John Marsh – L’éducation suffira-t-elle ? Contre les inégalités, une panacée illusoire.

Alors même que les campements du mouvement Occuper Wall Street (OWS) se multipliaient aux Etats-Unis, une étude très officielle publiée au mois de novembre est venue en éclairer les fondements. Selon le Bureau du budget du Congrès (Congressional Budget Office, CBO), le revenu médian (1) des foyers américains a crû de 35 % entre 1979 et 2007. Pendant la même période, les salaires progressaient sept fois plus vite pour le centile le plus riche (soit 1 %de la population) (2).

Le jour qui suivit l’annonce de ces chiffres, l’éditorialiste Nicholas Kristof — identifié comme « plutôt à gauche » — publia dans le New York Times un article intitulé « Occuper la salle de classe » (3). Tout en prenant la mesure du problème posé par les inégalités socio-économiques aux Etats-Unis, il s’y démarquait des revendications implicites des manifestants : il n’en appelait ni à une augmentation de la contribution fiscale des plus riches, ni à une régulation du système financier, encore moins à l’emprisonnement de banquiers en vue. Lire la suite

Chris Hedges – Northern Light

I gave a talk last week at Canada’s Wilfrid Laurier University to the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Many in the audience had pinned small red squares of felt to their clothing. The carre rouge, or red square, has become the Canadian symbol of revolt. It comes from the French phrase carrement dans le rouge, or “squarely in the red,” referring to those crushed by debt. Lire la suite

Noam Chomsky – Plutonomy and the Precariat

Quelques extraits du dernier livre de Noam Chomsky — Occupy — proposés sur TomDispastch.com.

The Occupy movement has been an extremely exciting development. Unprecedented, in fact. There’s never been anything like it that I can think of. If the bonds and associations it has established can be sustained through a long, dark period ahead — because victory won’t come quickly — it could prove a significant moment in American history.

The fact that the Occupy movement is unprecedented is quite appropriate. After all, it’s an unprecedented era and has been so since the 1970s, which marked a major turning point in American history. For centuries, since the country began, it had been a developing society, and not always in very pretty ways. That’s another story, but the general progress was toward wealth, industrialization, development, and hope. There was a pretty constant expectation that it was going to go on like this. That was true even in very dark times. Lire la suite

Jacob Remes – May Day’s Radical History: What Occupy Is Fighting for This May 1st

American general strikes—or rather, American calls for general strikes, like the one Occupy Los Angeles issued last December that has been endorsed by over 150 general assemblies—are tinged with nostalgia.

The last real general strike in this country, which is to say, the last general strike that shut down a city, was in Oakland, California in 1946—though journalist John Nichols has suggested that what we saw in Madison, Wisconsin last year was a sort of general strike. When we call a general strike, or talk of one, we refer not to a current mode of organizing; we refer back, implicitly or explicitly, to some of the most militant moments in American working-class history. People posting on the Occupy strike blog How I Strike have suggested that next week’s May Day is highly symbolic. As we think about and develop new ways of “general striking,” we also reconnect with a past we’ve mostly forgotten. Lire la suite

Charles Reeve – Occupy. Cette agaçante interruption du « business as usual »

Les révoltes du printemps arabe ont fait tomber des gouvernements autocratiques, remplacés dans la foulée par des régimes de démocratie parlementaire, dans lesquels les classes dirigeantes ont pu préserver leur pouvoir — confirmant, une fois de plus, la nature commune de ces deux formes de gouvernement des pauvres. Le mouvement des Indignés, lui, propose une critique des systèmes représentatifs. Et cette critique est maintenant reprise et développée, outre-Atlantique, par le mouvement Occupy. Que ces questions soient posées dans la société constituant la clé de voûte du système capitaliste est en soi d’une grande importance.

Chez les Indignés espagnols, les débats se sont centrés, au début, sur la critique de la démocratie représentative, dénoncée comme imparfaite par la tendance majoritaire, comme un leurre par la frange plus radicale. Aux États-Unis, où la sphère politique est davantage perçue comme séparée de la vie sociale, lesOccupiers ont assez peu discuté du fonctionnement du système politique, visant dès le début une remise en question des fondements inégalitaires du système économique, identifiés comme la cause des croissantes injustices sociales et de la destruction du monde (homme et nature) en cours. En opposant les 99 % aux 1 %, ils ont d’emblée touché du doigt la fausse égalité formelle qui est à la base de la démocratie représentative. Lire la suite

Eugene Robinson – Reexamining the myth of no-fault capitalism

From all evidence, the issue of economic justice isn’t going away. Break the news gently to Mitt Romney, who seems apoplectic that the whole “rich get richer, poor get poorer” thing is being discussed out loud. In front of the children, for goodness’ sake.

“You know I think it’s fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms,” he told the “Today” show’s Matt Lauer last week. “But the president has made this part of his campaign rally. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It’s a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach.” Lire la suite

Tony Benn : A Voice From Labour’s Left

 

Tony Benn is now 86. He left Parliament 10 years ago in order, as he put it, « to spend more time on politics. » Benn’s public service career began in 1950 and was interrupted in 1960, when his father died and he became Viscount Stansgate. After a famous struggle, in which his determination to relinquish his title won popular support, British law was changed to allow members of the nobility to renounce their titles. In Benn’s case, it meant that he was free to return to Parliament as a commoner. (Lords–peers–can be in government, but they can’t sit in the House of Commons.)

Benn served in both Harold Wilson’s and James Callaghan’s Labour governments, but has since moved leftward. And while that trajectory may have cut short his ministerial career, he has remained an enormously popular figure with Labour activists. Indeed, the adjective « Bennite » has been used for years to describe the small number of left-wing Labour MPs, and the much larger number of unhappy Labour supporters, who have nonetheless maintained their loyalty to the party.

The central belief for which Benn has fought and argued most effectively has been popular democracy. Since retiring from Parliament, he has been involved in grassroots politics, holding the post of president of the Stop the War Coalition and, most recently, speaking out in favor of the Occupy movement.

Eight volumes of his political diaries have been published, and he is currently at work on the ninth. He spoke to In These Times at his home in London. Lire la suite

Naomi Klein & Yotam Marom – Occupy Wall Street : Why Now ? What’s Next ?

Naomi Klein: One of the things that’s most mysterious about this moment is “Why now?” People have been fighting austerity measures and calling out abuses by the banks for a couple of years, with basically the same analysis: “We won’t pay for your crisis.” But it just didn’t seem to take off, at least in the US. There were marches and there were political projects and there were protests like Bloombergville, but they were largely ignored. There really was not anything on a mass scale, nothing that really struck a nerve. And now suddenly, this group of people in a park set off something extraordinary. So how do you account for that, having been involved in Occupy Wall Street since the beginning, but also in earlier anti-austerity actions?

Yotam Marom: Okay, so the first answer is, I have no idea, no one does. But I can offer some guesses. I think there are a few things you have to pay attention to when you see moments like these. One is conditions—unemployment, debt, foreclosure, the many other issues people are facing. Lire la suite

B. & J. Ehrenreich – The making of the American 99%

“Class happens when some men, as a result of common experiences (inherited or shared), feel and articulate the identity of their interests as between themselves, and as against other men whose interests are different from (and usually opposed to) theirs.”

– E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class

The “other men” (and of course women) in the current American class alignment are those in the top 1% of the wealth distribution — the bankers, hedge-fund managers, and CEOs targeted by the Occupy Wall Street movement. They have been around for a long time in one form or another, but they only began to emerge as a distinct and visible group, informally called the “super-rich,” in recent years. Lire la suite