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Denver banker with OWS

It’s been a month now since some scruffy/hippie/anarchists pick-your-derogatory-term, went and camped out near Wall Street.  For weeks the American press ignored them, then vilified and ridiculed them, and yet their numbers kept growing – in Zuccotti Park in NYC, and then like a fungus, materializing in cities and towns across the world, and then across the globe: 900 cities and towns, all sharing in the same diffuse and unrhetorical “there is something profoundly wrong about how the world is organized.”    The powers that be – the politicians and their financial buddies, the giant corporations and their “news” media – simply had no idea what to do with them, except apply the Pravda-like practice of figuring if they didn’t report it, it didn’t exist.  In a display of extraordinary stupidity and blindness, with the fresh examples of Tunisia and Egypt and the whole Arab spring, the honchos of America (and elsewhere) seemed blind-sided when thanks to the internet the news spread like wild-fire across the country and the globe.  One would have thought they’d learned a thing or two by the most recent bits of history – the indignados of Spain, the strikes in Greece, the global signs of discontent from the middle-east to the middle-west.  But no, our Masters of the Universe, and their hired political lackeys and pundits didn’t see, because, as ever, caught in the bubble of their own small 1% world, they didn’t imagine any world but their own: they could not conceive that the world was not all well and good, never mind the blatant evidence in their own statistics.     Even though they had been explicitly involved in constructing that alternate universe of globalization, which translated as rampaging out-of-control capitalism – the one that made them filthy rich and left everyone else behind.

About three weeks ago, I got an e-mail from someone I did not know – Daniel Levine.   He wrote about being in the OWS group, and I asked him to keep me informed on things, and I asked him who he was and to tell me something of himself.  He replied, and said he’d keep me updated, and said he was 21, and thought if he hadn’t seen my 1987 film Plain Talk and Common Sense (uncommon senses) he might not have gone to join the Wall Street uprising.  As someone who is somewhat cynical about the efficacy of so-called “political” film-making – of which I’ll have much more to say soon on the blog – I was a bit skeptical, but it did move me to think that my work had, in any way, helped clarify and move someone to act.   Likewise, with this blog, and other internet things which have absorbed much of my energies in the last decade and more, where I have consistently drawn into question our national religion of “Free Market Capitalism”, noted the depths of our corruption (not only financial, but far deeper and more profound, our ethics and morals as bent by the values of that capitalism) and the severe damages it inflicts upon our society. I would like to think perhaps all this energy did not go to waste, but was a tiny ripple in a larger social wave which was building all this time.   I don’t think anyone is the sole holder of a thought, but that if one thinks something, millions of others must do likewise.   Unlike many of my friends, who seemed terminally pessimistic about young Americans, I have always felt and said that I thought, at some time, somehow, things would finally erupt.  And so it seems they have.

Where ever you are – in America or elsewhere in the world – I encourage you to go out and join your fellow humans and add your voice to this movement, whatever name one wishes to give it.   We need to defeat the economic masters of this system, and their political and cultural minions, who have orchestrated the policies of the last decades and more, policies  which have obviously failed the vast majority of humans while enriching and empowering a tiny sliver who seem utterly heedless of the circumstances of humanity.  They seem to lust for wealth and power beyond rationality, and would, if left unchecked, render the world uninhabitable in their pursuit of it.  Occupy Wall Street and all the other streets should be the beginning of a major revision in humanity’s understanding of its place on the globe and our relationships with one another – as individuals and as societies.



  1. Hey Jon! Thanks for the shout out. I’ve been at the front too much to write much of anything, so I’m sorry updates have been sparse lately. A quick rundown of events in the park since my last update, with a focus on the stuff that wasn’t given much if any news coverage:

    -The supposed “sanitation” sweep of a week ago was never intended to be a park cleaning. I was at the front information table that entire night. I saw exactly one sanitation truck and got reports from runners for the information table that there were roughly 75 police stationed in each parking garage for 2 blocks in any direction from Liberty Plaza. The fact the police, Bloomberg, and Brookfield (who own the park and who have Bloomberg’s live-in girlfriend on their board of directors) had to give in since we had 5000 people out with us at 5am shouldn’t be understated as a victory. It might be the most important victory we’ve had so far-it shows we can circumvent the system so long as we get the numbers. Bloomberg has had jackhammer construction work going from 8pm-12am every night since a couple days before the standoff in clear violation of city noise regulations.

    -Occupy Colorado got shut down by police spraying sprinklers into the crowd when it was 36 degrees out. Boston got violently raided, and in Occupy San Francisco got raided repeatedly until the Fire Department and the Parks Department banded behind them and had it officially labeled as a “street fair”. The McDonalds right next to the park has been consistently letting us use their bathroom. A lot of the success of this movement is going to come down to carefully orchestrated bureaucratic gridlock by sympathetic organizations.

    -Heard rumors from various Washington policy writers that have come by the table that Barack Obama has gone about half-Howard Hughes and spends lots of time with the door locked to the Oval Office watching ESPN. I have no clue how to verify that, but I’ve heard it at least three times. Also, he knocked the part of the Jobs bill that would have established a tax on the Oil companies.

    -Obama infiltrators have made very half-hearted attempts at co-opting the movement, left a bucket of buttons for Obama or Hillary 2008 and some generic social justice pins. It was out for half a day and it was very funny watching everyone pick through the Hillary and Obama pins to get to the generics. We’ve taken the Obama/Hillary pins now and put them in opaque bags so we can use them as paper weights on the table. A lot of people who feel betrayed from the fizzling out of the Anti-War movement in the early 2000s have been pretty openly hostile to Codepink and Moveon people in the square, which I think is pretty warranted given how they did fold their hand immediately when Obama got elected.

    -Word around the square, especially from a couple staffers at The American Free Press, is that Gaddafi was a NATO hit.

    Keep up the good work overseas. We’re going to be doing some big things very very soon.

    • If I were anywhere near an Occupied Zone, I’d get my butt there. I asked a friend in Japan when there if there were anything like it in Japan – and he said no, and not likely (despite there being ample reason to do so, particularly these days to close down all the nuclear generating stations which should not be built there or anywhere). Ditto in Korea. But I am pleased to be a little multiplier here, and in other parts of my work. A few little things to comment on. For sure the “park cleaning” was simply meant to be political harassment and way to close down the Occupy. The press has made amply clear it is owned, just like our politicians, by our corporate overlords, and they showed there hand early and still do so (item in NYTimes yesterday again showed the skewed version).

      I have been following things pretty closely and am glad things are broadening and being sustained. On a personal note, my sister, a long ago Nixon volunteer, Republican (along with husband), though they came around some time ago to having other thoughts, tell me they are supportive and heartened by OWS. Which tells me something positive!

      Little quibble: while Move On is clearly a liberal Democratic something, I wouldn’t be so hard on Code Pink. I don’t think they folded as Obama came in and they’ve been active at hearings, etc. all during his period in office. I’m glad they have been around, and for a while they were almost the only visible face of resistance to our imperial pretensions.

      The Gaddafi thing was a NATO aerial hit on his convoy, then the locals wrapped it up. The US/NATO demands now for an inquest into his killing reeks of hypocrisy and formalist “legalism” while America goes and drones away where ever it wishes.

      Keep it up there on Wall Street!

  2. Also re: political filmmaking. A lot of attempts are being made to project films in the square. Why? I have no clue. We can’t use amplification and if people are sitting watching a film it blocks all the avenues traffic has to go through in order for the square to function. Nobody needs to see Farenheit 9/11 that badly. I told the movie projection nuts that they should just show Greed (1924) on loop.

    It seems like every other person in the square is making a documentary about it. I’m pretty sure most of them are going to be awful. The difference between something like Plain Talk and Common Sense and some cookie cutter political documentary (and why I’d argue the former holds more power for change) is that it establishes a discourse which acknowledges the anxieties and living flowing nature of the whole process. Even the most progressively oriented documentary that bases itself on a linear storyline of fact will take on the aesthetic dimensions of a math proof, and the similar sense of deterministic consequences and impotence that entails. Films need detours, need to not entirely cohere; there is water one grabs at and keeps but one never keep all of it. To not acknowledge that seems disingenuous and the audience subconsciously will call bullshit.

    • Well, these days everybody has a cell phone, an HD camera, etc., and like usual, these days most people are lazy and they just go shoot whatever is happening (like the wild handphone images of Gaddafi’s last moments). Of course making films is another thing, which some will learn. I am anyway glad they’re there, recording and getting it on YouTube since our corporate-run press would like to pretend it doesn’t exist, or when acknowledging does things like the NY Times interview with the trust-fund kid and the Street trader – not-so-slyly sticking a shiv in the back. Perhaps, after a bit of time, something good will come of it. I read about a Brooklyn based group piecing together a collective Occupy film of some kind. But while I think it is important to disseminate the presence of Occupy, it is more important that some kind of accessible analytic works – films, videos, writing, whatever – go into the what/why of our situation which explains the reasons for the existence of Occupy movements — that our system is totally out of whack, our “leaders” are blinded by forces they cannot acknowledge because they have internalized them, and that the consequences are presently intolerable for many, and in the long term fatal for all: we MUST change the system. Which is why those invested in it cannot understand it. I hope, in the coming year(s) to commence making such a film, with the title being Democracy in America (?). I might get detoured for a year in Tokyo come next Oct., but I think to begin in March in USA, shoot some, and figure out best way to work it on web, etc. It’ll take a few years to do, minimum.

      Hang in Daniel, and we’ll meet in NY – perhaps in spring. Keep us updated here on OWS things

  3. I sort of wonder if there is a stylistic breakthrough to be made of some careful exploration of the random youtube aesthetic, the same I see comic riffing potential in youtube comment dialectics. I like that the name of your film has suddenly changed from Unrequited! We’re gonna win. We have to.

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