On Sunday across the US in various publications opinion-setting writers lamented (1) /attacked (2) the lack of a coherent set of demands from the Occupy Wall Street protesters. It seems like a reasonable thing, you know – protesters having their demands.
Only, nothing couldn’t be further from the point. Making demands would be silly, as if they could possibly be met. The action is the demand:
- To confront power structures on an ongoing basis and in growing numbers
- To disrupt the national dialog to the point that a radical reshaping occurs in which, for example, “equality” has equal footing with “liberty”
- To call into question basic assumptions about the economy and our social fabric, as they have clearly come undone
- To give voice to those who don’t yet know how to voice the pain inflicted on them by capitalism run to tyranny, and to make a place where they can come and learn to speak
- To force this statement onto the global stage: a good many in the US strongly disagree with the vast course of US domestic and foreign policy over the last half-century and we won’t go down on the wrong side of history without a fight
A list of protester demands against power presumes that power has something to give. In this, power offers little beyond a point of alignment, a thing we can all look at and agree: not that. Power just needs to do what power does. Predictably, that’s exactly what power is doing.
This movement is about me and you and everybody who cares – what we have to teach and learn. None of us has all the answers, and all of us need to learn a lot to go beyond these symbolic statements to the deep and difficult particulars of real reform.
But that discussion will have to wait until this movement is quite exhausted with symbolic statements of broadly based opposition to the basics of US policy and resistance to power-drunk authorities, until the movement has proven that it can sustain itself and grow to the point that nobody asks for a list of demands anymore.
If this movement has a demand, it’s this: join it.
DISCLAIMER/MANIFESTO: I am in no way a spokesperson for the Occupy movement or any Occupy General Assembly. Occupy is a leaderless movement aligned around a broad understanding that modern-day capitalism and the greed it facilitates are destroying us all.
From the Occupy Wall Street homepage: The one thing we all have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%.
As if in General Assembly, commenters can wave their hands (agree) or dangle their fingers (disagree) or even put up a big X with their arms (call me out as a deal-breaker) in reaction to my statements above as to what Occupy means to me and, I believe, some others.
Sorry for the formatting horror show. This blog editor is broken six different ways!