My friend Tamara just sent me a link to a book I would like to read about a guy who lived for a whole year without spending any money. Of course, I’m still reading the last book she recommended Debt: the First 5000 Years by David Graeber. I first came across author Graeber five years ago when I saw him interviewed by Charlie Rose after he helped to organize protests of the IMF and World Bank. The IMF and World Bank loan money at interest to poor countries so they can buy stuff from rich countries. It’s often stuff they don’t need like big dams that displace people from their family homes and destroy the environment. About half way through the interview Graeber gave Mr. Rose a clear definition of direct action. ‘A village doesn’t have a well, you dig one and dare them to stop you.’
The people (the 99%) camping on Wall Street are engaging in civil disobedience, which is not the same as direct action. Protests, when they become really big like this one, are great propaganda tools. They are designed to draw attention to a cause. In this case, it’s fairly simple. 1% of the population controls most of the wealth in the country, and the 99% who do most of the work split what’s left. This is not a new thing. This country was founded on these same principles. George Washington and Tom Jefferson were landed elites who convinced people to fight off their bosses (King George) so they could become bosses. Notice people will only stand up when things become really desperate. That was true in 1776 as it is today. In this case the unbridled greed of corporations backed by the government (Graeber might say they are 2 sides of the same coin) caused a financial collapse that has forced someone you know to lose his job, her house etc. It’s almost funny because it’s what we have been doing to the rest of the world for the past 100 years, treating them like serfs or peons for our leisure.
Cops beating people up at occupy wall street
Videos of police beating people with clubs can be ignored because the police are doing their job right? And the corporations were simply following the first law of capitalism (maximize profits) when they sent your job offshore (to a country where unions are repressed with absolute violence.) You cannot end police brutality unless you think of a way to end the need for police. You cannot end corporate greed unless you think of a way to provide goods and services without them. Although, it’s a good start, redistributing wealth by taxing the rich, will not affect the changes people desperately need. The 1% will still be the 1% after all. One thing, I’m trying to do is educate myself about the way money works. My friend Tamara Johnson has been doing the same thing. For me, at least, a true friend is a person who recommends books that become your favorite. I have a long history of reading books that Tamara has recommended such as Debt: the First 5000 Years and The Many-headed Hydra by Peter Linebaugh, which we loved because we learned so much from it. It goes into a lot of detail about how corporations and governments have worked together since before the founding of the country. Graeber tries to trace the history of debt and money back to the origins of civil society, so it was refreshing to get his perspective on the Occupation of Wall Street in New York