“Defying all cynicism, the passion on the streets keeps burning … Now a new tactical model is emerging: the strategic pincer —> We attack the global financial system from above with big bang protests, uprisings and revolts —> concurrently we attack the global financial system from below with hundreds of daily move-your-money actions at the 35,000 branches of megabanks worldwide. We beat the shit out of global capitalism — metaphorically speaking of course — and then we escalate towards a series of global solutions…”
PLAY JAZZ – Adbusters is looking for fired-up, postcool, revolutionary-minded cultural creatives!
If you’re a writer who's overcome despair, found a new path, put your ass on the line or witnessed something profound then send it to us for processing. Adbusters is on newsstands throughout the English speaking world — a Spanish edition is coming soon — and we catalyze global shifts! We also encourage zeitgeist miners who have come across a killer meme, know philosophy’s next turn or are deeply tuned into the intimate side of the global movement to send us deep links, scans from books or snapshots from their streets. We pay writers by the word and give miners a finder’s fee if they were the first to send us a piece that we publish… So shoot us stories, photographs, poems, campaign and activist news on a number of fronts:
Stories that get to the heart of our crisis, propose radical unheard of directions and make connections between the self and the wild – True-cost pricing – Climate Anxiety Disorder – Rewilding – Trash Aesthetic
Hot bursts from the stewing mental environment – Cultural health – Ecology of mind – Cognitive illusions – Mental breakdown of Nations – Ad Spoofs
How to put some sand in the wheels of finance – Redefining Progress – Bionomics – Islamic banking – Indie capitalism - Bitcoin - KILLCAP
How to challenge, overthrow, detourne, remake - #OCCUPYMAINSTREET – Badiou, Žižek, Critchley - Spiritual Insurrection - Regime Change
From the well-trodden streets to the foothills of the unknown – Meme Wars – Battle for the soul of the left - How to stop whining & live!
Birth of a new aesthetic – The clothing, the music, the packaging, the homes, the money, the feel of a radical tomorrow.
By 2015 Canada will have endured almost a decade of Stephen Harper’s Conservative rule. While the majority of Canadians consider theirs to be a green loving, environmentalist, peace-keeping nation, their Conservative government has been shrewdly unraveling these basic threads of Canadian identity.
One would think that assaults on the national character would draw the anger of the people, but strangely the opposite has happened. As the three main leftist parties compete with each other for votes, the right is rallying behind a unified single party. Now the Conservatives have more power than ever: by winning only 40% of the popular vote during the last election, they still beat out their fractured rivals. If this game continues, they’ll have enough support under the current distorted electoral process to govern for years to come.
Only the young spirit of Occupy has the power to heave the Canadian political landscape onto a new trajectory. Consensus … Inclusion … Horizontalism … a fiercely green nation fighting the intrusion of Big Oil, with a heartfelt peacekeeping role to play among nations … a surge of this kind of energy into Canadian politics could ignite a mighty turnaround back to Canada’s spiritual roots. Imagine if hundreds of thousands of young Canadians were to pledge that as soon as the leading opposition parties – the New Democrats, the Liberals, the Greens – merge into a single new hybrid blue/green pirate party then they will rally all the intensity and ingenuity of their generation behind it …
The political will is there. A February 2012 survey by Leadnow.ca, an independent Canadian pro-democracy organization, found overwhelming support for coordination among opposition parties to oust Conservative incumbents and pass electoral reform. Eighty-five percent of respondents said they would join a new hybrid new political party that rallied behind this plan.
Can we shift Canada’s destiny back into gear? The recent student uprising in Quebec leads the way … let’s create a wave of revulsion against Harper’s right-wing arrogance … and then stir up some merger mania among the Greens, Liberals and NDPers.
At this historical moment when capitalism is in crisis and youthful revolts are breaking out everywhere, all sorts of weird and wonderful things are possible …
The streets of the world’s capital cities are war zones of hopelessness, but as people gather together, this despair transforms into a fierce determination, underlain by great expectations, like in 1848, when the only European-wide collapse of the status quo occurred in the Revolutions of 1848 also popularly known at the time as: The Spring of Nations. Similar to that challenge of authority over 150 years ago, as of today, an epic battle, an undeclared war, rages around the world, erupting every week in one capital city after another, challenging the legitimacy and credibility of capitalism. For example, July 9th, 2012, Qatif, Saudi Arabia, one of the country’s largest-ever demonstrations left two dead and 12 injured when security forces confronted street protestors after the shooting of Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a prominent anti-government activist and Shia cleric.
The Revolutions of 1848 ultimately involved 50 countries throughout Europe and Latin America. At the time, there was no coordination among dissenters, but widespread dissatisfaction with political leadership was infectious across borders and beyond ethnic differences. Citizens of the world wanted more participation in how their lives were determined, i.e., democracy. Tens of thousands lost their lives in a futile effort, a bloody affaire that ended as abruptly as it began, within one year, forever memorialized by the words of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (French philosopher and economic theorist, 1809-1865), “We have been beaten and humiliated… scattered, imprisoned, disarmed and gagged. The fate of European democracy has slipped from our hands.”
Dissatisfaction with political leadership (and, by inference, the capitalist state) today is more ubiquitous than in 1848 because instantaneous communication knows no barriers. Furthermore, what is known is this: Capitalism has failed as an economic system for society at large. By disproportionately favoring an elite minority who have gamed their own system, thus, sealing their own fate, capitalism has become as pejorative a term today as aristocrat was in 1848. And, because history has demonstrated, time and again, that no socio-economic system is static, this brings to the forefront questions about the likely life cycle for modern-day capitalism. Is it an economic system that has outlived its usefulness? And, if so, then, where are the various impulses of dissent headed, pointed in what direction, if not capitalism? These are questions that would otherwise be deemed inappropriate, if not for the current state of world affaires, but the answers are yet to be formulated.
This grandiose worldwide dissatisfaction with the status quo is not business as usual like a normal business cycle, which ends with renewal of prosperity. No, by all appearances, this is a deep-seated disintegration of economic relationships, which have existed in a delicate balance of competing interests for 200 years.
Every war has a catalyst, and the capitalists themselves have brought on this one by depriving the bourgeoisie and proletariat a fair share of the bounty on a worldwide basis in places like the United States, Indonesia, South Korea, Chile and throughout Europe. Now that capitalism is universal, the population of the world sees its effects in unison rather than individually by nation-state, but the problem is not capitalism per se. The problem is abuse of the capitalist system by capitalists. What is the evidence of this abuse?
The evidence is tens and hundreds of thousands of people in the streets chanting, sloganeering, “End the Oligarchy” in NYC, “Democracy Not Corporatization” in Paris “Fraude Pobreza” or “Fraud and Poverty” in Madrid, “Hands Off Our Pensions” in Athens, tens of thousands demonstrating in front of Indonesia’s presidential palace in Jakarta demanding a decent living wage, tens of thousands of students in Santiago protesting the profiteering in the state educational system, hundreds of Malaysian lawyers staging street protests opposed to governmental plans to ban street rallies, and uppermost in the consciousness of this worldwide sloganeering is a profound repugnance of corporate greed, or crony capitalism, and a deep-seated hostility towards the chicanery behind Wall Street/banking practices as well as the ‘perceived’ embezzlement of valuable nation-state resources by the wealthy elite via political influence and subterfuge within taxation policies that favor only the rich. We know this is true because the sloganeering and the placards held up high within the masses of tens of thousands of people tell this story for the whole world to see.
The elites of capitalism have only themselves to blame for igniting the flames of dissent… for bringing on the “perfect storm” of protests from Montreal-to-Beijing-to-Mumbai-to-Moscow-to-Paris-to-Santiago-to-NYC.
Seeing the truth of capitalism became much easier with the Granddaddy of All Financial Ineptitude and Corruption, the biggest-ever corporate heist, resulting in the 2007-08 worldwide financial meltdown, connecting huge dots for all to see, glaringly exposing the whole enchilada, other than the mystery of why nobody has gone to jail (Google: Coup of the Elites or The Elite Coup is Complete, June 26-27, 2012.) Arguably, this monumental debacle has served as the catalyst for capitalism’s boundless war. At the end of the day, this brutal take down of the entire world economy may be the demise of capitalism because it is breaking down the financial/economic system like never before. Otherwise, the final arbiters of financial order and stability, the world’s Central Bankers, would not be scrambling month-after-month, injecting trillions into banking liquidity, buying sovereign debt, propping up this monstrous on-going disaster, like the Lernaean Hydra of Greek mythology, as soon as one head is lopped off, another two appears, as one country is poisoned by insolvency followed by another. And, it is the average taxpayer who supports, and pays for, the errors and malfeasance of the elite who profited so handsomely on the backs of innocent citizenry from Sydney westward to Fairbanks.
The Great Heist of 2007-08 is the culmination of corporate hubris, previewed a decade earlier, when Enron, a company with significant ties to George Bush’s political career and few tangible assets, learned how to ‘cook the books’ because of political liberalization (and contacts in the right places). The deregulation gospel allowed companies to operate in countries previously forbidden thus adding to the complexity of their operations, and they were able to use financial derivatives to manage risk and to obscure corrupted financial results. This is a continuing problem to this day. For example, JPMorgan Chase recently reported loses of $2 billion, but oops… no wait a minute, maybe it’s $30 billion. Even the bankers are not sure of their true gains or losses with the complexity of modern-day financial instruments. Isn’t it obvious that incalculable financial manias should not be part of commercial banking, the reservoirs of public savings? Unfortunately, these are only a portion of the games elites play with the public’s money. What is the hapless public to think when a former governor and a former U.S. Senator, a figure of public trust, like Jon Corzine of MF Global testifies before Congress, Dec. 2011, he does not know where the hundreds of millions of customer’s money in MF Global disappeared to… huh… he was the CEO?
One after another, whenever or wherever an opening occurs to ‘game the system’ the elite have jumped at the opportunity, including paid-for political influence to skew tax laws in favor of the rich at the expense of average taxpayers who shoulder the burden of a national debt that is overly inflated because of fancy tax laws the allow leading figureheads in society, like Mitt Romney, to pay a tax of only 15%, a lower rate than paid by his garbage collector.
It is always the average person, the average taxpayer who shoulders the burden whenever corporate malfeasance surfaces to trash national economies, as in Europe today where public employee and general worker benefits have been crucified by austerity measures (dictated by the IMF, World Bank, and EU) to heal battered national treasuries as if an epidemic of old, like the Black Death, swept across the countryside, ravaging lives. It is no wonder people of all stripes, like doctors, lawyers, truck drivers, and teachers take to the streets. They are being sacrificed on an altar of corporate malfeasance and corruption whilst accumulation of wealth is seen as an exclusive club reserved for only those who are already rich, similar to Louis XVI’s reign in 18th century France.
The world is getting a taste of history, of what it was like in the late 18th century, a few years before the French Revolution burst lose, beheading one aristocrat after another, as quickly as they could gather them up, simply because they were rich… but there were obviously deeper meanings behind this slaughter. For example, France’s national treasury was empty as a result of empire building and foreign wars, and this was aggravated by nasty disagreement over reform of the taxation system, which was grossly inequitable, leading to paralysis, and an agrarian crisis with food shortages, an ambitious bourgeoisie allied with aggrieved peasants and wage-earners influenced by enlightenment ideals, and years of pent-up resentment of a dying seigniorial system.
In the end, it was the people in the streets of Paris that served as the spark that led to outright rebellion and death at the hand of dreadful black-hooded executioners in the public square, the Place de la Révolution. The guillotine was most active during the “Reign of Terror”, in the summer of 1794, when, in a single month, more than 1,300 people (over 40 daily) were executed.
The lesson of history, which bewilderingly continues to repeat itself, is: The people in the streets ultimately determine the fate of incorrigible governments that are embedded with unscrupulous sources of financial power. These scenarios never end on a sanguine note but often times end in a sanguinary manner.
Robert Hunziker earned an MA in economic history at DePaul University. He lives in Los Angeles.
One of the most inspiring recent actions against banks was pulled off by a group of students and faculty at the University of California, at Davis (UC Davis). Every day for two months, they sat in front of the entrance of a U.S. Bank branch in their student union. Last February the bank closed its doors and left the UC Davis campus for good. But, in a gesture intended to send a chill down the spine of student activists, a dozen of them — dubbed the ‘Davis Dozen’ — are now being criminally charged and face potential sentences of up to 11 years in jail and $1-million in fines. Will this scare students enough to stop an escalation of bank occupations on campus? Or will the systemic corruption recently revealed at the heart of global banking spur students everywhere on?
Samara Steele sends this dispatch from Davis:
The courtroom was filled to capacity last Friday, as the Davis Dozen and their legal team filed a motion to allow the court access to personnel records of university police officers involved with the case, under the premise of police misconduct.
The Davis Dozen are students and faculty of the University of California, at Davis (UC Davis), who have been charged with obstructing a corporate bank branch on their campus.
U.S. Bank opened a branch in the UC Davis student union last fall. As part of the bank’s aggressive marketing strategy, students were issued new ID cards that doubled as debit cards.
Many blame the banks for their role in the nationwide increase in university tuition and fees.
“The only way the fee hikes are possible is because of predatory loans,” one student explained. “Basically, the university is selling its students to banks.”
In the last 4 years, UC Davis students have seen their tuition rates almost double, while tuition has gone up 15% at public universities nationwide. The average American university student now leaves college with over $25,000 in student debt.
Private lenders have capitalized on the tuition hikes. U.S. Bank, for example, offers private student loans with interest rates as high as 10.95%.
In a statement made by the Davis Dozen on their website:
“Today, total student loan debt stands at over a trillion dollars—a sum larger than the total mortgage debt, larger than the total credit card debt. Unless we can stop it, this debt is our future. Our wages will belong to the bank until the day we die.”
On February 28th of this year, following protests by students and faculty, the U.S. Bank branch closed its doors and left the UC Davis campus.
The bank blamed has blamed its closure on the protests, and has threatened to sue the University for failing to discipline students and educators who resisted the bank’s presence.
In March, at the university’s request, the Yolo County District Attorney charged twelve students and educators with 21 counts of misdemeanor, including conspiracy charges. They face up to 11 years in prison and $1 million in fines.
Many of the twelve defendants were pepper-sprayed by University Police while protesting tuition hikes in November, in an act of police brutality that garnished international attention.
According to records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, most of the police officers involved with the charges against the Davis Dozen were on duty during the pepper spray incident.
The university police in Davis have gained a reputation for brutality against students.
In 2004, Timothy Nelson, a former student of UC Davis, was permanently injured after being shot in the eye with a pepperball by a university police officer.
Pepperballs are essentially paintballs filled with pepper spray, a military-grade chemical weapon outlawed during the 1977 Geneva Convention.
On Friday, the Davis Dozen and their legal team filed a Pitchess Motion, which alleges that the officers in the case used excessive force or lied about events surrounding the defendants’ arrest. This will give the court access to the officers’ records, allowing the defense to confirm that these officers previously engaged in excessive force against defendants.
Among the Davis Dozen is acclaimed poet Joshua Clover, who teaches English at UC Davis. Clover is a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, and his first book of poetry, Madonna anno domini, received the Walt Whitman award from the Academy of American Poets.
The Davis Dozens’ pro bono legal team includes Tony Serra, the civil rights lawyer who famously defended Black Panther leader Huey P. Newton. Serra, who has taken on a number of high-profile political cases, has also taken on a vow of poverty. He is known for living a frugal lifestyle and buying all of his clothes secondhand. He was the subject of the 1989 film True Believer.
The next Davis Dozen court date has been set for August 24th, 2012.
“I am very satisfied, I think we have taken a very decisive step” says Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy announcing Spain’s €100 billion bailout
I’m puzzled. Our government is celebrating that it has received a “line of credit” (not a rescue) of €100 billion Euros, and our Prime Minister welcomes it as “a global plan to breathe life back into the Spanish economy”. Meanwhile, in Asturias, to the north, a miner’s strike is developing into intifada-style guerrilla warfare, and the International Monetary Fund is ‘suggesting’ that the government raise taxes. Luis de Guindos, our smart, Lehman Brothers-educated Minister of Economy, stutters when he mentions the ‘volatility’ of the situation, and even with our financial sector bailed out, Moody’s still downgrades our banks.
We should be raising our glasses of sangria to the fact that we’ve sold our soul to the devil, but we hardly have the strength – we are, after all, one of the ‘sick men of Europe’ – or one of the ‘PIGS’, as the Financial Times affectionately used to call us.
Every time I try to discuss what is happening with my father, he tells me to shut up and not to talk about complicated things I do not understand… maybe I should write a letter to nice Mr Moody, asking for some clemency and explanations, since after all, we are only obeying his masters.
But what puzzles me even more, is to see how the government and the main opposition party (the PSOE – which was in power until 2011) both agree that the only solution for Spain is ‘more Europe’ – that is, less national sovereignty and more integration with Brussels.
Strangely it’s not even Brussels telling us what to do, but Berlin. Every time President Rajoy goes to meet Angela Merkel, he looks like a schoolboy being called to the principal’s office. It’s sad when a nation seems to have lost control of its own destiny, but personally I do not blame the Germans; we Spaniards were all very happy and thoroughly enjoyed all the flashy infrastructure that’s been built since the 1990s with European Union funds.
This crisis should not have come as a surprise. In 2005 the Spanish economy was booming – the flights from Madrid to New York were packed with Spaniards going shopping in the Big Apple. That same year a BP executive in London pointed out something I never forgot: “The situation in Spain scares me,” he said. “I see construction taking place everywhere, but I do not see a productive structure capable of sustaining that growth…” Two years later in 2007 our previous president, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, proudly stated that his government had managed to classify Spain amongst the “Champions League” of world economies.
But something is changing in Spain; people are pissed off and they are organizing themselves. For example, in Catalonia the movement “No vull pagar” (“I do not want to pay”) has managed to convince more than 25,000 Catalan drivers not to pay the excessive amount of tolls that flood Catalan highways. Albertis, the company that operates the concession, has calculated that the economic cost of this civil disobedience campaign exceeds €180,000 Euros.
In 2011 there were more than 58 000 foreclosures throughout the country. But a social movement, the “Plataforma Stop Desahucios” (“Stop Foreclosures”) has managed to stop countless foreclosures nationwide, giving some hope to families who not only are left in the street, but are unemployed and are still obliged to pay mortgage debt to the banks. Even though the value of those houses has decreased more than 12%, unlike their debts…
Back in 2010, Rodrigo Rato – former Economic Minister and once Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund – merged a few debt-ridden banks to create the cataclysm that today is Bankia, Spain’s fourth largest financial institution. Back then Rato never would’ve imagined that two years later, members of the 15-M movement would, in only a few hours, collect the €20 000 Euros necessary to bring a people’s lawsuit accusing him of falsifying the balance sheets. Back then, Rato never would’ve imagined that two years later, despite the flashy advertisements and PR campaigns, the government has had to nationalize Bankia, and pour €23 billion Euros into it. Soon, if we are lucky, he won’t even have to imagine himself standing in front of a judge, looking like an embarrassed child caught with his hands in the cookie jar.
Despite all this chaos, confusion and anger, and more than 20% unemployment of over 5 million people, bars are full when Spain plays in the European Cup, Big Brother still has an audience, people are planning their summer holidays, the streets are full of beautiful señoritas, and life goes on.
But this time, something tells me that this is just not another crisis. 22% of Spanish families live under the poverty line; every night there is an army of dispossessed waiting to pick up the food discarded by supermarkets; the immigrants that arrived in the 1990’s are abandoning ship; and in the streets of Norway it’s easy to find Spanish builders sleeping in the streets begging for something to eat.
Yes my friends, we are, in the words of the great Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, fucked. And we know it – but this time, we won’t go down without a fight. The question is, against whom? Ourselves? Evil German technocrats in black suits? Our incompetent politicians? McDonald’s? Which makes me wonder, how is it possible to fight against the civilization that engulfs us, without destroying ourselves in the process?
There is definitely something in the air; I just hope that it is the sweet smell of renaissance, not the bitter taste of bloody revolution.
— from Sergio Casesmeiro in Madrid, originally published by the Occupied Times