Can we on the left learn some new tricks?
Hey you rebels, radicals and utopian dreamers out there,
We are living through a rare crisis and moment of opportunity. Western industrialized nations are now being masticated by the financial monster they themselves created. This is triggering a mood that alternates between angry denial and sudden panic. It looks like something is about to break, opening the space for a necessary transformation and a total rethink of global economic affairs. Events are playing perfectly into our September 17 occupation of Wall Street.
So … can we on the left learn some new tricks? Can we head off to lower Manhattan with a fresh mindset and a powerful new demand?
Strategically speaking, there is a very real danger that if we naively put our cards on the table and rally around the “overthrow of capitalism” or some equally outworn utopian slogan, then our Tahrir moment will quickly fizzle into another inconsequential ultra-lefty spectacle soon forgotten. But if we have the cunning to come up with a deceptively simple Trojan Horse demand … something profound, yet so specific and doable that it is impossible for President Obama to ignore … something that spotlights Wall Street’s financial capture of the US political system and confronts it with a pragmatic solution … like the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act … or a 1% tax on financial transactions … or an independent investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice into the corporate corruption of our representatives in Washington … or another equally creative but downright practical demand that will emerge from the people’s assemblies held during the occupation … and if we then put our asses on the line, screw up our courage and hang in there day after day, week after week, until a large swath of Americans start rooting for us and President Obama is forced to respond … then we just might have a crack at creating a decisive moment of truth for America, a first concrete step towards achieving the radical changes we all dream about unencumbered by commitments to existing power structures.
So, let’s learn the strategic lessons of Tahrir (nonviolence), Syntagma (tenacity), Puerta del Sol (people’s assemblies) and lay aside adherence to political parties and worn-out lefty dogmas. On September 17, let’s sow the seeds of a new culture of resistance in America that fires up a permanent democratic awakening.
See you on Wall St. Sept 17. Bring Tent.
for the wild,
Culture Jammers HQ
Read the original listserv that got #OCCUPYWALLSTREET rolling.
Bulletin from New York:
A second General Assembly (GA) was held Tuesday, August 9. About 175-200 people attended. The main things that were discussed were why people wanted to participate in #OCCUPYWALLSTREET, how the GAs should be organized, and what the message or demands of the occupation should be. Additional committees were formed and either met after the GA or scheduled future meetings, including website, media and culture committees. One problem we are wrestling with in all these areas is how to set up some kind of framework for 9/17 ahead of time so that we can provide food for people, convene the first GA smoothly, and begin thinking about why we are there, while leaving the process open so that everyone who participates on 9/17 can have a voice in shaping what this action will be about. The other big issue is, unsurprisingly, how to deal with the police. This is one area where some kind of pre-established framework is definitely going to be necessary, because if we don’t have a plan for avoiding mass arrests the occupation will not survive its first day. There’s still lots of work to be done, but we’re off to a good start and we’ve got over four weeks to get everything ready.
Thanks to Doug S. from New Yorkers Against Budget Cuts for this update.