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Occupy Dayton- Occupy Wall Street

 


People keep asking why folks support this movement. I am sure if you polled 10 people you would receive an interesting diversity of replies as the Occupy movement appeals to a very diverse crowd. This truth speaks volumes about this movement, as the frustrations being expressed by people in the movement, and their supporters, are not divided along party lines  but the grievances expressed by many who have felt disenfranchised by our political process and the influence of corporate money.

This movement is important in many ways. Perhaps, most wonderfully, the support for Occupy Wall Street is an expression of hope by people that had lost hope in a broken system. To see people gather in record numbers around the globe also demonstrates that the movement has spread as widely as has unfettered Capitalism and its casualties. Many of the Occupiers I've talked to have said things like, "What took so long?". I really think the sign, "We were asleep, but we woke up", sums it up nicely. The sleep we experienced reminds me of Dorothy's slumber in OZ. It wasn't natural. It was an artificially induced sleep. Induced by media, consumption, and by rhetoric that has served to divide us into ever smaller groups of ‘deserving’ citizens. This rhetoric is designed to pit ‘us’ against ‘them’. The rallying cry of “We are the 99%”, serves to begin healing these divisions by illuminating who benefits from such divisions.

Despite the attempts of the mainstream media, and some politicians, to trivialize this movement by describing it as inhabited by disaffected hippies and trust fund babies with no demands, it continues to grow. If you pay attention to the crowds you will note people from all walks of life. We are frustrated, yes but you will see much joy expressed. We're mad as hell at what has become of our country and the world, but revel in the energy of our brothers and sisters and the love we see manifest by the fight they are willing to wage to build a better world-for all of us.

Because that is the struggle as I see it-the struggle over the vision we have for this country and the planet. I was talking to a young man on Sunday after he left the fundraiser for Kasich. His argument for why they authored SB5/Issue 2, limiting protections for workers and cut taxes for corporations, was so that we could be more 'competitive'. He went on to say that the U.S. needs to be more like China as their economy is ‘booming’. This argument, that we should be more like China, with no worker protections, no environmental regulations, no human rights-this is the vision of many of the 1% and their supporters. It is a chilling vision. It is a world where GDP rules, and human beings matter only in their ability to be exploited for profit. Where each individual (the 99%) goes toe to toe with those in power for what little they can manage to wrest from a system tilted so heavily against them. Where the natural environment is nothing but another commodity, to be treated with as little regard as the people it supports. That is not my vision, and it is not the vision expressed by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

While the core group has not expressed "demands", the observations in their declaration (http://occupywallst.org/forum/first-official-release-from-occupy-wall-street/) point clearly to solutions. For instance, they identify corporate personhood as problematic. How hard would it be to imagine the solution to this problem? Some people attempt to discredit the movement by suggesting that it is ideologically driven or political. Of course it is! None of us are free of ideology and to suggest otherwise is disingenuous. My vision is based upon ideals, as is anyone's. We have allowed extremely privileged people to set the terms of the debate, to misdirect our attention from the real issues of importance. OWS has stepped into this breach and is taking on the debate. The movement is asking us for our visions, for us to articulate those visions based upon the evidence available. Feminists remind us that the personal is political. This movement is personal, but also points to the universal experience of all human beings. The OWS declaration has many policy ramifications. The declaration may not be perfect, but the organizers of OWS remind us that it is a living document. Kind of reminds me of another declaration.

Shawn Cassiman

October 24, 2011

 

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