Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where Occupy should go next

Mao Zedong was a major grade-A monster, but one thing he knew was guerrilla warfare. He *won*, in case you don't recall. So here's one of his dictums: "When guerrillas engage a stronger enemy, they withdraw when he advances; harass him when he stops; strike him when he is weary; pursue him when he withdraws."

In other words, when faced with a stronger enemy, *LEAVE*. Let the coppers stand around a deserted square wondering what to do. Then when the police go home -- which they will -- *show up somewhere else*, doing something unexpected. The point of the guerilla is to confuse and bewilder and exhaust the opponent by never presenting a fixed target for the opponent to concentrate upon, *not* to hold ground against an opponent armed with superior weapons -- and the 1% can afford to buy a *lot* of weapons (and the police forces to wield them), given that they own more assets than the bottom 90% *combined*. We have the Internet now. We have dark forums where flash crowds can be near-instantly marshaled to show up at random points. We can have the 1% exhausting their limited manpower resources scrambling frantically all over the place trying to suppress flash mobs and deal with instant protests outside of banks, political offices, and Wall Street establishments. The G is about *movement*, and in that respect Occupy's camps were the wrong idea entirely.

Okay, so that's tactics. The other thing Mao focused on was the strategic long view. What is the objective? Mao's objective was to overthrow the Nationalist government and install a Communist dictatorship with him as its head. But what are the objectives of the Occupy movement?

One thing I'll point out is that the American people are basically conservative. They aren't going to embrace a Communist revolution anytime soon. Note that I say "basically conservative" in the old sense of the word, not in the "rabid right wing radicals" sense of the word. True conservatives don't want wholesale change, what they want are changes around the edges to make the system work better. So what are some conservative goals?

  1. Prosecute the Wall Street fraudsters who caused the real estate bubble and collapse. They stole us blind -- their fraud of selling bundled liar loans as "AAA investment grade securities as safe as U.S. Treasuries" cost me 1/3rd of my retirement savings, for example. They need to be perp-walked and jailed and their ill-gotten gains removed.
  2. Tax the rich. If these frauds had been taxed at Eisenhower levels they wouldn't have perpetrated these frauds because it wouldn't have been worth their while, since the money they obtained via fraud would have mostly gone into the U.S. Treasury.
  3. Break up the too big to fail banks and restore banking competition. If they're too big to fail, they're too big to exist.
  4. Regulate. Regulate the banks. Banks should exist to be banks, and should be prohibited from gambling on Wall Street with their customers' funds. Regulate Wall Street. We need full market transparency (meaning, none of these weird derivatives that hide the core product beneath layers of obfuscation), we need to regulate credit rating agencies to eliminate their incentives to provide fraudulent ratings, and we need a zero tolerance for any misrepresentation, as well as transaction taxes to slow down trading and provide an incentive for long-term investment rather than the rigged casino game that is the current situation on Wall Street.
In short: Go back to the New Deal policies that led to this nation's period of greatest economic growth in the period 1945-1980. All this risky experimentation that the right wing keeps urging on us? Radical nonsense. Communism, anarchism, anarcho-socialism, or things of that notion? Radical nonsense. Americans are conservative, and the notion of going back to a Golden Age of finance and taxes rather than forward to some new untried system is one that would appeal to way more Americans than you'd think.

I don't think you'll find many of the bottom 99% who would argue with the above, other than perhaps the crazed Republican core, who repeat the 1%'s cant as if it were holy scripture because they worship the wealthy as their gods. But there's not much that can be done about religious zealots of that sort other than interfere with their ability to make new converts to their religion. But if you start with conservative goals -- jail the thieves, regulate, tax, break up the too-big-to-fail banks -- the zealots will look like exactly what they are: crazed zealots in thrall to their high priests of the 1%, to be ignored by all sensible people.

-- Badtux the Sensible Penguin


  1. You really need to add some "share" buttons for FB and Twitter. You write good stuff!

  2. I don't "do" Facebook because of their "Real Names" policy -- I'm not interested in making myself unemployable anytime soon by putting my opinions under my real name, the 1% certainly aren't going to hire me if they know I'm not their devoted servant -- and Twitter's Blogger tools are currently broken in most browsers (just tried it again, yep, still broken in Chrome). So you'll have to do the sharing by hand, sorry!

    - Badtux the Technology Penguin

  3. Tux, you have to stop sitting on the fence and decide.

    Which side are you on?

  4. Montag, I have kittehs and Jeeps that need caring for, 'kay? I'll let the youngsters do the fun part.

    - Badtux the Responsible Penguin

  5. I'll let the youngsters do the fun part.

    It's their future, let them fix it, but they'd make faster progress if they started using guns.

  6. Americans basically conservative? Right, there will be a revolution but it will be a fascist one,on the right. The Sinclair Lewis thing of the flag wrapped around a cross. Just wait.

  7. Goals? How bout a Fair Deal?

  8. Whiterose, that is my fear. When people are starving and dying of hunger and exposure in mass numbers, they will grasp for any hope they can. Let us hope it does not come to that.

    Batman, yes, that's a good wrap for the overall package, which would be all about giving back the bootstraps that the 1% have taken away so that everybody has a chance to get ahead if they are smart and work hard. The numbers right now say that the American Dream of "be smart and work hard and you'll do well in life" is dead -- your fate is determined by whether you're born a peasant or born a noble. That's not the America I was born in, that's feudalism. That has to be fixed, because otherwise the alternatives are a fascist dictatorship or utter Somalia status, such a thing as a "feudal democracy" cannot be made stable.

    - Badtux the Pragmatic Penguin

  9. Honestly, I can't imagine even the most conservative of people tolerating mass starvation and exposure if it takes any kind of concrete form. Sure it is one thing when the poor are so ghettoized that they are invisible but it is entirely different when it is people one actually knows who are doing the starving. Americans tend to be very concrete in their thinking.

    I also don't think people will tolerate a society where there is no mobility. Well, not unless they think that there still is mobility even when there really isn't. What scares me is that most people are easily fooled and will support policies that aren't in their best interests because Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or Glen Beck tell them that policies that inhibit class mobility actually do the opposite. In other words, they lie.

    FWIW, I think your ideas about returning to FDR style policies are spot on. There are also a lot of people who really are on board with such things. I just hope those people prevail when it comes to actual policies. What worries me is that in this era of "corporate personhood" and people who don't think and thus are heavily influenced by misleading political ads paid for by big business, that political sanity isn't likely.

  10. What worries me is that in this era of "corporate personhood" and people who don't think and thus are heavily influenced by misleading political ads paid for by big business, that political sanity isn't likely.

    Same worry here. Which means that the ultimate outcome is likely to be disaster :(.

    But you know how it goes. Expect the worst, hope for the best. What else can we do?

    - Badtux the Apocalyptic Penguin

  11. Wow. If only large, corporate media would publish articles like this one. *sigh*

    No wonder all I want to do is escape into silly fiction tv shows with no ads on Netflix.

  12. @Badtux What makes me hopeful is Detroit. Seriously. Mother F*cking Detroit! What has happened to Detroit could be what happens to the rest of our country. Detroit has a 50% illiteracy rate and probably not coincidentally a 50% unemployment rate (if you count discouraged workers). The government is near collapse. There is decay and crime and every other thing everyone fears.

    And you know what? It isn't that bad. People do step up. Although people do starve to death there or die of exposure, it isn't exactly common. We could all do better of course but what I am seeing in Detroit is a bunch of people making real policy changes that I suspect are going to result in a huge improvement.

    Not only that, the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" entrepreneurial spirit that everyone says is part of the American psyche is thriving there. I see it every day. I have a lot of friends who live there and the things they are doing are amazing. They are *farming* there (stick it up your butt big agribusiness!) Others are making things and then selling them and really actually making money in the process. People are starting all kinds of businesses. It turns out that for a lot of people, when they can't get a job, they make a god damn job and it is exciting in ways I can hardly describe. But mostly I see it as proof that the 1% isn't going to have an easy time with their feudalistic intentions.

    There was a nice article on Huffington Post about just this thing today so I am sure that is why I am feeling that if Detroit can come back, the USA can come back. Here is a link:

    Why Detroit? Why Now?

  13. Leilers, I post links hither on facebook fairly often. All my friends are cynics and malcontents, though, so it may not be getting our antipodean friend much new exposure.

  14. A European friend once said to me something like, "Four hundred years ago we sent North America all our moralizing religious zealots, and they're still thriving today." Indeed they are. Even nonreligious Republicans, and too many Democrats, are willing to preach at you about your human failings, and to attribute your status in life to those failings. Utter bullshit, all of it. Top-down control of the allegedly "market-based" economy assures that the "right" people always get the goodies, and everyone else fends for him/herself.

    Batman's "Fair Deal," which I've also heard from other people, should be the demand of any American who understands what's going on, whether or not they occupy #Occupy. We aren't getting that Fair Deal, for reasons that don't bear close examination.

    If the 1 percent continue to turn a deaf ear to reasonable demands for fairness, they can look to the French revolution for where that leads, typically fairly quickly by human standards.

    Just remember: if you're going to Eat the Rich, be sure to clean and cook them thoroughly first...

  15. Excellent advice for OWS, both for tactics and for goals. Let''s hope they take it.

  16. Beautifully stated bad-tux, thank you.


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