To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it’s our turn to pass on some advice.
Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call “The Arab Spring” has its roots in the demonstrations, riots, strikes and occupations taking place all around the world, its foundations lie in years-long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repression, disenfranchisement and the unchecked ravages of global capitalism (yes, we said it, capitalism): a System that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhabitants. As the interests of government increasingly cater to the interests and comforts of private, transnational capital, our cities and homes have become progressively more abstract and violent places, subject to the casual ravages of the next economic development or urban renewal scheme.
An entire generation across the globe has grown up realizing, rationally and emotionally, that we have no future in the current order of things. Living under structural adjustment policies and the supposed expertise of international organizations like the World Bank and IMF, we watched as our resources, industries and public services were sold off and dismantled as the “free market” pushed an addiction to foreign goods, to foreign food even. The profits and benefits of those freed markets went elsewhere, while Egypt and other countries in the South found their immiseration reinforced by a massive increase in police repression and torture.
The current crisis in America and Western Europe has begun to bring this reality home to you as well: that as things stand we will all work ourselves raw, our backs broken by personal debt and public austerity. Not content with carving out the remnants of the public sphere and the welfare state, capitalism and the austerity-state now even attack the private realm and people’s right to decent dwelling as thousands of foreclosed-upon homeowners find themselves both homeless and indebted to the banks who have forced them on to the streets.
So we stand with you not just in your attempts to bring down the old but to experiment with the new. We are not protesting. Who is there to protest to? What could we ask them for that they could grant? We are occupying. We are reclaiming those same spaces of public practice that have been commodified, privatized and locked into the hands of faceless bureaucracy , real estate portfolios, and police ‘protection’. Hold on to these spaces, nurture them, and let the boundaries of your occupations grow. After all, who built these parks, these plazas, these buildings? Whose labor made them real and livable? Why should it seem so natural that they should be withheld from us, policed and disciplined? Reclaiming these spaces and managing them justly and collectively is proof enough of our legitimacy.
In our own occupations of Tahrir, we encountered people entering the Square every day in tears because it was the first time they had walked through those streets and spaces without being harassed by police; it is not just the ideas that are important, these spaces are fundamental to the possibility of a new world. These are public spaces. Spaces forgathering, leisure, meeting, and interacting – these spaces should be the reason we live in cities. Where the state and the interests of owners have made them inaccessible, exclusive or dangerous, it is up to us to make sure that they are safe, inclusive and just. We have and must continue to open them to anyone that wants to build a better world, particularly for the marginalized, excluded and for those groups who have suffered the worst .
What you do in these spaces is neither as grandiose and abstract nor as quotidian as “real democracy”; the nascent forms of praxis and social engagement being made in the occupations avoid the empty ideals and stale parliamentarianism that the term democracy has come to represent. And so the occupations must continue, because there is no one left to ask for reform. They must continue because we are creating what we can no longer wait for.
But the ideologies of property and propriety will manifest themselves again. Whether through the overt opposition of property owners or municipalities to your encampments or the more subtle attempts to control space through traffic regulations, anti-camping laws or health and safety rules. There is a direct conflict between what we seek to make of our cities and our spaces and what the law and the systems of policing standing behind it would have us do.
We faced such direct and indirect violence , and continue to face it . Those who said that the Egyptian revolution was peaceful did not see the horrors that police visited upon us, nor did they see the resistance and even force that revolutionaries used against the police to defend their tentative occupations and spaces: by the government’s own admission; 99 police stations were put to the torch, thousands of police cars were destroyed, and all of the ruling party’s offices around Egypt were burned down. Barricades were erected, officers were beaten back and pelted with rocks even as they fired tear gas and live ammunition on us. But at the end of the day on the 28 th of January they retreated, and we had won our cities.
It is not our desire to participate in violence, but it is even less our desire to lose. If we do not resist, actively, when they come to take what we have won back, then we will surely lose. Do not confuse the tactics that we used when we shouted “peaceful” with fetishizing nonviolence; if the state had given up immediately we would have been overjoyed, but as they sought to abuse us, beat us, kill us, we knew that there was no other option than to fight back. Had we laid down and allowed ourselves to be arrested, tortured, and martyred to “make a point”, we would be no less bloodied, beaten and dead. Be prepared to defend these things you have occupied, that you are building, because, after everything else has been taken from us, these reclaimed spaces are so very precious.
By way of concluding then, our only real advice to you is to continue, keep going and do not stop. Occupy more, find each other, build larger and larger networks and keep discovering new ways to experiment with social life, consensus, and democracy. Discover new ways to use these spaces, discover new ways to hold on to them and never givethem up again. Resist fiercely when you are under attack, but otherwise take pleasure in what you are doing, let it be easy, fun even. We are all watching one another now, and from Cairo we want to say that we are in solidarity with you, and we love you all for what you are doing.
The Occupy Wall Street movement has spread around the world in recent days. It has led to clashes with police in Melbourne, violence in Rome and massive protests. Protests in the U.S. have even shown hints of conflict in recent days.
China is watching developments carefully and doesn’t want the movement to spread to its nation. An Occupy China Facebook page has already sprung up, along with other chatter on the topic.
The latest development: Chinese authorities have blocked phrases with the word ‘Occupy’ on the popular Chinese microblog Sina Weibo, China Digital Times reports.
“As a Chinese internet company, we will continue to abide by Chinese laws and regulations,” a Sina spokesman said earlier this year.
The following phrases are among those blocked, per China Digital Times:
(Los Angeles) passed a resolution voicing support for the (Occupy L.A.) movement. (Organizer Matt) Rolufs was thrilled when city officials said that Occupy Los Angeles had inspired them to move forward on a policy initiative to demand accountability from big banks.
While protesters in other cities have battled with the police, Los Angeles is letting around 700 people spend the night on city hall’s lawn even though it’s against the law. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa even handed out ponchos to campers during a rainstorm. But the city council went even further in its resolution by urging implementation of a proposal known as the Responsible Banking program because it would address some of the protesters’ concerns.
In a tense battle of wills, state troopers and Albany police held off making arrests of dozens of protesters near the Capitol over the weekend even as Albany’s mayor, under pressure from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, had urged his police chief to enforce a city curfew.
The situation intensified late Friday evening when Jennings, who has cultivated a strong relationship with Cuomo, directed his department to arrest protesters who refused to leave the city-owned portion of a large park that’s across Washington Avenue from the Capitol and City Hall…
"We don’t have those resources, and these people were not causing trouble," the official said. "The bottom line is the police know policing, not the governor and not the mayor."
A city police source said his department also was reluctant to damage what he considers to be good community relations that have taken years to rebuild. In addition, the crowd included elderly people and many others who brought their children with them.
“The magnetic force of this particular moment will not last. Right now the 99% are taking the moment and running with it. But, if “we the people” are to win the struggle for human and environmental rights over the forces of corporate gluttony, we should add to our list the task of disconnecting ourselves from the feeding tube that sustains it.”—Sandy LeonVest
We’ve shifted the conversation, for sure. Unemployment, plutocracy and corporate greed are under as much public scrutiny as ever, as far as I can tell. That’s only the beginning, though.
As paradigm shifts go, I like to think they come from a conversation shift massive enough to change the public consciousness. Whether we are on our way to doing that is highly subjective.
It is worth mentioning, though, that the manifestations of direct democracy that have emerged from the occupy movement, like the General Assemblies, have - at the very least - the potential to change the way our society views democracy and -most optimistically - are a framework for future civil discourse.
This blog is dedicated to uniting various left factions around the world, and coming together to challenge the divisions among us that have allowed neoliberals and capitalists to control the direction of society for decades. I know that this is a huge task, but the more conversation we have, the better chance we have at bringing people together for real action today. My philosophy is that you can be revolutionary while demanding the social reforms that help people in everyday life.
If anyone wants to be a contributor, feel free to send me an ‘ask.’ My vision for this is to be a way to outreach to the many different left communities on Tumblr (and around the internet, really) to have a consistent place to converge and share ideas about how we can advance left unity.
If you don’t want to be a contributor but you still have ideas/critiques, feel free to let me know via the “Submit Content” link. If you write a blog or produce original content on the subject, you can submit it to us and we can post it for discussion.
»> You may now return to your regularly-scheduled #OWS programming. :) «<
This article is a bummer. I’ve extracted some of the main sources of agitation:
The SEC announced yesterday that Citigroup agreed to pay $285 million to settle charges that it misled (synonyms for that word include deceived; lied to; tricked and defrauded) investors in a mortgage securities deal, telling them it was a good investment when it knew otherwise and was secretly betting it would fail.
[Once] again, bank criminals were allowed to walk without admitting anything! Common sense tells us nobody would agree to pay more than a quarter of a billion dollars unless did they’d done something very, very wrong. Yet once again the SEC has negotiated a settlement in which the perpetrator “neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing.”
“Neither admitted nor denied”? Citigroup has danced this dance before:
When it was forced to buy back $7.3 billion in bonds in 2008 after deceiving investors into thinking these high-risk investments were low-risk, Citigroup “neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing.”
When it was forced to pay $1.66 billion in 2008 over its Enron misdeeds Citigroup “neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing.”
When it was fined $275,000 in 2004 for recommending high-risk securities without fully disclosing that risk, it “neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing.”
That’s nearly $12 billion that Citi’s agreed to fork over without ever admitting wrongdoing! If this bank’s not doing very bad things its executives should be fired, because that means they’re the worst negotiators in human history.
Citi’s not the only one. Take JPMorgan Chase, which just took Citi’s crown as “biggest bank in America”:
All the big boys have been allowed to walk away without apologizing, confessing, or doing time: Wells Fargo. Morgan Stanley. Credit Suisse. UBS. Goldman Sachs … and many, many more. A rogue’s gallery of bank crooks paid billions in settlements - “without admitting or denying wrongdoing.” [+]
Occupation is the only option at this point. The financial sector is awash in “moral hazard” and neither the president nor the congress nor the regulators in charge of protecting the citizenry from what can only be called “grand theft livelihood” are willing to disobey their corporate masters (or, for that matter, impose meaningful deterrents to ensure that financial crime is actually a disincentive rather than operating procedure).
Are you inspired by Occupy Wall Street? Did you join the struggle for Troy Davis? Are you part of protests about the housing crisis in your city? Were you in the streets for SlutWalk to say “Enough is enough”?
Millions of people have come to the understanding that capitalism is no longer working. And millions of people around the world—from Cairo to Athens to New York City—are fighting back.
Marxism provides a revolutionary understanding of society and a strategy for getting rid of exploitation and oppression once and for all. The International Socialist Organization is organizing regional conferences in cities around the country in October and November to discuss what Marxists say about race, class and revolution—and the fight for a better world.
Why the working class can change society — No power greater: Marxism and the centrality of class — The 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters strike: A case study in working-class power — The changing working class and the future of the labor movement
Black liberation — Where does racism come from? — The Black freedom struggle: From Martin Luther King to the Black Panthers — Black liberation and socialism
Marxism and oppression — The roots of racial oppression — Theories of women’s oppression — Can the working class liberate the oppressed?
Marxism, crisis and class struggle — How capitalism works: What makes capitalism tick? — How capitalism fails: The Marxist theory of crisis — Crisis, exploitation and class struggle
It is really, really problematic that I’ve already come across certain leading male activists in the Occupy movement (including Occupy Boston), who are defending this video against the criticisms of other female activists.
As I wrote elsewhere: “The video takes women who are earnestly participating in an important social and political action, and strips of them all seriousness and respect by turning them into just another set of body parts on display in the catalog of sexism known as American society.”
The inability of certain male activists to understand or even respect the concerns of women in the Occupy movement regarding the sexism behind this video just goes to show that the movement would stand to gain tremendously from an influx of anti-sexist politics, not to mention anti-racist, anti-xenophobic, etc.
Steven Greenstreet was almost certainly out for publicity with his video “Hot Chicks of OWS.” After the controversy around the film was mentioned on CNBC, Greenstreet’s response was a tweet to reporter John Carney: “Thanks for the mention on CNBC for “Hot Chicks”! But maybe correct the spelling of my last name?” Female critics, on the other hand, he’s asked out for coffee.
The video is certainly an attention-getter. To the strains of “Fast, Cheap and Out of Control,” Greenstreet interviews women at Occupy Wall Street about the issues and their activism. The women are uniformly articulate and bright — but the camera loves to linger on their hair, on their lips, on tattoos peeking through bare skin. Greenstreet, on his blog, calls it “the sexy side of protesting corruption.” To others, it reduces women activists to sex objects.
RE: Occupy Wall Street "National Convention" and "List of Demands"
For those of you who are interested, a link was posted earlier this week to this site, which purports to be a working group of the New York City General Assembly (aka Occupy Wall Street at Zuccotti Park).
The site proposes a national convention to take place in Philadelphia on July 4th, 2012, and if the demands listed in a “petition of grievances” are not adopted in a reasonable time, that Occupy Wall Street would propose independent political candidates to run for office in 2014.
This group has not been approved by the General Assembly, nor do they speak for the will of the General Assembly at this time. Anyone concerned with the things they are demanding are encouraged to give them your feedback.
I think it is a good thing that the occupation movement is not making specific policy demands. If it did, the movement would become about those demands. If the demands were not met, the movement would be seen as having failed. […]
Publicize the Public
Tell the truth about The Public, that nobody makes it purely on their own without The Public, that is, without public infrastructure, the justice system, health, education, scientific research, protections of all sorts, public lands, transportation, resources, art and culture, trade policies, safety nets, That is a truth to be told day after day. It is an idea that must take hold in public discourse. It must go beyond what I and others have written about it and beyond what Elizabeth Warren has said in her famous video. The Public is not opposed to The Private. The Public is what makes The Private possible. And it is what makes freedom possible. Wall Street exists only through public support. It has a moral obligation to direct itself to public needs.
All OWS approaches to policy follow from such a moral focus. Here are a handful examples. […]
This movement could be destroyed by negativity, by calls for revenge, by chaos, or by having nothing positive to say. Be positive about all things and state the moral basis of all suggestions. Positive and moral in calling for debt relief. Positive and moral in upholding laws, as they apply to finances. Positive and moral in calling for fairness in acquiring needed revenue. Positive and moral in calling for clean elections. To be effective, your movement must be seen by all of the 99% as positive and moral. To get positive press, you must stress the positive and the moral.
Remember: The Tea Party sees itself as stressing only individual responsibility. The Occupation Movement is stressing both individual and social responsibility.
the fact that this has over 1,000 notes, most of them liking this stupid comment is sad. occupy wall street is about change is it not? for people who want to bring about change, they should realize that people themselves can change. that people do make mistakes. not all mistakes should be forgiven but the support for this dumb comment is just scapegoating. there is no reason to label someone as a “capitalist” or dear god, — “capitalist symbol” — to project that frustration and hatred onto a class of people.
take a look at revolutionary china during the 1930’s and the anti-rightist movement.
its dangerous to label people, to scapegoat them, and to project your hatred onto them. demanding change is fine. hating on those who have inadvertently profited from consumerist society is not. reform is fine. genocide is not. get it straight.
i realize that this may not represent the majority of the occupy wall street movement. but it is upsetting that such a comment garnered such widespread support.
p.s. utopias and egalitarianism do not and will not exist. as demonstrated by brazilia.
I’ll set your complete misunderstanding of the idea of “scapegoating” aside. (Lol, it wasn’t me who decided to make him a symbol of capitalist consumerism, I’m pretty sure it was him!)
But seriously, if all you are going to do is to get dragged to the protest for a photo op, than leave a few minutes later to go shopping at luxury boutiques with your celebrity friends, you should expect to be called out for how ridiculous you behave.
And I hardly think that Kanye West has just “inadvertently profited” from the consumerist society — he encourages it, in all of his songs and on all of his albums. You make it sound like he’s dragged into the lifestyle he lives. He’s the last person that needs to be apologized for.
Nobody is saying the privileged 1 percent doesn’t belong at the Occupy Wall Street protests. In fact, seeing plutocrats standing shoulder-to-shoulder with homeless people in the fight against inequality makes the movement even more accessible and powerful than it already is. What OWS doesn’t need is everyone who’d like to be seen as a populist jumping onboard for a photo opportunity before leaving to go buy $500 jeans. Lip service and deceit is what got us into this mess in the first place.
My attitude might change if he, you know, put his money where his mouth is in many respects, and renounced the wasteful lifestyle and habits he has. Then maybe I’ll agree with you that “people can change.” Sorry buddy, there’s been no change here whatsoever.
P.S - I’m not sure what utopia has to do with having a more economically just society. “Social equality? You must be talking about utopia! How unrealistic!” Go read a book.
Need to learn more about this.. I know banks are shite but well if they went how exactlly would we all get our money ok? I’m on benefits what they goin to do make me go and get it in an envelope? Don’t think so some how.
Hey! You have a great option in your local credit union. It’s like a bank, but they are organized so the profits go back into managing the union itself — and anything extra gets sent back to the members (i.e. you). No shareholders or CEO bonuses to bother with, and any monthly fees or charges there are are often much less than at a bank.
To be successful, OWSers need to step up and run for office. OWSers need to spend more energy writing and calling their senators. OWSers need to attend public hearings on bills they care about. OWSers need to vote more often.
None of these things are happening.
I continuously offer advice to my readers how to engage politicians, help write bills, and support policy changes. And I’ve given examples of how this is an effective way to change environmental policies. It’s not glamorous. It’s slow and takes a lot of effort. But it works.
If OWSers don’t engage in the political process, they will fail. This isn’t condescension. It’s a reality check. My advice, as I wrote in my post, is to engage politicians asap or suffer an embarrassing failure.
Best of luck,
In other words:
Oh please oh please if you can find it in your hearts, please try to rape the planet a little less and murder its natives in a more convenient way.
Engagement in the political process can come when there is a legitimate democracy to represent the real will of the people, rather than the will perceived by capitalist-reinforced consciousness. Otherwise, fighting for the change we really need in this “democracy for corporations” will be worthless.
Chris Scully, my DGR MA friend’s brother, said it best:
Dear Democrats in Congress,
You wish this was about left vs. right. You wish you could point across the aisle and say “See, the people are with us, not you!” But before you point and lie, please kindly turn that finger on yourselves, and then stick it up your asses. You are half of a bought congress. You are the other side of a counterfeit coin. You are half of the problem. You have pretended to speak for the voices of people who have a shred of goodwill for the world for too long. You have lost your privilege to be that voice. You are completely incapable of bringing about the drastic and profound changes we need in this country. You have failed. And don’t you dare try to associate your actions and trajectory with the intentions of a revolutionary society that is rejecting you. Your endorsement of a movement trying to oust you is pathetic at best. Please resign and play sudoku and solitaire on your own time. In short - fuck off.
The memory of struggles from before the global economic crash has allowed people to move beyond a simple kneejerk response to the present crisis and instead formulate a deeper critique of the system responsible for their woes. In practice, this has meant a popular shift from complaints about specific laws or specific features of the banking system that might serve as scapegoats for the crisis, to a radical critique of government and capitalism. While the movement is heterogeneous and by no means consistent, on multiple occasions it has popularly defined itself as anticapitalist, thus drawing on a strong tradition of struggle that goes back more than a century throughout Europe.
The United States is also a country with inspiring histories of popular struggle. But it is a country with a case of social amnesia like no other. It seems that to a certain extent, the Occupy Wall Street actions exist more as a trend than anything else. The slight extent to which they draw on, or even make reference to, earlier struggles, even struggles from the past twenty years, is worrying. The fact that a present awareness of US history would shatter certain cornerstones of the new movement’s identity, for example this idea of the 99% that includes everyone but the bankers in one big, happy family, is not a sufficient excuse to avoid this task. The historical amnesia of American society must be overcome for a struggle to gain the perspective it needs.
If you have concerns, suggestions, opposing views to anything that happens concerning #OWS, the people that really need to hear it are at your local General Assembly. There are a lot of ideas whizzing around, all of them still up in the air. If you hear something you don’t like, don’t be afraid to lend us your voice. EVERYONE is welcome, and priority is often given to traditionally marginalized groups.
This is the beauty of the democratic process we have embraced. Don’t be afraid of it, use your voice and together we can make our own revolution!
I appreciate your feedback. I’m going to include this Grace Lee Boggs quote because it gets to this point even though she isn’t directly addressing the political system.
"You’re gonna have to do a lot of thinking. You have to look at how you yourselves have become part of this culture. You’re gonna have to look at how many of you would be happy if you could become part of Wall Street, and become part of the corporations, if they would give you jobs. There’s a long road ahead, because you have the opportunity to create something new, that’s based on completely different values. But you’re gonna have to be thinking about values, and not just about abuses.”
The goal is not to make people choose between the Occupy movement or a Democrat or a Republican. The goal is to transcend all of that typical bullshit and build something new. Issuing some concrete demands while making it clear that the list isn’t exhaustive may be okay (but I can see some serious faults) but running candidates begins to limit our power to a rigged electoral system. We don’t ever want politicians making decisions for us, even if they have a dream platform.
It’s been said many times in different ways but the message is the same: all power to the people, all power to the soviets, all power to the general assemblies.
And some of us feel that participation in the established political process, be it through a party or as independents is completely useless at best and corrupting and reactionary at worst.
The fastest way to kill this movement will be to put candidates on a ballot. If reform was going to happen from the inside, it would have happened by now. The system is irrevocably broken and the goal of #OWS must be to make the 99% of the country that is not benefiting from the status quo aware of that fact.
The financial system is broken
The political system is broken
The electoral system is broken
The Congress is broken
The White House is broken
Change will not come from within any of these institutions. To have any lasting effect upon this county #OWS can not and must not attempt the folly of trying to affect reform from within. Such efforts will fail and destroy the only movement that has offered a serious challenge to established power in the last half century.
Again, the whole ‘independent candidate’ thing was put on there as a backup plan. That is only contingent on other methods not working. Seems a bit backwards to me, but I see no harm in acting radically outside the system, but working electorally where we can, as long as the demands stay static.
Personally, I agree with you, but I’m waiting to see how it plays out before I make a judgment about it.
fuck that. many of us are entirely uninterested in party politics at all. what is so beautiful about this is the “all power to the people” aspect of the way it is organized. third party candidates already support most of these demands
The declaration specifically mentions that the candidates will be “independent.” No mention of a party being established at all. I agree with your opinion — I’m not sure a party would be the best idea at this point.
I don’t know if this is a legitimate working group of the GA; the first I heard of it was through the media, so take it as a grain of salt. It wouldn’t be the first time someone launched a site claiming to speak for everyone… I have a message in with the GA and I’ll post a correction if necessary.