Sarah van Gelder
YES! Magazine / Op-Ed
Published: Sunday 9 October 2011
“Why is this protest spreading when others have fizzled?”

Where The 99 Percent Get Their Power

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Young people locking arms, facing arrest on a cold, wet Seattle street—it could have been the WTO protests that rocked the city more than ten years ago. Only this time, Seattle is just one of dozens of places where the movement for the 99 percent is taking hold.

And, unlike the WTO protests—whose motivation was unclear to many Americans—the demonstrations now spreading virally from Wall Street immediately strike a chord: we all know that neither our economy nor our government is working for the benefit of the 99 percent.

Whatever issue you care to name, from childhood obesity (linked to agribusiness subsidies) to war (linked to the power of the military-industrial complex), from a watered-down health care bill (linked big Pharma and health insurance corporations), to a failing economy (which Wall Street and corporations have depleted in favor of global speculation), the power of the one percent is at the root of the problem. And the power of the 99 percent is key to the solution.

We’ve watched as urgent matters, like climate change, go unaddressed—in large part because powerfulcorporations fund think tanks, lobbyists, and Astroturf campaigns that spread confusion about the science and threaten the political fortunes of those who take leadership.

The #OccupyWallStreet movement is powerful because it is naming the source of the crisis—something that the political establishment had been unwilling to do.

The protests are giving the unemployed, the uninsured, the evicted, indebted students, homeless veterans, and would-be retirees a place to break out of their isolation. OccupyWallStreet shows that millions share their hardships and are standing up. Transforming shame, self-doubt, and isolation into solidarity unleashes enormous power.

But there’s more that makes OccupyWallStreet powerful. It is respectful, inclusive, and egalitarian. Protesters invite police to join them, noting that they, too, are part of the 99 percent. When Troy Davis was executed, a rally of supporters marched to lower Manhattan to a warm welcome by the OccupyWallStreet protesters. Even former tea party members have gotten involved.

The scene in Zuccotti Square is radically democratic – different teams have autonomy to manage food, sanitation, media, comfort, and other tasks necessary for a protracted stay. But no one directs the whole group. Instead, decisions are made by consensus at General Assemblies. Cornel West, Michael Moore, and other celebrities show up to speak, and their words are appreciated. But at the General Assemblies, each person who wishes to speak has a turn, and each one can help shape events.

I did not witness a single incident of violence in the three sites I visited: Zuccotti Park on Wall Street, McPherson Square in Washington, DC, and Westlake Plaza in Seattle. Nor have I read any accounts of protester violence. Only the police have resorted to violence, using pepper spray and, during arrests, bloodying the mostly young protesters.

Some have criticized the occupiers for failing to come up with a list of demands. But demands can be easily co-opted and endlessly debated.

Instead, OccupyWallStreet is holding out principles and values that are widely viewed as just—and this is already shifting the political debate. Just in the last few days, the president and vice president of the United States and the president of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank all acknowledged that the protesters had a point.

Powerful movements build not on a laundry list of policy demands, but on principles and values. OccupyWallStreet has a moral force that speaks to the urgency of the times. The 99 percent, and our future descendants, are losing out in a world dominated by the 1 percent.

Powerful movements create their own spaces where they can shift the debate, and the culture, to one that better serves. That’s why showing up in person at the occupy sites is so critical to this movement’s success. In hundreds of communities around North America, people are showing up to make a statement and to listen to each other. They are also teaching one another to facilitate meetings, to take nonviolent direct action, to make their own media. They are taking care of each other, gathering food supplies, blankets, and clothes that can allow people to remain outdoors even as the weather gets wetter and colder. Like the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are using social media, and getting out their own story, even when the corporate media chooses to distort or ignore their message. And they are growing. According to the Personal Democracy Forum, the numbers “liking” a Facebook Occupy site is growing at the rate of more than 25 percent per day.

The Occupy Wall Street movement, the clarity of their demand for change, and their growing power may be the most important news of our time.



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ABOUT Sarah van Gelder

Sarah van Gelder is co-founder of YES! Magazine and has been its executive editor since it began publication in 1996. Her focus at YES! is on the solutions and innovations that address the most profound issues of our time.

siamo stati otpisi nella

siamo stati otpisi nella struttura di mario e consorte per tre giorni. Siamo stati benissimo. Una accoglienza stupenda e sembrava di essere in famiglia per tutto il periodo. Persone affabili, cortesi, riservate e nel contempo di grande compagnia. Di certo ritorneremo e consigliamo la struttura a tutti coloro che amano la pace , la campagna .

iqsyyew

iqsyyew

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All over the world - not just

All over the world - not just in the United States - policemen/policewomen must strictly obey orders from above, by the nature of their jobs, even if they actually are part of the 99%. Police forces are anything but pluralist organizations and they will therefore be ordered to bully any protesters into submission. As long as the Police Commissioners (or the Chiefs of Police) are either political appointees, or are at least hired and paid by the local municipalities (which are run by politicians - mayors), they must support the interests of the 1%, just because the politicians in their turn must support the 1% who helped them to get elected. That's how the system works everywhere, because everywhere the system is intrinsically corrupt. It is therefore sheer gullibility to believe that the police forces of any country will ever fraternize with any protesters, no matter how justified their demands would be. In any country, all over the world, a real revolution is the only means to get the 1% and their supporting politicians toppled. Only then is it possible to get the police forces and the national defense army act on the side of the oppressed masses. And only if - as a natural effect of that revolution - the corrupt politicians are brought to justice and executed along with the 1% who pay them, only then social justice and real change can be achieved.
Let's go on, never give up, until we bring the corrupt politicians and the 1% to justice.
And no, whatever you may think, I am not a communist. To the contrary, for all my life I have been passively opposing communism in my country, in East Europe. I immigrated here - to the "Free World" - only to find out that this "Free World" is nothing else than another kind of totalitarian society. The only difference is that here the 1% are not the Communist Party elite, but the greedy owners and shareholders of corporate business, banks and insurance companies. All these 1% (not only those at the very top) must be executed if we want to prevent greed and corruption to ever rule again. In Romania, for instance, it did not help that they executed the Ceausescu couple only. The 1% (the Communist Party elites) took over and got all the wealth and power.
We have been ignored, laughed at, and now fought against for too long. It is time to uproot the corrupt systems everywhere. It is time to demand justice.
"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win" - Mahatma Gandhi

I had circulated the idea

I had circulated the idea that "the police are part of the 99%" a few days ago (prior to the Oct. 15th rallies), all over the web (Facebook and Twitter) and to a few groups (including NOC and MoveOn), in an effort to curtail any future incidences of violence against the Occupiers of Wall Street. I had not seen it on the web anywhere online, since the OWS movement began weeks ago. I was glad to see that this idea was mentioned in the above article and that some of the marchers included it in their interactions with the police; hope it catches on even more. Peace, compassion, respect and nonviolence will sustain this national movement and help it succeed.

Yes, the police are, very much a part of the 99%. Many hundreds of them have lost their jobs nationally, due to budget cuts.

If those 99% satisfy their

If those 99% satisfy their energy and water needs from their roofs (collecting solar and wind energy and rain water) and reduce, reuse and recycle everything (no garbage), then those energy and water companies and large corporations making STUFF for US would become irrelevant. Then we would not need much money to live on and Wasllstreet speculators would have to do an honest living rather then scheming new instruments for fleecing US.

Those young people clearly do not have jobs, or else would not have time to occupy Wall street. Perhaps they should start working on decreasing their energy and water dependence and dependence on shopping till their are dropping and feeding this crazy consumer economy!

Spoken like any other "Rich

Spoken like any other "Rich and Powerful" Individual or at least one who only cares about themself and thier immediate family and could care less about the Family of God the creator. This person sounds like an Executive to me because that is the message that they would like to send to the world is that it is only the unemployed young that are protesting. People look at the Videos and you will see people from all Sexs, Races, Religions, Nationalities and age groups.

Missed the point Vlasta I

Missed the point Vlasta I think...
We do't have jobs...that is a national issue in case you have been out of the country. High unemployment ya know?
Many folks do pay attention to our dependencies and that in part is what this is all about...it is time to stop subsidizing and go to a flat tax with zero loopholes where we can be on a level playing field
No one is lamenting the big businesses, rather they just want them to pay their fair share. This country has always been generated by small business, not large and nothing will change until we get back to Main Street.

A flat tax will be a

A flat tax will be a super-huge giveaway to the rich, and they have more than enough wealth at this point.

what a wonderfjul comment!

what a wonderfjul comment!

real change will happen when

real change will happen when we throw out all of the career/whore Politicians who created this mess in the fireswt place, , and replace them with Patriot/Statements, preferable under the age of 31 who understand economics and know their history We need to reverse engineer all the loony policies that got us into this mess ie Free Trade, Massive Immigration, (which led to low wages nationally which brought on a national recession) and an out of control Financial Sector. First on the list is to reinstate Glass-Steagal Then get the people to work thru massive public works financed by a new 3rd National Bank, NOT privately owned, at zero percent interest
rick

What next? I think our

What next? I think our politicians know very well the system is broken, but they don't care so long as they are being paid. The controllers provide the money and the instructions, and the politicians obey. The Supreme Court is in their hands also. I think it's going to have to get a whole lot meaner, nastier and angrier to scare them enough to take us seriously. Business and traffic has to be stopped in order to get a real reaction. So long as the demonstrators continue to obey the police and stay within the proscribed rules, we will have no effect. We need civil disobedience and non-violent resistance. That means walking in the streets, using megaphones, blocking traffic and so on. Until that happens, they will feel free to ignore us and go on as if nothing has changed. I hope the "Occupy Wall Street" protesters come to realize that. Right now they are telling the bad guys that we are unhappy. The bad guys know very well and they don't care. In fact, they strategically created this state of inequality. Not until they are hit in their pocketbooks, and hit hard, will they start to care. So far our side has mostly stayed within the rules that have been laid down, and they provide entertainment for the rich, somewhat akin to a visit to the zoo. (My son says it's more like a parade.) The animals have to break out of their cages and frighten the visitors otherwise I despair of any changes coming about.

10-4 Fbuser!

10-4 Fbuser!

The #OccupyWallStreet

The #OccupyWallStreet movement was able to shatter the walls of isolation which kept the unemployed, the uninsured, the evicted, indebted students, homeless veterans, and would-be retirees separated and isolated from each other, and show them that not only are they not alone in their suffering, but that they have common interests, dreams and goals which they can achieve if they band together in solidarity and raise their voices in unison to demand justice. One voice can be easily ignored, but when you have (literally) millions of voices being raised across the country, particularly the voices of the young, that can't be ignored or explained away easily by the 1%, and the power to transform the nation in a meaningful, revolutionary way that the 99% can wield is what has the 1% terrified and desperate, and they'll do everything in their power to stop in its tracks.

#OccupyWallStreet has demonstrated, in a powerful way, that we're living in an underwater "democracy" where the 1% control the political, economic, social and cultural systems which have battered, beaten, abused and subdued the 99% into meek submission for the past forty years, and the goal of #OccupyWallStreet is quite simple... the 99% are going to take back the economic, political, social and cultural systems that the 1% have stolen from them, and use them to obtain justice, not only for themselves, but for people around the world.

Thank you for this

Thank you for this well-stated comment. The shamelessly negative manipulation of our democracy by monied interests and corrupt politicians is now being widely exposed as the exceedingly harmful force it is. Many pundits and media types have accused Occupy Wall Street of not having a clear vision or message. Quite to the contrary, the message is clear: Enough! The details will be clarified much as you have elaborated.

Keeping it honest: Remember

Keeping it honest: Remember the Movie: “Wall Street?” Isn’t Greed supposed to be NOT good? So many news articles stating that American protesters have “no clear “agenda? It seems crystal clear to the middle class America that they are frustrated by the lack of concern that exists for the people in this country who need jobs and hope to support themselves and families. Millions of unemployed people looking for work in this country are being ignored and slowly erased by mega-corporations including Big Oil, Banks, Computer Co., Drug Insurance Companies, whose only concern is for their obscene profits far exceed anyone’s understanding! The beauty and treasured tradition of America allows people the freedom to unite and speak out to draw attention to these huge social injustices. It’s about time that Americans did and said, “we are mad as hell and we are not going take it any longer!” Are you listening Mr. Cantor, you and your war on the Middle Class of America? For the record, “Greed is Not good”; it’s ugly, selfish, obscene and destructive for our society. After all, We are a still a democracy, not aristocracy, nor a Banana Republic! Just look around this great county! " It's no surprise that the Romney campaign and his republicans in the Congress are raising money from Wall Street by saying they want to repeal consumer protections sand allow Wall Street to write its own rules, AND the recipients of dollar tax payer bailout with no conditions and used it for non-performance bonuses!

Once a few more "tea party"

Once a few more "tea party" members join the fray -- perhaps a bit belatedly coming to the conclusion that these folks are saluting the same flag -- you'll see the so-called "conservatives" entering the final phase of failed disregard: acceptance and response. That's really what democracy is about -- jerk-offs like Eric Cantor and Peter "Lord of Dicks" King aside -- passionate engagement and truth-telling. All praises to this OWS movement, regardless of the youth and naivete of its majority participants. They have history on their side, as do we all. The revolution is inevitable -- I just hope the powers-that-be aren't so stubborn that it hurts more than it has to. I know that "socialism" is considered scatalogical for most of what passes for conservative intelligensia, but a socialist democracy is what it's always been about. The doesn't negate capitalism -- but it puts it in its place, with the certainty that democracy cannot flourish unless a population has its basic needs met, without worry that we must fight each other for food scraps and health-care.

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