Democracy is messy and our history is full of scars from the founding of this republic and the hypocrites and hypocrisies abound at the apex of our founding that had to be righted later by the abolitionists and the entire civil rights movement, the suffragists, the agrarian farmer revolts, the progressive revolution, and by organized labor. They did so in the same vein you see right now all across the country at every occupation. People could feel in their bones that slavery, segregation, sexism, misogyny, racism and massive economic inequality had to go.
As I referenced in my last diary, the Populist Party via the Farmer’s Alliance found common ground with what was known then as the Colored Farmer’s Alliance and won some significant accomplishments affecting all races before they gave up their independence and were coopted by the racist Democratic Party adopting some of their platforms to lure them in and poisoning the movement to death.
Things have changed somewhat for the better since then as far as the Democratic Party is concerned, but not enough to really say that we can call the Democratic Party all inclusive and we still don’t want this movement to be copted by any party. Why? For those that have been paying attention, we actually don’t truly have a bicameral legislature anymore, we have a bought off unicameral legislature with a toy filibuster that has killed over 300(372) bills passed by the House. We need a lot of these bills that were written to help all races and the least among the 99% who are suffering right now.
The Senate, yes today’s democratically controlled Senate is an all white millionaires boys club with only 4 senators in the post reconstruction era that have even been AA. And so issues for any minority group are given lip service, but then they are not seriously taken into account. It’s true that Republicans have abused the filibuster in an unprecedented fashion, but yet this same Democratic Senate decided to keep the same unprecedented abused filibuster that keeps the Senate operating this way. Remember that when anyone spouts a “But they need 60!” excuse and they don’t mention this, they also lose all credibility.
They did this despite some good Senators’ work on the issue like Jeff Merkley and Tom Udall who, when it was clear too many democrats wanted to keep this undemocratic unconstitutional filibuster, pushed to change the rules in order to make the filibuster more like the “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” filibuster instead of an “I’ll go home and nap on my yacht while filibustering” filibuster we know and hate. Do I even need to mention what happened with Dolecare aka pseudo HCR where the Finance Committee full of members form states with small populations dictated most of what went in health care reform?
Do I need to remind anyone that single payer advocates weren’t even allowed in Max Baucus’s proceedings? Need I remind any of you that he and his finance committee was given favor by the White House over the HELP Committee and others? The big Pharma deal we weren't included in with Billy Tauzin. That's inclusive?
More inclusive than #OWS you say? That's not even representative democracy really. Even if that’s not what I have heard word for word on this site, the absence of this context while criticizing #OWS's inclusiveness says a lot about the authors of these unfounded claims.
Now there is and probably always will be some work to be done when we’re talking about racial disparities of all kinds in any process, but one fails to have a credible point when they openly support a failed institution like the US legislature and then want to try to downplay General Assemblies where everyone has a voice and not just privileged millionaires in states with small populations who don’t care whether anyone of any race has more access to health care via single payer or a public option. That’s the sad ignored reality.
Especially since the GAs actually do have a rich diverse history in this country and not just for whites, Native Americans:
Actually, the development of consensus process, which is probably the movement’s greatest accomplishment, emerges just as much from the tradition of radical feminism, and draws on spiritual traditions from Native American to Quakerism. This is where the whole exotic language of the movement comes from: facilitation, “the people’s microphone,” spokescouncils, blocks.
They were also an effective response to Argentina's economic crisis in 1999-2003. And Horizontalism has rich roots and is a proven method whether some like it or not.
Horizontalidad is a living word, reflecting an experience that is ever changing. Months after the popular rebellion in Argentina, many began to speak of their relationships as horizontal, as a way of describing the use of direct democracy and consensus in striving for dignity and freedom. Now, almost 9 years after the rebellion, those continuing to build a new and revolutionary movement speak of horizontalidad as both a goal and a tool. It is a goal in the sense that there is a clearer understanding now that all of our relationships are still deeply affected by capitalism, and thus by the sorts of power dynamics it promotes in all of our collectives and creative spaces, in how we relate to one another in term of gender and race, information and experience, and so on. Horizontalism is a tool, on the other hand, in the sense that a danger is now more clearly recognized that language may become the politics and relationship, rather than a reflection of a living process. This is an active conversation.
Worker-owned cooperatives and self-management also were a big part of their recovery and guess what? They follow much of what you see in the GAs:
During the economic collapse, many business owners and foreign investors drew all of their money out of the Argentine economy and sent it overseas. As a result, many small and medium enterprises closed due to lack of capital, thereby exacerbating unemployment. Many workers at these enterprises, faced with a sudden loss of employment and no source of income, decided to reopen businesses on their own, without the presence of the owners and their capital, as self-managed cooperatives.
Worker managed cooperative businesses range from ceramics factory Zanon (FaSinPat), to the four-star Hotel Bauen, to suit factory Brukman, to printing press Chilavert, and many others. In some cases, former owners sent police to remove workers out of these workplaces; this was sometimes successful but in other cases workers defended occupied workplaces against the state, the police, and the bosses.
A survey by an Argentina newspaper in the capital found that around 1/3 of the population had participated in general assemblies. The assemblies used to take place in street corners and public spaces, and generally gathered to discuss ways of helping each other in the face of eviction, or organizing around issues like health care, collective food buying, or conducting free food distribution programs. Some assemblies started to create new structures of health care and schooling, to replace the old ones that were not working. Neighborhood assemblies met once a week in a large assembly to discuss issues affecting the larger community.
 In 2004, Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein (author of No Logo) released the documentary The Take, about these events. Some businesses have now been legally purchased by the workers for nominal fees, others remain 'occupied' by workers who have no legal standing with the state (and in some cases reject negotiation with the state on the grounds that working productively is its own justification). The Argentine government is considering a Law of Expropriation that would transfer some occupied businesses to their worker-managers.
When talking about how it’s “pragmatic” to fully support an administration(claiming by implication or a statement that somehow this administration is looking out for minority communities despite some crumbs thrown their way) that hired economists from the Chicago School that was responsible for the economic shock and torture of Chile and other countries in Latin America, it doesn’t exactly give one credibility to talk about #OWS’s so called lack of inclusion on these issues it has already fought back against better than any Democrat.
The President is contributing to the problem with this BS deficit crisis narrative. That’s right, austerity hurts poor AA and Latino communities here and it decimated and killed many in Latin America. To conveniently ignore this to fit any agenda is to be historically ignorant. Austerity is stupid and cruel and the president and too many in Congress buy into it. They’ve even created a Super Congress to decide which cuts to make; the same cuts to Medicaid that will hurt poor working people in this net jobless “recovery.”
Austerity and deficit stupidity is actually what many preach for us to support unconditionally as the “next step” by saying we need to start getting more serious about electoral politics than this movement which has already done more than any Democrat controlled by this WH to change the narrative from the deficit to income inequality. The White House still doesn't get it or they do and truly want to suck away national income from the working poor.
The so called "pragmatic" haven't brought attention to these national public and private accounting facts and that is hurtful, physically to the hungry, so I'd rather them say thank you, #OWS. Thank you #OWS for steering the narrative towards reality that there is no deficit crisis now or in the future.
Moving on, Wall Street is responsible for the inclusion of most of the destruction of wealth and more so for AA and Latino households affected by the bust of the Housing bubble. But #OWS somehow doesn’t speak to these issues? WRONG.
The Pew Research Center analysis finds that, in percentage terms, the bursting of the housing market bubble in 2006 and the recession that followed from late 2007 to mid-2009 took a far greater toll on the wealth of minorities than whites. From 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66% among Hispanic households and 53% among black households, compared with just 16% among white households.
In the documentary House of Cards(probably the only good thing I have ever watched on CNBC) the story of Cynthia Simons who, like many, were trying to escape the hood and was desperate as the dangerous area she was living in was threatening her life, trusted her broker and took out a subprime mortgage that was sold to her as being something she would be able to "readjust" later like many so now she is stuck with a House she can't afford and forever in debt.
I would watch the whole thing to catch everything she says though this clip is illuminating. She says, "Yeah, what I did was stupid, but who's making Wall Street pay? Who's making my mortgage broker pay?"
No one. This fraud was not and probably will not be prosecuted by anyone in Washington D.C. We only have a few courageous state AGs on the case like NY AG Eric Schneiderman, DE AG Beau Biden and others looking into the whole subprime mortgage crisis and the foreclosure crisis happening right now.
You see, I know there are a lot of people who want to project where they think this movement lacks and that's fine. They are entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts.
Cynthia Simons craved a better life for her family and wanted to leave the crime-ridden area of Compton, Ca. She thought her prayers were answered by a mortgage broker from her church who found the family a house in a safe neighborhood.