Saturday, October 29, 2011

Greenwald on the Occupy movement

Glenn Greenwald was interviewed by Democracy Now last Wednesday, in part promoting his new book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful. Following are some excerpts from the interview highlighting what the Occupy movement is about. It is a sad, sad time in American history to see what this "land of the free" has become, the land of the rich and powerful enslaving the rest of us. It is ludicrous and criminal that conservatives call the progressive fight against injustice pitting American against American, when this is exactly what the conservative system has done.

"I think most Americans realize—and I think you see this driving the Occupy protest movement that you covered at the beginning of the show and that everyone is aware of now—that there wasn’t just economic—poor decisions that precipitated the financial crisis, but massive, system- and industry-wide fraud on the part of Wall Street and the banking industry. And yet, there has been virtually no criminal investigations of any kind, let alone prosecutions or accountability.

"At the same time, the United States is the largest prison state in the world. We imprison more of our citizens than any country on earth, including China and India and other countries with many more times the people that we have, for even trivial infractions, things that no other country in the Western world imprisons people for. And this chasm between how we treat ordinary Americans in the justice system, imprisoning them for petty and trivial offenses, versus how we treat the world’s most powerful and wealthiest individuals, who can commit the kind of fraud on the massive scale that we saw in 2008 with no accountability, pure impunity, is really what drove me to write the book and I think is what is driving so much citizen anger."

[on the conservative criticism of the movement]:

"Well, this is the propagandistic template that has been used to try and persuade Americans that it’s not only something they should accept, but cheer for, when the wealthiest in our society are permitted to prosper without constraints. It was the Ronald Reagan cliché of "a rising tide lifts all boats," meaning the richer the rich get, the better off you are. And, of course, it’s in Michael Bloomberg’s interest to propagate this mentality, as well. And I think, for a while, Americans believed that. And yet, what they’re seeing now is that that’s actually completely untrue, that the richer the rich get, nothing trickles down. Inequality starts to explode, and their opportunities start to become destroyed, because the richest are able to use the power that accompanies that wealth, the political power, to ensure that the system doesn’t work create equal opportunity, but works only to entrench and shield their own ill-gotten gains. So this kind of—these platitudes that Michael Bloomberg is spewing are no longer working, because people compare their own experience to what they’re teaching and see that it’s false.

You watch the images, which are police state images, that you showed in Oakland, and we’ve seen this elsewhere, with pepper spray abuses and other kinds of police abuses. What this really is, is using the law to protect criminals, which are the people hiding in Wall Street buildings, from people who are really committing no crimes, who are exercising their constitutional rights of free speech and assembly. It’s exactly how the law has been perverted.

In the beginning, people were criticizing Occupy Wall Street, including people who might otherwise be sympathetic, on the grounds that they didn’t have any policy platforms, they didn’t have PowerPoint presentations of the legislation they wanted. And I wrote very early on in defense of them repeatedly, because I think that what this movement is about is more important than specific legislative demands. It is exactly what you just said, which is expressing dissent to the system itself. It is not a Democratic Party organ. It is not about demanding that President Obama’s single bill pass or anything along those lines. It is saying that we believe the system itself is radically corrupted, and we no longer are willing to tolerate it. And that’s infinitely more important than specific legislative or political demands.

[on Obama's hypocrisy]

There’s clearly an effort on the part of the Democratic Party to co-opt the energy that is behind the Occupy movement and to reinject the Obama campaign with the enthusiasm that it had in 2008, and which it now lacks obviously. And the reason why that’s so destined to fail is because, although President Obama was funded overwhelmingly by Wall Street in 2008, that fact was not very extensively reported or appreciated. And yet, now people have seen him in office shielding Wall Street from investigations. There is an excellent attorney general in the state of New York, Eric Schneiderman, who is trying to investigate Wall Street and is being very aggressively pressured by the Obama White House.

They need him and all attorneys general to sign on to a deal that would allow Wall Street banks essentially to immunize themselves forever from all damages from the mortgage fraud that they systematically perpetrated on the country in the court for what is essentially a woefully inadequate check of cost of doing business. And Schneiderman, and actually now Beau Biden in Delaware, refuse to sign on to this legislation and insist on continuing their investigation. And the Obama White House and administration are aggressively pressuring them. And they want, as well, to raise funds, and are raising funds, from the securities and banking industry as a way of funding the President’s re-election campaign. So that idea that Occupy Wall Street will simultaneously occupy Wall Street and work to keep in power their most lavishly funded politician, I think, is a pipe dream of the Democratic Party and the Obama White House. But it shows the desperation, I think, that they’re feeling in terms of reinjecting some citizen enthusiasm into their campaign."

[on Wikileaks]

"It is an example of the government, through extrajudicial and extralegal means, shutting down a group that has challenged and subverted it. The reason why all these companies cut off funds is because the government pressured and demanded that they do so. So, no due process, no accusation of criminal activity. You could never charge WikiLeaks with a crime. They’re engaged in First Amendment activity. And the government has destroyed them through their pressure and influence over the private sector. It’s actually quite frightening to think that the government can just shut down any group that challenges it, through this kind of control over the flow of their money. WikiLeaks has shed more light on the world’s most powerful factions than all media outlets combined, easily, over the last year, and that’s the reason why they’re so hated.

1 comment:

  1. I think Greenwald lets Obama off too easily. The first time I saw Obama on TV, from the safety of another continent, I thought, "Yeah, just another bobble-head dashboard doll, Uncle Tom." It is no surprise that he won since every one who has run for the US presidency since the Nixon/Ford abortion has either been a cynical puppet or a narcissistic fool.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.