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The Occupy Movement

Updated on December 7, 2011

One of the predominate themes of Occupy Vancouver

This sign sums up issues that concerned Occupy Vancouver among many others. For a period of 36 days, the occupation stayed at the Vancouver Art Gallery north plaza before a court injunction virtually shut it down.
This sign sums up issues that concerned Occupy Vancouver among many others. For a period of 36 days, the occupation stayed at the Vancouver Art Gallery north plaza before a court injunction virtually shut it down.

Heroes and Villains

Who qualifies as a hero of the world wide occupation movement? Who are the ones who have braved all to be at the various sites on a 24 hour basis, seven days a week? It is the downtrodden, the ones who were jettisoned out of the economy since the fall of 2008, people who are young, old, war veterans, the unemployed, the foreclosed who now populate the tent cities in over 1,500 locations world wide and elsewhere at large. Many of them have been there since the very beginning and have remained despite punishing weather, assaults by hooligans and the state via the police, arrests, torture, legal trickery, confusing agendas of outsiders, opportunists looking to cash in and others who don't mean much good. There are many who circulate during the days in support who come from more comfort than those living in flimsy tents exposed to the ravages of the winter elements, often ill clad and ill fed and often getting sick. These comfort zone protestors are among the secondary heroes. Then there are those who promote the occupation, writing and filming the various movements to spread the news to the general world via alternate media when the corporate media ignores them except to denigrate and accuse. These are also secondary heroes. The real heroes are the ones who are living it, who have their dinner tables over turned by police, who have been handcuffed and maced, who are treated with contempt and scorn by the elite and state, who are shot and critically injured by the police while being in a peaceful demonstration exercising their civil rights. One such injury triggered a massive one day general strike that shut down the major port of Oakland. In another situation, sports hooligans bent on rioting, violently ravaged and tore apart a camp sending the occupiers fleeing into the dark for their lives. Some have been arrested and held in conditions that can only be equated with torture techniques as police refuse to give them water, food or allow even bathroom visits. Some have been taken into secret areas and have reported being beaten repeatedly with batons while handcuffed. That story is made plausible by an incident that one protestor was beaten so badly that he nearly died from internal bleeding. More heroes are found among those who insist that the movement remain peaceful and democratic regardless of what the opposition does. More are found among those who make donations of cash, clothes, food, water and other amenities that many take for granted. Support comes on the internet by a hacktivist group called Anonymous. Some people have even died in the encampments; by drug overdoses according to detractors who want to see the whole movement come to a grinding halt. Another was fatally shot. This is often used as an excuse by those in power to come down hard on the tent cities and the occupiers, though in their own slums, they ignore hundreds of deaths from all causes. But in all of this in my mind, the greatest heroes of all are the unsung tent dwellers who often do not say anything, but hold the fort when everyone else goes home for the night. These are the real occupiers and they ought to be thanked and loved by all of us who are among the 99%.

Now we come to the villains! Among the chief of these are the police and the corporate media. From one, the occupation got too much attention and from the other, none at all for the first two weeks and thereafter negative press. We have heard that the Koch brothers and Sachs paid the New York Police Dept. (NYPD) more than a $4 million private bonus to deal with Occupy Wall Street (OWS). We have seen repeated arrests, one of which was set up to arrest 800 people on the Brooklyn Bridge. There are those seeking to take over the camps and turn them to their own ends, like the black bloc “anarchists” who have been witnessed as being affiliated with the police and serve as a false flag provocation. They often attempt to co-opt the leadership with the end to causing a violent disturbance and providing the state the excuse to come down hard. These are the agent provocateurs. They are distinct with their police boots and clean black hoodies, black jeans and bandanas covering much of their face. They always come in a group though some have been seen alone. Among the camps, especially during the night and around the time of the general assemblies can be found clean cut shills who look very much out of place and some make it well known they are against the occupation. They stand in stark contrast to the real occupiers who are often dressed poorly, sometimes inadequately against the elements. They come to eavesdrop, to gather intelligence so a better attack can be formulated and mounted. Trolls also work in the midst of the occupation movements to bring dissent and division during the general assemblies and elsewhere. But the greatest villains of them all are those who ruined the economy for personal gain and who now provide the means to attack the heroes of the 99% in the occupations around the world. These are the 1% who have greatly contributed to the manifestation of the movement by their negation of the working people around the world with their gouging austerity programs and engineered economic crises while they themselves guarantee their own luxuriating in indolence. We need to keep a sharp focus on who the real class villains are and overlook minor differences among the 99% majority.

Among the villains are the opportunists, those people seeking to gain some benefit from the 1% as their hirelings, or to gain some political advantage for a career move at the expense of others whom they convince that they are working in support of the occupation and the 99%. These too often stand out by their good clean cut dress and the fact that they like all the photo ops the media cares to dish out. These are the self appointed spokes people for Occupy while the real ones are by and large ignored unless some tragedy strikes that can be taken advantage of. Then there are the various political hacks of all strips seeking new recruits and they “get behind” the movement and tarnish it with their own taint. Among these movements are the gamut of every political leaning you can possibly think of and some you can't. Movements such as the US Nazi party, the Stalinist communists, the Tea Party and lots more, all claiming to be supporters, link themselves to Occupy, usually without the consent of the General Assemblies. Even some major political figures in the run up to the 2012 election have jumped on board. The media likes to jump all over these issues. The proof of the taint comes when outsiders say the the Occupy movement is run by communists, Nazis, the Tea Party and even such claims as being a front for Wall Street speculators and corporatist manipulating what are called “useful idiots”. The suggestions range from the laughable, to wacky and to the outright weird. Then they present their evidence with photos showing communist banners and other extreme parties. Some of the photos have been discovered to be manipulated by Photoshop or some like program to make suggestions of things that never actually occurred except in the fevered mind of the photo manipulator who them published it hoping that it would go viral on the net. Sometimes it did, but diligence by some exposed the lies. The Occupy movement has denied leadership connections to all of them, claiming to be bottom up and autonomous. Many people are confused and even members in the movement are confused as they grope toward some sort of defined goal for the long term. The Occupy Wall Street movement seems to have the clearest view of what their demands are and how they are going to effect them. Most others are largely still attempting to find their bearings. Many have been state forced into closure before they could get a clear vision. Real change is still remote.

In the region of misinformation, we see the trolls at work, creating division and dissent in the rank and file. They get inside the movement and do their damage by causing conflict between members who otherwise get along. They start fights and this brings in the police to break up the whole assembly. Though the Occupy movement regularly purges trolls they find, more move in to start the whole process again. Some it is suggested, are professional plants designed to do just this sort of thing. Others are self appointed, seeking to cause excitement or to some how speed up the process toward some major confrontation, ignoring the fact that Occupy has declared itself to be a peaceful protest. Some people work to destroy trust between members by various means. The Occupy movement has spread in large part due to the internet and wireless networking via smart phones and the like. Here is where we find a labyrinth of confusion emerging as well over every single issue mentioned so far and probably some overlooked here. The Occupy movement has triggered a state response by way of censorship. Plenty of information never gets to the intended recipients because it is hacked, deleted or censored.

One of the largest stumbling blocks of the Occupy movement has been the fact that the 99% is far from being totally represented. It is doubtful that even 1% of the 99% have been out for any prolonged time. There have actually been general strikes in Greece and Britain where the Occupy movement could have become linked, but as far as the feedback in various Occupy sites, this has not happened except for a close encounter with the longshoremen in Oakland. That one moment in glory saw something more than just 1% out of the 99% out on the streets in a general strike. The other stumbling block is that the 1% of the wealthy and powerful is actually far less than that when we consider that 430 families in the US dominate most of the wealth and power in the country. In a country of 330 million, 1% would actually suggest 3.3 million who make up the wealthy and this is very far from true. A figure of .001% would be somewhat closer to the truth, but as a slogan 99% versus 1% is simple and sounds good, getting the general message across. The chief obstacle and necessary job is to organize the real 99% plus into a united front of action in solidarity with the Occupy movement. With that, some real change can finally occur. Lessons from Europe can be incorporated, such as the period of dual power in France during 2010. The 1% as they have been called, have watched nervously and done what they can to stop this in the bud. The last thing they want to see is a linkage between the 1% of the activists with the 98% of the non activists against the 1% holders of power and wealth in this global imperialist corporatist order. Though they may have crushed a lot of the movement, it still rumbles under the surface.

The obvious lesson learned is that peaceful protest does not work in the face of a violent and oppressive state bent on stopping any dissent by any means at their disposal including the introduction of draconian new laws. The Occupy movement has plans for the future, such as a mass march on Washington DC. They have tentatively occupied banks, the Federal Reserve and other agencies and met with harsh resistance. There is required a paradigm shift in thinking, to consider different strategies, to get the 98% of their claimed membership actively on board. They need to learn from the experiences of history in matters of the people versus a violent state.

The Salish First Nations were involved in Occupy Vancouver. Here we see a colorful Salish dance

The first day of Occupy Vancouver, Oct. 15, 2011


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