Occupy The Media—And The Message

Astra Taylor argues in the April 2, 2012 issue of The Nation that from its inception, the Occupy movement has had a contentious relationship with the mainstream media.

“There are some within Occupy who argue that this is where the focus should be: the movement should make its own media and not concern itself with attracting the attention of professionals who work for conglomerates owned by the 1 percent. The problem, though, is that much of the 99 percent still gets its news through the local paper, CBS affiliate or corporate news sites. ‘Social media is self-selecting,’ Matthew Smucker, a member of the OWS press relations working group, warns. ‘Livestreaming is for the junkies.’ Musician Boots Riley, who has become a respected voice within Occupy Oakland through his thoughtful use of Twitter and Facebook, has similar concerns. ‘The short answer is that social media works to some extent, but without a consistent flow of new people in the circles that it reaches, its power dwindles.’ Mainstream media, he argues, are often what pique people’s interest, and alerted them to the existence of the movement in the first place. ‘My fear,’ Riley says, ‘is that all of this goes away when the mainstream media ignore us.’”

“Meanwhile, the traditional media are already losing interest. Six months in, with an election year under way, Occupy is old news. To be fair, part of the problem for reporters is that Occupy, sprawling and leaderless from the get-go, is even more difficult to report on without encampments providing a central meeting ground. Even the most dedicated participants find it impossible to keep abreast of everything that’s going on locally and nationally within their movement. While some promising initiatives, like InterOccupy, aim to change this, a major task for Occupy in the coming months will be making the scope of its actions intelligible to as many people as possible, including those who are part of it.

“More important, the movement has to figure out how to define itself outside media cycles, mainstream or otherwise. After all, social media share some of the worst attributes of their conventional counterpart: they tend to speak in sound bites, cater to short attention spans and are prone to sensationalism and hearsay.”

Without political involvement the protest and anger expressed will continue to go nowhere, except for calling attention to those paying attention to the economic and social injustices that continue to persist! That’s because the movement has not organized to take political action and adopt a concrete policies and programs platform on which leaders can seek elected office.

The source of hope to bring about the necessary change to create a truly participatory democracy, one based on a policy shift to broaden productive capital ownership simultaneously with economic growth, is the technological revolution of the Internet and social media. But also the movement needs the national media, but that will only happen if the movement can produce a policies and programs platform that challenges the current anemic ones of the Republican and Democratic parties. A platform based on broadened ownership of new productive capital growth will truly “Occupy The Message” and raise the national debate to the level it needs to be to wake up the leadership to rechart America’s direction.

If we do not rechart this country’s direction, further development of technology and globalization will undermine the American middle class and make it impossible for more than a minority of citizens to achieve middle-class status. The working class will be further dissipated and the poor will bccome poorer.

While Americans believe in political democracy, political democracy will not work without a property-based free market system of economic democracy. The system is the problem, but it can and must be overhauled. The two prerequisites are political power, which is the power to make, interpret, administer, and enforce laws, and economic power, the power to produce products and services, whether through labor power or productive capital.

Binary economist Louis Kelso wrote: “In the distribution of social power, whether it be political power or economic power, all things are relative. The essence of economic democracy lies in the elimination of differences of earning power resulting from denial of equality of economic opportunity, particularly equal access to capital credit. Differences of economic status resulting from differences in advantages taken and uses made of differences based on inequality of economic opportunity, particularly those that give access to capital credit to the already capitalized and deny it to the non- or -undercapitalized, are flagrant violations of the constitutional rights of citizens in a democracy.”

Abraham Lincoln said that the purpose of government is to do for people what they cannot do for themselves. Government also should serve to keep people from hurting themselves and to restrain man’s greed, which otherwise cannot be self-controlled. Anyone who seeks to own productive power that they cannot or won’t use for consumption are beggaring their neighbor––the equivalency of mass murder––the impact of concentrated capital ownership.

The end result of nstituting policies and programs to broaden private, individual ownership of new productive capital is that citizens would become empowered as owners to meet their own consumption needs and government would become more dependent on economically independent citizens, thus reversing current global trends where all citizens will eventually become dependent for their economic well-being on our only legitimate monopoly –– the State –– and whatever elite controls the coercive powers of government.

What we really need in this 2012 presidential election year is a national discussion on the topic of the importance of capital ownership and how we can expand the base of private capital ownership simultaneously with the creation of new capital formation, with the aim of building long-term financial security for all Americans through accumulating a viable capital estate.

We need a recognition in America that we should deliberately begin to broaden the capital ownership base in a way that is consistent with the laws of property and the Constitutional safeguards of the rights of men and women to own property and be productive.

What needs to be adjusted is the opportunity to produce, not the redistribution of income after it is produced.

The government should acknowledge its obligation to make productive capital ownership economically purchasable by capitalless Americans using capital credit, and, as Kelso states, “substantially assume financial responsibility for the economy through establishing and supervising the implementation of an economic, labor and business policy of democratized economic power.” Historically, capital has been the primary engine of industrialization. But as used, as Kelso has argued, has, as well, “been the chief cause of the institutional deformities that have created and maintained two incompatible classes: the overcapitalized and the undercapitalized.”

The Occupy Wall Street movement has an opportunity to advocate for this Third Way platform, which will result in greater prosperity, opportunity, and economic justice for ALL American citizens.


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