Category Archives: comradery

reflections on the occupy movement and what protest means today

It was about a year ago that the Occupy movement spread worldwide. Millions of people participated in the protest against global economic inequality. Their rallying point was that the top 1% is accumulating too much wealth, and primarily through exploitative means. There is vast evidence to support these claims. The world is not a very friendly place, I’m sure you already know. So I agreed with their cause and was interested to see how it would develop. I expected an anti-protester stance by the government and corporate world, but what truly shocked me was how the general public reacted. Ordinary people (not all, there was massive support) began bashing on the movement against corporate greed. Even some of my politically apathetic friends began posting “facebook bumper stickers” against the protesters. When the powers that be had enough and ordered the police in to smash the movement, those same people felt America had won some type of battle. In fact it did, but for who?

The Occupy movement failed to bring about any significant change to the global economic system. People are still being exploited for labor and the presidential debate hardly addresses the growing inequality of the 1%. Yet the movement brought to light a disturbing aspect of our government, that future mass protests will most likely be met by the same repressive actions and possibly be intensified. Furthermore, the violence shows that the government has clearly sided with Wall St. The fact that all this happened while our troops were off dying for “freedom” only adds to the hypocrisy of it all. Any meaningful social action against abusive government/corporate practices will be ignored in the least and will be met with raw violence if necessary. Keep in mind that the Occupy movement was largely a nonviolent movement.

Tiananmen Square Massacre, 1989. Chinese protesters rally against government/corporate corruption. This footage is a haunting reminder of the Police State any government could become. Warning: the following BBC broadcast was recorded live on location and contains graphic images of violence and death.

This is not an isolated incident. And if you care enough to read further into the history of Neoliberalism, you’ll find that the Occupy movement is actually a continuing development from what you just watched. A true democracy must tolerate the most unpopular protests or degrade into totalitarianism. Advocating official government repression silences all people.

The government’s decision to suppress the Occupy movement by police force rather than open debate has lead some people to question adherence to nonviolent tactics. In the face of increasing police aggression, a growing number of people are turning to Black Bloc. It is a protest tactic in which a unified mass all wear black clothing and conceal their identities. They use extreme measures such as graffiti, rioting, and destruction of private property, as forms of direct action against the corporate establishment. Mob mentality is preferred and the group is known to be strong advocates of Anarchism.

Whether Black Bloc is an effective protest tactic or counter intuitive to petitioning the government for authentic change is hotly debated. What remains certain is that methods like Black Bloc are a reaction to government’s reluctance to engage the people’s concerns of corporate abuse, and the outright assaults on peaceful protesters only encourage more people to turn away from pacifism. After the inadequate results of 2011’s massive Occupy movement and the government’s brutal repression tactics, the question of what protest means in the United States remains uncertain. The solutions will not materialize themselves from nothing. These Ideas will be born from rational and intelligent debate that is protected by our right to free speech. But all the free speech in the world means nothing if our minds are empty and lethargic. Read books, ask questions, seek out information, and challenge propaganda. Most importantly, see that there is a problem. Both sides will need to evolve as the growing, unresolved tension foreshadows the violent extremities of the not so distant past.

 

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Your iPhone and 2,000 Rioting Chinese Workers

The footage above is of a riot at the Foxconn facility in Taiyuan, China on September 24th, 2012. It’s been reported to have started at the overcrowded dorm rooms (eight to ten people may share a room). The horrid working conditions have been driving workers to the edge. Several have even jumped to their deaths out of desperation, but instead of improving work conditions, Foxconn decided to go with suicide nets. I’m sure this was the more cost effective route.

This isn’t the “social safety net” most have in mind.

The guards had been bullying the workers continuously. “Bullying” is probably an understatement because it was enough to piss off 2,000 Chinese workers into brawling with these pigs. So who’s the bad guys here? I personally enjoy watching riots and tend to root for the home team. The authority figures tend to come fully equipped with the latest in hippy bashing technology. This automatically gives them the edge, further encouragement would unnecessary and thus somewhat ridiculous. A rioter has think outside the box in order to turn everyday items into potential weapons. I am a fan of ingenuity. Not everyone sees it this way.

David Barboza and Keith Bradsher of The New York Times offered their probable explanation for the explosive anger turned riot.

“Disputes involving large groups of migrant workers are common in China. In some cases, workers protest after believing that they have been promised a certain pay package and traveled a long distance to claim it, only to find on arrival that the details are different from what they expected. In other cases, workers from different provinces with different cultural traditions coming together in a single factory have clashed over social issues or perceived slights.”

I think they could be onto something. Workers heard of good pay being offered for assembling world-famous Apple products, only to get there and find:

-Excessive overtime without proper compensation

-The occasional 24 hour work shift

-Overcrowded living conditions

-Poisonous chemicals

-Factory explosions

-Asshole security guards

-Suicidal depression

Expect the unexpected.

As for their second reason, “workers from different provinces with different cultural traditions coming together in a single factory have clashed over social issues or perceived slights.” This explains everything! Why didn’t anyone inform Foxconn that Chinese people are racist against Chinese people? I can just hear the hate slogans: “We keep taking all our jobs!” Man, I’d be pissed, too. As persuasive an argument that David Barboza and Keith Bradsher make, I can’t accept this for one simple fact. How could they hit anyone if they all look alike? Fuck around, and you might end up kicking your own ass! No, this just doesn’t add up. David Barboza and Keith Bradsher are not journalists. They write anti-worker bullshit to reassure rich cocksuckers that they won’t burn in hell with the rest of the slave masters. Let’s hear it instead from somebody who actually works there.

This worker says she makes less than a dollar an hour. That means for the price of hiring one Mexican illegally, you could get a whole fleet of Chinese workers. They probably wouldn’t bring their own gardening tools, but at least they wouldn’t be blasting mariachi music, right? Give and take, my friend, give and take. Honestly though, less than a dollar an hour? Even hobos begging for change make more than that and on a slow day. So who’s calling the shots? Let’s meet the piece of subhuman shit himself. Introducing Terry Gou, Chairman of Hong Hai Precision (mother company of Foxconn). According to Forbes, he rings up for a net worth of $6.3 billion dollars.

“I give these many shits about my people.”

Apple has always modeled its corporate culture on having a somewhat hippy attitude. This most likely comes from founder, Steve Jobs, who is known to have dabbled with LSD and even encouraged others to fry balls in order to find groovy ways around creative obstacles. He is remembered for being a man of boundless ideas–that is, until he’s faced with the problem of human rights abuses in Apple assembly lines. It’s sort of weird seeing him go from guru to yabbering douche bag in under five seconds.

Straight from the horse’s mouth. The company knows what’s going on in the China factories. So what did Steve Jobs say in response to the suicide inducing work conditions? In so many words, he nicely said, “Fuck them. I’m rich, bitch.” At least that was my interpretation. Steve Jobs died a greedy $36.1 billion asshole. Anyone who can’t see that must be high on acid.

“Now get back to work or kill yourself.”

“Yes sir!” (Fatal explosion at Foxconn)

So what’s the point of all this? No, I’m not going to start advocating throwing away our iShit. I have all my music on iTunes, why the hell would I do that? Instead, I want you to remember the slogan, “Made in USA.” You have to remember it because it’s quickly becoming a relic of the past.

Never Forget

Virtually all Apple products are manufactured overseas by millions of workers like the ones at Foxconn then sold in the US at record breaking figures. What would those millions of jobs mean to Americans in hard times like now? When Apple was asked why it doesn’t manufacture in America, they gave a whole slew of how Chinese companies have out performed American craftsmanship and are more cost effective. On some level this is true, but it’s only possible by breaking the law. We have rights and regulations that protect us from things like “24-hour work shifts” and “less than a dollar an hour wage.” The solution has been to lobby (bribe) government officials in order to “relax” restrictions and create tax incentives for sending manufacturing jobs to other countries that tolerate labor abuse. America loses jobs, workers in other countries are exploited, you put the iShit on your credit card at marked-up interest rates, and the Board of Directors get their chubby little Christmas bonuses.

Forbes Magazine reports 39% drop in American manufacturing jobs since 1979.

Great time to be a CEO. Where can I apply?

It’s these same people telling us, “Hey, nothing personal, just business.” They claim fixing the economy isn’t their problem, as if the sky high unemployment rates had nothing to do with the millions of jobs strategically shipped overseas. Yet, they wish for Americans to continue purchasing their products, for police officers to arrest the thieves who would rip off their merchandise, seek copyright protection and tax breaks under US laws, and the security of the United States’ armed forces.

This should offend you.

These abusive economic practices hide behind deceptive terms such as “Free Trade.” It’s a global scam that amasses wealth in the hands of few at the expense of workers everywhere. Neoliberalism, as it is called, is transcending beyond Republican and Democrat party lines. Our government as a whole has been getting on the “profit over people” track. You have rights and interests as a worker. Those rights are being stripped away through a big business agenda who wish to have Foxconn conditions here at home.

The first thing you can do is simply be aware. Don’t rely exclusively on television to inform you. There are plenty of writers you can check out. I’d recommend Noam Chomsky as a great starting point. I hope you’ve enjoyed my introduction to Neoliberalism and Globalization. Now get back to your iLife.

Feel free to comment and question anything on this post. I’m always happy to recommend additional writers, books, and documentaries.

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Bill Nye the Science Guy and the Call to Reason

William Sanford “Bill” Nye (the Science Guy) released a bold video entitled “Creationism is Not Appropriate for Children,” in which he confronts the idea of Creationism and the denial of evolution. He makes his argument that, “Evolution is the fundamental idea in all life science…” and that, “When you have a portion of the population that doesn’t believe in that, it holds everybody back, really.”

Hot off the press.

This short video hit a nerve, immediately getting millions of views. And the reason is not because the evolutionists finally had someone cool to rally around; it was for Bill’s message against the strange American social movement of anti-reason, a philosophical way of life that allows people to deny anything that contradicts their world view, no matter how reasoned or obvious. It’s a movement currently spearheaded by groups such as the Tea Party, a grassroots movement primarily for closet racists that can’t stand the fact a black man is president and see Mexicans as a problem, all the while hiding behind a brittle mask of patriotism. There is also the extreme right-wing Christians who wish to bring about a Christian world order and are so disconnected from human suffering that they’d support a man with the character of Todd Akin whose views on rape and women fit right at home in the dark ages. Their agendas are not based on sound reason or even humanitarian ideas. When you take away the rhetoric they are driven by simple ignorance, hate, fear, and intolerance.

Personally, I’m big on freedom and so I encourage people to believe whatever they choose. But this movement has gained enough momentum to cause detrimental effects at home and abroad. It is a cause of impassioned fanatics who don’t understand what’s going on because they are encouraged to dismiss information as they see fit. This jams the inner working of progress with wasteful infighting that has no end because it does not rely on basic logic. This has grown beyond a tactic of rallying people to cast their votes for a certain party. We are entering a psychological climate that is retrograding and self-destructive in terms of our intellectual and humanitarian advances.

 

I could be guilty of seeing more than Bill intended, but it was his closing statement that leads me to believe I’m not too far off, “And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that’s completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future.”

The rational thinkers need to make their stand too. We can’t just sit around and watch this backwards social movement tear everything apart. The earth is flat, manifest destiny, government leaders of divine choice, racial inferiority, denial of evolution and the effects of pollution on our environment are all ideas rooted in the tradition of embracing ignorance. I encourage more people continue to take an active stance in the name of reason, and thus spark an inward revolution that will create a condition favorable for the cultivation of our minds and life.

 

Photo Credits

http://scienceprogressaction.org/intersection/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/fakepost3.jpg

http://other98.com/

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