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Giving Thanks for OCCUPY

November 25, 2011
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Giving Thanks for OCCUPY
Five indicators that the OCCUPY Movement could be a major turn in history

Certainly many of us profoundly grateful for what Occupy has accomplished in less than ten weeks, but maybe it's a lot more than we are feeling thankful for. There are several signs indicating that the Occupy movement is truly substantial as well as substantially different from past movements and revolutions.

1. The dynamics between police and street actions are something like a very complex dance around who can win the media game. At one level the objective of the police is to get their use of force seen as a positive action for the sake of maintaining order against the efforts of ‘very dangerous elements within society.' Savvy coordination of street actions, either in the form of thought out strategies or intuitive wisdom in the moment, seeks to show how the police action is a blatant use of force that is not needed for maintaining order, but is violence being used against citizens peacefully exercising their first amendment rights. The police are losing this battle. It would seem then that the ‘1%' are being seriously challenged in their capacity to frame the occupations.

David Graeber has written a fascinating field analysis of this complex dance: ON THE PHENOMENOLOGY OF GIANT PUPPETS: broken windows, imaginary jars of urine, and the cosmological role of the police in American culture.

2. A related dynamic is identified here:

Democracy is not simply speaking truth to power, to ask, politely or not, for reforms great and small. Sometimes you have to do it yourself.
The 1% is just beginning to understand that the reason Occupy Wall Street makes no demands is because we aren't talking to them. The 99% are speaking and listening to each other. 4,167 people have been arrested since the occupations began; millions more are reimagining the world we want to live in.

Read the whole piece at

3. The occupation phenomena has grown to the point where folks are now daring to use such language as "The United States of Occupation."

4. People are beginning to draw upon more substantive historical perspective in interpreting the significance of the Occupy phenomenon. For example:

When a brilliantly organized antislavery movement began in London in 1787, it quickly found a following. As often happens, the grassroots outpaced headquarters, and, unorganized by anyone except a couple of pamphlets suggesting the idea, by 1792 at least 400,000 people in the British Isles were refusing to eat slave-grown sugar. It was the largest consumer boycott the world had yet seen?-?and one of those moments when people who cared deeply about something looked around and saw they were not alone... In combating entrenched power of a different sort-a system with obscene profits for the 1% and hardship and a downward slide for many of the rest-I think we're now at about 1792 in this process. We have a long way to go. But we know we're not alone.

Read the whole piece at

5. Finally, folks like Cornel West are now singing of an emerging deep democracy as "a love supreme:"

The full-scale bankruptcy of the neoliberal order?-?of deregulated markets, unaccountable oligarchs, bribed politicians?-?is now an established fact of life and history. Its age is coming to an end. Our deep democratic enlightenment must break us out of our narrow intellectual frameworks and our parochial cultural habitus. Like the inventors of jazz, we must be open-minded, flexible, fluid, inclusive, transparent, courageous, self-critical, compassionate and visionary. We must recast old notions of empire, class, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and nature into new ways of thinking and being. Our movement is a precious, sublime, messy and funky form of incubation. Again like jazz, we must embody and enact a loving embrace of the art of our collaborative creations. We must embody a universal embrace of all those in the human family, and sentient beings, and consolidate an unstoppable fortitude in the face of systems of oppression and structures of domination. We will suffer, shudder and struggle together with smiles on our faces and a love supreme in our souls. Just as justice is what love looks like in public and tenderness is what love feels like in private, deep democratic revolution is what justice looks like in practice.

Read the whole piece at

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