September 17 (#S17) is the anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which eventually spread into many other cities, including Seattle. The main stream press have never given much in depth coverage to what this movement is trying to achieve -it is generally seen as either a new iteration of the black-clad “anarchists” of the N30 days, or just aimless hippies who are opposed to corporate power (which is the new way of saying “The Man”). The non-mainstream press (like The Stranger) has given them some interesting coverage, but always through a definitely anti-Republican lens (Occupy actually opposes the entire current political system, including both major parties). If you want good coverage of the movement, go and look at Democracy Now!
This lack of coverage is pretty much a propagandist’s choice. It is trivial to discover what the Occupy movements are working towards, because they are quite open about it (just visit their web page): Transparency and accountability for those in power, real participatory democracy (the ‘99%’ part of the argument), and an end to corporate personhood and corruption in politics. They emphasize solidarity and social justice, in a way that is truly socialist in spirit (in the US, the term socialism has lost any real philosophical meaning, instead being used as an insult to mean anti-American). In an important sense, Occupy’s biggest contribution was introducing to a generation what it means to have true ideological debate rather than just a tactical political discussion (which is the only this you hear across the parties in the US).
To celebrate #S17, you can have yourself a mini teach-in, right at your computer. On February 16, 1970 at the Poetry Center in New York City, Noam Chomsky delivered a lecture “Government in the future” which is now considered a classic in the philosophy of anarchism. (Get the lecture as an MP3 here). In it, Chomsky lays out his vision for how governments (particularly governments for complex industrialized societies) should look in the future – social libertarian organizations which follow anarchist principles. In the talk, he follows the history of classical libertarian thought, from von Humboldt in the late 1700s all the way through the friction between Bakunin and Marx at the turn of the 20th century. He then lays out the incompatibilities between capitalism and social libertarianism/anarchism and why capitalism cannot by its nature successfully form the basis of a government in a complex industrialized society. This lecture is worth a listen if you have ever wondered what anarchism is actually about, or why capitalism seems to be falling apart after such a long run.