What is Next?
Michael Melendez 11/09/2011
I am here today to raise more questions than I am able to answer. The largest question that continues to visit me is what comes next as a result of OWS. For those of us who agree with the occupation and the points of their declaration issued October 2, 2011, we need to ask what we can do to transform this incredible social/political energy into fundamental change. Change which dares to step outside of the business-as-usual methods controlled by the power elite in an inverted totalitarian system, a system which functions as a machine for generating obscene profits at the expense of its citizenry.
The grievances aired by Occupy Wall Street at their Sept. 29 General Assembly in a document known as the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, beg for human dignity and fair play in all aspects of human culture. They address conditions vital to sustainable human existence and the long term health of our planet, these grievances speak to practices based on the generation of power and obscene profitability. What is being expressed here in the US is the same as that which is being fought for in Egypt, Greece, Syria, and so on. Just as these conditions are globally experienced and expressed, so do we find power being projected by international corporations, organizations which exist for the generation of profit above all else, and the governmental structures which do their bidding. This machine is powerful and pervasive. It has the means of perpetuating itself through brute force and clever manipulation of its media and communication apparatus. It is comprised of the very powerful who are not likely to relinquish that power without first feeling their very existence to be threatened.
The power of the machine has been bolstered due to a concentration of wealth among the top 1% that has accelerated since the Reagan administration. The last time we were close to this was in the ‘30’s when FDR, acting for the moneyed class, had to act in order to save capitalism. He succeeded in making just enough concessions to the lower classes; thereby allowing them to feel empowered and cared for. The gains made during that period have been steadily eroded though, particularly in the past 30 years, beginning with poster boy Reagan’s purportedly successful against “big government:. The struggle continues today as we find ourselves pitched against an increasingly powerful police state that unabashedly acts on behalf of an increasingly powerful oligarchy entrenched in the protective matrix of a sophisticated corporatocracy.
I run the risk of droning on in order to illustrate the immensity of the job ahead of us if we are to be successful in turning this country around by wresting power from the top and redistributing it among those work-a-day citizens who produce real wealth. The work ahead is herculean.
Are Americans prepared for the long term commitment required to undo a powerfully entrenched foe? Will the majority of the population truly come to understand that the 1% will continue to work for the 1% while chewing through human lives, and degrading and disrespecting the planet?
Will the Occupy movement prove capable of continuously reinventing itself in order to keep its vital energy alive and dynamic? Will it continue to attract organized labor, minorities, the LGBT community, veterans, and yes, even the cops themselves? Will it prove capable of including all citizens in a truly integrated movement acting as a collaborative counter force against those who would keep us disunited and weak? Will it find ways to produce real change outside of the systems machinery, or will it be co-opted into the morass of traditional politics and the smothering effect of our current, bought-and-paid for, ineffectual electoral system?
Are Americans motivated or uncomfortable and committed enough to stay the course, finding new ways of exerting their power as citizens en masse, those who produce wealth as a result of their labor and their inherent power and beauty as human beings?
What is next? What can we do to keep this movement alive against the enormity of the machine? What do we need to do in preparation of the next stage of this movement? How shall we organize ourselves and our communities? How do we prepare for power acting out of fear? How many of their army divisions will march against the people?
Demonstrations and sign waving make us feel as if we are involved and making a difference. But what will the net effect be on the behavior of the machine men? “Legal” marches and other accepted protestations are cute, but seldom form any lasting system change. It could even be argued that this is just another form of cooperation with the state, with all of the dancers knowing their parts and working together for the sake of the show. Is this true? What effective alternatives might we produce?
As Charlie Chaplin pointed out 70 years ago when fascism reared its head under the banners of Hitler, Mussolini, and imperial Japan: we are not machine men, let us not behave that way. Let us not give way to the machine.