Now that the occupation has lasted more than a month, what have we learned?
1. We have learned that they are afraid. The top 1% knows that we know, and that we know that we know, that its stories of “trickle down” and “what’s good for wall street is good for main street” and “free markets” and “new economy” and all the rest is a sandwich of steaming shit. They know the gig is up and they are afraid. Evidence: right wing talking heads warning about revolution; massive police force.
2. We have learned that they will bend. Eric Cantor’s tail behind his legs retreat is a mighty triumph of the political power of Occupy Philly. How many more retreats can we force throughout the country? We are legion.
3. We have learned that people in the US, people all over the world, no longer accept business as usual. ”We are the 99%” resonates because people are sick of the exploitation, sick of the unfairness, sick of working for a world in which the very, very few take from us our lives and futures. The occupation movement is the crack, the rupture, the awakening: all over the world people are talking about extreme inequality, economic failure, the fact that capitalism is broken. All over the world people are talking with each other about what comes next, what to do, what to make—what new world should we demand of ourselves?
4. We have learned that collectively we are strong. We’ve learned this in part through new practices of interacting and building consensus. We’ve also learned it more painfully, through experiences of blocking, trolling, derailing, and sabotage by contrarians who demonstrate neither care nor concern for the movement.
5. We have learned and will continue to learn how hard it is to build and maintain these collectivities. This learning is painful. It is divisive. It involves learning that sometimes exclusion is necessary; it involves learning when to be decisive, when to coerce, when to say “enough is enough.”
6. We have learned that collectivity is not unanimity; it’s almost like we are learning through experience a lesson suggested by Rousseau: the difference between the general will and the will of all.
7. We are learning that the movement exceeds any single occupation. The movement to occupy, to assert our presence in our world, in the processes and systems through which we shape it, is now established and strong. We are already here. The point of occupation is to state that we are here, to make our being here register—that we are here means that what is here is ours.
8. We will start learning the different tonalities and variations of this movement. Some sites might become more intensive as others regroup. Some might abandon one site in order to occupy new possibilities. Regrouping is an opportunity: an opportunity to build outside of the prying eyes and presumptive expectations of a 24/7 media cycle concerned only with pumping content through feeds.
9. We will learn to plan—for the winter, for the upcoming election cycle: Cantor’s retreat reminds us of the abundant opportunities we have for occupation in the upcoming year. How many campaign events? How many primaries? How many caucuses? What will happen as the fearful millionaries retreat in the face of the collective strength of those willing to occupy the campaign (or campaign to occupy)? How many more retreats can we force, demonstrating the bankruptcy of the political system and its obesiance to capital? How many advances can we make? Occupying not public squares but spaces claimed as private by the few? What would a real Bank of America look like? We won’t know until we occupy it.
10. We’ve learned that we can will differently. We need to learn how to sustain this will and how to forge it into a collective desire for a collectivity that can and will persevere.
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