SYNDICATED COLUMN: Revolution Versus Reform

The Rift Within Occupy

Editors and readers expect pundits to weigh in on the brutal eviction of Occupy Wall Street from New York’s Zuccotti Park. People will ask: Does this mean the beginning of the end for the Occupy movement?

No.

Now that we’ve dispensed with that, let’s discuss a major rift within the movement: Reformists versus revolutionaries.

Revolutionaries want to overthrow the government. They want to get rid of existing economic, political and social relations and create new ones. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are enemies.

Reformists want radical changes too. For example, Occupiers want to eliminate the corrupting influence of corporate money on politics. Unlike revolutionaries, however, they are OK with the basic structure of the system: the Constitution, Congress, 50 states, capitalism, and so on. They are willing to work with establishment liberals (MoveOn.org, Amy Goodman, The Nation, Mother Jones, etc.) and the Democratic Party.

You can see the reform-vs.-revolution split whenever Occupiers discuss actions and demands.

Reformists say: Let’s move our accounts from banks to credit unions. Encourage Black Friday shoppers to buy from locally-owned businesses. Demand that Congress pass a constitutional amendment abolishing corporate personhood. Restore the Glass-Steagall Act.

Those tactics leave revolutionaries cold. They don’t want to nibble around the edges of a system they despise. If revolutionaries get their way, there won’t be a Congress. Members of the House and Senate will go to jail. No one will need to boycott banks or choose which merchants are least malevolent.

Capitalism won’t exist.

Revolution frightens the reformists. They worry about chaos, violence and dislocation. They’re right to be concerned. Bad as things are now, these might look like the good old days after buildings begin burning.

Revolutionaries point to the history of previous reform movements. Sure, progressives win victories during times of social unrest: concessions to labor during the early 1900s, the New Deal of the 1930s, the civil rights, antiwar and social movements of the 1960s.

But they don’t stick.

As soon as the crowds of demonstrators go home—since the 1980s, right-wingers roll back the results of those hard-won battles while liberals stand aside. Democrats like Clinton and Obama even roll back welfare, worker rights, environmental regulations and privacy rights. If you want radical change to last, revolutionaries argue, you have to change everything when you have the chance.

Right now, we have the chance.

2012 is shaping up to be our Year of Revolution.

Reformers see the system as broken and in need of repair. For revolutionaries, whether or not the system can be fixed is beside the point. The system itself is the problem. Revolutionaries don’t believe that corporations, unfairness, inequality and violent monstrosities such as the U.S. invasion of Iraq have corrupted an otherwise laudable system. They think the system is inherently unfair, corrupt and violent; that unfairness, corruption and violence are the system.

If you have owned a car, you have considered revolution versus reform.

Motorists whose cars break down from time to time must weigh the same two questions as Occupiers are facing with the political system:

Is it reformable?

Is it redeemable?

For your car the question is: Is it reformable, i.e. worth fixing? Need a new fan belt? Sure. Need a new engine? It might be cheaper (or not cost much more) to buy another car.

The existential question—is it redeemable?—goes to the question of whether it was a crappy car in the first place. In other words, should it be fixed? No matter how much work you put into it, a Hummer is still a gas guzzler. Trade it in. Better yet, set it on fire.

I think the U.S. is both unreformable and irredeemable. Many members of Occupy agree with me. But at least as many seem to believe there are aspects of this dying country worth saving.

Occupation ideology centers around two loci: economic unfairness and corporate influence.

Economic injustice manifests itself in numerous forms. Occupiers focus on income inequality. The richest one percent collect 90 percent of national income, the most on record in the U.S. and one of the highest disparities between rich and poor in the First World.

We think of ourselves as living in a prosperous country—but few Americans get to live the good life. We like to think the U.S. has a vast middle class. If that was true in the past, it isn’t now. New Census data “places 100 million people—one in three Americans—either in poverty or in the fretful zone just above it,” said a shocking report in the November 18th New York Times.

This is the culmination of a 40-year-old trend. The rich have gotten richer at our expense. The tipping point was reached when the federal government did absolutely nothing to help distressed homeowners. Instead, Bush and Obama doled out hundreds of billions of dollars to the same banks that were pushing fraudulent mortgages, illegally refusing to refinance, and forging fake legal documents to foreclose and evict people who lost their jobs because executives wanted to pay themselves huge raises.

As the Occupy chant goes: “Banks got bailed out; we got sold out!”

I can imagine reform coming out of the existing Democratic-Republican duopoly.

It’s not going to happen. But I can imagine it. Theoretically.

As happened in the 1930s and 1960s, enough political and business leaders might become scared enough of the increasingly angry and desperate American citizenry to force through some good things. Perhaps they could be persuaded to concede a moratorium on foreclosures, bigger no-time-limit unemployment benefits, a real healthcare plan, maybe a little income redistribution through the tax code.

The odds of meaningful change coming out of this system are so long that only a psycho would bet on it. The traditional rift among the ruling classes between liberals (be nice to the poor or they’ll kill us) and conservatives (kill the poor) has skewed too far to the right. Reform is impossible.

Beyond that, I can’t see how reform could last. After they won, the Occupiers would go home. With the pressure turned off, corporate media would renew their systematic campaign of pro-business propaganda coupled with vapid entertainment designed to lull us back into a Prozac-induced waking slumber.

Sooner rather than later, the corporate chieftains and their pet Republicans and phony Democrats would get back into power. They’d roll back the reforms.

At a recent OWS rally protesters carried signs that read: “I will never be able to buy a house.” “I will never get out of debt.” “I will never get a job in this economy.” Does anyone seriously think that this system—these Democrats—these Republicans—this media—will fix these problems?

Amending the Constitution won’t do the trick. Electing better officials isn’t enough.

Yes, the system is broken. But that’s not the main point. The system is irredeemable.

Nothing short of revolution will do.

(Ted Rall is the author of “The Anti-American Manifesto.” His website is tedrall.com.)

COPYRIGHT 2011 TED RALL

This entry was posted in Blog, Columns on by .

About Ted Rall

Ted Rall is the political cartoonist at ANewDomain.net, editor-in-chief of SkewedNews.net, a graphic novelist and author of many books of art and prose, and an occasional war correspondent. He is the author of the biography "Trump," to be published in July 2016.

34 thoughts on “SYNDICATED COLUMN: Revolution Versus Reform

  1. The war, economic crisis, and other issues are not the problem, the system is not the problem… HUMANS are the problem. We are not hardwired for fairness, equality, freedom, or any of those other pretty words we love to use. We ARE wild animals trying to make humans behave in a predictable and docile manner toward the goal of equality makes about as much sense as it does to try to teach wolves to live in peace with the antelope, and that they should all vote on what berries to eat as opposed to having an alpha. Humans are the problem, humans cannot create a fair system, because humans do not truly grasp the idea of fair, fair is when I am comfortable, fair is when the people I know are comfortable, fair is when people I don’t care for lose. Fair is almost never, ever, dividing resources equally, or coming to a reasonable consensus, fair, is when you are happy, and humans cannot et past that road block.

  2. Ted, your arguments about what the world would look like without the French Revolution is at best simplified, slow moving progress is still progress. It is likely that the ideas of “freedom” and “equality” such as they are, had spread significantly by that point, even many in the noble ranks were willing to admit that “fuck, maybe this us being gods, and them being slaves thing is kind of harsh.” It is reasonable to argue that within a generation or two the Monarch would have made significant changes. The bitch of it though, is true change is incredibly slow, even in revolutions, our generations, those currently living are unlikely to see the fruits of those changes. Revolution is by its nature overrated yet underrated. If you want to kill a specific individual, Revolution is the way to go, if you want to change the way things are done, it requires more work than violence and rape. It requires ultimately, when the fighting is done, diplomacy, compromise, and a true commitment to change by those i power, because yes, certain people will still have power over other people. To sort of put a wrap on my absurdly long comment, There are some historians that believe the French Revolution occurred precisely because some nobles wanted it to, they were ready for change.

  3. Sorry it took so long for me to jump back on the Internet. Hope you all had a happy thanksgiving with friends and family as well.

    Back to topic: @Ted: ok guess I gotta wait for the book. Hope it comes out while change is still in the air! I have trouble imagining a city on the hill bright enough to draw me into revolution but I never say never.

    On my way to my parents house I had the following exchange with a TSA agent:

    TSA: You can’t have this much toothpaste Sir.

    Me: what if I squeeze some of the toothpaste out so there’s only 3 oz left in the container.

    TSA: Won’t work. Go check your bag or go lock the toothpaste in your car and come back through the line.

    Me: oh. Makes sense. Well not this time. You can have all the toothpaste.

    Later I considered submitted a petition on obama’s online petition website asking why three 3 oz toothpaste tubes in a 1 quart container are ok but one 9 oz tube is dangerous. I haven’t done it yet because I’m scared they might add me to the no fly list and flying is important to me.

    Still might submit that petition though because I believe reform is possible. The people at the top just have to realize that the rest of us aren’t that dumb and if they start treating us like humans we’ll all be better off including them. Democracy is the answer. Just get the money out of politics and I think we’ll be fine

  4. Whimsical,

    Tell you what. If you’re right, I owe you a Coke!

    The Senate elections are for 33 seats. The Senate composition is 53 to 47 in favor of the Democrats. Going through the current predictions (and I realize how much of a risk that is), none of the Republican seats are more precarious than a “toss up” status, and that’s only two (Nevada and Massachusetts). The Dems have about 10 states that are in a “toss up” status. The Republicans could get a majority in the Senate (and by God, they’d know how to use it).

    The House elections are for all the seats. The Democrats need to gain 25 seats for a majority. But 16 Democrats are retiring (the incumbent usually has a much greater likelihood of reelection) compared to 7 Republicans, so that’s an added drain. I think that overall disgust with the do-nothing, know-nothing Congress will damage both parties, but I think the Dems will bear the brunt of it because the Reps aren’t sending contradictory messages. Insane messages, yes. But contradictory? Only if you analyze them, and who among the electorate has time for that? Although large swings occur in these elections (I think a 52 seat change happened during Clinton), I think a 20+ seat swing in favor of the Democrats would be surprising, especially in this climate.

    The Preznit. Yes, Obama got a pile of crap handed to him by Bush. But Obama has turned out to be just as obscenely, criminally indifferent as Bush ever was. The troops out of Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011? That was the date Bush set toward the end of his presidency, so all Obama did was nothing. Gitmo? Still open, which, right there, is a deal breaker. Either charge these people in open court with the slam dunk evidence or let them go. But we all know why they’re rotting in there. 1. We have to show we’re “tough” on terrorism. 2. We can’t admit that we took the word of paid informants as the only justification for shoving these guys into cages. 3. After all this time, if we let any of them go, they most assuredly will turn around and try something. I can think of no better way to make a terrorist than sticking an innocent man into Gitmo for most of a decade and then just letting him go. And Bradley Manning? After something like 18 months he’s going to finally get his trial. Does that sound “speedy” to you? Does anyone think it’s going to be fair? Really? Look up Obama’s comments on Manning’s treatment. I hope you’ve got a strong stomach.

    Obama is just as reptilian as Bush every was. Obama got elected on a wave of optimism and hope, backed by a lot of energy and support from young people. The young people are awake this time. Most of them, sitting at home with no job prospects and student loan “reminder” notices piling up, see what Obama has done (and what he has not done) and are pretty disgusted. I doubt they will be turning out in droves. But the Republicans will. They always do.

  5. alex_the_tired

    Sorry buddy, no way in hell the Republicans walk away with everything in ’12.

    Out of the House, Senate and WH, they’ll be EXTREMELY lucky to get one, and two is just barely within the realm of possibility.

    All three? Just aint gonna happen. Not even if Ted gets everything on his wish list.

  6. It’s a lot like we’re all being paid to help build a giant prison, and when we finish it, we’re going to be marched in and locked up. And we all know it.

    But we all keep punching the clock, mortaring the bricks, welding the bars, and hoping the foremen don’t fire us.

    Personally, I think it’s too late AND too early. It’s too early for the revolution because, my God, you can still buy a waffle iron for $2. And it’s too late because people are actually so desperate to save a couple bucks on a piece-of-shit waffle iron that they’ll behave like animals to get hold of one.

    When the Great Lockdown occurs, I think a lot of people are going to be surprised that they, too, are on the wrong side of the bars.

    I think Summer 2013 is when it will really become terrifying. The Republicans won’t want things to become TOO bad before the elections, just in case people suddenly figure out that they’re being screwed.

    After the Democrats — those ineffective, spineless asshats — are out and the Republicans have the White House, Senate and House, we’ll see the beginning of the end. There won’t be any reason to wait or go slow.

  7. You leave out one of the things we consider when we view whether or not to replace our car: the odds of success, and the likely consequences of failure: “What are the odds that I’m going to be able to get an affordable new car? In this economy, not very good. What are the consequences of not getting a new car? Loss of my job, no income, homelessness. Hmm, fixing up the old car seems more and more possible every minute; especially since I’m willing to bet, the damage isn’t anywhere near as bad as the guy pushing the new car want’s me to believe.”

    So there isn’t going to be a revolution, and here’s why: you’ll never get the majority of the Occupy movement to accept violence, and those of us who understand that reform is possible (you’re just bad at it) will stand against you, because the status quo is 100X better then the likely outcome of your failed revolution, and third- I, and many others, simply don’t believe you’re willing to fight. As I said to ntm- I’ve had a ton of members of “the left” tell me they aren’t willing to dirty their hands with what they refer to as “muck” and “slime”, and I’m supposed to believe their willing to cover their hands with blood? Fat chance.

    Plus of course, your current pitch boils down to: “Yeah, we’ll probably fail. And yeah, when we fail, life is going to suck for you, your kids, your kids kids, your kids kids kids, and your kids kids kids kids. But in the (super) long run, things will be awesome.” Perfect. Don’t change a word- I’m sure it will bring everyone flocking to your side.

    “Reform is impossible”.

    Says who? And on what evidence? The failure of the left to secure reform only proves that the left is bad at it, not that it’s impossible.

    “Does anyone seriously think that this system—these Democrats—these Republicans—this media—will fix these problems?”

    These Democrats, and these Republicans, no. But if the left would pull it’s head out of its ass and its nose out of the air, we wouldn’t be stuck with these Democrats and these Republicans.

    “Amending the Constitution won’t do the trick. Electing better officials isn’t enough.”

    How would you know? The left’s been unwilling to do what’s necessary to elect better officials for 30 years. And now you’re advocating throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Thanks, but no thanks.

    “Yes, the system is broken. But that’s not the main point. The system is irredeemable.”

    Again, who says? The system is entirely reedamble- you’re just terrible at redemption. Time for you to step aside and let those of us with a real strategy take a crack at it.

    “Nothing short of revolution will do.”

    Nothing close to revolution will happen, and thank God for that.

  8. “blood-sucking absentee landlord”

    Presuming a lot there grouchy.

    The property is about a mile from my house. I fix things promptly. My tenants are on their third year there and I haven’t raised the rent in that time. I didn’t set out to be a landlord… but after months of trying to sell it, renting it out looked to be a better option than defaulting or paying a mortgage on an empty house.

    So maybe you think ALL landlords are bloodsuckers? Perhaps you think I should let someone live there for free while I keep paying 20% of my take-home on the mortgage… not to mention expenses like re-shingling the roof this year?

    “at the expense of the less fortunate”

    Again… keeping a house in good repair, renting it at a fair rate (more than my mortgage but less than the total upkeep)… I’m taking advantage how?

  9. Said Ted:
    Careful, @Cowsteroids: I don’t appreciate namecalling.

    Said Grouchy:
    You’re a blood-sucking absentee landlord

    Does this count as name calling, or is it just when you disagree with the guy calling names?

  10. @exkiodexian: That is my point exactly. I wasn’t suggesting those were the best ways to deal with those issues (I pulled those from the top of my head.) The point was simply that the issues could be dealt with and addressed they just required a little bit of thought first.

  11. Anonymous posted Pepper Spray Cop’s personal information on YouTube. Google has since removed it, but they posted his home address, phone number, the works. This is a good start. Let them know you mean business. You want to fight? No problem. We’ll see how Pepper Spray Cop likes it when he’s held down and force fed mace until he fucking chokes.

  12. “‘I will never be able to buy a house.’

    I thought this when I was in my early twenties.

    Now I live in my wife’s house, rent out my house, and own a half interest under joint survivorship in a house I put my ex up in.

    Can’t get behind your revolution for two reasons…”

    Of course, you’re not getting behind it. The system has given you just enough to buy you off (at the expense of the less fortunate).

    You’re a blood-sucking absentee landlord. You’re part of the problem.

  13. Revolution is not the answer. Also, weren’t you the idiot saying the stop the war protest in Washington would have more success than OWS? How well did that one work out? There’s a better chance at fixing the problems in this country with reform and peace than there is with violence and anarchy. Nothing to see here folks, just a left wing lunatic writing to the rest of the nuts in the asylum.

  14. @someone: Wow, that’s a very complicated and elaborate scheme to deal with the propaganda problem. That will take, what …… twenty years to implement? Good luck with that. Give us a call in twenty years so the revolution can begin in earnest.

    I was thinking of much more direct means to deal with the propaganda problem if revolution happens. For instance, executing the propagandists. Publicly. Brutally. Make it clear that the lies and propaganda stop now.

    Again, if you want revolution you must be prepared for ugliness. Of course, there’s zero chance of any of this happening. I just read a piece on Salon about how “Pepper Spray Cop” has been reduced to shame by ……….. wait for it …………. humor! That’s right! OWS is punishing a cop that brutally assaulted completely peaceful protesters by ………… wait for it again ………….. making fun of him!!

    This is exactly why OWS is a joke. They’re actually being militantly peaceful. They’ve made statements about how violence will not upend their peaceful movement. My reaction? Puke, barf, and vomit. The right response to the Pepper Spray Cop is to saw his fucking head off on national TV. They bring a knife, you bring a gun! THAT is the revolutionary’s way! (Sorry Sean Connery).

    OWS has no balls whatsover. Every single day I read more and more that just makes me realize that not only do I not believe OWS has any value whatsoever, I’m starting to be against them. They have shown me nothing other than whiny bullshit and embarrassingly excessive pacifism, all while they beg for a handout in the form of debt relief. Fuck them. Fuck OWS.

    What’s next OWS? When a cop finally kills one of you, you strike back with satire? Ooooohhhhhhh! Revolutionaries!!!

  15. Ted, you are asking people to fight without telling them what they are fighting for. Ok, you say our system is irredeemable. So what system of government do you propose to replace it with. I, and most of the people in this country will never join a revolution unless we know what we are fighting for.

    Also I think you guys are wrong that reforms ineviatably roll back. Look at England. They went from a feudalism to a democracy without ever experiencing a revolution. This revolution stuff in for the continental type countries with neighbors to fuel internal division. Countries like England, Japan, and yes, the US which is effectively an island, are able to reform themselves without a lot of bloodshed and provide better lives for themselves.

  16. @exkiodexian and @Russel: Yes those are all valid issues of why a revolution would be hard to achieve in the US, but none of those preclude it from occurring. The savvy and serious revolutionary would just have to account for them in their plans. It really isn’t so hard to be clever about these. For example:

    “the right wing crazies have all the guns” yes, but as you said they are also crazy, and are honestly looking for revolution too. They are a powder keg ready to go. The savvy and serious revolution will find a way to provoke these individuals to violence against the government first (they are begging for an excuse anyway) and after they have all been killed off, taking a chunk, however small, of the establishment with them, the real revolution can begin.

    “They won’t be able to resist the propaganda.” Well then obviously step one is to fight the propaganda machine before the brick throwing elsewhere starts. This doesn’t even need violence to be achieved (although that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t or can’t also use violence here). Simply start by installing a few moles willing to act like David Brock into the propaganda machine at some low and insignificant level. This is easy to do as the propaganda machine is now so bloated and in such high demand to keep the masses in line that it hires pretty readily, openly, and with few background checks among any and all willing to sell their soul to sophism in support of the status quo. The moles just need to start peeing in the propaganda stream. A subtle insignificant little push that takes the general mudslinging and delicate twisting of reality just a hair into the slander and defamation categoris. Then you unleash the lawyers and asphyxiate these institutions under a landslide of legal suits. If played correctly the defamation and slander suits may actually generate revenue in support of the revolution as well.

    These are, of course, just off the top of my head, so they likely have problems and clearly need the details worked out of them. Never the less, the point remains: while what you both have pointed out are serious obstacles, they simply need to be dealt with in an intelligent fashion and are not necessarily reasons that revolution cannot work in the US.

  17. Ted: I don’t really disagree with anything you have written here and I am all for revolution, but I don’t really think it is the panacea you make it out to be, nor is it, in any sort of big picture, much different from reform. As you mention everything done via reform gets rolled back eventually anyway. I would argue anything achieved by revolutions also gets rolled back eventually anyway as well, it just takes longer mostly because there is more to roll back. As such in any big picture view of civilization and struggle of the masses taken over sufficiently large stretches of time the reformers and revolutionaries start to look the same in terms of how they work and what they achieve. The only major difference between the two becomes the reformers want to make smaller more regular payments (say once every couple of decades) to maintain (pseudo) decent society, while the revolutionaries want to make larger less regular payments (say once every couple of centuries) for the same thing. By this scheme one may argue that the reformers are actually the wiser investors as they know exactly what they are trying to get (and it is relatively gettable more or less as they envision it) but for the revolutionaries this is not so. As you yourself have said in the Anti American Manifesto (paraphrased), revolutions are a roll of the dice, and you can’t really plan on what you are going to get from them before hand; things may even be worse afterwards.

  18. You do not have the right to protest…. You sold that right away a long time ago to make uncomfortable and ugly things go away. We didn’t like the protesters in Seattle, whom were lumped in with violent anarchist, so when Seattle clamped down on protesters there American’s cheered, When unpopular. We ban political discourse under the guise of racism, sexism, hate based on religious belief ect… We bartered away our rights to get rid of those ugly scenes, with people who disgust us saying disgusting thing, however, in the process you also made it illegal for yourself to protest. American’s have lost virtually every right they ever had through the process of allowing the Government to take it from someone they didn’t like.

  19. I don’t get it. If we end up taking the “revolution” path then what do we do once the death and dying is over? To hear you say it, constitutions aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, so instead we do … what? Are we simply going to total anarchy? Say what you will of the present system, but wouldn’t anarchy be (much) worse?

    I’m a reformist. Staying with the system can be painfully slow but, as Churchill said, democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others that have been tried.

  20. “I will never be able to buy a house.”

    I thought this when I was in my early twenties.

    Now I live in my wife’s house, rent out my house, and own a half interest under joint survivorship in a house I put my ex up in.

    Can’t get behind your revolution for two reasons:

    1) the right wing crazies have all the guns
    2) “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” is not the best deal I can get for myself even in this economy

  21. “If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with. No more appeasement.” ~ Governor Ronald Reagan, in response to heightened student protests in the late 1960’s

    That, folks, starkly summarizes the position of the elite, elected and unelected both.

    I have made my personal position on this board clear; I am in favor of blowing up the system as a whole, of standing up to the elites and saying “Up against the wall, motherfuckers!” and MEANING it, not just chanting it as a slogan.

    But the more I think about it, the more I am convinced that such an occurrence is impossible.

    Why?

    Because the Will to Power ALWAYS trumps the Will to Meaning.

    Or, using names and mathematical symbols, Nietzsche > Frankl every goddamned time.

    Reagan’s quote above encapsulates the Will to Power. The Will to Power is

    1. ravenous
    2. externalized
    3. coordinated
    4. ruthless

    The Will to Meaning, contrastingly, is

    1. self-abnegating
    2. internalized
    3. uncoordinated
    4. deferential

    Whatever spiritual core OWS has is represented in the notion of the General Assembly, a deliberately anti-hierarchical framework in which all voices are given equal weight, and nothing happens unless by consensus. Hence, any impulses to power are sublimated in the direction of giving each participant a sense of meaning. This gives everyone the “warm fuzzies”, but in the end accomplishes nothing substantive.

    Power wins every time. EVERY time.

    No revolution is successful unless it successfully incorporates and effectively utilizes the Will to Power.

    In the meanwhile, as I suggested in an earlier thread (debating with Whimsical), the combination of internal revolution and external retreat appears as viable an option as any.

    • @ntm: No doubt, the pure democracy ideal under which OWS operates GAs cannot possibly close the deal, i.e., achieve the overthrow of the US gangster state. But that’s OK. This movement is only two months old. Two months! We are still at the initial stages of organizing. We don’t have sufficient numbers yet.

      Because we don’t have big numbers, we cannot make specific demands—they would alienate some people.
      Because we don’t have big numbers, we cannot use violence—we would lose and alienate too many people.
      Because we don’t have big numbers yet, we much encourage everyone to participate even though it slows down decision-making. Everyone must have their voice heard.

      Eventually, things will change. We will have the numbers. Leadership will be necessary.

  22. P.S. My compliments to Ted Rall for stating what many of us know to be true, but which few other bloggers have had the courage to say. I don’t think it would work, Ted, but my hat’s (not head’s) off to you!

  23. I agree that a revolution would be necessary, because amending the Constitution would not work: the corporate rulers would not allow it, undermine it or turn it to their own purposes (as they have the present Constitution). Constitutions by themselves do not work, in any case. The USSR had a constitution with many find guarantees, but they did not work.

    Still, I do not support revolution in the US for many reasons: revolutions, historically, have not resulted in democratic reforms – except on paper – as the “Rights of Man” of the French Revolution. Democracy comes when a tyrant brings it into being because he wishes to use the “demos” to control the opposing plutocracy – as in the case of Athenian democracy. It also arises when a wealthy bourgeoisie want to free itself of a king who can impose taxes and trade restrictions, as in the case of the American revolution. I cannot think of any successful revolution that came from below, from the grass roots or the demos. What often results is a military dictatorship. Maybe, just maybe, a country like Tunisia might result in a democracy as a result of its Arab “spring” uprising. We shall have to see. If so, it could be a historical first.

    Other possibilities are in Latin America. If the U.S. interferences can be overcome, there could be positive results in Argentina, Brazin, Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia. I think Haiti could become a democracy, if the U.S. and the French would keep their hands off.

    For the U.S., it is too late. We shall suffer decline, politically and economically, as have suffered all empires as I read is the case. Revolution in the U.S. would be bloody and would accomplish no good, in my view.

  24. “La Revolución is like a great love affair. In the beginning, she is a goddess. A holy cause. But… every love affair has a terrible enemy: time. We see her as she is. La Revolución is not a goddess but a whore. She was never pure, never saintly, never perfect. And we run away, find another lover, another cause. Quick, sordid affairs. Lust, but no love. Passion, but no compassion. Without love, without a cause, we are… nothing! We stay because we believe. We leave because we are disillusioned. We come back because we are lost. We die because we are committed.”
    –Jesus Raza, The Professionals

    Reforms and revolutions always seem to end up the same way: with a greed-for-power- status-and-wealth-based hierarchy that becomes oppressive. It’s a reversion to type that seems to be the basis of human social structure, perhaps in our very genetic makeup. A more radical revolution is needed, deeper than social, political and economic. Gotta take the red pill.

    • @cartoon: Revolutions often make things worse before they make them better. In the long run, however, the opposite is usually true. Imagine what the world would look like had the French Revolution never taken place. Slavery would still be legal had the West not enshrined the idea that everyone is equal under the law. That only happened because Louis XVI got his head lobbed off.

  25. Couldn’t agree more. It’s time to go Travis Bickle and just flush the whole fucking thing down the toilet. The corruption is so extreme there’s simply no other choice.

    Here’s the problem though: The unelectable elite that run things (aka, the shadow government) is very well organized, very well schooled, and most importantly – they always follow through on their plans. Make no mistake, the unelectable elite are VERY comfortable using violence to get what they want, and they don’t let a little blood or adversity stop them from carrying out their plans to fruition. The Iraq War is proof of that. No matter how much resistance they encountered, no matter how many Abu Gharibs happened, they forged ahead. OWS needs to take a page from their book with respect to attitude because if revolution were to happen, the winning side will be able to stomach the most ugliness as they forge ahead.

    But, as Ted notes, the problem is most OWS people want reform, not revolution. I agree that will be total failure. Unfortunately that’s all that people can stand. Americans don’t do sacrifice anymore, as there’s too much to lose. All those iPads and Gameboys reveal a wealth most in the world never see. Yeah, being in debt sucks. Living in a South African shantytown in a shed made of flatted oil drums, with no heat, no running water, no nothing – is worse. Yet – even those South Africans don’t violently revolt. What are the odds of an OWS revolution? Zero. Absolutely zero. Why?

    1. As noted, they won’t stomach the necessary sacrifices.
    2. They don’t really understand the system they live in, which is a super-reality.
    3. They don’t have any idea of what would replace capitalism.
    4. They’re not coordinated in any way, nor will they be. Their opponents are uber-coordinated.
    5. They won’t be able to resist the propaganda. Even if revolution starts, it would be short-lived for this reason alone. Americans simply cannot throw off the mental chains hardened by years of propaganda.

    And on and on. I understand your excitement Ted, but it’s not to be.

    (As a side note, OWS is now trying to claim responsibility for the Ohio union victories. That’s how pathetic OWS is. They’re desperately trying to claim victories they had nothing to do with, simply because they have no claims to make at all. One can only imagine what fake successes OWS will claim after failure is complete. It’s sad really).

  26. Hey Ted,

    Welcome to the club! Glad to see you made it. It’s always somewhat shocked me how out of bounds this is here, even at the height of the protests in the 60s it was basically out of bounds, only for the “crazies.” Even in my family, where my grandfather the merchant seamen was a courier for the Communist International in the 20s and 30s, and my grandmother helped organize the longshoremen on the west coast it wasn’t talked about. The system IS the problem, the trick is going to be somehow getting enough people to realize this.

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