Monday 10 October 2011

Planet of the Plutocrats

Paul Krugman has so hit the nail on the head with his latest op-ed in the New York Times, exposing hypocrisy of the highest order.

And it's refreshing to read the text of this powerful speech Naomi Klein delivered at the OWS rally in NYC Thursday night - or at least what she was hoping to deliver had the authorities allowed amplification - which forced the speakers to be all-to-brief as 20,000 people had to rely on the "human microphone."  (Here is an excerpt from her "uncut" version, to help you decide whether it's worth clicking on that link to read the whole thing.)

" be honest with you, while the good times rolled, taking on an economic system based on greed was a tough sell, at least in rich countries.  Ten years later, it seems as if there aren't any more rich countries. Just a whole lot of rich people. People who got rich looting the public wealth and exhausting natural resources around the world.

 The point is, today everyone can see that the system is deeply unjust and careening out of control. Unfettered greed has trashed the global economy. And it is trashing the natural world as well. We are overfishing our oceans, polluting our water with fracking and deepwater drilling, turning to the dirtiest forms of energy on the planet, like the Alberta tar sands. And the atmosphere cannot absorb the amount of carbon we are putting into it, creating dangerous warming. The new normal is serial disasters: economic and ecological.

 These are the facts on the ground. They are so blatant, so obvious, that it is a lot easier to connect with the public than it was in 1999, and to build the movement quickly.

 We all know, or at least sense, that the world is upside down: we act as if there is no end to what is actually finite -- fossil fuels and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions. And we act as if there are strict and immovable limits to what is actually bountiful -- the financial resources to build the kind of society we need.

The task of our time is to turn this around: to challenge this false scarcity. To insist that we can afford to build a decent, inclusive society -- while at the same time, respect the real limits to what the earth can take.

 What climate change means is that we have to do this on a deadline. This time our movement cannot get distracted, divided, burned out or swept away by events. This time we have to succeed. And I'm not talking about regulating the banks and increasing taxes on the rich, though that's important.

I am talking about changing the underlying values that govern our society. That is hard to fit into a single media-friendly demand, and it's also hard to figure out how to do it. But it is no less urgent for being difficult.

That is what I see happening in this square. In the way you are feeding each other, keeping each other warm, sharing information freely and providing health care, meditation classes and empowerment training.  My favorite sign here says "I care about you." In a culture that trains people to avoid each other's gaze, to say, "Let them die," that is a deeply radical statement... (end of quote)

Someone tweeted today how they saw this interesting sign created by one participant at Occupy Wall Street:  "Ten years ago we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash. Today we have no jobs, no hope and no cash!"

Well, what Naomi Klein shared offers a small ray of hope that the message just might be finally getting through...

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