The occupy movement is the most important mass mobilization in recent history. Resistance to the American empire has shifted to the home front, and the ruling elite is scared. This right from the horses mouth, Rolling Stone put out some memorable quotes. This should not really surprise anyone, except for those who held the romantic idea that the rich spend their leisure time devising ways in which to better society and everyone in it. Entertaining ideas of philanthropy compensating for the negative attributes of capitalism is no longer fashionable; the charitable actions of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are all well and good, but they no longer have the power to distract people from the day-to-day realities of an economic crisis.
It is compelling, to try and depict Occupy as some sort of complex, open-ended platform whereby there is not a consistent theme, but rather there are many. This characterization has of course received consistent attention in the media insofar as it can contribute to conjecture of disorganization, uncertainty, and disconnection from the people and reality. The only truth in this speculation is the open-ended platform, but the rest of the analysis ignored entirely the most crucial aspect of Occupy: Unity. This unity they have has allowed the organization to be non-sectarian, it is inclusive, everyone can come join in, everyone can participate, and everyone has a voice.
The message of Occupy is a response to contemporary problems, but clearly it has roots in protest politics of the past as well. It would be untrue to suggest that such events did not garner attention, yet the Occupy movement has been unprecedented in the support it has received. Precisely because Occupy has blended unity with diversity that they have been so successful. Occupy recognizes the common discourse as centering on corporate greed and its excesses, which by all accounts resonates quite strongly with most in Canada. Holding an open forum for those dissatisfied with capitalism has proven extremely effective as film screenings, lectures, and discussions are the main activities in Occupy. This is an educational exchange, and an opportunity for many to learn and construct a community of common ground.
In contrast to the Tea party or the LaRouche movement, Occupy exists outside state institutions and has not been coopted by a political party. Without a link to these organizations Occupy can present itself as a pure people’s movement, and with it comes a new kind of legitimacy. The discrediting of mainstream political parties in the eyes of many, especially youth has become more critical as evidenced by the huge campaigns to coerce people into vote, honour their duty as a citizen, and so on. In this sense Occupy is a rejection of the capitalist democracy in that is recognizes the inability of the system to represent the needs of the masses. Conversely, Occupy demonstrates the capabilities of ordinary citizens to organize without using traditional avenues of power. As the movement grew, Occupy demonstrated the ability to act as a governing body in that it regulated the areas under its control. These are clearly small and not affecting a significant number of people, but it does contradict the media claims of disorganization in a very powerful way. A protest is simply that, people march with a message and then go home, Occupy is that next step where they set up camp, and provide services to people which establishes legitimacy for the Occupy movement.
The success of this initiative can be weighed against the spin mechanism of the media and its attempts to paint the movement as confused and having too many demands, however the exact opposite is true. The Occupy movement opposes corporate greed, plain and simple. The fact that the media responds with divide-and-rule games clearly indicates which side they are on. Hopefully, this should indicate to many the truth behind ‘objectivity in the media.’
The lesson to be learned from Occupy is organization, and the hostility which the media represents. In the aftermath it is therefore important to maintain this organization and advance the struggle in the information war. Social activist politics outside the control of the American government has penetrated the mainstream, this cannot be reversed. The omission of this information speaks to the inherent power of the movement.
What needs to be considered now is the next steps of the movement. It is absolutely imperative that the Occupy movement does not participate in the electoral system, as the key objective of the movement should be to break the monopoly of political power enjoyed by the present system. The disenchantment and alienation being felt by an increasing majority by the population is very real, which does not necessarily imply apathy. In a recent Toronto Star article, the very opposite was discovered in a poll.
Occupy is battling the diversionary tactics used by establishment, yet it embraces the method. Occupy has a message, and it is very direct, despite all attempts to prove otherwise. Pundits have been using this tactic with great effect, demonstrating its power, but the upside of this is how it can be employed constructively which many on the left have been reluctant or unable to use. In a sense, the tactic of activism to turn the message of establishment on its head resembles progressive movements of the 1960s where protestors co-opted the messages being used by the US government to justify foreign intervention. The success of occupy is emerging out of the illusion being created by the media of a confused fringe movement, and thus creating itself as a popular and legitimate alternative to the system. But, this is only the beginning…