Saturday, October 8, 2011

Occupy Anchorage - One of the Most Depressing Days of My Life

The flag bike rider - image by AKM
I counted something between 260 and 290 people attending Saturday's "Occupy Anchorage" event.  That's about how many came to the two nights of Erin and Hig presentations I produced at UAA back in the fall of 2008.

All I had to go with then to promote Erin and Hig was word-of-mouth, and the mountaineering-wilderness trekking social network in the south central Alaska area.

The "Occupy Anchorage" folks had a national movement upon which to piggyback this event, and meld that into social networking tools that have grown immensely since late 2008.

The venue was perfect, the weather sublime.  The vibe today was positive.  People eagerly answered my poll questions, bringing us into interesting, yet sadly predictable discussions, which slowed down the polling.

I didn't care about the slowing.  I wasn't even bothered much while I was there. A lot of young people and minorities were there, some coming up to the microphone to make their statements.

Shannyn Moore and Lazy Mt. Jim - image by AKM
The teach-in tables were well managed, as were the micro discussion groups around the periphery of the center of the small park.  Local or Alaska-level progressive luminaries like Shannyn Moore and Scott McAdams roused the small crowd.

What was this gathering supposed to do or promote or organize?

Some of the speakers seemed to have a handle on it - gain or regain control over the inability to regulate greed typified by Wall Street excesses.


Nobody came close to a proposal that might get to first base.  When Shannyn Moore spoke, I hoped she might tell them they can and need to do more than register to vote, and then vote.  She gave a mercifully short speech, as the hour was getting late, the sun was gone from the plaza, and people seemed to be drifting away.  

I left with mixed feelings, but on the drive back out to the Valley it sank in that there is nothing this so-called movement can do in Alaska that will result in any meaningful change, unless it takes a turn that is yet unforeseeable.

More later.


Anonymous said...

Some people said the same thing when the first, small group gathered at Liberty Square. The trick is to continue day after day, building the community of the 99%, even when it seems impossible and the media first ignores you and then ridicules you.

Philip Munger said...

@ 12:20,

love your optimism. not sharing it. show me a workable idea that will change my jaded mind.

Anonymous said...

Easy. Take a look at what is going on around you. The first night a couple dozen people slept in Liberty Square. Look at the growth in the following 3 weeks. You had a start today - far bigger than many in other, larger cities. Are you going to cry boohoo or accept this as the first step and move forward? The power of the percent of people suffering supports you moving forward.

I appreciate being jaded. Been that way for several decades since fighting for human rights in the '60's and 70's. (Yes, I am old.) But there is an opportunity here because so many - the majority - are hurting and so many are finally awake and angry. There is an unique opportunity here because despite many other differences between us, we have all been abused and robbed by the same entities. If we can now focus on that which we have in common instead of superficial differences between us, much can be achieve.

I don't live in lala land. I'm doing what I can to survive as an older person cast aside to die in this country. But I do see an opportunity for social justice to finally take root here as I have never seen before. No doubt too late to be of benefit to me, but I hope others don't just shrug and give up. As you are in danger of doing. Better to go down fighting than to give up.

Anonymous said...

Educate, educate, educate. The problem with the movement is not everyone understands it.

The state of the economy today is being explained away by campaign-trail soundbytes that don't even come close to dealing with the reality. But the right uses them effectively to blame Obama for problems created before he was even inaugurated.

Correct the rhetoric and toss it back. This mess wasn't born in 2009 but if we keep allowing people to think it was, the good solutions will never come and the problems will never get fixed. Educate, educate, educate.

alaskapi said...

I understand the depression. I feel much the same.
While I wait to read what your observations about the gathering are and what your poll encompassed, I'm going to put some things here for folks to think about.
This isn't just about Wall Street. It's about a mindset which has effectively stranded us individually and collectively.

The mindset permeates our society now. We have lost ways to talk about the common good and individual expectations of a society which treats us each with dignity and equity. We were never "there" as regards some kind of final fruit but it's a damn shame we have lost so much ground.

And we did it with eyes wide open.
We accepted the set of ideas which assumed elevating economic well being above all other human considerations was going to result in each of us doing well.
I think we stranded ourselves. We broke important bonds .
"Neoliberalism is a philosophy in which the existence and operation of a market are valued in themselves, separately from any previous relationship with the production of goods and services, and without any attempt to justify them in terms of their effect on the production of goods and services; and where the operation of a market or market-like structure is seen as an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action, and substituting for all previously existing ethical beliefs."

Find the Primer on Neoliberalism, read the wikipedia entry on the Third Way (centrism ).

Centrist politics have not served to yard us back toward any kind of center and , to me, have proved mostly useless in holding what ground remains.

The current notion of centrism relies on and presumes reconciliation with the right wing economic notions which have dominated Wall Street, the US Chamber of Commerce, and such like comes from education, tech development, and legislating competition for supposed fairness. I would say such policies have mostly left us taking the temperature of the people on the box the thermometer came in , rather than real live people.
It also relies on notions and policies of color blindness which can be, increasingly, shown to actually backfire on PoC.
We see all this everyday in this state in relation to rural v urban affairs , relations with Alaska Natives, resource development which operates in cloistered rooms under regulations which don't adequately account for effects one project may have on other resources, on and on...

Talking about the mindset, looking at what we accepted ( I never have but I'm so left-left I almost fall off the scale )and where we have broken bonds with other human values is a start.
I'm madder than hell at the co-opting of so much of our collective conversation by folks who just want to shore up their own lil patch of the amorphous American-Dream by dismissing the concerns of so many others. I'm watching the Occupy this and that and here and there phenom with eyes and ears tuned to language which puts our feet back under us. It's a start.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Phil. You're not "jaded," you're just lazy. What efforts did YOU contribute, other than sitting on your ass yappin' with Kelly Walters throughout the entire thing, so you could bash people afterward? You couldn't even be bothered to take your own photos while there and have to poach those of a fellow blogger (whom you also habitually trash, of course). If you want causes and events to be better, how 'bout putting forth a modicum of effort yourself, instead of lazily throwing derision from the sidelines?

Anonymous said...

Helping to educate:

Also, follow WilliamBanzai7 for visual combat--helps people who know there is something wrong, but need to see it at a viceral level. His artworks are being shown on The Village Voice as of this week. He has a zazzle store where protesters can get clothes, caps, bumper stickers to spread the word.


Anonymous said...

As a longtime Alaskan -30+ years - I find that most of us don't feel affected by what happens in the lower '48, that some how we are "immune" to corporations and what goes on in DC ... which is a sad state. I agree that we need to educate. Where to begin?

The Republican administration is always cutting funding in education. What's with that?

Also, the timing wasn't the best. There was a weekend free event, Oxygen and Octane Show, going on at the Denai'na Center. And all the shopping centers were full due to release of PFDs.

When I first moved to Alaska, I met several Alaskans who said they weren't caught up with the civil rights movement in the sixties. Alaska always felt different about their place in politics. We need to be taught that we are living in a global economy, we aren't "separate". The few that "get it" need to lead by example.

I've spoken to many who are moving their bank accounts from Wells Fargo... well, that's a start.

Anonymous said...

I also drove in from the Valley for this, I spent a couple of hours. I did not see you or I would have gladly taken the poll. (It would have been nice to meet as I am relatively new to the Vally and am interested in meeting some like minded people.

I will write more later but my biggest observation is you can not hold a rally in Alaska on "Dividend Weekend"

PollyinAK said...

In response to anon@12:20 and Phil... take cues from network marketing. Each person bring one or two new people to the next meeting. If the meeting is compelling, then newcomers will do same for the next meeting. Multiplication.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead

Iaato said...

Unforseeable turns are coming, and are thermodynamic certainty. How those changes roll out is another question.

Capitalism is rolling into fascism as the corporations get a stranglehold on what is left of our economy after peak oil. What the have nots do with the problem will be interesting to watch. Capitalism only works when there's extra/surplus around for everybody. I'm just a little scared we'll get a cornpone hitler out of the rubble.’-answer-ecological-crisis

Marleycat said...

Don't feel discouraged - be glad that almost 300 showed up - way more than 0! Also being an old-timer, just to remind you - it takes time. The effort is not wasted, it's a step in the process. I'd like to add - it doesn't help anyone to sharply criticize Phil Munger just because he honestly expresses his discouragement. Isn't there a more diplomatic way to say "hang in there" than "you're just lazy", "sittin' on your lazy ass yappin"? WTH?
I have never commented on this site because I'm a huge Obama supporter, despite his inability to get everything done that we want him to - and I have sometimes felt the criticism here is purist. However - I am able to see good stuff and discard the parts I'm not 100% in agreement with. And an OWS event in AK is really good stuff no matter how low the turnout. Phil needed to express that disappointment, that's all.

OT and BTW - loved the gardening and food preservation posts! You must have an even shorter growing season than Vermont!

Anonymous said...

If you are an Obama supporter, you are part of the problem. Obama isn't fucking playing chess or compromising or doing anything other than promoting a corporate agenda.

FuckObama. He is now a war criminal and protector of Wall Street. I hope he loses the election so that a crazy candidate like Michelle Bachmann gets elected and puts the final bullet through the heart of what's left of the USA. Only then will be able to rise from he ashes like a Phoenix...

Marleycat said...

Perfect response for decimating your own "progressive" cause - intolerance for any and all views that don't tow the party line 100% according to YOU and YOU ONLY.

Perhaps if you could learn to work more intelligently and collaboratively with those who share probably 80% of what you'd like to see accomplished you'd actually have some success with your message. You work stupidly to ensure that NONE of your goals are realized and instead strengthen the Far Right, the Corporatists, and the Fundies.

Guess what? To get anything done in this world the reality is don't cut off your nose to spite your face! To have the GOP take the next election is going to cause so much more suffering for the people of this country. President Obama is not, and never was the Messiah.

Did you not notice the outcome of the midterm elections - the super duper increase in state and local legislation taking away civil rights. Grow up!

As I said before - isn't there a better way to express yourself than obscenities. Your attitude is what drives away any folks who may want to coalesce around the same issues - perhaps people who know you didn't go to the Occupy Anchorage because they heard your sanctimonious, purist self would be there.

My Senator - Bernie Sanders is Progressive AND Socialist - yet, he wouldn't be able to further his ideals or his message if he goes to Washington and says "FUCK OBAMA" - he disagrees, speaks up, but he knows his voice is one of many. He knows how to prioritize the issues and to collaborate to get the best that he can done.

This is what I referred to as "purist" dogma - and extremism on either side is dangerous. And when it comes to compromising, collaborating, for the good of all people, I'll do that rather than see a greater evil cause much more suffering rather than throw them under the bus because Obama isn't far enough to the left for me. I thought this is what it's all about - the good of the people, not immediate gratification.

You mention throwing derision from the sidelines - WHO really is throwing derision? To equate the President with being a war criminal is the real obscenity here - and ridiculing a Progressive Blogger on his own blog instead of engaging in actual respectful dialogue decreases your credibility so much more than his.

To clarify, I am not always happy with Obama's compromising on many issues I hold dear - but I am smart enough to know the evil of the opposition is far, far greater than a moderate Democrat. I am truly sorry you'd choose to elect the Joe Millers, Sarah Palins, and Rick Perrys into office because you can't tolerate getting your way all the time, every time. One of the other commenters mentioned not living in la-la land - neither am I, but I sure know la-la land when I see it.

Anonymous said...

Marleycat is right on the mark!

I've know you for a while Phil Munger. Soon after we were introduced, I started reading your writing and listening to your remarks, but I've all but stopped that now. It occurred to me quickly that you do not know how to behave effectively and respectfully in the adult world. Your language is inappropriate for intellectually driven discussions. And you are much to quick to disregard those who disagree with you in any way. Did anybody ever try to teach you basic manners?

You're not the sharpest tool in the shed and it would help you if you would recognize that!

The numbers of people you hope to bring into the causes you support will always be small. You are much too eager to belittle or attack those who decline to move in lock-step will you and your beliefs.

And the same can be stated accurately about your pal, Shannyn Moore. Some of us will never support Scott McAdams; even if he loses a significant amount of weight and learns to eat pizza slices with more than three bites. Shannyn's propensity towards profanity and other rudeness when speaking with people who disagree with her doesn't help her causes either.

You can't distinguish between those who are generally in agreement with you and those who believe you should take up residency in the area "Looney Bin".

is growing consistently smaller. Few of us can "aspire" to the litmus tests you demand. Some of us will never support Scott McAdams. And many of us will not listen to your profane diatribes.

Marleycat said...

One last thing - my diatribe was directed at anonymous, not at Phil Munger, unless of course he is the Anon commenter calling Obama a war criminal and me expressing my views "the problem". I should have used a perhaps better word than "purist" to explain why I don't usually comment here - that's probably as overly critical to Phil and his followers as the overt disrespect Anon dished out - it was not meant in a demeaning way and I certainly respect anyone's right to disagree strongly with President Obama's policies. But calling him a warmonger and criminal is no different and equally as false as the right calling him a terrorist/ a socialist, Hitler - you get the drift.

It just means Phil is usually more critical of Obama than I am, period. That's fine - I just saw the post about the protest and support it fully - a commonality in viewpoints that I am more than willing to say rah-rah to and encourage whether I agree with all that Phil Munger supports or not. That's all. I did commiserate with what I felt to be unfairness towards his merely expressing disappointment at a small turnout.

I am actually as far left progressive Democrat as you can get without throwing Obama under the bus. I will not vote for a Republican/Teabagger in a fit of pique with Obama not fulfilling all our wishes - especially when it's obvious the level of opposition he has had from all fronts - including Blue Dog Dems has been and is unprecedented.

While I understood this to be a blog not fully in agreement with President Obama I did not think it was a purely Anti-Obama blog or I certainly wouldn't have wandered over here to say good going Phil!

If indeed a Progressive candidate appears who CAN win the Presidency and speaks to the needs of this country MORE effectively than President Obama - I would vote that way - not as a repudiation of Obama, but for the good of the country. The President knows this is not a popularity contest - it's about doing the best you can to meet the needs of all Americans. I do believe he will go down in history as one of the truly great Presidents - given the extraordinary challenges under which he assumed the Presidency.

And if anyone thinks a Progressive President won't have to "play the game of politics" and compromise some goals and ideals in order to get at least some of his agenda accomplished - think again!
W/o full control of the House and Senate how much would get done and would you then call it war mongering, etc., etc.?

Okay - all done - no more beating the dead horse.

Anonymous said...

Phil is depressed from living in that house on a lake out in the Valley. You need to sell it, old chap, and live in a real working class neighborhood. Socialism all the way!

clark said...

i heard brian mac millan's remarks on APRN tonight. he gave a pretty good summation of why people should care about wealth disparity, lack of opportunity and the state of the nation. he made the protest seem grounded and responsive. it's probably enough for now that some people are showing up, with the possibility that attendance will improve in the future -- even as it comes up short of expectations and potential effectiveness in the view of veteran activists and political thinkers. is it bringing out people who have never been to a protest/demonstration? that's one metric that could measure the impact.

Philip Munger said...

Thanks to everyone who has commented here, pro and con. If you're just linking to this article from some place that is doing that, check out my more recent articles on the subject.