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|The Occupy Movement - Why
are they protesting?
|And from Cairo to Madison
are united for justice
|Movements from Wisconsin to Wall Street...
|The Democratic Promise of Occupy Wall Street
Fnday 28 November 2011
by: William Greider, The Nation
Regular politics in Washington now resembles an ecological dead zone where truth perishes in a polluted environment. Democrats
and Republicans shadowbox over their concocted fiscal crisis, neither willing to tell voters the truth, both eager to avoid blame for the
damage they are doing to the country.
Out in the streets, meanwhile, the contrast with brain-dead politics is exhilarating. In Occupy Wall Street, we are witnessing a rare event
-- the birth of a social movement. Ordinary people are engaging in sustained grassroots protest against the political order and against
citizens exclusion from the decision-making that governs their lives. They seek to rearrange the distribution of power, and they are doing
so by injecting a creative, often playful vitality that has been missing in our decayed democracy. The protesters have slipped around the
soul-deadening, high-gloss marketing of mass-communication culture. Instead, they insist that politics starts with citizens talking to
one another and listening, agreeing and disagreeing with mutual respect. The open-door, nonhierarchical membership commits
people to engage in what historian Lawrence Goodwyn calls democratic conversation.
The Occupy protesters are acting like citizens, believing they have the power to change things. Their ambition reflects a core mystery of
American democracy the fact that humble people can acquire power when they convince themselves they can. Warmhearted and
broad-minded, these citizens audaciously claim to speak for the 99 percent and despite initial ridicule and dismissal of them by much
of the press, polls show they have strong public support. The Occupiers have even managed to make uptight reporters write about
Authentic new social movements do not appear very often, and most of them fail. Throughout the nations history, rebellions have
typically been derailed by their own mistakes and divisions or snuffed out by entrenched power. Even when they endure, it can take
years, sometimes generations, to overcome the resistance of the status quo. Think of the abolitionists and the civil rights movement,
women's demand for the vote and equal rights, working people collectively asserting their power in unions.
As with earlier movements, governing elites have grasped the radical nature of this noisy intrusion into their privileged domain, and they
have attempted to crush OWS with a series of melodramatic police raids from New York to California. But repression has failed to
intimidate the rebellious citizens. Indeed, each attack only seems to strengthen the movement.
But will it last? Skeptics are entitled to their doubts, but for important reasons I am confident this movement will endure. First, because it
is very unlikely the establishment will respond substantively to OWS's grievances and that will only make the protesters more
determined. OWS has brilliantly focused its many complaints on the very sector -- the megabankers and financiers --on whom the
politicians are dependent. In different ways, Republicans and Democrats are aligned with the greedheads and are thus unwilling to
punish their crimes or cut them down to size.
This new movement is probably more threatening to President Obama, because many of the young people and minorities who
campaigned and voted for him in 2008 might drift away to Occupy's direct action. If Obama refuses to get tougher on reining in Wall
Street, these former supporters may just skip voting in 2012. Yet this new force can ultimately help Obama if he responds to its
message. Led by the young, the movement is aligning with the reviving militancy of labor and other progressive constituencies. The
spirit is open-armed and patriotic, not negative and divisive. Obama should dare to lead it rather than dodge or oppose it. The
Republicans are hopeless, of course, utterly in thrall to banking industry demands.
In any case, this movement is not about electoral politics -- not yet, anyway. It is about saving the country, an objective bigger than
politics and politicians. Its vision is nothing less than halting the degradation and fostering the rebirth of the nation's original democratic
promise. It is the nature of authentic movements to seek large and majestic goals that seem impossible to pedestrian politicians --
and, at first, to most citizens. Standing up requires both uncommon courage and severe provocation.
Another reason I'm optimistic about the Occupy movement is its distinctiveness from other movements. Its horizontal, leaderless quality
confuses outsiders but ensures its autonomy as a free-standing force not beholden to political parties or financial patrons that might
restrict its behavior. OWS's creativity depends on its independence.
And finally, I am optimistic about Occupy because I see similarities with earlier movements that led to significant reforms. Odd as it may
seem, Occupy's situation resembles in some ways the agrarian revolt of the late nineteenth century. I say odd because the Populists
were poverty-plagued farmers; but like today's protesters, they were getting crushed by the banking system and monopoly capitalism.
For an inspiring portrait of what ordinary Americans can accomplish in adversity, read Lawrence Goodwyn's epic history The Populist
Moment. The Populists well understood that nobody was on their side, neither the government nor the bankers. As industrial capitalism
advanced, the brutal credit system was converting yeoman farmers of the South and Midwest into landless peasants (a bit like the
foreclosure crisis impoverishing homeowners in our time). In deep crisis, the Populists had to save themselves. They launched
agricultural cooperatives and developed farsighted reform proposals, many of which were ultimately embraced by the New Deal. The
Populists lost in their own time, but they planted seeds for the future and changed the nation in the long run.
Like the Populists, the Occupiers are acting in the American spirit of self-reliance, doing whatever they can to counter a destructive
system and force change upon it. In the absence of serious financial reform from Congress, for example, the ''move your money''
campaign uses direct action to take money and power away from the megabanks. But Occupy is also demanding a new kind of
government, one not captured by corporate power and rigged against ordinary people. Occupy DC, for example, has proposed a
humane plan for deficit reduction. Others urge a constitutional amendment that would disarm the money power's capture of democracy.
OWS can bring about a change in laws, but first it must cleanse our degraded political culture. This is a staggering challenge, of
course, but radical reform will originate only from ordinary citizens -- not policy experts and their Wall Street supporters, who led the
nation into ruin. The movement can inspire the people to become creative citizens again. Are we up to it? Let us find out. Let the
democratic conversations begin.
This story originally appeared in The Nation.
Copyright © 2011 The Nation distributed by Agence Global.
|Occupiers' view: We're already changing politics
By Caitlin MacLaren and Zoltan Gluck
The whole world seems to be waiting eagerly for the "next phase" of Occupy Wall Street, or else for the entire thing to dissipate
overnight. While the raids on occupations from Oakland to New York certainly change the equation, they do little to subtract from
our numbers. In fact, they multiply the reasons why we fight.
Even before the raid on Liberty Square, much of the work of Occupy Wall Street was being done in public atriums, in schools, in
community centers, in workplaces and online — a level of organization that has been largely ignored by the mainstream news
In this way, Occupy Wall Street has challenged us to express our views and organize politically outside officially sanctioned
forums. It has given people a means to engage directly in decision-making in a way that our broken political system has long
failed to deliver.
Pundits who argue for channeling Occupy Wall Street into party politics miss the point entirely. By focusing America's attention
on the dramatic polarization of wealth and by creating a new political identity — "the 99%" — we are already impacting politics in
ways the Tea Party could only dream of.
The power of our movement is that it is changing the very coordinates of how people think about politics; it is changing the
political imagination. We therefore cannot accept the mandate to return to the way things were, to use get-out-the-vote drives and
political action committees as our only means of making change.
This week, students from universities across New York City have joined together for Week of Action and have planned a student
strike today. Thousands will march in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.
Of course, the question "where do we go from here?" remains a tough one, but it will only lead us to more creative solutions. We
will continue to organize and seek new spaces for dialogue and politics. As fellow organizer Manissa McCleave Maharawal has
written: "Our movement is not contained by a park, our ideas are not contained by a park and we will not be contained by a park."
Caitlin MacLaren and Zoltán Glück are organizers with the New York City Student Assembly, a group affiliated with the Occupy
Wall Street movement.
|Occupy Wall Street NYC: Political dynamics and shared views
There are 3 main groups within Occupy Wall Street NYC, which share similar political views, but slighty different processes. The New York City
General Assembly, another group supporting "The 99 Percent Declaration”, and the authors of The Liberty Square Blueprint. All 3 recognize the
central role that hedge funds, megabanks and multinational corporations have played in shaping our political process, influencing tax and regulatory
policy, and creating vast income disparities in our society. There is widespread agreement that taxes on the wealthiest few and corporations should be
raised, Glass-Steagall should be reinstated and corporate influence on our electoral process must be ended.
The New York City General Assembly has adopted a “Declaration of the Occupation of New York City,” which includes a list of 23 broad grievances
against corporations which follow this preamble:
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all
people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must
protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a
democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth;
and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which
place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our
right, to let these facts be known.
One group has written a document, "The 99 Percent Declaration”, that calls for a national general assembly of representatives from all 435
congressional districts to gather on July 4, 2012, to assemble a list of grievances and solutions. Political candidates in the 2012 election will be asked
whether they support the petition. If there is no political action, new candidates will be found and, if needed, a 3rd party, will be formed.
Occupy Wall Street protesters that prefer a looser, more localized set of goals have also written a document, The Liberty Square Blueprint, they
support a regional, direct democracy process. They also have a broad ''List of Goals and Corollary Actions'' for NYC.''
|Occupy Chicago’s12 proposed grievances:
1.PASS HR 1489 REINSTATING GLASS-STEAGALL. – A depression era safeguard that separated the commercial lending and investment banking
portions of banks. Its repeal in 1999 is considered the major cause of the global financial meltdown of 2008-2009.
2. REPEAL BUSH TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY.
3. FULLY INVESTIGATE AND PROSECUTE THE WALL STREET CRIMINALS who clearly broke the law and helped cause the 2008 financial crisis.
4.OVERTURN CITIZENS UNITED v. US. – A 2010 Supreme Court Decision which ruled that money is speech. Corporations, as legal persons, are now
allowed to contribute unlimited amounts of money to campaigns in the exercise of free “speech.”
5. PASS THE BUFFET RULE ON FAIR TAXATION, CLOSE CORPORATE TAX LOOPHOLES, PROHIBIT HIDING FUNDS OFFSHORE.
6. GIVE THE SEC STRICTER REGULATORY POWER, STRENGTHEN THE CONSUMER PROTECTION BUREAU, AND PROVIDE ASSISTANCE FOR
OWNERS OF FORECLOSED MORTGAGES WHO WERE VICTIMS OF PREDATORY LENDING.
7. TAKE STEPS TO LIMIT THE INFLUENCE OF LOBBYISTS AND ELIMINATE THE PRACTICE OF LOBBYISTS WRITING LEGISLATION.
8. ELIMINATE RIGHT OF FORMER GOVERNMENT REGULATORS TO WORK FOR CORPORATIONS OR INDUSTRIES THEY ONCE REGULATED.
9. ELIMINATE CORPORATE PERSONHOOD.
10. INSIST THE FEC STAND UP FOR THE PUBLIC INTEREST IN REGULATING PRIVATE USE OF PUBLIC AIRWAVES to help ensure that political
candidates ARE GIVEN EQUAL TIME for free at reasonable intervals during campaign season.
11. REFORM CAMPAIGN FINANCE WITH THE PASSAGE OF THE FAIR ELECTIONS NOW ACT (S.750, H.R. 1404).
12. FORGIVE STUDENT DEBT – The same institutions that gave almost $2T in bailouts and then extended $16T of loans at little to no interest for banks
can surely afford to forgive the $946B of student debt currently held. Not only does this favor the 99% over the 1%, it has the practical effect of more
citizens spending money on actual goods, not paying down interest.
|OUR FIRST FOCUS: Occupy Wall Street
|Commentary from USA Today
|Change the national focus -- Now promote 'Fair Deal'
American popular opinion fluctuates with each days news, but rarely does a crowd of mostly youthful idealists set the public
mood as the Occupy Wall Street movement has. Give the Tea Party their due for asserting influence over the conservative
priorities, but this is much bigger. OWS represents a commitment to sustained activism that has not been seen since the
A year ago the pundit crowd in the capital was talking about deficits and the partisan bickering in congress. Senate
Republican leader McConnell declared his number one goal was to prevent President Obama from being reelected. Since the
legislative tsunami swept Republicans into the majority, the House has been refusing to budge on tax increases for the
wealthy. These issues remain and still confound our elected leaders.
From their first rumblings, the Occupy Wall Street movement has focused on the growing disparity in wealth in America, ''the
1%'s'' overwhelming control over our political process, the unequal access and unjust policymaking that flows from these
advantages. Their movement highlights how a small privileged group is leaving the rest of us in ''the 99%'' struggling to keep
up. There have been Occupy protests in hundreds of cities across the country. This groundswell has had an impact on the
nation's public opinion, and several national polls have reflected widespread public approval.
The hard reality, though, is that public opinion can be fickle [ask any politician]. The Occupy Wall Street movement has to
move from broad concepts to precise demands, similar to the list Occupy Chicago published, for example [above]. To take
hold of the public's support OWS will need to convey what it wants from our nation's leaders, and how it expects to pressure
them into delivering. Without intense leverage that causes politicians to fear that they will lose at the ballot box, nothing will
change. Wall Street and big business fund their political campaigns. Only the fear of an organized political movement can
cause politicians to vote against the interests of their largest contributors.
The good news is that the most frequent grievances expressed by Occupy Wall Street and in protests across the country are
very popular concepts. Vote among yourselves and make a short list of changes that elected officials and candidates for
office must make. The most common several among these selected priorities should form your near term agenda. Publish
them and ensure they are very well known throughout the country. This statement should have a name Americans will hold
dear. I like ''The Fair Deal: Principles for expanding opportunity and strengthening democracy in America.'' This name
resonates by reflecting Theodore Roosevelt's ''Square Deal,'' and can be a bookend to it in our history.
Follow that by grading candidates each election cycle based on their commitment to these stated priorities. Register new
voters by the thousands in every town or city [with Occupy Wall Street's large following and sense of community massive
voter registration success is possible] . The only way to motivate our politicians is to show them that your movement has the
ability to defeat them during the voting process.
Numerous groups within the Occupy movement have proposed to make the tax rates more progressive by removing the
Bush tax cuts for the very wealthy and passing ''the Buffett rule.'' One of the more creative ideas for improving our tax code
is the Wall Street Trading and Speculators Tax Act which would impose a tax of 0.03 percent on financial transactions,
raising $350 billion over ten years. To protect small investors, limit the tax to trades of $20,000 or more. To that, let me add
this deliciously ironic idea: Demand that this money be devoted toward much more financial aid for college students. To
prevent further tuition increases, this new aid should go specifically to schools that are not raising their costs.
On difficult constitutional issues, as occurs when the Supreme Court gives the green light to unlimited donations and calls
this ''freedom of speech'' [in Citizens' United], a vigorous amendment process may be the only option. A constitutional
amendment that will eliminate corporate personhood and allow the government to set neutral limits on the amounts of
private money allowed into our political process may be the only just way to achieve Occupy Chicago's most important stated
grievance, repeated below:
4.OVERTURN CITIZENS UNITED v. U.S. – A 2010 Supreme Court Decision which ruled that money is speech. Corporations, as
legal persons, are now allowed to contribute unlimited amounts of money to campaigns in the exercise of free “speech.”
At the top on either side of this page readers will find two petitions, one urging our leaders, the president, senators,
congressional representatives, state governors and legislators, and all candidates for such offices, to support and vote for a
constitutional amendment to eliminate the corrupting influence of corporate contributions from our political campaigns, and
another more comprehensive needed step of a petition requiring strictly public financing of all political campaigns. The board
of www.theglobaldialogue.com strongly supports these petitions, and urges members of Occupy Wall Street and all other
Americans concerned with the corrupting influence of money on our political process to sign them and make this a central
guiding principle in their published platform.
Money and legalized bribery have been the rule in financing our political campaigns for too long. The current dominance of
corporate money over our political process is just beginning, and will grow far worse, far more pervasive, if it is not stopped
by the just actions of a free people. The effects of Citizens United, and the practice of allowing private money to control our
political process, must be ended by constitutional amendments [see and sign the petitions at the top on either side of this
|John A. Bromell is an attorney and
a writer living in St. Louis.
|PETITION to eliminate the
corrupting influence of
from our political campaigns
|PETITION to eliminate
donations entirely and
require strictly public
financing [with limits the
public can choose] of all
This website would benefit from your intellect and writing skills; plus you
might help me find other needed resources or individuals on your campus.
Write to me at: email@example.com
Take care, John