Arquivo da tag: Protesto

As Chief Spence starves, Canadians awaken from idleness and remember their roots (The Globe and Mail)

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/as-chief-spence-starves-canadians-awaken-from-idleness-and-remember-their-roots/article6700592/

Naomi Klein

The Globe and Mail

Published Monday, Dec. 24 2012, 11:24 AM EST / Last updated Monday, Dec. 24 2012, 11:27 AM EST

I woke up just past midnight with a bolt. My six-month-old son was crying. He has a cold – the second of his short life–and his blocked nose frightens him. I was about to get up when he started snoring again. I, on the other hand, was wide awake.

A single thought entered my head: Chief Theresa Spence is hungry. Actually it wasn’t a thought. It was a feeling. The feeling of hunger. Lying in my dark room, I pictured the chief of the Attawapiskat First Nation lying on a pile of blankets in her teepee across from Parliament Hill, entering day 14 of her hunger strike.

I had of course been following Chief Spence’s protest and her demand to meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to discuss the plight of her people and his demolition of treaty rights through omnibus legislation. I had worried about her. Supported her. Helped circulate the petitions. But now, before the distancing filters of light and reason had a chance to intervene, I felt her. The determination behind her hunger. The radicality of choosing this time of year, a time of so much stuffing – mouths, birds, stockings – to say: I am hungry. My people are hungry. So many people are hungry and homeless. Your new laws will only lead to more of this misery. Can we talk about it like human beings?

Lying there, I imagined another resolve too – Prime Minister Harper’s. Telling himself: I will not meet with her. I will not cave in to her. I will not be forced to do anything.

Mr. Harper may relent, scared of the political fallout from letting this great leader die. I dearly hope he does. I want Chief Spence to eat. But I won’t soon forget this clash between these two very different kinds of resolve, one so sealed off, closed in; the other cracked wide open, a conduit for the pain of the world.

But Chief Spence’s hunger is not just speaking to Mr. Harper. It is also speaking to all of us, telling us that the time for bitching and moaning is over. Now is the time to act, to stand strong and unbending for the people, places and principles that we love.

This message is a potent gift. So is the Idle No More movement – its name at once a firm commitment to the future, while at the same time a gentle self-criticism of the past. We did sit idly by, but no more.

The greatest blessing of all, however, is indigenous sovereignty itself. It is the huge stretches of this country that have never been ceded by war or treaty. It is the treaties signed and still recognized by our courts. If Canadians have a chance of stopping Mr. Harper’s planet-trashing plans, it will be because these legally binding rights – backed up by mass movements, court challenges, and direct action will stand in his way. All Canadians should offer our deepest thanks that our indigenous brothers and sisters have protected their land rights for all these generations, refusing to turn them into one-off payments, no matter how badly they were needed. These are the rights Mr. Harper is trying to extinguish now.

During this season of light and magic, something truly magical is spreading. There are round dances by the dollar stores. There are drums drowning out muzak in shopping malls. There are eagle feathers upstaging the fake Santas. The people whose land our founders stole and whose culture they tried to stamp out are rising up, hungry for justice. Canada’s roots are showing. And these roots will make us all stand stronger.

Author and activist Naomi Klein is the author of No Logo, The Shock Doctrine , and a forthcoming book on the politics of climate change.

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Idle No More: Indigenous-Led Protests Sweep Canada for Native Sovereignty and Environmental Justice (Democracy Now!)

Video

A new campaign for indigenous rights and environmental justice is spreading across Canada. The “Idle No More” movement began as a series of protests against a controversial government budget bill but has since expanded into a nationwide movement for political transformation. Aboriginal and environmental activists are calling on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to honor treaties with aborigines, open dialogue with environmentalists, and reject tar sands pipelines that would infiltrate First Nation territories. We go to Toronto to speak with Pamela Palmater, chair in indigenous governance at Ryerson University and spokeswoman for the Idle No More movement. “We, First Nations people, have been subsidizing the wealth and prosperity and programs and services of Canadians from our lands and resources,” Palmater says. “And that’s the reality here that most people don’t understand.” [includes rush transcript]

GUEST: Pamela Palmater, chair in indigenous governance at Ryerson University, spokeswoman for the Idle No More movement and a member of the Eel River Bar First Nation.

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Aboriginal activists slam Harper, praise hunger strike chief

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/12/21/pol-idle-no-more-aboriginal-protests.html

Idle No More members march in Montreal to protest omnibus bill

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2012/12/20/montreal-idle-no-more-protest-mohawk.html

On eve of national ‘Idle No More’ protest, hunger-striking Attawapiskat chief pushes Harper to lead change

http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/12/20/on-eve-of-national-idle-no-more-protest-hunger-striking-attawapiskat-chief-pushes-harper-to-lead-change/

Thousands take over Saskatoon mall for Idle No More protest

http://www.thestarphoenix.com/news/Thousands+take+over+Saskatoon+mall+Idle+More+protest/7729333/story.html

Occupy Wall Street’s ‘Political Disobedience’ (N.Y. Times)

October 13, 2011, 4:15 PM

By BERNARD E. HARCOURT

Our language has not yet caught up with the political phenomenon that is emerging in Zuccotti Park and spreading across the nation, though it is clear that a political paradigm shift is taking place before our very eyes. It’s time to begin to name and in naming, to better understand this moment. So let me propose some words: “political disobedience.”

Occupy Wall Street is best understood, I would suggest, as a new form of what could be called “political disobedience,” as opposed to civil disobedience, that fundamentally rejects the political and ideological landscape that we inherited from the Cold War.

Civil disobedience accepted the legitimacy of political institutions, but resisted the moral authority of resulting laws. Political disobedience, by contrast, resists the very way in which we are governed: it resists the structure of partisan politics, the demand for policy reforms, the call for party identification, and the very ideologies that dominated the post-War period.

Occupy Wall Street, which identifies itself as a “leaderless resistance movement with people of many … political persuasions,” is politically disobedient precisely in refusing to articulate policy demands or to embrace old ideologies. Those who incessantly want to impose demands on the movement may show good will and generosity, but fail to understand that the resistance movement is precisely about disobeying that kind of political maneuver. Similarly, those who want to push an ideology onto these new forms of political disobedience, like Slavoj Zizek or Raymond Lotta, are missing the point of the resistance.

When Zizek complained last August, writing about the European protesters in the London Review of Books, that we’ve entered a “post-ideological era” where “opposition to the system can no longer articulate itself in the form of a realistic alternative, or even as a utopian project, but can only take the shape of a meaningless outburst,” he failed to understand that these movements are precisely about resisting the old ideologies. It’s not that they couldn’t articulate them; it’s that they are actively resisting them — they are being politically disobedient.

And when Zizek now declares at Zuccotti Park “that our basic message is ‘We are allowed to think about alternatives’ . . . What social organization can replace capitalism?” ― again, he is missing a central axis of this new form of political resistance.

One way to understand the emerging disobedience is to see it as a refusal to engage these sorts of  worn-out ideologies rooted in the Cold War. The key point here is that the Cold War’s ideological divide — with the Chicago Boys at one end and the Maoists at the other — merely served as a weapon in this country for the financial and political elite: the ploy, in the United States, was to demonize the chimera of a controlled economy (that of the former Soviet Union or China, for example) in order to prop up the illusion of a free market and to legitimize the fantasy of less regulation — of what was euphemistically called “deregulation.” By reinvigorating the myth of free markets, the financial and political architects of our economy over the past three plus decades — both Republicans and Democrats — were able to disguise massive redistribution toward the richest by claiming they were simply “deregulating” when all along they were actually reregulating to the benefit of their largest campaign donors.

This ideological fog blinded the American people to the pervasive regulatory mechanisms that are necessary to organize a colossal late-modern economy and that necessarily distribute wealth throughout society — and in this country, that quietly redistributed massive amounts of wealth to the richest 1 percent. Many of the voices at Occupy Wall Street accuse political ideology on both sides, on the side of free markets but also on the side of big government, for serving the few at the expense of the other 99 percent — for paving the way to an entrenched permissive regulatory system that “privatizes gains and socializes losses.”

A protest march through the financial district of New York on October 12.Lucas Jackson/ReutersA protest march through the financial district of New York on October 12.

The central point, of course, is that it takes both a big government and the illusion of free markets to achieve such massive redistribution. If you take a look at the tattered posters at Zuccotti Park, you’ll see that many are intensely anti-government and just as many stridently oppose big government.

Occupy Wall Street is surely right in holding the old ideologies to account. The truth is, as I’ve argued in a book, “The Illusion of Free Markets,” and recently in Harper’s magazine, there never have been and never will be free markets. All markets are man-made, constructed, regulated and administered by often-complex mechanisms that necessarily distribute wealth — that inevitablydistribute wealth — in large and small ways. Tax incentives for domestic oil production and lower capital gains rates are obvious illustrations. But there are all kinds of more minute rules and regulations surrounding our wheat pits, stock markets and economic exchanges that have significant wealth effects: limits on retail buyers flipping shares after an I.P.O., rulings allowing exchanges to cut communication to non-member dealers, fixed prices in extended after-hour trading, even the advent of options markets. The mere existence of a privately chartered organization like the Chicago Board of Trade, which required the state of Illinois to criminalize and forcibly shut down competing bucket shops, has huge redistributional wealth effects on farmers and consumers — and, of course, bankers, brokers and dealers.

The semantic games — the talk of deregulation rather than reregulation — would have been entertaining had it not been for their devastating effects. As the sociologist Douglas Massey minutely documents in “Categorically Unequal,” after decades of improvement, the income gap between the richest and poorest in this country has dramatically widened since the 1970s, resulting in what social scientists now refer to as U-curve of increasing inequality. Recent reports from the Census Bureau confirm this, with new evidence last month that “the number of Americans living below the official poverty line, 46.2 million people, was the highest number in the 52 years the bureau has been publishing figures on it.” Today, 27 percent of African-Americans and 26 percent of Hispanics in this country — more than 1 in 4 — live in poverty; and 1 in 9 African-American men between the ages of 20 and 34 are incarcerated.

It’s these outcomes that have pushed so many in New York City and across the nation to this new form of political disobedience. It’s a new type of resistance to politics tout court — to making policy demands, to playing the political games, to partisan politics, to old-fashioned ideology. It bears a similarity to what Michel Foucault referred to as “critique:” resistance to being governed “in this manner,” or what he dubbed “voluntary insubordination” or, better yet, as a word play on the famous expression of Etienne de la Boétie, “voluntary unservitude.”

If this concept of “political disobedience” is accurate and resonates, then Occupy Wall Street will continue to resist making a handful of policy demands because it would have little effect on the constant regulations that redistribute wealth to the top. The movement will also continue to resist Cold War ideologies from Friedrich Hayek to Maoism — as well as their pale imitations and sequels, from the Chicago School 2.0 to Alain Badiou and Zizek’s attempt to shoehorn all political resistance into a “communist hypothesis.”

On this account, the fundamental choice is no longer the ideological one we were indoctrinated to believe — between free markets and controlled economies — but rather a continuous choice between kinds of regulation and how they distribute wealth in society. There is, in the end, no “realistic alternative,” nor any “utopian project” that can avoid the pervasive regulatory mechanisms that are necessary to organize a complex late-modern economy — and that’s the point. The vast and distributive regulatory framework will neither disappear with deregulation, nor with the withering of a socialist state. What is required is constant vigilance of all the micro and macro rules that permeate our markets, our contracts, our tax codes, our banking regulations, our property laws — in sum, all the ordinary, often mundane, but frequently invisible forms of laws and regulations that are required to organize and maintain a colossal economy in the 21st-century and that constantly distribute wealth and resources.

In the end, if the concept of “political disobedience” accurately captures this new political paradigm, then the resistance movement needs to occupy Zuccotti Park because levels of social inequality and the number of children in poverty are intolerable. Or, to put it another way, the movement needs to resist partisan politics and worn-out ideologies because the outcomes have become simply unacceptable. The Volcker rule, debt relief for working Americans, a tax on the wealthy — those might help, but they represent no more than a few drops in the bucket of regulations that distribute and redistribute wealth and resources in this country every minute of every day. Ultimately, what matters to the politically disobedient is the kind of society we live in, not a handful of policy demands.

The Revolution Begins at Home: An Open Letter to Join the Wall Street Occupation (The Independent)

Arun Gupta
September 28, 2011

(Photo courtesy of Flickr.com/pweiskel08). 

What is occurring on Wall Street right now is truly remarkable. For over 10 days, in the sanctum of the great cathedral of global capitalism, the dispossessed have liberated territory from the financial overlords and their police army.

They have created a unique opportunity to shift the tides of history in the tradition of other great peaceful occupations from the sit-down strikes of the 1930s to the lunch-counter sit-ins of the 1960s to the democratic uprisings across the Arab world and Europe today.

While the Wall Street occupation is growing, it needs an all-out commitment from everyone who cheered the Egyptians in Tahrir Square, said “We are all Wisconsin,” and stood in solidarity with the Greeks and Spaniards. This is a movement for anyone who lacks a job, housing or healthcare, or thinks they have no future.

Our system is broken at every level. More than 25 million Americans are unemployed. More than 50 million live without health insurance. And perhaps 100 million Americans are mired in poverty, using realistic measures. Yet the fat cats continue to get tax breaks and reap billions while politicians compete to turn the austerity screws on all of us.

At some point the number of people occupying Wall Street – whether that’s five thousand, ten thousand or fifty thousand – will force the powers that be to offer concessions. No one can say how many people it will take or even how things will change exactly, but there is a real potential for bypassing a corrupt political process and to begin realizing a society based on human needs not hedge fund profits.

After all, who would have imagined a year ago that Tunisians and Egyptians would oust their dictators?

At Liberty Park, the nerve center of the occupation, more than a thousand people gather every day to debate, discuss and organize what to do about our failed system that has allowed the 400 richest Americans at the top to amass more wealth than the 180 million Americans at the bottom.

It’s astonishing that this self-organized festival of democracy has sprouted on the turf of the masters of the universe, the men who play the tune that both political parties and the media dance to. The New York Police Department, which has deployed hundreds of officers at a time to surround and intimidate protesters, is capable of arresting everyone and clearing Liberty Plaza in minutes. But they haven’t, which is also astonishing.

That’s because assaulting peaceful crowds in a public square demanding real democracy – economic and not just political – would remind the world of the brittle autocrats who brutalized their people demanding justice before they were swept away by the Arab Spring. And the state violence has already backfired. After police attacked a Saturday afternoon march that started from Liberty Park the crowds only got bigger and media interest grew.

The Wall Street occupation has already succeeded in revealing the bankruptcy of the dominant powers – the economic, the political, media and security forces. They have nothing positive to offer humanity, not that they ever did for the Global South, but now their quest for endless profits means deepening the misery with a thousand austerity cuts.

Even their solutions are cruel jokes. They tell us that the “Buffett Rule” would spread the pain by asking the penthouse set to sacrifice a tin of caviar, which is what the proposed tax increase would amount to. Meanwhile, the rest of us will have to sacrifice healthcare, food, education, housing, jobs and perhaps our lives to sate the ferocious appetite of capital.

That’s why more and more people are joining the Wall Street occupation. They can tell you about their homes being foreclosed upon, months of grinding unemployment or minimum-wage dead-end jobs, staggering student debt loads, or trying to live without decent healthcare. It’s a whole generation of Americans with no prospects, but who are told to believe in a system that can only offer them Dancing With The Stars and pepper spray to the face.

Yet against every description of a generation derided as narcissistic, apathetic and hopeless they are staking a claim to a better future for all of us.

That’s why we all need to join in. Not just by liking it on Facebook, signing a petition at change.org or retweeting protest photos, but by going down to the occupation itself.

There is great potential here. Sure, it’s a far cry from Tahrir Square or even Wisconsin. But there is the nucleus of a revolt that could shake America’s power structure as much as the Arab world has been upended.

Instead of one to two thousand people a day joining in the occupation there needs to be tens of thousands of people protesting the fat cats driving Bentleys and drinking thousand-dollar bottles of champagne with money they looted from the financial crisis and then from the bailouts while Americans literally die on the streets.

To be fair, the scene in Liberty Plaza seems messy and chaotic. But it’s also a laboratory of possibility, and that’s the beauty of democracy. As opposed to our monoculture world, where political life is flipping a lever every four years, social life is being a consumer and economic life is being a timid cog, the Wall Street occupation is creating a polyculture of ideas, expression and art.

Yet while many people support the occupation, they hesitate to fully join in and are quick to offer criticism. It’s clear that the biggest obstacles to building a powerful movement are not the police or capital – it’s our own cynicism and despair.

Perhaps their views were colored by the New York Times article deriding protestors for wishing to “pantomime progressivism” and “Gunning for Wall Street with faulty aim.” Many of the criticisms boil down to “a lack of clear messaging.”

But what’s wrong with that? A fully formed movement is not going to spring from the ground. It has to be created. And who can say what exactly needs to be done? We are not talking about ousting a dictator; though some say we want to oust the dictatorship of capital.

There are plenty of sophisticated ideas out there: end corporate personhood; institute a “Tobin Tax” on stock purchases and currency trading; nationalize banks; socialize medicine; fully fund government jobs and genuine Keynesian stimulus; lift restrictions on labor organizing; allow cities to turn foreclosed homes into public housing; build a green energy infrastructure.

But how can we get broad agreement on any of these? If the protesters came into the square with a pre-determined set of demands it would have only limited their potential. They would have either been dismissed as pie in the sky – such as socialized medicine or nationalize banks – or if they went for weak demands such as the Buffett Rule their efforts would immediately be absorbed by a failed political system, thus undermining the movement.

That’s why the building of the movement has to go hand in hand with common struggle, debate and radical democracy. It’s how we will create genuine solutions that have legitimacy. And that is what is occurring down at Wall Street.

Now, there are endless objections one can make. But if we focus on the possibilities, and shed our despair, our hesitancy and our cynicism, and collectively come to Wall Street with critical thinking, ideas and solidarity we can change the world.

How many times in your life do you get a chance to watch history unfold, to actively participate in building a better society, to come together with thousands of people where genuine democracy is the reality and not a fantasy?

For too long our minds have been chained by fear, by division, by impotence. The one thing the elite fear most is a great awakening. That day is here. Together we can seize it.