Sunday, November 27, 2011

Occupy Wall Street, a tale of the .1 percent

Unlike in Canada, where the Occupy movement has aroused nothing more than mild annoyance or weary tolerance, in the United States, Occupy Wall Street has a lot of support. Many Americans see the movement as a manifesation of their outrage over the country's deep economic troubles.

However, while many Americans identify with the anger of the Occupiers, their claim to represent the 99% who aren't rich is ludicrous. A mix of anarchists, Marxists, anti-imperialists and Israel-haters - the Occupiers themselves represent the deeply delusional point one percent.

In the New Yorker, Mattathias Schwartz has written an excellent piece on the leaders of the Occupy Movement and in particular that noted Canadian purveyor of antisemitisem Kalle Lasn...

The Origins and Futue of Occupy Wall Street

Kalle Lasn spends most nights shuffling clippings into a binder of plastic sleeves, each of which represents one page of an issue of Adbusters, a bimonthly magazine that he founded and edits. It is a tactile process, like making a collage, and occasionally Lasn will run a page with his own looped cursive scrawl on it. From this absorbing work, Lasn acquired the habit of avoiding the news after dark. So it was not until the morning of Tuesday, November 15th, that he learned that hundreds of police officers had massed in lower Manhattan at 1 A.M. and cleared the camp at Zuccotti Park. If anyone could claim responsibility for the Zuccotti situation, it was Lasn: Adbusters had come up with the idea of an encampment, the date the initial occupation would start, and the name of the protest—Occupy Wall Street. Now the epicenter of the movement had been raided. Lasn began thinking of reasons that this might be a good thing.

Lasn is sixty-nine years old and lives with his wife on a five-acre farm outside Vancouver. He has thinning white hair and the small eyes of a bulldog. In a lilting voice, he speaks of “a dark age coming for humanity” and of “killing capitalism,” alternating gusts of passion with gentle laughter. He has learned not to let premonitions of apocalypse spoil his good mood.

The magazine, which he founded twenty-two years ago, depicts the developed world as a nightmare of environmental collapse and spiritual hollowness, driven to the brink of destruction by its consumer appetites. Adbusters’ images—a breastfeeding baby tattooed with corporate logos; a smiling Barack Obama with a clown’s ball on his nose—are combined with equally provocative texts and turned into a paginated montage. Adbusters is not the only radical magazine calling for the end of life as we know it, but it is by far the best-looking.

Lasn was interrupted by a phone call about the Zuccotti eviction while in bed, reading Julian Barnes’s “The Sense of an Ending.” He rose and checked his e-mail. There was a message from Micah White, Adbusters’ senior editor and Lasn’s closest collaborator.

“Eerie timing!” White wrote. Earlier that night, Adbusters had sent out its most recent “tactical briefing”—a mass e-mail to ninety thousand friends of the magazine—proposing that the nation’s Occupy protesters throw a party in mid-December, declare victory, and withdraw from their encampments. A few hours later, officers from the New York Police Department began handing out notices stating that the park had become dangerous and unsanitary, and ordering the protesters to leave, so that it could be cleaned. Those who refused to go were arrested, and whatever they left behind was carried off by the Department of Sanitation, to a depot on West Fifty-seventh Street. After a long night of angry marches and meetings, the protesters were allowed back into Zuccotti, with newly enforced prohibitions on tents and on lying down. The protest continued, but the fifty-nine days of rude, anarchic freedom on a patch of granite in lower Manhattan were over.

White reached Lasn by telephone shortly before nine. Lasn was in the bathtub, and White told him details that he had learned online about the eviction. The police had established a strict media cordon, blocking access from nearby streets. “It was a military-style operation,” he said. These words made Lasn think of the bloody uprising in Syria. He quickly decided that the apparent end of Zuccotti was not a tragedy but the latest in a series of crisis-driven opportunities, what he calls “revolutionary moments,” akin to the slapping of a Tunisian fruit vender. “I just can’t believe how stupid Bloomberg can be!” he said to me later that day. “This means escalation. A raising of the stakes. It’s one step closer to, you know, a revolution.” ... more

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