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The Crisis: A View From Occupied America by William Tabb at Monthly Review

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The theme of the 2012 Left Forum, "Occupy the System--Confronting Global Capitalism," calls for a historical imagination informed by a realistic sense of where we are. To occupy the system is first to be aware of the system as a system, a system of unequal privilege and control. It requires that we occupy the narrative of public debate, which is something the Occupy movement, to a remarkable degree, has been able to achieve. Even President Obama, who so far has followed the economic policies of his Wall Street-friendly advisers, has used campaign rhetoric taken from Occupy Wall Street. But this time around voters are hardly convinced that the "Change" Obama promised last election will happen through the existing system.


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Occupy America (2011), by Lori37 at Flickr Commons

The breath of fresh air from Occupy and related activism challenges corporate power and capitalism. It rebukes the dominant political parties, which are dependent on the 1% for their funding and in turn represent them in Congress. As Gordon Lafer has said, "If the Republicans are cheerleaders for the 1 percent, most Democrats are quiet collaborators."1 Both parties have accepted that the major problem facing the country is the deficit--which of course it is not. The project of class-coded austerity (complete with bad cop Republicans and good cop Democrats) is deemed unavoidable, both to pay for the mess and to continue enhancing the wealth and power of the 1%. Neither party wants to discuss what has happened to working people over the last three decades, a scenario which is likely to continue as incomes stagnate or fall for the vast majority of the 99% and wealth and power further concentrate at the top. This not just true for the 1%, but also for the one-tenth of 1% and even the one-one thousandth of the 1%--that is, those billionaires who decide who the viable candidates are and what economic policies Congress and the media should take seriously.

Click here to read Tabb's entire article in the Sept 2012 Monthly Review.

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I have a law degree (Stanford, 66') but have never practiced. Instead, from 1967 through 1977, I tried to contribute to the revolution in America. As unsuccessful as everyone else over that decade, in 1978 I went to work for the U.S. Forest (more...)
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