On this day eight years ago, the mass movement that mobilized a generation descended on the world’s financial capital.
#OccupyWallStreet marked a turning point in our political culture — one when we decided that drastic change was needed in order to renew notions of equality, freedom, justice, and democracy.
The Occupy movement brought ideas of radical reinvention to the mainstream’s attention. It caught the imagination of a new generation of dreamers, redeemers, outsiders, and idealists. It gave birth to a new day for the disobedient mindset. And it shaped the course of our culture, moulding the very way in which we now talk about power and politics, culture and economics.
Without Occupy, it may be said that a critical gaze on how power is used and abused might lack the rekindled, widespread appreciation that it enjoys today. Without Occupy, greater numbers of the disillusioned may have succumbed to apathy and inaction. Without Occupy, it may have been impossible for a presidential candidate to run while praising the ideals of socialism.
#OccupyWallStreet changed the way we think about protest, activism, and citizens in revolt. It transformed notions of what is possible to achieve, in our time, in the name of revolutionary ideas.
And it all started here. One e-mail, from one magazine, spurred millions to the streets.
Below, read the Tactical Briefing that sparked #OccupyWallStreet — does it hold any clues for the future?
Alright you 90,000 redeemers, rebels and radicals out there,
A worldwide shift in revolutionary tactics is underway right now that bodes well for the future. The spirit of this fresh tactic, a fusion of Tahrir with the acampadas of Spain, is captured in this quote:
“The antiglobalization movement was the first step on the road. Back then our model was to attack the system like a pack of wolves. There was an alpha male, a wolf who led the pack, and those who followed behind. Now the model has evolved. Today we are one big swarm of people.”
— Raimundo Viejo, Pompeu Fabra University
The beauty of this new formula, and what makes this novel tactic exciting, is its pragmatic simplicity: we talk to each other in various physical gatherings and virtual people’s assemblies… we zero in on what our one demand will be, a demand that awakens the imagination and, if achieved, would propel us toward the radical democracy of the future… and then we go out and seize a square of singular symbolic significance and put our asses on the line to make it happen.
The time has come to deploy this emerging stratagem against the greatest corrupter of our democracy: Wall Street, the financial Gomorrah of America.
On September 17th, we want to see 20,000 people flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months. Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand in a plurality of voices.
Tahrir succeeded in large part because the people of Egypt made a straightforward ultimatum – that Mubarak must go – over and over again until they won. Following this model, what is our equally uncomplicated demand?
The most exciting candidate that we’ve heard so far is one that gets at the core of why the American political establishment is currently unworthy of being called a democracy: we demand that Barack Obama ordain a Presidential Commission tasked with ending the influence money has over our representatives in Washington. It’s time for REPRESENTATION NOT CORPORATION. We’re doomed without it.
This demand seems to capture the current national mood because cleaning up corruption in Washington is something all Americans, right and left, yearn for and can stand behind. If we hang in there, 20,000-strong, week after week against every police and National Guard effort to expel us from Wall Street, it would be impossible for Obama to ignore us. Our government would be forced to choose publicly between the will of the people and the lucre of the corporations.
This could be the beginning of a whole new social dynamic in America, a step beyond the Tea Party movement, where, instead of being caught helpless by the current power structure, we the people start getting what we want whether it be the dismantling of half the 1,000 military bases America has around the world to the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act or a three strikes and you’re out law for corporate criminals. Beginning from one simple demand – a presidential commission to separate money from politics – we start setting the agenda for a new America.
Go to adbusters.org and tell us what you think. Post a comment and help each other zero in on what our one demand will be.
And then let’s screw up our courage, pack our tents and head to Wall Street with a vengeance September 17th.