A Close Look at the 99%, the 1%, and What the Occupy Movement is Up Against.
We steer only by the grossest landmarks. Turn left at bewilderment. Keep going til you hit despair. Pull up at complete oblivion, turn around, and you´re there. Richard Powers, The Time of Our Singing, New York: Picador, 2003.
The statistic 99% is not just arbitrary figuration, the sad truth is that 99% of the American public is disadvantaged by the trends in United States economy, polity, and society. Yet we can expect that most of the 99% are not in the short run going to be mobilized on the streets by the Occupy Movement. In the elections of November 2012, voters divided closely between Republicans, a party that now represents the extremes of retrograde, right-wing ideology and Democrats with more gentle rhetoric and weak defense of social programs, but who in the main are servile to economic power and the imperial ambition and hegemony that economic power pursues. The system that we endure disadvantages and misleads the bewildered majority and morally corrupts the minority. Republican Zombies have greed-locked political life and infiltrated the minds of the loyal opposition. The electoral process is made a farce by big money and ossifies in political paralysis. The judicial system opens avenues for the rule of money and wider repression while there is closure to the use of the Law to curtail the extension of the repressive apparatus or to punish the misdeeds of the powerful. Public education, with sectors becoming privatized with Charter Schools, fosters standardized tests on students that measure how well teachers teach and youth grasp the necessity to fit in the roles that the powerful define and how far away education can move away from teaching independent, critical thought. Institutions of higher learning are privatized, or made so expensive they become exclusionary, and change educational missions to business programs and research missions to get their hefty corporate grants. The press is downgraded to serve up banality and lies, allowing the extreme right to define the news agenda and frame the limits to acceptable thought. The economy is in the hands of financial oligarchs whose malfeasance brings the economy down. Indignation is here and there but submerged in fear, while effective actions expressing outrage is confined to the fringes of right and left. So America will muddle along under the sway of the Plutocrats and their servants in political power, despair and discontent at every higher level, until the Occupy Movement can mobilize the forces of unity among the 99% and do more than make noise.
The delusions that Republicans propound and Democrats hide from find their home in the despair that prevails among the bewildered and suffering populace, in the main oblivious to real solutions with consciousness subverted by now threatened privileges, however petty these may be, of previous class positioning; by xenophobia created in a climate of fear, hate and endless futile war; by the pervasiveness of racism and the resurgence of patriarchy and sexism; and most of all by the founding myths of capitalism that have turned American society, and most of the world with it, into a war of all against all wherein only the fittest of the rich survive. We need some new landmarks constructed piece by piece by those no longer bewildered and despairing because they have vision and inspire redemption from the evils of savage capitalism in its degenerative phase.
I am an Old-timer from the 1960s—in those days a student activist and young professor of sociology-- but now an old curmudgeon, an aged and obdurate radical, yet inspired still by the better years and hope for resurgence. What I really want to convey here is a sociological analysis of American political economy as it effects the class situation of the 99% and to draw from that strategic concerns for genuine social change. This requires an analysis of the sources of economic stagnation and crisis and the manners in which these sources transform the relations of social class. First though, a look at the immediate and more familiar sources of the current crisis. In the economic sphere this crisis is rooted in the ascendance of bankers to the leading position within the capitalist class and that economic dominance has lead to plutocratic control of the greed-locked political sphere....
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