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Occupy Your Mind

by Maureen Puffer-Rothenberg on November 21, 2011 in Odum Library

Selections from assorted Occupy Wall Street reading lists we’ve perused today:

“As the English essayist G. K. Chesterton wrote, life is ‘a trap for logicians’ because it is almost reasonable but not quite; it is usually sensible but occasionally otherwise: It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait.” – from Roger Lowenstein’s When Genius Failed: the Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management. (2000)

“Have the poor fared best by participating in conventional electoral politics or by engaging in mass defiance and disruption?” – from Frances Fox Piven’s Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail. (1977)

“But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it.” – from Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience. (first published 1849)

“The seeds of disaster had been planted years earlier with such measures as: the deregulation of the banks in the late 1990s; the push to increase home ownership, which encouraged lax mortgage standards; historically low interest rates, which created a liquidity bubble; and the system of Wall Street compensation that rewarded short-term risk taking. They all came together to create the perfect storm.” – from Andrew Ross Sorkin’s Too Big to Fail: the Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System from Crisis- and Themselves. (2009)

“The markets in the long run are no doubt driven by fundamental economic laws—if the United States runs a persistent trade deficit, the dollar will eventually plummet—but in the short run money flows less rationally. Fear and, to a lesser extent, greed are what make money move.” – from Michael Lewis’ Liar’s Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street. (1989)

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. (2010)

“Raise wages–how can you? They’re fixed by an iron law to the smallest possible sum, just the sum necessary to allow the workers to eat dry bread and get children. If they fall too low, the workers die, and the demand for new men makes them rise. If they rise too high, more men come, and they fall. It is the balance of empty bellies, a sentence to a perpetual prison of hunger.” – from Emile Zola’s Germinal. (1885)

The Decline of the West (1917):  “Oswald Spengler’s diagnosis of cultural decline is a strange book, but at its heart is the issue of group identity, of the importance of being part of a culture and of the desire we feel to immerse ourselves wholly in something outside the individuality we experience, often painfully.”–Hydra.

“The specific political distinction to which political actions and motives can be reduced is that between friend and enemy.”- from Carl Schmitt’s The Concept of the Political. (1927)

“In this sense, modern totalitarianism can be defined as the establishment, by means of the state of exception, of a legal civil war that allows for the physical elimination not only of political adversaries but of entire categories of citizens who for some reason cannot be integrated into the political system.” – from Giorgio Agamben’s State of Exception. (2005)




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