Since the Occupy protests began a little over one month ago, I've joined the rest of the 99% in watching the movements progress with hope, determination, and occasional frustration.
As someone who has dedicated countless hours, resources and energy to resisting corporate power, economic inequality and social injustice, this movement couldn't be closer to my heart. In fact, I've increasingly felt like the greater part of my life's work succeeds or fails with the people in the streets worldwide.
With millions of others, I've supported the protests in the best ways I can. Personally, I've had limited ability to visit actions, as I've been touring Europe since early September. Through Knowmore.org however, I was able to publish a Proposed List of Demands that has been adopted by a number of Occupy groups, and used as a building block by others.
When the occupation reached London in October, I immediately took the chance to get a first hand look.
Here's a small video I put together that contains a visual tour and brief excerpt from a "teach-in" on the steps of St. Paul.
The fella with the megaphone makes a good point, and it's one that I want to use as the subject of this blog: it's important to remember that Occupy is now, and must remain, a global movement.
As individual Occupy groups now grapple with city governments, local concerns, and various issue based organisations joining their fold, I've seen a number of general assemblies that seem in peril of getting bogged down, fragmented, and co-opted.
Occupy demonstrations in other parts of Europe have been branded as being in response to austerity measures and various ongoing concerns. While this may be partially true, it's also a way of fragmenting what the Occupation is about and associating it with passing issues and entrenched political fights.
Remember: "Wall Street" is an abstraction, made of multinational corporations and the politicians they've bought and paid for, and it's influence is global.
You may win the battle against a factory in your town, state, or even country, but when the factory closes and moves elsewhere, the 99% have lost the war.
The people occupying Denver must stand in solidarity with-and teach, speak, and learn about- workers in China. When the media sticks a microphone in someone's face at Occupy London, they should hear about the destruction of Michigan's manufacturing base.
It's not just clever branding that has caused the Occupy movement to spread; it's a common suffering and disenfranchisement, a common cause, and a common enemy.
The more we become aware of that, the more powerful we will be.
Occupy groups should be asking each other:
What rights are inalienable, and belong to all human beings?
What things should no human being be deprived of?
What do Corporations have no right to privatise?
What is the minimum that people should be able to expect from their government/society?
How is my lifestyle/country tied to injustice elsewhere? Have I benefitted from that, and would I be willing to sacrifice in the interest of more equality? How can those changes start to happen?
The occupation is still young, and it's future is in all of our hands. What is certain is that governments will try to squeeze and crack down through use of force and intimidation in the near future.
Winter is headed for those in tents around the world, and in more ways than one. When the time comes, I believe we can win by knowing our aims, standing together, and mining the best practices of other successful movements.
More on the way soon.
Keep teaching, talking, resisting and Occupying.
B. Dolan is the creator and co-founder of Knowmore.org, a website that has been chronicling and resisting corporate power since 2005. He is also an emcee and performance artist, who is currently touring the UK with Scroobius Pip in support of his "FALLEN HOUSE, SUNKEN CITY" LP. Tour dates and more information are available at BDOLAN.NET.