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And, yes, I DO take it personally: Robert Jensen on Occupy: We demand that you stop demanding a list of demands
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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Robert Jensen on Occupy: We demand that you stop demanding a list of demands

robert jensen takes the systemic view which is precisely my own bias... we have a huge systemic problem, not only in the united states but across the world... systemic problems are not amenable to incremental fixes...
The demand for demands is an attempt to shoehorn the Occupy gatherings into conventional politics, to force the energy of these gatherings into a form that people in power recognize, so that they can roll out strategies to divert, co-opt, buy off, or - if those tactics fail - squash any challenge to business as usual.

Rather than listing demands, we critics of concentrated wealth and power in the United States can dig in and deepen our analysis of the systems that produce that unjust distribution of wealth and power. This is a time for action, but there also is a need for analysis. Rallying around a common concern about economic injustice is a beginning; understanding the structures and institutions of illegitimate authority is the next step. We need to recognize that the crises we face are not the result simply of greedy corporate executives or corrupt politicians, but rather of failed systems. The problem is not the specific people who control most of the wealth of the country, or those in government who serve them, but the systems that create those roles. If we could get rid of the current gang of thieves and thugs, but leave the systems in place, we will find that the new boss is going to be the same as the old boss.


The economic system underlying empire building today has a name: capitalism. Or, more precisely, a predatory corporate capitalism that is inconsistent with basic human values. This description sounds odd in the United States, where so many assume that capitalism is not simply the best among competing economic systems, but the only sane and rational way to organize an economy in the contemporary world. Although the financial crisis that began in 2008 has scared many people, it has not always led to questioning the nature of the system.

That means the first task is to define capitalism: that economic system in which (1) property, including capital assets, is owned and controlled by private persons; (2) most people must rent their labor power for money wages to survive; and (3) the prices of most goods and services are allocated by markets.


The theory behind contemporary capitalism explains that because we are greedy, self-interested animals, a viable economic system must reward greedy, self-interested behavior.


Why is it that we must accept an economic system that undermines the most decent aspects of our nature and strengthens the cruelest? Because, we're told, that's just the way people are.


The people who run this world are eager to contain the Occupy energy not because they believe the critics of concentrated wealth and power are wrong, but because somewhere deep down in their souls (or what is left of a soul), the powerful know we are right. People in power are insulated by wealth and privilege, but they can see the systems falling apart.


The Occupy gatherings do not yet constitute a coherent movement with demands, but they are wellsprings of reasonable illusions. Rejecting the political babble around us in election campaigns and on mass media, these gatherings are an experiment in a different kind of public dialogue about our common life, one that can reject the forces of terror deployed by concentrated wealth and power.

With that understanding, the central task is to keep the experiment going, to remember the latent power in people who do not accept the legitimacy of a system.

i extracted the parts of the article that most closely resonated with me... imho, jensen is way too pessimistic and dark in his view of the near-term future... however, his systemic view is, again imho, the right view... the only way we're going to work our way out of this mess is by approaching things systemically... as jensen says...
If we could get rid of the current gang of thieves and thugs, but leave the systems in place, we will find that the new boss is going to be the same as the old boss.

yep, yep and yep...

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