Occupy Wall Street: “It Is a Revolution”

Christian Papesch
Inter Press Service / News Analysis
Published: Sunday 2 October 2011
“This is a democratic awakening,” Cornel West, a prominent activist and Princeton professor, told journalists prior to speaking before nearly 2,000 protestors at Occupy Wall Street's General Assembly on Tuesday.
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Since Sep. 17, hundreds of demonstrators in the Occupy Wall Street movement have transformed the quiet Zucotti Park in lower Manhattan from a place where Wall Street traders once relaxed during lunch breaks into a demonstration camp.

Participants from all over the United States have joined the movement that criticizes the injustices of the capitalist system and calls for greater democracy and individual freedom.

Their base is right in front of the aptly named Liberty Plaza, former headquarters of NASDAQ and current office of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

"This is a democratic awakening," Cornel West, a prominent activist and Princeton professor, told journalists prior to speaking before nearly 2,000 protestors at Occupy Wall Street's General Assembly on Tuesday.

The protest was first called up in July 2011 by Adbusters and Anonymous, two groups of social activists, artists and hackers.

"We are trying to build the community and the culture we would like to see in the world," explained Isham Christie, film theory and philosophy student at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Centre and an organizer of the protest, calling it a "fight for a (fairer) world".

"People who feel alienated from the consumer society or don't have jobs or are homeless… can come here and be supported," Christie told IPS. "We are trying to build an alternative institution to what we see as the exploitative, oppressive capitalistic society that we live in."

"If only the war on poverty was a real war. Then we would actually be putting money in it," read the sign West held during Tuesday's demonstration.

"I'd really like the whole societal structure to change, the whole ideas of capitalism and the distribution of wealth. I'd really like to see that turn around to something where it honors more the actual people who are involved in the society," Turkish-born Gaye Ajoy told IPS.

Ajoy, who moved from Florida to New York City just a few days ago, added, "I oppose the one percent of people who own the whole country and don't (care) about anybody else."

Ajoy believes that the protestors' views are similar to the ideas of the counterculture movement in the 1960's and '70's and activists like Martin Luther King Jr. or Gloria Steinam.

West noted the diversity of demonstrators, saying, "It is sublime to see all the different colors, all the different genders, all the different sexual orientations and all the different cultures all together here at Liberty Plaza."

A popular movement

In comparison to the elitist structure of the banks and companies it opposes, the "Occupy Wall Street" movement does not have a hierarchy. Everyone can speak up or participate in discussions, and so everyone can take responsibility – or refuse it.

Brian Phillips, a 25-year-old Google consultant and field journalist from Washington state, arrived in New York only a few days ago and has already become the communications director for the protest. Like many others, he gave up his former civil life to participate in the movement.

"I was a community director in my home state, managing a four million dollar complex," Phillips told IPS. "I quit my job, I… hitchhiked all the way over here and I am here to stay and help these guys."

Communication, both internal and external, is one of the key elements of the protests. By using websites, webcasts, tweets and live streams, Occupy Wall Street stays in touch with other movements, both national and global.

"It's very, very, very important that we are connected to the internet," Phillips explained. "We need the world to see what we are doing and… to know what we are doing."

"Because we are broadcasting from Occupy Wall Street, which is (the) headquarters of the revolution, we have ten other cities around the United States starting to be occupied. We have Boston, Chicago, LA, Austin, Charlotte. We have a bunch of places starting up. It's going big – and it's increasing by size faster than we've expected."

Occupy Wall Street is also garnering more attention from both local and global media, thanks to the growing outrage and support from well-known figures including MIT professor Noam Chomsky and rapper Immortal Technique.

The fact that New York City police arrested about 80 people during an unapproved march to the United Nations on Saturday also helped attract media attention.

Still, Phillips refused to endorse their coverage. "The actual media companies – NBC, MSN, all those companies – they're not going to report on us and they're not going to tell the truth," the computer scientist told IPS. "They are not going to tell the world what is really going on."

Global connections

Someone who wanted to know what was really going on in Zucotti Park was Bettina Schröder from Cologne, Germany, who is currently visiting New York and read about the protest on the internet.

"We knew that there was something going on, but we kind of ran into it," Schröder said. "We thought it was smaller, but it is nice to see that there are quite some people. Hopefully it will be more and more. It is just the beginning."

Martin Peutsch, Schröder's boyfriend, was especially satisfied with the protest's location. "Wall Street is the right spot, I think. A lot of Americans have suffered a great deal because of the banking crisis," Peutsch said to IPS.

"I think it is time to mobilize resistance and to show the banks in America that they cannot do whatever they want and then go on as if nothing has happened."

Schröder also saw a global aspect to the protest. "There are so many other movements in so many different countries. People have to speak up their minds – and I think it's really, really good," she said.

West, who compared the "U.S. Autumn" to the so-called Arab Spring, believed in the longevity of Occupy Wall Street, as long as protesters stay strong.

"I think we gotta keep the momentum going, because it's impossible to translate the issue of the greed of Wall Street into one or two demands," West stated.

"In the end, we are really talking about what Martin King would call a revolution - a transfer of power from oligarchs to everyday people of all colors. And that is a step-by-step process, it's a democratic process, it's a non-violent process – but it is a revolution."



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9 comments on "Occupy Wall Street: “It Is a Revolution”"

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Ellen Cleek

December 06, 2011 5:39am

I hope this is the dawn of an overdue awakening. We need to build on it. It mush be the organizational foundation of an ongoing struggle to end capitalism before it ends us as a civilization or even as a species. It may have begun with naive anarchist youth but labor is joining in along with the masses of unemployed and exploited. They have touched a nerve. This could be our last chance. Let it begin!
http://www.sciaticnervepainblog.com

The Outlier

October 23, 2011 2:25pm

October 22, 2011–The occupation is still growing! Developing a new society while accommodating unprecedented expansion is challenging and cannot be accomplished without tremendous heart. The heart of The Occupation can be found beating within the compassionate democracy of the General Assembly where exercising patience results in progress.

During his opening remarks, Steve from the Library Work Group of the General Assembly indicated that the Library of The Occupation was amassing world-wide notoriety and was continually receiving book donations from New York publishers. He also indicated that The Occupation itself was the greatest educational institution in NYC. I totally agree! In fact if I were a senior high school teacher or college professor, I would take my classes on a field trip to observe the proceedings of the General Assembly. http://outlierideas.com

Albert Dussault

October 03, 2011 8:23pm

I witnessed brutality by the cops and humility by the demonstrators. I saw cops making things worst for people...it is as if the police believe that those occupying the sq were not also americans with rights. The treated the protesters as if they were bad and only in the way of democracy, wen in fact we were there to support and to up lift democracy. The cops need to learn--if that is possible, that democracy and corporatism are not one thing...the corporatist mentality goes against the people's rights. It is as if King George himself had instructed the police to behave like the protestors were thugs.
The middle class is being thrown under the buss and the damn cops who are a part of the middle class do not even realize that they are fighting for the wrong amerika.

H

October 03, 2011 2:59pm

Check out who is funding whom:http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/index.php?ql2

WTF are you including a picture from Los Angeles in this piecs ?

ahlayhos

October 03, 2011 1:04pm

It's interesting that one young person said, "...He always wanted to around in the 60's when this kind of stuff was going around." Almost 45 years ago I moved to NYC to attend grad school. I was 22 and had just received my draft notice. I didn't know much about the war in Viet Nam, but soon, through contact with other students and input from other sources, I realized one thing for sure - I had no intention of going half way across the world to kill another person for politics and military propaganda. Kent State killings by National Guard, 1968 riots in Chicago during the Democratic convention and Walter Conkrite's candor about Nam brought the white youth into the fray previously occupied by blacks in Newark and Watts. Soon we were all yelling, "Hell no, we won't go!"

This time it is just as important, but nothing like the 60's. This time is about an unjust corporate and financial sector and making them responsible for all the mayhem and pain they have caused to all ordinary citizens. "Too Big To Fail" was government backed corporate propaganda that violated not only our place as taxpayers, but cavalierly rejected the essence of capitalism that our society believed in. Capitalism only works when it ad hears to its rules. If you have a business and it makes mistakes and must go out of business, that's the price of the opportunity for success and profit that capitalism allows. So, not only should all the banks and other institutions that were failing be allowed to fail - go into bankruptcy, but those that were responsible for the avarice, greed and fraud should be held responsible and pay a price - not be bailed out and allowed to retain their multi-million dollars pay packages.

This time, if the truth is revealed and allowed to ignite the people, it will be true creative destruction of the Corporate - Media - Government alliance. We, the people need to take back our country. We need true campaign finance laws that won't let money'd people and corporations buy our public servants. We need to re install Glass-Steagall and return banks and the financial overlords back to where they can't destroy the world with their speculation that is amazingly free of risk - for them. For the rest of us, it is a living nightmare.

Today I will return to the streets and join that other young person, I'll write a sign and start demanding with all the people who, though they might not completely understand why, indeed know that something is very wrong in this country and the real truth(s) need to be revealed.

Angel J. Perea

October 03, 2011 8:44am

" It's no surprise that the Romney campaign is raising money from Wall Street by saying they want to repeal consumer protections and allow Wall Street to write its own rules," KEEPING IT HONEST: Wall Street, a key contributor to Obama in 2008, seems to be switching allegiances.
" Hum.. I wonder why? Maybe the gang on Wall Street does not wish to alienate “their” representatives? Mr. Boehner, Cantor, McCarthy and Ryan and Senator McConnell and his 43 obstructionists in the senate that are provided their campaign funds! After all, this same Wall Street Gang were the direct recipients of trillion dollar tax payer bailout with no conditions and used it some of it for bonuses! According to Senator Bernie Sanders, it is now clear that the Republicans /hypocrites made pledges that they are for their “only” plan of continuing its Class War against the middle Class to protect their rich Millionaires on Wall street and Billions like the Gover Norquest, Russ Limbaugh, Rupert Murdock and others like the Koch Brothers that provide them their campaign funds! Their plan was never about creating American jobs for the unemployed middle class! LET'S PUBLICLY LIST THE NAME OF EVERY POLITICIAN AND WALL STREET GIVER SO AMERICAN CAN KNOW WHO IS ON "TAKE" AND SELLING MIDDLE AMERICA OUT!