If the WTO protesters were right, why didn’t they win?

Yesterday, The Atlantic published an article that declared “Seattle’s 1999 Protesters Were Right.” Author Noah Smith correctly explained that they were mocked and maligned. He writes “the Seattle protests came to seem as not only silly, but also misguided.”

But Smith explains that nonetheless history has shown the WTO protesters were “mostly right.” “Almost everything the Seattle protesters have warned us about has come to pass, much of it a direct result of the WTO’s actions in 2000,” he writes.

So what are the reasons we didn’t succeed and they did?

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Some facts about John Pike, UC-Davis Students and Justice in the US

Some facts about John Pike, the notorious UC-Davis cop who pepper-sprayed passive student protestors.

  1. “A public task force, led by former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso … found that Pike did not need to use the pepper spray, used a spray not sanctioned for use by the department and used it at too close a range.”
  2. Pike was fired for this.
  3. “before he was ultimately fired, Pike was on paid leave for 8 months… he received an additional $81,120″
  4. He “reportedly suffered depression and anxiety” and for that he “will receive workers’ compensation totaling $38,059.”
  5. He will receive his pension, even though he was fired.

Some facts about the students he assaulted:

  1. They received just over $6,500, compared with Pike’s nearly $120,000.
  2. Their tuition partially subsidized Pike’s payout and pension.

Some facts about justice in the United States.

  1. This is exactly what it looks like.
  2. Period.
Quotes and more information: http://www.forstudentpower.org/blog/2013/10/23/make-38k-using-one-weird-trick-pepper-spray-students
Make $38k Using this One Weird Trick: Pepper Spray Students


Update (7:57 pm, October 23): Thanks to Michael Truscello for pointing out the substantial salary of Pike, at $121,680 per year, and making a comparison to professor pay. To explore this in some depth:

  • In the U.S., there are about 800,000 cops, and they are paid a median salary of over $55k.
  • Cops have a modal education level of a high-school diploma.
  • Cops in California have a mean annual salary of $84,320. In San Francisco, it is over $96k per year.
  • By comparison, professors may have twice as many years in school and earn a median salary of $81k in the US.
  • The average full professor in the US makes less than Pike did, at $113k.
  • According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, assistant professors at UC-Davis make $81,300. UC-Davis assistant professors average $90,600, and full professors on average make $129,400.
  • On average, it takes about 7 years to advance to full professor.

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Occupy Movement: You have issues

Blockade of the Port of OaklandTake a look at your local Occupy movement. Consider their press releases, statements, declarations, demands, policies, principles and so on. Also look at the events covered in press and quotes from participants.

Take note of the issues and conceptualizations of them. Also, consider the social locations where these issues are most relevant. Continue reading

Members of Occupy Albany Radical Caucus Arrested

On Friday, 26 members of Occupy Albany were arrested, and another 13 on Saturday. Eight of those arrested were members of the Radical Caucus.

The following “Statement by the Members of Occupy Albany’s Radical Caucus Arrested Saturday and Sunday Evenings in Lafayette Park” was released today:

On Saturday evening 26 people were arrested and on Sunday evening 13 were arrested for remaining in Lafayette Park past a curfew. This curfew did not exist until days before the first General Assembly in Lafayette Park.  Among each night’s arrestees were 8 members of the Occupy Albany Radical Caucus.  While we took part in this action, we would like to make it known we are not of the view that occupying public spaces and appealing to the Bill of Rights is sufficient action for the creation of a just society. No government can grant us rights; they can merely take away our autonomy. This was demonstrated last night when we were arrested.

The privatization of public space and resources must be thoughtfully and effectively resisted. We feel it is essential to defend against this offensive by the 1% and their lapdogs such as Andrew Cuomo.  But we also recognize that it will be necessary to challenge the property rights system which forms the legal basis for many of the material injustices done upon the 99%.  Eviction of persons from their homes by banks and landlords, the idling and off-shoring of our productive capacity, falling wages for those who remain employed, and the elimination of an already miserly social safety net are all methods by which the wealth of our nation is being consolidated to the richest 1%. This extraction can only be ended by moving beyond a system which affirms the property rights of owners to act with profit driven self-interest and towards a system that holds people accountable for the shared costs they impose on society.

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Stage One: Occupy Public Space. What Next?

Stage One: Occupy Public Space.

Occupy Together, an outgrowth of Occupy Wall Street, has seen tens of thousands of people in cities all over the world reclaiming public spaces.

Stage Two: Occupy Unused Property.

Occupy Oakland, perhaps the most radical — and perhaps most effective — of the occupations has moved on to the logical “next stage,” and movements everywhere should take note.

This is not without precedent in this movement and those that inspired it. Last week in Madrid, a hotel was occupied and opened up to people evicted in foreclosures:

The abandoned Hotel Madrid, which was taken over by an unknown number of squatters on October 16 after a mass rally in the capital organized by the 15-M movement, opened its doors on Monday to the first person to take up the group’s stated strategy of “freeing up spaces for common use.”


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NYPD: “Militarized to its bones”

In an interesting piece by Tom Engelhart [1], he writes about “the second occupation” going on in New York City right now. By this, he is referring to the police protection of the New York Stock Exchange and its immediate vicinity, which they’ve had locked down since before the marchers arrived on September 17.

He wrote about a recent trip to Wall Street where he saw “the streets around the Stock Exchange barricaded and blocked off to traffic, and police everywhere in every form (in and out of uniform) — on foot, on scooters, on motorcycles, in squad cars with lights flashing, on horses, in paddy wagons or minivans, you name it.” Continue reading

“How can you occupy an abstraction?”

McKenzie Wark, author of the new book on the Situationists titled The Beach Beneath the Street, said of Occupy Wall Street:

How can you occupy an abstraction? Perhaps only with another abstraction. Occupy Wall Street took over a more or less public park nestled in the downtown landscape of tower blocks, not too far from the old World Trade Center site, and set up camp. It is an occupation which, almost uniquely, does not have demands. It has at its core a suggestion: what if people came together and found a way to structure a conversation which might come up with a better way to run the world? Could they do any worse than the way it is run by the combined efforts of Wall Street as rentier class and Wall Street as computerized vectors trading intangible assets?


These are important questions. Certainly the people are capable of self-governance, particularly as they gain more practice and experience at it. I think the success will be largely determined first by the degree of success the movement achieves in keeping the politics diverse, disallowing figureheads from shaping the politics through charismatic and institutionalized authority, and avoiding explicitly reformist tendencies. As soon as the economic and political institutions are broadly affirmed, the movement will begin to close its most liberatory options. The goals for the short run should be diversity of politics, diversity of tactics, and maintaining the revolutionary impulse. Continue reading

“The Whole World Is Watching”: Protest Videos as Techno-Fix

“People don’t want to get involved. They’d rather watch on TV,” said Troy Simmons, 47, who joined demonstrators as he left work. [1]

“The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching! The whole world is watching!”

The crowd resounds, chanting condemnation in unison to an army of police abusing Occupy Wall Street protesters.They are, of course, referring to a contingent of protesters and media armed with still and video cameras, who appear to outnumber those protesters without.

Let’s consider this chant, and what’s being said. Continue reading

Occupy Albany’s First Critical Mistake: On the question of nonviolence

I offer the following commentary in full solidarity and critical unity with Occupy Albany.

Early in the General Assembly meeting on Sunday, October 9, 2011, a woman took the floor and proposed that Occupy Albany take the position that “this is a non-violent movement.” I attempted to block this proposal. In arguing for the block, I mistakenly only addressed point #4 below, whereas the first two points are probably more important at this point and time.

There are five primary problems with this proposal: Continue reading