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11:15am I arrived at Occupy LA, and hurriedly bicycled to the protest at California Plaza, where a small number of protesters (maybe a few hundred) were leading an anti-bank protest.  Many of the protesters were members of labor organizations.  The whole thing was well-orchestrated by a police presence, shutting down the streets where the marchers were marching.  They stopped at Broadway and 1st so the protesters could yell "Shame!  Shame!  Shame!" at a closed B of A branch.  This was, to be sure, a low-risk event for a pleasant Saturday morning.  I took pictures nonetheless.

2:25pm Spring Street had been closed off that Saturday so that a list of speakers could enlighten the assembled small crowd for Bank Transfer Day.  An introductory speaker introduce Margaret Prescod, who discusses the KPFK fund drive and introduces "Kiki" from Occupy London, 250 tents in front of St Paul's Cathedral, Guy Fawkes Day there was a speaker from LA in Occupy London the church allowed the protest to stay, and the dean who said the protesters had to go had to resign.  

Kiki argued that the campers at Occupy London maintained professional relations with the police -- that they cautioned other campers not to chitchat with the police because "they're gathering information."

Then Mike Garcia of SEIU talked for awhile.  He thanked all of us, and delivered a message of "us versus the banks."

Finally it was Robert Reich's turn to talk.  

(Reich, center)

Reich, as well as the panelists which followed, delivered a fundamentally liberal message, contrasting the "good capitalism" of the rest of the system as against the "bad capitalism" of the banks who he claims committed massive fraud.  Reich suggested that "We need to save capitalism from itself," and that we should campaign to "resurrect Glass-Steagall."  Reich thought we should halve the military budget, enact single payer health care, and (somehow) get money out of politics.  He argued that there should be "no NAFTA unless there are strong labor and environmental provisions" -- the idea that we might not get those if the point of NAFTA is to strengthen corporate power by increasing corporate penetration of national economies didn't take.

Robert Scheer came after Robert Reich (and after a botched attempt at getting Michael Hudson via electronic hookup from Berlin), and talked of triangulation and of the history of Clinton and Obama sellouts at length, in great populist tones, and to the pleasure of the assembled crowd.

William Black was next -- Black wanted to emphasize that there was plenty of prosecution of corporate malfeasance in the "S&L scandal" of the late '80s and early '90s, but that the department responsible for prosecution was eliminated, so that by the time of the current crisis there was no prosecution of bank fraud at all.  Black had an elaborate presentation of how the fraud took place, not all of which I followed.  Black, though, suggested that "this is not the normal operation of the capitalist system," which I felt was an "observation" generally uninformed by works such as Matthew Josephson's The Robber Barons, in which the general criminality of the whole system (as it behaved in the last quarter of the 19th century) was exposed.

Lastly we were treated to Joel Rogers, who talked of the history of the last thirty years, and of the Powell Memorandum, which detailed a blueprint for the corporate takeover of democracy.  Rogers suggested that there two types of capitalism: the "low road," in which you treat the public like dirt and take advantage of them accordingly, and the "high road," where you sell products at premium prices and pay your workers good wages.

Thereafter there was a lengthy question-and-answer session.  None of the questioners was able to poke a serious hole in the pro-capitalist facade of the panelists.  The next speaker after them was going to be George Lakoff, on teleconference from Berkeley.  I left, because I did not want to see the organizers (who were probably the Media Team of Occupy LA) botch the electronic hookup.

So this was Meet The Liberals Day.  I enjoyed it; I was rather impressed with their depictions of the enormity of the banking scam, and their populist vigor.  However, I rather doubted that any of these liberals would succeed in their plans.  When you try to separate the "bad capitalism" from the "good capitalism," the "bad capitalism" piggybacks onto the "good capitalism" and you're back where you started.  

What made the Keynesian compromise, the welfare state and the minimum wage, low unemployment and high growth, possible was that the consumer society was in desperate need of expansion and the capitalist system was relatively young.  There were plenty of resources and the system was robust.  Today the system is not robust, the consumer society is mature, and resources are getting more expensive.  The liberals are charming in their depiction of the problem but not prescient in terms of what is coming down the pipeline; they think the movement is going to take a long time to bear any fruit and they do not seem to fully factor in the catastrophic nature of the present situation.  The liberals' hopes and dreams were going nowhere when Occupy bailed them out.

There was also the question of who had sponsored Meet The Liberals Day.  I was told that it was the Media Team that had arranged the whole show, and that the Media Team was secretive and hierarchical.  Is this true?  I would like to see a Meet The Radicals Day at Occupy LA.  Is anyone here with me?

At least they've painted a mural on the box surrounding the fountain now.

6:30pm The Resources Committee meeting on Saturday, across the street from Occupy LA on a cold, moonlit night, was about two things: 1) the security provisions for the safe deposit box (which eight people are going to be granted rights to access the box), and 2) what sort of arrangement will replace the safe deposit box when it comes time to submit that arrangement to the general assembly.  In Saturday's meeting it was suggested that we become an "unincorporated association," and so we discussed this option for some time.

Once again I left before the general assembly.  I have offered a ride to two friends.  I am being told that Occupy LA is poor at consensus process and that the general assemblies tend to waste enormous quantities of their participants' time.  Is this true?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (18+ / 0-)

    "But it ain't about who ya love, see it's all about do ya love," -Michael Franti

    by Cassiodorus on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 08:11:06 PM PST

  •  I go. I buy. I drop off. (10+ / 0-)

    On the weekends, I go to the market and buy things I think would be good for the people at OWS L.A.  
    I drive up, to the donation area, pop my trunk, and pull out my 4 or 5 bags of goodness, hand it over, and drive off.

    I do what I can.

    "Hey, with religion you can't get just a little pregnant"

    by EarTo44 on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 08:22:50 PM PST

  •  Great diary (6+ / 0-)

    If someone runs across Black's presentation online somewhere, please post a link.

  •  The Assembly Line Was Fairly Young in the 30's. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe shikspack

    Industrialization was so much older than the assembly line, that the framers' agrarian conception of governance was already out of date when the ink was still wet on their Constitution. Accordingly the framers gave us panics, bubbles and depressions our entire history from the days when many of them were still alive --except for the Great 50 Year FDR Anomaly when an industrial-aware economic scheme was legislatively pasted on top of the framers' prehistoric framework.

    But capitalism is centuries older than that. So I don't think capitalism was very young at all in the New Deal Keynes era.

    Occupy? It hasn't bailed anyone or anything out of anywhere. It's important but the charming liberals are right, nothing better than what we have is anywhere in sight, and that's not inconsistent with your warnings about what's coming at us in the pipeline on a shorter time scale.

    Doesn't matter. Nothing better is coming soon. Nobody has a plan that enough people would support. Probably almost nobody has any idea what would work. Almost nobody has a good idea of what all's wrong or missing from what we've got.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 09:13:53 PM PST

  •  The Liberals Are Charming..... (4+ / 0-)

    in their depiction of the problem".  Give me a break.

    The "liberals" as the diarist calls them changed the national conversation from the blah, blah, blah "deficit" to the real problem.....jobs & the crimes committed in this country by Wall Street.

    So.....the diarist "rather doubts that any of these Liberals would succeed in their plans"?  In less than 7 weeks the "charming" little Liberals are responsible for occupy events in over 1,100 cities in the United States, Canada,  Australia, Africa, Asia, thruout Europe, India & Afghanistan.

    Over 3,000 of these "charming" Liberals have been arrested, tear gassed, beaten by billy clubs, shot w/ rubber bullets, had flash grenades thrown at them, 5 were run over by cars, & two were hospitalized w/ a fractured skull & a ruptured spleen.  And.....we are still standing.  

    The "charming" Liberals have stood their ground.  The "charming" Liberals have no intention of backing down until they DO succeed in their plans.  Trust me on this.  

    My husband at 66 years old is one of those "charming" Liberals.  He just spent 4 nights sleeping on the ground at OccupyOlympia last week.

    We are not interested in "poking a serious hole in the facade of the pro-capitalists".  Our commitment is to change the corrupt system of lobbyists & corporations who buy & sell our politicians, & to put an end to Wall Street greed.  

    We are not interested in the status quo.  Nor are we interested in negotiating or wooing politicians anymore.

    They are passe.  We have taken to the streets for a reason, & that reason is not to pitch anything to politicians.  Those days are over.  

    •  Well, you could do all that -- (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joe shikspack
      We are not interested in "poking a serious hole in the facade of the pro-capitalists".  Our commitment is to change the corrupt system of lobbyists & corporations who buy & sell our politicians, & to put an end to Wall Street greed.

      by devising an alternative to the capitalist system.  And this is a bit bizarre:

      Over 3,000 of these "charming" Liberals have been arrested, tear gassed, beaten by billy clubs, shot w/ rubber bullets, had flash grenades thrown at them, 5 were run over by cars, & two were hospitalized w/ a fractured skull & a ruptured spleen.  And.....we are still standing.  

      You appear here to think that Occupy is composed entirely of liberals.  It is not.  Maybe it is in Olympia -- I wouldn't know.  There is a MUCH wider spectrum at Occupy LA than just the liberals.

      "But it ain't about who ya love, see it's all about do ya love," -Michael Franti

      by Cassiodorus on Mon Nov 07, 2011 at 04:43:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Keynes died within months of Breton Woods (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, joe shikspack

    which arranged for the US to reap the world's riches after WW2.  It is said that his running up and down stairs in the conference hotel attempting to ameliorate the terms lead to his demise.

    The post-war prosperity in the US (and the middle class and "labor peace") were due to these advantages.

  •  Very impressive array of speakers (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, Morgan Sandlin

    I think your media team did a great job putting together this list of speakers.

  •  My wife and I were both sick this (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lastlegslaststand

    past week and weekend with serious colds. That, combined with the worsening weather that stormed across Southern California, confined us to home. I salute the heroes who braved the cold and wet on Saturday and Sunday nights to make the General Assemblies happen.

    I was able to watch much of the Saturday teach-ins by Livestream and the Saturday and Sunday GAs by Livestream.

    Occupy LA is not 'poor at consensus process' (whatever that means), nor does it waste large amounts of participants' time, in my opinion. Democracy is messy and finding consensus among variegated populations is going to take a lot of time.

    I shall write at more length tomorrow, for the cold medicine is starting to kick in and I'm beginning to feel like Coleridge right before he wrote "Kubla Khan."

    More tomorrow.

  •  heartened to see acce on the front lines. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cassiodorus

    i spotted their logo on footage from elsewhere and found out they're an outgrowth of acorn. i really admired acorn's former activism. in addition to helping people to get into homes and workshops held that taught people how to avoid predatory lending, they were really good with a provocative style of protesting. in connecticut, they found out where bank executives lived and picketed their homes.

    protesting a bank? that's a big building. it's an abstraction. on the other hand, protest a banker's home where neighbors become scandalized, that brings it down to a personal level. it's closer to accountability. shame as a tactic is underutilized.

    our one demand? return what was stolen.

    by stolen water on Thu Nov 10, 2011 at 03:58:29 PM PST

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