The diverse strengths of Occupy Wall Street

Adam Kranz

Consider this a letter to those who are totally clueless and to those who are just a little confused.

Think of Occupy Wall St. as a counter-occupation. Occupation — the control of a resource, typically land, through violence or threat of violence — is an apt name for the war on people and the planet that our civilization has undertaken. The occupiers stand against this very-much-alive legacy of violence by reclaiming spaces for real communities and realizing just alternatives.

Occupy Wall St. is not an activist campaign like those organized by Amnesty International and other hierarchical organizations. It is not designed to achieve one specific goal and then stop. It is, in fact, not designed to stop at all.

Those in power are completely baffled by the language of justice. They speak the language of hierarchy, privilege and violence. The most charitable thoughts they have for the classes beneath them is modest reform.

Just give us some modest demands, they say, so we can water them down in Congress and placate the people enough that they stop challenging the deeper iniquities of the system.

The movement must refuse to limit its demands to incremental reform and refuse to allow itself to be co-opted by established institutions like the Democratic party. Only then will the movement stand a chance at achieving its dreams for a more just society.

Occupy Together is a movement that is just as ideologically varied as the system it opposes. Just as industrial capitalism isn’t dictated by a single underlying ideology, there is no one vision for the solution.

Nor should there be! Solutions must be diverse, locally appropriate and community-built in order to be stable and just.

The embrace of intellectual diversity is one of the movement’s main strengths. Occupy Wall St. has united many groups together in solidarity to fight for a common purpose, rather than allowing those in power to divide and conquer by bickering over their preferred alternative to capitalism.

There are many forms and rationalizations for capitalism. Yet this division hasn’t stopped the system from killing 200 species a day, or setting record corporate profits.

The Occupy Wall St. movement proves the inverse can be true for alternative systems. The battle here is not between corporatism and state socialism, for example—the conflict is between social systems that value life and social well-being and those that rely on violence to prosper.

While the movement has no definite, explicit goals, there are a variety of accomplishments by which its success can be gauged. The movement will be successful to the extent that it politicizes the American people, both by cultivating a sense of class consciousness and solidarity, and by engaging them in politics as a participatory sport.

Many people already have the sense that our government doesn’t function in the peoples’ interest. If people realize that politics can be meaningful and fun when you stand up and do it yourself, then Occupy Wall St. will have been a success.

The Occupation is also an end in itself. It is the public discussion, outside the narrow bounds set by the corporate-owned and corporate-thinking media, about political issues. The occupation is training a generation of leaders to meet the logistical and spiritual challenges of popular movement-building and community organizing.

It embodies many alternative ways of structuring community and sharing resources. Decisions are made through consensus. Community needs are filled by volunteer-based working groups. Resources are distributed based on need, not privilege.

More than anything else, Occupy Wall St. proves to the world that resistance is fertile. Wall St. is the seat of an empire that extends across the world and into the lives of Americans. Just as the hegemony extends into the homes and cities of the empire, so too does the resistance.

You are the 99 percent. This is your movement, your moment to make history and to remake the world. Look up “Occupy” Appleton, and find some time to get out there.