tv [untitled] November 23, 2011 5:30pm-6:00pm EST
follow me welcome to crossfire computer all about what's next for the occupy movement across the u.s. after police use strong arm tactics to disperse protesters should the movement seek a way to join the political process and to insert itself into legislative procedures or will it eventually fragment into protests for protest sake. and. to cross-talk the ongoing protests in the us i'm joined by my guests in new york james livingston he's a professor of history at rutgers and author of against thrift why consumer culture is good for the economy the environment and your soul published yesterday patrick brennan he is a writer and the william f. buckley fellow at the national review institute and francis fox pavan she is a distinguished professor of sociology and political science at city university of new york graduate center all right folks cross talk rules in effect. i mean you can
jump in anytime you want you know very much encourage it but first is this movement actually going to be i think that's the main question right now is that over the chill months that the occupy wall street movement has existed it's turned into a juggernaut of civil disobedience that has blown their cities across the world but just as the movement this growing in scale and scope it is also grappling with more and more criticism crackdowns and facing growing questions about its tactics and strategy the movements advocates still insist that occupy is an important voice for public frustration that has succeeded in raising awareness of staggering income and wealth inequality there is a movement brewing in america not just the occupy wall street but the two thousand encampments occupy roland america and also the sense that suddenly the ninety nine percent of americans who have not been heard from are being heard from and heard in the media which is not paid attention until now indeed the extent to which occupy has gathered steam in the resonated across the u.s. and the globe does say something about
a collective sense of discontent and disillusionment with the economy but whether that sense can be applied to all the ninety nine percent of americans that the protests claim to represent is another story and is shown in a recent survey conducted by public policy polling which found that not only does occupy appeal to nearly a handful of the ninety nine percent but it's a poor ratings have sagged over the last month because growing awareness of occupy probably stems from the real or perceived notion that the movement's outlook is redundantly utopian while its members are yet to put forth a clear and specific policy goals and here in the protestors cheap task proving they can convert their momentum into targeted action but even if occupy were to recede into the annals of social resistance it would most likely leave behind the idea that the movement came to represent meanly that there is a wide disconnect between the government and on the ground reality and that reality shows the western economic system experiencing a deep system. crisis so perhaps the mean purpose has already been served we'll see
about that first francis i'd like to go to you in new york now you wrote i think we desperately need a popular uprising in the united states is this the uprising you were hoping for and where is this upright if it is where it is so where it where is this uprising going. this this uprising against raising the issue of extreme unequality in the united states that inequality of wealth and income has increased heavily over the past thirty five years. and somehow it did not find real expression and in the american political process and it didn't find strong on expression and the american political process because the very fact that wealth has become more concentrated has meant that the wealthy can pour more money into our electoral system so even democrats did not forcefully express the fact.
any quality and people were left without even and clear articulation of what the problem was what the problems are and occupy wall street began it began not the small in new york city it was the first clear and overdue expression of a big problem whose center was financial capitalism ok patrick what do you think about that i mean it one of the things i find very interesting is that we are what marches report was i mean is it really about the ninety nine percent or is it about a certain type of person that is being disenfranchised in america's democratic system because i mean if it's ninety nine percent why don't you just all register to vote and kick the bombs out but that's not what's happening right it's very clear that it really doesn't represent ninety nine percent of america i mean if you go down to zuccotti park it was a war going on a bunch of america to me and the polls. that out there just yesterday there was you
said a coward poll that came out with support of just at least thirteen percent in support of and something like thirty percent against the fact is that it was a great piece in new york yesterday that brought out what are the origins of the movement and it's essentially you know not really what you wouldn't believe in this but it's essentially an archaic anti-capitalist movement and while many americans are unhappy with our economic situation i don't think that they blame that on the nature of capitalism i think that's a pretty pretty rare sentiment in america today and so in that sense night i wish i was arguing tapper against capitalism and so i'm not sure that really i mean that's not fair enough james if i go to you i mean a lot of people would say capitalism isn't working for them that's right i think that's exactly right i think there are two questions here one is the nature of politics. register in vote and vote for what happens in congress if you vote for whomever nothing to say that this movement has to get political is to me just
laughable because the political process is so broken it is so not just like part it's has me partisan but but ridiculously dysfunctional. so that's why i think the other thing is the nature of capitalism americans have always been ambivalent about capitalism the nature of it sure yeah i think that ninety nine percent are deeply deeply worried about what's happening under this system that we call capitalism like it or not i think the one percent of people right across the street from zuccotti park you can be a bill or cap or something if you're so for a consumer society i mean how do we consumer society with our capital. james you will feel that well. sure i'm going to have a lot about capitalism because i think consumerism is a way of transcending or superceded capitalism i think it's a way of reducing corporate profits for example if we redistribute income away from the real thing racialist with raising the issue of things happen to listen i had francis jump in the movement. the movement did not raise the issue of capitalism
and raised the issue of concentrated wealth and income. it doesn't really go against capitalism and. it speaks about. corporate financial wealth that has greatly concentrated and not only the top one percent the top tenth of one percent in our society and it is certs actually pretty close to correctly that most of the rest of the society is played as a result of the rest of wealth upwards in the united states it doesn't say capitalism was this chances i think this is a serious thing here and it's very interesting here my three guests here we can't even decide really what this movement all about and james and i quote something that you wrote in something called occupy wall street isn't the same old political crowd it's much much more and when i read a sentence from here the response to occupy wall street tells us more about the
limits of our political discourse then about the content of the protest or movement can you elaborate on that because it's very very interesting and you mentioned something else in the article about eastern europe and i studied the solidarity movement very very carefully when i was a graduate student you're drawing parallels here so it's very interesting go ahead here what i see and it has something to do with the limits of our discourse i mean what is the what is the limits or what is the nature of politics it seems to me a bottle of hollow got it right he said dissidents opposition is not all there is to politics in fact what he said was living within the true. ruth is a pre-political space that's what i think is happening in zuccotti park so so yes we might be able sunday to translate this into political programs but for the time being that is not the point the point is simply to allow these words to make more sense to more people the ninety nine percent versus the one percent if those words if that vernacular if these if these these verbs and nouns get into the
language we have a way of thinking about the future that right now we do ok patrick if i go to you it seems to me this movement knows what it doesn't like it doesn't like an oligarchy it doesn't like concentration of wealth i go on and on what does it want what is it like because it's all telling us what they don't like and that's why it's such such a dual use group. i think that i think that dreams was getting out what probably unifies the movement more than anything is the idea of sort of this kind of a political utopia based on consensus consensus based marker city and so that's that's the whole movement revolves around the struggle assemblies and their sort of wonderful ideas and basically you know we're commentators we're down to that is beautiful you know for sure it isn't like tahrir square because sort of square was it was a function of political protest political aims but they said you know the six already exist and unfortunately it doesn't represent anything that's particularly politically practical and it's not it's not an example of american democracy that
isn't what democracy looks like you know having. consensus and you know paint it all viewpoints isn't really want democracy looks like it isn't what's made functional democratic societies work. but that is really what it what ties all together is this this is this vision consensus which ok fred francis of france francisco jump in there because you know actual history. you know actually social movements that looks something like wall street have been very very important in american history the american revolution came out of a social movement in the united states it wouldn't have been the triumph without that social movement the abolition ists set in motion the political currents which led to civil war and the emancipation of the slaves the labor movement. flared up in the one nine hundred thirty s.
these did not look like. electoral representing the politics they have the distinctive dynamics of movements movements look feel and talk differently. campaign politics or elected politicians and when you when you're so dismissive of the movement because it hasn't put out a series of legislative program magic goals. you're not comparing it to other movements this movement has an incredible symbolic power because it has helped through the fog of jibberish and propaganda that is upset right where i'm at the french i'm going to jump in here where you got it was short break and after the new york break we'll continue our discussion on the occupy movement stay with are going. to. see. more.
kiki. welcome back to crossfire got you remind you we're talking about the protests sweeping across the united states and beyond. take a. look at james i want to go to you because you were very key were very very complimentary to francis's last comment before we went to the break and i don't want to i want to i'm again i don't want to i want to see if i can put you guys on the spot here james and francis first i'll go to james here i mean if the system isn't the solution needed you can't work within the system because the system is so dysfunctional how do you create a new system without being systematic and creating something because again this consensus i mean i like the rhetoric i'm very interested in the bridge does remind me of eastern europe fighting communism in the 1980's and it's all really nice to
hear but you know even solidarity had a very had to build a strong organization to finally defeat the communist regime eventually you have to do that you have to have leaders you have chapters and you have runners and all these types of things here i mean how do you how do you square the circle i think i think it's a great question and i think patrick was right as well the question is when do those social movements that francis cites when they become political in the sense that we now would recognize you if you look at the american revolution for example in seven hundred seventy two would anybody say there was a revolution going on no i mean the thing died in seven hundred seventy eight with the boston massacre and it didn't get reconstituted real seven hundred seventy three the abolitionists actually made the revolution the second american revolution we call the civil war we construction you know there had to be a translation from abolitionism to political anti-slavery we're not at that stage yet we're still in a stage of it seems to me anyway intellectual inquiry in iraq. the education that's
where we should be we don't know the future yet and we're going to have to work it out but eventually yes we're going to have to do something political now it's seems to be completely pointless live in france is a kind of begs the question then what do you do where do you go i mean i said i'm very sympathetic to you but i mean i don't see how you get from point a to point b. and let alone get from a to z. well first you're treating movements as if they occur at a single point in time and all the movements all the great movements in american history have occurred have unfolded over a fairly long period of time the labor movement unfolded over probably twelve years the civil rights movement began in the one nine hundred fifty s. and had been subsided even by the early one nine hundred seventy s. movement then creates. a kind of europe of communication
it introduces new messages that into the political system that regular politics suppresses and the movement also introduces new forces into the political system that interact with existing forces the movement doesn't create its own outcome the outcome is the result of the immortal fred francis dream the answer is to be fair to be fair to patrick air on this one i mean again i mean if the movement isn't focused on what it wants to accomplish and how to accomplish it how does it get there because all the other social movements have been mentioned on this program here abolition the rev american revolution i mean these were very political ok these from this movement now that we see occupy wall street is extremely economic ok it's the how the system functions and for whom the how the economy functions and for whom these are if it's very different than the social movements that we've had in the past. well i think even if you called it a good story of the american revolution right in the summer sent an economic
movement because you know it's looking for a large part by economic indicators surveillance but i think that the difference to your really looking at is that those movies whether it's american revolution or abolition or even the labor movement those represented fundamentally american ideals and if there's something that that sort of person if i was that the. doctor was for me it's generally the idea that that government and the state in some way will be able to transform our society reduce inequality and it actually can really be actively done in the political process for reduce inequality was very complete misery forty percent of total rising as a result of this francisco head well this movement is distinct it's actually from the movements of the twentieth century because it's very skeptical of government that's what its emphasis on the general assembly on reaching consensus on total democracy free flights free flights it's
disappointment that skepticism of the way government has functioned in the twentieth and twenty first century can really use that's covering the end or is really an instrument of capitalism you james go ahead jump in. and i step in here i mean to cite the evolutionist movement or to cite the american revolution that's fine but the abolitionists were explicitly and very self consciously anti political they refused to enter the electoral arena because they thought he would corrupt them they were right he did corrupt them but the anti-slavery movement they did get electoral between eight hundred forty eight and eight hundred sixty one made a huge difference the point is the abolitionists were anti-political just like it seems to me occupy wall street only some of them some of them were in the center of the united states. ok i think in a charles sumner i might agree yeah ok patrick i mean i want to pick up on something you said earlier and i wanted just to be clear for you is the occupy wall
street movement un-american in your opinion. yeah i believe it is i don't think it's i don't think it represents the way that american democracy works the idea of consensus that these american democracies american democracy work isn't working for the average person today. well the average person already or an artist and i want i want to know that it's it's the record isn't treating average american very well right now with this isn't to say that the system is finally flawed and our political process and mark are see these are we democracy takes time and so even our political process is stalled right now and it isn't well it isn't hardly if i can go to james if i can go to james on the banks were in trouble the congress got together pretty fast and bailed them out did they mean really matter of weeks ok it does move very quickly as they sense are invested interests are at stake here but the very principle of a representative democracy seems to be pretty low on the priority list right now because this is the whole reason why people are opting out of it because it didn't work for him i think out by wall street is quintessentially american because its
fundamental question is how do we achieve equality patrick may be right marcus he's ugly and it works slowly and it doesn't work on consensus even so it seems to me that the fundamental question they're asking is how do we achieve equality that there's nothing more american than man. francis i mean i don't know if it's how to create equality but i think what a lot of people are saying they want to fair playing field i think that's that's fair to ask isn't it i mean when you look at all of these graduates coming out of university terribly in debt and they have to go back and move in with their parents and get you know i really get paid an hourly wage and i just creates a vicious cycle of debt that you'll never get out of and i think that's a good enough reason for a lot of people to protest i mean the system doesn't help them the system helps the people that are have best vested interest in keeping the system the same way is it is today i worry and i think that most of the participants in occupy wall street would agree the issue is extreme and call it oh yeah not politically common that
isn't functional for fourteen million unemployed for. millions of young people who. to graduate from college only to find themselves deeply in debt and unable to get a job for the people who even get help from the tattered safety net in the united states a new time and everybody knows this now as a result of this scandal looks that the scandals that emerged during the financial crisis mean time lots of big companies hardly pay taxes we bail out wall street we bail out general motors and the banks refuse to write down the principle of inflated mortgages that the system isn't working or i want to i wanted one from the mistakes i should come across in the euro i think is interesting you're talking
about the occupy wall street movement their food system does seem to encapsulate quite neatly their vision for how the world should work free high quality stuff should appear for their consumption what do you mean by that. well i mean i think that he was a particularly funny thing because the fly through i tried quoted him to go ahead high quality getting the site high quality even. then a couple of their coats are actually employed at blue hill and stream expensive restaurant westchester county and he just some of us well it's it's not really the ninety nine percent of america out there it's these it's for to a large extent on employee college graduates just basically who are over educated or well educated. who like to you know sort of get out there and do their their democratic things but those really are the people that are hurting in america and i think this did represent the those who oppress america and just let me finish i mean the college if we're going to if we're really if it's really about say writing down student loan debt for college graduates are unemployed now because graduates
are the only segment america right now they're actually doing very well yet employment rate among four or five percent and there you can see it is incomes have grown over the last twenty or thirty years i mean that's that's a perfect example of why but wall street is really representing sort of the the limitations of the of the chattering classes in not both the you know the middle and middle americans who are really really hurting james you want to jump in there the chattering classes i had yes yes i i i have to say bradley got by that ridiculous permanent residents of zuccotti park might well fit the demographic that yours cited unemployed college graduates but he watch what happens. after hours after people have gone to work it's very very different if you watch the demonstrations if you watch the marches if you participate in them you'll see that the labor movement is there you see that all kinds of people there in fact the mail that i got after i did an interview for rutgers on this question came from people who said to me i can't get there i work for
a living what do i do i want to support this movement i cannot because i'm working nine to five what do i do so i think that's a mischaracterization at least ok happening francis i want to give you the last word on this program a year from now where is this movement going to be. i think a year from now this movement will have fanned out from the parks and plazas where there are relatively small and countenance people by the way all movements begin with relatively small groups the civil rights movement didn't start out as a majority area and movement nor did the american revolution this movement is in that sense. they are right paris is going to have to campaign here are very very interesting discussion folks many thanks my guest today in new york and thanks to our viewers for watching us here are to see unix time remember rastafarians. can. you
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