Social Justice Protests Head Everywhere – by Stephen Lendman
Ordinary people across the Middle East, Europe and America are fed up and want long denied social justice.
Londoners are enraged about growing social pain, government in the pockets of monied interests, and endless imperial wars they want ended – NOW!
On October 8, The London Guardian headlined, “Stop the War Coalition demo in London marks 10th anniversary of Afghan war,” saying:
Protesters read aloud names of fallen UK soldiers, sacrificing their lives for war profiteer gains.
Masses “attended the Stop the War Coalition demonstration in Trafalgar Square, led by a former soldier who refused to fight and a 106-year-old peace activist.”
Court martialed and jailed for refusing to serve, Lance Corporal Joe Glenton read a letter to Prime Minister Cameron signed by other former US and UK servicemen, saying:
“We are making this statement in defiance of the propaganda and lies in support of the so-called war on terror for the last 10 years.”
“We know these wars have nothing to do with democracy or security or women’s rights or peace or stability. They are fought for money and power and nothing else.”
Precisely so! Wars are never for liberation, humanitarian reasons or democratic values. They’re for imperial dominance, colonization, resource and people exploitation, and war profiteering enrichment, no matter the body count to achieve them.
“Our comrades’ blood has lubricated the ambitions of the few,” read Glenton.
On October 6, Guardian writer Simon Jenkins wrote what’s never seen on US television or broadsheet op-eds, headling: “Vanity, machismo and greed have blinded us to the folly of Afghanistan,” saying:
“Everything about Afghanistan beggars belief. This week,” Washington’s installed puppet leader Karzai “brazenly signed a military agreement with India, knowing it would enrage” Pakistan.
“Meanwhile, in Washington, the Pentagon is exulting over its new strategy of drone killing, claiming this aerial ‘counterterrorism’ ” can win hearts and minds.
In Helmand, British journalists regurgitated the Big Lie about “real progress” being made.
In private meetings, generals admit the war was lost years ago, whatever strategy is used. No matter. Entering its second decade, it’s ongoing endlessly.
War in Afghanistan “has been a catalogue of unrelieved folly….Britain’s part in this has been dire….Democracy has snatched defeat from the arms of victory – without a shred of a reason.”
New York Times and Washington Post editorial writers commemorated the Afghan war’s 10th anniversary with silence. Television reports regurgitated the Big Lie heard in Britain and America about progress being made.
In his 1995 book, “In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam,” former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara wrote:
“(W)e were wrong, terribly wrong. We owe it to future generations to explain why.”
In 1965, he knew the war was lost and said so, telling Johnson:
“I don’t believe they’re ever going to quit. And I don’t see that we have any plan for victory – militarily or diplomatically.”
At the same, he ordered dramatic escalation, no matter the futility or lawlessness.
Repeatedly, General William Westmoreland told Congress and the US public that progress was being made. On Meet the Press on November 19, 1967, he regurgitated the lie, saying he felt confident “within two years or less….we will be able to phase-down the level of our military effort.”
Two months later Tet began, convincing Pentagon commanders and growing numbers of Congress that the war was lost. Nonetheless, US troops stayed until Washington ended its involvement unceremoniously with a humiliating Saigon embassy rooftop pullout.
Will Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya end the same way? Will many thousands more die before they do? Will Americans demand they end now? Thousands of Stop the Machine Washington occupiers:
“pledge(d) that if any US troops, contractors, or mercenaries remain in Afghanistan on Thursday, October 6, 2011….I will commit to being in (Washington’s) Freedom Plaza….with others….for as long as I can (to) mak(e) it our Tahrir Square….our Madison, Wisconsin, where we will NONVIOLENTLY resist the corporate machine (and) demand America’s resources be invested in human needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation.”
“We can do this together. We will be the beginning.”
Many there pledged they won’t leave until their demands are met. They’re sick and tired of being sick and tired and want change.
Spreading US Protests
At the same time, Occupy Wall protests spread in weeks to nearly 1,000 cities and towns nationwide. They’re the first national uprising in decades. Nothing like them has been seen since earlier civil rights and anti-Vietnam war activism.
Global justice demonstrations since Seattle 1999 lasted several days then ebbed. Today’s rage against the system shows promise provided spirited energy doesn’t wane, leaders emerge to sustain it, and focus concentrates on what matters most – money power in private hands to make more of it at the public’s expense.
Wall Street controlled money can’t co-exist with democracy and social justice. It bribes political Washington to get what it wants. It buys members of America’s duopoly like toothpaste.
Americans have the best democracy money can buy. Addressing Freedom Plaza activists on October 8, Ralph Nader said:
“It is time for citizens to push their elected officials to break the corporate stranglehold on our country.”
“Congress has done more to bail out Wall Street than Main Street.” Infinitely more, in fact, with sustained trillions of dollars of handouts. At least, $16.1 trillion but very likely much more unreported.
“Wall Street crooks have avoided penalties and prosecution and continued to receive bonuses and excessive compensation while pensions and saving have been looted.”
Record corporate profits belie a growing Main Street Depression. Unemployment is over double official numbers. America’s worst ever housing crisis continues with no end in sight. Millions lost homes. Millions more will before it ends. Washington is doing nothing to help or create jobs.
“(I)income inequality in this country” is unprecedented. (T)he top 1% of the population has financial wealth equal to the combined financial wealth of the bottom 95% of the people.”
Protests across America are “way overdue (to make) the president and Congress listen.”
They hear, but they don’t care. They know, but they do nothing. They talk, but they don’t act.
Business as usual won’t end until people power replaces fossilized duopoly power with progressive government of, by and for the people.
Its main focus must be on returning money power to public hands where it belongs. Without it other objectives will fail, including ones Occupy Wall Street (OWS) adopted on September 29.
- social justice;
- environmental sanity;
- people, not corporate power;
- real, not fake democracy;
- ending inequality and persecution;
- reenergizing organized labor;
- ending America’s student loan racket;
- mandating education and universal healthcare as fundamental human rights;
- creating jobs and assuring working Americans have living wages;
- restoring, protecting and preserving a free and open media;
- getting money out of politics; and
- ending America’s global imperial wars.
These are problems and objectives. To one degree or another, many, perhaps most, people understand the importance of addressing them.
Solutions, however, aren’t proposed. Demands aren’t made, nor are concrete pledges for specific steps to be undertaken to achieve them.
Among others they should include:
- abolishing or nationalizing the Federal Reserve;
- ending all banker bailouts and other corporate handouts;
- revoking corporate personhood;
- reinstating Glass-Steagall, decoupling commercial from investment banks and insurers, among other provisions to curb speculation;
- imposing a Tobin tax on large financial transactions;
- a progressive income tax replacing today’s dysfunctional one;
- removing the payroll tax ceiling, taxing all earned income at the same rate including capital gains;
- empowering workers to bargain collectively with management on equal terms;
- guaranteeing a living wage, adjusted by urban, rural, state and local considerations;
- guaranteeing income for the indigent;
- real regulatory reform, reinstituting vital ones eroded or lost;
- abolishing monopoly and oligopoly power;
- strengthening public education;
- enacting universal, single-payer healthcare, excluding predatory insurers, except as a voluntary option;
- prohibiting money in politics and barring corporations from controlling elections by easily manipulated electronic voting machines; and
- make banking a public utility, encouraging publicly owned state banks.
Achieving these and other goals depends on returning money power to public hands. Otherwise, political Washington may only approve cosmetic changes too meager to matter.
Money power runs America. Baron MA Rothschild (1818 – 1874) once said, “Give me control over a nation’s currency and I care not who makes its laws.”
With it comes supreme power to control world markets, resources, and cheap labor, exploiting them for maximum profits.
Thomas Jefferson railed against money power, saying:
“I sincerely believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. (Money power) should be taken from the banks and restored to the people to whom it properly belongs.”
He later said:
“I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”
James Madison called bankers “Money Changers,” saying:
“History records that (they) have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit and violent means possible to maintain their control over government by controlling money and its issuance.”
Andrew Jackson called bankers “vipers and thieves.” Refusing to renew its charter, he described the Bank of the United States, America’s 19th century quasi central bank, as a “hydra-headed monster.” Jefferson opposed chartering it in the first place.
Lincoln called predatory money power “more despotic than a monarch, more insolent than autocracy, and more selfish than a bureaucracy….I have two great enemies, the Southern Army in front of me and the bankers in the rear. Of the two, the one at the rear is my greatest foe.”
The 1913 Federal Reserve Act giving Wall Street money power was America’s most destructive ever legislation. For nearly a century, it extracted a huge toll, amounting to permanent debt bondage by transferring national wealth to private hands.
John Adams once said, “There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.”
Former Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis (1856 – 1941) said, “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we can’t have both.”
Of course, America never had democracy. It has representative rule by political officials serving wealth and power interests only. More concentrated now than ever, ordinary people are entirely shut out.
Finally growing numbers said no more. Rallying impressively, it remains to be seen where this goes.
Will activists avoid being co-opted by political power brokers, corrupted labor bosses, and billionaires like George Soros wanting nothing interfering with how they operate?
Will their energy be sustained or will it wane, especially when northern cities get cold? Will numbers grow exponentially or diminish? Will achieving social justice matter enough to sustain enough spirit to fight for it and not quit?
Staying the course isn’t easy. Victories never come easily or quickly. So far street activism is impressive. Hopefully it’s got legs. Follow-up articles will report on if so.
A Final Comment
Whenever potentially significant social change movements emerge, powerful behind the scenes manipulators try to subvert them.
Occupy Wall Street is no exception. On October 7, Webster Tarpley asked who’s behind wanting to hijack the movement, saying:
General Assemblies appear to be diversions. About “20 mysterious and anonymous individuals (comprising) a kind of steering committee (are) pull(ing) the strings” behind the scenes.
“Many….appear to be active duty or recently retired military (taking orders from higher-ups)….If OWS leaders want to be transparent, let them” disclose their names forthrightly.
General Assemblies (GA) focus mostly on “trivia while the really big decisions are being made someplace else” behind closed doors.
Notably key figures like Michael Moore, Naomi Klein, Mike Myers and Joseph Stiglitz have appeared prominently. Regular GA participants “were never consulted about whether to invite” them.
At issue is subverting money power change, manipulating consensus, and co-opting OWS fervor “to get Obama reelected.”
“The consensus method provides immense comfort to predatory speculators on Wall Street, since it virtually guarantees that no potent and controversial strategy to break the power of finance capital can emerge.”
In other words, it assures failure if committed activists aren’t informed and aroused enough to stop them.
Stay tuned. Stay involved, and spread the word so everyone in the fight for social change knows what needs to be done to achieve it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.