Swept away for the holidays? C’mon, Occupy, Let’s Go!

Looking back over the week, it seems like we’ve settled into some kind of holding pattern. The Occupy protests keep spinning, including a jubilant rally in Boston last night, but there is a feeling that we’re all waiting for the next shoe to drop…the next big push, the next new thing.

This week saw Occupy Foreclosures; next Monday there is a plan afoot to shut down the West Coast ports. The student protests are still sputtering; there is a group of hunger strikers in New York demanding a home for OWS;  and a stalwart group of climate activists has been braving relentless hostility to protest in at the COP 17 talks in Durban.

I’m glad to see all this stirring of outrage and energy.  I’m just starting to get confused by all the different tangents the movement is taking, and wishing for more focus and concentrated action.

I want the 99% to be like a biblical flood that will wash all the corruption and evil away, leaving a sparkling new world ready for re-occupation.

I know full well that’s unrealistic.  It’s not meant to be taken literally.  It’s just the kind of mood I’m in: impatient, restless, tired of the same old same old.

I have that same feeling about the holidays this year.

Are we really going to go through those motions again?  Are we going to fool our little children into believing in Santa Claus?  Are we going to laugh and clink glasses at innumerable holiday parties?  Are we going to go on shopping sprees for presents at the malls?

Again I’m reminded of the band that was ordered to keep playing as the Titanic sank.  There’s a new 3-D version of the Leo DiCaprio/Kate Winslett Titanic coming out soon–as if what we really needed was to watch that horrible tragedy again, in 3-D.

Folks, I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but we need to stop fooling ourselves, we need to get real. If we don’t profoundly change our ways NOW, Mother Earth will do it for us, and she won’t be pussy-footing around.

I was listening to a news report today about how many billions of dollars in damage Hurricane Irene caused back in late August. Then there was the October snowstorm, knocking down trees and powerlines for millions of people in the Northeast.

What’s next?  How bad does it have to get before we stop pouring good money after bad, cleaning up after natural disasters that could perfectly well have been avoided if we focused on prevention rather than on damage control?

We do the same thing with health issues.  We spend billions looking for the “cure” for cancer, when the real issue is lurking upstream, in all the toxic chemicals we’re dumping into the environment and our own bodies.

We know what makes us sick. We know what is making our climate “sick” and out of balance.  We know how to fix it too–we need to start converting to renewable energy as fast as we can, immediately!  All systems go!

And it’s the same with the sociopolitical system.  We know where it’s broken.  Campaign finance reform is not a new idea.  Bank and finance regulation is nothing new.  Social policies that bolster the middle class are obvious.


The Occupy movement has the potential to fire up enough people to get out there and demand change.  The movement just needs to articulate a few clear, incontestably worthy goals, and pour all the creativity of the 99% into finding ways to pressure the ruling class to get the job done–or be swept away.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t much feel like celebrating this holiday season.  I feel like rolling up my sleeves, joining forces with my neighbors, and getting to work.  There is so much to be done, and so little time.

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  1. I’ve read the blogposts now for a few days and I only want to tell, that your message strongly resonates here and that I agree completely.

    I’m not a native English speaker and cannot voice my ideas as eloquently as you do yet I want to add some basic conclusions that I made:

    A. What can one do on a personal level, in what way does one have to change her/his live in order to improve the situation?

    Be an example, be a teacher, be a prophet, be a saint. Love, care, be happy, lead a modest life with the least possible use of energy and materials. Don’t reproduce. Be careful and clever, outwit the powers of evil.

    B. What has to be done on a community level?

    1. Building research groups or using existing institutions for education, training, research, which is focused on the following points 2 and 3:

    2. Developing ways to disable and dismantle weapons and other machines of destruction.

    3. Developing smart tools, optimized methods/techniques/practices, and efficient organizational structures of a new economy.

    4. Building local networks (neighborhood committees), new distribution models (replacing supermarkets by online ordering), subsistence farming and gardening. Creating a new economy (counter currencies, time banks, co-ops).

    5. Supporting and promoting women in every possible way to establish gender equality.

    6. Boycotting, disturbing, obstructing, sabotaging the present system.

    7. Taking over and reprogramming existing computer networks.

    The situation is grave and justifies (nonviolent) actions beyond talking, writing, petitioning, protesting, actions that can be suggested but not discussed in detail in the public sphere.

    • Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

       /  December 11, 2011

      These are excellent suggestions, thank you so much for sharing them. I agree with all of your points except one: I do believe that talking and writing (ie, communicating) are “actions” too. Maybe that is just self-justification in my case, since it’s the one of main things I am doing now for the movement, aside from my role as an educator, and trying to live my own life in a way that is true to my values (not always so easy, at least so far).

      Again, thanks for sharing and I may very well use your thoughts as the starting point for an upcoming blog post–


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