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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

from #OccupyWallStreet to #Occupy?

October 18, 2011
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I haven't been blogging for the last few days because I have been editing a 10,000 word piece by Ethan Miller (of GEO) connecting #OWS to solidarity economics. It's titled OCCUPY * CONNECT * CREATE. GEO will posting it as 7-part series very soon. Annie McShiras and Cheyenna Weber have also been editing.

Below is an email interview that I did with a journal from Brasil. Someone referred them to Solidarity NYC, and thus to Cheyenna. She's immersed in the #OWS action much more than I am. She passed it on to me since I am more sitting back, writing, editing, commenting, and periodically sipping inexpensive Merlot. For better or worse, here it is.


Brasil de Fato Interview


Are the latest demonstrations in other U.S. cities are in line with the "Ocuppy Wall Street"?

Let me start by saying something about me that is very relevant to your question. I am one individual with my perceptions and voice. No one person, even those here and those initiating this action, can give definitive answers about #OWS. The phenomenon-maybe we should now refer to it as #Occupy-is now global.

Regarding "the line": it is about the deep and systemic exploitation of ordinary people carried out by a strategy from the top down to "privatize gains and socialize costs." The negative cry from #Occupy is, "Enough!" The positive cry is, "Let's build something else that meets our needs." Different occupation sites and different people add their particulars to these two basic demands.


The demands of the movement need to be clearer? Are these protests only against the domination of large corporations and the financial system on the policy?

From my point of view and from what I hear most of the time at #OWS is that the whole political/economic system is the problem. Many, many people seem to grasp this. They have responded to the #OccupyWallStreet action because it has provided the kind of forum that gives the many voices of pain and outrage a public place to do two basic things. One, to say together "Enough!" to the system as a whole. Two, to connect with each other, and to know that solidarity for deep change is desired. I am not alone in this. We in Smalltown, USA are not alone. You in the US are not alone.

Here is a mantra that seems to capture what is happening: "Occupy! Connect! Create!" First there was #OWS, and that phase spread globally and is still spreading. The second phase-Connect-is now beginning to happen locally in many places everywhere. Let's see what happens with the third phase. That could be a short story, or it could be a very long one.


In what sense is this movement in the United States considered to be the most important movement against neoliberalism, if one can speak this way?

We all tend to think through our rear-view mirrors as we travel down our highways of life. #OWS is a happening right in front of us; it is not a "movement." It is a trip down a highway of possibilities. First, a local happening at key acupuncture spot in the whole exploitive system. Then it became a national happening, each #Occupy being another needle inserted at another key acupuncture spot. Now it's global. This is a new energy field for new things to come into being-the Create phase.

What will become of all these happenings does not depend on exploitive system. It depends on how effectively those who go into the Create phase can work together in solidarity, locally, regionally, nationally, and globally. This is the only way they can develop the power to make systemic changes. This requires positive and negative actions. Positive actions like learning how to talk with each other face-to-face and how to strategize for at least 100 years. Negative actions like fighting among each other rather than negotiating out differences.


What is the weight of dissatisfaction with Obama's policies in the protests of "Occupy Wall Street"?

Obama's presidency is mostly trapped inside of this systemic system. The financial meltdown in 2008 completely sucked his presidency into rescuing that part of the system, and it has never gotten out of it. In retrospect, it probably never would have with or without the meltdown.


How have the police been acting? Are they allowing full freedom of expression?

The Authorities (which the police are a part of) have not yet taken any major action to shut the #OWS. It backed away from one such action recently around the so-called ?sanitation' issue. #OWS brilliantly out-swept and out-mopped this move of the Authorities.

Others might disagree with me as I do have a special view on this. I was involved in the Student Strike at Columbia University in May of 1968. There the police eventually came in and dismantled the entire action in about 12 hours. With great stealth they removed all the Black protestors with no violence. Then they removed all the other students from all the other ?liberated' buildings. When they ran into a show of passive non-resistance, they crushed it beatings. Their action ended with a virtual police riot that ran everybody off the campus.

Nothing like this is happening at #OWS. I think this occupying action is whole new kind of fish for the Authorities, and they are trying to figure out how to fillet and cook it. In the meantime, they have kept order and have only posed annoying restrictions on freedom of speech.



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