Rebecca Solnit has her finger on the pulse of Occupy, that “bouncing baby” born with equal strife and joy just a year ago – and our nascent movement is indeed alive, well, and growing bigger and deeper than many pessimists and realists have grown accustomed to believing. Solnit lists a plethora of exciting achievements, and several silent, lesser known victories achieved by Occupy and other insurrectionary movements this year, but with sobriety, she also reminds us that “one year” is an absurdly brief amount of time to evaluate any movement that matters. For example, one year into the Civil Rights movement, “the montgomery bus boycott was still in progress, catalyzed by an unknown secretary and a preacher from Atlanta...that is, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.”
However, even within Occupy's first year, remarkable things have happened, and the vast systemic change we are all vying for could very well be ahead; that is, so long as we keep our eyes on the prize, keep the faith, and continue asserting ourselves as heroes of our future – whether through acts of stubborn persistence, or patience. On September 17, 2011, a small group of malcontented youth headed to Zuccotti Park with tents and audacious intent, but what happened next went far beyond our expectations. Occupy's staying power was what was extraordinary, and as Solnit reminds us, we can't forget that this movement (it's tools, actions, ideas and emancipatory mantras) spread rapidly from lower Manhattan to thousands of cities, towns and even rural areas across the country and overseas, where “many of the effects of what has already happened are incalculable, and more of what is being accomplished will only be clear further down the road.”
Solnit banishes the ghosts of doubt and cynicism that haunt the minds of revolutionaries and status-quo vigilantes alike: “We get more victories than anyone imagines, but they are usually indirect, incomplete, slow to arrive, and situations where our influence can be assumed but not proven – and yet each of them is worth counting.” And still all these victories are just the foundation of what is on the horizon for this movement. It's only been one year, and it's definitely an anniversary worth celebrating.
We continue to chip away at the once daunting and impenetrable “Wall” of Wall Street. One day soon there will be more fissures and fractures in the system than then there are excuses for its persistence. The obstinate vainglory of Wall Street reveals that they are in fact over-compensating for a lack, a deep internal rupture. Wall Street and the big banks are putting on an impressive show to distract themselves (and as many of us as possible) from the total collapse of this wholly unjust and destructive economic system – but theirs is an increasingly frail bravura. Similarly, just as Putin's sentence of Pussy Riot affirms the true power of their radical dissent, so does the violence of the corporate police-state point to the fact that there is something they are afraid of – the united “Us.”
But don't be distracted by the perhaps all-too dominating “Occupy” meme. This movement is just one limb of a global uprising: The Arab Spring, the student uprisings in Montreal, Mexico and Chile, the economic revolts in Spain, Greece and Britain, the insurrections in Africa, resistance and protests in India, Japan, China and Tibet. To focus only on OWS is myopic and even narcissistic. We are not alone in resisting greed, political corruption, economic inequality and environmental devastation. The whole world is watching, and (almost) the whole world stands with us.
Together, we can make history. Keep the faith, knowing, as Solnit says, that “we can get there from here.”
Read Solnit's piece here if you haven't already.