A Brief Analysis from a Wall Street Occupier

Published on ZNet, by Yotam Marom, October 04, 2011.

… The struggle is still very much underway; those of us who can, who have that privilege, should be out in the streets, so now might not be the time for the most thorough analysis. It is, however, important for occupiers to be writing in our own words – to reach out to the many around the world who want to be a part of this in some way, to offer our own analyses (infinitely more powerful than those provided by pundits from far away), and to counter the media black-out we are experiencing … // 

… Battles to Come:

Occupations are an incredibly important mode of resistance, an expression of a dual power strategy. On one hand, they give us the space and time with which to create an alternative, to practice, to learn, to create new relations, to become better revolutionaries, and to experience community. At the same time, they serve as a base camp from which to wage a struggle against the institutions that oppress us, to knock down the oppressors, to protect that alternative, to liberate more space. Both are important. And yes, we face challenges in each realm.

Internally, we have to make sure we are modifying our structures to meet the needs of the people participating in them as we change and grow. We have to make sure that the de-centralization we are fostering actually empowers those who aren’t already conditioned by this society to speak a lot and lead and give directions. We have to find and create a new and diverse ways for people to participate, especially those too busy or too threatened by the daily brutalities they already face to be able to join us in occupations or marches. We have to continue to work to formulate a message together – not only because it will attract and represent others or clarify our multitude of voices for the outside world, but also because the process will be educational for us and it will ground us in the real struggles we have inherited from being part of a movement together. Above all, perhaps, we must continue to educate ourselves and each other – about everything from the systems of oppression we face, to the history of various peoples and struggles, to strategies for winning and practical skills to carry them out.

And perhaps even more important than learning about the ways we are kept down, is learning and exploring the world we might want instead, one without capitalism, racism, patriarchy, and authoritarianism – an economic, political, and social model that is solidaristic, equitable, self-managing, ecologically sustainable, liberating, intimate, warm, and creative. We have to spend some of this precious time developing the values of the society we are fighting for, so that we can imagine the institutions we will need to build in order to live them out. We have to do this because that’s what it will take to defeat the age-old mantra that there is no alternative; we have to do it because imagining that alternative will give us hope and strength to struggle, because it will define the different ways we can fight and the different institutions we need to build for ourselves now, because it will give us the foundation on which to build a movement beyond one or even a hundred occupations. We must do it because dreaming is part of what gives us the strength to actually create those institutions we want to live in, as we fight to knock the rotten ones down.

Externally, then, it is simple. We have to draw clear lines from the oppression heaped on this society to the agents responsible for it. If Chase bank is foreclosing on homes, we need to foreclose on Chase Bank. If the city government is cutting schools and homeless shelters, we need to shut it down. They want quiet streets, un-interrupted work-days, pristine bank branches, functional government institutions, productive workplaces, docile schools, and lines of unflinching shoppers. They want business as usual, and that’s what we have to take from them. Liberty Plaza is not the struggle; it is the home for the creation of the alternative, and the staging ground for the fight that takes us out into the streets, to make business as usual truly untenable.

We win when we build diverse movements led by the most oppressed people in society, capable of proposing an alternative, laying the seeds for it, and taking the power necessary to transform it from the alternative to the norm. We win when we raise social costs to the point that those hopeless few elites find themselves left with no carrots to wave before us and no sticks big enough to do us any harm. We win when we show no signs of weakening, when we refuse to go home. We win the movement grows and grows and grows with no sign of letting up. We win when losing is not an option, when winning is the only way to really be human. (full text).

(Yotam Marom is an organizer, educator, musician, and writer. He is a member of the Organization for a Free Society, and can be reached here).

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