The Occupy movement is set to come back in full swing this Spring as suggested by renowned and respected Canadian figureheads: author Naomi Klein, humanitarian Romeo Dallaire and environmentalist David Suzuki, among others. And it should, because we still need change. Rather than being a beast of specific demands for the higher-ups, Occupy has become a model for a new way of attaining real democracy – where we don’t look for the solutions to come from individuals in places of concentrated power, but where the majority decides on the answers to the problems of our communities and throughout the world. What is sought is ‘participatory’ democracy: democracy of a kind we’ve never experienced before where the people themselves have a hand in policy making and a say in where the resources of this great continent should be used. If we’re able to bring back that light and make it burn brighter and longer, maybe we truly can create change. It’s possible that there will be a real revolution in the West and yes, we should most definitely come back and join the fight for it.
What some people fail to understand about the Occupy Wall Street movement and its reluctance to make concrete demands, is that it isn’t so much trying to tear down or repair the sociopolitical system, as it is more in the process of creating a new one. The structure of this de-centralized movement is embodying the very tenants of social organization that it is intending to bring into existence, such as self-organization, interdependence, and horizontal decision making processes. It’s hard for one person to articulate what this is exactly about because its potential could encompass more than even the entire collective could now imagine. In this moment we are all poised to use our cities, institutions, and each other as a spring board into an entirely new paradigm which is emerging out of the very structures we are attempting to abandon. One of the byproducts of these structures is global interconnectivity thus resulting in the growing capacity within humanity of a new kind of hyper-connected and empowered mind, and this mind will require an new kind of governance and social order.
The Occupy movement has much more to do with finally taking back our democracy – something you and I have never enjoyed in our lifetimes even though we’re told over and over that going to the election polls equals democracy. Yes we enjoy certain freedoms of a remotely democratic system that elsewhere many are willing to die for the idea of. But are our versions perfect? Ask Robert Fisk, mid-east correspondent for The Independent. He’ll tell you after 30 years of living in Beirut that the people certainly don’t want our version, where there’s overwhelming influence of concentrated capital and where the most successful way of getting your name and platform out is by paying outrageous sums – sums average citizens can’t afford – to the main media outlets; where the heads of companies destroying the environment have the most influence in which emissions bills are passed; where those with billions invested in prison systems have so much say in which crime bills go ahead; where after years of being promised by our elected officials that they will create a more just world with our tax dollars, those promises are broken time and again.
Yes we have a democracy where no one is killed. But a real, representative democracy? Far from it. Try to remember the last time a candidate who ran on a platform promising an end to war did anything even remotely close once in office. And if one finds out the ratio of the tax they paid last year that went to social programs compared to military & prison budgets, they’ll surely be in for a surprise – the numbers are appalling. But they don’t have to be. Keeping on the Occupy route will offer alternatives to no longer rely on elected officials to do all the work after simply giving them our vote, and where the people as a whole are the decision makers as to where public money is spent.
We move forward with a lot of work to do. And we should first seek to throw out the idea that this is a movement about handouts or about asking those who have worked hard and achieved financial success to give everything they have to those who don’t work. It’s not about the hard-working individuals against the wrongly labeled ‘lazy’ individuals. Some of the hardest working people out there who have dedicated their entire lives to their jobs, like Gabor Mate, Naomi Wolf, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Cornol West, Noam Chomsky, even Warren Buffett and his son are standing in solidarity with Occupy asking for the concerns of citizens to be met. It’s not about a workless week, but it is about regaining our democracy from only working for the special interests of the few, and it is about finding a system where banks are not being bailed out and where we create an existence where our livelihoods don’t rely so heavily on banks and where we demand fiscal responsibility of them as well as by each of us.
So it will be hard and not everyone will agree with every proposed solution. But it will set a precedent where we all are much more active in the fate of this world, where we create a better place for everyone and where we appreciate more what we have rather than what we aren’t able to achieve or obtain. We can include everyone, listen to everyone and realize what we have in this world that is worth saving, while we create a better system of horizontal governance by the people: connected, de-centralized and from the bottom up.
“Occupy Wall Street which identifies itself as a ‘leaderless resistance movement with people of many … political persuasions,’ is politically disobedient precisely in refusing to articulate policy demands or to embrace old ideologies. Those who incessantly want to impose demands on the movement may show good will and generosity, but fail to understand that the resistance movement is precisely about disobeying that kind of political maneuver. Similarly, those who want to push an ideology onto these new forms of political disobedience are missing the point of the resistance.”
- Prof. Bernard E. Harcourt
Common Ground article on the Vancouver Occupy Movement:
I AM NOT MOVING – a short film on the Occupy Movement:
Noam Chomsky suggests to ‘Come back bigger, better, and with much more of the 99%’: