How the Occupy Wall Street Protesters Can Defeat the Corporate Elite
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First of all, the occupation has lasted more than two weeks and it's growing every day. Many tens of thousands of people have participated in this occupation in some way or another, from the thousands who have slept out or marched or stopped by, to the thousands of pizzas ordered for us, the thousands of dollars sent our way, and the thousands watching the livestream and emailing and calling and tweeting. Add this to occupations being planned in more than 100 cities in the US alone, not to mention those in other countries (both those in solidarity with us, and those that were our inspiration). Labor, student and community groups from around the city are joining, and they bring with them serious organizers and community members from the most oppressed and marginalized communities in New York. They also bring their own concrete demands, which are easy to support because they are obvious, as they have always been.
Next, we have taken steps to define ourselves, to write documents to that affect, and to move toward a collective consciousness that is bold and uncompromising. Those documents that define us take forever to write, because we all participate in their writing (yes, it's a bit of a drag, but revolutions aren't so easy when we are fighting for the type of liberation that demands self-management). Now, to be clear, I have always been a strong proponent of clear demands. They help define our struggle, point the way to actions we want to take, give us tools for measurement, communicate with people outside of the occupation, and represent those busy struggling elsewhere. However, I do want to point out that we have been able to continue to grow and bring new communities in despite a lack of demands, and that those people and groups will bring their own. I also think our demands really aren't as mysterious as some people are letting on; I think our critics are playing dumb.
We wouldn't be on Wall Street if we didn't already have an implicitly unifying message: We hold the banks, the millionaires, and the political elite they control, responsible for the exploitation and oppression we face -- from capitalism, racism and authoritarianism to imperialism, patriarchy and environmental degradation. We have a diversity of grievances, complaints, demands, principles, and visions, but it is clear that we have planted ourselves in the financial capital of the world because we see it as one of the most deeply entrenched roots of the various systems of oppression we face every day. The clue is in the title: Occupy Wall Street.
Every day, the occupiers see themselves more and more connected to a movement -- a movement around the country and the world, but also a movement through time, stretching from the giants who came before us to the future giants we will be. Every day more people from different communities join, and in their attempt to represent themselves, they bring their people, their demands, their languages, their struggles. Every day more grassroots organizations -- struggling around housing or health care, for adjunct professors or postal workers -- join the fight, bringing with them the clear message that this movement must be grounded in the hard organizing work that took place before this occupation and will continue after it. This deepening of consciousness and realization of the connection between the different struggles we wage will be among the most important things to come out of this.
We have already taken back some space -- space for new forms of democratic participation, for the type of initiative and creativity discouraged by the status quo, for autonomy within solidarity, for experiments of self-management and equity and solidarity, for a type of rebellion that rejects permits, pens and sidewalks, one that demands streets and bridges instead, and someday also buildings and governments. It will be hard, I hope, for us to go back to the pens in the future, having tasted what it's like to stand among thousands in the pouring rain on the Brooklyn Bridge, and that's quite a liberating step forward.