Occupy 2.0: The Transformation Occupy Must Embrace

Written on:May 19, 2012
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2011 has emerged as the 1968 of our generation, as some have put it. The rebellions of
1968, from the Democratic National Convention riots in Chicago to the revolts in France, have
transposed themselves to our generation through the uprisings we’ve seen in Tunisia, Egypt,
Greece, Spain, England, and the U.S. We have seen millions of people overthrow the Egyptian
tyrant, Hosni Mubarak. We have seen a man light himself on fire in complete rage and
frustration against the neoliberal system in Tunisia. We have seen more than one million public
sector workers strike in England. These actions illustrate the revolutionary potential of this
global uprising against the current system that breeds injustice and oppression.

In the United States, we watched, in awe and solidarity from our televisions, the
revolutions and waves of global discontent that spread across the world. While observing such
historical moments, we subconsciously asked ourselves, “When will it come to the belly of the
beast?” That was quickly answered on September 17th, 2011, when a few thousand people took
to the streets of the Financial District of New York City and occupied Zuccotti Park, next to Wall
Street, which was no coincidence. The martyrdom of the Tunisians, the democratic processes of
the Spanish “Indignados” and the power of the Egyptian people inspired the American public to
occupy a park in the heart of the New York City Financial District, where greed and injustice
reign over all. The 17th was marked as a historic day that gave birth to a new mass movement,
called “Occupy,” that spread to over 1,000 cities in the U.S. in response to the economic and
social injustices we, the “99%,” face in the context of rising home foreclosures, ravaging
income inequality, the erosion of the middle class, institutional racism, and the constant
destruction of our civil liberties caused by the “1%” and those in power.

This newborn generation of “occupiers” saw 700 people arrested on the Brooklyn
Bridge, a general strike in Oakland, growing solidarity between different sectors and issues
inside the “99%,” peaceful students violently pepper-sprayed, and an Iraq war veteran almost
killed by the Oakland Police Department. The bold direct action of this movement changed the
mainstream political discourse from the deficit to unemployment and inequality; created major
losses for the banks responsible for the economic crisis of 2008; shifted social consciousness;
and changed the political culture of our country forever. Such success was due to the forgetful
sense that allowed us to ignore the possibility of failure and take the risks and militant steps
that emancipated the Zuccotti Park occupation from isolation to a critical mass that posed a
threat to the state and the current system. Once we realized the possible we began to push
aside the obstacles that prevented us from justice, with great success.

Not only can we, the “99%,” testify towards our success, but the actions of the
elite “1%” represent and demonstrate our achievements as well. On March 5th, 2012, President
Barack Obama announced that the White House has moved the G8 summit planned for
Chicago, to the isolated and impenetrable Camp David in Maryland. A large bankers Association
spent more than $800,000 to launch a smear campaign against Occupy in order to discredit its
public image. Authorities all over the nation have spent an immense amount of resources to
squash the Occupy encampments; the most infamous was the November 17th eviction of
Zuccotti Park in New York City. Congress has passed the HR-347 Bill that makes it illegal to
protest at locations of “national significance.” Evidently, those in power have responded to the
voices and power of the “99%” with brutality and repression, out of great fear that we can
create systematic change.

Thus, through direct action, scale, inclusivity, and diversity, this movement has emerged
as the driving force of change for the next year in a country plagued by the concentration of
wealth and power. We must use this momentum to develop a strategy and vision that builds
power to effectively confront and replace Capitalism.

We must envision a democratic and participatory society, in which the “99%” have a
way of meaningful participation in the decision-making structures that ultimately affect them; a
just and participatory economy with social ownership of the means of production; redefined
and eliminated sexual and gender-based relations and hierarchies; a culture that puts people
before property and profit; and a sustainable ecology. In order to achieve such goals we need
to build effective strategies that create counter-power to Capitalism, hetero-patriarchy, sexism,
racism, and that state. It is built through the creation of institutions that sustain these values
while achieving the real needs of people in the present because symbolism can only last so
long. It is this transformation and process that we must focus on in order to begin to live the
revolution we want to see.

The movement has gained the attention of the world. We are in the spotlight and must
take advantage of the moment and develop the transformation this movement must take on. It
is the time to shift from protesting injustices to defending the world we wish to create. Another
world is possible.

2 Comments add one

  1. John says:

    At least 40 occupations have now consensed that we should have a national gathering in Philadelphia June 30th to July 4th. Occupy Caravan is running routes from the west coast, south, and north east, to help people cross the country. Please come to celebrate our successes, discuss our failures, share skills and knowledge, protest, and engage in a visioning process, July 4th weekend in Philly.
    All Day All Week

  2. Charles says:

    I feel like I’m reading a dispatch from another planet. One where the GA is still meeting, working groups are filling 60 Wall St., and no one gets to slap on ‘occupy’ to any random event they are planning.
    One of my conclusions is that many of the organizational behaviors (fetishes?) that carried such emotional weight early on have collapsed. Which would be a good thing, a sign of our maturation as a movement – if only folks weren’t pretending otherwise, as though the shift from confronting Wall Street (remember them?) represented some kind of revolutionary advance, as we go off to engage in farming, urban communes and group therapy sessions about hierarchy.
    This isn’t only what many Wall Streeters predicted; it’s what they wanted.
    That said, fine, if folks previously active in marginal segments of the US political culture want to adopt Occupy and make it their own to the near exclusion of …. actual wins against the folks who brought on the 2008 recession, then go for it. Just remember though: you break it, you own it, and the rest of us can start a conversation about accountability.

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