Occupy Movement: You have issues

Blockade of the Port of OaklandTake a look at your local Occupy movement. Consider their press releases, statements, declarations, demands, policies, principles and so on. Also look at the events covered in press and quotes from participants.

Take note of the issues and conceptualizations of them. Also, consider the social locations where these issues are most relevant. Continue reading

Members of Occupy Albany Radical Caucus Arrested

On Friday, 26 members of Occupy Albany were arrested, and another 13 on Saturday. Eight of those arrested were members of the Radical Caucus.

The following “Statement by the Members of Occupy Albany’s Radical Caucus Arrested Saturday and Sunday Evenings in Lafayette Park” was released today:

On Saturday evening 26 people were arrested and on Sunday evening 13 were arrested for remaining in Lafayette Park past a curfew. This curfew did not exist until days before the first General Assembly in Lafayette Park.  Among each night’s arrestees were 8 members of the Occupy Albany Radical Caucus.  While we took part in this action, we would like to make it known we are not of the view that occupying public spaces and appealing to the Bill of Rights is sufficient action for the creation of a just society. No government can grant us rights; they can merely take away our autonomy. This was demonstrated last night when we were arrested.

The privatization of public space and resources must be thoughtfully and effectively resisted. We feel it is essential to defend against this offensive by the 1% and their lapdogs such as Andrew Cuomo.  But we also recognize that it will be necessary to challenge the property rights system which forms the legal basis for many of the material injustices done upon the 99%.  Eviction of persons from their homes by banks and landlords, the idling and off-shoring of our productive capacity, falling wages for those who remain employed, and the elimination of an already miserly social safety net are all methods by which the wealth of our nation is being consolidated to the richest 1%. This extraction can only be ended by moving beyond a system which affirms the property rights of owners to act with profit driven self-interest and towards a system that holds people accountable for the shared costs they impose on society.

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Stage One: Occupy Public Space. What Next?

Stage One: Occupy Public Space.

Occupy Together, an outgrowth of Occupy Wall Street, has seen tens of thousands of people in cities all over the world reclaiming public spaces.

Stage Two: Occupy Unused Property.

Occupy Oakland, perhaps the most radical — and perhaps most effective — of the occupations has moved on to the logical “next stage,” and movements everywhere should take note.

This is not without precedent in this movement and those that inspired it. Last week in Madrid, a hotel was occupied and opened up to people evicted in foreclosures:

The abandoned Hotel Madrid, which was taken over by an unknown number of squatters on October 16 after a mass rally in the capital organized by the 15-M movement, opened its doors on Monday to the first person to take up the group’s stated strategy of “freeing up spaces for common use.”

 

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A few words spoken on October 15 at the State Capitol in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street

[This was kept simple and brief so that I could put down the bullhorn that had been used by everyone up until I stood up to speak, and instead use the people's mic.]

I am the 99%. I am here because I was on unemployment four times in the last seven years, and because the bank took my home. Because, like many of you, my family and I have depended on food stamps and other services to live. And we continue to live under the threat of those services disappearing. I’m here because I teach at a school where we are denied the ability to collectively bargain. But I, like you, am here because this system has no future. And we are building a model for a new community. We don’t want jobs, we want a living. We don’t want anything but a thriving community based on love, communication, and working through our problems together, through self-determination, self-management and real democracy.

Another world is not just possible. It is here right now.

“How can you occupy an abstraction?”

McKenzie Wark, author of the new book on the Situationists titled The Beach Beneath the Street, said of Occupy Wall Street:

How can you occupy an abstraction? Perhaps only with another abstraction. Occupy Wall Street took over a more or less public park nestled in the downtown landscape of tower blocks, not too far from the old World Trade Center site, and set up camp. It is an occupation which, almost uniquely, does not have demands. It has at its core a suggestion: what if people came together and found a way to structure a conversation which might come up with a better way to run the world? Could they do any worse than the way it is run by the combined efforts of Wall Street as rentier class and Wall Street as computerized vectors trading intangible assets?

 

These are important questions. Certainly the people are capable of self-governance, particularly as they gain more practice and experience at it. I think the success will be largely determined first by the degree of success the movement achieves in keeping the politics diverse, disallowing figureheads from shaping the politics through charismatic and institutionalized authority, and avoiding explicitly reformist tendencies. As soon as the economic and political institutions are broadly affirmed, the movement will begin to close its most liberatory options. The goals for the short run should be diversity of politics, diversity of tactics, and maintaining the revolutionary impulse. Continue reading

Occupy Albany’s First Critical Mistake: On the question of nonviolence

I offer the following commentary in full solidarity and critical unity with Occupy Albany.

Early in the General Assembly meeting on Sunday, October 9, 2011, a woman took the floor and proposed that Occupy Albany take the position that “this is a non-violent movement.” I attempted to block this proposal. In arguing for the block, I mistakenly only addressed point #4 below, whereas the first two points are probably more important at this point and time.

There are five primary problems with this proposal: Continue reading

The Crisis and The Way Out Of It: What We Can Learn From Occupy Wall Street

The Occupy Wall Street movement more effectively addresses the cause of the financial crisis than economists and discussions in the mainstream press. Further, this movement embodies democratic solutions for a way beyond the crisis. This essay focuses on Occupy Wall Street’s facilitating of political action from disparate, heterogeneous partisans; increasing of transparency and participation in decision-making; and relying upon both human-scaled and participatory technologies. Through these processes, the Occupy Wall Street micro-community embodies a vision for a pluralistic, direct democratic society and demonstrates it through practice. Continue reading