Put Your Bodies on the Gears of the Machine: Maddow, Reich Talk Mario Savio, Occupy, and Nonviolent Resistance

"There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious—makes you so sick at heart—that you can't take part. You can't even passively take part. And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all."

These famous words, uttered nearly half a century ago by the Free Speech Movement's Mario Savio at UC Berkeley--scene of one of this month's brutal police crackdowns--speak eloquently to Occupy Wall Street's ethos. Last night in a riveting segment on her show, Rachel Maddow contextualized the spate of crackdowns on Occupy Wall Street encampments around the country with crackdowns in the past--like the one at Berkeley in the 60s--which have only served to galvanize the movements they hoped to quash.

Occupy is not a one-time march, Maddow noted, adding that occupiers will be back after clear-outs. That's the point of their movement.

Every year there's a Mario Savio memorial lecture at Berkeley, and this year's lecturer was economist Robert Reich. He and Maddow discussed just how successful Occupy has been in changing the national conversation and how politicians could handle the movements with a less violent and authoritarian hand.

This is a truly enlightening segment--take fifteen minutes of your morning to watch. The speech Reich gave is embedded below, as well.

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Reich's lecture, recorded:


From a local report about the speech in the Daily Californian:

Mentioning that the top 400 richest Americans own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans, Reich said one of the most important issues behind the protests “is not the wealth per se — it is the irresponsible use of wealth to undermine our democratic system.”

The crowd remained engaged throughout the lecture — which reached 3,500 people at its peak, according to UCPD — booing and hissing when Reich spoke about the income of corporations and cheering when he referred to the Occupy movement as a way “in which people are beginning to respond to the crisis of our democracy.”

“The days of apathy are over, folks,” he said.

AlterNet / By Sarah Seltzer

Posted at November 16, 2011, 6:59am

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