Thursday, January 14, 2016

#OccupyBernieSanders | Mickey Z.

Bernie Sanders - Painting. DonkeyHotey Flickr (CC BY 2.0)Bernie Sanders - Painting. DonkeyHotey Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
Jan. 14, 2016

“Just because you have elections doesn’t mean you’re a democratic country.” (Arundhati Roy)
Occupy Recent History
I still have my “Ralph Nader for President: Green Party” t-shirt from 1996 and I very much recall the frustration of listening to delusional Lefties tell me about all the excellent stuff Bill Clinton was gonna do once re-elected. 

In 2000, of course, Nader became a pariah to the intentionally obtuse liberal crowd which directly led to 2004’s pathetic “Anybody-but-Bush” capitulation to war criminal John Kerry. Little by little, I found myself losing allies and comrades (cough, Z Net, cough) because I remained steadfast in my critique of the two-party deception and dared to call out legends like Zinn and Chomsky for wavering.

Along came Obama’s marketing team in 2008 and wow, I really felt like a proverbial voice in the proverbial wilderness. Upon his election, I wrote: “What just happened is an excellent illustration of how this system handles dissent: A black face, a soothing voice, and a vague message of change -- all designed to keep rabble pacified without changing anything at all.” 

(I penned countless articles in 2008 and early 2009, virtually predicting all aspects of his inevitable criminality, but not even I was bold enough to imagine a Nobel Peace Prize award.)

The ascension of Obama was the culmination of decades of social conditioning and as far I knew, I was finally done hoping for change. I wrote and gave talks on the decline of activism and radicalism in the ensuing years -- right up to Sept. 17, 2011. 

Occupy Disappointment
When Occupy Wall Street commenced, I suddenly encountered hundreds of folks (allegedly) decrying the vacancy of electoral politics and (allegedly) swearing off both major parties. You know, “revolution” and all that.

By summer 2012, I was actively engaged with Occupy Town Square, Strike Debt, Summer Disobedience School, Occupy the Pipeline, and so much more. But with yet another presidential election looming, I began to hear a familiar refrain from within the OWS ranks: “I’m no Obama fan but we have to be strategic. We can’t let a Republican win. At least he’s better than Romney.”

Being that my interactions with fellow occupiers had been almost universally smooth to that point, I engaged. I debated. I marshaled evidence and doled it out far and wide. To my consternation, friendships became strained, connections weakened, and the same old denial vibe was back in full effect.

Occupy the Bern
Fast forward to 2015-6 (click here for my assessment of the post-OWS years) and the timeworn liberal script has been dusted off. This time, an old white establishment dude claiming to seek revolution has occupiers ready to #MarchForBernie on Jan. 23, 2016. The event page copy might be excusable if it were written by a junior high student (it reads like it may have been). But these folks have zero excuse for lining up behind the vapid words from their hero: “I beg of you, do not enter that world of despair. We can win this fight, if we stand together.”

And where will this epic march kick off? Zuccotti Park, of course. One can’t help but conjure up images of the zombies in Dawn of the Dead, aimlessly walking around the shopping mall out of sheer reflexive habit -- but don’t tell that to those feeling the Bern. For them, “Occupy Wall Street lit a fire under the progressive movement that has continued to burn today.”

Whoever’s responsible for the final section of the FB page has a bright future writing for The Onion: “Alone, we can only do so much to fight for justice and inequality. But, If we stand together and spark a fire, we will discover that we are more powerful than we ever imagined. We are the people we've been waiting for.”

The event page ends with this apparently un-ironic warning: “Please remember this is a peaceful assembly, and our actions reflect Bernie and his campaign.”

If you really want your actions to truly reflect Bernie, then I suggest you bring yer drones!

Occupy Reality
Every four years, the Democratic Party appeases segments of the Left by sending out a “people’s” candidate to soothe and co-opt their activist angst. From Jesse Jackson to Jerry Brown to Al Sharpton to Howard Dean to Dennis Kucinich to many, many more; unbiased observers already know how this game ends -- and the house never loses.

Does Bernie Sanders believe in the platform on which he’s campaigning? If he truly does, we must ask: why is he running as a Democrat? If he wanted anything even approaching a “revolution,” Bernie wouldn’t be diverting the meager energies of the meager Left right back into the system he claims to be railing against. Remember, when (not if) he drops out of the race, he’s promised to endorse whatever candidate is put forth by the Democratic Party.

That same Democratic Party is but one component of a vast criminal enterprise, an enterprise responsible for threatening all life on Earth. An enterprise commonly referred to as “our way of life.” 
Our way of life means 93 percent of the large fish in the ocean are gone. It means 78 percent of the old growth forests are gone. It means the breast milk of every mother on Earth contains dioxins. It means every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. It means each day, 13 million tons of toxic chemicals are released across the globe; 200,000 acres of rain forest are destroyed; 150 to 200 plant and animal species go extinct. It means (in the United States), there is a reported rape every 6.2 minutes (key word: reported); one in five women will be raped in her lifetime; and 99.8 percent of those convicted for rape are men. It means the U.S. Department of so-called Defense is not only a global criminal enterprise, it’s the largest polluter in the world -- producing more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined. 

I could, unfortunately, go on and on and on… but let’s sum it up for the Bernie’s occupiers: “Our way of life” means unrelenting white supremacy, male supremacy, and class supremacy. Which means ecocide. Which means you can’t vote any of this away.

When the most recent “good cop” -- the Pope of Hope himself -- was first inaugurated in 2009, he openly announced to the world: “We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense.”

Reminder: Our way of life has us at the brink of social, economic, and environmental collapse. 

Supporting the next good cop doesn’t change any of this and doesn’t make you progressive. To support someone like Sanders is to support the Democrats which is to support the two-party lie which is to support an omnicidal system and all the carnage it creates.

If you plan to vote for yet another lesser (sic) evil in 2016, go ahead. Kid yourself. Feel superior. Engage in three-hour social media flame wars to defend your choice. Hold your nose and pull the damn lever. Whatever… 

Reminder: Vote or no vote, all that matters is what you’re doing the other 364.99 days. 
Are you making the big connections and naming the problem? How are you working to challenge deeply entrenched privilege and hierarchy to create new coalitions? Are you willing to do the work it’ll take to end male supremacy, white supremacy, and class supremacy? What are you doing -- each and every day -- to help bring down this global system of oppression and exploitation before there’s nothing left? How much time do you believe we have?

Reminder: If you think Bernie Sanders is the answer, you’re occupying the wrong questions.

Mickey Z. is the author of 13 books, most recently Occupy these Photos: NYC Activism Through a Radical Lens. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, you can “like” his Facebook page here and follow his blog here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.
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  1. These are all fair points, Mickey Z, and I appreciate you taking the time to spell it out. I agree with you on about 95% of your analysis, including the bankruptcy of the two-party system and the environmental-social destruction wrought by "our way of life," but what I don't quite follow is what your alternative is to electoral politics.

    "What are you doing -- each and every day -- to help bring down this global system of oppression and exploitation before there’s nothing left?" you ask. But has it ever occurred to you that there is no way of bringing down this system? I mean, it's been in place forever, so what makes you think it is ever going anywhere?

    And if there is a way to bring it down, what is it? I remember how many people put their hopes in Occupy, despite that movement's complete lack of strategic vision (failing to even issue any demands while it camped out in downtown parks), and all the while I knew, this was a flash in the pan, at best.

    "Building coalitions"? Okay, so we build some coalitions, what then? Do you really think that coalition-building is any match for true power? Do you even know what true power is? Let me tell you: true power lies in the halls of Congress, in the bowels of the State Department, on K Street and Wall Street, in the Oval Office.

    A bunch of crunchy hippies giving speeches in Zuccotti Park have no power whatsoever. People who have power are office-holders, members of Fortune 500 boards of directors, elected officials.

    None of this is to say that people should not organize and agitate -- they should. But it's not wise to discount the power of the presidency and pretend it doesn't matter who sits in the Oval Office. I have doubts whether Bernie Sanders can accede to that position given the nature of US electoral politics, and if he does make it whether he will be able to accomplish anything, but even a cynic like me can see how preferable that is to any of the other alternatives.

    If people want to put their energies into getting him elected, I say go for it. It's not like people are doing much else anyway.

  2. I applaud both the words of Mickey Z and the response by Nat. Truth is contained in both and I hope I can add a bit of such myself.

    To concentrate upon who occupies the White House is , in my opinion, to miss the real problems besetting our democratic institutions and thus our nation. The leadership of this nation has long since past from our elected officials and unto an oligarchical few who have used the power of money and influence to subvert our democratic processes to their own benefit and thus to the detriment of the vast majority of our citizenry.

    Does this mean that Bernie Sanders matters not? I think it does not. What it means, at least to me, is that the problem is complex and does not lend itself to simplistic one note solutions. Electing Sanders to the White House might engender a similar effect as did electing Barack Obama, much rhetoric and little else. It might see a battle royal commence between the Presidency and the Congress, if I have judged Senator Sanders correctly I would expect the latter.

    But what it will not do is resolve our myriad problems nor halt our slide into fascism, perhaps slow it a bit, perhaps not even that. Until and unless we the people understand the solution lies with us and not with any heroic figure we will continue to witness the US become as a third world nation, the jobs deserting us for cheap labor elsewhere, the money increasingly funneled to fewer and fewer, as well as a continual war for profit everywhere and in every form.

    In order to restore the power of the people we need to end the Citizens United distortion of democracy, we need to end the status of corporations as people and force these entities to pay their fair share as well. We desperately need sanity in the election process, a cost of over one billion dollars to compete for the Presidency is absurd and a tactic of control only. Ten million dollars to run for the Senate is a similar way of controlling our elected officials.

    Many nations, including our northern neighbor, have national elections taking weeks not years, costing a scant percentage of what we see spent here as well. In the interest of brevity ( aren't you glad) I will cease the list of other necessary remedies as I think all who read this know them well.

    \My point is that we must work, and work hard to restore a decent system to its original purpose, we must elect many more Bernie Sanders before we can truly make progress. More than the Koch Brothers, more than a corrupted Supreme Court, the illness that is killing our nation is a disaffected electorate removed from hope and to despairing to work for change.

  3. Liberalism is maintaining 'electoral college' not one-person rule of election(s) and therefore, democratically elected. OLIGARCHS maintain plutocracy and that means 'military-Hegemony' rules militarily. The least five el Presidente's have been anarchists, or Oligarchs--one and all. Not one has halted any but the U.S. Constitution, for 'defense' purposes, since we have no defense here at home, being the aggressions against Humanity are 'offense'.

    The world's worst polluter is radionuclides: no clean-ups, and never answering why "socialism should be an offense against tyranny". Bernis smirks of ISO, and has liberalism of fecundity in purpose, inordinately he has never mentioned how he would formulate a peoples' willing socialism of coalitioning four u-s Socialist parties. for parity and not Green party parody!

    The Greens have never stood-up for replanting the demised deaths of black spruce forests in Alaska, and firs-p-Pines, white pines and Englemanii spruce Reforestrations in CO-WY. Medicare for all, any who have had payroll deductions should have been approved in 1961, but is usefulpolitical-stance for 18 years and older voters who constantly get succored into automatic responses of one-arty disparate "lack of ruling toward defending from any-and-alladionuclides"!

    Tyranny remains leadership offensive...


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