The Occupy movement has sparked new levels of discussion of critical aspects of U.S. government, economy, and power structures. While people may quibble over the exact numbers, the 1%/99% image does clearly reflect the fact that economic & political power is held by a tiny percentage of people. It seems as if discussing this has been taboo for years, even though it’s common knowledge.
It’s great to see polls showing overwhelming support for the occupiers and their broad goals. Put simply, we all know it’s wrong to trash the planet and destroy people’s lives & health. Here are some recent articles that shed light on the scope and multiple dimensions of the Occupy movement, including one featuring voices of occupiers in cities across the U.S.
Voices From the Occupations, by Jeremy Gantz
[In These Times, November 8, 2011]
A few excerpts:
On the 1%–99% message:
Caitlin [Oakland]: I have problems with the 99% rhetoric. On the one hand, it’s true that the 1% who are running the country have a lot of power. On the other hand, among the 99%, there are divisions. It has been said many times that the cops are part of the 99%. But we at Occupy Oakland took a firm stand at the very beginning that cops—as long as they’re cops—are not our friends and are not part of our movement. The Tea Party is part of the 99%, but they’re not part of the movement.
Jesse [Wall Street]: the 99% isn’t the claim that “everyone stands with us,” but the claim that “we stand with everyone.”
On the encampments:
Sam [DC]: These places are not just “places”; these are our communities that we’ve built.
Natalie [Chicago]: It is essential to have a permanent place where we can have and grow a community. There’s a lot of press about our interactions with the police, but we choose to use that as a platform to get the Occupy Chicago message out.
Sam: These places are not just “places”; these are our communities that we’ve built. A lot of people are sleeping there every single night, so it’s more than just a base from which we protest.
On the democratic process:
Jesse: The downside in New York is that it becomes inefficient, almost crippling. Which is fine. That’s the thing about democracy—it takes forever and it requires a lot of diligence. If what you wanted was efficiency, you’d turn to totalitarianism. The Occupy Movement is trying to show that our country’s democracy is a façade, behind which there’s this ugly plutocracy where the wealthy control the government. Setting up this alternative, radical democracy draws a stark contrast to the type of democracy offered by the 1%.
Natalie: Even though our democracy is painful and slow, people want to be involved. I think that just speaks to the empowerment they feel of being part of a movement that actually listens to them—part of a society that they have a stake in.
Occupy the Press, by Susan J. Douglas
[In These Times November 10, 2011]
…the first scandal was the mainstream media’s ignoring the story (until the NYPD got violent). Many noted, rightly, that if the demonstration had been organized by the Tea Party, the press would have been all over it from the start. The second scandal, once the media did start to pay attention, was the dismissive, marginalizing coverage—the New York Times possibly being the worst—casting the demonstrators as clueless, leaderless neo-hippies simply looking for a way to pass sunny autumn afternoons
A Time/Abt SRBI poll conducted in mid-October found that only 23 percent of people viewed Occupiers unfavorably; Occupy Wall Street’s favorability rating was actually twice as high as that of the Tea Party. The poll also found overwhelming agreement with Occupy positions: 86 percent agreed that Wall Street and its lobbyists have too much influence in Washington; 79 percent agreed that the gap between rich and poor in the United States has grown too large; 71 percent agreed that executives of financial institutions responsible for the financial meltdown in 2008 should be prosecuted; and 68 percent agreed that the rich should pay more taxes.
Occupy the Food System!, by Eric Holt Gimenez
[Reader Supported News, 21 October 2011]
the rules and institutions governing our food system — Wall Street, the U.S. Farm Bill, the World Trade Organization and the USDA — all favor the global monopolies controlling the world’s seeds, food processing, distribution and retail. This should come as no surprise, the “revolving door” between government and corporate food monopolies is alive and well, and goes back decades. But it means it’s unlikely that the Food Movement’s alternatives will ever become the norm rather than the alternative fringe — unless the Food Movement can change the rules and institutions controlling our food.
A movement to “occupy the food system” will need to put healthy food in our communities and community voices in places of power.
Occupy America, by Michael Parenti
Media With a Conscience Wednesday, November 9 2011