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Re: <nettime> Portland Occupation's tactical innovation
Dean, Jodi on Wed, 4 Jan 2012 19:27:30 +0100 (CET)


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Re: <nettime> Portland Occupation's tactical innovation


This post from Mark Stahlman is the most naive, misinformed, self-deceived, and deceptive piece of writing I've ever
seen on this list.

Is it a satire? A joke? If so, I apologize for not getting it and for taking it seriously.

Stahlman writes:

    The ONE-PERCENT is a statistical account of wealth distribution -- NOT a
     useful description of *power* distribution.

     Every one of these 1%'ers is totally on their own.  Yes, I know quite  a
     few of them -- I was a Wall Street investment banker, you will recall.

     They have no political party (when Barack Obama is actually working for the
     Pentagon, as everyone in DC knows). they have no effective institutions
     and  they don't even have a sense of "class" solidarity.  As the financial
     mechanisms of Congressional elections make clear, it's every man/woman for
     themselves, bought by narrow-interest lobbyists.

This is completely false.

As has been well-documented, the capitalist class began working consciously and deliberately to organize itself as a class in the 70s. 

Perhaps the most familiar example of capitalists’ efforts to organize as a class in the 1970s is a memo sent by then corporate lawyer and future Supreme Court Justice, Louis Powell, to the Director of the US Chamber of Congress. Written in 1971 (just a few months before Nixon appointed Powell to the Court), the memo urged business to pursue political power, aggressively and determinedly.  Powell advised, “Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through united action and national organizations.” Business agreed. Both the Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Business doubled in membership size during the seventies. In 1972, the Business Roundtable formed out of the merger of three other groups; its membership was comprised of corporate CEOs. By the end of the decade, 113 of the top Fortune 200 companies would be members. 

One place to find a clear account of the efforts undertaken by capital as a class is in Hacker and Pierson's book, Winner-Take-All Politics. Hacker and Pierson detail the organization of the class power of the very rich, “the relentless effectiveness of modern, efficient organizations operating in a much less modern and efficient political system” (115). In a “domestic version of Shock and Awe,” corporations amped up their Washington offices and numbers of lobbyists. Moreover, they began to build coalitions, working from the standpoint of the interests of business as a whole instead of their own narrow industry-specific concerns. Corporations upped their contributions to PACs and began cultivating opposition candidates as well as cozying up to incumbents. By the 1990s, business, while deeply involved with both political parties, was working through radical elements of the Republican party relentlessly focused on tax cuts. Two groups, “elite rather than mass organizations” stand out, Americans for Tax Reform and Club for Growth. Despite overwhelming voter doubt in the benefits of tax cuts, these groups kept the Republicans unified and focused on tax cuts as the one solution to any and all political problems.

The current efforts by lobbying groups, not to mention corporate money in politics, are well known--this is one of the reasons the Sup Ct decision in Citizens United is so damaging.


Jodi Dean


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