I’ve had a few chats about the Occupy The World movement lately. Although it seems like a broadly positive campaign, most people I’ve spoken to seem to have the same problem with it: they have no idea what it’s trying to achieve.
Well, I might be a little wide of the mark, but having read a few articles about it recently (particularly this excellent one by the ever-brilliant Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone) I think that I now understand it well enough to appreciate it.
Occupy Wall Street’s Wikipedia ‘Goals’ section says:
While the Demands Working Group favored a fairly concrete set of national policy proposals, others within the movement prefer a looser, more localized set of goals and they have put together a competing document, the Liberty Square Blueprint, a wiki page edited by some 250 occupiers and still undergoing changes. The introduction to the draft document read: “Demands cannot reflect inevitable success. Demands imply condition, and we will never stop. Demands cannot reflect the time scale that we are working with.”
Which to me seems as clear as mud, but the idea that demands imply condition is what appears to be most relevant here.
If its intention is to bring the overprivileged to their knees, OWS is obviously failing (so far), but what if it’s only there to show us, peacefully, in the heart of Mamon, another way to live? Rather than suckle on the ‘inevitable’ teat of corporate Western Democracy, maybe we can live in a society where there is free healthcare and education (as is provided at many of the Occupy sites). People who can afford to give money do so and services are provided. No giant banks create unworkable schemes where they sell mortgages to people who can’t afford them, then bet against those mortgages, then coin in hundreds of billions of ‘quantative easing’ (some of which, in a stunning display of irony, comes from those whose homes have been repossessed in the aforementioned mortgage fuckaround) so they can do the same thing in a few years time. No governments see to the comfort of the super-wealthy before the education of the poor (Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% come to $690bn; special education, student aid and assistance to poor schools comes to $650bn) .No pharmaceutical companies are using billions to lobby the government, creating an unworkable healthcare system requiring insurance which 50m Americans can’t afford.
If you were to strip away all the useless crap that exists only to make very, very rich people a bit richer (see this other excellent Rolling Stone article on the subject; by the way, I don’t get all my current affairs from Rolling Stone, but they do have a lovely turn of phrase) then we might have a more workable society, one which doesn’t exist purely for the expansion of wealth for the wealthy.
I’m also fully aware that a worldwide extension of the OWS site is not exactly what is being proposed here, but as an illustration of alternative principles it’s doing a pretty good job.
As Matt says:
That, to me, is what Occupy Wall Street is addressing. People don’t know exactly what they want, but as one friend of mine put it, they know one thing: FUCK THIS SHIT! We want something different: a different life, with different values, or at least a chance at different values.
The thing I love about writing this blog is the ongoing conversation I might be able to have with people on subjects like this.