Thursday, October 06, 2011

OWS: Here's the message you've all been waiting for

Lots of people, including this writer, have criticized the Occupy Wall Street movement for lacking a concrete goal. I have found it. I've come up with a single, clear demand -- easily stated and easily realized.

What I propose is not a final step but a first step. A demonstration of power, if you will.

If you are part of the movement, ask yourself: Do you truly want to gain power -- to get things done -- or do you just want to complain? In my experience, most leftwingers tend to view the exercise of power as a form of bad taste. Yes, power does corrupt -- but without it, what can be accomplished?

I propose that the OWS forces make a muscle and land a solid initial punch, aimed at a specific target.

Timothy Geithner. The Secretary of the Treasury must go.

Not only that. The world must understand that he was fired because the Occupiers demanded his removal. The man's termination notice must bear the initials OWS.

Here's how to do it: Every single time our beloved president appears in public to ask for cash, the protesters should screech: "Fire Tim or we'll fire you." Scream at the president rudely and ruthlessly until he capitulates to this demand.

Simple, no? Eventually, even Obama will have to heed the message.

Will firing one bad appointee solve all problems? Of course not. It may not even solve any problems. Tim Geithner has already done the worst of his damage -- both to the economy and to the Democratic party. Besides, Obama may well replace him with someone worse.

What, then, is the advantage of this tactic? I'll give you six good reasons for going this route.

In the first place, forcing a president to do something he clearly does not want to do establishes true power. It tells the world: "Meet the new boss -- not the same as the old boss. The new boss is us." When the ancient Romans took over a province, they would nail up a few potential troublemakers just to demonstrate that they could do a thing like that with impunity.

Second: Forcing Obama to take an unwelcome step establishes once and for all that the OWS movement is not a stalking horse for the Obama campaign. It says to the world: "We don't work for this president. Either he starts working for us, or we'll find someone who will."

Third: Demanding that Obama fire Geithner forces the president to make a choice. Right now, he's trying to square the circle, solidifying the base while asking the Wall Streeters for cash. Obama can have one or the other but not both.

Fourth: Tim Geithner's policies have protected the miscreants while impoverishing millions. Yes, he is but one man, but he symbolizes something larger: He is the face of the Obama administration's soft-on-Wall-Street agenda. That's why the tea partiers rarely target him (except in a lackluster, pro-forma fashion). Forcing his removal signals a new era of populist intolerance for finance capitalism's ruinous greed.

Fifth: It's do-able. Not just desirable: Do-able. Let me explain.

The protesters have proffered all sorts of ideas, many of which are excellent. But they cannot be accomplished soon; these demands cannot establish immediate clout.

Without clout, you are simply a gathering of mice discussing the need to bell the cat.

For example, one of the early OWS organizers said that a primary goal should be to increase taxes on the wealthy. Do I concur with that sentiment? Of course; I must have written hundreds of posts advocating a steeply progressive tax policy. But this goal is for the longer term. Like it or not, Congress has power of the purse -- and even if the OWS movement were fifty times stronger, it could not get that kind of legislation through this House of Representatives.

If the OWS movement says "Vote Democratic and we may be able to have a better tax policy," the movement becomes an appendage of the party. Mistake.

One acquaintance tells me he'd rather get rid of the insufferably corrupt Clarence Thomas. That's not do-able, alas -- at least not in the short term. But Tim Geithner serves at the pleasure of the president; put enough pressure on the president and the man is gone.

Some say that Geithner wants to leave anyways. Fine. But if he goes, it is best for him to leave with an OWS boot-print on his rump. Once the movement scores a big first win, the second win becomes easier.

Some organizers have called for a "presidential commission" on separating politics from the corrupting influence of big money. Of course I believe in electoral reform; I've argued in favor of radical reform since the 1970s. Cleaning up our elections may be the single most important step this democracy could take. But reform won't happen soon, not with Congress the way it is, and not with the courts the way they are.

Besides, everyone knows that "commissions" are established by people who want to insure that nothing gets done. Sorry, but we're still in "Let's bell the cat" territory.

Ah...but showing Timmy the door? That we can do. That particular cat is very, very bellable.

Ending his career may be but the first move in a long, long game of chess. Still, that move will establish power.

Power is attractive. Power begets power. You know why so many dolts pay good money for shirts and bags and hats sporting corporate logos? Because those logos are totems of entities considered influential and successful. On a primal level, people want to associate themselves with the large, the impressive -- the powerful.

Force the president to fire Tim Geithner. Force Obama to do one major thing that he clearly does not want to do. Afterwards, both he and all other politicians will take the protesters ultra-seriously.

Oh...I forgot to mention the sixth reason to demand the canning of Timmy: He's awful.

Just awful.


Anonymous said...

I particularly like it 'cause we can scream it at any Obot who dares suggest that Obama and his motley crew support OWS (e.g., try to own it - that includes DKos and his Obots).

And you're right. It's not just doable. It is very very desirable.

What other immediate actions can we demand?

alibe said...

You are so right. Timmeh G. must be fired. Not allowed to resign, but be fired and the reasons you state are good starters. He allowed this mess to happen, he has stood in the way of cleaning it up and he is emblematic of what this administration is ..corrupt and incompetent.

dakinikat said...

I'd ask for the treasury to be completed emptied of any one that's worked for Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan too.

prowlerzee said...

Brilliant.. but the kids (sorry, Riverdaughter and fans, it is the KIDS and we're just supporting them, whether by presence, words or food/clothes/supplies delivery) are pretty dead set against demands.

Will be back later to post some links in support of your idea.

Anonymous said...

Ooooo, I like the suggestion. Maybe Geithner is feeling the chill--he came out and said he 'understands' the anger of the Occupy protesters. Hahaha! Too little, too late and the damage is massive.

But forcing the issue would be sweet, very sweet. And yes, a demonstration of people power without any love-juice for the current Administration or his deranged, rabid fans.

Peggy Sue

Aeryl said...

It's a good idea, but the moment it happens, then the momentum turns against OWS.

Then the choir will start whining, "They got what they wanted, why don't they go HOME!"

Having demands that can be met, is the first step towards tearing the movement apart.

I get your point about the left's hesitancy to wield the levers of power, but that is not where my objection is coming from.

I just feel that OWS works better as the facilitator of change, but not it's engine.

Roark said...

And which Goldman Sachs alum will be replacing him?

Joseph Cannon said...

"Then the choir will start whining, "They got what they wanted, why don't they go HOME!"

Having demands that can be met, is the first step towards tearing the movement apart."

Aeryl, I don't get that at all. In fact, I think this is dangerous thinking.

How many times have I seen this since the 1960s? "It's better, purer, if we don't actually accomplish anything." In other words, you want a whiners' club.

Screw that. I want no part in such a thing.

In fact, that's why I'm wary of the OWS thing -- I've seen the left erect many, many "whiners' clubs" over the decades. A whiners' club is purer, and need never trouble itself with responsibility or governance.

That's why lefties always fall for the myth of "consensus decision-making." They love it precisely because it can't work. Such people want to fail. They consider actual power to be in bad taste.

And that's why the movement purists will be disdainful instead of welcoming to any politicians who want to hop on board. They will see working with politicians as "selling out" instead of an exercise of power.

Screw that.

People are hurting. They need results.

I've seen the same damned mistakes made SO MANY TIMES BEFORE, the same rationalizations trotted out SO MANY TIMES BEFORE. This time...I'm saying NO. I want no part of crappy tactics that have failed every single time they've been tried before.

To paraphrase a noted after-dinner speaker: Progressive purists merely whine about history; the point is to change it.

A good, big win will energize a REAL movement. People won't just pack up and go home. They'll dig in for the next fight, because they'll know that THIS time, something is actually being DONE.

You know why you're dying to argue against me? You won't admit it to yourself, but you don't want to win.

Anonymous said...

I think its time we demonstrated the full power of this battle station.

ANonOMouse said...

Great Idea Joseph. Just looking at Timmy makes my blood boil.

Is there any demand that OWS could make of Republicans too that is doable? It would be great to put a boot on the Tea Party faction of the GOP while demands are being made. They do control the HOUSE.

FYI...OCCUPY meetups are being organized and actually happening in the deep red SOUTH. This sort of movement would have been totally undoable just 4 short years ago. Unemployment and underemployment are very, very high in the south. Teenagers cannot find employment, older workers who've been laid off can't find employment and young adults are working several jobs just to stay afloat. Minorities are totally out of the employment picture in the south. We're in a helluva shape down here.

LonewackoDotCom said...

Brilliant idea! Focus all their efforts on something pointless that would quickly become attempts to harass one man, knowing full well that OWS is joined at the hip with antispeech foreign criminals. Brilliant! That would not only fully discredit OWS, but might be a great way to discover the IDs of their criminal allies.

Anywhoo, for those who want to actually the bad guys for real, consider going after the policy all the bad guys can agree on.

It's certainly *odd* how OWS seems to be on the wrong side of that policy, the same side that the Kochs, the Chamber of Commerce, and banks are on.

ANonOMouse said...

"I'd ask for the treasury to be completed emptied of any one that's worked for Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan too.
posted by dakinikat : 3:27 PM"

Terrific Idea.

Jay said...

People are hurting. These spoiled white kids at their cool get-together only feel pain when their parents can't support them anymore. NOBODY outside their group has sympathy for them. Come to my neck of the world and I'll show you real people going through real pain and trying to survive....that means buying food, not taking out another student loan to buy the latest I-phone.

Anonymous said...

Really Really Really Dumb.

Geithner may have a ton of problems but dammit, he is on our team. Your proposal will do nothing other than gravely weaken the President, to the delight and the great advantage of the Republicans.

Fricken' retarded is a better way to put it.

Joseph Cannon said...

Anon, you're obviously a stranger to this blog. Obama never was on our side. I've been trying to expose him since the beginning of 2008.

Everyone else...

In the films "Tree of Life," we hear that there are two ways through this world: The way of nature and the way of Grace.

Well, speaking as someone only a little younger than Terence Malick, I'm here to tell you that there are two ways through left-wing politics: The way of the hippie and the way of FDR.

The hippies accomplished nothing. I know: I was there -- very young, but still aware of what was happening. Even at the time, I knew what they were doing wrong.

The hippies were very pure and inclusive and I guess they thought they were being virtuous. They were colorful and fun. But they accomplished nothing. Many of them ended up as Reagan supporters.

The New Dealers, by contrast, created Social Security. They created millions of jobs. They created regulations on finance capital. They won the war against Hitler.

They got things done. They created the basis for thirty years of post-war prosperity. FDR, and his legacy, improved the lives of millions.

If OWS is a hippie movement, count me out. No: Count me as an opponent.

If OWS is a New Deal movement, count me in.

And before you say it -- no, there is no third way. Stop hallucinating; stop rationalizing. Get real.

Do you want to be a hippie, or do you want to be a New Dealer?

Mr. Mike said...

A hearty F-U to Anonymous @ 7:10

What Joe said, Obama is not a Democrat, let me repeat that for the brain dead, Obama is not a Democrat.

Joe, what about some art work to go along with this?

Something people could take to the local copy shop and have run off for when Obama comes to stink up the joint where they live.

seymourblogger said...

If you read Cosmopolis by DeLillo this demonstraation will fail because the system itself requires this opposition in order to exist.

DELillo lays it all our for you in Vija Kinski's speech to Eric Packer mouthing the words of Baudrillard.

This is our May 68 of France. To know that this upswelling of feeling is there. But like the Paris May of 68 it will dissipate into naught.

Zizek lays out strategy and this is not it.

Minkoff Minx said...

Yes Joseph, I do like your suggestion about the boot print on Timmy's backside...I think that the OWS movement does need to embrace a demand that is doable now.

I would also add Immelt to the demand as well. He needs a swift kick in the ass...out the door.

Jotman said...

I think it's a very good idea.

It reminds me of what we saw happen in Egypt after the ouster of Mubarak. Egyptian protesters demanded the ouster of various corrupt interim cabinet ministers. One resignation followed another.

Anonymous said...

Geitner out!


prowlerzee said...

Actually, Peggy Sue, Geithner said a curt "no" when asked if he sympathized with the Occupy protesters. He then went on to the White House official response that he did feel "sympathy" for people who were feeling frustrated, etc....Bernanke gave that same answer.

Geithner went on to whine about how he can't understand WALL ST not supporting Zerobama after everything that was done for them, so yeah....the White House is very eager to get the fat cats on Zero's side.

Aeryl said...

No, I want to win very much, Joe.

Which is why I think putting out an easily satisfiable demand(you think Obama wouldn't love to find a scapegoat in all this? I know you're smarter than that) is a recipe for disaster.

They are winning the narrative war right now, mainly because the MSM has ignored them, and the actual facts on the ground are what people have been learning about(actual age of attendees aside *ahem*) because of the viral videos that have been done.

If they went after Geithner, the media focus will shift(he's one of their own after all, the 1%) and then that's when the negative narratives will start, like how they are provoking the police, and Obama already acquiesced to their demands and they won't go home, what are they terrorists?

You just watch.

Yes, there are benefits to achieving an easy victory(once again, I think Obama would love to have someone to throw under the bus on this), but I think they far outweighed by the risks.

It's not that I think the occupiers would go home if they won, from what I've seen demonstrated so far, they have the tenacity to stick with this thing for the long haul.

No, I've just seen too many entities fall under because the MSM directed their fire at them(see Hillary Clinton, Al Gore). I don't want to lose this movement.

So their plan of specific policy demands works better to keep the cohesion, because there is no way in hell they will get it all. Which gives them a perfectly legitimate(in the eyes of the media) reason to continue doing what they are doing.

You want them to achieve some flashy victory for the benefit of the camera. But as the signs down there say, The Revolution Will NOT Be Televised.

The greater victory is in the fact that this is growing, and lasting. And that is a victory that resonates with people, because it's the same thing we do everyday. We get up and go to work, with no reason to believe things will get better, but we do it anyways. Because we have hope, and we know this isn't the way things are supposed to be(regardless of the fact that this is the way things have been for much of history).

We have more in common with OWS than we ever will with the New England Patriots, and to turn them into Super Bowl champs is a mistake.

Anonymous said...

I hate playing cheap games. People should be smarter. Still, this isn't a bad idea. Geithner is our enemy.

Twilight said...

Good idea - but maybe it's be wise allow the movement to grow even bigger and stronger first. It's still in its infancy really. I'm confident that it has its roots in good fertile ground - it WILL grow, it has to.

Anonymous said...

It's really all down to Citizens United. Overturn that ruling, and you've made a really solid first step. Without that, things will not change at all.

Anonymous said...

Interesting post over at Firedoglake about how the OWS might be brought down:

Anonymous said...

I see some people are not convinced. For what little it is worth I agree entirely. We need to demonstrate to the power brokers in Washington that the mob exists and the mob has power. We need to make an example of one. Once we get one we can get others. Once that happens people will step forward to represent our interests.

I think you are 100% right on this.


BetterDays said...

This is silly. The reason that Geithner is still in office is that the Republicans in the Senate will make it impossible to confirm a replacement who is not many times worse. (And with Congress always in pro forma session, it is impossible to make a recess appointment.) If you think we are in bad shape with a Treasury Secretary you don't like, wait and see how 99% of us will suffer without one. Economic chaos is no friend to people already living paycheck to paycheck (if they are so lucky).

Anyway, it's not really clear that your problems with Geithner are factual rather than emotional.

Please stop arguing for shooting yourself in the foot because you end up hitting my feet too.

Anonymous said...

Ridicuously stupid suggestion. I find it hardthat believe that you aren't someone just trying to make an ass out of these kids.
Any moron would know getting rid of Geitner would just mean Obama replacing him with another corporate hack.

Joseph Cannon said...

Anonymous, you didn't read the piece, did you? I STIPULATED that Obama would probably replace Geithner with someone just as bad. I gave six OTHER reasons for taking this course of action. You may not agree with those six reasons, but you have to read them before dismissing them.

You also did not read the rules for posting, or you would not have posted anonymously. I've been lenient about that rule lately, but no more. Try that again and you will not be published.

Caro said...

Yes, it must be about power.

Political activity on the internet has been way too much about whining and complaining, and picking candidates to support who turn on us.

Carolyn Kay

Andy said...

Asking for Geithner to be fired without demanding a specific person to replace him shows a lack of resolve. Obama has to know we're looking for more than a token victory.

Mary Lopez said...

Cool post man! Keep it up :)