Three issues surrounding Occupy stand out.
1. The vast majority of the 99% agree we are the 99%.
2. Currently, the Occupy groups are having difficulty speaking for the 99%.
3. Political/economic occupations are tactics to gain specific objectives
The discussions this week among the educators and community leaders with whom we intersect tend to focus on the positive impact of the Occupy effort to clarify the fact that we, the majority, the 99%, suffer at the hands of extreme wealth. This is a great step forward.
The same discussions lead to disappointment that the Occupy effort seems rigid and arrogant, and that some in the effort try to take organizing for a better nation into their own hands to the detriment of others. This lament focuses on Occupy’s apparent stiff arm of unions, community organizations, faith based organizations and others.
Our direct involvement in several occupations over the years seems to affirm that occupations are not just political statements; they are, first and foremost, a political tactic designed to force the adversary to give up sovereignty over the occupied territory. In the State of Washington we participated in four occupations. Continue reading
The Occupy Movement represents the most diverse and tenacious effort in decades to address America’s racism, economic injustices and militarism. The thrust of the movement calls upon all sectors to activate themselves for the benefit of all. Indeed, for the benefit of the nation. Occupiers, marchers, those who are sitting-in, standing up, teaching-in and showing up have opened the possibilities for the vast majority of Americans to serve the best interests of all the people.
Over the past decades the American people have mobilized on behalf of specific sectors and particular struggles for justice. The African-American community, Latinos and Native Nations have fought for civil and economic rights. Unions, women’s groups, and students have organized to stop the attacks against their organizations and to expand inclusion in civil society. Many organizations have struggled for specific causes such as opposing the military-industrial complex’s control over our nation’s government and its financial and technological sectors. Others have worked hard on issues of climate change, environmental justice, the prison-industrial complex and the reactionary assault on public education. All these efforts are extremely significant and will continue to be so. Now, however, the opportunity and responsibility of each sector and organization is to rush to get to know each other and to study and develop broad organizations, coalitions and alliances that are dedicated to what Dr. King calls “the study of the levers of power” and the demand to develop political, economic and cultural power. This responsibility will add to the efforts to further the interests of each sector. It will not detract from our own specific struggles. A national-wide struggle for justice, peace and democracy benefits and enriches each effort for inclusion and justice.
Democracy education is taking place in neighborhoods, mass organizations, in schools and on college campuses, in churches, synagogues and temples, and at the kitchen tables across the land. Not since the Great Depression has so many Americans understood so clearly the unjust and greedy role of the opulent 1%, and not since that time has the 99% seen clearly our possibilities and responsibilities to serve the interest of the vast majority. In doing so we not only advance the cause of justice, peace and democracy, we also add to the world-wide struggle to save and serve humanity.
Democracy Education Editors
test for community organizing category