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NOTE: This discussion was originally classified as "hosted" but has now been moved to the "member initiated" category. In the view of the OC Stewards, what is taking place here is a debate rather than dialogue. In a "hosted" discussion here at OC.org, we request that balanced participation be encouraged and that regular summaries occur recognizing all the views being presented.
While we have no objections to people using the OC forum to engage in debates, as long as they don't cross the line into personal attacks, such discussion is not what we are seeking in the "hosted" category.
We are delighted to have Occupy Cafe member Mark E. Smith offer this hosted discussion on the provocative idea of an "election boycott."
As "host," Mark will strive to keep the conversation orderly, offer regular summaries of the perspectives being presented and encourage balanced participation among all those who are engaged. Here's Mark's initial summary:
An election boycott is the only known way to nonviolently delegitimize a government. It doesn't overthrow the government, it simply denies it the consent of the governed so that the government can no longer claim to have the people's consent. Among the many forms of noncompliance, such as removing money from big banks, boycotting corporate brands, withdrawing from the system and creating alternative systems, learning to live on less so as not to have to pay taxes, etc., refusing to vote can be one of the most crucial and effective tactics.
Thank you, Mark, for volunteering your services as "host!"
Thank you, Victoria. We seem to agree on a lot of things.
I got two encouraging emails this morning. One from a friend who says he is now an election boycott advocate himself. Another from someone who sent me copies of some election boycott advocacy comments he'd just posted to a large website. And now your encouraging agreement.
But there was also some discouraging news in my email. Occupy San Diego is having a big march today to defend the US flag. The problem is that the police will arrest them for "weapons" if they have their flags on sticks or plastic pipes, which they have stated that they will. So now San Diego has two groups of patriots defending the flag, one armed and dangerous and the other dedicated to nonviolence. That doesn't look encouraging in the least.
I agree with you that Occupy should not be bothering to engage in voter registration, that would be a definite derailing of the purpose and potential of Occupy and also a warping of its message.
What is the Occupy message?
Actually, the message of Occupy has been in plain sight all along. Let me quote from the OWS declaration:
"...a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments."
In other words, the message is "We don't have a functioning democracy because our government has been hijacked by corporations." The list of grievances simply describe the symptoms of our dysfunctional government.
But that didn't come out right away and it is specific to OWS. Not all the camps adopted it. I'm not even sure any of them did.
At the heart of direct democracy is that everyone gets to make up their own mind. So each occupy camp decided what they wanted.
If people chose to get registered and to participate in the electoral process that is a valid choice. I don't think any occupy camp officially chose a candidate to support. Rather, they seem to be trying to make people aware of what the different candidates political possitions are on various topics. In so doing if those candidates do get elected Occupy is well situated to hold them to their election promises. I am not saying it will help, but I don't think it will harm either.
I don't like the suggestion that political operatives somehow tricked people. It suggests that people can't think for themselves.
Just found an interesting article about the political side of the Occupy movement that I thought was apropos for our discussion: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136399/michael-hardt-and-ant....
The link didn't work for me, Mr. Blue, but I searched the site for the author and found it:
Of course it doesn't answer the question of what to do about people like Gisele, who have valid viewpoints and are entitled to an equal voice.
Although I'm not sure if he's an anarchist himself, a local college professor gave a teach-in about anarchy and he says we can't just shoot the people who don't want real democracy. Socialists like Hugo Chavez agree. So how do we deal with people who simply do not want real democracy? They think other people are better qualified than they are to run things. We give them a voice and they say they'd rather have somebody like Obama or Harper make their decisions for them.
The really scary part is that they might be right. How can we know that the drunks and zealots and morons and anarchists and others they fear aren't just projections of what they fear they'd try to do themselves if they had a voice? I think they're competent, but I can't know them better than they know themselves.
There's a US-funded opposition in Venezuela that keeps trying to kill Chavez the way the US keeps trying to kill Fidel Castro. They liked oligarchy and they don't like poor people having food and jobs and land. They used to have everything all to themselves and they want it back.
There really is a 1%. Not just the 0.01% or less who really control things, but those they employ and those who support them. In the US, they're as much as 6% of voters, which translates into at least 3% of the population--those who think Congress is doing a great job of representation and don't want change.
The fact is that 99% of us aren't represented, and 97% of us know it. But about half are still going to vote for a government that does not and can not represent them because it is controlled by the 1%. Adding a few more good people won't change that. But they still think that the people in Congress or Parliament are doing a better job than they themselves could do.
Of course in a real democracy power would be decentralized, so the wealthy few couldn't dominate everyone else. But there are people who like to be dominated. On one website I had a professional masochist tell me that I was supposed to respect her right to choose to be a slave. How did we ever make domestic violence illegal when some women want to be beaten?
There are people who oppose equality and don't want social and economic justice. If people choose to be slaves, we're not supposed to free them at gunpoint against their will. If people want the 1% to rule, it doesn't matter to them that they're part of the 99%. Like Victoria said, you can't get somebody to leave an abuser when they have no place to go or fear going to a shelter more than staying with the abuser.
Right now 99% of us aren't represented, and 97% would like to be represented. But at least 40% are going to vote, and if the billions of dollars the corporations put into elections succeed, it could even be 50% or 60% or more. They've probably already selected the most promising, the most charismatic, and the most acceptable Occupiers to promote as candidates, and those sincere people will never know what hit them when they start being asked to run for office and represent the 99% in Washington, DC, or how they gained so many supporters so quickly, or why they're doing so well in the polls, or why they've gotten so many big donations, etc.
But they'll find out once they're elected and they get what John Perkins calls "the visit." When their top campaign managers, closest Occupy friends, and probably also their lovers, come to congratulate them and inform them that from now on they either go along to get along or they're dead. Oh, they'll be allowed to make a few insignificant gestures, but that's it. The 1% don't play nice. They didn't get to rule the world by playing nice.
And all the Occupiers who registered voters and voted for their terrific candidate, and rejoiced over the miracle that, despite the rigged elections and the corporate money, they actually won, will be wondering why the wars don't end and the economy doesn't improve and the environment isn't protected. And President Occupy will smile into the cameras, try not to let her eyes stray to the Secret Service sniper with the hidden gun aimed right at her head, and say that she inherited a difficult situation and these things take time, etc., etc.
Maybe if she gets a second term.....
Dang, that's paranoid, Mark, that stuff about "the visit," which doesn't necessarily mean there isn't some truth to it. Could you point me to that guy John Perkins somewhere on the Internet? Google didn't turn up much that I could find.
The page about John Perkins' book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, on amazon
has about 800 reviews and links to his website and other stuff. Your library probably has the book. I'm sure people with e-readers can download it online, but I don't know if it's available free.
Anyway, that was his job. Economic Hit Man.
I got a cute story for you. I worked for a short time for the Navy. They were trying to fire me but didn't have cause so they sent me to a shrink. I walked into the guy's office and the first thing I said was, "The government is trying to kill me." Afterward I was absolutely certain that he would write me up as paranoid. Later, during litigation, I got to see his report. He said that while it might appear that I was paranoid, I was not--I had legitimate realistic fears based on real, actual, fully documented experiences.
Read the book. And if you don't have lactose intolerance, drink a glass of milk before bed to avoid nightmares. If you do, try some calming herbal tea instead.
The Fed is black hole of democrcay
I think there are still one or two countries in the world that aren't run by a Rockefeller/Rothschild-owned central bank. North Korea, maybe? I think Libya may have been one before we invaded. No, he wasn't killing his own people. CIA lies. Libya had the highest standard of living in Africa. Power in the hands of local councils, free housing, health care, higher education, clean drinking water (that was one of the first things we bombed), and all because Gaddafi had nationalized their oil. Rockefeller didn't like that. So the CIA sent in some of our Al Queda friends to start trouble and ask us to help them. One of the first things they did was establish a central bank.
The US-led NATO invasion killed more Libyans than had been killed in the past 50 years, since Gaddafi took power and kicked out the US. Libya is strategic in recolonizing Africa. Also in keeping the military junta in power in Egypt.
An excellent companion to John Perkins' book is Bill Blum's, Killing Hope. Blum lists many of the countries that the US invaded to prevent democratic uprisings and/or overthrow democratically elected leaders, and gives the details. Some of it is available to read online for free.
What does it mean to say that the United States is a capitalist imperialist nation? It means that we're in the genocide-for-profit industry. That our function is to kill millions of innocent babies anywhere in the world that Rockefeller wants us to. People used to think it was worth it so that we could have a higher standard of living. We no longer have that higher standard of living. It was never being done for our benefit, although many of us (not people of color or Native Americans) benefited from it, it was being done for the benefit of the 1%. Half of us live in poverty now and we have more prison labor than any other country. There's no job shortage in the US. It's just that most jobs now are held by black inmates working for ten cents an hour. Yes, they are subjected to inhumane conditions--many of the professional torturers we sent to Abu Ghraib and Baghram were US prison wardens who learned their trades here. And no, they're mostly not violent, unless you consider that smoking marijuana is a violent act. The US can't legalize weed because it would lose it's prison labor force.
Baby-killers is an understatement. Victoria saw the pictures of what US depleted uranium weapons do to babies. If we just killed innocent babies, that would be merciful. We torture and mutilate them. For profit. It helps the private owners of the nuclear power plants that are all going to melt down like Fukushima one after the other as they continue to age and we can't afford to decommission them, dispose of their high level radioactive wastes. Big defense contracts.
This is the capitalist imperialist system that some people still cling to. Are they evil people? Are they ignorant people? Are they in denial? No, they're aware that the US is the evil empire, but it's the only empire they have and they fear change.
A hundred fewer innocent babies killed in some foreign country today might mean one less Starbucks latte for US Americans tomorrow. Why won't I help US Americans vote for evil if that's what they want to do? Maybe if they see more pictures and more pictures and more pictures of what they're doing, they might wake up and rise up instead of just sucking up. Maybe. But TV has desensitized them to blood and violence--they think it's just a game. Maybe if they rise up and there is as much bloodshed here as we cause in other countries, people will stop voting? Not a chance. There has to be government to control the anarchists.
And who have the anarchists killed? Not important. Anarchists are trying to stop the baby-killing. That would ruin everything for the baby-killers. Killing babies makes them feel warm and snuggly and secure. There are too damned many babies in the world and while there's little or no profit in feeding them, there are trillions of dollars to be made killing them. If a few million dollars will feed a famine-stricken country for a year or buy a few more fighter jets, we know what our government will choose. All we have to do is vote to authorize them to make the decisions and we can wash our hands of it.
Those babies are incipient terrorists. If allowed to grow up, they might nationalize their countries' oil, kick out the Rockefeller/Rothschild central banks, and give everyone free housing, health care, tuition, and all those other evil things that corporations can't make a profit on. They are the 99%. Not us. Them. We're in the top 5% globally. And we like our comforts and we don't like anarchists.
So what's the topic of the day on Occupy Cafe? Something about what big, kind, loving, caring hearts we have?
None of the information in those books seems particularly new to me. Haven't we been training dictators for decades?
I don't consider anarchists even a tiny threat because I don't think they have a hope in hell of convincing people to drop the current representative system of government. Convincing them to change the constitition and reducing the influence of money in politics are both monumental tasks in and of themselves. Even if I thought direct democracy would work beautifully and was the answer to all of mankind's ills I still wouldn't promote it. I want to create change now not at some obscure time in the future when people are all enlightened and wise.