Ten Years Later: Lessons For Today From The Occupy Movement

To mark the tenth anniversary, I spoke with Bill Moyer of the Backbone Campaign (click here for that interview) and Chris Hedges, a noted author and host of On Contact (click here for that interview), about the political and economic environment in 2011 that gave rise to the Occupy Movement, the lessons learned and what is happening now. The Occupy Movement had a tremendous impact that is still being felt today but we continue to face many serious crises.

This is a good time to reflect upon what Occupy/October2011 did right and how that could inform our current organizing. Here are a few of the lessons.

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Ten Years After Occupy: Building The Power We Need

Ten years ago, prominent activists and a variety of organizations came together early in the year to organize the October2011 Movement, styled on the occupations of space that were occurring during the Arab Spring and in capitals across the United States. That movement merged with the Occupy Movement when it was announced later that year. Clearing the FOG speaks with Bill Moyer of the Backbone Campaign, one of the organizers of October2011, about what was happening at the time, the occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC and the impact the Occupy Movement had on activism in the United States. Moyer discusses the lessons learned and the movements and victories that came after Occupy. Plus a segment by Paul Tulloch on the 2008-09 financial crash and the current precarious global economy.

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Occupy Wall Street Trained A Generation In Class War

When Occupy Wall Street was evicted from its home base in Zuccotti Park on November 15, 2011, by the NYPD in a paramilitary-style operation under cover of the night with a press blackout, the obituaries were being written.

The day before, Occupy Oakland, which vied with New York as the leader of the leaderless movement, was evicted for the second and final time. A convergence to shut down the New York Stock Exchange on the two-month anniversary of OWS, on November 17, fizzled. Lacking a base of operations, two thousand Occupy protesters at most showed up and were bloodily swept away by police from Wall Street and an attempted reoccupation of the park. Over the next few months, Occupy camps were forcefully ousted in Portland, Boston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Seattle, New Orleans, and Los Angeles with hundreds of arrests.

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The Opposite Of A Cynic: David Graeber, 1961-2020

David Graeber was kind of anti-cynic, at pains to point out how common acts of altruism, mutual support, sharing and solidarity were, and that their absence from accounts of the world – because they were invisible to, or undervalued by, the people who wrote those accounts – was intensely political. The motivation for that exclusion on the right might be thought obvious: those acts don’t fit comfortably with the contemporary capitalist conception of the human being, a perpetually value-maximising agent of economic exchange. David might also point out how fragile that conception is – why else must it so frequently be backed up and restated in advertising and mass media? – but also that it has gradually supplanted an older conservatism which recognised a place for non-market mutual support, especially if it could be subordinated, domesticated and kept in its proper place. That this secret history of solidarity should be frequently invisible to the left, as well, would often puzzle him: perhaps it was the result of unconscious acculturation in capitalist society, or perhaps the intellectual legacy of a tilt to economism on the British left.

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Capitalist Catastrophism

We are not really in capitalist realism anymore, that we have in fact been leaving it for quite some time and that the signs of what might replace it in our pandemic-ridden and rapidly warming world are increasingly apparent. Unless there is a radical break from capitalism — a revolution — what will supplant capitalist realism is not the ability to imagine and fight for a post-capitalist future as Mason, Uetricht and Milburn had hoped, but something more ambiguous and perhaps ultimately worse. I call this something worse “capitalist catastrophism.”

Capitalist catastrophism is what happens when capitalist realism begins to fray at the edges. It describes a situation in which capitalism can no longer determine what it means to be “realistic,” not because of the force of movements assembled against it but because capital’s self-undermining and ecologically destructive dynamics have outstripped capitalism’s powers to control them.

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Newsletter: After The Crash…

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers for Popular Resistance. The economic agenda described here would create a radical transformation of the economy from a top-down system designed for the wealthiest, to a botton-up system that creates a foundation for an economy that benefits all. Putting in place this economy would move us from a plutocratic economy to a democratized economy where people have economic control over their lives.

It is a radical shift – how can it happen? There is only one path – the people must be educated, organized and mobilized to demand it. We need to change the political culture to one where the necessities of the people and protection of the planet are the priorities of the economy.

If predictions are correct, the next economic collapse will deeper and more damaging than the 2008 collapse. It will be a tremendous opportunity to demand radical economic change. It is one the movement for economic, racial and environmental justice should be preparing for now.

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Celebration Of 4th Anniversary Of Occupy, A Free Movie

By Dennis Trainor, Jr, for Acroynm TV – The first feature length documentary on the Occupy movement with a theatrical release is also a critically acclaimed work (reviews below).

It is available on iTunes – but you can stream it for free right here or download it for free by going to this vimeo file & clicking the download button right below the media player. Reviews:
(American Autumn) is calm and smart, offsetting its stridency with discussion, music, even humor, while issuing a call to arms.-The New York Times

American Autumn impresses most where many docs disappoint, expanding its scope without short-changing the wider subjects it covers.​​-Variety

This is not amateur hour. This is a movie as well made as any Hollywood blockbuster.-MichaelMoore.com

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How Wall Street Used Government Forces to Crush Occupy

It has been over two years since the Occupy Movement was brutally destroyed by a coordinated national effort led by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. Since that time, much documentation has been released under the Freedom of Information Act. Even though they are heavily redacted, these documents provide a frightening window into how far corporate America along with the federal, state, and local governments acting as their agents were willing to go to destroy a populist social movement like Occupy.

Despite all the documentation we have, there are still many out there who are in denial about these facts. After reading some recent comments that misrepresent what happened to the Occupy Movement, I decided to review how Occupy was so brutally squelched by Wall Street and corporate America using government forces as their agents acting upon their behalf.

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Judge Rules In Occupy Pensacola Lawsuit

Florida – After more than three years of litigation in the Occupy Pensacola v. City of Pensacola case, a federal judge has decided the case in favor of the city.

Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson granted the city’s motion for summary judgment on Friday, ruling that the city’s action to limit the time and location of Occupy protests had not violate the protestors constitutional rights.

“I appreciate Judge Vinson’s ruling, and I’m relieved to bring this litigation to a close,” said Mayor Ashton Hayward in a news release. “While we have the utmost respect for our constitutional freedoms, the city has an obligation to safeguard public health and safety.”

The litigation arose out of local protests, modeled after the “Occupy Wall Street” movement, which began in October 2011.

In order to call attention to various political, economic, and social justice issues, the “Occupy Pensacola” group held marches and pitched tents in Martin Luther King, Jr. Plaza, later relocating to the north lawn of City Hall.

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Holder Prosecuted Whistleblowers & Journalists, Not Bankers & Torturers

We urge President Obama to replace Holder with a public interest not a corporate lawyer; that will put the rule of law before corporate power. This appointment is an opportunity to shut the revolving door between big business and government. We also hope the next attorney general will put rule of law ahead of the security state, prosecute torture and other war crimes, protect privacy from US intelligence agencies and protect Freedom of Speech, Assembly and Press. Finally, we hope to see an attorney general that will confront the war culture that has allowed the president to ignore the constitutional requirement that Congress is responsible for deciding when the US goes to war, not the president; and one who respects international law and requires UN approval before the US attacks another nation.

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Three Years Later, What Has Come of Occupy Wall Street?

This week marks the third anniversary of protesters descending on Wall Street to protest the havoc wrought by the 2008 Financial Meltdown, which had hit all Americans hard, except for the ones who had caused it. . . . But a funny thing happened when a few folks started talking about the richest one percent using their money to work the political system to get even richer. “WE ARE THE 99%” became the rallying cry of a generation. The simplicity and inclusivity was said to be worthy of Madison Avenue. At once the conversation had shifted, and in that discourse, a word started coming up that used to seem unspeakable: class. . . . But I think more than anything, the point of Occupy was using your voice to speak out and finding out that you are not alone, there are many who feel the same way, and you are energized by this shared recognition. And once that common reality and strength is realized, you can go back to sleeping in bed and still live in accordance to your own mission.

Maybe someday we’ll have a reunion for the Class of 2011. But for now, our gratitude and admiration go out to all who occupied and inspired. Thank you for showing us that we are not alone. Our patriotism and compassion will push this pay-to-play system into the dustbin of history.

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Occupy & The Climate March

Like Occupy Wall Street, the People’s Climate March has refused to issue a unified set of demands. It has, instead, favored “big tent” organizing. And like OWS, which took on the 1 percent’s power over the political process, this march is tackling an issue that many know is a serious problem but that still remains outside mainstream discourse

Given this, it makes sense that similar tactics would be adopted in both messaging and structure. Like OWS, the march’s greatest success may ultimately be both its impact on the larger conversation and the continuing activities of its constituent parts — just as many Occupy-inspired groups did important work after the Zuccotti Park encampment was destroyed by the NYPD.

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