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The Occupy Movement: Drumbeats of change

Posted 4 years ago on Sept. 15, 2013, 9:53 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt (1) from Plainfield, NJ

I would have liked to know what the drummer hoped and what she expected. We will never know why she decided to take a drum to the central markets of Paris on Oct. 5, 1789, and why, that day, the tinder was so ready to catch fire from the drumbeat's sparks.

To the beat of that drum, the working women of the marketplace marched all the way to the Palace of Versailles, a dozen miles away, occupied the seat of French royal power, forced the king back to Paris and breathed life into the French Revolution. It was one of those mysterious moments when citizens felt impelled to act and acted together, becoming in the process that mystical body, civil society, the colossus who writes history with her feet and crumples governments with her bare hands.

She strode out of the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, during which parts of the central city collapsed along with the credibility and power of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, the PRI, which had ruled Mexico for 70 years. She woke up almost three years ago in North Africa, in what was called the Arab Spring, and became a succession of revolutions and revolts still unfolding across the region.

In the new space that appears after such transformative moments, however briefly, the old rules no longer apply. New rules may be written or a counterrevolution may be launched to bring back the old order, but the moment that counts is the one where civil society is its own rule, improvising the terms of an ideal society for a day, a month, a season, the 10-week duration of the Paris Commune of 1871 or the weeks or months that Occupy encampments blossomed in city parks across the United States.

Those who dismiss these moments because of their flaws need to look harder at what joy and hope shine out of them and what real changes have, historically, emerged because of them. Change is rarely as simple as dominoes. It can be as complex as chaos theory and as slow as evolution.

Sometimes the earth closes over these moments and they have no obvious consequences; but they can also become the Velvet Revolution and the fall of the Berlin Wall and all those glorious insurrections in the Eastern Bloc in 1989. Empires can crumble and ideologies drop away like shackles unlocked.

I have often heard that Freedom Summer in Mississippi registered some voters and built some alliances in 1964, but that its lasting impact was on the young participants themselves. They were galvanized by a mission that stayed with them as they went on to do a thousand different things that mattered.

By such standards, when it comes to judging the effects of Occupy, it's far too soon to tell what its lasting effects will be. But some things are already apparent.

Almost as soon as Occupy Wall Street appeared in the fall of 2011, the national conversation changed and the brutality and obscenity of Wall Street were suddenly being openly discussed. The suffering of ordinary people crushed by the burden of medical, housing or college debt came out of the shadows.

California passed a homeowner's bill of rights to curtail the viciousness of the banks, and in late 2012, Strike Debt emerged as an Occupy offshoot to address indebtedness in creative and subversive ways. Student debt suddenly became (and remains) a topic of national discussion, and proposals for student loan reform began to gain traction.

Invisible suffering was made visible. And, though Occupy was never primarily about electoral politics, it was nonetheless a significant part of the conversation that got Elizabeth Warren elected senator and prompted a few other politicians to do good things in the cesspit of the capital.

Change often happens when the brutality of the status quo is made visible and therefore intolerable. Thus did slavery become unacceptable to ever more non-slaves before the Civil War. Thus did the rights of many groups in this country — women, people of color, gay people, disabled people — grow exponentially. Thus did marriage stop being an exclusive privilege of heterosexuality, and earlier, thanks to feminism, a hierarchical relationship between a husband with owner's rights and wife with the status of property.

Occupy Wall Street allowed those silenced by shame, invisibility or lack of interest from the media to speak up. As a result, the realities behind our particular economic game came to be described more accurately; so much so that the media and politicians had to change their language to adjust to a series of previously ignored realities.

Part of what gave Occupy its particular beauty was the way the movement defined "we" as the 99%. That phrase (along with that contagious meme "the 1%") entered our language, offering a far more inclusive way of imagining the world.

The encampments are now gone, but things that were born in them survive: coalitions and alliances and senses of possibility and frameworks for understanding what's wrong and what could be right.

On this, the second anniversary of that day in Lower Manhattan when people first sat down in outrage and then stayed in dedication and solidarity and hope, remember them. Remember how unpredictably the world changes; remember those doing heroic work whom you might hear little about but who are all around you; remember to hope; remember to build; remember that Parisian drummer girl. Remember that you are, most likely, part of the 99%, and take up the burden that is also an invitation to change the world and occupy your dreams.

Read the original article here: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/commentary/la-oe-solnit-effects-of-the-occupy-movement-20130915,0,6536090.story



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[-] 2 points by beautifulworld (22876) 4 years ago

A very nice summation of this movement and it's nascent legacy.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (33496) from Coon Rapids, MN 4 years ago

In compliment - GR8 E-Mail :

Have you lapsed into the old habits of helplessness, despair and isolation? Have you forgotten how fiercely you’ve fought, the strength and courage you showed, how it felt to shoulder a burden, no matter how heavy, with friends and allies?

Fortunately, the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street is at hand, acting as a timely reminder about what Occupy means to us all! And on this S17, the Occupy Network is especially excited about one campaign in particular.

This September 17th demand that our politicians Tax Wall Street.

There are many great actions rolling out on S17, but the Robin Hood Tax is particularly encouraging to us since it epitomizes Occupy's fight for fairness. This proposed minuscule taxation of Wall Street transactions can generate hundreds of billions of dollars annually, tangibly transforming the lives of everyday Americans who are struggling day to day to make ends meet.

Like Robin Hood, the tax targets financial injustice, repurposing money that is being hoarded by a small sector of Wall Street and bringing it back into the service of the common good.

The tax takes .05% from all Wall Street transactions - not the daily transactions of regular people - but those done by Wall Street banks, hedge funds, and the like. This tax specifically targets the short-term casino style trades that threw us into a financial abyss.

The $350 billion acquired by this tax will then be applied to the health and well-being of the country: providing universal health care, abolishing student loans, paying for jobs and to rejuvenate our decaying infrastructure by renovating our crumbling bridges and dysfunctional hospitals. The money could provide for a new Green economy, make sure all children and adults receive the education they deserve, and, as unbelievable as it seems, effectively cure AIDS globally by making medicine and treatment universally accessible.

Occupy S17: join us to fight for a Tax on Wall Street.

This is movement legislation, and it encompasses a long-term, practical fight for a more just world. Of course we would prefer to jail the bankers and break up the banks. But in the absence of that, we still have a powerful way to proceed. At the very least let’s shame our politicians into compelling the banksters who stole our money to give it back! A small tax like this is more than fair, and it’s an eminently achievable goal to boot.

Our sisters and brothers in the National Nurses Union, Transit Workers United, VocalNY, Act Up and Occupy are ready to go, to throw their weight behind this cause and raise their voices, to chart a way forward out of environmental and economic crisis.

We need all voices loud, all fists raised, the love from all of our hearts and all of us there to do the hard work. As we take the first step, we need you with us.

Come join the cause on September 17th to #TaxWallStreet.

Remember why we occupied, and join us again.

-- from your Occupy Network team

p.s. S17 is but one important date coming up as we approach the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. Watch this powerful video interviewing Sandy Survivors and explaining how a Robin Hood Tax could help build a better world for us all.

Future emails will includes a partial listing of events with an action focus related to the Occupy Movement in New York City. Find a more comprehensive listing of OWS events, including assemblies and meetings, at NYCGA.net/events. Please email takeaction@occupynetwork.com about actions to consider for inclusion, and to contact us at large.

Makes a nice TWEET as well

DKAtoday ‏@DKAtoday

OccupyNetwork: http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/50112/t/0/blastContent.jsp?email_blast_KEY=1258414 … #OWS

Tax wallstreet - it will be a start to proper reform. And a proper boost to public moneys.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (33496) from Coon Rapids, MN 4 years ago

Very nice - Very eloquent - OH - almost forgot - TWEET

DKAtoday ‏@DKAtoday

Occupy Movement: Drumbeats of change | http://OccupyWallSt.org : http://occupywallst.org/forum/occupy-movement-drumbeats-change/#.UjY3opcemr4.twitter

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