Occupy

Nestle and Water

In the village of Bhati Dilwan, Pakistan, the close proximity of a Nestlé factory extracting water from two deep wells has caused springs in the area to dry up. Citizens have been deprived of their own means of extracting water and rendered dependent on the bottled Pure Life brand for clean water.
 
In Nigeria, a country ranked relatively low in GDP per capita, Pure Life is sold to upper class consumers spending large portions of their incomes on bottled water. The cost of Pure Life is more expensive than the average daily income of a Nigerian citizen, and even pricier than 1L of petrol. In this scenario, citizens are faced with the unfair choice between health and poverty, becoming ill from drinking bad water but unable to afford Nestlé’s inflated prices.
 
Source: Urban Times.

Nestle sounds like an evil corporation using its power to gain rights to exploit water sources at the expense of local communities. This can only happen because communities do not have collective stewardship of natural resources and these can be sold off by governments that are essentially owned by the corporations. What we have is a failure in governance and communities need to empower themselves. Abby Martin gives a good summary of the issue:

Chomsky on Obama and Occupy

Chomsky makes some interesting comments about Obama and the Occupy movement in an interview with Amy Goodman at Democracy Now. There is a transcript of the interview on the site.

On Occupy Chomsky says that they “changed the national discourse” so there is now a dialogue about inequality; but it’s his second point that nails the value of the movement:

The other aspect, which in my estimation may be more significant, is that the Occupy movement spontaneously created something that doesn’t really exist in the country: communities of mutual support, cooperation, open spaces for discussion. They just developed a health system, a library, a common kitchen—just people doing things and helping each other. That’s very much missing. There is a massive propaganda—it’s been going on for a century, but picking up enormously—that you really shouldn’t care about anyone else, you should just care about yourself. You pay attention to yourself; we don’t want anything else. You take a look at the attitudes among young people, that’s—it’s polled, it’s studied. It’s remarkably high. So, there was just a study that came out from the Harvard Public Policy Institute, found that—pretty scary results, I thought. Less than—this is kids 18 to 24, you know, college students, basically. Less than half of them think that the government has a responsibility to deal with things like healthcare or food, and so on. When they say the government doesn’t have a responsibility, that’s kind of an interesting concept. If people thought they were living in a democracy, they would say—they would ask the question whether it’s a public responsibility. But again, the propaganda system is designed to make you feel that the government is some alien force, and it’s against you. You know, you want to keep it away from your affairs.

This is important. Occupy is not just a movement making ‘demands’ it is an agitation on a conceptual level that challenges the predominant paradigm of individualism. This paradigm runs deep in the American psyche, associating ‘heoric individualism’ with success, progress and personal liberty. It is articulated in the philosophy of Ayn Rand and mythologised in her novels.

Assange: Occupy Discussion

Occupy is interesting to me because it feels like a conversation. It’s like something gelling that everyone can be part of because the emphasis seems to be reaching for consensus through conversation rather than doctrine. I don’t think that its strength is in defining or implementing solutions so much as creating non-hierarchical and non-coercive spaces, physical and psychosocial, where solutions can be worked out.

Occupy the Economy

One of the positives about the Occupy Movement is that they have encouraged learning, thinking, discussion, about finance and the economy amongst people who have no knowledge of finance and the economy. Simon Dixon, in this video, says the system is crazy and is broken and talks about moving towards a sustainable economic system.  He is saying that banks create ‘money’ by lending ‘notional money’ (my term) and charging interest. Each time they lend ‘notional money’ they create ‘money as debt’ . If I borrow money from the bank to buy something of real value such as  a house I incur a debt that I must repay by selling my labour or assets. If I sell my labour to the state as a teacher or doctor, etc.,  the state pays me through raising taxes and borrowing money; if I sell my labour to a non state business that business pays me through selling the product of my labour. I have sold my labour to the state and the state has agreed to pay me a pension as part of my recompense, however in addition to paying me the state needs to repay the banks. But the state does not receive enough income from taxes to  repay the banks, even repaying the interest has become so difficult that the only way the state can do this is to raise taxes while cutting spending and selling assets. These two short videos argue that these solutions cannot work:

 

 

The first video claims that the predicted economic collapse is intentional. Simon Dixon argues that this is unlikely, but his rationale, that politicians do not understand finance well enough, is not convincing as financiers do understand finance. Nevertheless Simon is apparently offering some attempt at a solution.

Dennis Kucinich seems to be saying essentially the same thing as Simon Dixon, that there is a need to take away the ability to create money from the private banks and give it back to states. This should go hand in hand with a move to more direct and participative democracy.