By Gabriel Rockhill for Counterpunch. One of the fastest growing social and political movements in recent history has been sweeping across France, spreading through Europe and now developing in North America and elsewhere. In the space of just over a month, it has transformed countless public and private spaces, in nearly 300 cities, by making them into dynamic centers of non-violent protest and political experimentation. Although the future is unpredictable, it has the potential to significantly transform the horizons of social and political possibility. This is probably news to anyone watching the mass media in the Anglophone world. In spite of the fact that the movement, aptly named Nuit Debout (‘Night on Your Feet’ or ‘Night Uprising’), aims at reclaiming the night hours by standing up 24/7 against the non-stop global onslaught of neoliberal capitalism, it has been kept in the shadows by the major news outlets.
Ralph Nader for the Nader Page. Corporatized and commercialized elections reach a point where they stand outside and erode our democracy. Every four years the presidential and Congressional elections become more of a marketplace where the wealthy paymasters turn a civic process into a spectacle of vacuous rhetorical contests, distraction and stupefaction. The civic minds of the people are sidelined by the monetized minds of a corrupted commercial media, political consultants, pundits and the purveyors of an ever-more dictatorial corporate state. The dominance of influence money by the plutocracy and now big business PACs, such as that of the super-rich Koch brothers is just the beginning. The monetized minds don’t just rely on their “quid pro quo” checkbooks. They foster gerrymandering electoral districts so that politicians indentured to them pick the voters instead of a legitimate congressional district’s voters picking a candidate. And the debates now are more ratings inventory for Big Media than a discussion of major issues which remain off the table.
By David Solnit for the Indypendent - “Seattle,” shorthand for the 1999 anti-WTO mass actions, was a moment when organized protest and resistance became a genuine popular uprising of thousands of ordinary people who successfully shut down the opening day of the WTO meeting, took over and occupied the downtown core of a major American city, and contributed to the collapse of negotiations that would have increased poverty, destruction, and misery around the world. Several years after the Seattle actions, a group of us calling ourselves the People Powered Strategy Project reflected on the key elements that made the one-day mass urban action and week of struggle in Seattle successful. We came up with the following principles in an effort to bring a people-power strategy to the antiwar movement, which had none after the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, and I have added a few more. These same principles worked in San Francisco on March 20, 2003 — the day after the U.S. invasion of Iraq — when 20,000 people from the area shut down and occupied the Financial District, 2,000 of whom were arrested.
It's a very paradoxical situation. And I don't know. I mean, I think we all have to take a deep breath and try to start from scratch again in thinking about where we are, how we get there, and what kind of immediate steps we might take in order to alter the course that I think we're on, which really creates societies which, when you spell out what's happening, nobody really wants, or at least not ordinary people want. It's a very strange situation where--and I think, you know, not least among them is, I think, the factor that you suggested, which is the kind of evaporation of leisure time and the opportunities to use that for political education, as well as kind of moral refreshment. But, yeah, it's a really totally unprecedented situation where you've got affluence, opportunity, and so on, and you have these kinds of frustrations, injustices, and really very diminished life prospects. . . But again you're back in the kind of chasing-the-tail problem. The mechanisms, i.e. political parties, that we have that are supposed to organize and express discontent are, of course, precisely the organs that require the money that only the dominant groups possess. I mean, long ago there were theories or proposals being floated to set up public financing. But public financing, even as it was conceived then, was so miniscule that you couldn't possibly even support a kind of lively political debate in a modest way. You know, politics has become such an expensive thing that I think really the only way to describe it realistically is to talk about it as a political economy or an economic kind of political economy. It's got those--those two are inextricable elements now in the business of the national or state governments, too.