Tag Archives: Occupy Wall Street

BBC News – The curious survival of the US Communist Party

By Aidan Lewis BBC News, New York

Like fellow movements around the world, the US Communist Party suffered a crippling blow with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. But a small group of die-hard members persevered.

Not far from Wall Street, on the seventh floor of an elegant eight-storey building on West 23rd Street, is the headquarters of an improbable political survivor – the Communist Party USA.

The office is bright and modern. On one wall are black-and-white photo portraits of major figures in the party’s history. The works of Marx, Engels and Lenin are stacked in bookshelves.

The building was bought to house the party in the 1970s before the surrounding neighbourhood of Chelsea became fashionable. “We got a great bargain on it,” says secretary-treasurer Roberta Wood.

In a concession to capitalist reality, all but two floors are now rented out. The revenue supports People’s World, an online publication that is the direct descendent of the party’s long defunct newspaper, the Daily Worker.

Continue reading BBC News – The curious survival of the US Communist Party

Pope says he is not a Marxist, but defends criticism of capitalism

Pope Francis says trickle-down economics do not help the poor, in a wide-ranging interview with Italian daily La Stampa

By in Rome, The Guardian

Pope Francis has rejected accusations from rightwing Americans that his teaching is Marxist, defending his criticisms of the capitalist system and urging more attention be given to the poor in a wide-ranging interview.

In remarks to the Italian daily La Stampa, the Argentinian pontiff said that the views he had espoused in his first apostolic exhortation last month – which the rightwing US radio host Rush Limbaugh attacked as “dramatically, embarrassingly, puzzlingly wrong” – were simply those of the church’s social doctrine. Limbaugh described the pope’s church reforms as “pure Marxism”.

“The ideology of Marxism is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended,” Francis was quoted as saying.

Defending his criticism of the “trickle-down” theory of economics, he added: “There was the promise that once the glass had become full it would overflow and the poor would benefit. But what happens is that when it’s full to the brim, the glass magically grows, and thus nothing ever comes out for the poor … I repeat: I did not talk as a specialist but according to the social doctrine of the church. And this does not mean being a Marxist.”

Read more » The Guardian
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/15/pope-francis-defends-criticism-of-capitalism-not-marxist?CMP=fb_gu

Italy hit by wave of Pitchfork protests as austerity unites disparate groups

Demonstrations point to frustration with traditional politics, with minister warning parliament of a country in ‘spiral of rebellion’

by in Rome, theguardian.com

They blocked roads and stopped trains,occupied piazzas, clashed with police and closed shops. From Turin and Milan in the north to Puglia and Sicily in the south, Italy was hit this week by a wave of protests that brought together disparate groups and traditional foes in an angry show of opposition to austerity policies and the government.

They [politicians] have brought us to hunger; have destroyed the identity of a country; have annihilated the future of entire generations,” read one poster from the “December 9 Committee”, an umbrella organisation urging Italians to rise up against the euro, Brussels, globalisation and, primarily, Enrico Letta’s government. “To rebel is a duty.”

In a loosely formed movement which has gone largely by the name of I Forconi (the Pitchforks), lorry drivers, farmers, small business owners, students and unemployed people staged protests venting their fury at a political class which they blame for Italy’s longest post-war recession and want to “send home”.

But they were not alone. Alongside them were anti-globalisation groups, members of the Veneto Independence movement, elements of the far right and – for good measure – football “ultras”. Among the sights “rarely seen before”, reported the Turin-based daily La Stampa, were supporters of arch-rivals Juventus and Torino standing “side by side”.

Although the protests had been publicised, especially on the internet, their scale and occasionally violent nature – particularly in Turin, a historic city of protest – appeared to take many by surprise.

In a country struggling to exit a two-year long recession, in which unemployment is at a record high of 12.5% and one in 10 children is thought to be living in absolute poverty, the causes of the unrest are hardly unfathomable.

Read more » The Guardian
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/13/italy-pitchfork-protests-austerity-unites-groups

Pope Francis Calls Unfettered Capitalism ‘Tyranny’

by Joshua Holland

Earlier this month, Laurie Goodstein reported for The New York Times that Pope Francis’ softer rhetoric on hot-button social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage were causing conservative Catholics no small amount of chagrin.

It looks like they can expect more cognitive dissonance, according to this report in The Guardian

Pope Francis has attacked unfettered capitalism as “a new tyranny”, urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff.

The 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, amounted to an official platform for his papacy, building on views he has aired in sermons and remarks since he became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years in March.

In it, Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the “idolatry of money” and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens “dignified work, education and healthcare”.

He also called on rich people to share their wealth. “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,” Francis wrote in the document issued on Tuesday.

“How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”

In a sense, the new pope is just grappling with the reality he faces. Polls show that American Catholics, at least, agree with the pontiff’s position that the church focuses too much on social issues. And Francis recently commissioned a survey of Catholics around the world to see where they fall on these questions.

Meanwhile, Dominic Barton, the Managing Director of McKinsey & Co., writes in today’s Wall Street Journal: ”In 2012, the top 1% of earners in the US collected 19.3% of the country’s total household income–an all-time high… The disparity is growing rapidly as well. Incomes of the top 1% grew by 31.4% from 2009 to 2012, compared to just 0.4% for the remaining 99%.

Continue reading Pope Francis Calls Unfettered Capitalism ‘Tyranny’

Bulgaria Day 160 of ДАНСwithme Anti-Government Protest and OccupySU Students Joined by Bulgaria’s largest trade union CITUB.

An estimated 4,000 Bulgarian workers protested on Wednesday against low wages and a lack of jobs, a sign that opposition to the Socialist-led cabinet may be spreading beyond its student base. Wednesday is the 160th consecutive day of protests, which were triggered by a controversial cabinet nomination in June.

Wednesday’s protesters, led by Bulgaria’s largest trade union CITUB, marched through the capital Sofia to demand a 10 percent increase in public sector salaries and reforms in the inefficient and corruption-prone healthcare and energy sectors.

We want to see the economy turned to the problems of the workers. We want decent pay and jobs. If the government do not take note now, our next move will be to go to strike,” said CITUB leader Plamen Dimitrov.

The centre-left government has faced almost daily protests since taking office in May. Corruption was the main cause of disgruntlement at the outset of the demonstrations, which had until now been led by students and relatively well-to-do urban professionals who account for a small proportion of Bulgaria’s population. Their daily protests in front of parliament have focused less on bread-and-butter issues and more on what they say is the poor governance that still blights Bulgaria more than two decades after the fall of communism and six years after it joined the European Union.
Read more » Revolution News
http://revolution-news.com/bulgaria-day-160-anti-government-protest-and-occupysu-students-joined-by-bulgarias-largest-trade-union-citub/

Occupy Wall Street’s debt buying strikes at the heart of capitalism

In buying debt so cheaply and writing it off, Occupy has revealed the illusory and circular nature of owing money

By

Across the United States, 2,693 people have received a letter in the last few months, which identified a debt and read: “You are no longer under any obligation to settle this account with the original creditor, the bill collector, or anyone else.” This is the work of the Rolling Jubilee project – a non-profit initiative which buys personal debt for pennies on the dollar in the secondary market (where debt is sold to companies who then resell it to collection agencies) but then simply cancels it.

When the Occupy movement came into being in the summer of 2011, its critics said that a lack of identifiable objectives and strategy for achieving them meant it was doomed to fail. This was a monumental underestimation of its potential impact. Two years on, the debate about the ethics of corporate capitalism in its current form, the fairness of the remuneration of those at the top, the widening wealth gap and the morality of tax avoidance is alive and well. The concept of the “99%” is now part of the collective consciousness. All this is, in no small part, down to the fuse lit by the Occupy movement.

However, another significant aspect of the movement – dismissed as being woolly – was that it brought like-minded people together and allowed a dialogue which identified common strands. This appears to have evolved into several focused and practical initiatives. One of the most significant, and perhaps the most threatening to the status quo, is the Strike Debt group, of which the Rolling Jubilee project forms part.

The idea is that, those freed from debt and those sympathetic to the movement, then donate into the fund to keep it “rolling” forward; hence the name. The fund has already raised $600,000 and has used $400,000 of this to purchase and cancel an astonishing $14.7m of debt, primarily focusing on medical bills. This strikes at the very heart of the system, not only by using its own perverse rules against it, but critically by revealing the illusory and circular nature of debt.

Capitalism requires a layer of cheap, flexible labour to operate optimally. It is not a coincidence that the most successful global economy, by any traditional capitalist measure, is an authoritarian quasi-communist state. Many, myself included, have been arguing that our current predicament is not crisis-consequent austerity, but a permanent adjustment. David Cameron on Monday confirmed as much. The great lie, peddled by Thatcher and Reagan, was the idea that we could all be middle class, white-collar professionals within a neoliberal economy. It was simply not true.

Continue reading Occupy Wall Street’s debt buying strikes at the heart of capitalism