Sunday, November 6, 2011

New Website....

We've moved to the new Word Press site at should be redirected in a moment.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

No news is good news...for the 1%

Right now on the streets of Oakland, CA thousands of people have gone on strike, joining with Occupy Oakland, and marching to protest the crimes of the Plutofascist Corporatocracy that is largely responsible for the dystopian nightmare that is the day to day life of the 99%.
I checked the homepages of our major news providers. It seems that our corporate paymasters have ordered a blackout in reply to the strike. None of them so much as mentions what is happening in Oakland at the moment. Most are leading with Stories about Lindsay Lohan's alcoholism, and Justin Bieber's being a typical teenage boy with a lot of money. At least Fox News's top story is something important...namely our paymasters most recent push for a nuclear war in the Middle East....

Blackout Roll-Call
1. Fox News
2. ABC
3. NBC
4. CBS
6. NPR

Shame on them all.

Update: By 8:30 pm all news sources were carrying the story except for Fox News.
Update: 12:00 am Nov 3: FNC finally posted their (fairly unbalanced) story.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why the 100% Should Support the Occupy Movement

I'm curious what readers will make of the following argument for the claim that not just the 99% but indeed everyone should support the Occupy Movement.

  1. Either you are part of the 99% or you are a part of the 1%.
  2. Assume you are part of the 99%.
  3. If you are part of the 99%, then it is in your interest to support movements that promote a more equitable distribution of power (wealth) in society.
  4. The Occupy Movement promotes a more equitable distribution of power (wealth) in society.
  5. Therefore it is in your interest to support the Occupy Movement.
  6. Now assume you are a part of the 1%.
  7. If you are a part of the 1%, then it is in your interest to support movements that promote a more equitable distribution of power (wealth) in society.
  8. The Occupy Movement promotes a more equitable distribution of power (wealth) in society.
  9. Therefore, it is in your interest to support the Occupy Movement.

Now clearly (7) is the most contentious premise. What is there to say in its favor? It seems to me that history teaches us that precipitous inequities in power (wealth) distribution almost unfailingly lead to mass revolution against those few hands who hold all the power (wealth). The French Revolution, The American Revolution, The Bolshevik Revolution, and revolutions in countries throughout the world always seem to occur when the balance of power (wealth) skews to far toward any minority.

Thus it behooves the 1% to occasionally relinquish their hold on their ill gotten stores of power (wealth) so as to avoid mass uprising. To do anything else is contrary to their own interests. Sure, they'll have less power (wealth), perhaps much less, but they will survive and even flourish. If this argument is sound, then regardless of one's position, whether among the 99% or the 1% one should support the Occupy Movement. The alternative is too ugly to fathom.

Monday, October 31, 2011

“Security” & “Safety” at OWS

The Oakland occupation was shut down last week, albeit temporarily, on the grounds of concerns about safety and security. Rather than assume we know what ‘safety’ and ‘security’ mean, this invites some inquiry. Can ‘safety’ be secured in the midst of an activist movement?

Sexual assaults of various sorts had been rumored in Oakland, as well as thefts, drug use, and transgressions on public property. Marijuana use is hardly a major concern in Oakland California, where it has been effectively decriminalized through medical permissions, and the smell pervades the city's parks, but the possibility of a lawless space inviting violence of one sort or another is an image that could certainly garner public support for a crackdown. Images of Waco might come to the surface, the religious cult in Texas where a culture of child rape instigated a heavy state response that cleaned out the compound with resultant deaths. In Oakland, the state actions on October 25 were similarly extreme, seriously injuring Iraq veteran Scott Olsen.

Clearly, today’s political occupations, whether in Oakland or in New York, where I live, are not in any way analogous to Waco. They are not closed cults, vulnerable to abuse by charismatic leaders who are accountable to no one, but open communities with totally open borders. That openness is precisely the challenge to safety and security. As a survivor of child sexual assault myself, I want the problem of sexual violence taken seriously in its own right, not as a pretext for some other agenda. And I want a realistic approach to security.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

God & the 1%: The Corporatizing of Religion

An element of the oppression of the 99% that has as far as I can tell gone unremarked upon (at least in the context of the new discourse being raised by the Occupy movement) is the increasing Corporatization of religion in the United States in the last 50 years or so. Televangelists like Joyce Meyer,* Binny Hinn, Paula White, T.D. Jakes, Rod Parsley and Joel Osteen (the posh-looking stadium pictured above is Pastor Osteen’s megachurch and corporate headquarters) prey on the fear and despair of the 99% in the most repugnant way, offering them worldly comfort and security and even eternal salvation in exchange for a small donation to their “ministry.” And business is booming. Joel Osteen’s ministry took in a staggering $75 million (US) last year. That’s a lot of books, videos, television rights, trinkets, speaking fees, and Church “offerings.” Osteen lives in a multimillion dollar estate and his ministry owns a private jet.

Regardless of one’s commitments to theism or atheism, surely all rational people who are capable even moderate reflection can see that there is something seriously morally wrong about filling a stadium full of mostly middle class and poor people and using the technical wizardy and audio/visual razzle-dazzle typically associated with rock-concerts and major sporting events to soften up these unsuspecting “marks” and coerce them into a scheme of wealth redistribution which robs them of money they need to live in return for vague promises of divine favor and a better hereafter.

But you don’t have to be a televangelist to cash in...

’Tis the season for Justice!

That is, a Rawls virtual reading group. In light of all the Rawlsian interest (or, okay, I was planning this anyway), I’ll be facilitating a Rawls reading group on the SFSU philosophy blog.

We will have Tuesday and Thursday reading “deadlines,” and I will be posting on Wednesdays and Fridays in the dreamy hope that others will be similarly inspired.

Let Them Eat Cake, Or, the Spectacle of Suffering

First there was this:

And then there was this:

Practical Stuff

So, talking about OWS is fun and all, but is anyone watching this on the ground with any of the protests? Everyone who can should, of course, respond to the call for hard-weather gear, but are there ways that philosophers can be better contributors to the movement, qua philosophers?  Teach-ins, reciting Platonic dialogues for entertainment, that sort of thing.

SPEP Supports OWS!

A reader associated with the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, the second largest body of professional philosophers in the country, sent us a copy of the following statement of solidarity with OWS.

URGENT: OWS Needs Winter Supplies!

See: OWS Urgent Winter Donation Needs

In light of the cold, snowy weather in New York and the sudden confiscation of its generators by the NYPD, Occupy Wall Street is in dire need of winter supplies. See the link above for details.

On a more general note, winter is coming and occupations around the country will soon be faced with their biggest challenge yet: mother nature! Whether you live near (or are involved in) an occupation or not, please consider donating money and/or supplies. Better yet, why not start a donation campaign or supply drive on your campus?

Let's help!