Monday, October 31, 2011

Eisenhower in 1953, Peter Mulvey in 2005

Dwight Eisenhower speaking to the American Association of Newspaper Editors in 1953:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms in not spending money alone.

It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.

It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.

It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.

We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat.

We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking.

This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

And the lyrics of the beautiful song by Peter Mulvey

Abilene (The Eisenhower Waltz)
God bless you, Dwight D. Eisenhower
As I stand next to the truck stop shower
Watching our bright destiny unfold.
Now your highway rolls from here to gone
This land we’ve laid our hands upon
And sir, it is a sight just to behold.
Oh God bless you, Dwight D. Eisenhower
Though this is not our finest hour
Highwaymen have made off with your creed.
Now the band is marching no matter what
The eyes of history are shut
This is the hour of our deepest need.
And the wind howls through the fields of Abilene.
So God bless you, Dwight D. Eisenhower
As now, the youth in all their flower
Hang on the iron cross you warned us of.
And they say you wept to hang them so
You among us all might know
These things it seems we sometimes do for love.
Oh these things we do for love.

And the wind howls through the fields of Abilene.

A Petition to Sign -

Please consider signing this online petition in support of the Occupiers' right to protest.  Even if anti-capitalism bums you out, if the State - any state - America or the UK or Australia - can shut down a non violent protest, then things become considerably more frightening for the rest of us.  That is some police state stuff, and then we get into some real problems.  My brother started to emphasize two things about the Occupations:  they are (1) nonviolent and they are (2) global.  Let's keep them that way, and whether or not you want to camp, at least put your name down to let them continue to fight for a better world.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Message to the City of London and all Humans on Earth

Please consider reading this.  It is relevant to you only if you are human and seek justice on this earth.  Justice is an idea we have all forgotten, an idea that we are too cynical to believe will ever be a word applicable to any reality we encounter.  And yet.  And yet it is this cry that comes from all of our hearts, it is the highest and best truth in action that makes humanity wonderful.  It is something we have forsaken.  We have forsaken justice for money, we humans, and it is the oldest story in the book but here we are once again.   I ask all of you:  what does justice mean to you?  Where is it?  Do you see it in the government?  Do you find it in your church?  Do you see it in the marketplace?  Does the ordering of the powers of the earth sit well with your soul?  Or are things dark and in fact immoral?  They are dark and immoral for me. 

I personally am too tired, it is making me exhausted, watching all this immoral activity within our governments and banks.  We were not vigilant in protecting our liberty which give voice to justice (all liberty lusts for justice).  We were distracted by the price of our houses and the comparative advantage we had against our neighbo(u)rs in all the things money can buy.  Consumerism, the constant getting and spending, it lulled us - its part in our lives is too bloated and too big and it has dulled us all.  While it dulled us,  the government has taken our young for unjust wars.  And a few get ever richer to the ruination of the rest of us.  And the survival of the very Earth looms in the horizon, we have been such poor stewards, we have been such poor stewards of the earth.  The health of our bodies and the planet is in peril.

But these are wrongs that can be righted.  Justice is possible.

And justice - truth - has gathered as the idea that unites this leaderless, disparate collection of people dedicated to bringing about a better world known as the Occupation.   A nice clean church meeting, shareholder meeting or electoral candidate - that is not what cam to you seeking justice.  This is what came.   And you would do well to open your eyes and open your ears and listen to the Occupation.

Our governments do not aid justice.  Our churches do not aid justice (feel free to prove me wrong).  Our employers do not aid justice.  Our banks do not aid justice, nor can they ever without a true, strong reformation.  If you want them to aid justice and thus to give your children a much greater world than the one we have lived in, then you need to support this Occupation.  I know you don't like the tents.  The tents are a distraction.  I know you don't like the anarchism - that is not a given.  What is to like is much more important than our differences - what is to like is the commonality between us.  The spirit is awoken.  Let your spirit awaken to the justice you want in your heart and in your life and in your country.

 Let justice sweep over you, you who now in your lives and jobs do not believe justice is possible.  Believe.  It is possible.  It is possible for the good people of England, of London, of Britain, of every place, to take the goodness of life back for themselves, even after being trod upon for decades. It is possible to be Robin Hood. And like Robin Hood, we rise and rise again until the lambs become lions and we take back our cities and our lands, without violence, with unity, with hope.   The people of England can live through anything.  And they could live through the terrible dark ages of capitalism that will come if we do nothing. Or they fcould rise up and not only live but thrive.  No one else is coming to make the world you know you long for in your heart.  These guys have come.  They deserve our support. They need our assistance.  We need our assistance.  Help them and you help yourself. 

People excoriated me for bringing my children to St. Paul's during Occupy Half Term.  And while I don't think my 7 year old really absorbed many of the finer points of anarchy, he did see people standing up for what their hearts told them.  And people like that are good to be around.  They liberate you to speak from your own heart and to be who you truly are, because there is this nice unity in their spirit.  This kind of unity you don't see in the average high street shopping specimen. They give me hope.  People ask why now, why did you start now and the answer is, because the Occupation gives me hope.  No one else gives me hope.  No one else has an agenda I can respect and hope to give my children.  I am a mum with a mortgage who shops at Boden online.  I buy lattes from Starbucks and I eat Subway sandwiches sometimes.  I am a reformist not a revolutionary.  But I believe justice is possible if only we come together and support those standing up for justice, in their weird contingent way, in their joyful way.

Everyone should look at their local Occupation and be like Mary.  Be like Mary.  Go away and ponder these things in your hearts.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Consider Settlement

This is what the Bishop of London has offered the Occupation:

"The time has come to change the setting. Now that St Paul's can function again, albeit on a limited basis, the cathedral wants to help recapture the serious issues.
If the protesters will disband peacefully, I will join the Dean and Chapter in organising a St Paul's Institute debate on the real issues here under the Dome.
We will convene a panel from across the political and business spectrum and will invite the protesters to be represented.
The Dean and I will be available on Sunday morning, outside St Paul's, to listen and engage. Our message will be simple: pack up your tents voluntarily and let us make you heard."

I think it could be a start.  If St. Pauls really is willing to align itself with the aims of the occupation, is willing to open itself up to support them, is willing to engage the leaders of England on the issues of economic justice preying upon all of us, then perhaps it is worth considering meeting their offer with a counter-offer, a very detailed proposal of what we need them to do to make us heard, what kind of panels they are talking about. This is their first settlement proposal and a lot more is probably on the table if we ask.

I think to be attractive to the Occupation, the offer of St. Paul's would have to be fleshed out and detailed, and planned.  If that work could happen before a single tent is moved, then work of the Occupation could move forward with a powerful ally.  I don't know everything about the camp and why the camp is necessary. The camp is a media flashpoint, of course.  But if in a settlement St. Paul's become that media flashpoint, inside and outside, then perhaps the desires of all the parties could be met.  Consider the following counter-offer:

1) The Occupation should have a permanent daily presence at St. Paul's, inside, perhaps, or at least with Tent City University and the information tent still outside and an exhibition on economic and social justice on the inside.

2)  St. Pauls should keep the food tent to feed the hungry.  Certainly this is within the clear remit of the church and could even be partially moved on to the Cathedral premises.  Inviting the hungry and the homeless in for warmth and a meal would be a truly Christian move on the part of St. Paul's and would allow the Occupation to have a living presence that actually increased traffic to the church.

3)  St. Paul's should go through the existing point in the Occupy LSX initial statement and say what specifically it can do to get the message across point by point.  This could take some time.  It could be worth it.   If their proposed agenda could be good enough, those who want to camp could Occupy Finsbury Square and those who were there to make a statement, to be heard, could then use St. Paul's to be heard. 

 Here's the reasoning:   St. Paul's should agree to these things both for their internal interest in being a business and their external or putative interest in serving the cause of Christ.  Opening the dialogue on the issues as Chartres suggests involves making that dialogue perpetual and real and requires a straightforward plan that can manage everyone's expectations. 

And as for the Occupation:  I am saying not that people should capitulate but that people should be realistic.  I have blogged several pages about the overwhelming work of the Occupation and how camping and manifesto and press can sap energy and time.  Fighting to keep a camp has almost become a distraction from the cause of justice behind the camp in the first place.  It is with a heavy heart that I report from the villages that regular people demonize the camp for impeding the progress to St. Paul's.  I don't know whether it is better to capitulate to that demonization in order to bring in the rest of the 99 or whether it is better to fight what are in the main, lies about the camp.  

I personally wish that the Occupation was not billed as virulently anti-capitalist.  Occupy Half Term was not anti-capitalist.  It was about witnessing the truth and heeding the calls of our own hearts for justice.  Whether this ultimately translates into a reform agenda or a revolutionary agenda is not something that we know right now.  If we could secure the good efforts of the church in creating a broader base of support for this movement, this movement could accomplish something, accomplish something nonviolent and real. 

St. Paul's would have to be very brave, however.  It seems to me that some of the points on the agenda would truly make its trustees (who are nothing less than the existing powers of the earth) mightily angered.  Will they really follow through on the call to beat swords into plowshares?  Could they?  Will they really support a national examination of the bloated place of consumerism in our collective souls and community life?  Could they really as shareholders  in many English companies question executive pay and tax status?  Would they?  Could they be that brave?  Yes? Then let's put it in a settlement agreement and begin the work.

Occupy Wall Street has a younger country and a cooler city and high approval ratings.  Occupy London has strictures OWS cannot imagine: strictures of class and ancient right, feudalism and monarchy.    But Occupy London has this massive strange twist that Occupy Wall Street never had. Somehow we are in the position of taking on the church.  And while they have proved an impressive enemy, it is clearly their lawyers who are at the fore right now, and the lawyers do not have to be at the fore forever. We can talk to those who want to represent the church of Christ.  And do you know why?  Because whether you are atheist or theist or Jewish or Muslim or Christian, Jesus was hoping that all of us would live in the Kingdom of Heaven, a just world, a world we could bring about.  If you can get St. Paul's Cathedral to start talking about that, then I promise you, you have a start.  Pack up your tents for Finsbury Square and gain this ally and gain the affection of the middle class and I do not think you will go wrong.

Remember the word of Jesus as recorded by Luke: "Woe unto you lawyers, for you load the people with burdens hard to bear, and you lift not a finger to help them."  The people are crying out for justice in the shadow of St. Paul's and the lawyers are about to load them with more burdens.  This lawsuit should not be filed, should not be filed a million times over from every conceivable angle.

When I first moved to Cambridge I used to stand in the back yard and wonder who the hell was this person who had moved to Cambridge, who owned this house, who lived in this place.  Now I feel the same sense of utter dislocation:  who is this person holding up signs and blogging late into the night?  Who is this person?  It is me.  It is me.  It is me and I do not represent some extreme strange faction, I represent the 99, the middle, the ones weeping for their children and the life they will have bloated by consumerism and devoid of freedom unless we step in.

I have been questioned by so many people:  why are you aligning yourself with the people in the tents?  I will tell you why:  because life does not give you perfect and convenient opportunities with clean and showered compatriots who are not camping anywhere illegal - in fact, life gives us this.  This is the opportunity that we all have to fight the terrible creep of powerful corporations into the fairness of our government and shape of our lives.  Opportunities must be seen and grasped.  This opportunity especially, and by all.  We have much to learn.  We have much to speak about with each other.  We have much to consider, especially if, in truth, we all consider our commonality, our need to talk and work things out, our communion in the cause of the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth.  This chance will not come again. Our children get older and older and justice is no nearer in the institutions that now shape our lives. Let's reconsider these institutions.  Let's reconsider them with St. Paul's, on the steps of St. Paul's, under an iron-clad settlement agreement.

Goodnight and much love.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Letter to Occupy London Stock Exchange

    I will write later about Occupy Half Term, it was just marvelous, not marvelous as a media event, although it was that too, but rather it was marvelous as an example of the genuinely admirable people at Occupy London Stock Exchange.  The Anons could not have been more honest, more courteous, could not have tried harder or charmed the kids any more.  Great honest answers to hard questions.  Then the Food Tent with its unending unheralded generosity.  How I loved my children wandering around with bread in hand from a communal and free table.  It warmed me and made me joyous.  And then Tent City University, where the kids learned the ways of the general assembly and tried them out for themselves, where songs were sung and the story of Stone Soup was told so charmingly I feel it would leave English regional theatre in the dust.  It was chaotic, it was raining, but every time I go down to that camp I am filled with hope and joy at the prospect of people making a better world and I think my children felt that joy, and now I am so happy. A million thank yous to the people at the camps, who are expected to be in contact with external supporters, sustain attacks from the Church of England, take care of survival needs, and formulate an exhaustive and definitive manifesto of the movement.  That seems like a lot to me.  I cannot tell you how grateful I am for your heroic sacrifice. 

   More importantly, I am troubled about this thing with St. Paul's.  It appears from the Standard that you face a lawsuit.  It happens that I have a bit of experience in lawsuits and I would like to offer this perspective:

a.  Going immediately to Settlement Negotiations rather than litigating these issues is in the interests of every party.  You are being asked to do so much, and engaging in high profile litigation strategy is going to sap your time and their money.  You want a resolution in good faith.  Offer to go straight to settlement negotiations.  This could protect the Canon's job as well. 

b.  Before the lawsuit is even filed, the three potential parties to the lawsuit, the Corporation of London, the Cathedral at St. Pauls and the Occupation sit down and work this out.  On the Occupation's side is the right to protest and every civil liberty I so dearly love (sorry but may I remind you I named my daughter Liberty).  On the Corporation of the City of London's side is incredible power, the power to tear us down slowly over time with distracting time and effort in every camping site we would ever want.  We need to ask the Corporation in all humility - where can you put us?  What do you want?  Tell us where to go within your jurisdiction.  Make us an offer.  Let us make peace. 

And to the Cathedral at St. Pauls I say you tell them this:   St. Paul's decided to close St. Paul's.  My parents in their 70's retired in Florida and lifelong Christians. My father looked up at the looming edifice of St. Pauls, like the looming edifice of the nearby Bank of England and told me the words that Paul had actually spoken, about the living Church, the power of Christ, and truth and justice and he said it was obvious to him that the real Church was on the steps and in the tents.  Christians will recognize this.  The Christians should recognize the Occupation in every place as the living church.  That is already starting, and that will give the Occupation leverage.  But why not offer to move to where the Corporation of the City of London directs you to move within its jurisdiction - give St. Paul's no reason to keep its doors closed.  Do not fight this battle.  This battle will drain you and there is so much else to be done.  Litigation in the UK is the product of an ancient system of enmity and it will drain you all.  Find your common ground.  I suggest that you offer St. Paul's two things in a settlement:  (1) that you take the tents out provided that the Corporation of the City of London gives you somewhere else to go and (2) that you require as a condition of (1) that you have a permanent presence during the Occupation inside the Cathedral where people can inquire about the Occupation and perhaps the Cathedral does its best to connect the words of St. Paul with the actual Occupation:  in that scenario, everyone is a winner.  And if they do not accept that settlement offer, we know that they have forsaken Christ and the true church.  Yeah, I said it.  This is the true church.  My Dad would not have brought that up if he thought otherwise. 

Engage in radical consensus even with your enemies, treat them only with love and humour and non-violence. 

That is my suggestion. 

As incoherent as always but with a heart full of hope and love I remain your friendly Cambridge mum and

Rachel Mariner
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Today is Occupy Half Term

I just did my fourth radio interview - pretty hostile- where the DJ excoriated the camp at St. Pauls (to which he had never been, of course) for closing St. Paul's, excoriated the protesters for having a camp, for not sleeping in the tents, and then asked me why on earth I would want to take my children to see people LIKE THAT.  (Better people LIKE THAT than DJs LIKE HIM)

  St. Paul's closed St. Paul's because its own trustees (banks) want to paint the protesters in as negative light as possible.  The Occupation did not close St. Pauls.  St. Pauls closed St. Pauls.  People have set up an Occupation because social protests that DO NOT MOVE are more effective than ones that do.  I want my children to meet these people and soak up this vibe because I RESPECT what they are trying to do - build a better world and I DON'T RESPECT the government.  I hope those answers came across as ok. 

The bullshit that is thrown at the people in the camps is unbelievable.  These guys are being asked to defend their actions, clean the camp, formulate a manifesto, build a bridge to the non-camping supporters of the Occupation.  I mean, it's not Syria, they are not getting shot, but man, these guys are working very hard to answer a myriad of claims and it is a burden.  This is not a brand.  This is not a corporation.  These are people making up a lot of stuff as they go along and it is hard work.  

I have been strangely exhausted and discouraged trying to push this to fruition the last few days.  We will go today and what will be will be and I will as in every trial and presentation I have ever had in my life think only about its deficiencies and not its strengths. 

It would be much safer to go shopping with the kids today except that I hate shopping, I hate injected molded plastic, I hate the way entering a store makes you feel insufficient, makes you feel need, robs you of the integrity of your identity a little bit.  I hate that how much money people makes is a kind of calibration of worth in our society.  I hate that people are really suffering out there.  I find the indifference of this government to be tyrannical.  I find our relationship to our government to be completely out of whack. 

It may be only me, Liberty and Owain out there today.  But no matter what it is, I am glad I took this stand and made this decision.  My parenting obligations include introducing my children to reality and today that will happen for my kids much moreso than the kids who go to play at the Disney store. 

With affection to my ten readers and a promise of more later from my self-pitying middle class mum self.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Occupy Half Term the Latest

Please if you are not interested in Occupy Half Term do not read further; there is a political leaning here that may not be appropriate for a school website (although doing nothing is a political choice too, right?)

For anyone considering joining us for Occupy Half Term, I wanted to tell you more about how the events have shaped up for the day:

1.  Meet at Cambridge train station at 10:00 for the 10:15 to London Liverpool St - stories and snacks on the train as well as sign-in and prep talk by me.  Foremost here is that this is a neutral fact finding mission and we have much information to collect and ponder.
2.  Arrive at Liverpool St Station at 11:45.  The train will be met by some people from the camp and some other mums joining the event.  We will walk together to St. Pauls 
3. 12:15 A look around and orientation before meeting Anonymous - the group who wears the Guy Fawkes masks.  They have promised a completely on the level question and answer period, where kids can ask them why they are there, what they are doing, why they wear those masks and what they want.
4.  Lunch at the Vegan Cafe - There is a free Vegan Cafe that has delicious plentiful food so a packed lunch may not be necessary.  While we sit and eat lunch, a very nice lady named Ruth from the outreach committee has promised to talk to us about the camp and what has happened and why they are camping.  [Please bring your own plates if you can or food if your kids are not into lentil bake type arrangements - there is always plenty of fruit and cakes and tea]  Please bring your own bottled water and be prepared to have a bit of an issue finding the loos.
5.  1:00  General Assembly and Tour:  This unique leaderless format of direct democracy in order for a group to come to a consensus came via the Spanish indignados and Tahrir Square to Occupy Wall Street and thus to all the occupations in the world (more than 1000).  It has its own protocols and sign languages and it is fascinating to watch.  The kids won't watch a whole session, though, they will watch for a bit before they tour the camp, including the prayer tent and free book store, first aid tent.
6.  2:00  Tent City University:  This will be amazing.  The facilitators at the camp's Tent City University have promised to be there and listen to the kids and help them have their own general assembly about what they have seen, what they want to do next.  The function of listening humbly while all have their say has really been a great personal learning experience for me.
7:  2:30  Dancing:  There is a lot of joy in this camp, a lot of hope for a better world, a lot of pleasure in simple human activities like dancing and listening to music - things that do not cost money. It didn't seem that the kids would have a true taste of it unless they could let it rip out there on the steps with the Samba band:  the band has not been confirmed, a kind person may have even written songs just for us, but there will be some music and movement before:
8.  2:45 departure to catch the 3:15 back to Cambridge.  People from the camp have promised to walk us back  .

St Pauls Cathedral
:  Several people have expressed concern to me that St. Paul's will be closed.  It will probably be closed.  I have directly requested that it open on the day for the kids; I have been involved in these negotiations and I firmly believe on the basis of the evidence that St. Paul's has decided to close because its Board of Trustees (Banks) do not want the protesters around; the health and safety reasons being a pretext.  I promise you, this camp is clean, the kitchen is lean

Police:  The police, unlike 15 October when the camp was set up and Fritha and I were kettled by the police, are totally friendly, plentiful, talking in a relaxed manner with the protesters and generally very cool.  Certainly there is nothing even approaching tension or a lack of safety. 

I have attached a flyer if you can't come but can think of someone who might come.  I also provide somewhat obnoxiously the following links:

--A video of Saturday at St. Pauls including (starting at 11:30) my address to the General Assembly:

--A short video of me and other mums at Occupy London made by Jon Cheetham

-- I am taking Liberty and Owain, and we may well be the only people at the train station under the Occupy Half Term banner, because I respect the vitality and love that is being infused into their hopes for a better world. I respect the idea of a leaderless general assembly.  I respect their call for justice, my heart has the same call.  I know everyone has plans for half term to make your kids more educated, happier and well adjusted,  I know it is expensive and exhausting to get into London but I also know that this is the beginning of something and it could be something big and good, and the more good people who come and are heard, the better it will be.  We are very busy raising our children but what kind of world will they have when our work is done? 

A 2.5 min interview of me with the Independent on Sunday and other Mums:

The Facebook page for Occupy Half Term is
The press release for the event is at and my blog, as always, is strident and messy at

Ponder these things in your hearts

I come in at around 11:30 in the attached - some gorgeous quotes precede.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Petition to the General Assembly of Occupy London from Occupy Half Term

First many profound thanks to John from Outreach, Ruth, Kai for the invitation to speak at the General Assembly today.   Those words about mom (mums I think we have to go with here) and teaching our children what to respect and yearning for justice were the words of my heart and I was grateful to share them.

I was interviewed by the Independent on Sunday afterwards, and people in the crowd, among them a professor from Oxford, an independent filmmaker, both expressed that my words resonated with them and they struggled in how to be involved in the movement from where they were. 

So second, I petition the General Assembly to publicize Occupy Half Term. My view is that bringing the middle class mums in sooner rather than later is good.   I guarantee we are a force to be reckoned with. 

Third  Let me explain Occupy Half Term:  there is a flyer in the Info Tent.  If you as I believe that broader support for Occupy among the middle class, and especially middle class mums, is crucial to the success of the task of bringing together the 99 (and if you believe that bringing the 99 together is now your task), then perhaps you would be inclined to consider the following:

The Plan So Far:
1.  The plan is to meet in the Cambridge train station and go together on the 10:15 to Liverpool Street and walk from Liverpool Street to St. Pauls.  How wonderful if we were met at the train station by someone and we walked together through the streets, children and mums.
2.  When we arrive at the camp, I  propose (and have started) the following agenda:

  a. I have asked Anonymous to have a full question and answer session with the kids in their masks.  I have promised the mums that the kids can ask whatever they want - why they are there, what they want, why they wear the masks.
b.  I have asked Ruth to speak from Global Women's Strike and answer questions.
c.  Tour of the camp and a walk around St. Paul's
d.  Attendance at a General Assembly:  to see the practices and protocols  
e.  Kids General Assembly:  where the kids discuss what they have seen so far and what they think and the adults listen.  [twenty minutes]
f.  Dancing:  A Revolution without dancing is not worth having, right?  This movement makes me joyful and gives me hope and that is a wonderful reason to dance.   
g.  a parade back to Liverpool Street 

  I also ask the General Assembly for assistance in recording the event.  I imagine that these discreet parts could be filmed and released on YouTube in parts:  These could then be publicized for any school that wants information about the Occupation.  TentCityUniversity could perhaps guide the filming or run the Kids General Assembly?  My view is that getting positive information directly to the middle class unfiltered by main stream media would be a great step forward for the Occupation, and you could perhaps have the youtube clips available for other children who visit. 

I firmly believe that truth in action, justice is happening and I want children to be able to bear witness.  Suffer the little children, please. 

Finally, would you consider petitioning St. Paul's to open for tourists during Occupy Half Term?  A lot of the children coming have never been inside and it may be a way forward in working things out with them.  I actually think the Christians should organize and petition St. Paul's if you have any of them at the camp. 

Thank you for reading this and I am sorry I cannot be there.   Thank you for giving me hope and helping me spread the word. 

Rachel Mariner

Facebook Group: Occupy Half Term

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Letter to the Christians at St. Paul's Cathedral and all Christians

  Today the Church of England issued a statement requesting that the protesters leave the camp.  It is super polite, of course, this is England, and it is indirect, but the bottom line is that someone is telling them that they have to shut this down, or at least cease all aid to the Occupation.  They asked Occupy London to get out.

  I watched the livestream of the general assembly held to discuss this and I cried with love and wonder as people discussed, given that the guys at the Cathedral seemed like good guys, wouldn't Jesus really be out among the people?  Didn't he get rid of the moneychangers?  Wouldn't Jesus be on the side of the homeless, the jobless, the poor?

  And may I add, didn't Jesus when tempted in the wilderness make it clear that holding on to the power of the state, and siding with the state, as the church has here, is to be on the side of evil and not of Christ?

 There are wars and rumors of wars.  Our earth is poisoned and thus our children's food.  The earth itself rises up and knocks down the spires of the National Cathedral and wounds the Washington Monument.  The people come into the street and demand justice. You can cower in the shadows, or you can join Jesus among the tents where you belong.  Surely if you ponder this in your heart, you will know I speak the truth.  The church should not stand in the way of a call for justice.  God is being glorified outside your soaring walls by drunken anarchists, as they stand for the poor.  These hippie proto-fascists are the Good Samaritan.  They are Moses and you are the Pharoah (and I am Rachel, weeping for my children).  They are the little children and you must suffer them to come onto you. .

On Sunday morning, the 16th of October, 2011, when you sent the cops away, my heart leapt with joy and my hatred of the church and what it has done to me abated considerably.  You were acting from the heart then and I don't know who has been talking to you since then.  Could you tell us?

And if you are truly concerned that you cannot serve the people of the Church with the tents there, then I ask that you at least ask the people you seek to serve what they think of the matter.  Why not ask the Archbishop to send out an e-mail to every Church of England service and tell them that St. Paul's is looking to the Christian people of England to show the Church what it is.  And invite them to come, for Halloween, for services on the 30th, for Occupy Half Term, invite them, suffer the little children, see what these good followers of Christ will say.

Is it not written of Jesus and the tax collector:

He entered and was passing through Jericho. There was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, and couldn't because of the crowd, because he was short. He ran on ahead, and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and saw him, and said to him, "Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house." He hurried, came down, and received him joyfully. When they saw it, they all murmured, saying, "He has gone in to lodge with a man who is a sinner."
Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. If I have wrongfully exacted anything of anyone, I restore four times as much."
Jesus said to him, "Today, salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

And all is seared with trade: Hopkins on the Occupation

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
  It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
  It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;        5
  And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
  And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
  There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;        10
And though the last lights off the black West went
  Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
  World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.      

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Justice is Possible

When I got out of the Priory in May 2004, the shrink told me that I would not treasure what I had thought and said during my manic phase.  He said it would all be nonsense in retrospect.  Of course, as men in positions of authority so often are, as we as humans so often are, he was completely dead ass wrong. 

What I wanted to do when I was crazy is start The Jedi Project.  Founded on the principal that there was fundamentally no difference between sovereigns, religions, corporations and banks, that they should all be transparent and accountable to their shareholders, workers, citizens, voters and gods.  Along these lines new laws could be written so that these legal fictions of human organizations served human well-being, served the well-being of the planet, served the well-being of our souls and of our happiness, served to further appreciation of the sweet goodness of life, our commonwealth.  I imagined the coming of this project as an IPO the whole world could buy into.  Money is not the enemy.  Capitalism is not the enemy, the enemy is these legal fictions and how they loom as the machines in the Matrix and in the Terminator films, how they loom as Darth Vader's Republic, how they have insidiously and ingeniously put the government and universities of this world at their beck and call.  I blame no one person and I do not call it greed.  Our liberties have been restricted by our own stale laws which we have outgrown.  It is time to write new laws, and for that we need a new theory.  I think this theory is what many in the Occupy movement are struggling to find in their own hearts. 

Anyway, I recovered from the mental hospital drugging me out of my manic, ecstatic, philosophical realizations, which took many years, and I have two children I have raised.  I blog for them because to sit and be completely honest with myself on these pages about who I am fosters a full humanity that I want my children to possess, and which I am sure you want your children to possess.  Some form of authenticity, some form of internal justice and mercy. 

You see, I moved here to write plays and be a writer and it is that kind of unbearable honesty that I admire in other people's writing.  While I was working on the play of my life, Mother Daughter Holy Spirit, I flew to DC to be with my dramaturg for a final five day push and I had a dream.  Two dreams, actually. 

In the first dream I was watching a shoreline from a concrete embankment with faceless white men in suits.  I felt great fear.  Flashes of white light in the sky preceded what I can only describe as a black prism and rainbow.  Then a wave taller than the Chrysler building engulfed us and over us through the water I could see dolphins, swimming in military formation carrying ammunition, and I felt their unstoppable rage and I was so frightened.  Then the vision disappeared and I was back on the embankment and I turned to the men speechless at the vision.  But they had not seen it.  They could not see it. 

Those men, are, of course, the representatives of our banks, corporations, governments and religions.  They are faceless fictions created by law.  The dolphins expressed the rage of the earth and the rage in all our souls against how consumerism, and the whims of sovereigns are starting to destroy us, body and soul, earth and human.  We are all one with the earth, right, we are all part of the same big cookie, this project of god if you must, in the end. 

The first dream was immediately followed by a second dream.  In that dream I heard a man crying out in real suffering.  I turned a corner and in a bricked back garden, a man in a suit, like the men in the first dream, was pinned to the ground.  He was lying there against his will, on him was an oversized and incredibly lovable huge Bernese Mountain Dog, sitting patiently, happy and expectant.  As I got closer, I saw the man had dropped his briefcase, and then I saw behind the dog a woman, a woman like an Italian mother, broad in a black dress, clutching a pocket book, unhappy to be there and frightened but still, sitting there.  Despite the screams of anguish from the man, I felt happy and energized, and I walked away without changing a thing. 

If the man is all our sovereigns, corporations, religions and banks, then the dog is what the Occupy movement starts to bring.  The dog is the balance of our humanity, the commonwealth of the earth and its resources, which must only be shared among us to be enough.  The dog is every animal on this earth, every tree, every stream, every flower, and the dog is the animal part of humans too, he is us, he is the part of us that is if you must a child of god, craving justice and beauty, truth and joy.  We need only find that part of ourselves and climb up there with that dog to put the earth back into its proper balance.
The Occupy movement, as it is rapidly unfolding, seems to be that dog, seeking first to shrink the power of corporations.  I mean, it's just messed up what we have now.  Governments feel they must serve corporations and banks, Universities feel they must serve corporations in order to be endowed.  Political candidates are supplicants to them, and their escalation of the economy in the voracious unending quest for profit and money has damaged the earth.  That is why the dolphins are so mad. 

But look, the second dream is coming true and we have a chance to write new laws, where justice and mercy to ourselves and to the earth is the first and highest calling of the law, the spirit, the spirit must prevail.  Call it a brand, call it a holy thing, call it what you will.

My saying on Facebook is Fiat Justia Ruat Coelum.  This means:  Let justice be done though the heavens be torn asunder .  Justice is our responsibility here on earth.  People are starving, the earth is being poisoned, the earth we leave for our children becomes more horrible every year we do nothing.  Doing nothing now is to choose to stand on the side of the oppressor, of the clueless men in suits in my dream.  Let the heavens be torn asunder. What we can do is write some new corporate laws.  The lineage of the Corp in corporations is of course corpus, the body, the flesh.  How perfectly ironic that we have let this legal fiction hurt our flesh and create a rat race of the world where we are its scuttling servant.  It is not just.

But how wonderful that we live in a time when the dog is just beginning to pin our institutions down.  How important it is to help.  Shrink the getting and spending in you, shrink the banks down, shrink the corporations down and make the government the just voice of the people. 

These dreams I believe are no coincidence, nor my rantings during the Jedi project, nor my education and friends and influences.  I believe I am well situated to help.  I want to help this leaderless movement.  And I think it is perfect that the movement is leaderless and that must continue:  we are all parts of the dog, now, right, or we're that reluctant woman and now we have to climb on top and stick it to the man.  And to do that we need no leaders rising up to have more power, we need the ideas to prevail, the ideas of justice and compassion and love, how they manifest in our own hearts and lives is much more important than any leader, and it is only by finding them in ourselves that we can save ourselves. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Occupy London Stock Exchange: The First Statement

From St. Paul's Square, 16 October 2011.  

At today’s assembly of over 500 people on the steps of St Paul’s, #occupylsx collectively agreed the initial statement below. Please note, like all forms of direct democracy, the statement will always be a work in progress.
1 The current system is unsustainable. It is undemocratic and unjust. We need alternatives; this is where we work towards them.
2 We are of all ethnicities, backgrounds, genders, generations, sexualities dis/abilities and faiths. We stand together with occupations all over the world.
3 We refuse to pay for the banks’ crisis.
4 We do not accept the cuts as either necessary or inevitable. We demand an end to global tax injustice and our democracy representing corporations instead of the people.
5 We want regulators to be genuinely independent of the industries they regulate.
6 We support the strike on the 30th November and the student action on the 9th November, and actions to defend our health services, welfare, education and employment, and to stop wars and arms dealing.
7 We want structural change towards authentic global equality. The world’s resources must go towards caring for people and the planet, not the military, corporate profits or the rich.
8 We stand in solidarity with the global oppressed and we call for an end to the actions of our government and others in causing this oppression.
9 This is what democracy looks like. Come and join us!

Monday, October 17, 2011

This is the Fight of our Lives (Bill Moyers, 2004 at NYU)

A friend sent me this last night and man, this is Bill Moyers nearly ten years ago.  I know it is a long article, but to me this sets forth very clearly the conceptual groundwork of the Occupy movement:

> This is the Fight of Our Lives
> by Bill Moyers
> Keynote speech
> Inequality Matters Forum (
> New York University
> June 3, 2004
> "The middle class and working poor are told that what's happening to them is the consequence of Adam Smith's 'Invisible Hand.' This is a lie. What's happening to them is the direct consequence of corporate activism, intellectual propaganda, the rise of a religious orthodoxy that in its hunger for government subsidies has made an idol of power, and a string of political decisions favoring the powerful and the privileged who bought the political system right out from under us."
> -- Bill Moyers, Keynote speech, June 3, 2004
> It is important from time to time to remember that some things are worth getting mad about.
> Here's one: On March 10 of this year, on page B8, with a headline that stretched across all six columns, The New York Times reported that tuition in the city's elite private schools would hit $26,000 for the coming school year -- for kindergarten as well as high school. On the same page, under a two-column headline, Michael Wineraub wrote about a school in nearby Mount Vernon, the first stop out of the Bronx, with a student body that is 97 percent black. It is the poorest school in the town: nine out of ten children qualify for free lunches; one out of 10 lives in a homeless shelter. During black history month this past February, a sixth grader wanted to write a report on Langston Hughes. There were no books on Langston Hughes in the library -- no books about the great poet, nor any of his poems. There is only one book in the library on Frederick Douglass. None on Rosa Parks, Josephine Baker, Leontyne Price, or other giants like them in the modern era. In fact, except for a few Newberry Award books the librarian bought with her own money, the library is mostly old books -- largely from the 1950s and 60s when the school was all white. A 1960 child's primer on work begins with a youngster learning how to be a telegraph delivery boy. All the workers in the book -- the dry cleaner, the deliveryman, the cleaning lady -- are white. There's a 1967 book about telephones which says: "when you phone you usually dial the number. But on some new phones you can push buttons." The newest encyclopedia dates from l991, with two volumes -- "b" and "r" -- missing. There is no card catalog in the library -- no index cards or computer.
> Something to get mad about.
> Here's something else: Caroline Payne's face and gums are distorted because her Medicaid-financed dentures don't fit. Because they don't fit, she is continuously turned down for jobs on account of her appearance. Caroline Payne is one of the people in David Shipler's new book,' The Working Poor: Invisible in America'. She was born poor, and in spite of having once owned her own home and having earned a two-year college degree, Caroline Payne has bounced from one poverty-wage job to another all her life, equipped with the will to move up, but not the resources to deal with unexpected and overlapping problems like a mentally handicapped daughter, a broken marriage, a sudden layoff crisis that forced her to sell her few assets, pull up roots and move on. "In the house of the poor," Shipler writes "...the walls are thin and fragile and troubles seep into one another."
> Here's something else to get mad about. Two weeks ago, the House of Representatives, the body of Congress owned and operated by the corporate, political, and religious right, approved new tax credits for children. Not for poor children, mind you. But for families earning as much as $309,000 a year -- families that already enjoy significant benefits from earlier tax cuts. The editorial page of The Washington Post called this "bad social policy, bad tax policy, and bad fiscal policy. You'd think they'd be embarrassed," said the Post, "but they're not."
> And this, too, is something to get mad about. Nothing seems to embarrass the political class in Washington today. Not the fact that more children are growing up in poverty in America than in any other industrial nation; not the fact that millions of workers are actually making less money today in real dollars than they did twenty years ago; not the fact that working people are putting in longer and longer hours and still falling behind; not the fact that while we have the most advanced medical care in the world, nearly 44 million Americans -- eight out of ten of them in working families -- are uninsured and cannot get the basic care they need.
> Astonishing as it seems, no one in official Washington seems embarrassed by the fact that the gap between rich and poor is greater than it's been in 50 years -- the worst inequality among all western nations. Or that we are experiencing a shift in poverty. For years it was said those people down there at the bottom were single, jobless mothers. For years they were told work, education, and marriage is how they move up the economic ladder. But poverty is showing up where we didn't expect it -- among families that include two parents, a worker, and a head of the household with more than a high school education. These are the newly poor. Our political, financial and business class expects them to climb out of poverty on an escalator moving downward.
> Let me tell you about the Stanleys and the Neumanns. During the last decade, I produced a series of documentaries for PBS called "Surviving the Good Times." The title refers to the boom time of the '90s when the country achieved the longest period of economic growth in its entire history. Some good things happened then, but not everyone shared equally in the benefits. To the contrary. The decade began with a sustained period of downsizing by corporations moving jobs out of America and many of those people never recovered what was taken from them. We decided early on to tell the stories of two families in Milwaukee -- one black, one white -- whose breadwinners were laid off in the first wave of layoffs in 1991. We reported on how they were coping with the wrenching changes in their lives, and we stayed with them over the next ten years as they tried to find a place in the new global economy. They're the kind of Americans my mother would have called "the salt of the earth." They love their kids, care about their communities, go to church every Sunday, and work hard all week -- both mothers have had to take full-time jobs.
> During our time with them, the fathers in both families became seriously ill. One had to stay in the hospital two months, putting his family $30,000 in debt because they didn't have adequate health insurance. We were there with our camera when the bank started to foreclose on the modest home of the other family because they couldn't meet the mortgage payments after dad lost his good-paying manufacturing job. Like millions of Americans, the Stanleys and the Neumanns were playing by the rules and still getting stiffed. By the end of the decade they were running harder but slipping behind, and the gap between them and prosperous America was widening.
> What turns their personal tragedy into a political travesty is that they are patriotic. They love this country. But they no longer believe they matter to the people who run the country. When our film opens, both families are watching the inauguration of Bill Clinton on television in 1992. By the end of the decade they were no longer paying attention to politics. They don't see it connecting to their lives. They don't think their concerns will ever be addressed by the political, corporate, and media elites who make up our dominant class. They are not cynical, because they are deeply religious people with no capacity for cynicism, but they know the system is rigged against them. They know this, and we know this. For years now a small fraction of American households have been garnering an extreme concentration of wealth and income while large corporations and financial institutions have obtained unprecedented levels of economic and political power over daily life. In 1960, the gap in terms of wealth between the top 20% and the bottom 20% was 30 fold. Four decades later it is more than 75 fold.
> Such concentrations of wealth would be far less of an issue if the rest of society were benefiting proportionately. But that's not the case. As the economist Jeff Madrick reminds us, the pressures of inequality on middle and working class Americans are now quite severe. "The strain on working people and on family life, as spouses have gone to work in dramatic numbers, has become significant. VCRs and television sets are cheap, but higher education, health care, public transportation, drugs, housing and cars have risen faster in price than typical family incomes. And life has grown neither calm nor secure for most Americans, by any means." You can find many sources to support this conclusion. I like the language of a small outfit here in New York called the Commonwealth Foundation/Center for the Renewal of American Democracy. They conclude that working families and the poor "are losing ground under economic pressures that deeply affect household stability, family dynamics, social mobility, political participation, and civic life."
> Household economics is not the only area where inequality is growing in America. Equality doesn't mean equal incomes, but a fair and decent society where money is not the sole arbiter of status or comfort. In a fair and just society, the commonwealth will be valued even as individual wealth is encouraged.
> Let me make something clear here. I wasn't born yesterday. I'm old enough to know that the tension between haves and have-nots are built into human psychology, it is a constant in human history, and it has been a factor in every society. But I also know America was going to be different. I know that because I read Mr. Jefferson's writings, Mr. Lincoln's speeches and other documents in the growing American creed. I presumptuously disagreed with Thomas Jefferson about human equality being self-evident. Where I lived, neither talent, nor opportunity, nor outcomes were equal. Life is rarely fair and never equal. So what could he possibly have meant by that ringing but ambiguous declaration: "All men are created equal"? Two things, possibly. One, although none of us are good, all of us are sacred (Glenn Tinder), that's the basis for thinking we are by nature kin.
> Second, he may have come to see the meaning of those words through the experience of the slave who was his mistress. As is now widely acknowledged, the hands that wrote "all men are created equal" also stroked the breasts and caressed the thighs of a black woman named Sally Hennings. She bore him six children whom he never acknowledged as his own, but who were the only slaves freed by his will when he died -- the one request we think Sally Hennings made of her master. Thomas Jefferson could not have been insensitive to the flesh-and-blood woman in his arms. He had to know she was his equal in her desire for life, her longing for liberty, her passion for happiness.
> In his book on the Declaration, my late friend Mortimer Adler said Jefferson realized that whatever things are really good for any human being are really good for all other human beings. The happy or good life is essentially the same for all: a satisfaction of the same needs inherent in human nature. A just society is grounded in that recognition. So Jefferson kept as a slave a woman whose nature he knew was equal to his. All Sally Hennings got from her long sufferance -- perhaps it was all she sought from what may have grown into a secret and unacknowledged love -- was that he let her children go. "Let my children go" -- one of the oldest of all petitions. It has long been the promise of America -- a broken promise, to be sure. But the idea took hold that we could fix what was broken so that our children would live a bountiful life. We could prevent the polarization between the very rich and the very poor that poisoned other societies. We could provide that each and every citizen would enjoy the basic necessities of life, a voice in the system of self-government, and a better chance for their children. We could preclude the vast divides that produced the turmoil and tyranny of the very countries from which so many of our families had fled.
> We were going to do these things because we understood our dark side -- none of us is good -- but we also understood the other side -- all of us are sacred. From Jefferson forward we have grappled with these two notions in our collective head -- that we are worthy of the creator but that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Believing the one and knowing the other, we created a country where the winners didn't take all. Through a system of checks and balances we were going to maintain a safe, if shifting, equilibrium between wealth and commonwealth. We believed equitable access to public resources is the lifeblood of any democracy. So early on [in Jeff Madrick's description,] primary schooling was made free to all. States changed laws to protect debtors, often the relatively poor, against their rich creditors. Charters to establish corporations were open to most, if not all, white comers, rather than held for the elite. The government encouraged Americans to own their own piece of land, and even supported squatters' rights. The court challenged monopoly -- all in the name of we the people.
> In my time we went to public schools. My brother made it to college on the GI bill. When I bought my first car for $450 I drove to a subsidized university on free public highways and stopped to rest in state-maintained public parks. This is what I mean by the commonwealth. Rudely recognized in its formative years, always subject to struggle, constantly vulnerable to reactionary counterattacks, the notion of America as a shared project has been the central engine of our national experience.
> Until now. I don't have to tell you that a profound transformation is occurring in America: the balance between wealth and the commonwealth is being upended. By design. Deliberately. We have been subjected to what the Commonwealth Foundation calls "a fanatical drive to dismantle the political institutions, the legal and statutory canons, and the intellectual and cultural frameworks that have shaped public responsibility for social harms arising from the excesses of private power." From land, water and other natural resources, to media and the broadcast and digital spectrums, to scientific discovery and medical breakthroughs, and to politics itself, a broad range of the American commons is undergoing a powerful shift toward private and corporate control. And with little public debate. Indeed, what passes for 'political debate' in this country has become a cynical charade behind which the real business goes on -- the not-so-scrupulous business of getting and keeping power in order to divide up the spoils.
> We could have seen this coming if we had followed the money. The veteran Washington reporter, Elizabeth Drew, says "the greatest change in Washington over the past 25 years -- in its culture, in the way it does business and the ever-burgeoning amount of business transactions that go on here -- has been in the preoccupation with money." Jeffrey Birnbaum, who covered Washington for nearly twenty years for the Wall Street Journal, put it more strongly: "[campaign cash] has flooded over the gunwales of the ship of state and threatens to sink the entire vessel. Political donations determine the course and speed of many government actions that deeply affect our daily lives." Politics is suffocating from the stranglehold of money. During his brief campaign in 2000, before he was ambushed by the dirty tricks of the religious right in South Carolina and big money from George W. Bush's wealthy elites, John McCain said elections today are nothing less than an "influence peddling scheme in which both parties compete to stay in office by selling the country to the highest bidder."
> Small wonder that with the exception of people like John McCain and Russ Feingold, official Washington no longer finds anything wrong with a democracy dominated by the people with money. Hit the pause button here, and recall Roger Tamraz. He's the wealthy oilman who paid $300,000 to get a private meeting in the White House with President Clinton; he wanted help in securing a big pipeline in central Asia. This got him called before congressional hearings on the financial excesses of the 1996 campaign. If you watched the hearings on C-Span you heard him say he didn't think he had done anything out of the ordinary. When they pressed him he told the senators: "Look, when it comes to money and politics, you make the rules. I'm just playing by your rules." One senator then asked if Tamraz had registered and voted. And he was blunt in his reply: "No, senator, I think money's a bit more (important) than the vote."
> So what does this come down to, practically?
> Here is one accounting:
> "When powerful interests shower Washington with millions in campaign contributions, they often get what they want. But it's ordinary citizens and firms that pay the price and most of them never see it coming. This is what happens if you don't contribute to their campaigns or spend generously on lobbying. You pick up a disproportionate share of America's tax bill. You pay higher prices for a broad range of products from peanuts to prescriptions. You pay taxes that others in a similar situation have been excused from paying. You're compelled to abide by laws while others are granted immunity from them. You must pay debts that you incur while others do not. You're barred from writing off on your tax returns some of the money spent on necessities while others deduct the cost of their entertainment. You must run your business by one set of rules, while the government creates another set for your competitors. In contrast, the fortunate few who contribute to the right politicians and hire the right lobbyists enjoy all the benefits of their special status. Make a bad business deal; the government bails them out. If they want to hire workers at below market wages, the government provides the means to do so. If they want more time to pay their debts, the government gives them an extension. If they want immunity from certain laws, the government gives it. If they want to ignore rules their competition must comply with, the government gives its approval. If they want to kill legislation that is intended for the public, it gets killed."
> I'm not quoting from Karl Marx's Das Kapital or Mao's Little Red Book. I'm quoting Time magazine. Time's premier investigative journalists -- Donald Bartlett and James Steele -- concluded in a series last year that America now has "government for the few at the expense of the many." Economic inequality begets political inequality, and vice versa.
> That's why the Stanleys and the Neumanns were turned off by politics. It's why we're losing the balance between wealth and the commonwealth. It's why we can't put things right. And it is the single most destructive force tearing at the soul of democracy. Hear the great justice Learned Hand on this: "If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: 'Thou shalt not ration justice.' " Learned Hand was a prophet of democracy. The rich have the right to buy more homes than anyone else. They have the right to buy more cars than anyone else, more gizmos than anyone else, more clothes and vacations than anyone else. But they do not have the right to buy more democracy than anyone else.
> I know, I know: this sounds very much like a call for class war. But the class war was declared a generation ago, in a powerful paperback polemic by William Simon, who was soon to be Secretary of the Treasury. He called on the financial and business class, in effect, to take back the power and privileges they had lost in the depression and new deal. They got the message, and soon they began a stealthy class war against the rest of society and the principles of our democracy. They set out to trash the social contract, to cut their workforces and wages, to scour the globe in search of cheap labor, and to shred the social safety net that was supposed to protect people from hardships beyond their control. Business Week put it bluntly at the time: "Some people will obviously have to do with will be a bitter pill for many Americans to swallow the idea of doing with less so that big business can have more."
> The middle class and working poor are told that what's happening to them is the consequence of Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand." This is a lie. What's happening to them is the direct consequence of corporate activism, intellectual propaganda, the rise of a religious orthodoxy that in its hunger for government subsidies has made an idol of power, and a string of political decisions favoring the powerful and the privileged who bought the political system right out from under us.
> To create the intellectual framework for this takeover of public policy they funded conservative think tanks -- The Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institution, and the American Enterprise Institute -- that churned out study after study advocating their agenda.
> To put political muscle behind these ideas they created a formidable political machine. One of the few journalists to cover the issues of class -- Thomas Edsall of The Washington Post -- wrote: "During the 1970s, business refined its ability to act as a class, submerging competitive instincts in favor of joint, cooperate action in the legislative area." Big business political action committees flooded the political arena with a deluge of dollars. And they built alliances with the religious right -- Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition -- who mounted a cultural war providing a smokescreen for the class war, hiding the economic plunder of the very people who were enlisted as foot soldiers in the cause of privilege.
> In a book to be published this summer, Daniel Altman describes what he calls the "neo-economy -- a place without taxes, without a social safety net, where rich and poor live in different financial worlds -- and [said Altman] it's coming to America." He's a little late. It's here. Says Warren Buffett, the savviest investor of them all: "My class won."
> Look at the spoils of victory:
> Over the past three years, they've pushed through $2 trillion dollars in tax cuts -- almost all tilted towards the wealthiest people in the country.
> Cuts in taxes on the largest incomes.
> Cuts in taxes on investment income.
> And cuts in taxes on huge inheritances.
> More than half of the benefits are going to the wealthiest one percent. You could call it trickle-down economics, except that the only thing that trickled down was a sea of red ink in our state and local governments, forcing them to cut services for and raise taxes on middle class working America.
> Now the Congressional Budget Office forecasts deficits totaling $2.75 trillion over the next ten years.
> These deficits have been part of their strategy. Some of you will remember that Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan tried to warn us 20 years ago, when he predicted that President Ronald Reagan's real strategy was to force the government to cut domestic social programs by fostering federal deficits of historic dimensions. Reagan's own budget director, David Stockman, admitted as such. Now the leading rightwing political strategist, Grover Norquist, says the goal is to "starve the beast" -- with trillions of dollars in deficits resulting from trillions of dollars in tax cuts, until the United States Government is so anemic and anorexic it can be drowned in the bathtub.
> There's no question about it: The corporate conservatives and their allies in the political and religious right are achieving a vast transformation of American life that only they understand because they are its advocates, its architects, and its beneficiaries. In creating the greatest economic inequality in the advanced world, they have saddled our nation, our states, and our cities and counties with structural deficits that will last until our children's children are ready for retirement, and they are systematically stripping government of all its functions except rewarding the rich and waging war.
> And they are proud of what they have done to our economy and our society. If instead of practicing journalism I was writing for Saturday Night Live, I couldn't have made up the things that this crew have been saying. The president's chief economic adviser says shipping technical and professional jobs overseas is good for the economy. The president's Council of Economic Advisers report that hamburger chefs in fast food restaurants can be considered manufacturing workers. The president's Federal Reserve Chairman says that the tax cuts may force cutbacks in social security - but hey, we should make the tax cuts permanent anyway. The president's Labor Secretary says it doesn't matter if job growth has stalled because "the stock market is the ultimate arbiter."
> You just can't make this stuff up. You have to hear it to believe it. This may be the first class war in history where the victims will die laughing.
> But what they are doing to middle class and working Americans -- and to the workings of American democracy -- is no laughing matter. Go online and read the transcripts of Enron traders in the energy crisis four years ago, discussing how they were manipulating the California power market in telephone calls in which they gloat about ripping off "those poor grandmothers." Read how they talk about political contributions to politicians like "Kenny Boy" Lay's best friend George W. Bush. Go on line and read how Citigroup has been fined $70 Million for abuses in loans to low-income, high risk borrowers - the largest penalty ever imposed by the Federal Reserve. A few clicks later, you can find the story of how a subsidiary of the corporate computer giant NEC has been fined over $20 million after pleading guilty to corruption in a federal plan to bring Internet access to poor schools and libraries. And this, the story says, is just one piece of a nationwide scheme to rip off the government and the poor.
> Let's face the reality: If ripping off the public trust; if distributing tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of the poor; if driving the country into deficits deliberately to starve social benefits; if requiring states to balance their budgets on the backs of the poor; if squeezing the wages of workers until the labor force resembles a nation of serfs -- if this isn't class war, what is?
> It's un-American. It's unpatriotic. And it's wrong.
> But I don't need to tell you this. You wouldn't be here if you didn't know it. Your presence at this gathering confirms that while an America with liberty and justice for all is a broken promise, it is not a lost cause. Once upon a time I thought the mass media -- my industry -- would help mend this broken promise and save this cause. After all, the sight of police dogs attacking peaceful demonstrators forced America to recognize the reality of racial injustice. The sight of carnage in Vietnam forced us to recognize the war was unwinnable. The sight of terrorists striking the World Trade Center woke us from a long slumber of denial and distraction. I thought the mass media might awaken Americans to the reality that this ideology of winner-take-all is working against them and not for them. I was wrong. With honorable exceptions, we can't count on the mass media.
> What we need is a mass movement of people like you. Get mad, yes -- there's plenty to be mad about. Then get organized and get busy. This is the fight of our lives.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Today is the 15th of October

There is a Welsh saying, let he who would be a leader build a bridge.  I want to build a bridge.  A bridge between the Occupy movement and my generation, my friends, the moms with mortgages, people from Corning, from Wheaton College, from Harvard Law School. from Washington, from London, from Cambridge, from all my life.  
I got to witness the birth of the Occupy movement in England.  I had my Samuel moment, gazing with wonder at the baby, so pleased to bear witness.  It truly was great.  It was overwhelming to me, actually, draining. And make no mistake, I am manic and unbalanced about this.  But I think there is an inevitability here, because our cause is just.

The story of the day:  my friend and I met in Cambridge and got the train to London and made it handily to St. Paul's for noon.  I haven't had my picture taken that many times since I got married, walking to the protest.  After a couple hours of torturing myself with essay-length sign slogans, I finally at midnight last night decided on my sign: JUSTICE IS POSSIBLE.  Upbeat.  Hopeful.  Since I joined the Occupy movement, I have seen some of my long-standing hatred and disgust at the direction of humanity be replaced with some hope.  My friend was signless.

When I tried to leave St. Paul's Square, though, to find a bathroom, actually, I couldn't.  My signless friend was allowed out of the Square by the police, but I was not.  I was told to stand in a line, single file, to beg the police, after handing over my name and address, to be allowed to leave.  The police told me that I would not be allowed to leave with my sign.  The police I was speaking to did acknowledge upon close questioning that actually the phrase "Justice is Possible" is not subversive or likely to breach the peace.  But still, I could not leave.  That scared me.  Suddenly I longed for my children and the feel of their arms, I longed for the sight of Rhys and our family.  What do you want?  I'm a drama queen.

My friend waited on one side of the police barricades as I lined up to be permitted to walk down a street that my tax money had paid for.  We are in a police state.  The police are crushing people choosing peaceable assembly.  This situation is unacceptable.  I didn't get arrested and I still found it hard and kind of awful to be detained against my will and to be penalized by the state for saying what I think. 

The plan to occupy Paternoster Square was foiled before it began:  large signs outside the St. Paul's tube announced that we would be arrested for trespassing if we tried.  This is police intimidation.  They had a circle of police officers, on horseback, no less, around the square.  So we loitered for a while, when I arrived the crowd was about 700 and it quickly swelled to, by 2:00 or so, a couple thousand people. No matter what space we were in, we were surrounded by the police who effectively blocked off exits, it was very claustrophobic outside of Paternoster Square, and a little better when we moved onto the steps of St. Pauls where I stayed, witnessed the incredible thrill of energy that accompanied Julian Assange's visit, and had a small group discussion.

First, Julian Assange was right.  He surprised the General Assembly today.  He spoke, he said we were not outlaws because we gathered not to break the law but to enforce it.  This is rule of law in its best conception so far, a conception of radical inclusiveness, a conception of fairness.  The General Assembly in progress today was fair and peaceful and I was so thrilled to be there. 

 Now that I have done two of the Occupy London small groups, I can report the following about the crowd:  I have had in my small groups people from Egypt, Spain, Italy, Jordan and Canada.  The stories people have from Spain and Egypt are inspiring, frightening and wonderful beyond any story I have heard in a long time.  Stories of bravery and human kindness.  Also in every small group apparently there is a person who is very serious about needing to talk about the alignment of crystals.  I shouldn't say this, but to me they are like the comic relief of the movement. Probably next week when I am blogging about an outbreak of world peace caused by an alignment of crystals I will regret that I found them so funny.   

We are here in peace and with good will, we are here knowing we are right, that we are on the side of justice, that we, and not the sovereigns have moral authority, that the people, and not the religions have moral authority, and the people and not the corporations truly hold the power.  

These are big ideas of justice, huge ideas of moral authority, of human organization, of the failures we as humans have in our organizations, failures that keep people hungry who need not be, failures that mean the most serve the few, failures that mean the culture of our politicians is such that the voice of the people to them is an annoying cry in a foreign tongue. Remember tonight - 100,000 people marched through London the last time I protested (and by protested I mean I was early to my playwright class and hung around for fifteen minutes)  and it did not move the government, even one bit, to stop the war in Iraq.  The government will not be moved.  And the police do their best to starve us of the oxygen of witnesses.

If you think, as I do, that change is possible, that justice is possible, that we could actually live on the earth not in service to banks and sovereigns, but with, as is right, them in service to us, then these guys are your foot soldiers.  Life could be free and beautiful.  Let us fight for a new world, a decent world.  They are fighting.  Right now according to twitter where I was sitting a few hours ago, the police are throwing protesters down the stairs.  Those are some serious stone stairs by the way.  

Don't you want to help them?  Don't you believe that the cooperation among humans is essential to the health of humanity?  Doesn't your whole world of shopping and competing against your peers seem very Matrix before the red pill?  Believe in this change, and put your belief into action, and occupy your own lives not with fear but with love.  Reach out to your fellow human beings, fellow Christians, and artists and parents and streetdwellers.  Reach out to them and say, you know, we may in fact have a lot in common.  Does it bug you that the government keeps giving money to banks?  Does it bug you that the culture of politics is to take what you can get, and that ethics and honor have no place there?  Are you worried that your children will be wage slaves, lucky if they try very hard and you can afford private school fees to get in the 1%?  Are you worried that the great Off Track Betting system that is Financial Services does not serve people?  Does it make you sad that food banks are full to overflowing with hungry people?   Talk to your communities.  Talk to your families.  (Also please send food) What will move the government is when this movement spreads to rural areas, to small cities and villages, when the ideas of the occupation - justice and truth - become watchwords for all of us in our own lives.   The success of this movement is not the success of those now standing in defiance of our oppressive police state (yes, I said it!).  It is the success of bringing together the 99.  Please stand together.  Or, you know, you could keep shopping.  Because nothing ever really gets better and nothing ever will change.  Yes, the whole thing is on that much of a knife edge between ridiculous and sublime.But it began today, the 15th of October, 2011.  I was there.  It began.  It will not get smaller and it will not go away.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Occupy Wall Street: This is a flowering of the human spirit.

I posted on the Occupy London Stock Exchange page that I felt like Neo after he took the red pill, I feel I have woken up.  I am so excited - I did not know that it was possible to feel such hope.  I remember Gerald Frug in my first year contracts class warned us that we would soon see our choices as inevitable and the world that we live in unchangeable, and that would be the real tragedy of our lives.  The way that the world is, we are learning this year, is not at all inevitable.  Justice can replace injustice.  And justice is what the people are crying out for.  You know there is a lot of talk about demands and I wish everyone would shut up about the demands.  We need only silently stand together and show the power structures that they simply must serve the 99 and not the 1.  And to show them that, we need not speak, we need not issue a single demand.  The call for justice is somewhat beyond language anyway.  Just the fact of standing together.  Just the fact. 

I partly feel like I swallowed the red pill because I am seeing everything in such a different way.  The poison of bloated capitalism has infected our arts, our markets, our information, our well-being, our lives.  I see it everywhere.  And even though I am at heart probably a reformist rather than a revolutionary, the braver I try to be and the more I think about it, the more I come to hope for the possibility of revolution.  Our wars could cease.  The hungry could be fed.  Wealth can come back to the 99 and flow through it.  We could begin to heal the world and use the best and the brightest of us to solve the problems of clean energy and a sustainable planet. 

I have always tried to be a warrior of thought, to think swiftly and accurately and bravely, questioning my own conclusions at every step of the way.and a keen student of moral philosophy and all the suspicions and instincts, dreams and visions, the narrative of my mania:  it all comes together for me now. 

But I'm going out dancing.  More later.

Three from Buzzfeed's 50 best signs.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Report on the Occupy London General Assembly

The happiest few hours I have spent in many days.  An amazing assembly that taught me so much. A couple thousand people on Westminster Bridge, most there to protest NHS cuts.  Hard-core serial protesters, many of them, but with an air of hope. 

We have learned from our mistakes and we want to get it right this time, one of the hard-core protesters said at the beginning.  Amusing to me the ravaged veterans were under 30.  And interesting to find out that Seattle '99 WTO protests are considered the gold standard of protests. 

I didn't expect this (a decade in this country and I still am so American in my thinking) but many of the people on the bridge were not all that interested in Occupy Wall Street but were fixed on October 15 in solidarity with the rest of the EU in a movement referenced as 15m for the 15th of May which I haven't even heard about until the General Assembly.  The world is transforming.  What an outpouring of passion that is the best flowering of humanity. I felt that the people I spoke to looked me truly in the eye, were insightful and kind, were fascinating.  Caveat: the people from Occupy Manchester looked a little scary to me - like you wouldn't want to mess with them scary.  Many from Anonymous, looking good in business suits and the Guy Fawkes mask from V for Vendetta.  There were loads of cops, of course, who didn't stop you from entering the bridge.  Interestingly, if you asked them if you could walk past them onto the bridge, they told you no, you should find another bridge.  They didn't stop the protesters from walking past them either way, but they did actually pretty effectively isolate them from the tourists by diverting traffic. 

The 99% are beginning to gather - people forced to admit that the system has failed, that it is corrupt, that it is, in the end, immoral.  The way goods and services are distributed among the people of the earth is immoral and in need of correction.  It was an astounding thing to hear this spoken - to hear the language of ethics and morality - in the most tenuous of ad hoc communities, without a single reference to any god. But of course they are right.  We have an economic and political system that is so corrupt, so riven with cronyism, that it is manifestly and on many levels failing.  But besides this enormous economic failing, this bust perhaps inevitable in a boom and bust cycle, we have even bigger fish to fry:  we have a system that is corrupted by money, by consumerism.  In the United States it is PACs and political parties, in the UK it is that cosy unregulated relationship between Treasury, Bank of England and investment banks  so that no matter what banks want, the government is their faithful handmaiden.  Governments should not be handmaidens to multinational corporations.  Governments should be handmaidens to the people,  to the 99%.  We all want a sustainable relationship with the earth.  We all want the economy to improve.  No one really wants consumerism to become the most powerful force on the planet.  (Well, no one except the Kardashians.)  

Here is the speech I wrote on the train.  I didn't give it, I completely could have, it was an open event and megaphones were available to everyone, but somehow the moment did not present itself:

My generation spent the last fifteen years discussing house prices.  That kept us so busy we didn't notice that government privatisation had made the elite rich, that the explosion of derivative financial products was scraping wealth away from the middle class and working class and into the hands of an elite few.  We didn't have time to complain that Network Rail had its obscene bonuses and yet the trains were more expensive and less efficient.  We planned out holidays and did not have time to point out the rampant corruption in the police department.  We let our identities be led by consumerism, what we bought, what we wore, the unreflective conviction that our jobs were SO IMPORTANT.  We ignored the parts of our identities that cared for others, that craved justice, that longed to belong to a species not burdening the earth and poisoning it.  But we were really dedicated to the housing market.  That is the shame of my generation.  Our spirits have been smothered by a continual buying in, buying in, buying in, going shopping. 

And look how we have made the world.  We stopped paying attention and the government has been completely co-opted by private interests.  So much so that it is apparently just a lark to be a government official:  invite your friends and fiddle your expenses, and do whatever the banks tell you.  The U.S. and the UK governments have become this. 

The power of a government is only justly derived from the consent of the people.  I have become part of the Occupation because I do not consent.  I do not consent to a government that serves banks instead of people.  I do not consent to a government that is bloated and corrupt.  I do not consent to a government where the culture of politics has blinded them to the reality of their sacred undertaking:  democracy. 

The power of the government is not derived from the consent of the Bank of England. 

The power of the government is not derived from the consent of Barclays.

The power of the government is not derived from the consent of James Murdoch. 

For this government to have power, it requires the consent of the governed.

I do not consent to a government so choked in cronyism and inefficiency that it tolerates multinationals not paying taxes.

I do not consent to derivative trades being untaxed but food and holidays for families being taxed exorbitantly.

I do not - to expand - consent to a government that taxes the middle class and cuts health benefits before even considering a minor tax on the billions of pounds (notional value) of derivative trades that generate multi-million pound banker bonuses.

I do not consent practices that are destroying the earth being legal.  I don't know what those practices are, but I think everyone wants safe air and food and water for all. 

I do not consent to a government that is homogenous Oxbridge, with its terribly polite way of turning a blind eye at the failures of itself.  A task admirably covered by Private Eye, but not to great enough effect. 

I do not consent to a government that is so paralyzed by fear of offending the rich that they cannot consider just and fair property taxes. 

There are plenty of ways to create jobs and economic growth in Britain but none of these ways will ever by pursued by the government while that government is enslaved by monopolists and bankers and multinationals.  You only have to think about the Digital Economy Bill to know that I am right on that one.  We are talking wimpy little handmaiden of corporate interests. 

If they are going to be anybody's wimpy little handmaidens, then they should be ours - they should be the handmaiden of the people, of justice, of integrity.  They should be moral.  Phenomenal to me that I am using that word.  The way they have cast aside the rule of law really is nothing else other than immoral.  Funny that it was mostly godless grubby anarchists that clued me into that.  But really, I can draw no other conclusion.  

I see so much hope and possibility in this movement.  I hear the sound at the end of Jez Butterworth's play, Jerusalem.  I hear the sound (spoiler) at the end of Jez Butterworth's play, Jerusalem - the sound of the giants gathering to defend their England.  I feel hope. 

I have a facebook page for Occupy Half Term - a chance for parents to get involved in the Occupation.  I am thinking of going to London one of the days of half term with my kids to express all this solidarity, outrage and hope.  Please join me.