A Call for Participation in the #OccupyWallStreet Movement*
Transformative moments in history are rare. In our time, with increasing globalization made possible by advances in communicative technologies, these moments have profound global impacts. Witness the recent tumultuous events of the Arab Spring in Tunisia , Egypt , Libya , Syria , Yemen , and the Middle East/North African region. Witness, in 1989, the dismantling of the Berlin Wall and the liberation of scores of Eastern Europeans. Witness, in 1960, the democratic revolutions that occurred in 17 African countries that brought freedom to millions.
With the Occupy Wall Street movement, now in its second month, the United States (and the world) is witnessing the birth of another transformative moment. The last time such a moment presented itself in this country was 1963, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led hundreds of thousands in a peaceful march on Washington to demand civil and economic rights. Today, history is again bearing witness to a movement that demands greater economic and political justice for all of humanity.
This moment must be seized!
For those of us with the education, and those who approach global issues from progressive, critical perspectives, we have a special obligation to support the Occupy Wall Street movement. Indeed, we have a moral responsibility to support OWS in as many ways as possible. This is the moment we have been training for. Now is the time to act, to put our education and skills toward a greater cause, to contribute to the betterment of humanity.
The grievances expressed at OWS (and Occupy Oakland, Occupy Seattle, Occupy Boston, Occupy London, Occupy Melbourne, Occupy Toronto, etc, etc, etc) are many, simply because the causes of such strife are many. The broad culprits, however, can be generalized: the success of Neoliberal Capital in establishing global economic and political hegemony. Neoliberalism, which stresses a deregulated, free market-driven approach, rather than a people-driven approach, to economics and social policy, is the great generator of wealth redistribution upward to the highest echelons, the smallest sliver of our population. In recent decades, this means that the wealthy, the 1%, have increased their collective wealth—and thus, political power—hundreds of times over, while wages and living conditions for the 99% increase at substantially lower rates and often stagnate, if not outright deteriorate.
This gross inequality, coupled with the influence of finance in the democratic process, is a moral outrage.
Our democracy has been hijacked. No longer does democracy mean “one person, one vote.” Today, one dollar equals one vote. In the United States , where the Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are legally people, this means that those with the deepest pockets command the greatest attention and influence in Washington , DC . For 2012, Barack Obama is expected to raise a staggering $1 billion to run his re-election campaign. Is it any wonder, then, that the President of the United States is beholden to those who purchased his election with cash, rather than those who made the same investment with a single vote?
What is so free and just about the influence of money in our political process?
Our grievances are many: Gross economic inequality. Anemic public schools and other public programs. Rising healthcare costs. Increasing numbers of imprisoned minorities. The demonization of immigrants. Embarrassing amounts of treasure spent supporting wars throughout the Global South. Historic levels of debilitating debt. Increasing corporate contamination of the democratic process. Intensifying environmental degradation. A continuing epidemic of home foreclosures. The privatization of profits; the socialization of loss.
These are just some of the many grievances expressed by the 99%. All of these problems are interrelated, and because of that, there is no simple solution to the crisis (for it is one, systemic crisis).
We do not know where OWS will lead us. We do not know the end game, and we do not know how we will get there.
But we do know that we do not have to sit idly by and accept the status quo. Since we do not have the financial capacity that big corporations enjoy, and since we choose a nonviolent protest and do not use weapons to further our cause, we have only two things at our disposal: our bodies and our voices. And so, we throw our bodies into the streets; it is our last resort. We occupy.
And we debate, discuss, learn, educate, and participate in a truly transparent, horizontal (no leadership), democratic process each night at the General Assembly. For Occupy Wall Street, democracy means one person, one vote. Money has no influence in our process. Such democratic ideals were abandoned by our political leaders long ago.
What is the message? Right now, We are the message. The practice of democracy is the message.
Some say that “the system” is too big, that the change we seek is impossible. We think they are wrong.
WE DEMAND THE IMPOSSIBLE!
THIS IS OUR MOMENT!
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
+ Educate yourself, then education your peers. Engage them in discussion and debate about the Movement, and the underlying causes of our global crisis. See the Learn More section below for helpful resources.
+ Attend a General Assembly at your local Occupation. Make your voice heard.
+ Join a Working Group: Follow and participate in discussions on issues big (prison-industrial complex) and small (Occupation-Local Community relations).
+ Occupy! If you can, participate in an Occupation by spending the night. Your presence is your protest.
+ Spread the Word: Twitter: #occupywallstreet | #occupytogether | #ows | @occupywallstnyc ; Facebook: OccupyWallStreet; download, print, display, and share fliers: www.nycga.net/resources
+ Donate: Visit www.nycga.net/donate. Donations are tax-deductible. On Twitter: #needsoftheoccupiers; send packages of non-perishable foods and occupation supplies to your local Occupation site.
+ What a General Assembly looks like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dtD8RnGaRQ
+ Occupy Wall Street’s website: http://occupywallst.org/
+ The New York General Assembly website: www.nycga.net.
+ Democracy Now! OWS coverage: http://www.democracynow.org/tags/occupy_wall_street
+ The Nation’s OWS blog: http://www.thenation.com/section/occupy-wall-street
+ Occupy Together: www.occupytogether.org
+ Tumblr: www.wearethe99percent.tumblr.com
+ Scoop It! http://www.scoop.it/t/occupy-together
*Note that the views in this post belong to Chris Haddix and I, and are not necessarily reflective of The Mantle community per se (though I bet many, if not all, would surely endorse the above).
Morality, Neoliberalism, Occupy Wall Street