Remember when New York cops pepper sprayed peaceful protesters during the Obama administration?
Imagine if that happened today under Trump?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Occupy Wall Street. A common criticism of it at the time (2011) was that the protesters didn’t have clear demands.
And that criticism might be appropriate. Or maybe it missed the point?
One thing OWS did do was popularise the idea of the 1% and 99%.
Which, of course, Bernie Sanders used to made his surprising rise as a credible voice in American federal politics, nearly upsetting the entire DNC applecart, causing major rifts inside the organisation, as they had to resort to rigging the primaries to shut him down.
Kalle and his team released this poster with the infamous hashtag #occupywallstreet.
Now Sanders didn’t win the DNC primary, let alone the White House – but what he did achieve was the partial rehabilitation of the word “socialist” in American politics. And here we are a few years later, where “Four in 10 Americans prefer socialism to capitalism” according to an Axios poll.
What do I take away from all this?
A poster and a hashtag can have consequences well beyond a protest.
I’ve been saying it for 20 years. If you want political influence in a democracy, you need to control the media. That’s why I started TPN. That’s why Murdoch is king. Don’t blame the voters. They get their opinions from the media. Don’t blame the politicians. They were chosen by the media to do a particular job. It’s the media. If we want change, we need to control the media. We need to invest in independent media. Not the ABC. Truly independent media. That’s why you don’t want advertising to find your podcasts. That’s why you don’t want VC firms to invest in New Media. That’s why you don’t want Facebook to be the new publishing platform. Those things just subvert the opportunity to wrest control of the future from the rich white psychopaths.
What can you do? You can make the media. Make podcasts. Write blog posts. Write books. Make documentaries. Make comics.
“The very efficacy of opinion manipulation rests on the fact that we do not know we are being manipulated. The most insidious forms of oppression are those that so insinuate themselves into our communication universe and the recesses of our minds that we do not even realize they are acting upon us. The most powerful ideologies are not those that prevail against all challengers but those that are never challenged because in their ubiquity they appear as nothing more than the unadorned truth.”
Chris Hedges, a much respected journalist, wrote this speech which he intended to deliver at a conference on Toronto recently but his plane was delayed due to weather. It’s worth reading in full, but here’s a taste:
The elites and their liberal apologists dismiss the rebel as impractical. They brand the rebel’s outsider stance as counterproductive. They condemn the rebel for being inflexible, unwilling to compromise. These elites call for calm and patience. They use the hypocritical language of spirituality, compromise, tolerance, generosity and compassion to argue that the only alternative is to accept and work with systems of despotic power. The rebel, however, is beholden to a moral commitment that makes this impossible. The rebel refuses to be bought off with government and foundation grants, invitations to parliament, television appearances, book contracts, academic appointments or empty rhetoric. The rebel is not concerned with self-promotion or public opinion. The rebel knows that, as Augustine wrote, hope has two beautiful daughters, anger and courage — anger at the way things are and the courage to see that they do not remain the way they are. The rebel is aware that virtue is not rewarded. The act of rebellion defines is its own virtue.