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When the Next Crisis Comes, Which Movements Will Seize the Opportunity?


When the Next Crisis Comes, Which Movements Will Seize the Opportunity?

George Lakey

You, too, could be caught in a situation where people are ready for an alternative, yet your group has none to offer.

It’s understandable. We who work for change seem years away from convincing a critical mass of people that it is both stupid and wrong to have a school-to-prison pipeline, or a rate of carbon emissions killing hundreds of thousands of people, or a “national security strategy” that mainly breeds insecurity.


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Change must come from the People but it helps if we have a leadership willing to hear. Another reason the Occupy the election and push Bernie (in more ways than one).


“Did people in his circle discuss organizing the strong, grassroots anger into a push for major reform? He knew of none. As it turned out, that anger was organized by the right and became the Tea Party. Polls show that even today many people identifying as Tea Party members express hostility to Wall Street.”

Lakey can’t see what isn’t taking shape in a form recognizable from the past. THAT is what Progress looks like. It’s not fathomable to those who aren’t on its wavelength until its unmistakable energy is fully in place… from there manifesting the change this writer can’t visualize.

From the above statement, Lakey would rather castigate “the left” than even acknowledge the bold and well-organized multi-state aggregate that indeed DID oppose Wall St: It was called Occupy Wall Street.


Here is another veiled indictment, and I say that because it speaks as if things of magnitude occur in a vacuum:

“The labor movement has had the most experience standing up to the economic elite. By 2009, however, labor had lost so often, and was so habituated to being on the defensive, that it had lost its capacity for vision.”

Sure. It lost its vision… the logistical REALITY had nothing to do with trade policies that left workers with little bargaining power. Industries, companies, and corporations were getting too many tax perks or subsidies from moving their enterprises to cheaper labor ports of call. They would–or would threaten–to simply move away.

When Big Money began to own the media, the courts, the congress, and through these venues–enforceable policy–it left LABOR out in the same way that corporations wrote the so-called Obama health CARE bill, and banks insisted that THEY be bailed out when THEY sunk the global economy. And currently on view is the absolute secrecy of trade pacts that will literally tell us what we can eat without our knowledge or permission (as in unlabeled disgusting gen tech Monsanto monstrosities!)

If you want to cast aspersions at The Left, and Labor… then damn it, be HONEST about the attacks on both and what decent people are up against on ALL fronts from protecting communities from Fracking, coal extraction, and oil spills to keeping public schools open. The corporate hegemon has attacked ALL aspects of our lives.


What planet do you live on Mr. Lakey?

This is an absolute doozy:

“Why weren’t we ready with a vision for GM’s crisis so we could fight for it? Had we been ready, our ally in the White House, clearly blocked on major climate change legislation, would have an alternative to the GM bailout he duly executed.”

A statement like this proposes that vision is equivalent to hegemonic control. That it’s a “lack of vision” as opposed to the entrenched influence of Big Oil and friends that turned the GM bailout into what it was.

Truly mind-blowing.

I suppose it’s a lack of vision that explains why Monsanto is able to pollute so much of our nation’s crop. It couldn’t have anything to do with that war crimes’ company’s MIC contacts, lawyers sitting on govt. boards, or financial muscle?

And at all those climate conferences where the same groups of rich white men define the agenda for this planet, let’s blame the Left and innovators for a lack of vision… rather than speak honestly about the dictatorial powers of Big Capital.

The Piketty Study proved how Big Money operates.
Judge Brandeis certainly made it clear, as did the Page and Gilens Study.

Writers like George Lakey probably get advantages from think tanks which push this “Blame the Left/workers/unions/the middle class” for a system that’s gummed up the gears of legal redress, turned participatory Democracy into a pantomime, and features a mainstream media that lies on a continuous basis even about things as morally repugnant as making cases FOR war.


The entire tone of this diatribe is punitive and focuses on “vision failure.” The word failure suggests the antithesis of Mr. Lakey’s concluding statement:

“Try empowering the visionaries you know to do homework. We’ll need their vision work — in concert with wide discussion — for the next crisis.”

Empowerment is eroded by negative judgments like the insistence on “vision failure.”

And the examples the article features are drawn from the l960s when activism and anti-war protests were VERY active in the U.S., too.

Comparing what French students did in l968 with what’s possible in this locked down era of surveillance and inverted liberties is like suggesting that Nixon is more liberal than Obama. One cannot compare a slice of time and what IT produced with an inordinately different era and what its parameters permit.

Troubling is the fact that Mr. Lakey praises the “progress” of the Tea Party without bothering to relate that it had MAJOR Koch Brothers’ backing and therefore got tons of favorable press time; and that the generally right wing conservatives who gravitated to the Tea Party also oppose government programs… particularly the regulatory framework that Koch Industries regards as a barrier to its freedom to pollute as much as it wishes… public health and ecological sustainability, be damned. Note how the machinery on the right greases its own operations.


Hitting the streets doesn’t seem to work any more. Repression against demonstrators has increased tenfold, discouraging actions, and the MSM ignores them.

The answer is the popular initiative and binding electronic referendums. Grassroots initiatives have worked to build the best democracies, while bypassing oligarchy owned politicians.

Is Bernie listening?


Lackey’s differentiating Obama’s personal politics and party politics would be laughable if the stakes were not so high. His comparing the US in 2008 to France in 1968 is like comparing a herd of elephants to an anthill.

The US military and militarized regional and local police departments are the herd of elephants compared to the relatively anthill sized 1968 French military/police establishment. OWS did the best they could do in this environment. They were further challenged by the corporate media that quickly defined them and continues to criticize them four years on.

Lackey fails to mention that OWS institutionalized the simple concept of the 1% verses the 99% that any limited-to-soundbite-comprehension American can understand.


Lakey fails to mention that congressional democrats enabled Dubya’s bankster bailouts while most congressional republicans voted against it, thereby giving the tea party a credibility advantage when it comes to Wall Street issues.


It is corruption which is our problem. Our Constitution has been shredded by the fact that our ‘Honored Members of Congress’ have no honor AT ALL. They have their pockets full of corporate ‘donations’ (we all know these funds are BRIBES!) The Supreme Court has said this is just fine. Corporations have the rights of people and giving money is just one form of free speech.

You know your ‘Representative’ in NO WAY represents you. Look at all the horrible bills that have passed into law with massive public outcry against them. All these wars, the billions spent on illegal wars, the almost complete loss of our civil rights—the militarization of our local police—the destruction of our educational system—the crashing value of our dollar, the banker’s bail out, the families evicted and now living on the streets…any of this what you want?

Occupy made of big point of NOT BEING POLITICAL…and boy that is dumb. You can stand out with your nice cardboard sign forever and nothing will change. What we have lost is our democracy!! Only way to get that back is to DEMAND that our ‘Reps’ vote as we, the people, tell them to vote. Political party and ‘donations’ will be meaningless if our ‘Rep’ is FORCED TO VOTE AS WE, THE PEOPLE SAY. Our ‘Reps’ need to be the servant of the people. They must follow the directions of the SOVEREIGN PEOPLE.

We have the technology to make this a reality.


Uh - i think he addressed the OWS issue … much of the article was about OWS - he acknowledged it and critiqued it …


Labor blew it in a number of ways, a big one of which was continuing to support the DP even after it became abundantly clear that the DP was selling it down the river, or, more accurately across the ocean - I watched in astonishment as Labor, after marching in Seattle in '99 against the WTO turned around and supported free-trader Gore in '00, when there was a much better candidate, with respect to their, as well as other, issues …

Labor needs to do more than complain about that corporate hegemon - it needs to do something about it, and that means, among other things, dumping the DP en masse …


OK - for the sake of argument, blame, exclusively, all those forces/factors you mention - what do you propose to do about it? What is you contribution to the “vision” we need?


I agree - there is a party with a vision, and the courage of its convictions … the things Lakey says we need and are sorely lacking in our would be “leaders” …

His excuse for Obama amounts to “well he talked about it, but couldn’t do it” … Actually he may have talked about it, and might even have believed it, for about 30 seconds, though his chameleon performance on so many things makes it hard to know what, if anything, he “believes” - what this comes down to is if he had any convictions, he certainly didn’t have the courage of them, and that is what we need …

Which is one reason I have a rather jaundiced view of a fellow who has claimed an indy persona for most of his political career, deciding to stamp a D on his forehead -