Let me be clear - I have a difficult relationship with the Occupy movement.
On the one hand - it’s about damned time. Finally we have a large, sustained protest movement nation-wide and even globally that’s rightfully upset about some core problems. It’s not politically aligned, it’s well-spoken, and it has been resilient enough to overcome being ignored by the media and has crafted its own story. That it has been inspired in part by the Arab Spring and Tahrir Square in particular, which were inspired in part themselves by MLK’s non-violent protests gives a heart-warming feeling of global solidarity and social justice.
Further, it’s very exciting that Occupy comes at a turning point in history where our social constructs and technologies make it possible to really manage a movement through collaboration instead of by a hierarchy, and a world where people have a powerful online voice and the ability to shake things up if they get out of hand (not without challenges in the realm of privacy and government censorship ).
Don't just Occupy
But, it’s time to stop occupying and start doing. I want to see the general assemblies get beyond the quotidian tasks of managing the camps and begin hashing out next steps. The goals are clear enough, but no one is going to wave a magic wand and make banks play nice overnight, or overhaul our political system. We need achievable milestones to start tackling, knocking out, and moving on towards the overarching goals. This is coming. OccupyTogether seems to be investigating communications tools that will support this level of discourse, and the call for a national assembly is very exciting.
The 99% is still the global 1%
The deeper, nagging problem I have with the whole 99% concept is that yes we have dug ourselves pretty deep into inequality in the US. It’s a problem. But that aside, the US itself is the 1% on the global stage, in terms of resource consumption per capita.
The US population represents just under 5% of the world’s population, but yet we account for outsized proportions of the global economy and resource consumption. Back in 1999, when we hit the six billion mark of global population, we were concerned that “the richest 16 percent of the worlds population is consuming some 80 percent of its natural resources.”, and that’s not getting any better as we are now staring at the seven billion mark.
How do we resolve this disconnect? Globally, we are the robber-barons, we are the (relatively speaking) champagne (petroleum?)-sipping 1%ers.
We must tie this domestic push for social equality and justice with a global one – or be hypocrites.