* OCCUPY UC DAVIS PROTESTERS ADOPT RESOLUTION CALLING FOR BREAK WITH DEMOCRATIC PARTY
By David Brown, Occupy UC Davis
On Tuesday evening, the general assembly of Occupy UC Davis passed a resolution denouncing the attack on Davis students, calling for a break with the Democratic Party and the construction of an independent social and political movement of the entire working class.
The resolution, the first of its kind adopted at an Occupy protest, lays out a clear political perspective to counter the growing attacks on protests against inequality in the United States. It comes a week and a half after the brutal pepper spraying of unarmed students protesting against rising tuition and inequality.
The attack on UC Davis students is part of a nationwide crackdown on Occupy demonstrators, organized by both Democrats and Republicans and overseen by the Obama administration. On Wednesday morning, police in Los Angeles and Philadelphia, both controlled by Democratic Party mayors, cleared out encampments. (See “Police attack Occupy camps in Los Angeles and Philadelphia, arresting 350”)
The resolution at Davis was adopted by about 70 students participating in the general assembly. It was presented by Eric Lee, a supporter of the International Students for Social Equality, and a member of a newly-formed committee established to mobilize broader support in the working class.
In addition to calling for a break with the Democratic Party and a turn to the working class, the resolution stresses the international character of the attack on workers and youth, and condemns the hypocritical posturing of American imperialism as a defender of democratic rights.
The resolution reads in full:
We, the students of UC Davis, condemn the brutal police assault and pepper spraying of fellow students, who were peacefully protesting on November 18.
This attack is part of a nationwide—in fact global—crackdown on demonstrations against social inequality and the domination of politics by the rich. While the American government invokes “democratic rights” to justify wars abroad, it responds to social protests at home with riot police, tear gas and rubber bullets
While Chancellor Linda Katehi is directly responsible for the police raid, she was enforcing a nationwide campaign orchestrated by the entire political establishment. Throughout the country, Democratic and Republican politicians—including the Brown and Obama administrations—are dismantling public education, cutting social services, and undermining all our basic social and democratic rights. Some of the most brutal attacks on Occupy demonstrations have been carried out by Democratic Party mayors.
The way forward is clear: No support should be given to either of the two parties! The dictates of the banks and corporations can be countered only through the independent social and political struggle of the entire working class.
We call upon students and working people all over the world to support our struggle against budget cuts. Our fight is your fight! Right now, students and workers in Greece, England and Egypt are engaged in a common struggle.
The global protests that began in 2011 must be expanded to a mass movement of students and workers to defend our rights and finally put an end to the domination by the corporations and super-rich over political and economic life.
* THE WE-ARE-AT-WAR MENTALITY
By Glenn Greenwald, Salon
Two significant events happened on Thursday: (1) the Democratic-led Senate rejuvenated and expanded the War on Terror by, among other things, passing a law authorizing military detention on U.S. soil and expanding the formal scope of the War; and (2) Obama lawyers, for the first time, publicly justified the President’s asserted (and seized) power to target U.S. citizens for assassination without any transparency or due process. I wrote extensively about the first episode on Thursday, and now have a question for those supporting the assassination theories just offered by the President’s lawyers.
To pose that question, I’d like to harken back for a moment to the controversy over the Guantanamo detention system. Democrats universally purported to be appalled that the Bush administration was indefinitely imprisoning people without any charges or due process. Barack Obama, as a Senator from Illinois, denounced “the Bush Administration’s attempt to create a legal black hole at Guantanamo” — i.e., that people would be put in cages, possibly forever,with no charges. But Bush lawyers offered a theory for why due-process-free imprisonment was justifiable. The theory had these four fairly simple premises:
(1) Terrorism is not primarily a criminal offense. It is an act of war. Thus: We Are At War With The Terrorists.
(2) Those who try to harm the U.S. as part of this War are combatants and Terrorists — not criminals — and are thus entitled to no due process or any other rights to which accused criminals are entitled. It is the U.S. military (led by the Commander-in-Chief) — not courts — which decides who is and is not a combatant and Terrorist.
(3) Whether someone is a combatant or Terrorist is decided by only one thing: the President’s unilateral decree. Once the President decrees someone a combatant or Terrorist — including one of his own citizens — that person by definition becomes one, and he can then be treated as such without any further judicial process or Constitutional protection. Once that presidential accusatory decree issues, protections of the Constitution and law disappear. In sum, presidential accusations that someone is a Terrorist are the same as proof and a verdict of guilt.
(4) Unlike virtually every other war ever fought, the “battlefield” of this War is not found where opposing forces are shooting at each other, but is rather defined as: wherever an accused Terrorist is found anywhere in the world. Thus, the President’s battlefield powers — which are limitless: unilateral targeting for death, indefinite imprisonment without charges, spying on communications without any oversight – are not confined to any geographical location, but instead can be applied everywhere. Wherever an accused combatant or Terrorist physically exists — sleeping in a bed, riding in a car with his children, thousands of miles away from any actual shooting — is the “battlefield.”
Those were the once-controversial theoretical premises offered repeatedly by Bush lawyers and other defenders to justify the Guantanamo detention system. More generally, these theories were (and remain) the heart and soul of the neocon view of the War on Terror. Once you accept those four premises, there is no coherent way to oppose Guantanamo. So here is my question:
At this point, do Obama defenders reject any of these four premises? I mean this literally: I cannot count how many times I have heard exactly this same theory offered by Obama supporters justifying his assassination powers (the President is entitled to target citizens for death because we are at War, and once you take up arms against the U.S. (meaning: once the President accuses you of doing so) you have no due process rights). Indeed, there simply is no possible way to defend the assassination powers claimed by Obama without embracing each of these theories. And therefore, here is what Obama lawyers said on Thursday:
U.S. citizens are legitimate military targets when they take up arms with al-Qaida, top national security lawyers in the Obama administration said Thursday. The lawyers were asked at a national security conference about the CIA killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen and leading al-Qaida figure. …
The government lawyers, CIA counsel Stephen Preston and Pentagon counsel Jeh Johnson, did not directly address the al-Awlaki case. But they said U.S. citizens do not have immunity when they are at war with the United States.
Johnson said only the executive branch, not the courts, is equipped to make military battlefield targeting decisions about who qualifies as an enemy.
When Obama lawyers refer to “U.S. citizens who take up arms with al-Qaida,” what they mean is this: those whom the President accuses (in secret, with no due process or evidence presented) of having taken up arms with al-Qaida. When they refer to “battlefield targeting decisions,” they do not mean a place where there is active fighting, but rather: anywhere in the world an accused Terrorist is found (leaving no doubt about that, Johnson decreed that the limits of “battlefield v. non battlefield is a distinction that is growing stale“). In other words: the whole world is the battlefield, a claim Obama officials have long embraced, and someone is a Terrorist the minute the President declares him to be one: the President is the sole judge, the sole jury, and now even the sole executioner. […]
* U.N. ENVOY: U.S. ISN’T PROTECTING OCCUPY PROTESTER’S RIGHTS
By Dan Froomkin, HuffPo
The United Nations envoy for freedom of expression is drafting an official communication to the U.S. government demanding to know why federal officials are not protecting the rights of Occupy demonstrators whose protests are being disbanded — sometimes violently — by local authorities.
Frank La Rue, who serves as the U.N. “special rapporteur” for the protection of free expression, told HuffPost in an interview that the crackdowns against Occupy protesters appear to be violating their human and constitutional rights.
“I believe in city ordinances and I believe in maintaining urban order,” he said Thursday. “But on the other hand I also believe that the state — in this case the federal state — has an obligation to protect and promote human rights.”
“If I were going to pit a city ordinance against human rights, I would always take human rights,” he continued.
La Rue, a longtime Guatemalan human rights activist who has held his U.N. post for three years, said it’s clear to him that the protesters have a right to occupy public spaces “as long as that doesn’t severely affect the rights of others.”
In moments of crisis, governments often default to a forceful response instead of a dialogue, he said — but that’s a mistake.
“Citizens have the right to dissent with the authorities, and there’s no need to use public force to silence that dissension,” he said.
“One of the principles is proportionality,” La Rue said. “The use of police force is legitimate to maintain public order — but there has to be a danger of real harm, a clear and present danger. And second, there has to be a proportionality of the force employed to prevent a real danger.”
And history suggests that harsh tactics against social movements don’t work anyway, he said. In Occupy’s case, he said, “disbanding them by force won’t change that attitude of indignation.”
Occupy encampments across the country have been forcibly removed by police in full riot gear, and some protesters have been badly injured as a result of aggressive police tactics.
New York police staged a night raid on the original Occupy Wall Street encampment in mid-November, evicting sleeping demonstrators and confiscating vast amounts of property.
The Oakland Police Department fired tear gas, smoke grenades and bean-bag rounds at demonstrators there in late October, seriously injuring one Iraq War veteran at the Occupy site.
Earlier this week, Philadelphia and Los Angeles police stormed the encampments in their cities in the middle of the night, evicting and arresting hundreds of protesters.
Protesters at University of California, Davis were pepper sprayed by a campus police officer in November while participating in a sit-in, and in September an officer in New York pepper sprayed protesters who were legally standing on the sidewalk.
“We’re seeing widespread violations of fundamental First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, co-chair of a National Lawyers Guild committee, which has sent hundreds of volunteers to provide legal representation to Occupations across the nation.
“The demonstrations are treated as if they’re presumptively criminal,” she said. “Instead of looking at free speech activity as an honored and cherished right that should be supported and facilitated, the reaction of local authorities and police is very frequently to look at it as a crime scene.” […]
* GLOBAL REBELLION: THE COMING CHAOS?
By William I. Robinson
As the crisis of global capitalism spirals out of control, the powers that be in the global system appear to be adrift and unable to proposal viable solutions. From the slaughter of dozens of young protesters by the army in Egypt to the brutal repression of the Occupy movement in the United States, and the water cannons brandished by the militarized police in Chile against students and workers, states and ruling classes are unable are to hold back the tide of worldwide popular rebellion and must resort to ever more generalized repression.
Simply put, the immense structural inequalities of the global political economy can no longer be contained through consensual mechanisms of social control. The ruling classes have lost legitimacy; we are witnessing a breakdown of ruling-class hegemony on a world scale.
To understand what is happening in this second decade of the new century we need to see the big picture in historic and structural context. Global elites had hoped and expected that the “Great Depression” that began with the mortgage crisis and the collapse of the global financial system in 2008 would be a cyclical downturn that could be resolved through state-sponsored bailouts and stimulus packages. But it has become clear that this is a structural crisis. Cyclical crises are on-going episodes in the capitalist system, occurring about once a decade and usually last 18 months to two years. There were world recessions in the early 1980s, the early 1990s, and the early 21st century.
Structural crises are deeper; their resolution requires a fundamental restructuring of the system. Earlier world structural crises of the 1890s, the 1930s and the 1970s were resolved through a reorganization of the system that produced new models of capitalism. “Resolved” does not mean that the problems faced by a majority of humanity under capitalism were resolved but that the reorganization of the capitalist system in each case overcame the constraints to a resumption of capital accumulation on a world scale. The crisis of the 1890s was resolved in the cores of world capitalism through the export of capital and a new round of imperialist expansion. The Great Depression of the 1930s was resolved through the turn to variants of social democracy in both the North and the South – welfare, populist, or developmentalist capitalism that involved redistribution, the creation of public sectors, and state regulation of the market. […]
* AMERICA’S ARMY OF JOBLESS
By David B. Grusky, LA Times
When President Obama announced that 40,000 troops now in Iraq would come home by the end of the year, the initial excitement quickly turned to concern that our already struggling economy couldn’t easily handle the shock of an additional 40,000 job seekers.
Although we should, of course, care deeply about returning Iraq war veterans, we ought not to think for a moment that adding 40,000 workers to the job-seeking pool will break the back of the economy. It’s already broken. The nation is laboring under the weight of a reserve army of nearly 27 million women and men who don’t have a full-time job, but most surely want one. […]
* A NEW YORKER’S OPINION: HOW OCCUPY WALL STREET WON AND GROVER NORQUIST LOST
By Tom Dworetzky, IB Times
[…] The OWS narrative falls firmly on the side of the public discourse that holds that good government is a collective effort that seeks to provide the best combination of opportunities for individual initiative and success, coupled with necessary safe-guards to provide tools that maximize all citizens’ chances at financial success (like a college education and owning your own home). In addition, government needs to provide lightly regulated assurance that the playing field stays fair and balanced for all.
This ensures that con-men and hucksters do not steal the assets of both individuals and society. Steal, as in selling phony financial instruments designed to fail to pension plans we all depend on. Or make counterfeit parts for airplanes we fly in, for that matter. And few would, or should, argue against government having a robust role in oversight and punishment to protect us–and our markets and businesses–from such socially deviant and reprehensible behavior. […]
* DEBT SLAVERY – WHY IT DESTROYED ROME, WHY IT WILL DESTROY US UNLESS IT’S STOPPED
By Michael Hudson, Counterpunch
Book V of Aristotle’s Politics describes the eternal transition of oligarchies making themselves into hereditary aristocracies – which end up being overthrown by tyrants or develop internal rivalries as some families decide to “take the multitude into their camp” and usher in democracy, within which an oligarchy emerges once again, followed by aristocracy, democracy, and so on throughout history.
Debt has been the main dynamic driving these shifts – always with new twists and turns. It polarizes wealth to create a creditor class, whose oligarchic rule is ended as new leaders (“tyrants” to Aristotle) win popular support by cancelling the debts and redistributing property or taking its usufruct for the state.
Since the Renaissance, however, bankers have shifted their political support to democracies. This did not reflect egalitarian or liberal political convictions as such, but rather a desire for better security for their loans. As James Steuart explained in 1767, royal borrowings remained private affairs rather than truly public debts. For a sovereign’s debts to become binding upon the entire nation, elected representatives had to enact the taxes to pay their interest charges.
By giving taxpayers this voice in government, the Dutch and British democracies provided creditors with much safer claims for payment than did kings and princes whose debts died with them. But the recent debt protests from Iceland to Greece and Spain suggest that creditors are shifting their support away from democracies. They are demanding fiscal austerity and even privatization sell-offs.
This is turning international finance into a new mode of warfare. Its objective is the same as military conquest in times past: to appropriate land and mineral resources, also communal infrastructure and extract tribute. In response, democracies are demanding referendums over whether to pay creditors by selling off the public domain and raising taxes to impose unemployment, falling wages and economic depression. The alternative is to write down debts or even annul them, and to re-assert regulatory control over the financial sector. […]