Over time, the wave of mobilizations that first hit the shores of the Mediterranean and extended outwards over the course of 2011 has overcome its initial, expressive phase. This phase managed to substitute the dominant narrative with our own. We now know that the problem is not some mysterious technical failure we call a crisis, but the intentional crimes of a cleptocracy.
This distinction is crucial: while the first suggests a management dilemma that opposes left- and right-wing approaches to the crisis, the second draws a line between the 1 percent who abuse power in order to steal from the people and those who refuse to consent and choose to resist in the name of the other 99 percent.
Having reached this point, the obvious question becomes, “Now what?” Of course we should continue to protest together, especially if we choose to do so intermittently and massively, favouring a general critique of the system over particular causes. And at the smaller scale, that those specific struggles continue to take the streets is also desirable.
However, it is fundamentally important that these struggles are not overly disconnected from one another or the more general movement; that they unfold beyond their own spaces (hospitals, schools, factories, offices and so on) and into the broader metropolitan spaces of cleptocratic dominance. These processes serve to keep the questions that guide the movement alive and, therefore, adapting to the always changing situations in which they operate. Yet the question of what alternatives we can provide remains.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is urging his City Council to enact strict new restrictions on many forms of protest on Wednesday, January 18. Local advocates say the Council is distracted by a fierce redistricting battle and that the new ordinance is likely to pass unnoticed, unless there’s a huge outcry.
Occupy Rogers Park and Occupy South Side started an urgent petition on Change.org to tell Chicago’s aldermen to block these new restrictions on free speech in Chicago. Sign their petition now telling the Chicago City Council not to pass the Mayor’s new anti-protest legislation on Wednesday.
According to the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal, the proposed ordinance imposes impossible-to-meet requirements, confusing restrictions and sky-high fines on protest organizers and participants, including:
- A 2-hour time limit on all protests;
- An increase in minimum fines from $50 to $1000 for violations of “parade regulations”;
- A curfew in public spaces; and
- A requirement to pre-register “attention-getting devices”, including signs and megaphones, at least 1 week before the event.
Perhaps most startling is the provision that would allow the Mayor’s office to sign no-bid contracts with security companies — whose employees may lack suitable training and oversight to prevent gross abuses.
Occupy Rogers Park and Occupy South Side started the petition because they believe that “this ordinance is a direct attack on anyone in this city who might ever walk a picket line, attend a rally, or stand in solidarity with others in support of a cause.” They want to flood City Council’s inboxes with messages opposing Chicago’s proposed anti-protest legislation, and make sure this message is heard loud and clear before Wednesday’s vote.
Thanks for being a change-maker,
- Weldon and the Change.org team
Records reveal that the #OPD put officers with histories of using deadly force on the frontlines during Occupy Oakland protests.
Anyone who is involved with the #OCCUPYWALLSTREET movement is strongly encouraged to read the linked article. Fighting for justice and defending the marginalized is about amplifying their own voice, not interjecting your own. It is frankly quite shocking to me that anyone could be so clueless and hurtful.
White people, recognize your privilege and accept that you aren’t always the fucking
centre of attention ringleaders.
As marginalized people in this country rise, new forms of oppression are at work – those who have not experienced systemic oppression are claiming it anyway, turning social justice on its head and diluting the messages and movements that have been our hearts and souls. I think this quote from the New Jim Crow sheds a lot of light on why OWS emerged the way that it did: “Following the collapse of each system of control, there has been a period of confusion—transition—in which those who are most committed to racial hierarchy search for new means to achieve their goals within the rules of the game as currently defined. It is during this period of uncertainty that the backlash intensifies and a new form of racialized social control begins to take hold.”
Authorities say dozens of Occupy Wall Street protesters were arrested as they tore down the barricades surrounding New York City’s Zuccotti Park just before midnight on New Year’s Eve.
Police say 68 people were arrested during the scuffle. At least one person was accused of assaulting a police officer, who suffered cuts on one hand. Other charges include trespassing, disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment.
Protester Jason Amadi says he was pepper-sprayed when police tried to prevent the crowd of about 500 demonstrators from taking down the barricades. Amadi says the crowd piled the barricade pieces in the center of the park and stood on top of them, chanting and singing.
Noam Chomsky has advice for the Occupy movement, whose encampments all over the country are being swept away by police. The occupations were a “brilliant” idea, he says, but now it’s time to “move on to the next stage” in tactics. He suggests political organizing in the neighborhoods.
The Occupy camps have shown people how “to break out of this conception that we’re isolated.” But “just occupying” has “lived its life,” says the man who is the most revered radical critic of American politics and capitalist economics.
Chomsky gave his counsel answering questions in a small group after a speech Monday evening, December 12, in the 1000-seat Westbrook Middle School auditorium (a/k/a Westbrook Performing Arts Center), which was filled to capacity. The speech was sponsored by the University of New England’s Center for Global Humanities.
The Occupy movement’s repression, which Chomsky decried, has a saving grace, he said: the opportunity for it to expand more into “the 99 percent” by engaging people “face to face.”
“Don’t be obsessed with tactics but with purpose,” he suggested. “Tactics have a half life.”
Activists at Occupy Wall Street have issued a call to thousands of protesters across the US to reoccupy outdoor public spaces to mark the movement’s three-month anniversary.
The Occupy movement has stalled in recent weeks after a wave of evictions swept away a raft of encampments, including the largest in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and New York. On Wednesday, it suffered a fresh blow as police in riot gear cleared Occupy San Francisco camp on the orders of the mayor, who had been sympathetic to protesters, while Occupy Boston lost legal protection against eviction.
Organisers said they hoped the call to reoccupy on the 17 December would galvanise and grow the movement.
Amin Husain, a press spokesman for OWS, said: “We know that occupation empowers people and eliminates fear. It permits individuals to assert themselves as political beings even although the system doesn’t represent them.” […]
In a piece published this week in the first issue of Tidal, a magazine published by the Occupy movement, Judith Butler, academic and feminist theorist at the University of California, Berkeley, spoke of its importance.
Butler said: “When bodies gather together as they do to express their indignation and to enact their plural existence in public space, they are also making broader demands. They are demanding to be recognised and to be valued; they are exercising a right to appear and to exercise freedom; they are calling for a liveable life.
“These values are presupposed by particular demands, but they also demand a more fundamental restructuring of our socio-economic and political order.”
“Propaganda is to democracy what the bludgeon is to a totalitarian state.”
~ Noam Chomsky, Manufacturing Consent (1988)
Consider this rather dramatic contrast: when 300 liberals are arrested during an anti-Putin protest in faraway Moscow, the New York Times splashes the news onto its front page. But when 700 radicals are arrested in an anti-Wall Street rally in New York itself, the Times systematically ignores them, pushing the news onto its obscure ‘City Room Blog’.
The difference in framing between these two items is particularly remarkable. First of all, there’s the title: “Moscow Moves to Quell Second Day of Anti-Putin Protests.” Compare the laden term “to quell”, which implies an authoritarian type of crackdown, with the following matter-of-fact statement: “Police Arrest More Than 700 Protesters on Brooklyn Bridge.”
Then compare the introductory paragraphs of the two articles: “Russian authorities acted decisively to quash a second day of anti-government protests,” versus “In a tense showdown above the East River, the police arrested more than 700 demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street protests who took to the roadway as they tried to cross the Brooklyn Bridge.”
Occupy Wall Street and their far-flung allies might as well give up on addressing their demands to the government, at least for the time being. The slogan ought to be something like “We’re tired of being pawned off on the help; from now on, we insist on dealing directly with the masters.”
And the plan should be to spend the next several months developing, articulating, and organizing toward a major national mortgage and student-loan strike. Such a loan strike would begin—provided enough people sign on in advance (and I’m talking hundreds of thousands), and unless a concrete set of intervening demands is squarely met in the meantime—on, say, October 1, 2012, right in the middle of the next presidential campaign…
The Occupy movement could enlist the advice of sympathetic economists and loan experts to craft the precise terms of the demand. In addition to the alleviation of tremendous amounts of individual and family anxiety and suffering, the more generalized goal of the reset—and incidentally, why is it that up till now in this crisis only the improvident banks and investment houses have been allowed to reset the terms of their deals, without any penalty, whereas none of the rest of us have been accorded similarly revivifying largesse?—would be to free up all sorts of spending money at the lower reaches of the economy where it might actually do some good.
This — and other gorgeous Occupy posters from around the world — available at Occuprint.org.