Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The “Occupy” Movement

When David Swanson proposed the idea of Occupy DC via his newsletter this summer, I signed up immediately. This seemed to me like exactly what the country needed – a people’s movement that says not just that we are fed up, but what we see as being wrong with our country and exactly what needs to be done to make it the place we want it to be.

The United States economy has come full circle since the days of my father’s youth. The situation we now face – trying to recover from a huge economic failure – is so like that faced by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s that it seems uncanny until one realizes that following the money always leads to the same places and the same kinds of people.

The basic problem is not the structure created by our forefathers. It is the manipulation of that structure by the present system of corporate power and politicians owned and operated by the corporate powers that be. We can and must work within the framework of rights and responsibilities created and guaranteed by the Constitution.

My hope was that being on Freedom Plaza on October 6 would put me on-site for the beginning of a sea-change in American politics - a true dawning of the Age of Aquarius – and I believe it did. Although Occupy Wall Street stole some of Occupy DC’s thunder, the two movements have the same soul and will grow together. What I saw there was a gathering of people from all walks of life; all ages; all beliefs; all states, and the full range of life experiences from green youth to veterans of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

There were a few misguided people carrying signs supporting one or the other of the two political parties now in power in the United States, but most understood that the purpose there was not to beg those parties to do something for the people, but to tell them that the people were giving up on them. This was the true tea party – the Boston tea party revisited – but this time there were no costumes. These were the people stepping up to say loudly and clearly that they had had enough; that the usual flag waving and Bible thumping would never again lead them down the garden path; that the problems they were facing were real enough to bring them out into the streets demanding that their government change its ways. These folks aren’t just saying they are fed up, they are exactly defining the problem as they see it and refusing to take the usual political pap for an answer.

They aren’t just saying cut the defense budget. They are going to the Smithsonian drone displays and saying specifically that this kind of immoral approach is unacceptable. They aren’t just moaning that big business doesn’t care about them, they are shutting down the national Chamber of Commerce offices on the grounds that the huge controlling corporations have too much power. They aren’t just complaining about lobbyist control of government, they are stopping business-as-usual at the Hart Senate Office Building with their chants of “We are the 99%”.

They were in the streets saying what I have been trying to say to Springfield for years – that they are protesting not against the workings of one party or the other, but against the vile workings of the entire system.

They embrace no existing political party. They are, instead, very like the citizens of France storming the Bastille with pitchforks and pikes in hand demanding that the aristocracy quit robbing them of their self worth as well as their monetary worth.

Unlike the conservative Tea Party whose efforts are aimed at pulling the Republican Party further in their direction, this tea party is a signal to both parties that neither of them has met the needs of the people, but that both have become servants not of the people but of the corporations designated as people in the Citizens United decision of 2011. This stance has struck such resonance with the people of the United States that “Occupy” groups have sprung up in every city in the nation. This is a movement that truly is of the people and as such it is truly dangerous to the future of the current system of economic dominance by the United States.

“Occupy” does not call for the overthrow of capitalism, but for the reasonable management of it for the benefit of the entire nation - not just the top 1%. “Occupy” doesn’t call for the destruction of our ability to protect ourselves, but for reasonable expenditures and efforts to do so. “Occupy” doesn’t call for reductions in services to the people but for their expansion as needed to truly meet the needs of the people. “Occupy” doesn’t call for the destruction of the corporate system, but for the use of the corporate system as a tool for the betterment of our society – the way it was when Congress first recognized corporations. “Occupy” should not be seen by citizens as a threat to their well-being, but as a means to ensure that their voice can be heard in the halls of Congress.

The one thing we cannot afford to do is to cave and conclude that we have no choice but to continue along our present path. “Occupy” must build a political alternative to the entire existing political establishment, but do so within the framework created by the founding fathers.

This movement has the power to turn this country around for the benefit of its people and those of all the nations on earth. This will be a long and difficult struggle, but it is high time for an American Season not only to rival the overthrows of the Arab Summer, but to exceed them via the creation of a system of governance centered around the needs of the people rather than the desires of the rich and powerful whose attempts to create American hegemony actually morphed into the destruction of the American economy.

It is quite possible that “Occupy”, if it models itself after the actions of the founding fathers, could create a new American approach that would permanently change the world’s approach to commerce for the better. The people of this country and the world should hail the American “Occupy” movement as a welcome and even vital addition to their future and encourage it in any way they can.

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