Mass demonstrations change things. The people, united, will never be divided. When you can see that unity, manifested by hundreds of thousands, suddenly, the protesters are a force to be reckoned with.
In 1991, Over 500,000 protesters filled Manezh Square in Moscow, Russia, to finally end the Communist party power.
Even as the Russians gather together to call for election reform and the resignation of forever-president Putin, Russia is no longer known as the USSR, or the Soviets. People power matters.
In 2009, hundreds of thousands again took to the streets in Iran to protest the unfair presidential election, pioneering the use of social media networking, and showing living proof that protests in the Internet age can be effective, drawing millions globally to the Iranian cause. Iran is again fighting for fair elections, despite an oppressive government.
In 2011, Egyptians piled into Tahrir square to protest the dictatorship of Mubarak. In a mere 18 days, they were able to topple the government, beginning an ongoing process for democracy.
My fellow Americans, as Occupy heads into it's first Spring, we need to realise something.
In 18 days, the role-model Egyptians brought an end to the tyranny of their government.
We're at 166 days, and we're feeling hopeless.
In fact, we're feeling so hopeless, we're bashing on each other like squabbling siblings.
We haven't had our "Tahrir Square Moment" because the majority of Americans are not willing or ready to take to the streets.
Most of us that currently identify as "occupiers" have been in the mindset for activism for a long time, Occupy is merely a space to work with. The ideas are good, but it's not perfect.
Ask yourself - and take your time - what inspired you in your life to start Occupying? To start participating in activism?
What was the "last straw", before you pitched a tent in a park, or before you "went off the deep end" of the movement?
In the above protests, the country was able to unite on things - tyrannical leaders, rigged elections, and lack of democracy. Arguably, we have some of the same problems, but still, perhaps its not bad enough to start rioting, or to start protesting. Chatrooms are still stuffed with anti-Occupy "trolls" that say the same basic things:
- Take a shower
- Get a job
- Grow up
Is ignorance the problem? Is it apathy? Disillusion? Conservativism?
Or is it something else?
Occupy is many things... perhaps too many things. Maybe we need to invite in the masses without unleashing a barrage of causes we're fighting for. Perhaps a central focus will encourage participation?
Another thing we need to consider is our outreach. Occupy is a very middle-class movement. There's lots of college students, lots of retired folk, lots of veterans, and lots of hipsters. In the beginning, we could easily make the claim that we were truly diverse, but as many occupations will tell you now, the General Assemblies and participation has either dwindled or gentrified for whatever reasons. We are no longer hitting the mark on inclusion of the elderly, youth (below age 19), conservatives/right-wing, and most importantly the Unpeople.
By Unpeople, I mean the ones on the true fringes of society - ones that get overlooked very frequently. Like the unhoused, the ungendered, the unsober, unvoters... the ones on the street or in the corner that usually get classed as poor, that usually only have connection to other classes by the way of charities and welfare, or any combination of welfare or medicinal culture.
The truth is that if you want to take the streets, you need to realise that the streets are already occupied. When we "move in" to parks, take over sidewalks, or treat the Unpeople as if you are giving some kind of selfless service, then you're contributing to a mass alienation of them. Very few occupations have seen cooperation from the Unpeople - Occupy Olympia (WA) being one of the most notable. In Olympia, the camp was mainly occupied and run by the unhoused population, which then earned a local reputation as a "homeless camp", whereby the state officials then quickly acted to disband the camp.
We talk every day about wealth inequality, the growing poverty, and human rights, but we've been excluding the Unpeople. The irony is that the movement should be serving the Unpeople the most, not the middle class. But things are trickier here. The Unpeople need to get super pissed about something before any sort of Unpeople's Union will draw in big numbers. I don't have an answer for you... but keep it in mind.
The point here is... people need reasons to get pissed. Every day, the government pacifies us in one way or another, so we have to find a way to break that wavelength for all the people, not just the middle-class liberals and the small chunk of transient and or "hipster" youth that do a lot of the organising, as well as a lot of the diversity of tactics. There's more than enough wrong in this country for "the 99%" to actually rebel against the government and corporations. We just need to find a sticking point.
This May, we have an opportunity for a Tahrir Square moment. It's going to take a lot of work over the next 70 or so days to get the numbers in place, but considering some of what I said above, we may be able to reach out to more people to fill the streets of Chicago at first during May Day (the first, where many Occupations are calling for a National Strike of... everything). Soon after, the G8 summit, as well as a NATO gathering will be taking place in the same location.
I saw a call for 50,000 people to Occupy Chicago in protest of the famous huddle of the global superpowers in the G8/NATO, but I think that's a weak number.
- The Electoral College wrecks the popular vote every election.
- Voting systems have become notorious for their rigging and malfunction.
- The unpeople are the commodity of class warfare and the industrial prison complex.
- The federal government is out of touch with The People, The States, and local communities by way of unfair Representative govt.
- Big corporations, including for-profit banks and systems have been stacked against us, allied with the government.
- Outsourcing has created direct issues for the homeland because legal loopholes facilitate human and resource exploitation.
- Welfare, Nanny, and Medicine cultures keep the Unpeople oppressed by treating symptoms of inequality rather than inequality itself.
- Lobbyists and corporate-laced political parties prevent anybody who is not officially endorsed from having a shot at big elections.
- Unregulated greed, coercion, infiltration, and power has made Capitalism dirty economics.
- The same 5 corporate media stations desensitise and misinform The People at the mercy of govt. beyond The People's jurisdiction.
- Global meddling, warmongering, and the military industrial complex have cost countless lives, as well as trillions in unnecessary debt.
- Profit should never come before The People.
I think that may be a good set of reasons to go to Chicago this May.
I hope to see you there.
Bring a friend. Bring 5. Bring 5 more Unpeople.
There is no golden answer; but together as ALL the people - from the most disenfranchised to the most privileged... we can come up with a damn good try.
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