A Letter to Occupants
This was originally distributed under the RAAN banner at Occupy Chicago.
I write this as an observer, although the mere act of writing and distributing this makes me a participant. Until now, I have made infrequent trips to the Occupy Chicago site, and simply soaked it all in. I cannot sit on the sidelines anymore. While part of me is amazed at the fact that this is all even happening, another part of me (the part that still has scars from my own attempts to change the world) is screaming that some things just aren’t right here. Please take the following as not as instructions, not even as advice, but as a personal commitment to you all. I’m not writing this because I think you are “doing it wrong,” or that you even need my help. I am writing this because I want you to succeed…because I want US to succeed in creating a better world.
Politics is the Past
Almost three years ago we saw the election of a president we thought was going to change everything. I’m sure some of you were in Grant Park watching it all on the huge screens. Perhaps some of you were lucky enough to actually be let into the main area. I ask…Are we better off now than three years ago? Eternal war is still on the agenda while more and more people are exiled to the fringes of an economy they thought was their friend. It has been business as usual for our government these past few years, with a leader who has failed to live up to almost all of the promises he made.
The question stands…Are electoral politics still viable? Can we trust anyone to actually DO what they say they are going to once elected? I think the actions of our homegrown commander-in-chief answer this perfectly, and the answer is a most definite NO. We cannot rely on any representative, or group of representatives, to act in our favor. While an elected official may rely on the voice of the people to get into his/her position, once they are there the only voice they listen to is that of capital. If we want to be a true people’s movement, we need to stop appealing to our leaders above us to have mercy. We must stop making demands for higher wages, jobs for all, or the right to work, and start thinking about how to eliminate wages, jobs, and work.
The Left is Not Your Friend
“Yes, this is all wrong…but we have the answers,” is a typical slogan of the Leftist. I’m sure you’ve seen these people around, hawking newspapers, trying to sign you up for their email newsletter, etc. From Democrats to Communists, there are people that view this movement not as a rupture in society, but as an opportunity. Chicago is full of these groups, and I’m sure many of them have had some sort of presence at the Occupy Chicago site…do not trust them.
Many of yourselves may identify with “the Left wing.” Consider this…the term left wing comes from the era of the French revolution where the rising “business class” formed the left, and those wishing to retain monarchial rule formed the right. There were differences between the two, but neither dared to offer alternatives to the oppressive class-based society we still live in. Left and Right are the two wings of capital, of big business, of the enemy. We must rid ourselves of this false dichotomy and stop playing under the terms of those who wish to rule us.
Nonviolence or Pacifism?
The Occupy movements across the country identify as “nonviolent,” and this is probably for the best. What is counterproductive, though, is the complete unwillingness to identify violence as a useful tactic in the right situations, which is slowly morphing into a downright violent attitude against violence. For example, when someone threw a brick through the Walgreen’s window last week, occupants attempted to use force to restrain and arrest the thrower. If using force against a window is unacceptable, then why is using force to restrain someone, a person, acceptable?
The idea of nonviolent protest must not be turned into a dogmatic pacifism. Pacifism, despite it name, is a pretty forceful set of ideas. To discourage violence is one thing, but to actively use force to suppress violence is violent in itself! Pacifism maintains so adamantly that force must not be used, it is willing to reject without question any idea that disagrees with it, and that is very similar to the kind of hierarchical ideas that we are trying to fight against. So, go ahead, be nonviolent, but do not let the fact that nonviolence is the best course of action now lead to an utter rejection of violence as a tactic.
While on the topic of violence, I pose a question. What happens when the police show up one day to shut everything down? It has already happened in San Francisco, why couldn’t it happen here? I hear talk about how the police are part of the 99%, but when the moment of truth comes, do we really believe that they will be on our side? Please realize that the moment the state perceives the Occupy movement as a threat, instead of something it can co-opt, it will not hesitate to end all of this. As in San Francisco, this can all end in a single midnight raid…we are on borrowed time already. Once the state sends in the police to shut all of this down, any ideas of nonviolence will be thrown out by the police. You will have the choice of going home peacefully or being beaten/pepper sprayed. After that, then what? Do we go back to our homes defeated? Do we continue the fight by other means?
Fighting Injustice vs. Fighting to Save the World
I would like to note something that, judging by the slogans I’m seeing, escapes the Occupy movement. This is not just a fight against an unjust or unfair system…This is a fight to save the world. If you are fighting to restore capitalism to some previously workable state, or to reform the system into something more palatable, you are stopping way short of the true problem. The truth is, capitalism is destroying our world…literally. Not only is the system unsustainable on paper in our economies…It is also unsustainable by nature. We have basically enslaved the third world, and are using their labor to strip large areas of land of any natural resources which might be useful in making laptop computers, TVs, iPhones, or any number of devices that distract us from whats really going on.
Look at the smog in cities around the world, the continents of garbage that float in our oceans, or even the thin layer of space garbage that surrounds our planet. If we do not stop capitalism, we are going to die. Maybe not “us” literally, but humanity’s future is bleak if we continue to exploit our planet as we do. We should not be protesting because our health insurance was cancelled. We should not be protesting because we lost our jobs. We should not be protesting because we feel we are being treated unfairly. We NEED to be protesting because the system that is run by the 1% is flat out destroying the world at our expense…and we NEED to realize that protesting is only the beginning…this is the first step in the people creating their own world.