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"How Wall Street Occupied America"

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
08 November 2011, 12:35 PM
Bill Moyers finds roots in an environmental memo from 1971
Bill Moyers

“Wall Street owns the country…. Money rules…. Our laws are the output of a system which clothes rascals in robes and honesty in rags. The [political] parties lie to us and the political speakers mislead us.” So sayeth the pupulist firebrand Mary Elizabeth Lease in 1890. "She should see us now," comments Bill Moyers in a ringing speech reprinted inThe Nation.

What caught my interest particularly in this typically brilliant Moyers peroration was that he can put a date on when the more recent takeover of government by Big Money began (Aug. 23, 1971) and what triggered the revolution. According to this analysis, our troubles began on that date with the circulation of a secret memo by Lewis Powell, a board member of Philip Morris and a big wheel in the national Chamber of Commerce.

Powell railed against recently enacted environmental statutes—the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and others—saying they would destroy the American free enterprise system. If Powell's name is familiar, it's because later that year he was nominated and confirmed as a justice of the Supreme Court. His memo was still secret and didn't become public until after his confirmation. One wonders if Wikileaks had been in business what might have happened instead.

Powell urged the Chamber to mount a major counterattack against these new regulations and the Chamber responded vigorously, tripling its membership quickly and bringing renewed pressure on legislators and agencies in Washington, rewriting many of the rules to their own benefit. Moyers is particularly scornful of the recent Supreme Court decision known as Citizens United, which effectively took all limits off the corporate financing of election campaigns.

There's much more to gnaw on in this piece; I recommend it.

Well said Alan, I couldn't agree with you more. There are no Red Coats to fight, however there are blue pin striped business suits. And how do youfight them? When they are the ones holding your mortgage, controlling the media, corrupting and controlling the government, owning the military, and making laws. I hate to say it but you can't. Maybe I am a pessimist, I never thought I was, but I truly cannot see how fundamental changes can be introduced and executed, when you are fighting evil and corruption that has all the power.

My true passion is vintage Band Posters

Bill Moyers, like all of us, is rightly supportive of the Occupy movement, and he tries to show it in best light when he says, "it’s clear they are occupying Wall Street because Wall Street has occupied the country."

In territories of the global Empire like; Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria etc. merely 'occupying' a central geographical spot by the people entails deadly danger, and by itself shows the will to revolt "Against Empire" [Parenti], in that peripheral territory of the same global Empire which calls America its nominal HQ.

Perhaps, inspired by youth in these imperial territories, the Occupy movement in our former 'country' believes that merely occupying space, holding ground, in cities throughout the country formerly know as the U.S. is sufficient to begin an entirely necessary revolution, but several other requirements pertain in the heart of the Empire to initiate a successful revolution.

First, of course, the message, the simple but compelling 'narrative', of the revolution must be cogently articulated when we are attacking the heart of Empire; the “Heart of Darkness” as Conrad would say.

As one committed to the Occupy movement and its success, I would be tempted to have my next protest sign read, “Occupy What?”. While this may seem dismissive, the question must be at least rhetorically raised to progress to a full understanding and articulation of what the Occupy movement could be, should be, and needs to be, if it is to succeed where the anti-war and counter-culture revolution of the 60's failed.

The answer of course is “Occupy Empire”. Occupying college administration buildings, draft boards, military bases, shipyards, banks, cities – including Washington and New York -- and even Wall Street is merely an inchoate action unless the occupation names the oppressive force that already both occupies and 'controls' all these functions of our society.

While the Occupy movement is rightly and tactically concerned that the Empire's media would dissemble any answer to their incessant question of, “What is Occupy's primary demand, goal, agenda?”, the simple and compellingly honest answer “Occupy Empire” covers and explains all of the the oppressive 'symptom problems', but also presents the Empire's media forces with the revolutionary counter-charge that this is no legitimate government, economic system, judicial system, military, finance, social, educational, or media structures of a normal democratic country, but the controls, oppressions, and actions of an Empire --- like the British Empire which once controlled American colonists political, economic, social, legal lives, and the military monopoly of violence to enforce such ubiquitous powers of Empire.

The American colonists would make no progress addressing problems and oppressions on a one-by-one basis or prioritizing grievances of un-fair taxes, monopoly tea pricing, lack of political representation, etc., but only by confronting the whole of the integrated British EMPIRE, which was the proximate causal cancer creating all these 'symptom problems'. The 99% of the American colonists knew that the central, seminal cause was Empire, and literally 'called it out” as an Empire. There was no question of what they needed to confront.

Lastly, in our former country, in America, in what has now been fully captured and operates as the disguised, Two-Party 'Vichy' “Heart of Empire”, merely 'Occupying Empire' is necessary, but not sufficient, to expunge and excise this sophisticated and camouflaged global Empire. Unfortunately the global Empire sitting in plain sight in the burning kitchen of our democracy does not wear Red Coats, but guilefully disguises itself.

Today's post-nation-state global corporate/financial/militarist Empire nominally centered in our former country must not only be 'occupied' by the people, but must be; exposed, “call-out”, openly discussed and understood, then confronted non-violently, and ultimately excised from our renewed body politic in order to re-form a more perfect union of self-government of, by, and for all the people.

Liberty, democracy, justice, and equality

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

Right arm. Go gettem. String 'em from the nearest yardarm.

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