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Why the Media Loves the Violence of Protesters and Not of Banks

The grand thieves invented ever more ingenious methods to crush the hopes and livelihoods of the many. This is the terrible violence that Occupy was formed to oppose.

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Surely the only possible answer to the tired question of where Occupy should go from here (as though a few public figures got to decide) is: everywhere. I keep being asked what Occupy should do next, but it’s already doing it. It is everywhere. 

In many cities, outside the limelight, people are still occupying public space in tents and holding General Assemblies.  February 20th, for instance, was a  national day of Occupy solidarity with prisoners; Occupiers are organizing on many fronts and  planning for May Day, and a great many foreclosure defenses from  Nashville to San Francisco have kept people in their homes and made banks renegotiate.  Campus activism is reinvigorated, and creative and fierce  discussions about college costs and student debt are underway, as is a deeper conversation about economics and ethics that rejects conventional wisdom about what is fair and possible.  

Occupy is one catalyst or facet of the populist will you can see in a host of recent victories. The  campaign against corporate personhood seems to be gaining momentum.  A  popular environmental campaign made President Obama  reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline from Canada, despite immense Republican and corporate pressure. In response to widespread outrage, the Susan B. Komen Foundation  reversed its decision to defund cancer detection at Planned Parenthood.  Online campaigns have forced Apple to address its hideous labor issues, and the ever-heroic Coalition of Immokalee Workers at last brought Trader Joes  into line with its fair wages for farmworkers campaign.

These genuine gains come thanks to relatively modest exercises of popular power.  They should act as reminders that we do have power and that its exercise can be popular. Some of last fall’s exhilarating conversations have faltered, but the great conversation that is civil society awake and arisen hasn’t stopped.

What happens now depends on vigorous participation, including yours, in thinking aloud together about who we are, what we want, and  how we get there, and then acting upon it. Go occupy the possibilities and don’t stop pedaling. And remember, it started with mad, passionate love.

TomDispatch regular Rebecca Solnit is the author of 13 (or so) books, including A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities that Arise in Disaster and Hope in the Dark. She lives in and occupies from San Francisco.

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Copyright 2012 Rebecca Solnit 

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