Tonin’s Ideaphoria, created as a platform for sharing whatever churned out of my personal ideaverse, will temporarily transition to a more organized and focused agenda: musings on and another hub for the Occupy Movement. For revolution may be developing out of us. Perhaps I am wrong and the uprisings will be squashed, incorporated, dispersed. But perhaps I am not. The time is too ripe to concentrate on anything else but what is happening. For I have been thinking about this very thing for all of my adult years. Discussing it into late nights. Fantasizing about the new world order. Threads of the occupiers’ complaints weave their way throughout the entire evolution of my thought. This occupation has occupied me and I shall now fully occupy it.
First, a personal rendition of the movement: In September I went through my swelling inbox to inconspicuously find that my two co-conspirators and allies in NYC had sent me a message of great portent. It became the impetus. It was titled “#OccupyWallStreet: A Shift in Revolutionary Tactics”, and was sent by Adbusters, the anti-consumerist activist group from Canada I knew by their monthly ad-free publication:
Alright you 90,000 redeemers, rebels and radicals out there,
A worldwide shift in revolutionary tactics is underway right now that bodes well for the future. The spirit of this fresh tactic, a fusion of Tahrir with the acampadas of Spain, is captured in this quote:
"The antiglobalization movement was the first step on the road. Back then our model was to attack the system like a pack of wolves. There was an alpha male, a wolf who led the pack, and those who followed behind. Now the model has evolved. Today we are one big swarm of people."
— Raimundo Viejo, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain
The beauty of this new formula, and what makes this novel tactic exciting, is its pragmatic simplicity: we talk to each other in various physical gatherings and virtual people's assemblies … we zero in on what our one demand will be, a demand that awakens the imagination and, if achieved, would propel us toward the radical democracy of the future … and then we go out and seize a square of singular symbolic significance and put our asses on the line to make it happen.
The time has come to deploy this emerging stratagem against the greatest corrupter of our democracy: Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America.
On September 17, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand in a plurality of voices.
Tahrir succeeded in large part because the people of Egypt made a straightforward ultimatum – that Mubarak must go – over and over again until they won. Following this model, what is our equally uncomplicated demand?
The most exciting candidate that we've heard so far is one that gets at the core of why the American political establishment is currently unworthy of being called a democracy: we demand that Barack Obama ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington. It's time for DEMOCRACY NOT CORPORATOCRACY. We're doomed without it.
This demand seems to capture the current national mood because cleaning up corruption in Washington is something all Americans, right and left, yearn for and can stand behind. If we hang in there, 20,000-strong, week after week against every police and National Guard effort to expel us from Wall Street, it would be impossible for Obama to ignore us. Our government would be forced to choose publicly between the will of the people and the lucre of the corporations.
This could be the beginning of a whole new social dynamic in America, a step beyond the Tea Party movement, where, instead of being caught helpless by the current power structure, we the people start getting what we want whether it be the dismantling of half the 1,000 military bases America has around the world to the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act or a three strikes and you're out law for corporate criminals. Beginning from one simple demand – a presidential commission to separate money from politics – we start setting the agenda for a new America.
Go to adbusters.org and tell us what you think. Post a comment and help each other zero in on what our one demand will be.
And then let's screw up our courage, pack our tents and head to Wall Street with a vengeance September 17.
#OccupyWallStreet was reported to be composed of a “few hundred neo-hippies” occupying Zuccotti Park, located within the financial district of lower Manhattan, by my NYC allies when I checked in post launch date. Disappointing. I was expecting reports of numbers in droves and representation across demographics. I wrote it off as a false start. The “operation of the machine” continued as always; we, tolerant, participated as we always had. But then something curious began to happen across the rest of the month. Through sources varied and dispersed, I was informed, through an underground conversation of sorts, centered upon not empty criticism as I was used to, but instead operations intended, resistances planned, actions to be taken to directly monkeywrench the empire. What was I amid? I started hunting around, plunging into the media complex I generally avoid, and discovered that something was indeed happening. #OccupyWallStreet had marshaled interest, gained force, and was becoming a presence to be reckoned with. Maybe history is coming to an end. Or if not, I am at least getting excited about overcoming the social order in a new, embodied way: after a decade of adulthood occupying a very small place in the realm of the theoretical, I am becoming praxis! I will occupy as a commitment to such praxis. I will occupy today.
For sixteen days, there has been a local presence, in our own Occupy Wall Street, cleverly consistent, called Occupy Denver. Occupy Together, the movement’s collective name, has captivated over 1000 American cities. Today I go to absorb the cries of the occupiers, clarify what I shall take up in my own activism, and to give my presence, my representation, my contributions in the discourse, my own cries in the collective. I shall soon report back from the frontiers. Until then, please visit http://www.occupytogether.org/.