The Democratic Senators in WI did a great disservice to the people of WI when they came back from Illinois and told the assembled, protesting, and agitated masses to go home and work on electoral politics. Outspent and politically outmaneuvered, they failed in a critical State Supreme court election, even though the winner was obviously a colossal misogynist asshole and Republican party hack - conditions only further proven by his behavior since he took office. Then the Dems were unable to take control of the state senate in the recall elections. The mainstream unions, being the prison bitches of the Dems, did nothing but take orders from the Dems during this process. When I was in Madison I could not believe how many people I saw wearing mainstream union t-shirts who were calling for a general strike. That longing for direct action was suppressed, and that was a huge strategic error. Now reports are that Madison has one of the weakest Occupy efforts in the country, which is amazing considering all of the radical and labor networks there are in Madison.
All that said, Scott Walker is the epitome of all that is disgusting in the right-ward shift in American political life. The recall effort to get rid of him formally begins today. It is my hope that the people of WI return to a mobilization and hunger for direct action. But it would be nice to see Walker gone too.
I remember the trip my family took to Madison last winter fondly.
Wisconsin "Budget Repair Bill" Protest Pt 2 from Matt Wisniewski on Vimeo.
Georgia Ruth at her first protest. She is on State Street here where it intersects at the Capitol. She's been to several other protests since. She and her sisters will be at another one tonight.
Last night Bloomberg ordered the NYPD to destroy OWS. After getting home from a conversation regarding Occupy at the Lamplighter (one of the last holdouts of dive sanity in Memphis) with Comrades representing several different radical organizations, I watched on livestream in the wee hours of the morning as dumpstrucks were filled with all manner of equipment and gear. A New York City Councilman and former taxi driver, Ydanis Rodriguez, was among the arrested and was reported to have been given a bloody head thanks to a policeman's baton (see one of the video's of that sort of thing here). This morning Bloomberg is keeping Zuccotti Park closed in defiance of court order.
An interesting dynamic in all of this is that there has been a fair amount of mainstream union participation at OWS actions and the mainstream unions have tried, at least rhetorically, to ride the OWS bandwagon a bit (perhaps over-framing it as singularly against Republican interests) and after the heinous actions of the NYPD as the billionaire's puppet there is some anticipation that OWS may call for a nation-wide general strike. The key to a nation-wide general strike is the involvement of the large unions. If the Teamsters alone get all of their truck drivers to refrain from work for one day the country's commerce essentially gets a wrench thrown in the wheel. If just half of all AFL-CIO, AFSCME, UAW, etc., workers were to refuse to work on a given day the effect would be pronounced. I don't think the major unions have the cajones to actually go through with this, but the debate which would ensue upon the call for a general strike and the resulting backlash whether they embraced the strike or not will only help those radicals working within the larger unions to further press for radicalization within those unions. There is no slam dunk to be had in these struggles, but the opportunity to apply increased pressure at this time is greater than it has been for ages.
A chilling, if predictable, photo taken by a comrade at OWS last night: