Occupy Prepares for the Onslaught
Two months in, and it appears the 1 percent have had it up to here with free speech, free assembly, and probably democracy itself. They're just not accustomed to the concept. Mayor Bloomberg's (“B” for billionaire) charm offensive has failed; New York's Liberty Square has been cleared and reoccupied (but no sleeping over!), the tent village at Oakland's city hall dismantled. Everyone can just go home, get over it, and still have plenty of time to prepare for Black Friday shopping at WalMart, et. al.
Unfortunately for the 1 percent, 99 percent of us 99 Percenters were never in Zuccotti Park anyway - nor in Oakland, nor Albuquerque. Millions of us don't live in big cities, but we are here, in solidarity. And we got the message, loud and clear. The cat is out of the bag, the horse has left the barn; the seed has been cast, the germ is spread. We've looked behind the curtain. Turning back is not an option.
George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, inspired in part by the writings of James Burnham, portrays a society in which a tyrannical oligarchy rules through fraud and force. In the end, when the fraud becomes too obvious, only the force is left. The signs that this is where we have landed are now everywhere, no longer capable of being concealed.
Our economy, instead of providing for the needs of all, functions to funnel upward the fruits of workers. Rather than faithful messengers of our will, too many lawmakers and public officials prostitute themselves in service of those who want it all. Rather than an avenue to justice for all, the judicial system presents poor theater in defense of a wave of crime perpetrated by the big banks and labyrinthian corporations that now control our lives.
None of this would be possible without the implicit cooperation of a pliant mainstream media, populated with pseudo-journalists stumbling over one another for access to priests and mouthpieces of the status quo. Without schools and universities passing for generations the lie that a crushing tsunami lifts all boats, and in the absence of a corporate-created virtual world of distraction and luxury, the citizens would have put an end to the rot long ago.
Invasions by the “the authorities” on the camps bring us to the next level, and the bottom line. For the police and intelligence agencies, countless in their number, stand prepared as defenders not of the people but of the 1%. (But down there on the square – do you see the look of doubt in the cop's eyes, even as the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction weighs his subservience against the cost of his job?)
Mahatmas Gandhi may not have actually described the stages of a winning strategy of nonviolent activism in these words, but nevertheless they resonate to this day: "First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win." It was always coming to this. Just as during the Arab Spring, the 1% will not easily surrender their ill-gotten, hard-won power.
With fraud's veneer stripped away, oppression and force must now be met with nonviolent disobedience and mutual support. The most powerful weapon brought to bear against those not socio-pathologically driven to become rich has been our willingness to let ourselves be divided, only to be herded back together in support of the very institutions that feed the 1 percent: WalMart, Bank of America, Exxon, McDonald's – and for that matter, television. Turning away from them means beginning to provide the positive support our families and communities so desperately need now. At last report tens of thousands of the 99 percent have moved their money out of the big banks and into credit unions and select community banks. And now, local governments are following suit.
We must also occupy the public sphere of ideas. As the farcical Supercommittee On Bloodletting wends its way toward the well-known conclusion, we will reject the logic of leeching the patient, the 99 percent, in favor of opening the veins of the leeches.
This is what revolution – not reform - looks like. Reform is nibbling at the margins, carefully leaving the controlling mechanisms intact. Revolution is doing things in a different way. Revolution is not for cowards but for those whose culture has long purported to honor the patriotism and bravery of those countrymen and - women who have sacrificed all for us.
There are no guarantees save one: the path the 1% enjoys has us on a collision course with disaster. At last the true division is revealed, that of the interests of the 1% versus those of the 99%. Although the latter includes millions in Occupy sites throughout the world (over 2,600 according to the Occupy Together website), there will always be room – and need - for more.