Sunday, October 23, 2011

A little bit of Occupy for a Sunday morning

My 82 year old white haired friend told the story of her visit to the "Occupy" protest in suburban Walnut Creek:

I heard they were going to be there on Wednesday. It was hard to find a place to park, but then I saw that Bank of America offered free parking for two hours. When I took the elevator downstairs from their lot, I came right out in the middle of the protest!

I brought my own sign. It said "Bring back Glass-Steagall!" I talked with a lot of people. Pretty soon there were others with signs that said "Bring back Glass-Steagall!"

Next Wednesday we are going to the BART station. ...

Watch out Wall Street!
I wouldn't expect to look to the venerable establishment magazine Foreign Affairs for insight into the movement of the 99 percent. But this from Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri seems to me thought-provoking in a useful way:

If democracy -- that is, the democracy we have been given -- is staggering under the blows of the economic crisis and is powerless to assert the will and interests of the multitude, then is now perhaps the moment to consider that form of democracy obsolete?

If the forces of wealth and finance have come to dominate supposedly democratic constitutions, including the U.S. Constitution, is it not possible and even necessary today to propose and construct new constitutional figures that can open avenues to again take up the project of the pursuit of collective happiness? With such reasoning and such demands, which were already very alive in the Mediterranean and European encampments, the protests spreading from Wall Street across the United States pose the need for a new democratic constituent process.

There, the question is posed: how do we structure democratic institutions in this country that work for the 99 percent -- and how do we get from here to there?

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