The Successes & Failures of Occupy Movement

Credit Image : Yanira Fregoso, VT's graphic queen.

US police forces have arrested nearly 70 in the latest wave of crackdown against the nationwide anti-corporatism movement. The detainees, charged with trespassing, are the American students protesting cuts to higher education.


 by Debbie Menon


This clearly describes what the US  has become from a Legalistic Republic to a Gulag operated Autocracy without process of law. Each of those “protesters” who are “protesters of principle and dedication” should demand an individual trial, accept no offers, and make the police appear and present evidence of their “wrongdoing” or crime.

Mass arrests at Occupy Education protest at California State Capitol

If “the Law” wants to invoke law against law-abiding citizens, then the citizens should go along with it and demand that the case go to Law.  It might entail some sacrifice and expense on their part, but no one ever said Liberty and Justice come without a price, sweat or some blood.  It never has, and it probably never will.  It is not a pastime for the squeamish.

Press TV interviewed Mark Mason, an Occupy movement protester, who expounds on the successes of the anti-corporate campaign and the change they hope to make in the United States.

Dr. Webster Griffin Tarpley, author and historian from Washington and Joshua Blakeney, activist and staff writer for VT in Calgary analyze the strategy for effective change…


Source: PRESS TV

The following is an approximate transcription of the interviews.

‘United States is country run by corporate oligarchs’ Mark Mason


Press TV: First of all, let’s start with the issue of detentions.

The number of arrests is growing, 6,700 protesters over the past six months.

First of all, what does this number indicate? That the protests are getting out of control?

Mason: It’s an indication that the popular uprising in the United States that’s labeled Occupy movement, that it’s a successful grassroots movement to shift power away from corporate America and to shift power away from the bankers in Wall Street, back into the communities where it belongs.

It’s an indication of the effectiveness of the Occupy Movement.

Press TV: When you say then that the movement has been effective in its own way, explain to us how effective it has been.

Mason: The Occupy movement is part of the global popular uprising that was stimulated or initiated by the 2008 global economic collapse. I wouldn’t place the origin of it in Wisconsin.

The Occupy movement learned much from the failure of Wisconsin, Wisconsin was a gross failure, operated mainly by the unions; they played by the rules, the courts told them to go home and they went home.

And the Occupy movement is being criticized for not playing by party politics, and I would suggest that, that’s not the accurate or appropriate criticism, because Occupy movement has no interest in party politics, none whatsoever.

The movement is only six months old, as we recall, it only began in September.

And many of the other Occupy occupations began in November.

And here we are, basically we have commanded the public media, the corporate media is listening to the Occupy movement message.

And even the president of the United States has decided to move the IMF meeting from Chicago to a military compound in Camp David.

And so the Occupy movement is effective, it’s not interested in party politics, it’s not interested particularly in specific legislation or specific candidates for public office.

It’s a systemic change that is being driven by a popular movement that is worldwide.

Press TV: Let’s focus again on the response that the protesters have been getting.

Right now we were listening to a press conference by President Obama, and he was saying things about the housing prices, he introduced, in his words, the cheaper government-backed mortgages.

So basically, do you think the Obama administration has actually practically been addressing the exact demands that these protesters have been voicing?

Have these voices been heard or been addressed by the administration?

Mason: President Obama has no credibility and we have a country that’s run by the American oligarchs.

We are accustomed to hearing in the media, the popular press about the Russian oligarchs. Well in the United States we have the American oligarchs.

And the measures performed by President Obama are devious at best. They are another hidden bank bailout, and an opportunity for banks to get out from underneath crimes, vast crimes of fraud, perpetrated against millions of people in the United States.

So, we have a political system where the president is not credible, and nothing he says can be taken at face value, we have a popular movement that is the Occupy movement. It’s not interested in replacing, you know, one face with another face in the White House.

I’m on a committee that’s working towards setting up and convening a constitutional convention under article five of the constitution that permits the people to assemble to rewrite the constitution.

That’s what Occupy is all about, nothing to do with replacing one face with another face, or one oligarch with another oligarch.

I want to mention 1986 in the Philippines! What does this have to do with the United States?

The people went into the streets, they overthrew the dictator Marcos, and they went home, just like the people in Wisconsin, they went home!

And what happened, they replaced the dictator with basically a corporate oligarch, and nothing has changed.

If anything, we are going to learn something! I was in the streets in 1968, Cal State Northridge, state cops were chasing me, and I was young enough to avoid being arrested because I could run fast enough.

We went home!

Sixty-eight to seventy-two if we went home, if Occupy is not going home and we’re not playing this.

Press TV: Do you think that this means a lack of trust in both parties?

Mason: This system is broken!

The system is broken in Russia, it’s broken in Egypt and it’s broken in the United States.

And, the long-term goal of Occupy is a systemic change to shift power from the one-percent to the 99-percent.

That can’t be done in one election, although this is a very important election year.

I do want to say, that I appreciate the opportunity for us to discuss this today in the studio, but I like to remind, to myself even, that people are in the streets, the Occupy movements are in the streets, today, these past weeks, preventing people from being flown out of their homes.

Real people in the Occupy movement are in the real streets, walking home foreclosures, saving people from being thrown out of their homes.


Occupy Wall Street suffers from leadership crisis Dr. Webster Tarpley

Press TV: Dr. Tarpley, let’s talk about the way that the police has been treating these protesters. The police are saying we have to get involved because we do not want things to become violent.

The protesters –on the other hand– are saying that, no, this is a systematic crackdown on the protests.

So basically what is your belief on this?

Tarpley: Well, naturally we are in the run of class struggle and the mass strikes. So repression is inevitable. The question is: can you win?

I think it focuses a little bit narrow in the sense that the Occupy Wall Street is really the tail end of something bigger, which is what started in Madison, Wisconsin last February; the Occupy Madison which was a general strike to shutdown the entire state, fighting a fascist governor [Scott] Walker who wanted to destroy all the unions and this is ongoing.

The people in Wisconsin were able to gather one million signatures, the biggest effort proportionally of that type in the history of the United States that has ever happened.

This is where the action is. We also have in Michigan right now; signatures have been gathered to stop the fascist governor of that state, [Rick] Snyder, from taking over the city of Detroit, essentially ending democracy and ruling it as a dictator.

We have unfortunately had a defeat in Indiana, where the union busting bill has gone through with Governor Mitch Daniels, but we have also got a victory in Ohio where the movement there was able to defeat the fascist governor [John R.] Kasich by 61 to 39 percent.

Of course when the communications workers, the transport workers, the teachers, came to Wall Street, that Zuccotti Park demonstrations, that really got going and got on the map.

So it is a mass strike. The problem we have is it is not successful in the Occupy Wall Street. The Zuccotti Park, I think you would have to say, is a failure.

Success would be: are you on your way to a hundred members of the House of Representatives? Are you on your way to ten senators? Have you forced through the Wall Street Sales Tax? Have you stopped foreclosures? Are you on your way to seizing the Federal Reserve?

In other words, what have you done to concretely smash the power of finance capital?

We would have to say the Occupy model with the facilitators and consensus and the 90 percent threshold to get anything approved. This has not been successful.

And I think anybody who wants to repeat that should have it examined.

It is time to come on to a different approach; especially you have got to put forward hard-hitting class-based demands.

Press TV: Dr. Tarpley, basically when we are speaking of how can this movement be effective, is it about, as our guest in Calgary was saying, giving specific agendas, setting out outlining demands or when you mean that they have not been successful, what do you mean they should be doing to have that effect that you were speaking about?

Tarpley: The goal of revolution is to take power. It is not to change the conversation or to force the moving of a meeting from one place to another.

I think this is a pitiful, pathetic scale of expectation. You have got to dare to struggle to dare to win and winning again means getting a hundred representatives into the House of Representatives to fight for the measures that you want; getting ten Senators, forcing through some legislation, we could have had a Wall Street Sales Tax.

A one percent tax on all Wall Street turnover passed last autumn. That could have been forced to the Congress with the right kind of leadership.

Hit Wall Street where it hurts, make them pay, break their power, smash their stranglehold over all the engines of this government.

The problem of course is we have anarchists in the leadership.

Press TV: Mr. Tarpley, you are calling this a revolution then and you are saying it lacks leadership and that is the problem.

Tarpley: It had better be. If you want to take power, you have got to have demands; you have David Graeber, the mush headed anthropologist, who seems to be the guru of this movement. I think he operates from London. He went to Yale and now he is in London.

Graeber says, no, we should not have any demands; I will go with Fredrick Douglass; this is wisdom.

Fredrick Douglass said, power is nothing without a demand. If you want something, you have got to get out there and demand it.

Adbusters that was just mentioned, I really wonder who they are; what is their relation to NATO intelligence?

They come on as the situation is international. Well, that was founded by NATO intelligence to destabilize General [Charles] de Gaulle of France, back around 1960.

Who are these people?

Press TV: Dr. Tarpley, basically when you say that you are criticizing this movement for not being strong enough, you are calling it a revolution, there has been a question asked very frequently now I am hearing in the media in the US and elsewhere, should this movement become violent?

Should this movement get involved in actions that could be construed as violent?

Tell us what you mean then by that?

Tarpley: No, of course not. Only an anarchist lunatic, a police agent, would recommend such a thing. You have got to build your strength with demands, once you have got Zuccotti Park, let us say.

The main role of the mass strike is spread the strike, bring in new groups, bring in labor, bring in women, blacks, Hispanics, bring in soldiers, have something to say about war and peace. They did not even have that.

There was no comprehensive anti-war demand made until very very late in the day.

Do not listen to Adbusters in Vancouver, British Columbia. Forget about David Graeber.

You have got to show… if you have got a group of students and homeless in a park, you have got to show that you are willing to fight for the other people in the society; you would better be fighting for a Wall Street Sales Tax to pay for unlimited, unemployment benefits.

99 weeks plus stop all foreclosures. We had that; the Frazier-Lemke [Farm Bankruptcy] Act of the 1930’s; Medicare for all; anybody who wants it, gets it.

Seize the Federal Reserve and start issuing one trillion dollar tranches of credit.

You have got to get out there.You cannot offer people a utopia; you cannot tell working people that they should come and enjoy the utopian thrill of being in a commune in a park. They cannot do that.

You have got to get out there and show that you are fighting for them. Then when the police come after you, they will be willing to fight for you.

The failure of Zuccotti Park is that they were not willing to fight for anybody in a serious way and when the time came, nobody was willing to fight for them.


99-percenters movement, a manifestation of Arab revolts’ Joshua Blakeney


Press TV: Would you say that the Occupy movement has not been successful?

Blakeney: I’ve participated in Occupy Vancouver and Occupy Calgary, and unfortunately what we’ve seen is a kind of crackdown, of course it was Adbusters in Vancouver that was actually the instigator of Occupy Wall Street.

And I pick up the historical narrative slightly before where Webster picks it up with events in Madison; I really pick it up with the Arab Spring.

Of course the events in the Middle East of trying to oust and defenestrate those like Hosni Mubarak; we were told this was Arab Spring just for Arab people.

But increasingly it became apparent to those of us in North America and Western countries that really the Hosni Mubarak’s, I mean are they any different to the Barack Obama, the Stephen Harper’s you know, kind of puppets of various lobbies and those who are on capital.

And so I see really the Occupy movement as being a manifestation of the Arab Spring, in the West as it were.

And so I agree with Webster that there needs to be a less kind of post-modern kind of decentralized approach to formulating goals and you know, an agenda that we can bring to the politicians and demand that we have some justice in the world

And I think that personally we need to understand that our governments are occupied themselves by lobbyist. And that in a sense the Occupy movement is kind of emergency measures.

You know after the fraudulent events 9/11 we kind of were told we need the Patriot Act and we need emergency measures. But in fact, I think we’re seeing with the Occupy with people coming to their public squares, is the implementation of a kind of people’s emergency measures.

Because it’s just getting to intolerable, the kind of polarization, you know the rich getting rich getting richer the poor getting poorer, students having to get into tens of thousands of dollars of debts just to get a basic education, and so I view the Occupy movement as continuing, even though these by-laws have been used to oust those who have occupied their public squares.

Press TV: Do you think that in spite of the fact that the demands of the movement have been voiced at least to some extent, the problem would be that the Obama administration, the authorities have chosen to ignore those demands?

Blakeney: Yeah, I mean obviously we have to bear in mind that there has been a quite brutal crackdown on the Occupyists, those who are participating in the Occupy movement.

I mean in a way the crackdown have vindicated many of the allegation of the government that we have no constitution anymore. I mean, you have these kinds of lofty principles of right to assembly, freedom of speech, but invariably what you have happening is local bylaws that say you can’t put up a tent in your town square.

They’ve be trumping and superseding the supreme laws of the country! That happened here in Calgary where I am, there was a court trial, Occupy Calgary vs. the City of Calgary, and the city of Calgary was supported by the judicial decision.

And he said yes the bylaws superseding the supreme right of, you know of citizens to assemble and have freedom of speech, likewise in Vancouver, it was the same.

Although I would agree that the demands do need to be more explicit and more lucid.

When I went to Vancouver on October 15th, three days of four days after that, we had George W. Bush visiting a sorry British Colombia which is just outside Vancouver; now in Canada we have crimes against humanity and war crimes act and an immigration and refugee protection act, both of which are ambiguous to people who have confessed to having participated in authorized torture are immiscible to Canada, and many jurists and lawyers have drawn attention to that.

Now I nominated that in Occupy Vancouver as an obvious cause, I don’t think there was anyone there that would say George Bush shouldn’t be arrested.

But unfortunately there was this kind of ethoses, decentralized kind of anarchistic ethos that we shouldn’t have any leadership and anyone kind of telling people what they should think and what they should do.

And I do concur with Dr. Tarpley on that point that this has kind of led to a kind of malaise that those in power are actually not being prompted hard enough to, you know, to reckon with the masses that are seeding with rage in (sic) policies.

Press TV: I just like to point to something else here, and that’s the upcoming presidential election in the United States, when our guest in San Francisco, Professor Mason is saying, this is not about changing face.

Do you think that this movement has at least led to mistrust in the political system in the United States, the way the elections are held, the two-party system?

How is that going to translate in the elections?

Blakeney: Well I think the US one-party state with two competing factions is bereft of credibility frankly.

And I’d be, I’m going to be less pessimistic and a little more sanguine that Dr. Tarpley and a little more patient you know.

My experience is that, my friends who were occupying in their tents, they haven’t completely dissipated, nearly every weekend they’re out organizing and coming together in trying to find, formulate policies that they can promote you know, and causes that they can advocate.

And it’s not the case that this is completely over, we got the summer coming, and I’d be a little more patient than Dr. Tarpley, I think the point with the Occupy movement was, it was highly apoplectic.

My experience was that there were people who were in the green movements, people who cared about food, and people who cared about anti-war causes. And there is a kind of preliminary steps that are needed in order to come together and find out where we agree, where we disagree.


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Debbie Menon is an independent writer based in Dubai. Her main focus are the US-Mid- East Conflicts. Her writing has been featured in many print and online publications. Her writing reflects the incredible resilience, almost superhuman steadfastness of the occupied and oppressed Palestinians, who are now facing the prospect of a final round of ethnic cleansing. She is committed to exposing Israel's Lobbies' control of ‘U.S. Middle East Policy. Control’ which amounts to treason by the Zionist lobbies in America and its stooges in Congress, and that guarantees there can never be a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, only catastrophe for all, in the region and the world. Her mission is to inform and educate internet viewers seeking unfiltered information about real events on issues of the US/Middle East conflicts that are unreported, underreported, or distorted in the American media. PS: For those of her detractors that think she is being selective and even “one-sided,” tough, that is the point of her work, to present an alternative view and interpretation of the US-Israel-Middle East conflict, that has been completely ignored in mainstream discourse. The purpose is to look at the current reality from a different and critical perspective, not to simply rehash the pro-US/Israel perspective, smoke and mirrors that has been allowed to utterly and completely dominate Mainstream discourse.