Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
The Occupation continues. Last night, from OWS:
This Is What Democracy Looks Like: Huge General Assembly in Progress at Liberty Square
The feeling here at Liberty Square tonight is the feeling of a movement that is rising, building, and making headway.
As I wrote yesterday, the timing of Bloomberg’s move, and that of other mayors, might not have been the smartest, as the Zuccotti action in particular simply revved up energy for tomorrow’s “International Day of Action,” and for the movement in general. A bit more on the Action plans for tomorrow later, but a few other things first, beginning with this (posted prior to the re-entrance into Zuccotti) bit of tongue-in-cheek, from OWS:
NYPD Occupying Liberty Square; Demands Unclear
The NYPD have been occupying Liberty Square since 1:00 am Tuesday morning, with the brand new occupation now set to enter its second day in just a few short hours. But will anyone listen to them when their message is so incoherent?
‘What are their demands?’ asked social historian Patrick Bruner. ‘They have not articulated any platform. How do they expect to be taken seriously?’
Critics of the new occupation allege that meddling billionaire Michael Bloomberg is behind the movement. Others question the new occupiers’ militant posture, concerned about the potential effects on the neighborhood.
‘I suppose they have a right to express themselves,’ said local resident Han Shan. ‘But I’d prefer it if instead they occupied the space with the power of their arguments.’
Humor is a survival necessity of activism.
I mentioned this story yesterday, and Taylor has a piece up from earlier today. Check it out for details. Via FDL, “Oakland Mayor Jean Quan Admits Cities Coordinated Crackdown on Occupy Movement.” Last night and today it, and related stories, are getting a lot more attention. The mayoral conference calls are confirmed, and as Taylor’s post lays out, there’s much conversation about what else is happening. I’ve pointed out the predictable use of demeaning language generalized to the entire Occupy movement multiple times in the last several weeks. I’m bringing this up again because of a comment I saw at that FDL post, which I think probably nails at least one piece of the recent escalation:
Eclair … Probably they want to clear away the sites before Thanksgiving and the holiday shopping season starts.
Business as usual — that’s the holiday, and News Years’, hopes of the Elite. From Chris Hedges, at TruthOut:
This Is What Revolution Looks Like …
(The ‘corporate oligarchs’ want us to) Return to watching the lies, absurdities, trivia and celebrity gossip we feed you in 24-hour cycles on television. … Run up your credit card debt. … Chant back to us our phrases about democracy, greatness and freedom. Vote in our rigged political theater. Send your young men and women to fight and die in useless, unwinnable wars that provide corporations with huge profits. Stand by mutely as our bipartisan congressional super committee … plunges you into a society without basic social services … .
The historian Crane Brinton in his book ‘Anatomy of a Revolution’ laid out the common route to revolution. …
Revolutions always begin, he wrote, by making impossible demands that if the government met would mean the end of the old configurations of power. The second stage, the one we have entered now, is the unsuccessful attempt by the power elite to quell the unrest and discontent through physical acts of repression.
While there are obviously many new aspects to this political / social moment, there is also what OWS recognizes as, “stand(ing) on the shoulders of those who have struggled before us.”
Arun Gupta, at AlterNet provides an idea of about what some of those “shoulders” were working for.
7 Occupations That Changed US History
… 1) The Great Upheaval of 1877
… railroad men sparked the first general strike in U.S. history. Following a second pay cut in eight months, workers for the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad seized the train lines and roundhouse in the small town of Martinsburg, West Virginia on July 16, 1877. …
2) 1930s labor movements
The Flint sit-down strikes that began in December 1936 and won union recognition for hundreds of thousands of industrial workers are legendary. But more than two years earlier, workers flexed their militancy through forms of occupation that won wage increases and union representation. …
3) Harvard Building Women’s Takeover
On International Women’s Day in 1971, March 6, hundreds of women began a 10-day occupation of a Harvard-owned building in Cambridge, Massachusetts. …
4) Free Speech Movement
… Facing an extremely hostile political structure and media a century ago, the “Wobblies” (Industrial Workers of the World), Emma Goldman and other anarchists honed their soap-box speaking to effectively promote their causes and build their ranks. They believed in the power of workers as producers, and put their hope in the general strike and street politics. …
5)The Stono Rebellion
… On the morning of Sept. 9, (1739) … up to 100 black slaves who had covertly gathered at the Stono River in South Carolina launched the largest rebellion in pre-Revolutionary War America. Slave revolts are by their nature a secretive affair, but Stono’s Rebellion involved the occupation of public space: a procession of liberated slaves who marched toward Florida where the Spanish had promised freedom. …
6) The Battle in Seattle
The immediate pre-cursor to the Occupy Wall Street Movement is the alter-globalization movement that caused the collapse of the WTO ministerial in Seattle in late 1999. Horizontalist and anarchist, the movement occupied areas around conclaves of the ruling elites: the WTO, IMF, World Bank, World Economic Forum and NATO. …
7) Lunch Counter Sit-ins
On Feb. 1, 1960, four freshmen from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College sat down at a whites-only lunch counter in a Woolworth store in the city of Greensboro and asked to be served coffee and doughnuts. They stay until the store closes. The next day the four return with other students, and by day four the number of protesters is nearly 300.
See, the darn dirty hippies who just need to get a job have historical models. So does some of the press, as Gupta’s quote from a March 4, 1912 editorial by the San Diego Tribune reveals, describing the Free Speech Movement occupiers:
… they are absolutely useless in the human economy; they are the waste material of creation and should be drained off into the sewer of oblivion there to rot in cold obstruction like any other excrement.
All of which provides context for tomorrow as OWS continues the tradition:
International Day of Action
On Thursday November 17th, the two month anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement, we call upon the 99% to participate in a national day of direct action and celebration! …
You can find details at the link, including about the plans of Occupy Colleges.
(Photo via OWS)