Wherever you are, of whatever sort?
The possibilities vary greatly, from urban to suburban to rural areas; the economic state of the region; the predominant politics and political conflicts; whether there’s an immediate proximate struggle which is part of broader structural issues; what forces could possibly be mustered for the action; whether those forces exist ready for action at the moment or if educational and organizational work is needed, and if so, what.
Someone I know wants to get an event going here in suburbia, but so far there’s been a disappointing response to feelers sent out to e-mail lists, and we’re mostly at the stage of casting about for a specific rationale. (Then there’ll be the nuts-and-bolts logistics of it, “permits” and such, but first we need to know we wouldn’t be “giving a demonstration and nobody came”.) There are several specific corporate assaults in this town, like a federally imposed pipeline (taxpayer money, federal thug enforcement including overriding of state law, “private” profiteering). It seems like people are mostly glum about things but not particularly ready to do anything about it. (I personally experience it as a foreign invasion.) There’s some other general swinishness going on. Verizon recently informed the town it would no longer pay taxes on its properties because it just dipped below a 50% market share, and some law allegedly exempts it from taxes if it doesn’t hold this majority share. The law actually means the opposite (though it does sound like a very stupid law to have written in the first place), but this is an example of something we’ve discussed previously, how corporations are increasingly simply refusing to pay bills and taxes and forcing creditors and governments to sue them. There’s also a flap over the municipal water authority, with privatization looming in the background. We know the record is 100% across the board – no matter what the public water utility was like, privatization always brings far more expensive water with worse services. That’s what’s happened everywhere privatization has won out.
So there’s a few examples of possible hooks upon which to hang a participation event. There’s also the broader question of the future of the town. For the moment it’s “legally” safe from further development, but that of course can change. The subdivision onslaught is just about economically spent anyway, but the barbarians of suburbia can still do lots of damage yet, even in a fairly short period of time. If we’re going to resist and overcome the vandals, we need a coherent plan of our own for the post-oil agricultural future of the area. Maybe an Occupation event could become a participatory assembly to discuss this future. Well, that’s a pretty far-out idea, but it could at least impress upon people the need for such a plan. So far as I know the only plans that exist still assume infinite growth. These are impossible, of course, but can still accomplish great destruction.
In the meantime, it sounds like lots of preparatory work needs to be done even before we can get a good turnout for an acute event. People need to be reminded of everything that’s happening, and have it all be presented as one big picture, with each specific feature placed in the big context. We also need an ongoing media project to keep people aware of all these things. We already have the building materials for that – websites, cadres, a base to build upon (although even this base seems lethargic at the moment). We just need to put it all together to function the right way, to generate its own energy.
So if the issue here is chronic, and people “aren’t ready” to come out for an acute Occupy event, that’ll have to be changed systematically. Of course, OWS itself seemed to be falling short on its first day, and even I thought it was fizzling out. So if we could get something started, who knows what kind of enthusiasm it might spontaneously call into being?
So there I was talking about how to use existing forces to get an Occupy event going. And perhaps for the longer run we could use an Occupy event as a consciousness raiser and recruitment tool for the vaster arc of the general democratic movement. At our farmers’ market we have a dedicated space where a non-profit organization can set up a booth and engage in those two activities. So an Occupy event itself could serve the same purpose for any number of food, energy, transportation, health, education, political, and anti-corporate struggles. Just as these proximate struggles can be the rallying point for a broader occupation, so the Occupation can teach and recruit for the struggle.