An open space for global conversation
Please use this thread to share anything that tickles your funny bone in an Occupy context. Seems like we could all use a good laugh these days. We'll open with the hilarious letter from Goldman Sachs President Lloyd Blankfein Andy Borowitz below, "concerning Occupy Wall Street."
NEW YORK (The Borowitz Report)– The following is a letter released today by Lloyd Blankfein, the chairman of banking giant Goldman Sachs:
Up until now, Goldman Sachs has been silent on the subject of the protest movement known as Occupy Wall Street. That does not mean, however, that it has not been very much on our minds. As thousands have gathered in Lower Manhattan, passionately expressing their deep discontent with the status quo, we have taken note of these protests. And we have asked ourselves this question:
How can we make money off them?
The answer is the newly launched Goldman Sachs Global Rage Fund, whose investment objective is to monetize the Occupy Wall Street protests as they spread around the world. At Goldman, we recognize that the capitalist system as we know it is circling the drain – but there’s plenty of money to be made on the way down.
The Rage Fund will seek out opportunities to invest in products that are poised to benefit from the spreading protests, from police batons and barricades to stun guns and forehead bandages. Furthermore, as clashes between police and protesters turn ever more violent, we are making significant bets on companies that manufacture replacements for broken windows and overturned cars, as well as the raw materials necessary for the construction and incineration of effigies.
It would be tempting, at a time like this, to say “Let them eat cake.” But at Goldman, we are actively seeking to corner the market in cake futures. We project that through our aggressive market manipulation, the price of a piece of cake will quadruple by the end of 2011.
Please contact your Goldman representative for a full prospectus. As the world descends into a Darwinian free-for-all, the Goldman Sachs Rage Fund is a great way to tell the protesters, “Occupy this.” We haven’t felt so good about something we’ve sold since our souls.
Chairman, Goldman Sachs
Meanwhile, the 1% better watch out for probes. Oh those crazy British Columbians...
A political party hack was trolling one of the OWS livestream chatrooms yesterday, and somebody responded to them by saying, "I'd rather vote for RuPaul than Ron Paul."
Hysterical! One wonders how many issues the two Pauls might actually agree upon though...
Here's a little humorous (but also dead serious) piece that I wrote, Ben, and have used as the basis for teach-ins:
Very well written and compelling, Mark. Not so funny though, is it? This reminds me of what Peter Block has to say about the need for us to shift from being "consumers" (even in politics) to "citizens." Here's a taste from Community: the Structure of Belonging, my favorite book of his:
If what holds the possibility of an alternative future for our community is our capacity to fully come into being as a citizen, then we have to talk about this word citizen. Our definition here is that a citizen is one who is willing to be accountable for and committed to the well-being of the whole. That whole can be a city block, a community, a nation, theearth. A citizen is one who produces the future, someone who does notwait, beg, or dream for the future.
The antithesis of being a citizen is the choice to be a consumer or a client,an idea that John McKnight again has been so instructive about. Consumers give power away. They believe that their own needs can be best satisfied by the actions of others––whether those others are elected officials, top management,social service providers, or the shopping mall. Consumers also allow others to define their needs. If leaders and service providers are guilty of labeling or projecting onto others the “needs” to justify their own style of leadership orservice that they provide, consumers collude with them by accepting others’ definition of their needs. This provider-consumer transaction is the breeding ground for entitlement, and it is unfriendly to our definition of citizen and the power inherent in that definition.
The Meaning of Citizenship
The conventional definition of citizenship is concerned with the act of voting and taking a vow to uphold the constitution and laws of a country. This is narrow and limiting. Too many organizations that are committed to sustaining democracy in the world and at home have this constrained view of citizenship.Citizenship is not about voting, or even about having a vote. To construe the essence of citizenship primarily as the right to vote reduces its power––as if voting ensures a democracy. It is certainly a feature of democracy, but as Fareed Zakaria points out in his book The Future of Freedom, the right to votedoes not guarantee a civil society, or in our terms a restorative one.
When we think of citizens as just voters, we reduce them to being consumers of elected officials and leaders. We see this most vividly at election time, when candidates become products, issues become the message, and the campaign is a marketing and distribution system for the selling of the candidate. Great campaign managers are great marketers and product managers.Voters become target markets, demographics, whose most important role is to meet in focus groups to respond to the nuances of message. This is the power of the consumer, which is no power at all.
Through this lens, we can understand why so many people do not vote.They do not believe their action can impact the future. It is partly a self chosen stance and partly an expression of the helplessness that grows out of a retributive world. This way of thinking is not an excuse not to vote, but it does say that our work is to build the capacity of citizens to be accountable and to become creators of community. pp.63-64
Perhaps the central and most compelling aspect of the Occupy movement is a rejection of the passive stance of the consumer and a bold and highly visible reclaiming of the role of citizen.
We have yet to dive deeply into the thematic issue of money/corruption in politics here. I'm sure we'll get there soon enough. In fact, I invite you to consider starting a new discussion thread on that subject, where I will repost this as well. We are developing a new practice of offering "hosted" threads in order to make these forums more generative. Would you be interested in beta-testing that idea with us?
Sure, Ben--sounds like fun. But perhaps not tonight, since it is already 5:00 a.m. here and I probably should be thinking of getting some sleep. Let me know what to do and I'll get started on it whenever I wake up. I've got two things to add to the topic, one serious and one humorous, so it might make an interesting thread.
Emily wins Soapbox Idol contest at Porcupine Freedom Festival 2011 with Top 10 Reasons why the Mafia is better than the state:
Alright--it's been a long time since we posted anything here, and I think we can all use a good laugh. This NYTimes "OpEd" is truly hilarious and terribly clever, although it may require a cursory familiarity with quantum mechanics to fully appreciate it.
Here's a sample:
Before Mitt Romney, those seeking the presidency operated under the laws of so-called classical politics, laws still followed by traditional campaigners like Newt Gingrich. Under these Newtonian principles, a candidate’s position on an issue tends to stay at rest until an outside force — the Tea Party, say, or a six-figure credit line at Tiffany — compels him to alter his stance, at a speed commensurate with the size of the force (usually large) and in inverse proportion to the depth of his beliefs (invariably negligible). This alteration, framed as a positive by the candidate, then provokes an equal but opposite reaction among his rivals.
But the Romney candidacy represents literally a quantum leap forward. It is governed by rules that are bizarre and appear to go against everyday experience and common sense. To be honest, even people like Mr. Fehrnstrom who are experts in Mitt Romney’s reality, or “Romneality,” seem bewildered by its implications; and any person who tells you he or she truly “understands” Mitt Romney is either lying or a corporation.
Noir humor is when something is so tragic that all one can do is laugh about it. A commenter in Europe wrote to mailing list I subscribe to that if US voters understood the influence of the Koch brothers on US politics, things would change. This was my response:
Under United States Constitutional law, the popular vote doesn't
even have to be counted, can be overturned by a fraudulent vote count, the
Electoral College, Congress, or the Supreme Court, and, in any event, has
no influence whatsoever on policy decisions. Individuals and corporations
are legally allowed to spend as much money influencing elections as they
wish, as the US Supreme Court has ruled that money is speech and the
Constitution protects speech. As for those hundreds of millions of voters,
approximately half of the eligible electorate in the U.S., they are so
apathetic that they knowingly and voluntarily grant their consent of the
governed to a government that fewer than 10% of them approve of, and which
they cannot hold accountable. They don't care about wars, genocides,
bailouts, access to health care, or anything else, as long as they are
allowed to vote to delegate such decisions to candidates chosen by the two
major political parties on the basis of how much corporate money they can
raise, and who will therefore act in the interests of their corporate
donors rather than in the interests of their constituents.
In the '08 elections, both candidates, Republican McCain and Democrat
Obama, took time out from campaigning to issue a joint statement that they
both supported the bailouts, despite the fact that 90% of the US public did
not. That left voters with a choice between bailouts they opposed, and
bailouts they opposed, yet voters are so apathetic that they voted anyway.
Not only don't US votes have to be counted, as was proven in 2000 when the
Supreme Court stopped the vote count and selected the President themselves,
but more than 90% of US votes are completely unverifiable:
US voters are so apathetic that they don't care if their votes aren't
counted and aren't verifiable, as long as they are allowed to vote for
candidates who won't represent them, cannot be held accountable, and will
not allow public opinion to influence policy decisions.
The US is the world's largest military superpower and has spent billions of
dollars on Homeland Security, including having the military supply local
law enforcement with weapons and training to suppress massive civil dissent
if it should become necessary. The US also supplies this training and sells
those weapons to foreign countries, including some of the world's most
brutal dictatorships, and the training in suppressing civil dissent
includes training in torture and the training of death squads, often led by
US military, CIA, or mercenary advisers on the ground, and this is such a
large proportion of the US arms market that the US cannot afford to allow
civil dissent to succeed at home for fear of losing market share abroad.
While there is some civil dissent anyway, the half of the population that
votes still believes in the capitalist imperialist system and continues to
vote to support it, consent to it, and legitimize it. Most of the civil
dissent in the US, outside of a few cities like Oakland, California, with
large minority populations, is nothing more than self-interested complaints
about not getting enough benefits from government, and has nothing
whatsoever in common with the global struggle against the social and
economic injustice of the capitalist imperialist system.
Treason by a President or Congress is tolerated by US voters because they
believe that as long as they are allowed to cast their uncounted ballots,
they are living in a democracy. Facts and evidence, even when known and
widely acknowledged, do nothing to alter this irrational belief. Neither
wars of aggression based on lies, wars begun without Congressional
approval, the loss of habeus corpus, the assertion of the President of the
right to indefinitely detain US citizens without charge or assassinate them
at will, or anything else has stopped US voters from continuing to vote. US
voters are so apathetic that they willingly allow their small children to
be publicly molested by TSA agents at airports rather than make a fuss.
What is worse is that foreign governments have allied themselves with the
US, participated in these wars of aggression based on lies, do business
with the same transnational corporations that own the US political system,
and despite the havoc they are wreaking, allow US-controlled financial
institutions to destroy their economies, responding to public protests by
purchasing more riot and crowd control weapons and training from the US.
The only glimmer of hope so far is that Russian and China vetoed the US
invasion of Syria. Normally, if the US President cannot get either UN or
Congressional approval for an unprovoked genocide, he will act unilaterally
and declare war by Executive Order as Commander-in-Chief (actually
Corporate-Puppet-in-Chief). But apparently, having the possibility of
retaliation by both Russia and China must have given Obama pause, as we
have not yet invaded Syria. That doesn't mean that we don't have covert
operatives on the group attempting to create cause to invade, but it did
postpone what would otherwise have been an immediate invasion.
Don't look to US voters for anything. They know the Koch brothers influence
on politics, but their choices are to continue to vote anyway, or to
forfeit what they believe to be their precious right to vote. If the only
two candidates with any chance whatsoever of winning in 2012 both promise
that if elected, they will declare martial law and end all elections in the
US, US voters will either vote for whichever one they consider to be the
lesser evil, or cast a protest ballot for somebody they know has no chance
of winning. They will not give up their precious right to cast uncounted,
unverifiable ballots for candidates who cannot be held accountable and who
they know will not represent their interests. There is nothing in the world
more apathetic than a US voter. As an election boycott advocate for the
past six years, I've had to contend with this irrefutable fact on a daily
If we don't keep our sense of humor, it's all just too awful. That was the wise advice of the late Howard Zinn, among may others. I'm sure you will find much to resonate with in his words on that and other counts, Mark.
Nice to see you back here, btw!