Friday, November 25, 2011

Something To Be Thankful For

Last night I heard an interview with economist Richard Wolf on Between the Lines. He was speculating on the prospects that Occupy Wall Street may have for transforming the US economy, and quite possibly world-wide change as well. He sounded pretty upbeat, noting that in the many years he has observed social movements their focus was typically single issue. Occupy and its related movements question the entire premise of our economic model, they question capitalism itself, something he has not seen before.

That's good news since the Earth is a finite planet whose laws trump human conceits. If we continue to consume everything, then ultimately all we will have is waste, a diminished planet that supports limited life forms (maybe). All of which means that capitalism based on consumption is not sustainable.

Naomi Klein makes a similar argument
in The Nation. She argues at length and convincingly that meeting the challenges of climate change with require revolutionary change in the way we think about economic and societal organization. Simply put, capitalism is not compatible with a living ecosystem.

So the ideas are out there and being discussed. They are more visible now than six months ago. And that discussion will continue. Another interview on Between the Lines was with two media organizers from Occupy Wall Street. They said that the movement was more than the encampment; they had offices and other spaces that are sill in use after their eviction. Here in Olympia, the same is true and the encampment received support from the many local progressive organizations.

The discussion will become more lively here in Washington on Monday as the Legislature meets in special session to carve another $1.7 billion from the state budget after receiving the latest grim revenue estimates. Occupy groups, community action programs, other Peoples' Advocates from around the state will converge at the Legislative Building for an extended occupation for the purpose of educating legislators on the reality of life in this capitalist economy. Events are planned each day. It's not necessarily a sleep-in but will certainly be a notable presence.

Of course, all this may come to naught, as so often in the past. But at least the ideas are in play, a necessary first step. I can be thankful for that.

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