This is beginning to get serious. In a good way.

The Rolling Jubilee, a project of Strike Debt, itself an arm of Occupy Wall Street, has been raising money from supporters to buy debt discounted by the original lenders to as little as two cents on the dollars—the kind of debt that’s typically sold to collection agencies. Having bought the debt, Rolling Jubilee will then forgive it. It is, in Occupy parlance, “a bailout of the ninety-nine per-cent by the ninety-nine per-cent.”

Occupy Returns, With a New Idea @ The New Yorker


Don’t listen to the ridiculous distortions or the simply lame reporting of the protests that you hear on corporate owned media, PBS/NPR and the BBC. There are thousands of very articulate people in these protests, and their various demands are serious. Watch Democracy Now!‘s coverage. All the anger about Wall Street, capitalism, the wealth gap, unemployment, the scam that is health insurance, the corporate ownership of politics and media, student loan debt and the cost of education, etc. etc., that came out of me for the past two years in 6x6x6 seems to be verified now in all of these people taking a stand. I thought that people weren’t ever going to start up anything. Whatever city you are in, support this thing. I’ll be in Pittsburgh this weekend and I’ll find the protest there.

Here’s a prayer:

May the American People arise
Where they have not arisen;
And where they have arisen, may they not disperse,
But increase further and further.

More joining the ranks all the time, too. And I still try to look for the decent jobs, for now.

Here’s a good article from BusinessWeek (“Shrinking U.S. Labor Force Keeps Unemployment Rate From Rising“) to put the December unemployment numbers in context. Take note of the “underemployment” number and the number of people without jobs that have been dropped out of the “job market” altogether. You should know the 10% number is skewed, and the article shows you what’s been left out.

Like the society to which it has played the faithful servant, the university is bankrupt.  This bankruptcy is not only financial.  It is the index of a more fundamental insolvency, one both political and economic, which has been a long time in the making.  No one knows what the university is for anymore.  We feel this intuitively.  Gone is the old project of creating a cultured and educated citizenry; gone, too, the special advantage the degree-holder once held on the job market.  These are now fantasies, spectral residues that cling to the poorly maintained halls.

Something truly amazing has started in California that may be a sign of a growing movement in the U.S. Even more interesting than their activities so far (see Occupy California for updates, and this IndyMedia page for photos of the first occupation on September 24th, and We Want Everything for the “critical theory and content from the nascent ucsc occupation movement”) is the manifesto behind it, which lays out the vacuousness and banality of the current system and of our lives trapped in it.

The words above open that manifesto, and they are just the beginning of an effort to disillusion University students (graduate students particularly) and jumpstart a real movement of protest and resistance that aims to spread outside of the University and throughout the nation. Behind their occupation is the growing awareness since the 2008 financial collapse that everything is bankrupt, “Everything is Broken,” as Bob Dylan put it, and that there is no hope in fixing anything without changing everything.

Reading their manifesto, Communiqué from an Absent Future, is exhilirating, especially for someone who has just struggled for more than a year to figure out how to say all that was wrong with graduate student life and work in this country so as to convince grad students to get out of their ivory tower fantasies and stand up for better conditions and wages, and maybe even for a better world in general. Although the GEO campaigns at Purdue did pressure to the University to marginally reduce the ridiculous fees they were charging graduate students, they did not contribute to any greater change or more than a marginal improvement in the financial shithole that they are placed in by the University. But all of the deeper issues and problems are all spelled out in this Communiqué, and at a pregnant time for change. Now almost everybody is being fucked over by or shut out of the system; everybody except the super-rich are feeling the pinch, are losing jobs or homes themselves, or watching people they know falling off the precipice that looms closer and closer.

There are too many potentially quotable sections in this essay, so just go read the whole thing if you feel it resonates with your situation. It is openly Marxist/communist in its language and sentiment, mostly in the anti-Capitalist sense, though the calls for a “free society” echo the Declaration of Independence more than the Communist Manifesto. Below is the opening of the third section:

We seek to push the university struggle to its limits.
Though we denounce the privatization of the university and its authoritarian system of governance, we do not seek structural reforms.  We demand not a free university but a free society.  A free university in the midst of a capitalist society is like a reading room in a prison; it serves only as a distraction from the misery of daily life. Instead we seek to channel the anger of the dispossessed students and workers into a declaration of war.

I hope something comes of this, and I hope it doesn’t just degenerate into calls for reform than end up changing nothing. I hope more students, workers, professionals and unemployed come to see the mutual grimness of their situations, shed their feelings of hopelessness and/or delusions about “making it” and work together for some common good–something sorely missing is our politics and our society.

The article “Numbers Racket: Why the economy is worse than we know”  (official graphless html | repost with graphs, claims to be incomplete) by Kevin Phillips, published by Harper’s Magazine in April 2008, came to my attention this morning while I was searching for real information on employment and inflation statistics.  This should give a you a more realistic view of where this economy is than the CNBC or Bloomberg.

This post is just another in my series of posts about the economic crisis in America.  Some friends of mine I just beginning to look at the economy now with the dread that has been bothering me for almost a year now.  I hope this means a lot of other people–those who aren’t already unemployed or homeless from all of this, that is–are beginning to wake up to this too.