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Occupy Wall Street, Year 2: We Know What We Want

By Mickey Z.

21 September, 2012
World News Trust

“There must exist a paradigm, a practical model for social change that includes an understanding of ways to transform consciousness that are linked to efforts to transform structures.” - bell hooks

Translation of above quote: Talk to yer neighbors...

Before leaving my apartment on Sept. 17 to take part in the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) first anniversary convergence, I emptied my pockets, my bag, and my wallet and carefully examined the contents of each.


I knew Mayor Bloomberg’s private army -- the notorious Blue Bloc -- would be out in force and with the increased possibility of being arrested for exercising my rights, I had to minimize the chance of being further charged with possession of anything the NYPD might arbitrarily decide is incriminating.

Such is life in god’s country...

After an exhilarating and exhausting day of solidarity and celebration, I returned home that evening to read the predictable corporate media line, e.g. “A year later and they still don’t know what they want.”

Mic Check: I want the freedom to carry a piece of goddamned chalk in my bag.

For this article, I had every intention of writing an upbeat anniversary diary of sorts -- detailing my OWS-related experiences and adventures from Sept. 14-17: The reunion-like vibe, the ongoing Trinity occupation, the Town Squares, the teach-ins (including my own), the music, the creativity, the hugs and kisses and tears, and yeah... the arrests.

But, as I watched the Blue bloc in action... as I read the mainstream reactions... as I listen every day to the non-OWS people in my life sounding more and more like Occupiers, I’ve decided it’s more important to once again address the Propaganda State and the need to expand our numbers.

Occupy Outreach

Even though corporate media collusion (and state repression, for that matter) is standard operating policy, it’s key to not get too used to this situation. It’s crucial that we don’t let the 1% normalize propaganda and misinformation. We must call them on their bullshit while working twice as hard to present the truth about OWS.

On Sunday, at Foley Square, I was asked twice -- by a fellow Occupier and during an interview -- about what I was hoping for this past weekend and the coming year. Both times, I essentially answered: OUTREACH.

Of course, no one knows how Occupy will play out but without broader support from the masses, it cannot grow, evolve, and fully realize its potential. Thus, I strongly suggested that our top priority is to "recruit” and I’ll strongly suggest now that such recruitment requires us to never stop clarifying why we occupy.

To help with this task, I’ve gone back to an article I wrote just before May Day -- in which I took on the daunting task of explaining why we organized a strike for International Workers Day.

To follow is an updated version of that message...

Occupy This
Please allow me to introduce a fundamental reason to occupy: The United States constitutes roughly 5 percent of the earth's population but consumes more than 25 percent of the earth's resources.

Why do we occupy?

The U.S. Department of Defense -- the interventionist institution formerly known as the War Department -- is the biggest polluter on Planet Earth, for example, releasing more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined. To add insult to injury, the world's worst polluter also gobbles up 54 percent of taxpayer dollars.

A small taste of what we're getting for all that money: A decade after the U.S.-led invasion, Afghanistan has the highest infant mortality rate in the world -- 257 deaths per 1,000 live births -- while 70 percent of the population lacks access to clean water. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, it's been found that one in seven U.S. drone strikes result in a child fatality.

Why do we occupy?

Here in the land of the free, one in 31 adults is in prison, on parole, or on probation, corporations enjoy "personhood," 50 million are without health insurance; 2,660 children are born into poverty every day; and the two-party deception still rules -- thanks to all that aforementioned corporate media propaganda (by age 18, the average American has seen roughly 360,000 TV commercials and by age 70, will have spent ten of those 70 years watching TV).

Here in the home of the brave, women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man is paid; 44 percent of the U.S. death row population is African-American (an ethnic group that constitutes only 12.6 percent of the nation’s people as a whole); total student debt now exceeds the total consumer debt and just passed $1 trillion; and every 46 seconds a woman is raped.

Why do we occupy?

We occupy against: Hydro-fracking, tar sands extraction, GMOs, animal experimentation, nuclear weapons and waste, annual worldwide use of pesticides of 500 billion tons, and a frightening, mostly ignored 30 percent rise in ocean acidification.

We occupy against animal byproducts being the number one source of annual worldwide human-caused greenhouse gas -- all in the name of an industry also responsible for unspeakable animal cruelty, an epidemic of preventable human diseases, and more control/profit for the 1%.

We occupy because under-nutrition contributes to 5 million deaths of children under five each year in developing countries.

We occupy because every square mile of ocean now hosts 46,000 pieces of floating plastic.

We occupy because the planet's leading cause of human death and illness is diarrhea and 88 percent of these deaths are directly linked to a lack of access to safe water.

We occupy because every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation (1.5 million preventable deaths each year).

Why do we occupy?

We occupy because 90 percent of the large fish are already gone.

We occupy because 80 percent of the world's forests are already gone.

We occupy to challenge all classism, racism, sexism, speciesism, ability-ism, patriarchy, homophobia, and any other form of discrimination, hierarchy, and repression.

Why do we occupy?

Because every single day: 200,000 acres of rain forest are destroyed; 150-200 plant and animal species go extinct; 13 million tons of toxic chemicals are released across the globe; and 25,000 to 30,000 children under the age of five die from preventable causes.

We occupy because all that I just listed is but a minuscule sampling of what business-as-usual has wrought. I could go on... and on and on, but I'd rather get back to outreach.

Occupy More Outreach

Good news: There are more rebels active these days than ever before.

Bad news: Thanks to the pervasive conditioning of the dominant culture, there are millions more being kept idle.

We must encourage others to experience Occupy in person: participate, communicate, listen, and learn because (as usual) the reality is diametrically opposed to the conventional wisdom. OWS is a movement comprised of thousands of individuals from all walks of life -- working collectively and sharing skills in the name of preserving the future.

Luring in more comrades means cultivating alternative models of culture, it means connecting with those already involved in other forms of activism, and most of all: it means reaching out to potential allies.

So, instead of imagining potential endgames, let's recognize that a successful movement must be an enduring process -- a process that requires constant evolution and outreach.

Mic Check: Talk to yer neighbors...


Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook.

© WorldNewsTrust.com -



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