-appointed leaders into going along with whatever the mob decrees, and also the fact that, since decisions effectively only seem to happen when some individual or group manages to dominate everyone else, there is real danger, if this ever became the national model, of it leading to dictatorship and authoritarian rule, complete with slaughter of dissidents.

The local occupation has already been shouting down anyone they don’t agree with. In their Google group, when Revo started speaking up, they couldn’t handle even one dissident. How would they tolerate real democracy, if they ever got into power? The answer is, they wouldn’t.

Give me the U.S. Constitution any day, folks. Its three branch system with its checks and balances and its bill of rights have been emulated the world over. That’s because, until the system gets badly corrupted, as it is now, it works about as well as you can expect a system that governs millions of people to work.

Occupy the Constitution. Occupy Wall Street. Occupy our Government. Occupy the Future.

Previous posts in my series on Occupy Baltimore:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

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