The Revolution Begins at Home: A Clarion Call to Join the Wall Street Protests
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What is occurring on Wall Street right now is truly remarkable. For over 10 days, in the sanctum of the great cathedral of global capitalism, the dispossessed have liberated territory from the financial overlords and their police army.
They have created a unique opportunity to shift the tides of history in the tradition of other great peaceful occupations, from the sit-down strikes of the 1930s to the lunch-counter sit-ins of the 1960s to the democratic uprisings across the Arab world and Europe today.
While the Wall Street occupation is growing, it needs an all-out commitment from everyone who cheered the Egyptians in Tahrir Square, said "We are all Wisconsin," and stood in solidarity with the Greeks and the Spaniards. This is a movement for anyone who lacks a job, housing or health care, or thinks they have no future.
Our system is broken at every level. More than 25 million Americans are unemployed. More than 50 million live without health insurance. Perhaps 100 million Americans are mired in poverty, using realistic measures. Yet the fat cats continue to get tax breaks and reap billions while politicians compete to turn the austerity screws on all of us.
At some point the number of people occupying Wall Street -- whether that's 5,000, 10,000 or 50,000 -- will force the powers that be to offer concessions. No one can say how many people it will take or even how things will change exactly, but there is a real potential for bypassing a corrupt political process and for realizing a society based on human needs, not hedge fund profits.
After all, who would have imagined a year ago that Tunisians and Egyptians would oust their dictators?
At Liberty Park, the nerve center of the occupation, more than 500 people gather every day to debate, discuss and organize what to do about our failed system that has allowed the 400 richest Americans at the top to amass more wealth than the 180 million Americans at the bottom.
It's astonishing that this self-organized festival of democracy has sprouted on the turf of the masters of the universe, the men who play the tune that both political parties and the media dance to. The New York Police Department, which has deployed hundreds of officers at a time to surround and intimidate protesters, is capable of arresting everyone and clearing Liberty Plaza in minutes. But they haven't, which is also astonishing.
That's because assaulting peaceful crowds in a public square demanding real democracy -- economic and not just political -- would remind the world of the brittle autocrats who brutalized their people demanding justice before they were swept away by the Arab Spring. And the state violence has already backfired. After police attacked a Saturday afternoon march that started from Liberty Park the crowds only got bigger and media interest grew.
The Wall Street occupation has already succeeded in revealing the bankruptcy of the dominant powers -- the economic, the political, media and security forces. They have nothing positive to offer humanity, not that they ever did for the Global South, but now their quest for endless profits means deepening the misery with a thousand austerity cuts.
Even their solutions are cruel jokes. They tell us that the " Buffett Rule" would spread the pain by asking the penthouse set to sacrifice a tin of caviar, which is what the proposed tax increase would amount to. Meanwhile, the rest of us will have to sacrifice health care, food, education, housing, jobs and perhaps our lives to sate the ferocious appetite of capital.