About the Occupy Movement

November 25, 2011 | By | 2 Replies More

Democracy Now recently hosted a discussion concerning the accomplishments and aims of the Occupy movement. Here are a few excerpts:

Michael Moore:

[The movement has] already had some important victories. It has alleviated despair in this country. It has—it has killed apathy. It has changed the conversation in a profound way. Seven, eight weeks ago, all we were listening to was about the debt ceiling and the deficit crisis, and [inaudible] nobody’s talking about that distraction any longer. They’re talking about the real issues now that are facing the majority of Americans: jobs, the fact that millions of homes are underwater, that 50 million people don’t have health insurance, we have 49 million living in poverty now, we have 40 million adults who cannot read and write above a fourth grade level, that are functional illiterates. That’s the nation that corporate America and the banks and Wall Street have created. And when somebody asked me the other day, “Well, who organized this? Who organized this movement?” I said, “Well, actually, Goldman Sachs organized it. Citibank organized it. BP organized it. They did—they did the organization.”

And I think that, you know, it’s—if you want to trace the current roots to this, somebody—I was being interviewed the other day. “Well, you know, at the end of your last movie, you were wrapping the crime scene tape around the Stock Exchange, and you called for this uprising.” I said, “No. Yes, I did, but, you know, it’s not that. It’s not a magazine from Vancouver. It’s not—if you want to—if you really want to pin it down to somebody, I would thank Bradley Manning.” And here’s why. A young man with a fruit stand in Tunis became very upset because he couldn’t figure out why he was just getting screwed and why he couldn’t make it. And he read a story, put out by WikiLeaks, that exposed how corrupt his government was. And he just couldn’t take it anymore, and he set himself on fire. That event, by giving his life to this, created the Arab Spring movement that went across the Middle East and then boomeranged back here to what has been going on in the fall here in North America. But if one courageous soldier hadn’t—allegedly—done what he had done, if he hadn’t done this, it—who knows? But it was already boiling just beneath the surface, and it just needed somebody to get it going.

And thank God for you and your friends, who went down there on that first day, who endured the ridicule first, then the attacks, and then the attempts to co-opt. But they have held strong. And it’s not now—it’s not just the people who can camp out overnight. It’s 72 percent of the American public who say they want taxes raised on the rich. That’s never happened before in this country. It’s people taking their money out of Chase and Citibank and Wells Fargo and putting it in their credit unions. And it’s taken so many forms that—and it can’t be stopped. And it’s so great to watch Fox News and the others try to wrap their heads around it, because they can’t get their brain quite—like it can’t grab onto it, which is great. That’s what’s great. So, I’m a big supporter of it staying leaderless, with a lack of a certain amount of organization, that it remain in its free and open state. And thank God for all the young people who are willing to not take it anymore. And I’ve just been inspired by it, and I’m glad that I got to live to see what I believe, or hope, will be the beginning of the end of a very evil system that is unfair, and it’s unjust, and it’s not democratic. So, thank you.

Patrick Bruner (Occupy Protester)

And, you know, we—obviously this has to do with a break in the way that we view the world. Eighty-five percent of the class of 2011 move back in with their parents. That’s something that, you know, has never happened before. We have youth who are aware that their future has been stolen, because that’s true. That’s true. And we have everyone else who’s watching that and who sees that the youth’s future has been stolen and believes that their future has been stolen, as well. You know, the Tea Party comes from the same mindset as we do, you know, although we have many differences. You know, those are people who had legitimate grievances against this system that they had tried to work for their entire lives, and then it ended up screwing them. And, you know, that’s what’s going on with my generation. We have kids who have massive amounts of student debt, and they’re, you know, going to carry that for the rest of their lives, possibly. . . it’s a way to at least start a discussion, a real discussion, about all of the things that ail us on a daily basis, the things that are never really discussed. Like you said, before this, you know, the biggest discussion in American politics was whether or not to raise the debt ceiling for the 103rd time. You know, now we don’t talk about things like that. Now we’re starting to talk about wealth inequality. We’re starting to talk about greed.

Naomi Klein:

The kinds of action that we want from the state can systematically devolve power to the community level and decentralize it. I mean, that’s what’s exciting about these—all of these examples, whether it’s economic localization, community-based renewable energy, co-operatives, what they share in common is that they decentralize and devolve power, and, I mean, by their very nature. I mean, renewable energy, if you compare it with fossil fuels, you know, it’s everywhere. That’s the point. That’s why it is less profitable, because anybody can put a solar panel on their roof and have energy. And that’s why there’s such momentum against it from corporate America, because they want huge, centralized solutions, because they’re way more profitable, which isn’t to say that you can’t make a profit. You just can’t make a stupid profit. You just can’t—and so, I think, you know, if we look at what there’s so much outrage over, it is that concentration of power, that vertical power. And so, yeah, I do think the solutions have to disperse power, but that we won’t get there without very strong intervention, national, international, local.

You have to intervene strongly in the economy. You have to invest massively in the public sphere, along the lines that I was just talking about, these huge investments in infrastructure. But at the same time, just because you’re investing in infrastructure doesn’t mean that you can’t say that the transit system should be accountable to the people who ride it, right? . . . This has been one of the great failures of the left, is not understanding that state power can be just as alienating and just as corrupt as corporate power. And we have to have learned those lessons of the past.

Richard Kim:

[W]hat do you see that role of this movement in fighting for these things that will require, you know, federal government, massive federal government intervention?

MICHAEL MOORE:

I think that’ll happen. I think we’re watching the—we’re in the infancy of this movement, and it will grow, and that will happen. I have no doubts about that. I think the majority of the people in America would like that. And healthcare, in the same way that Naomi was talking about the environmental issues, in terms of how that impacts the economy, I think that that—I think that that’s—I think that’s—I just think this is all going to happen. But I—and you can play this tape back in about two years, because this is going to move very fast. This is one of these things where, you know, part of the discussion we’re having tonight is trying to figure it out. And I think Malcolm Gladwell’s point was well taken in his book, The Tipping Point, that you can’t create a tipping point. It just happens. . . . [T]he Republican debate last night, it was brought up two or three times. The Republican presidential candidate—one of the candidates had to say, “I’m part of the 99 percent. I’m for the” — I mean, they’re even using the language now. They’re so frightened by this, Bank of America had to get rid of their [bleep] $5 debit card fee. They’re like—they’re running so fast, they don’t know—they—you know, because they created this, you know, they created all the pain and suffering, because it’s their boot that’s on the necks of the American people and the Canadian people and most of the people of this world, it’s that they know that—they feel now that people want that boot off of their necks.

And when you say there’s—right, there’s 400 that have more than 150 million, but they only have 400 votes. And that just has got to—every night when they go to bed, go, “Holy [bleep]! This is like—there’s 150 million of them, and there’s only [ 400 ] of us!” “But we can buy candidates. Yes, we can buy candidates.” “I know. But we can’t go in the booth and put our hands on everybody’s lever.” “I know. I know. I know. OK, well, we’ll just—we’ll feed them a lot of nonsense on TV, and that’ll get them afraid. And we’ll make their schools like so crappy that they’ll be ignorant, and they won’t know when we’re trying to manipulate them with fear. And that’s—you know, this is how we’ll do it.”

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About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Tim Hogan says:

    In reading the latest, and other issues, of the Brit weekly, The Economist, it always refers to the OWS movement as “anti-capitalist.”

    I’ve written letters to the editor about this misnomer but, to no avail. At the worsat, the OWS movement is anti-crony capitalism as written here before.

    I suggest anyone who doesn’t want the corporate fascists to co-opt the rhetoric about the true origins and aims of the OWS movement to similarly write a Letter to the Editor of The Economist to squelch this schitzel.

    “Letters are welcome and should be addressed to the Editor at:
    The Economist, 25 St. James’s Street, London SWDA 1HG
    E-mail: letters@economist.com
    Fax: 020-7839-4092″

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Glenn Greenwald tells of attempts to co-opt the Occupy movement.http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/19-5

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