Sunday, November 13, 2011

Shakespeare at Zuccotti Park

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

Yellow leaves swirled in the breeze blowing around the corner of 180 Maiden Lane. The midday sun reflecting off the gilded façade sharpened the color as they blew past the blank windows and unkempt glass. Ten years ago, this monument to innovation in structured finance and risk management bustled with Asian, European, and American businessmen all paying call to the court. The nobles, clad only in the consensus of their exalted state (yes, read, the emperor has no…) deigned accommodation to the obeisance paid at their doors while holding the masses in total contempt. Today, only the last tenacious leaves rose to the upper levels of the tower whose grandeur suffered the fate of Clarence in Shakespeare’s Richard III.

Walking up Maiden Lane from the Hudson River where once women and young girls passed to launder the household linens for the houses and vestries on the southern tip of Manhattan, I was overwhelmed by the absence of any human form. This country lane, marked and paved in the dawn of the 18th century once carried the ropes, tackle and stones from privateer ships to raise the form of Trinity Church. The irony that this lane would be honored to bear the name of the New York Federal Reserve’s toxic mortgage and credit default financial frauds – the legacy of Bear Stearns forced rescue by JP Morgan and AIG’s collapse hospiced with billions of dollars of tax payer funds – was not lost on me. Remarkably, in the winter of discontent just a few blocks away at Zuccotti Park not a single Occupite seemed to have an answer for my question as to why banks and traders have earned their collective wrath while the actual structural source of greatest wealth misappropriation is occupied only by a few autumn leaves.

For the past several weeks I have been advised by many friends, colleagues, and advocates, that the Occupy effort is evidence of a humanity waking up. I am certain that, in the midst of the tents, signs, and drum circles there are endangered voices that actually seek to call attention to substance over the cacophony of generalized discontent. However, from San Francisco to New York, I am convinced of one thing more than any other. Occupy Wall Street and its massing throngs are providing vociferous outlets for dissatisfaction while the actual perpetrators go untouched. Rather than ‘waking up’ what I’ve observed is a perpetuation of illiteracy that is nothing short of staggering.

Walking up to a young man who held a sign nostalgically extolling the virtues of Glass-Steagall Act (an Act whose date he couldn’t recall and which he acknowledged never reading despite his printed insistence on bringing it back), I asked him why he was advocating for broader powers for the Federal Reserve. Which part of the currency provisions or rediscounting government and commercial debt was he advocating? He looked at me in complete bewilderment. He and several other Occupites ‘knew’ that this Act’s return would wedge depository banks and investment banking activities apart. And, having explained to him the actual effect of the 1932 and 1933 legislative efforts of Senators Carter Glass (D-VA) and Henry Steagall (D-AL), he responded, “I never knew what this meant,” and then proceeded to walk away, text a message into his iPhone and then move comfortably away before re-hoisting his sign.

Here’s the Shakespearean irony: the young man is pretty sure that something is wrong. He’s right. But calling for an Act that set in motion many of the actual problems which have enabled the greatest wealth transfer in the world’s recorded history leading to the greatest financial resource disparity (still burgeoning with each drumbeat at the Park) is like asking the Inquisitor for extra wood at the stake. Responding to the reflex of injustice without taking the time (or having the attention span to understand the root of injustice) not only perpetrates greater abuse but allows the perpetrators to persist in anonymity. In short, mass uprisings in ignorance are NOT indicators of positive social change. We don’t need ‘ideas’ for organizing – we need in-depth inquiry and financial literacy. In our faux embrace of pluralistic catharsis, we’ve created a smoke-screen behind which the actual Machiavellian tragedy plays on.

There is a path to be informed. The system is easily understood. And, as a person working to build a new economic framework, I am convinced that the 99% occupying parks are as connected by and complicit in their ignorance of the system they perceive to be abusing them as their alleged 1% foes. In fact, since the movement started, I’ve found more openness to transformation and creativity among the ‘them’ 1% than I’ve found in the “99%”. Perpetuation of collective ignorance is not enlightenment. We The People must elevate the dialogue, pick up the baskets of soiled linens dumped behind AIG’s Pine Street offices onto Maiden Lane, return to the Hudson, and wash our greed-soiled obliviousness before we’re all taken to the cleaners.


  1. "Perpetuation of collective ignorance is not enlightenment". It takes only a courageous visionary to see 'actual Machiavellian tragedy' behind the 'smoke screen' even if the screen is opaque by 99%.
    Your effort to correctly diagnose the problem is highly commendable and I hope it will come with a proper therapeutic regimen as well.

  2. Using the Integral Accounting framework in which we build market frameworks that EXPLICITLY balance the all in cost and all in consequence of transactions, we have a number of 'treatments' and are actively deploying the 'cure'. However, I will encourage many of us to gather around the exploration of the core 'dominion' and 'mortality' assumptions that we have to renounce before we can build an ethical foundation. Recall the post from a few weeks ago when we examined...

    1. Fear Arbitrage – the centrality of insurance (a Protestant innovation based on the doctrine of pre-destination and apocalyptic judgment from the Almighty) as the primary utility in our economic system (remember that the first Federal Reserve Bank was principally organized by life insurance companies, not bankers);
    2. Unitary Currency – since the formation of the Central Banks in Europe and the U.S., and fully inculcated with the 1944 Bretton Woods agreement, the notion of a singular currency by which we all transact and through which we all denominate value;
    3. Commodity of Humanity – throughout the Industrial Revolution, the notion that humans are free units of productivity who must stand in subservient opposition to ‘capitalists’ and, when completed with their ‘useful life’ are to be relegated to some lesser state; and,
    4. Dominion over Earth – the presumption that all matter and energy is the domain of those who harness and exploit it.

  3. Thank-you David for your insights,

    Today I received an email with a presentation by Simon Dixon to the Occupy London entitled "Are they wasting their time?" where Simon eloquently tries to expose the fundamental, systemic problem with the money creation process, and a UK legislative remedy (mirrored in the US by HR 2990) and clearly states that most politicians, bankers, economists don't understand the process themselves having been heavily indoctrinated by false theories for decades... (See

    I stumbled upon the monetary problem in 1993 and have seen it as a major blindspot of our civilization. It has been easier to teach kids about it than adults, because they don't have to "unlearn" so much to find the room for it inside their heads, and when they are little - thank god their identities are not completely wrapped around their relationship with money.

    I'm convinced now that money (and war) rely upon deception to be brought into existence, and that finance could be considered "criminal fraud." Banks determine government policy and have sought to shift the enormous unpayable debts that they have engineered onto the shoulders of governments, to facilitate even greater concentrations of wealth and the privatization of what remains of the commons.

    My own work on transforming the global economy from a war economy towards a peace economy (Or from an economy where war is the most lucrative activity towards one which serves and heals humanity and life.) was interrupted by the events of September 11, 2001. I felt that the truth of those events, which had the fingerprints of a false flag operation designed to gain public support for wars on various countries, our rights, and the expansion of the police state might actually wake up the American public and force a change in powerholders and policies, but I had no idea how taboo that topic was nor the strength of the opposition that I would encounter.

    I read your novel, in hopes of a glimpse of your knowledge of that issue, and what you think a viable strategy to enlighten the public and stave off looming disasters might be.

    I also went to Occupy Chicago, Occupy DC, Occupy K Street, Freedom Plaza, Occupy Oakland in support of a movement that recognizes something is deeply wrong and in hopes of beginning a dialogue to put forward ideas, solutions, proposals to change the rules of an obviously broken system. In this world in transition it is hard to gauge the power of words, ideas, visions, information, wisdom when they are tossed out verbally, eloquently, in person, via film, via email, via the internet, via art and images. Like the leaves, they seem to fall in a haphazard way, but some are like seeds and find fertile ground, take root, have a life of their own.

    As I understand the current situation, cooperatives are a growing force, the largest, most invisible movement in the world today. I see the hunger for community, for meaning, for health, for understanding, for beauty, for a future for all beings as a common ground from which the foundations for real change are in the process of emerging.

    I have printed and distributed over 7,000,000 Deception, Conception, and Perception Dollars, seeds with art pointing towards websites seeking truth, exposing problems, pointing towards solutions. I've looked at your Integral Accounting and while I appreciate your intent, I think there is still something missing to invite the participation of others and be an irresistible model which can be replicated or part of a growing alliance of communities that share deeply held values.

    I hope that we can collaborate at some point. In the larger scheme of things, I think we each have pieces of the puzzle, every person does, when we put them all together, the enigmatic becomes obvious.

  4. Carol,

    Thanks for your multiple contributions. I would be delighted to expand a dialogue into how we can take these components and integrate them into a more expansive deployment. As we are drawn, very explicitly into manifestations of the transformed (we speak of that which we have done / experienced) our goal is to identify and reposition fulcrums in social systems so that a new narrative can be discussed in light of action.

    Looking forward to connecting...

  5. David,

    I actually had hoped to speak with you directly while on the East Coast, but our paths have yet to cross. I must admit a reluctance to bare heart and soul on the internet, but if you think a public dialogue is the best way forward, we could speak on my weekly radio show, Community Currency, on the Progressive Radio Network. Let me know if you are up for that and could spare an hour...


Thank you for your comment. I look forward to considering this in the expanding dialogue. Dave