Rocky Anderson is always deferential to Occupy Wall Street when asked about the movement, most recently in a Jan. 31 interview with the online environmental magazine Grist. Occupy has been a "very healthy thing in this country," and there’s an "enormous convergence" between its concerns and his. But for inspiration, the Justice Party candidate points to Tahrir Square, not Zucotti Park.
"One of the great inspirations for us was what we saw in much of the Arab world, where people were intent on overthrowing their nations’ dictators," he told Grist's special projects editor Greg Hanscom during a wide-ranging Q&A. "… They put their lives on the line, utilizing democratized means of communication through social networking and engaging in classic grassroots organizing — and they succeeded."
Adbusters Magazine, the Vacnouver-based online publication that helped launch the Occupy Wall Street movement, posted a tactical briefing on its website on Jan. 25 calling for 50,000 protesters to participate in a showdown in Chicago at the May NATO and G-8 summits.
Titled “Tactical Briefing #25,” the post was an international rallying cry for radical revolutionaries around the world to participate in a month-long occupation against the backdrop of the international summit. Among those it sought were the "redeemers, rebels and radicals." The briefing encourages peaceful civil disobedience and summons a spirit reminiscent of the 1968 National Democratic Convention in Chicago that resulted in a police riot.
“On May 1, 50,000 people from all over the world will flock to Chicago, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and #OCCUPYCHICAGO for a month,” Adbusters.org’s briefing read. “With a bit of luck, we’ll pull off the biggest multinational occupation of a summit meeting the world has ever seen.”
Truth be told, I was only half listening to President Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) address the other night. The once soaring rhetoric rings hollow these days. Not that I wasn’t skeptical of Mr. Hope-y Change-y from the get-go.
Even fervent Obama supporters are disappointed with the president’s inability – make that his unwillingness – to take on the moneyed interests that have colonized our politics and wrecked the economy. And Obama’s paean to militarism that bookended the SOTU makes it clear that the 2009 Noble Peace Prize winner has cast his lot with American Empire.
It is already the one-year anniversary of the ongoing Egyptian revolution. After Hosni Mubarak, one of the most hateful dictators of modern times, was forced to step down on Feb. 11, 2011, the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) took control over the largest, and historically most influential, Arab country.
Headed by the 76-year-old Field Marshal Tantawi, SCAF continued Mubarak’s non-democratic, in some cases brutal, practices of cracking down on civil organizations, putting civilians into military trials, attacking peaceful protesters, self-admittedly spreading rumors and maintaining control over an already-notorious state TV.
Occupy protesters from around the nation gathered at the Capitol and congressional office buildings in Washington on Jan. 17 to rally and attempt to speak with lawmakers as they resumed the 2012 legislation session and returned from holiday break recess.
The crowd was diverse and composed of hundreds, according to a Jan. 17 Huffington Post article. Known as Occupy Congress, the event was a day of actions against corrupt political institutions and an effort to inspire activists and ordinary Americans to participate in real democracy, according to Occupy Wall Street's website.
The Green Party's Jill Stein embellished her reputation as the first "Occupy Wall Street candidate" on the American political scene in the days leading up to the Jan. 20 Occupy the Courts demos, as she carried her presidential aspirations to protest gatherings in the D.C. area.
"My hope is to leverage and support and promote the incredible inspiration and power that we're seeing here in this field today," the Lexington, Mass., physician said on Jan. 17 at the Occupy Congress event across from Capitol Hill. "The effort to occupy Congress I think is all about occupying our economy, about taking it back, taking back our democracy, and that includes occupying our elections."
Several Occupy groups around the Midwest have turned to the courts to contest encampment evictions and demand the abolishment of corporate personhood, specifically the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which allows unlimited corporate money to flood the political system and corrupt the democratic process.
“Corporations dominate the political process through political action committees, high-paid lobbyists and multi-million dollar contributions by the wealthy 1 percent," Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, national field organizer for Move to Amend, said in news release. "On the most critical issues that impact our everyday lives, corporate interests are defeating critical policies to protect We the People and the planet.”
Watching Newsweek's Eleanor Clift confront the question "Are most political reporters simply insiders?" is a discomfiting experience. Her struggle to defend the indefensible unavoidably inspires compassion for her uneasy predicament. But the case she makes so proves the point that any sympathy engendered morphs quickly into cynicism.
The political reporter appeared on a Dec. 29, 2011, panel discussion on Al Jazeera, subtitled the question du jour. Joining her were Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and Justice Party presidential candidate Rocky Anderson, of whose candidacy Clift knew nothing. Al Jazeera devoted a third of the half-hour program's opinions to the former Salt Lake City mayor. Clift apparently had never heard of him.
"I think Rocky Anderson is running probably to get his issues out there, more than from an expectation that he might necessarily win," she awkwardly speculated aloud, unsure about the Justice Party's name, no less.
Coal Free IU, Sierra Club
Student leaders with Coal Free IU weren’t deterred by frigid temperatures when they delivered stacks of more than 5,000 petitions to IU President Michael McRobbie on Jan. 13. The action is part of the ongoing student-led campaign demanding action to retire the dirty, outdated and polluting coal plant on campus and replace it with cleaner, healthier energy sources.
The university’s Central Heating Plant on campus burns around 68,000 tons of coal each year and is the largest single source of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide pollution in Monroe County. Burning coal also releases other dangerous pollutants including mercury, lead and arsenic and can cause cancer, heart disease and trigger more severe asthma attacks.
“I always knew I wanted to go to school at Indiana University, but I didn’t know that doing so would mean having to deal with a dirty, polluting coal plant right on campus that poses a threat to students’ health,” said IU senior and Coal Free IU President Megan Anderson. "Instead, IU should be investing in innovative, 21st century clean-energy solutions that will mean cleaner air for everyone in Bloomington."
2011 was full of social upheavals against nepotistic dictators, mass demonstrations and occupations against the 1 percent, and the brutalization of thousands of innocent protesters around the world. In the United States, Occupy protests, with no established targets or tactics, have shifted the national discourse to issues rooted in a culture of domination and systematic elite white supremacy over the poor, working classes.
2012 began with noise demonstrations in front of jails as gestures of solidarity with the incarcerated and to object to one of the most repressive means of control in Western society – the prison-industrial complex. Protesters in about 25 cities around the world, including Bloomington, participated in the international call for New Year’s Eve jail solidarity.