Saturday, March 17, 2012

Saturday at Left Forum 2012: Occupy the Fed, Occupy God


What a full spectrum of revolutionary activity today: radical faith religious panels, and anti Federal Reserve activism, (complete with disinfo agents). The day ended with a inspiring, strategic, fun speech by Michael Moore, which in turn inspired 500 or 1000 of us to march from the Left Forum to Zucotti Park, on this, the 6 month anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. People are sleeping there right now. Occupy is not over, the Left is not dead.

I found myself swept up and marching and chanting in the spontaneous wild protest to get to Zucotti. An- Anti- AntiCapitalista! Still in the back of my mind are all the mixed feelings I have about the ways that capital needs to be re-appropriated and used by the people.

The panels I went to earlier were perfect for my own twin obsessions: radical spirituality and economic reform through exposing the truth. Marisa Egerstrom from Harvard Divinity School reported that there's a "spiritual hunger" people have been expressing. "We have a vague idea that something is wrong." Universalist minister Rosemary Bray McNatt said "I don't believe a political solution is sufficient."


What we are doing is liberation, and liberation is God, in an old old-school sense of the word. I am the God who brought you out of slavery. That's from Exodus, and it's a quote I heard at Left Forum 2010. I repeated it during the Q&A part of this panel. The panel was called "Holy Mess: Radical Spirituality and Action Meet at Occupy." Turns out Ms. Egerstrom and friends with Occupy Faith in Boston have a new documentary out, by the same title, Holy Mess.

When people believe, they are unstoppable. This is true if you are a Marxist, Baptist, or both. There was a Marxist Baptist on the panel too.

Next up was "Legalized Crime: Fed Bankers and the Creation of Debt-Money" sponsored by Julia Willebrand of the Green Party. I was kind of shocked when she told me she was chairing this panel. The Fed is such a taboo issue, most leftists think that it's a "right wing only" issue, that it's somehow tied to AntiSemitism, or to analyze the secrets of American financial history is to somehow lose sight of the broader critique of capitalism. But it turns out that Occupy Wall Street has changed everything. The Fed is more than fair game. It's ground zero.

Panelists Sue Peters, Greg Coleridge, and anthropologist Steven Walsh were all excellent. The Fed is privately owned, and all money is put into the system based on debt. Only a loan creates the stimulus for new money. A bank creates money with an accounting entry, by borrowing "Reserve Funds" from a Fed bank.

It's especially noteworthy that Chip Berlet also attended this panel. Berlet is a nemesis of 9/11 Truth, and has bent over backwards to attack truthers. What I didn't know is that Berlet has a long history as a gadfly. He and his organzation "Political Research Associates" have a long reputation as a "Wall Street appendage." His top critic at the "Berlet for Beginners" website goes so far as to claim Berlet has been "involved, over the past half decade, in attacking virtually every independent critic of the Imperial State."

So Left Forum 2012 was all about "Confronting Global Capitalism." The gloves are off, and the Fed is something we should all take a second look at. The US Constitution says Congress has the power to coin money, not a private banking cartel owned by Citi, Chase, and HSBC.

Berlet in an exasperated tone, sputtered why are no "serious" leftist economists behind the Fed issue? He claimed the anti Fed stuff was all either John Birch Society or holocaust denier Eustace Mullins' work. And Berlet made the tired claim once again the focussing on the Fed is a distraction from the more important topic: capitalism. 

If Berlet was truly serious about that, he would support the analysis and criticism of one of modern American capitalism's least-understood, and most powerful institutions: the Federal Reserve. Berlet left in a huff before the panel was over, giving me the opportunity to explain who he was.

We are onto something, if Berlet was concerned about this panel. As one of the panelists had pointed out earlier, even Fred Mishkin of the Fed's Board says that the system is broken and needs to be changed.  Or as a sign held aloft at Occupy DC read, "Our country is broken because the system is fixed."

Michael Moore told a lot of funny stories. One of the best was that when Moore was trying to wrap the New York Stock Exchange in crime scene tape, shooting "Capitalism: A Love Story" he looked up and saw a NY Police officer coming his way. "Oh shit" he thought, "I don't want to get arrested." So he said, "Just setting up a little comedy bit here officer, I will clean up and get it all out of your way soon...." The cop said, "Don't worry Mike, take all the time you need. The bastards in there have wasted so much of our pension funds."

Moore pointed out that the polls show that people are with us. In fact, it only took six weeks for a majority of America to say "yeah" we back the essence of what the Occupiers are saying:  There really is a 99% consciousness out there. A people divided are coming together. It's not about right versus left, it's about democracy, it's the spirit of liberation moving in people's hearts. It's political, and it's beyond political. It's big.

Inspired, we took Moore's call to march en masse to join the six month anniversary celebration at Occupy Wall Street's Zucotti encampment. It was a tense face off with cops as they tried to keep us off the streets. Here's a short video I shot of the march's first moments:

video


Hope you all will come to my own panel, tomorrow, Sunday at 3 PM in room W521, "Revolutionary Recovery." See earlier posts for more on that.....
Peace and Love,
Sander.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sacred Economics and the Spirit of the Wilderness

Just got an email from Gregg Hill. He's got a new short film on YouTube, called "Sacred Economics."  I already knew that Gregg was into this new thinker Charles Eisenstein, from Gregg's recent posting on SoundCloud. Eisenstein is an interesting guy, combining Buddhist spirituality and a critique of capitalism.

I met Gregg Hill at "random" in the Adirondack wilderness, but I don't really think it was random. I was tripping out on the bliss of being in wilderness, I was even forgetting who I was, I was high on life, and fasting, and calling myself "the Spirit of the Wilderness." I was half joking, and sort of not. I ran into Gregg and his son on the trails. And then I kept on running into them at random, around Mount Marcy, NY State's highest peak. It was quite a day.

Since then, I have made sense of the feeling of that time- what I was trying to do was get away from my "identity" as a separate person, and connect to a higher self that is more enmeshed with the fabric of all beings. People joke about the cliche of "becoming one with the world" without really understanding that what is being referred to is combating the programming of your identity as a separate competitor in a hostile, capitalistic world. The world's reality it turns out is not written by a capitalistic God creator. The world is created by a divine energy of compassion that is within us all. We are a part of the whole. When we do honesty, we are doing God. God is a process.

I will be discussing spirituality, revolutionary consciousness, and the Spirit, at the group discussion/talk I will be facilitating at Left Forum 2012, this Sunday.  Please come. 


Revolutionary Recovery
at Left Forum 2012

Session 7
Room W521

Sunday March 18
3:00 pm - 4:40 pm



Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Revolutionary Recovery

This year at Left Forum, this weekend, my friend Nick and I are hosting a panel called "Revolutionary Recovery." What we are doing is looking at politics and the possibility of revolutionary change through the lens of sobriety and recovery. We are treating "politics as usual" as a disease. We are making the break with the politics of violence, secrecy and war one that demands a clean program, a dedication to recovery.

Please come!

It's this Sunday at 3 PM. Here's all the info, and a longer description, written with our co-panelist Charles.


Revolutionary Recovery

at Left Forum 2012
Session 7
Room W521

Sunday March 18
3:00 pm - 4:40 pm



Summary:
Aldous Huxley said that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was “the most important social movement of the 20 Century.” Alcoholics Anonymous works thanks to its radical egalitarianism. It has millions of dysfunctional members and no leaders. It’s the biggest, and most successful, radical/anarchist group in the world.

How can this successful 12-Step model could be translated into an honest form of non-violent revolutionary political activism? 

We will answer this question with a live gathering of people seeking a political form of sobriety, a “revolutionary recovery.”

The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement can be seen as a grassroots effort to take the first step towards political recovery, true democracy, and a new culture of American non-violence. What could OWS learn from the 77-year-old AA?

AA is organized but has no hierarchy, just trusted servants who get no privilege with their position — OWS is the same. AA has good relations with the neighbors and finds refuge in churches — OWS does as well. AA tries to maintain recovery. OWS tries to maintain recovery. The similarities don’t end there.

At the historic first Meeting of Revolutionary Recovery, three activist writers: Nick Bryant, Charles M. Young, and Sander Hicks will spark off a round-robin, group discussion.  Everyone will be urged to share their experiences with sobriety, addiction, and its comparisons to political recovery.




ok, FOR THE TRULY DEDICATED.... this is the longer description that we three panelists hammered out. it’s worth looking over….


Revolutionary Recovery
Aldous Huxley said that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) was “the most important social movement of the 20 Century.” Leading anarchist thinker Colin Ward called Alcoholics Anonymous  vibrant examples of effective radical grassroots organization.
Alcoholics Anonymous works thanks to its radical egalitarianism. It has millions of dysfunctional members and no leaders. We propose it could be seen as the biggest and most successful radical/anarchist group in the world.
AA has spawned over two hundred similar 12-Step fellowships. This recovery model has enabled millions of people to successfully recover from a myriad of addictions and compulsions. It has helped people reclaim their lives, and live in freedom.
How can this successful 12-Step model could be translated into an honest form of non-violent revolutionary political activism?
What would an organized process of "revolutionary recovery" look like?
We will answer these questions not with an academic answer, but a live gathering of people seeking a political form of sobriety, a “revolutionary recovery.”

THE PROBLEM:
Politics as usual in the USA isn’t just dysfunctional, it’s a disease. A President from “the left” engages in war, direct assassination, illegal detention, and continued cover-up. Americans across the spectrum feel that they are powerless. As a consequence, we have begun to see that our government is unmanageable.
The good news is that rigorous honesty about our powerlessness and unmanageability is the first step to recovery. After an individual admits powerlessness and unmanageability, he or she has the potential for recovery.
Is it possible for the citizens of America to admit an en mass powerlessness and unmanageability? Is it possible to use a 12-Step template to recover? What would that look like?

A POSSIBLE SOLUTION:

America is waking up from an illusion.
The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement can be seen as a grassroots effort to take the first step towards political recovery, true democracy, and a new culture of American non-violence.
What could OWS learn from the staying power of the 77-year-old AA?

AA started small and took years to work out its program. It flowered nationally in 1941 with the publication of a major Saturday Evening Post feature article. OWS started small and was over-exposed in the media before it had a chance to work out its program internally. 

AA is organized but has no hierarchy, just trusted servants who get no privilege with their position — OWS is the same. AA has good relations with the neighbors and finds refuge in churches — OWS does as well.

Washington and Wall Street claim incalculable privilege and have erected a vast edifice of propaganda to defend it. AA and OWS claim no privilege and have a policy of rigorous honesty.

Washington and Wall Street believe in totalitarian collectives, called corporations, in which one guy at the top tells everyone else what to do. AA and OWS believe in democratic collectives, called meetings and general assemblies, and everyone has a say in what is done.

AA tries to maintain recovery. OWS tries to maintain recovery.


FIRST MEETING OF REVOLUTIONARY RECOVERY:

This is a proposal to have a historic first gathering of Revolutionary Recovery at Left Forum 2012.

The Meeting will blend the practices of Occupy Wall Street, and 12-Step principles

Three activist writers: Nick Bryant, Charles M. Young, and Sander Hicks will give a short talk to spark off a round-robin, group discussion event.

Participants from all walks of life will be urged to share their own experiences with sobriety, addiction, political recovery and how they have each freed themselves from a pervasive addiction to illusion.


Charles M. Young has written for Rolling Stone, New York Times, Village Voice, Musician, Guitar World, Playboy, Men's Journal, and many other publications. He has played bass for the Dry Heaves, Iron Prostrate, and The Whistling Boogers.

Nick Bryant is author of "The Franklin Scandal." (Trine Day, 2010) A lifelong scientific and investigative reporter, his 2010 book exposed a child-trafficking ring with links to the US Ruling Class, the Bush White House, and CIA.

Sander Hicks is author of the forthcoming "Slingshot to the Juggernaut" (Soft Skull, April, 2012). He is the founder of Soft Skull Press and the Truth Party.