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A Year Of Occupation
From "The Nation"
- Occupy, After Occupy
One year after Occupy Wall Street first shook the world, what lies ahead for the movement?
- Can Debt Spark a Revolution?
If Occupy evolves into a debt resistance movement, the results could be explosive.
- Occupy 2.0: Strike Debt
Bereft of their big tent at Zuccotti Park, activists have found a unifying theme in debt.
From Wall Street To Your Street?
On September 17, 2011 activists converged on New York City in the name of the "%99". Their inspiration came from many places; the "Arab Spring" that had toppled authoritarian regimes in Egypt and Tunisia, the actions of public sector workers in Wisconsin, as well as the anti-multinational movement that had been simmering since the WTO in Seattle.
The movement has had ups and downs, dealt with media misrepresentation and police repression, and even gone into torpor on a few occasions. But it has made some great strides in some areas.
For one it has, in my opinion, accomplished its main goal. To call attention to the political power of corporations, their CEOs and other elements of the "%1". I am sure that the Citizen's United decision played some role in planning for Occupy. Of course, the power of the "%1" might be why Democrats, save for the likes of Bernie Saunders (I-VT), have been reluctant to actively court the "%99".
A second accomplishment might be that America is now maybe a bit more aware of the reality of class. Americans are now more aware that the "American Dream" may be out of reach for many of them. There's a long way to go until America has the class awareness of many European nations.
But where can the movement go in year two. One criticism of Occupy, and perhaps a just one, has been a lack of a clear message. Indeed, the various Occupations seem to at times take on individual issues. Youngstown, Ohio's has ventured into opposition to hydraulic fracking for example.
Could debt resistance be a force to unite the "%99"? If you think about it, debt was the force that led to Occupy. Banks, taking undue risks, were left with debt. Much of that debt was on the backs of consumers. The banks got bailouts, the consumers were left to struggle in a recession.
If the "%99" needs to form of debt to tackle, why not a form of debt that many of its members can relate to, student loan debt. It is true that a lot of the folks making up the "%99" are college students or graduates. They've done what they were told to, but many are stuck in or looking at the prospect of jobs where wages are low and benefits are non-existent.
Another form of debt might to look at might be consumer debt. From mortgages to credit cards, debt is a way of life for many Americans. A shift towards consumers, while at the same time shifting America out of its "Culture of Consumption" might go a long way.
There's also still the possibility that the "Occupation" may have to transform into a resistance to the "Corporate State" the "%1", and it's allies wish to create. That the "%99" will find themselves in an America that seems to now be run of, by and for the "%1".
In a sense Occupy is like a one-year old, trying to find it's feet. In another, it's like a teenager, struggling to find an identity.