Oakland General Strike posters

The Occupy Oakland folks have been publishing designs for today's general strike, including this jaunty little number from R Black. Lots more to choose from, too, including the venerable IWW black cat, back from retirement and looking as spry as a kitten.

Awesome Posters for Nov 2 General Strike!


  1. I really love the retro design … but I got the vague impression that to use a design like that in the US is a bad idea. It’s likened to some of the old labour rights posters and in the US: labour rights = left = socialist = commies will eat our babies.

    1. Yeah…and while young people might not make the connection, there’s still plenty of people in the world that remember the Red Scare.

      But you gotta admit, it stands out.

  2. Those look communist. Like, actually communist, not ‘cool retro design alluding to soviet poster art’. They look strikingly like the anti-American propaganda I remember from my childhood in Poland.

    If I didn’t know that Occupy wasn’t about abolishing capitalism and replacing it with communism, that it wasn’t a movement to bring to America what we who remember the Iron Curtain already know is an oppressive and unmanageable system, these posters could fool me. Not sure that’s a good thing.

    @Dartigen, I don’t know that it stands out so much, it’s the easiest and most obvious (and also most naive) reference one could make when staging any kind of strike or protest. It stands out about as much as a teenager in a Che t-shirt.

    1. If it’s not about abolishing capitalism, then they should probably drop those signs that talk about abolishing capitalism.

        1. The attribution claims the Workers World Party. I suppose it could be a false flag, but I don’t see why you’d need to go to all the trouble when real communists and anti-capitalists exist, and are more than happy to use every opportunity to speak for themselves.

    2. Well if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

      As noble as some people want to make out the OWS groups to be, they’re quickly being defined by the most inane/insane elements of the group. People who have nothing better to do than paint up some quippy sign and keep on not-bathing for a few weeks.  And even though they’re drawing some more attention to the corrupted govt/corporate practices that have caused so much turmoil, they’re not suggesting many reasoned solutions. 

      Shoveling out more money, wiping out liberal art school debt, banishing CAPITALI$M ( in exchange for what?), or just having federal foxes draw up new chicken house regulations… It just seems like a lot of angry, flashy opinion with no substance or forethought. Anything being resolved at this level of dialogue will just be the equivalent of passing safety laws when some poor kid dies – well intentioned but mentally bankrupt and harmful in the long-term. 

    3. Black and red are the anarcho-syndicalist colors (Like the woobblies, etc), not exactly what you would call soviet communists, especially knowing what the soviets did to them.

    4. You hit the nail on the head, comrade. It is a neat retro feel (in general, I love socialist art) – but one has to be mindful of the audience. The people already prone to protest do. A poster such as this is to get the other 98% who are watching to engage in something.  Thus you need a broad appeal with clearer language.

      What exactly, for give my ignorance, is a general strike? Just have no one show up to work for a day?

      That is great and all – but tons of people work for small businesses who aren’t in the 1% but would take a substantial hit if everyone just slacked off a day. People working hourly wages paycheck-to-paycheck can’t afford to lose a day.  So I am not sure on the goal they are hoping to achieve.

      1. You do have a good point about just who would be most affected with this sort of action. For the poor wage-slave that needs every penny (and incidentally is a good example of exactly why this sort of thing needs to be done) there is obviously a dangerous conflict of responsibility especially if there are dependents involved. However, when it comes to hurting small businesses I don’t thing there would be so much of a conflict. For one thing these businesses use other businesses such as banks (to name a major and mostly appropriate target), delivery, distribution, vendors, maintenance companies, janitorial or cleaning services, trash/refuse services. The list goes on and on. The idea here is to pull the plug on the whole damn system. As such that the problems trickle up and up. For every small business that is out of commission there are dozens of other (potentially bigger) fish up stream that get less and that in turn affects their suppliers, vendors, service providers etc and on up the chain. Then we can also take into account the direct affect a striking workforce would have on large businesses themselves. There is the potential to set off a national chain reaction here (I’m not speculating as to whether it would be a good thing or a bad thing but it would definitely be a thing).

        As an anecdote of sorts, I have in the past worked for ‘small businesses’ and it’s about a fifty-fifty proposition whether the proprietor is a decent person or not. I’ve worked for over-bearing, angry, republitards that were all bluster and no bite and I’ve worked for hard-working, intelligent mentor-type business owners that really do treat their people right. The former are in my mind just as bad as the 1% because not only are they asses but they are unrealistic and ignorant asses to boot. The latter are people that the world needs a whole lot more of. At the end though, I think most people that would go in for a general strike must be aware of what is best for them firstly, and secondly able to judge whether or not their presence at work would be positive or negative for the movement in general.

        And as a last point. I suppose there are people in the US today that would have trouble understanding the in-general concept of  a ‘general strike’. The designers here certainly missed a good chance to educate lots of people about something that they should all know about and maybe even consider doing every once in a while. You know just to let all the stuffed-shirt swaggering peacock 1% douches know who hauls their trash, delivers their stuff, who stocks their groceries, who prepare their meals, who cleans up their shit, and who it is that does nearly everything for them. Which also needs appended to it this quote, “…do not fuck with us!”

  3. Are we really trying to “shut down” the 1%? I mean, I thought the purpose was to restore equality by destroying our corporatocracy. There are 1%ers that support this movement, why are we making all of them out to be our enemy?

  4. Are the nation’s artists so bereft of talent that they have to use warmed over Soviet art?

    We had a Progressive movement, and a Labor movement, and a Populist movement, and they produced lots of eye-catching art. FFS, dig it up and  use it.

  5. For those among us who missed the last bus out of the Sixties, this is doubtless the sort of thing they like.

    1. I think many of us who “missed” the 60s think of the hippies as part of the problem rather than the solution. For all of their bluster, they accomplished frighteningly little and wound up a generation that benefitted from the corruption of our current system (how many corrupt politicians and CEOs are boomers?). Protests did not end the war. A whistleblower inside the administration did. Hippies did not win civil rights for minorities. They did that pretty well themselves (with the help of southern police brutality and public outcry). The imagery of the 60s is not appropriate for any movement that wants to be taken seriously by the younger generations of Americans. And if you look at the earlier populist movements in the US, they borrowed imagery from European labor movements too.

      The only truly populist imagery that Americans can universally get behind is revolutionary imagery and that’s been thoroughly co-opted by the Tea Partiers. I’m not sure all of these posters really represent the broad base of the occupy movement either. I support a radical restructuring of our economic systems and would love to see a successful general strike today, but I wouldn’t call myself an anti-capitalist (and more than one of those posters uses that exact term in their copy). I think posters like these are more likely to drive people away from the movement than bring them to it.

      1. I don’t see any problem with using the same patriotic imagery that the Tea Partiers use.  It’ll confuse the hell out of the right and make Fox News look even more stupid for portraying the two movements so differently.  Not to mention appeal to just the sort of people we need to get behind this movement.

  6. Iconic images are powerful, and can dig up very deep emotions. Be careful which sleeping dragon you stir, for they may not be on your side.

  7. You sure it doesn’t look anarchist?

    Labour has used red and black colours since before 1917.  The Bolsheviks were just copying the labour movement.  The fact that they made a horrible tragedy out of things shouldn’t reflect badly on labour – merely badly on totalitarian approaches to polity.

  8. I studied the Bolshevik revolution in college, plus took years of Russian, and when I saw the CC in Occupy, I immediately thought CCCP.   Since the medium is the message, I don’t think this poster will go well at all with the right.

  9. You know… it saddens me that no one has thought of an even more novel approach: work on appealing to the actual corporate leash-holders, the 1% themselves.  Every 99% grievance (not the whole grab bag of leftist concepts, but the things the actual 99% can truly get behind), every one is caused by *abuses* and *circumventions* of capitalism.  And every grievance is about a trend towards destroying the middle class, or at least making it a lot poorer.  Every 1% (except maybe the non-working inheritor types) actually understands that the economy isn’t a pie to be sliced, but a living, growing thing, based on everyone’s participation.  If the middle class quality of life disappears, the 1% quality of life is diminished as well, guaranteed.  I’ve been waiting to see whether the Occupy movements get moving towards viable action plans or disperse into “let’s pursue every left/liberal/Democrat goal possible” and I’m seeing a lot more of the latter.  Viable action involves gaining the support of the *actual* 99%, and I can guarantee that a huge percentage of US citizens *like* capitalism at its core.  The easiest successes will come from engaging the 1% as well.

    Posters about “anti-capitalist” agendas do a lot more harm than good towards addressing the grievances.  Perhaps the agents provocateur are not just the secret police showing up and trying to start riots.

    1. You know… it saddens me that no one has thought of an even more novel approach: work on appealing to the actual corporate leash-holders, the 1% themselves.

      The people has *already* given them incentives to do better. Remember the billions of dollars to help them out? Last time I checked, the people entrusted them with that money to improve the system and get the ball rolling towards a better economy for everyone.  They received billions in free cash in a dire recession after failing (and, according to their OWN law of the jungle, deserving to hit the pavement in rags like the rest of the country) and they literally ran away with it. They were given an opportunity to turn the tide around and they bailed.

      Everybody has been bending over backwards for the top dogs and it didn’t work so well for the rest of the country. The members of the 1% who actually give a shit already agree with the fact that corruption and greed have been running the show and that there is no such thing as a ‘trickle down economy’ in the current system. As many people like to remind us, the 1% are a smart bunch. If they’re so bright, they can easily figure it out. Many of them obviously came to some conclusion a while back that grabbing all they can for themselves and letting the ship sink is a gamble with much better winnings than cooperation.

  10. Personally I liked all the posters except for Rosie the Riveter with an inverted cross on her forehead.  I’m no fan of Christianity but religion is a separate debate and I’m sure that poster will alienate a lot of people.

    …besides, someone should tell that designer that an inverted cross is actually pro-Christian: http://www.cracked.com/article_18606_8-historic-symbols-that-mean-opposite-what-you-think.html

  11. They had just hope that this bold call to action works. If it doesn’t? It will be turned into a huge blow against the movement.

  12. I’m a big supporter of the movement and agree with almost all of it’s goals, but some of these posters are a bit… much. “Decolonize Oakland” – What does that even mean? “No more police on our streets” – ever? Yes, police do bad things and cross the line, but generally they are necessary.  

    It’s very troubling to see this movement make a large jump to the more radical left (exemplified for me by: “Ratified by the #occupyOakland General Assembly” – I wasn’t aware that a General Assembly was in charge of the gloriously amorphous movement) rather than maintaining it’s broad appeal by focusing on a strong middle class, limiting the undue influence of corporations in American politics, and preserving the possibility of upward mobility for future generations. 

    1. Here are some answers to your questions.

      I wasn’t aware that a General Assembly was in charge of the gloriously amorphous movement

      Then you haven’t been paying much attention.  The general assembly is a directly democratic body consisting of all members of the occupation.  If something has been approved by an occupation’s general assembly, it effectively means it’s been approved by every person participating in that occupation.

      maintaining it’s broad appeal by focusing on a strong middle class, limiting the undue influence of corporations in American politics, and preserving the possibility of upward mobility for future generations.

      The issues which are important to you and your peers aren’t necessarily the ones with the most “broad appeal”.  It’s easy to forget, but for a large percentage of the American public, “upward mobility” is a myth, and the middle class is something they’ll never know, regardless of how strong it is.  Just because we don’t see those people on TV constantly, and our politicians don’t wax poetic about the nobility of their class doesn’t mean poor people don’t exist.  In fact, there are tons of poor people all over the place, and they have more reason to be pissed and more to gain than anyone else in this fight.
      Insisting that we keep the movement tightly focused on issues which are most important to a stereotypical white middle class suburban family with 2.5 kids is silly when huge numbers of people suffering the worst from Wall St. crimes are nothing like that.

      “Decolonize Oakland” – What does that even mean?

      The US in general is stolen land, taken by colonists.  Hopefully you learned this in grade school and I don’t have to explain.  Oakland in particular was stolen again from Mexico later, and again the population found itself colonized.  Colonialism is an economic/government structure in which people live and work in a place, but do not exercise control over how the place is governed.  The wealth they produce is extracted to a colonial power, which uses it for their own purposes.  The colony sees none of the benefit of their work, because they are in fact just a resource center for a foreign power.  The call to “Decolonize Oakland” is an objection to the history I mentioned above, and a call to change that situation.

      “No more police on our streets” – ever? Yes, police do bad things and cross the line, but generally they are necessary.

      Police are not necessary.  In fact, police are a pretty recent historical development, and they developed largely in response to several other not-so-nice modern trends, like slavery, robber barons, and dramatic wealth inequality.  Even in the US, we have not always had police.  There are plenty of modes of social organization which do not require the existence of police.  That is, there is no inherent need for a group of professional soldiers who have the exclusive function of keeping the rest of society obedient.  There are plenty of other ways to keep social order, and many of them are more effective and humane than the police system.  We can do better than this.

        1. I’m sure a lot of people have a lot of different ideas.  But in my opinion, the 1% can in many ways be considered the new colonial power, and the fight against them is a fight to decolonize our communities.  Consider: The 1% may be technically American citizens, but they aren’t really Americans in any meaningful sense.  They keep their money in offshore accounts.  They have homes all over the world, and do business wherever they please.  Not to mention corporations, of course, which don’t even need homes.  The 1% exists extra-nationally, and in that sense can be considered a foreign power.  Additionally, the 1% is the primary influence molding our legal system, determining the laws and standards which will govern their “colony”.  But they themselves are not held to these standards, because they don’t live in the colony.  Our communities have value to them only as resource centers, and the wealth we produce is extracted to them so that we never enjoy the benefits of our work.

          So decolonizing would be the process of eliminating the power that the 1% has over our self-determination, as well as cutting off the flow of resources out of our communities into the hands of the 1%.  That seems to be a large part of what the Occupy movement is trying to do.

  13. I don’t think the 1% are in Oakland. I think they live somewhere nicer. Shouldn’t be that hard to shut down the 1% there.

  14. Abolish capitalism…and replace it with what?

    I have never yet talked to a social anarchist who could answer a few basic questions I had about how society would be organized, how resources would be a apportioned, how decisions affecting thousands or millions of people would be made, etc. 

    I have never yet talked to a social communist who could explain why their ideas wouldn’t slide into the hell of the iron curtain.

    This is the real revolution. The real revolution is just disconnecting from broken systems, not giving energy by condemning them but merely turning their backs. The revolution is happening NOW, but not in public squares of people sitting around chanting their grievances.  The revolution is agorism, the revolution is creative. The revolution is coming from billions of people simply figuring out how to make life work, how to put the pieces together to create and thrive, outside of the rules and structures that the power elite have set up for them to follow.


    1. Libertarian socialists have spent quite a lot of time since Proudhon talking about how we might structure the economy differently and experiments were conducted in Catalonia during the Spanish Civil war.

      To give a brief rundown, there are proposals such as ParEcon, Schweikart’s Economic Democracy, Fotopoulos’s Inclusive Democracy, Cockshott’s Labour Accounting, Devine’s Democratic and Economic planning, as well as various hybrid systems which have been described in some detail. 

      As for suggestions that things would slide into the hell of the USSR, it’s pretty clear that Catalonia didn’t slide into a totalitarian regime until after the experiments were destroyed by Franco. 

      It’s also not the case that people haven’t thought about how we might avoid the problems inherent in a planned command economy.  I’ve spent a lot of time cataloging the problems that existed in the USSR and their systemic causes.

  15. Just needs to loose the faux old paper background and get a different color scheme.
    Hell, just make the red rectangle blue with little stars in it and you´re set. Can´t have the red and white without the blue, it´s too scary D-:

  16. Wow, I’m actually really disappointed in a lot of you ‘boingers’ here. Firstly, these are all pretty good designs (the Rosie the Riveter one is completely off base as it ironically calls for a general strike using imagery specific to war production and the cross thing is unnecessary because it doesn’t work, it doesn’t do anything for the message aside from muddy the waters and or piss off idiots). In any case where did all this anti-socialist/communist/etc and capitalism-apologist crap come from? Seriously, where the hell is that coming from? It seems that many of you think that capitalism is actually a good thing. I’m not saying that it is all bad but it’s certainly not good either. Basically, it’s just a system, a human system and as such is flawed and corruptible. Capitalism also has a large inherent flaw in that the only thing that matters is capital and ‘making’ more of it. It’s not labor-ism, it’s not people-ism, it’s not responsible-ism, it’s grab-the-cash-and-dash-ism. At no point in the history of capitalism has it ever tried to pretend that it is anything more than institutionalized greed and callous disregard for people.

    And hey buddhaflow, one good system that could work (and yes, I have mentioned this before here) is called Participatory Economics. Which, in a nutshell, is a consensus based democratic system that would allow (perhaps require) all interested parties (for example employees/owners(they would be the same) of a ‘company’, or citizens of an area/region/country) to speak their minds and vote on anything of concern to the operation of those entities. The start up curve is steep but once the ball is rolling this could really work. Of course, we may never know because there are so many lazy, do-nothing, nay-sayers who just want to poo-poo everything they don’t like/understand but offer up no alternative or even reasonable discourse on the subject. Also, anarcho-syndicalism is a pretty interesting possibility as well, it’s like PE but less concerned with all the play nice with the former (unreformed) capitalists jerks. In either case the idea is that the workers, those that do the actual work, should be the ones in control of the factory floor or the farm field not some dick in a nice suit who learned at university how to wield the modern whip of capitalism and spit on the ‘little guy’.  “…create and thrive, outside of the rules and structures that the power elite have set up for them to follow.” This, for sure.

    Also, if you have any specific questions for an anarchist, I’d love to tackle them.

      1. Yeah, I suppose that is interesting. It would have been a little more interesting if it didn’t read like some advert for Kaiser Permanente (seriously they/he(Kaiser) are mentioned 14 times in what I estimate to be a six or seven page text). And aside from the connection you mention I see no reason why the use of Rosie is in the slightest way apt to the purpose of this action. The point I’m making is that it seems ridiculous to call for a general strike with imagery that evokes both war and work. It’s a context fail on the designers part and the icing of fail is the use of the upside down cross which has been previously, um, for lack of a better word, debunked. Anyway, thanks all the same.

  17. I’m telling you, living in San Francisco, there are a lot of straight-up anarchists in Oakland with lofty fantasies of “smashing the system,” etc. These are the folks that tried to light the Berkeley chancellor’s house on fire two years ago (they weren’t even students). Perhaps like the SDS, and their “days of rage,” which kind of alienated what was previously a large, inclusive activist group, I fear some of these folks could make the Occupy movement look very bad.

    1. A general strike to inconvenience one percent is like setting oneself on fire to scorch the fleas…

      And yet, they’ve been a successful tool for change for centuries.

      1. An unfortunate aspect of this whole thing is that the 1% are considerably better-equipped to stonewall and hold out than the 99% are.  If worse comes to worst and a general strike hits hard enough to negatively affect Big Business, it’s the employees who’ll take it in the shorts first.  Even if big corporations start to collapse, or wobble enough to cause significant pain to their owners, it’s the 99% who’ll feel the negative repercussions first and most painfully.  A plutocrat cut off from his income has a great many other resources upon which to live before he has to sell his only car and eat his cat.

        It seems to cynical ol’ me that America’s social contract was broken not when the income gap first began growing embarrassingly wide over thirty years ago, but when we started to realize that maybe we couldn’t actually afford a new iPhone this summer.  This fall has been a long time coming, and during that time of growing inequality some people grumbled, but most people did not.  We have, in fact, been a largely comfortable and relatively spoiled middle class.  We didn’t get protest on this level until this year, because until this year the 1% deigned to allow us just enough stuff for us to be confident in our status as The World’s Best Possible Society.  Until pretty recently, most of us could afford to buy a house on fewer than three incomes, and those of us to whom the news media paid any attention whatsoever could still get an education and have some reasonable hope of finding decent employment.   We had cheap gasoline for a few decades, and cheap food, and iPods and American Idol and Nike shoes and the NFL and plenty of red meat, and who could have asked for anything more?  The plutocrats had too much, we’d mutter to ourselves, but at least they didn’t seem to be taking it all.  And when that changed after the bank bailouts, the muttering became grumbling, and then grew into bitching, and now it’s perfectly-justified yelling.

        But if the plutocrats have any sense of self-preservation at all, they’re not going to cede power and permit a wholesale upending of the capitalist social order.  All they need do in the vaguest sense is return the middle class’ prosperity levels to something approaching where they were ten years ago (hell, even six years ago), and I fear all this discomfort would evaporate for them.  Personally, I’d much prefer a genuine top-to-bottom overhaul of the social contract just as many of the OWS kids do, but I think it’ll require a lengthy and violent revolution to take place, and frankly America doesn’t have the stomach for it.  The plutocrats can continue to hoard the vast majority of the nation’s wealth and influence as long as the middle and lower classes are kept even slightly more comfortable than they are right now.

        Dear God, I hope I’m wrong, but I greatly fear I am not.

  18. Democracy completely failed the Roman Empire so I think Democracy is disgusting.

    The reason this is happening in a way YOU don’t approve is because most people just like sitting back and complaining while other people actually DO THINGS to achieve SOMETHING OTHER than the system that is fucking them over. If you don’t like the way it’s going, JOIN and CHANGE IT.

    As for those afraid of Soviet Style Communism, does history really repeat itself that cleanly for all of you? I’m really glad to hear that America just moved away from agrarian economics though!

  19. I think there is some good graphic design here, but I think the messages, including the stylistic choices, are going to work against the occupiers rather than for them.

    I love the visual style of soviet era propaganda.  But I don’t love soviet era government.  I think that occupiers are typically painted as unrealistic and naive- and there’s really no better way to do that than to borrow the clothes of an empire that failed spectacularly.

    And, while I’ll agree that capitalism isn’t the end-all be-all economic system- the problems we are facing right now aren’t neccessarily capitalist problems so much as the fact that we’ve allowed our government to be subverted by moneyed interests, and have drifted well, well, away from a free market.  What we have now is a system in which profits are private and losses are externalized on the public.

    Regardless, I think everyone has a lot of radical ideas they’d love to see implemented (I know I do), but those ideas are not common amongst the 99%.  The occupy movement is about the common concerns of the 99%, specifically the concentration of wealth in america, and the distorting effect on democracy that that brings about.  I haven’t seen anything coming out of any of the occupy general assemblies calling for an end to capitalism, so why is that message being inserted in the propaganda?

  20. Too much worrying about how things “look” to an impressionable “other”.  Not enough worrying about getting out the message.

    The message?  The message is “General Strike!  Today!  Did You Wish To Join Us?  You’re Too Late! You Need To Quit Your Job and Sleep in an OWS Tent to have Any Idea What We’re Up to Next!  That is All!”

  21. “Consensus” as a progressive’s governing principle can be observed in the every-voice-matters-about-everything twinkle-finger voting in the camps to the conflicted hand-wringing of Oakland’s officials as they dither on the sidelines while the city they were elected to run is being overrun. Not that I ever disagree with labor strikes. I don’t. But this ain’t that. This is a city being punished, let’s be honest here, for a poor veteran being badly injured. The trademark guilt of progressives officiating city government is arguably more paralyzing than the general strike may be. Thoroughly enjoying the squirm. Go occupy!

  22. Too bad. I really feel for a lot of the OWS protestors. They have legitimate gripes. They’re just misdirecting their anger.

    But with posters and imagery like this, they are going to be seen as just simply anti-capitalist and communist. I hope they don’t degenerate into that.

    1. No, not really. Some of those have similar styles, but are dissimilar in most other ways.   I do feel the Oakland poster has more in common with the motifs and themes of Soviet posters. Of course part of this is taste and an undefinable ‘vibe’.

        1. Yes – a “vibe”. Art evokes feelings. Perhaps there is a better word for that.

          But don’t ignore the sentence before that, it has more in common with the motif and theme of Soviet posters than it does with WPA posters.

          1. But the comments I was questioning called them “Soviet style”.  And you yourself acknowledge that “[s]ome of those have similar style”.

            Note that I didn’t say “Soviet themes” or “Soviet motifs”.  I was talking about the style, which was widely used in many places and for many purposes – other themes, other motifs – that had nothing to do with Soviets, or communism, or any single ideology.

            (And as Antinous notes, the Bay Area – the intended audience for these – isn’t exactly a hotbed of anti-commie hysteria.)

            But I’m sure the poster designers of Occupy Oakland will be deeply concerned about the undefinable ‘vibe’ you experience, and will rush right out and change things so you that won’t feel quite so… ummm… vibey.

          2. Ok – you got me. I did say style – and you said style.  I guess one problem is me being defensive with all of the internet snark, and so I might have read too much into your first post I replied to. You didn’t link to the post you replied to, so I don’t know what context “soviet-style” was used, but I have never seen them compared to any WPA work. I guess I thought you were alluding to some derogatory “The US is just like Soviet Russia. View our propagandas.” But that may have all been in my head.

            Socialist art – especially poster art – has a fairly recognizable look to it.  I just don’t think the WPA works had much in common with them. Some of them did with their use of bold lines, simple contrasting colors, and an iconic look.  In general I think the they have way more dissimilarities than they have things in common. Thus my confusion as to the comparison and my assumption there must be some snarky undertone.

            re: “But I’m sure the poster designers of Occupy Oakland will …rush right out and change things…”

            Well – maybe they should. I understand that such a style plays well in SF. But the movement is greater than the sum of it’s parts. “Damage” caused in one part of the country can be used to discredit it in another. So while I don’t think it is over the top, making something for a broader audience may behoove them. Even if they keep the image exactly the same, they really miss out on a chance to educate and inform people. What – no twitter account to follow? Mailing list to join? A facebook page with scheduled events? Ok – general strike Nov 2 – what am I supposed to do now, call in sick? Wear a button? Come in but never fill up their coffee cups more than half way? etc.

          3. Socialist art – especially poster art – has a fairly recognizable look to it.  I just don’t think the WPA works had much in common with them. 

            Well, I’d have to disagree.  The WPA itself came under a fair amount of criticism from the Right for being rife with leftists.  A lot of artists who benefited from the WPA Federal Art Project (including the Federal Theatre) were either actual “card-carrying Communists” like Diego Rivera, or were suspected and accused of being same.  It would be a stretch to claim that WPA posters looked like socialist posters because they were both painted by socialists, but I see several common styles and themes in both.  Take away the emphasis on the color red, and you saw echoes of this bold design in American World War II propaganda posters.  

            After 9/11, when the movie studios started adopting stricter security protocols (thinking that somehow they’d be irresistibly tempting targets for al Qaeda, which was kinda cute even then), the Warner Bros studio started putting up posters with similar artwork and typography, reminding employees and vendors that it was their patriotic duty to always display their ID badge, and that we all had to pitch in and be patriotically patient with the long lines at studio security checkpoints.  Wish I had some examples to show you.  They were hilariously authoritarian.

          4. You have good points. But even if both artists were socialists, it just doesn’t seem to be similar enough to me (I am sure you can find examples that I do find very similar). But hey – that’s art for you. Different schools and movements interacting and fighting with one another. For sure some of the WWII posters were more iconic like the Soviet stuff.

            re: “Wish I had some examples to show you.”

            If you find it – send it along. Here are a few very heavy handed posters from 2004 in London to get people to pay their TV tax.
            http://www.flickr.com/photos/63283251@N04/6307923212/  <– my favorite

  23. re: ” However, when it comes to hurting small businesses I don’t thing there would be so much of a conflict.”

    Well, I would disagree. Yes there are asshole small business owners (there are also nice/cool 1%ers) – but there is no way to carry out justice for bad karma.

    If a small business is struggling, one lost day could mean not making payroll that week. I have worked for a company where the last one to put their check in would have it bounce. McDonalds would take a hit – but one they could totally absorb and over come. A small restaurant may not be able to.  This is similar to the whole silly, “Don’t buy gas for a day!.”  It would do NOTHING. People need gas, they would just fill up the day before or the day after. Also consider there is a huge number of unemployed. If you are easily replaced, you just might be.

    1. Well that is why I mentioned the gray areas. If you happen to work for a good small business then don’t strike. In fact that would be the opposite of responsible behaviour in this situation. Specifically, if you work for a good business/person/people then by all means go to work, help grow the business (especially useful during a general strike is to have decent reliable people to do essential business with), serve the customers and maybe steal new ones away from say wart-mal, smackdonalds, and other mega/corporate clowns. If you work for a jerk, then solve two problems at once. If you can’t afford the wages lost or the loss of a job (and many many many people can’t) then don’t strike. I’m sure nobody is going to judge you for doing the right thing for you and your family.

      However if you can strike think about this…, just imagine that nobody showed up for work at the local mal-wart except the managers. Boy wouldn’t they have a fun day trying to figure out how to run a cash register or find where the damn milk is or even greeting a customer without giving away that they think of them as a walking cash-cow (emphasis on cow). This also works for the small-business jerk. Seriously, jerks need a good smack every once in a while.

      “I have worked for a company where the last one to put their check in would have it bounce.” Okay. My first thought here is that this business has a problem or two. One could be that there are too many people on payroll. Another might be that somebody or a few somebodies are being paid too much(and the first person I would look to in this case is the manager/owner. Did he/she get their pay day? If so, then that person is a jerk). Yet another might be business feasibility. Sales in a slump? Have been for a while? What is being done about that? The product sucks. So how can that be fixed? Just getting started? Well, hunker down and work through it. Been at this a while and never have turned a profit/broke-even? Find a new gig or do something new/different. The funny thing here is that all these little consultant questions are also highly appropriate to the OWS list of complaints. It’s management’s fault that they are being grossly overpaid, the product sucks and sales are down and they, the smart powerful bosses, do nothing to fix the problem. So, if they don’t want to do anything that only leaves the workers. And I’ll bet good money that the workers can do their job and the bosses job at the same time and do it better. Sorry for the longish possibly non-applicable parts of this response.

      One last thing. You said “…but there is no way to carry out justice for bad karma.” I don’t think you really mean that there is NO WAY to carry out justice but in any case; what would you propose be done? Or if you do think there is no way to do this then, well, yeah…

      1. re: “I don’t think you really mean that there is NO WAY to carry out justice but in any case;”

        Well – of course people can take it upon themselves to do something. But being an asshole isn’t illegal. But there is no way to consistently and righteously carry out justice for bad ju-ju. Case in point: Steve Jobs – wunderkind friend of humanity, or asshole 1%er? For every one idolizing him, you would have someone demonizing him.

        re: “My first thought here is that this business has a problem or two.”

        Yes – it was mismanaged by the young short-sighted owner. But there are other people who just have a bad month or have something happen that can result in the same thing. I had a good friend close up shop from him getting stung by $10,000 worth of fraudulent credit card purchases.

        re: “Boy wouldn’t they have a fun day trying to figure out how to run a cash register”

        I get what you’re saying, but FYI most of the managers at wal-mart start out as hourly workers running registers etc. They have a pretty decent program to promote within at the store level.

      2. You might want to reconsider your timing here.   You want to wipe out the ruling class first, while still letting the kulaks think that you are on their side.  Everyone who owns a cow or an acre of land gets whacked a couple of years later.

  24. Oakland is in the San Francisco Bay Area.  People there don’t equate historical labor struggles and Communism with baby-eating like they do in more benighted parts of the country.

  25. Something is going on in Oakland.  

    I was just in a conference call with a vendor who is staying in an Oakland hotel.  The company they are currently working with made them switch hotels.  The local Oakland company said something about a police crackdown to end the rioting was coming and wanted the vedor staff to be safe.

  26. My brother in law, Eric Drooker, did the black cat piece. He originally did it for the Wisconsin protests, but he wants anybody who can use it to do so.

  27. “In any case where did all this anti-socialist/communist/etc and capitalism-apologist crap come from?”

    In my case, been there, done that, much prefer the dog-eat-dog world of capitalism to standing in line with a little cardboard chit that tells me what my allowance of meat/milk/toilet paper is for the month. There is a way to get the best of both worlds, I’m sure, but pardon me for being cautious- it was too often the shelves at the other end of the line were completely empty.

    Although reading the comments makes me think perhaps this is all fine- I’m just not the target audience, and have an entirely different perception of socialism vs capitalism in my mind than the target audience does. What looks to me like a much too direct reference to the bad kind of socialism I remember may be, to the average American in the 99%, only an artistic nod towards the vague ideal of any revolution.

    So, please take my comments out of the equasion, including the one where I say that I don’t understand the need to refer to soviet art so heavily during this movement at all. 

  28. Capitalism has bought democracy out from under us.  I’m not surprised that so many people are backlashing against it.

    The internet, and so much that is on it, is an example of something whose growth owes partly to capitalism and partly to more organic forces.  The whole brouhaha over intellectual property, file sharing, DRM etc. is capitalism running headfirst into those forces.

    Capitalism is not a good way to deal with other kinds of technology either.  Biotechnology has such awesome potential but it’s used for garbage like Roundup Ready because that’s where Monsanto saw the money.  Pharmacuetical companies aren’t in the business of healing and curing, but of selling drugs.  Insurance companies aren’t in the business of safeguarding people’s health and finances, but squeezing money from them while giving up as little as possible.  Banks aren’t in the business of storing money for people and putting money to work with investments that grow the economy, but with getting money for nothing from the government.  Energy companies, industry and pretty much all business is not motivated to protect the environment or worker health except when forced to.

    I’m not recommending an alternative to capitalism either, because I haven’t thought of one.  But I believe we can take back democracy out from under capitalism, and subject money to people instead of the other way around.  Regulation is key… and business will never be regulated properly so long as lobbyists essentially run everything.  

    None of us voted for Goldman Sachs or Monsanto or Blackwater or Enron or Halliburton or Koch Industries.  Why are they ruling?

  29. Finally! The true colors of OWS are shining through. At least now the real 99% can see this Hot Topic Anarchy movement for what it really is, and really, for what it’s been longing to be from the very start.

    Breaking and street furniture smashing at whole foods.
    Graffiti on the walls of businesses.
    Chase Bank vandalized.
    East Bay Express reports that approximately 75 shoppers were barricaded inside the Whole Foods as protesters threw rocks and smashed the windows.Wells Fargo windows have also been reportedly smashed.

  30. @elix

    “A group of protesters heading toward Oakland’s Lake Merritt Wednesday vandalized a Whole Foods store at 230 Bay Place, off of Grand AvenueWindows were smashed, objects were tossed at the store and the word “strike” was painted in large letters across the store’s front windows shortly before 3 p.m.”

    Hours after the original gathering, protesters broke out some of the bank’s windows.The branch had graffiti scrawled on its wall. The messages read, “The 1 percent won’t back down” and “Who’s robbing who?”


    1. Okay. So some people got angry, separated from the main protest, and caused vandalism. Guess what, not every person is a boy scout.

      Find me one piece of evidence that this was encouraged by the Occupy movement.

      Also, please answer my question.

      1. Ahh..but that’s the rub isn’t it.  Your “occupy movement” has no center. Is a patchwork of a myriad of issues that coalesce in Progressive abstractions. No one stopped these thugs? How many hundreds were around them? You’re welcome to dismiss these acts as anomalies, that’s to be expected (unless they were police plants right?) but they are the first signs of the anti-Capitalist rot that this movement is harboring. It’s part of the fashion isn’t it?

        But hell, at least they represent something

        And how does my employer, besides fueling some paranoid fantasy, have any bearing on my comments?

        1. “My” movement? Way to assume, buddy.

          Can you tell me how many people were with them? How many hundreds WERE around the people breaking windows? You seem to be assuming that the protest was happening all around them.

          And, if this is where Capitalism got us, they’ve reason to be angry.

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