I’ve been collecting some odds & ends of Occupy-related items I’ve been meaning to post since before going down to Occupy Toronto on Saturday (it’s Monday as I write/post this) & before that last post. This post is a collection of some links to things I find relevant & some comments about the Occupy movement from a new friend. Will do a separate post about my Saturday Occupy Toronto experiences.
So, Rami is a new Toronto friend I met in Ottawa at the tar sands protest.
She’s been a keen observer of what’s happening at Occupy Toronto, & I find her very insightful & articulate. Here are some of her observations:
“A few days ago they had 3,000 people signed up for this action [referring to the 350.org November 6th action in Washington]. Then suddenly 4,000, then 5,000. Today 12,000 people showed up and circled the White House in one big hug -- a symbol of will and attention and motivated action to remind the President of his direct responsibility, and his own promises.
Something pretty spectacular is afoot in this moment in time. The mainstream media is getting some of it, but missing (or misleading about) most. The reality on the ground is very human, varied, organic, strange, brilliant, imperfect: hard to pin down and define because it is in flux and because it is refusing to follow old patterns. Everyone, supporters and opposers alike, are challenged by what is arising in lateral, direct democracy experiments all over the world. How do we understand a movement arising, globally, without leaders? How do we tolerate inclusive, messy, democratic processes when almost everything we know is tied up in hierarchies or dualisms -- or both?
I have been spending a lot of time at our local occupation, and each time I am heartened or worried or amazed or disappointed or conflicted or entranced ... it is like seeing every aspect of humanity laid bare, the full spectrum, at once in one place. To be wholly in this is jarring when we are used to neat compartments of social relations. In this city, people typically are very closed to one another unless they know each other well. One does not make eye contact with strangers, let alone talk to them. In the park, the default is CONTACT and DISCUSSION -- deep, challenging, philosophical, political, ethical discussion. People who are usually hidden away are present and welcome. Idealisms are confronted with actuality, theories with practice. It is unlike anything else, and is also like everything in microcosm.
I read a quote from an early anarchist thinker who wrote that societies are made of social relationships, and that states structuralize and constrain those relationships (and because he was an anarchist he rejected the state's role as entirely clumsy and destructive). When revolutions happen, the structure may superficially change, but if the underlying social relationships are not addressed, the society really remains the same. A society cannot leave its own legacy behind through revolutionary changes of structure. It is the social relationships themselves that must change in order for a society truly to change. I think we can see this example in the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the Russian Revolution...the old order is emulated in the new order, with different flags and rhetoric, but very similar imbalances of power no matter how egalitarian the principles.
It feels to me that the social experiment unfolding in these spontaneous villages-within-cities, arising all over the world, is about taking time to take stock, really look at what we have, get as clear as we possibly can about what IS, and respond with freshness, creativity, resourcefulness, and invention. Nothing is inevitable."
Later: “I have to admit to feeling concerned about the cold and the pressures against endurance for the physical camps. Already the conversation has changed, already victories have happened -- the greatest I believe being the re-charging of dissent!! But much more needs to be done, the momentum needs to keep rolling...and, it's probably not helpful to cling to one creative form of protest...when this passes, more creativity will arise. The centralized focus of the camps is really helpful as a hub, and I hope it DOES persist, and evolve.
Last night media spoke to the need to connect the off-site community with on-site. There was a privileging of the park, for the first month, and I think that was right. But there is also the real need to be able to work with and draw upon the whole greater community that is NOT at the park. They have made it possible for people to participate more fluidly in committees online, by setting up forums for idea gathering and input, and organizing. So this is very exciting!”
Rami’s blog is here
‘The Story of Broke’: This 8-minute film from Annie Leonard – of ‘Story of Stuff’ fame – is utterly relevant to the Occupy movement (& everything else going on in the world!)
The New Progressive Movement by Jeffrey Sachs
OCCUPY THIS (these next 5 from my favourite astrologer)
Occupy Earth…Naomi Wolf "A world war is underway. It's unlike any war in history. People around the world are not identifying themselves along national or religious lines, but as a global consciousness: demanding peace, democracy, sustainability, & economic justice. Their enemy is the corporatocracy that has bought governments, created its own armed enforcers, engaged in economic fraud, & plundered treasuries & ecosystems."
Occupy Your Mind The revolution begins from within.
Occupy Yourself "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi Real change that is sustainable is an inside job.
Zombies Occupy Bank of America in Portland "The spirit of Abbie Hoffman blesses this action. Put more pranks in your protests, everyone! Time for a Yippie Revival!"