Obviously, Not 99%

NOTE: This is an archived site, for the most part. EVERYTHING here is very dated. Articles — all — are written now and then for highly select readers, for particular purposes. Not knowing proper context can be puzzling or misleading, even off-putting. It’s probably a waste of heartbeats to read anything here which has not been recommended to you. What’s below is a first draft, unedited. LISTEN TO http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPnjzgm0h6M before reading.

Obviously, Not 99%
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBhh0Ilbsec
by Oxman

“The desires to live more simply, to share resources more radically, and to prefer service to dominance are not unique to any place, season, or religion. Such desires may yet herald unions previously unimagined and a better world for every newborn, each one bringing an astonishing potential - as we do if we strive to fulfill it - for peace.” — Kathy Kelly on Christmas Day, 2011… amid excruciating sorrow and pain

Dedicated to the wonderful efforts of Thomas Naylor whose work, unlike Kathy Kelly’s labors, is contingent upon the consciousness of careerists and the absence of electoral fraud, but — nevertheless — aimed at bringing down our abominable Empire.

“In 1976, economist Susan George noted that only .23 percent of landowners own more than half of all the world’s land (never mind those who own no land at all), a trend that has likely only worsened in the interceding years.” — from a Will Parrish article, appearing in Anderson Valley Advertiser, December 21, 2011

I couple Parrish’s point with the fact that one could — according to recent stats published by Harper’s Magazine — fit all the world’s population within Texas’ borders if keeping to the population density of New York City… and I come up with the obligatory question: Why don’t people — particularly people who are suffering immeasurably — see that property is theft… and do something about that?

[Pause.]

Only a centralized government with the full force of unprecedented military power could keep our collective misery going at this juncture in history. So why not at least try to make a dent in private property’s present momentum (and a lot more) by trying to dissolve The Empire? My friend, author Mark Zepezauer, told me in 2004 that a wealth tax of just 4% on the 200 richest people on earth would guarantee everyone — EVERYONE! — enough to eat. With the gap getting larger to such a degree in recent years it means that today we could be talking about quality sustenance.

Thomas Naylor is trying to do something about the whole shebang with his Second Vermont Republic proposal. The thing is, very few citizens of Vermont or the country, for that matter, are capable at this point of seriously considering the dissolution of Empire. I didn’t say willing, but — rather — capable. The vast majority of citizens have been too indoctrinated by you know what in society to take radical steps in their thinking, let alone action.

I underscored for Thomas the other day the fact that my incessant one-on-one contact with citizens ‘cross the country, working 24×7 trying to recruit concerned citizens for movement in solidarity on a macroscopic level, has given me the impression that I’m living in some sick variation of Invasion of the Body Snatchers… wherein people only seem to be human on the surface. Delve just a tiny bit below the dermis critically and you’ll find that apathy, cynicism, ignorance, resignation, atomization… or some first cousin of one of those… has taken over.

That’s why I say that the OWS people are way off in citing 99% respecting who they represent. Though I applaud and proactively support the thrust of their kit and kaboodle, I can’t ignore what they seem to be consciously ignoring, or are ignorant of in zombie-like fashion. The first cousins of the U.S. military — local law enforcement — have been demonstrating quite clearly and forcefully and repeatedly that they are not part of the advertised 99%, though their financial status pigeon-holes them far below the designated 1% category. Neither are the fire fighters or multiple others* who are cheer leading the ongoing break up of OWS meeting places.

*Name a dozen celebrities at random (who are pulling in less than what the 1% takes home), and I guarantee you that they’re not into risking their careers in the capitalist realm. Ditto for the vast majority of their fans. Ditto for their parents, most of their neighbors, those who walk their dogs, serve as their agents, drive them in limousines, cater their parties et alia. The magazine lying adjacent to my right leg as I write is open to a page that boasts a dozen businesses which pull in less than a million bucks a year. Neither they nor their patrons, though, are with OWS — I bet my life on this! — beyond… possibly… at a stretch… pontificating politically correct blah blah. The point being Who exactly are the 99% that OWS boasts support the plea for economic justice? The fact that the self-interest of 99% of the population is aligned with the thrust of the OWS movement has zero to do with the degree to which those same people will go to the barricades on behalf of OWS. [Definitive documentation on all of this, upon request.]

The fact that a great number of union workers have claimed positions of solidarity with OWS is important for obvious reasons, but — in the final analysis — neither here nor there. Not when the degree and scope of their enthusiasm is called in for a count. Meaning, that when push comes to shove, the Mindless Mentality of Empire kicks in… and even those who support OWS sense that they can’t go down the road which would be required to genuinely address Capitalism’s hold on our lives. Look at Andrew Levine’s The Thirty Percent for an instructive read, if you will. Aside from noting who comprises his titular thirty percent, the reader would do well to acknowledge what he is actually saying in his conclusion. Like the vast majority of OWS people I have had contact with coast to coast, Andrew (with all of his traditionally impressive credentials) holds out hope that a leader of our Empire could actually move in solidarity with the thrust of OWS. [Pause.] I think not.

And returning to the Second Vermont Republic schtick, I submit that all of this has to be taken into account. I’m told that when people feel enough pain, they’ll come around, that they’ll finally make the connection between their immisseration and the evils of Empire. [Pause.] I think not.

For even those who are engaged — as per published statements — in bringing down this horrific Empire, are primarily or exclusively involved in documenting or titillating ourselves to death. Meaning, activity on the grassroots ground has been reduced to reading and talking about this and that scandal, publishing or posting the latest diatribe against Empire… in lieu of taking meaningful action.

Petitions, for the most part, don’t count these days. Look at what effect the Pope and Jimmy Carter and a very impressive list of signatories — among a million plus testimonials — had when submitted to the State of Georgia… in an effort to save Troy Davis’ life recently. Capital Punishment kicked in, all of those heartbeats expended notwithstanding. [Pause.] I’m obviously not saying that petitions do no good ever. Rather, I am stating unequivocally that they cannot be the primary or exclusive means for protesting or bringing about change. Certainly not the institutional change that would be required for the dissolution of Empire. For that, one cannot rely on obsolete models of action.

Someone told me that they objected to Noam Chomsky’s blah blah ’cause he didn’t advocate the dissolution of Empire. It was a strange thing to hear from an activist involved in bringing about our breakup, considering the fact that Noam has been known for many decades as an anarchist of sorts. Then again, they admitted that they hadn’t been in touch with his outpouring of institutional criticism for years. Fair enough, but I want to spotlight that Noam’s not telling people what to do is aligned with the spirit of all I do. Meaning, that he is all about helping others to self-educate, and deciding for themselves what the best course of action is, local or otherwise. The importance of that self-education — underscored above — is strengthened by the fact that we are a nation of clones, products of Empire to such a degree that young citizens — flying in the face of all the documentation which now sits in the historical record — will enthusiastically join our military in lockstep, with plenty of parents still willing to hand over their offspring to be offed for no decent reason whatsoever… with every reason not to let our Empire call the shots. [Pause.] Hey, by the way, what percent do those impoverished enlistees and their moms and dads and uncles and aunts waving flags at funerals represent? Are they with Matt Damon — the Damon of the ‘early’ Good Will Hunting Zinn schtick — who helped to make the Empire ultra-flag-waving flick Blackhawk Down? [Aren't they all in the same demographic when it comes to that 99% count?]

Consider that Noam Chomsky does not dispense with Empire from some lofty purist position which says we should have zero to do with Empire prior to its dissolution. His stance vis-a-vis Ron Paul is a simple position to review for instructive purposes here. In short, he points out that — in spite of his penetrating analyses of the horror perpetuated by Empire — government (in its various manifestations, its corruption and abominations notwithstanding) is virtually our only protection — POTENTIALLY — against corporate ravages and machinations. AND… so… he advises us not to turn our backs totally on working those aspects of the system which can be influenced whilst we work to, possibly, bring them down… down the road… when it is practical to do so.

It is important to follow that advice, for it is guaranteed that the corporate endgame will prevail if no regulation is imposed on them — an aim of Ron Paul’s agenda, by the way — guaranteeing our demise… whereas some restrictions may make the difference right now between getting cancer or some other horrid disease, or not. Even the supporters of the Vermont’s proposed succession have a stake in working the the federal government, by the way, as — obviously — 99% of the health that independent entity (IF it is realized) could be a function of cross border toxicity.

Yes, let’s root for the Empire to break up. Let’s work toward that goal, for its abominations are clearly on no lesser a scale than that of the worst holocausts of the last century. And they are ongoing, increasing momentum as I write.

TOSCA* works on the level of gubernatorial politics for the purpose of dissolving Empire. Not immediately, of course, but in short order. Sooner than what, say, the Second Vermont Republic movement can hope to bring about with their vague time frame. TOSCA could achieve palpable, influential results by 2014, whereas the waiting anticipated for Bernie Sanders’ citizens to come around might be endless. TOSCA does not have built into it the need to twiddle one’s thumbs whilst praying for an unlikely turn around among the populace. And on that latter point, I submit that the burden of proof is on anyone who believes that more information and/or more pain is going to produce meaningful secessionist moves on the part of even a small segment of our population… when the vast majority of our citizens in all corners of our country think Empire in their sleep because they will not give up their gadgets or privileges. Or their perceptions of our past.

*See Sound Bites of Select TOSCA Features at http://oxtogrind.org/archive/925. [It is noteworthy that Saul Landau is a colleague of Andrew Levine's -- cited above -- at Washington, D.C.'s Institute of Policy Studies, and I have never met a single member of their group who would put their career at risk over anything like the OWS agenda.]

TOSCA recognizes that the public needs help in self-educating themselves. And that only something on the order of the spotlight a TOSCA coalition in office would secure can pull that off sufficiently to move people to act in their own enlightened self-interest, and in the interests of others… without whose health and happiness we cannot survive. We cannot isolate ourselves and be okay. [Pause.] This is not a moral judgment. Rather, it is an assertion about our interdependence. A reminder of a fact of life. O bailan todos o no baile nadie.

Whatever little corner one is working — whether it be pushing for secession here or doing something else worthwhile there — I say that one could do worse than to be simultaneously moving in solidarity with others to diminish our national military momentum. For our military is, arguably, the greatest single polluter on earth, and without our military — as it presently stands — the Empire cannot stand.

We can pick any macroscopic focus we like, but we are obliged to choose at least one to work together on. We can no longer afford to fight the good fight in small corners only, alone.

Permit Me to Be Presumptuous Department:

1. It’s not enough to only raise funds for the Dali Lama.
2. It’s not enough to only march in circles with placards protesting capital punishment.
3. It’s not enough to only put your body on the line at some nuclear facility blockade.
4. It’s not enough to only write to your congressperson regarding the need to tax the super rich.
5. It’s not enough to only keep the military from recruiting on your campus.
6. It’s not enough to only campaign for a given good local candidate.
7. It’s not enough to only release animals from their university cages prior to experimentation.
8. It’s not enough to only collect signatures so that a given issue can appear on a state ballot.
9. It’s not enough to publish books, post articles, attend conferences, give lectures or take part in their first cousin activities.

Yes, you serve the meal at the soup kitchen, but you acknowledge the need for a larger helping by committing at least one heartbeat of meat to a microscopic movement. To do less is to give less than 100%, to not do 99% in the face of our monstrous Big Picture Challenge.

I’ve given only nine… ten examples. I could give 19,000 from the top of my head effortlessly. The point is that SOMETHING must now be done in solidarity which crosses all of those lines, which focuses on SOMETHING which stands to benefit all of those well-meaning efforts. And which holds the potential to send enormous ripples a long distance. Pregnant with the possibility of creating a watershed in history yesterday.

Will Parrish, whose words I opened this article with, has thus far refused to engage me in dialogue; he is one of too too many who have kept their distance. Why have so many put a sock in it? Hopefully, that will change. With Thomas Naylor, I am looking forward to his understanding that I am with the thrust of his movement. His wanting to continue our dialogue.

I trust that the two of them and many others will see me as an invaluable ally, and agree when I declare that we must not be satisfied with replacing white rooks with red, or black bishops with green pieces. That they will know what I am about with that chess analogy. Agree. But whether or not they do… I pray that they will understand that it is not wise to announce one’s moves ahead of time in a chess game.

[Pause.]

It is obvious that the current OWS movement does not represent the present thinking of 99% of the population. But it is equally obvious that we do not need 99% of the population to be on board with our revolutionary thought for starters. With TOSCA, one does not even need a majority of the citizens of California. In fact, one would not even require the votes of anyone who voted in the last gubernatorial contest. Theoretically (as per the numbers), simply galvanizing those who chose not to vote in either of the last two gubernatorial CA contests would turn the necessary trick.

I can provide that shock. But — first — you must acknowledge with me what the 99% is obviously not. The rock hard facts not being talked about. [Pause.] Take the sock out.

Contact the author at aptosnews@gmail.com
http://www.democracynow.org/2011/12/26/a_tribute_to_yip_harburg_the touches upon why we can’t wait for pain to culminate in a critical mass…. The ’sock’ is in the collective brain. We can stop the rain, bring out the rainbows.

From the tribute to Yip (”Somewhere Over the Rainbow”) Harburg
:

AMY GOODMAN: And why didn’t he believe in World War I?

ERNIE HARBURG: Because he was a full, deep-dyed socialist who did not believe that capitalism was the answer to the human community and that indeed it was the destruction of the human spirit. And he would not fight its wars.