Next Steps for OWS
The leaderless Occupy Movement should quietly thank Mayor Bloomberg for ending the encampment in Zuccotti Park. As Ad Busters, the culture jamming magazine which first proposed Occupy Wall Street, suggested yesterday that there are two routes forward.
STRATEGY #1: We summon our strength, grit our teeth and hang in there through winter … heroically we sleep in the snow … we impress the world with our determination and guts … and when the cops come, we put our bodies on the line and resist them nonviolently with everything we’ve got.
STRATEGY #2: We declare “victory” and throw a party … a festival … a potlatch … a jubilee … a grand gesture to celebrate, commemorate, rejoice in how far we’ve come, the comrades we’ve made, the glorious days ahead. Imagine, on a Saturday yet to be announced, perhaps our movement’s three month anniversary on December 17, in every #OCCUPY in the world, we reclaim the streets for a weekend of triumphant hilarity and joyous revelry.
We dance like we’ve never danced before and invite the world to join us.
Then we clean up, scale back and most of us go indoors while the die-hards hold the camps. We use the winter to brainstorm, network, build momentum so that we may emerge rejuvenated with fresh tactics, philosophies, and a myriad projects ready to rumble next Spring.
Strategy #2 is the way to go. I don’t even think you need the “die-hards” to hold geography, because the movement is not about territory, but about ideas. What is needed over the winter months is a series of Teach-Ins like the epic events that made the Anti-Vietnam War Movement coalesce in the winter and spring of 1965. Now is the time on college and high school campuses to educate the wider public on the issues of economic inequality. The movement has a powerful meme–”We are the 99%”–which was in danger of being diffused by the inevitable crime and sanitation problems that come from putting a small cities in public parks all over the country. Out of these teach-ins should come some specific proposals that OWS would push during the 2012 election. Here are four suggested pillars:
- A surtax on incomes over $1 million
- A Tobin Tax on Stock Trading
- End the corrupting influence of money in politics
- Bring the troops home
One last thought. In the last few weeks I have often thought “What would Martin Luther King do in this moment?” Ultimately the great social justice movements in America like women’s suffrage, ending child labor or the civil rights movement have come about out of a strict adhesion to the loving principles of non-violence. Dr. King, who I marched with in Boston in April of 1965, consistently held up a vision of a better world that we would make through non-violence. His most famous speech was “I have a dream” not “I have a nightmare”. I know that there is a small group of angry young anarchists trying to influence the OWS movement. Those of us with grey in our beards have been here before, watching the Weathermen subvert a non-violent peace movement. What we ended up with was Richard Nixon (running on a law and order platform) as our President.
We should not make that mistake again.