Why We Occupy
By: Sam Wagner [Sam Wagner – Radical News Media and Photography]
It makes me happy to see you are here reading this. If you made it to this website it demonstrates to me the many threads we all have in common. You’ll have to please excuse my tone throughout this article.
I’ll be honest with you all, I’ve lost two friends to suicide within the last week and I am in a period of reflection. I am a human being, a son, and a brother. I am also an OccupyMN media activist, but I’ve done work with many different organizations; including the Minneapolis Chapter of the Zeitgeist Movement. I’ve taken pictures of actions put together by WAMM, Vets for Peace, Idle No More and others. I am , what I would consider, a revolutionary. An amalgam of profoundly new ideas, just waiting to be shared. It matters not what each of our ideal social systems are, so long as we recognize that there is a problem that requires drastic action.
I am going to write today about “Why We Occupy”. This is a difficult question, as we all know we come from different backgrounds, situations, and places, the answer would be different to every one of us. So before we can begin to answer that question, I should first start by asking “What do YOU think, when you hear the word Occupy?” Again, mixed answers. So let’s start with the political movement, Occupy Wall Street. In 2011, after many months, even years of deliberation amongst activists regarding an occupational holding strategy in one of the nations key areas of business, magazine Adbusters issued a call to action with one of their trademark subliminal memes. “Occupy Wall Street. September 17th. Bring Tent.”
It hit the internet and quickly enough, Anonymous, the internet hacktivist collective, openly declared its support. People traveled across the country to join activists in New York City. It started with just a few, but then quickly grew to thousands. The idea spread to over 100 cities inside of the United States, and over 900 cities across 82 other countries. Hundreds camped out at Zuccotti Park, which was renamed Liberty Square. Committees were set up to demonstrate the ability of the people to adapt to multiple situations without government or corporations.
This included building alternatives to rather disparaging comments made by corporate media and politicians. Comments included spreading misinformation about the “movement”. Allegations of rape and wanton drug use filled the airwaves. Participants were labelled as ‘dirty’ and told to get jobs, rather ironic in a time where unemployment offices are filled with skilled workers being offered jobs that don’t match their skill-set, and pay that doesn’t meet the bills each month.
In addition to this, Occupiers in different cities faced rampant police repression. Stories include Scott Olsen’s, an Iraqi war veteran who took a tear gas canister to his temple, nearly killing him. Or the paramilitary tactics used by Oakland Police Department in violently disassembling the Occupy Oakland encampment. Or the story of Officer John Pike, who was made internet famous after macing an entirely line of students whom had joined arms on a sidewalk at the University of California-Davis, and refused to leave it.
These are the stories most of us are probably familiar with, but it doesn’t answer the question as to why. One of the commonly held critiques of the ‘movement’, (which I tend to refer to as a network) was that there were no demands made. However, The Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, accepted by the NYC General Assembly on September 29, 2011, begs to differ.
In the preamble, it is stated “We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments.” The problems were described in detail, including; the illegal foreclosures which forced innocent people into homelessness, the bailouts for gambling bankers, burying students and workers in debt, poisoning the food supply with an assortment of techniques, suppressing energy technologies to keep the populace dependent on fossil fuels, abridging the freedom of the press and the ability to assemble peaceably, and finally they have perpetuated war and colonialism abroad. So much for a movement reportedly lacking direction.
Since the initial occupation of Zuccotti, and to bring it closer to home, here at Peavey, we’ve seen the movement fracture in to many other viable causes. This, I could argue, is a good thing. We still have many different “Occupy” groups, including DFL front organizations like the local Occupy Homes Mn. But then we have groups that are continuing to NAME the offenders, their crimes, and offer evidence to support their claims. Occupy the Banks, Occupy the SEC, come to mind. But outside of Occupy, the culture of resistance has only grown stronger.
We have global marches against Monsanto, the Mainstream Media, and Corruption in general. We have moral Mondays in North Carolina. We have last years Canadian Student uprising, also known as the Maple Spring. We have the uprisings in Egypt, Turkey, Ukraine, and most recently Bosnia.
While all these movements aren’t without their perceived faults, they hold just as many similarities as they do differences between them. I tend to think of these groups of politically conscious individuals as white bloods cells, attacking the source of the infectious ideas that have led to the current predicament we find ourselves in now, as members of the human species. THIS is what it means to occupy.
It is not only the first tactic in striking back against the ownership class, but it is an idea in it of itself. To occupy anything is to be present in the moment, taking into account all sides, and keeping the “big picture” in perspective. We not only occupy buildings and offices because it is to our tactical advantage, but we occupy the ideas *inside our heads*. Those pre-conceived notions that our society at large has either glossed over, or fought against, depending on who and where you are. Of these ideas that we are beginning to address, fiat currency, infinite growth, and in the larger perspective global capitalism.
I can’t answer the question “why do we occupy?” for any of you. That is something you must determine yourself. But I’ll tell you why I do it.
Fiat currency. Meaning your money means nothing, quite literally. Keep this in mind, every dollar in existence is owed to somebody else. Every dollar bill in your pocket is worth less than 8 cents on the world marketplace, and that number continues to go down. Over half of every dollar printed goes to the military industrial complex, in one way or another. We live in the age of a global Ponzi scheme, where the debt outstanding will ALWAYS exceed the amount of money in circulation.
This type of banking was established in 1913 in secrecy, on little Jekyll Island. To this day, not one banker has been prosecuted for their role in the financial collapse of 2008. Contrast that to the thousands whom were arrested within the first year of Occupy. Perhaps this is where Occupy Wall Street has “failed”, by not establishing an accountability committee, because it is PRECISELY what we are missing, right now.
In conjunction with the monopoly money we continue to play with daily, comes the idea of infinite growth. We’ve all heard so-called economists throw around alphabet soup like GDP, CPI and MICKEY MOUSE, but what does this really mean? Jack Squat. It’s all smoke and mirrors, combined with seemingly complicated math to make the average person believe that they are not capable of understanding how our banking system works.
The point is this; infinite growth CANNOT happen on a finite resource, like our planet Earth. We live in an age where over half of all food produced is thrown out, and less than a quarter of precious metals extracted and manufactured into consumer goods are recycled. Yet we have a debate going on in Minnesota about opening up a copper-nickel mine? Have we gone mad? Are we daft? It is only a matter of time before the supply barrier of any given commodity, most likely oil, meets a spike in demand and then BAM, the economy takes another nosedive. They know this, and now we know this.
Why occupy? Because we are left with no other choice. We are faced with potential life ending scenarios that require us to work TOGETHER, or face extinction. A 2 to 4 degree Celsius temperature increase is on its way. Fukushima continues to bleed radioactive isotopes into our atmosphere, into the air that we breathe. But no one is talking about it. No no, we’d rather fight over divisive issues like gay marriage, the deficit, and Justin Bieber. (Thinks to self) Why occupy? Because we have named the problem. We have the solutions lying around, just waiting to be fitted together like pieces in a puzzle. All it takes is a revolution.
The revolution begins with you, and spreads from there. So if you take away anything from this day, take away this. We can choose to remain apathetic in times of tremendous social and spiritual unrest, or we can choose to occupy the ideas in our heads, our hearts, and our neighborhoods.
Forget the reformism, start the revolution.
Think global, act local, and keep fighting. Thank you for reading.