The War Against Private Banks has begun

 

The US has a $14 trillion national debt and most folk haven’t a clue how it happened, not what can be done about it. Many naively think the US government simply “overspent.”  The same goes for the mountain of personal debt that holds entire nations in chains.  The reality of where this debt came from is embedded into the fabric of the system itself.

The Occupy movement is the first internationally concurrent action against the destructive parasitical actions orchestrated by privately owned banks. The War Against Private Banks has yet to call itself that but it has most certainly begun.

Slavoj Zizek made some good pertinent points about the potential pitfalls ahead of the Occupy movement in his recent Guardian article, Occupy First. Demands Come Later.

“What to do after the occupations of Wall Street and beyond – the protests that started far away, reached the centre and are now, reinforced, rolling back around the world? One of the great dangers the protesters face is that they will fall in love with themselves.”

Now is a time for thinking things through, using time in tents, or in communities, not simply to jump on a bandwagon because it sounds like the right thing to do.  Nor is this a time for cobbling together hasty manifestos where all the programmatic thinking is done by the usual suspects.

“Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.” Sun Tzu, The Art of War

There’s little point either in Occupying Wall Street, London SX, etc, if it doesn’t work to point minds towards a clearer understanding of how debt works, and why debt is an integral component of the financial system.

“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.”  Sun Tzu

This clever entertaining 30 minute animation on money, debt and private banks – where they come from, why money=debt, and how they have us by the short and curlies – is well worth putting the kettle on for.  Yes, its American-slanted, the ending is mock-cheesy, and it could lose the minor JFK conspiracy theory in the middle, but its in no way dumbed down.

The animation is pretty good too.  Much more watchable than the earlier, but still excellent, Money As Debt cartoon by Paul Grignon.  It should be required viewing for anyone who is supportive of the Occupy movement but wants to avoid an intellectually unfocused de-escalation, or, just as bad, the movement’s capture and predictable emasculation by the usual suspects.

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  1. maxwell macleod says:

    I would be grateful if my name can be removed from this recieving this blog

    many thanks,

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      You simply ‘unsubscribe’ Max

  2. Drew Copland says:

    I really hope giving the Rothschildes actual tentacles was knowingly ironic rather than straight up ‘Ickeishness’. Otherwise we may need to talk about ‘structural anti-semitism’ as a prime example of drifting towards being ‘intellectually unfocused’.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      I suppose there is a faint whiff of anti-semitism in the film if you equate tentacles with Judaism. Not sure if many viewers would make that connection though, nor if that was the directors intention. The religion of the Rothschilds, etc is irrelevant in the bigger picture. Money has no god but itself.

      KW

      1. Drew Copland says:

        I don’t equate tentacles with Judaism, tis just that the repeated tropes of Rothschilds, Federal Reserve conspiracies or shadowy ‘cabals’ of bankers pulling strings behind the scenes are becoming all too common amongst the occupiers. Check out the occcupyLSX facebook page for a few tragic examples. Neither do I necessarily think that the film-maker was being deliberately anti-semitic. A blog post by Joseph Kay describes the captures the problem well, if in a slightly different context.
        “What narratives is it tapping into? It is in this context I think the term ‘structural anti-semitism’ makes sense, to describe rehashed classical anti-semitic arguments without the anti-Jewish racism, arguments that are structurally identical to anti-semitic ones only the term ‘Jew’ is subsitiuted with ‘Zionist’, ‘financial elite’, ‘wealthy bankers’, ‘lizards’ or whatever. I would argue the prevelance of these ideas among the left mostly reflects a lack of materialist class analysis”
        http://libcom.org/blog/anti-semitism-left-05012009

  3. Kevin

    I think the Occupy movement in the UK has already ground to a halt, this was on the cards as soon as it moved away from attempting to harass financial centres. In Glasgow for example there is a completely meaningless group of tents in George Square, which with their hand painted slogans look a lot like the ones at Faslane (maybe its the same people?). Not only is George Sq nothing to do with the banks it is also public land. Therefore the protest is either deeply confused or pointless. All it is doing is depriving citizens the use of a public space.

    There is something subtle going on in your desired movement from the use of the word occupy, to the use of the word war – you maybe sense that ‘occupy’ has already turned into camping. And Zizek was right – protest in this form leads very quickly to a form of an aimless, self-congratulatory hippie ‘protest against modern life’.

    I suggest that the occupy camps that are not connected in any way to financial centres, pack up and go home, and THEN get to work on fighting the war against the banks. Banks move billions digitally, daily. So the digital world and the movement of capital is where banks can be threatened – not on streets, and certainly not on what precious little public land we still have.

    Good article

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Wars can take many forms. A war of ideas is at the heart of this. The international anger at the greed of corporate banks and the financial system – articulated by the Occupy movement – is a beautiful phenomena to watch unfold or be part of it. It’s constructive and imaginative and peaceful so far, even if in places like Oakland it is taking a battering from the state.

      The corporate banks are vulnerable though as well as seeming all-powerful. While the banks are still in private hands the tactics adopted by the protest movement are important and ongoing and need much wider debate.

      Campaigning for a Robin Hood Tax on international currency transactions, etc, is a vital unifying first theatre of engagement which seems to have near universal support among the Occupiers. Its a start.

      Breaking up large financial institutions – deemed “too big to fail” – is another.
      political demand. This has support beyond the Occupy movement.

      Nationalising ALL of the banks, not just the failed ones, is no longer just a demand of the far left. Influential political commentators such as Scotland’s own Iain McWhirter have repeatedly developed this idea in recent years, Here’s a column of his in 2009 after the 2008 banking crisis:

      http://iainmacwhirter2.blogspot.com/2009/01/its-time-to-nationalise-banks.html

      Here’s a more recent article of his which repeats this idea, and even asks why the Bank of England didn’t just give the recent £75bn “liquidity injection” directly to the poorest and most needy in our society than into the coffers of the banks.

      http://iainmacwhirter2.blogspot.com/2011/10/sir-mervyn-king-montague-norman-and.html

      That last one outflanks much of the radical left in the boldness of it suggestions.

      What I was trying to say in the original article was that its important to try and understand the nature of the beast we’re dealing with here. And that means asking are privately owned banks necessary ? And if not not why not? And even: What is money? Where does it come from? Can it be used for the common good rather than as a printing press for the banks to frenzy feed from? Raising the right questions at this stage are even more important than the answers.

      And since this is a Scottish-based blog, in a country about to map out a new direction and a new political narrative, it begs more questions such as what role will a central bank, or private banks, or financial institutions have in a future independent Scottish state?

      There are no givens. Nothing should be assumed just because it is. The world is changing and Scotland with it. And as far as the banks and global corporations are concerned the future is unwritten.

      KW

      1. Kevin,

        I’m all for taking what you advocate here as a set of demands – a pledge. Can you circulate as a single document. We the 99% of Scotland. If you write it and get it out there it will be up to dissenters to set their own agenda and write their own demands. At least it will get the process started (before it runs out of energy).

        EM

  4. bellacaledonia says:

    Drew – the film above has substance and ideas worth discussing further. Others may be more concerned with de-constructing symbolism they disagree with. Whatever. Each to their own. But IMO the radical left of all persuasions spends far too much time nit-picking over language, terminology and semantics. It seems to me anyway that this has less to do with radical politics and more to do with seeing who can stand on the highest pedestal to piss on those below them. A form of hierarchical behaviour in itself.

    KW

    1. Drew Copland says:

      Fair enough, just thought it warranted discussion, thats all.

      1. bellacaledonia says:

        It probably does. Like yourself I dont doubt that legitimate opposition to the actions of the Israeli state occasionally spills over into anti-Semitism and that is just as much concern as any other form of racism.

        But the left keeps getting sidetracked into interminable debates about semantics and who’s got the purest ideology whenever anything of substance actually happens. The Life of Brian called it right with vicious accuracy.

        Ewan hits the nail on the head too. The Occupy movement in Scotland is all over the place. Why camp in George Square? The police cant guard every bank. If the Occupists branched off into smaller independent guerilla cells instead of clumping together they would be impossible to infiltrate, derail or disperse.

  5. Drew Copland says:

    I agree that the left needs to drop a lot of it’s historical baggage and try to deal with matters at hand, the Monty Python tendencies are a big part of what puts people off getting involved. My main worry with the conspiracy tendency is that it does the same, it delegitimises quite reasonable demands. It ignores an analysis of processes in favour of personification.

    I think your (and Ewan’s) last point is essentially correct. Purely symbolic occupations of squares and parks, while having brought people together have been focusing attention on the protesters themselves rather than the reasons for the protest. It lets the media portray them as ‘usual suspects’ and control the agenda. IMHO they need to be occupying infrastructure like libraries threatened with closure or more universities and workplaces. From what I hear the GA down here at St. Paul’s tonight was discussing targets for direct action and how to link up with unions and other established organisations. It sounds a bit more positive than just trying to ‘hold the square’. They do need to reach out a lot more than they have been.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      These are fair points. Noam Chomsky’s sceptical approach to unprovable conspiracy theories is a good guiding principle, Its like arguing with a believer whether there’s a god or not. Proof and faith speak different languages. Why bother.

      Occupying a library, as you suggest, in conjunction with local communities and threatened workers, would seem to have the potential to be much more fruitful than camping out in a city centre, although the politics of focusing on financial institutions is much more politically symbolic. Its up to the folk involved and those of us not directly involved can only hope they have fruitful debate and make decisions which will sustain and develop a movement rather than dissipate people’s energies and imagination.

  6. Drew Copland says:

    Couldn’t agree more.

    This chap apparently gave a talk at a New Zealand occupation earlier in the week, it’s one of the more lucid expressions of the need for a coherent analysis underpinning protest i’ve read in the past week or so. It beats my own usual retort of “fucking hippy spaceman bollocks” hands down.

    http://libcom.org/library/against-conspiracy-theories-why-our-activism-must-be-based-reality

    1. Drew
      Nowt wrong with shouting ‘fucking hippie spaceman bollocks’ once in a while.

      Well, it seems that not only has the Glasgow Occupy cell in George Square, miscalculated what this whole protest is about, it has also led to a terrible, predictable and preventable incident: The ‘Gang rape’ of a female protestor in a tent in the small hours of wednesday morning.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/10/26/occupy-protest-woman-rape_n_1032417.html

      Sympathy to the person concerned, but at the same time, this shows just how out of touch the ‘protesters’ are with the general public. Question: If you are female would you pitch a tent in George square at night and sleep in it? If not then why would you think that being a protester would give you any more protection/security than if you were simply a camper.

      Another problem with this terrible outcome is that it has gone global as a news story and dealt a blow to the occupy movement. And this is the fault of the occupy movement itself (not just the press). The IMO is increasingly concerned with the process of tents and feeding itself, rather than in attacking financial targets, having a timeline/deadline, an agenda, and credible goals (as Kevin has laid out above). The longer the protesters focus on sustaining their camps, the more the camps themselves will become the target of acts such as this, and also the more the camps become the only issue which is being addressed. As I’ve said elsewhere, we in Scotland are maybe more aware of the futility of ‘camps’ as a form of protest, as we’ve had the Faslane Peace camp and it’s thirty year failure as a daily reminder.

      Also, this ‘camping’ phenomenon seems to be all about avoiding confrontation – active demonstration, guerilla action, vandalism, blocking the wheels of commerce, etc. As a result of it’s passivity and inactivity, it invites events to happen to it, and new stories to be made up around it. Camping has turned the IMO into sitting targets.

      The pacifists should study Ghandi and march on the capital.

  7. Andrew Fraser says:

    Superb quality film, yes. But the remedy it calls for is awful – a reversion to a gold standard and abolition of central banks would be terrible for everyone but the wealthiest in society, would render Keynsian responses to recession impossible. The slight semi winks to anti semitism and right wing terrorism grated also.

    A quick google search shows that the Tad Lumpkin who made this film writes for Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government website, which is supportive of the right wing of the Republican Party and the Tea Party, and was the organisation behind the ACORN exposure film a little while back. That implies this film may have been Koch Foundation financed, ironically.

    Here’s how Tad starts off the most recent column he wrote on that site: “Like a wily serpent lurking in the dark corners of unsuspecting places waiting to strike, so is the personality of the collectivist mind that is rotting America both socially and economically. Those of a conservative or libertarian mind are aware and on guard for the frontal attack of this beast when it tries to strike using direct government schemes and programs. And we are aware of how the entitlement programs and welfare state are a direct assault on the American philosophy of individual liberty and free market capitalism. But what if this snake is attacking us from dark corners that go unnoticed?”

    There’s right wing things lurking in dark corners also.

    It’s well worth reading and listening to people from different political persuassions, but a little more context when reposting would be helpful for readers without the time and inclination to do background research.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Fair points Andrew. The most powerful aspects of the film are not the conclusions but rather the analysis. Progressives will need to tease out their own conclusions. As the ancien regime of left-right politics shatters under its own constrictions and contradictions I guess there will be times when the libertarian left and libertarian right will converge – even if only momentarily. On authoritarian bureaucratic states and money/banks this is perhaps inevitable. Although in the preview I did try and stress the case against privately-owned banks rather than all banks and central banks per se.

      KW

  8. Ard Righ says:

    Simple, implement the “Mathematically Perfected Economy” MPE as devised by Mike Montagne.

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