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Re: <nettime> Occupy Wall Street and the Left
BishopZ on Thu, 19 Jan 2012 22:29:14 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Occupy Wall Street and the Left

What Occupy Is and Is Not

by the Language of Unity Working Group, Occupy Austin, USA

"What we call a poem is mostly what is not there on the page." -Harold Bloom

I can not speak for the global Occupy movement, but I think we here in
the US have done a poor job of representing ourselves. We are not
professional media spinners, and it is unfair to judge this movement
by what is shown on the television news stations. Even those
sympathetic to our cause, such as the John Stewart Show or the Colbert
Report, while often painting Occupy Wall Street in favorable light,
have been unable to avoid widespread misconceptions.

Please allow me a few words to a attempt a more clear painting of what
Occupy is and is not.

First, our movement is radically inclusive. There are many supporters
from the right, center and left of the political spectrum. We have
many Tea Party-ers who are unhappy with how that movement has
developed. We have many Ron Paul supporters who do not believe he has
been treated fairly by the Republican party. We have Veterans
concerned about healthcare, and Green party supporters concerned about
environmental issues and genetically-modified foods. And yes, there
are some students, hippies, and anarchists; some homeless people
looking for a handout, and soccer moms looking for a cause.

But Occupy does not support any particular political party. Instead
this movement has focused on the things that bring people together.
The Occupy protesters have latched on to the "99%" moniker because it
is a statistical number that appears very infrequently. The US's two
party system focuses, both in the media and in Washington DC, on
issues which divide the populace into two halves. The media only
covers controversial issues and pollsters only measure the divisions.

For instance, you will never see Occupy approach the issue of
abortion. It is too derisive. Rather than championing one side, the
huge innovation of the Occupy movement is its focus only on issues
which unite people. We care most about people and care what most
people support.

Rather than asking if government regulation should be increased, a
complicated issue on which many people have different opinions, the
Occupy movement seeks a language that describes the frustrations of
people on both sides of the regulation debate. While Republicans and
Democrats differ on their solutions, most people agree that corruption
in the financial sector has lead to a crisis which should have been

Yet, Occupy has no shortage of real-world solutions, and we do not
shrink from an intelligent conversation of both the problems and
solutions, but that is not the conversation currently represented in
the media or in Washington DC. As John Stewart said, the "well" of
political debate has been "poisoned" with the "toxic language" that
indicts anyone who questions corporate greed as "freedom hating."
Once the conversation has been framed as pro-Amercian vs
anti-American, it becomes nearly impossible to return the subject to a
constructive and realistic debate about the issues.

Occupy has not defined their demands because they refuse to allow our
concerns to be dismissed out-of-hand by sound bites and the curt
one-up-man-ship that pervades political discourse in the popular

Secondly, the Occupy movement is far from disorganized. Our inclusive
nature does not mean we give equal weight to everyone, regardless of
the merit of their ideas. Radical inclusion simply means we are
willing to listen. We still have goals, rules, process, critical
evaluation and all the systems required to be successful.

The rumors of Occupy's demise have been grossly exaggerated. The
Occupy uprising in America united many people with common interests
and there is nothing that could happen to dispel our common
connection. We have collected in small groups that meet regularly in
coffee-shops, salons and restaurants, far from the tent cities and
violence which appears in the TV news. And until there is some outlet
for our common concerns, until our demand is met, we will continue to
organize, build and convert more to our circles.

In conclusion, our efforts to find those things which concern All of
US, our attempts to find language to articulate the most popular of
reforms, we have found one thing that seems nearly universal across
all demographics within the US and likely beyond: nearly everyone
agrees that there is a problem. Everyone agrees that things can not
continue as they have been.

The only question is what to do about it. The answer Occupy offers,
and its amazing innovation over the last 20 years of politics and
activism in America, is the simple statement: doing nothing is not an
option, and we will hold vigil until something is done.


The Occupy Flowchart:

Q1. Do you think there is a problem?

A. Yes, goto Q2
B. No, stay home

Q2. Do you know what should be done about the problem?

A. Yes, Come to Occupy
B. No, Come to Occupy
C Unsure, Come to Occupy


Harris Poll. Feb. 16-21, 2010.

"And now a question about the power of different groups in influencing
government policy, politicians, and policymakers in Washington. Do you
think [see below] have/has too much or too little power and influence
in Washington?"

__Too Much
87% Big Companies
83% Big Banks
83% Lobbyists
85% PACs
75% News Media
70% Celebrities

__Too Little
71% Non-profits
82% Public Opinion
93% Small Business

93% believe GE foods should be labeled (10/10,Thomson Reuters PULSE™
Healthcare Survey, “National Survey of Healthcare Consumers:
Genetically Engineered Food”)
96% believe genetically modified foods should be labeled (6/11, MSNBC)
95% of consumers believe GE foods should be labeled (11/08, Consumers
Union, “Food-Labeling Poll: 2008,” p. 13)
94% believe genetically modified food should be labeled (9/10, Washington Post)
93% of the American public wants the federal government to require
mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods (6/11, ABC News)


ABC News/Washington Post Poll. Jan. 13-16, 2011

"I have some questions about the political discourse in this country
-- that is, the way people talk about politics. Overall, do you think
the tone of political discourse you hear is very positive, somewhat
positive, somewhat negative or very negative?"

82% Very Negative or Somewhat Negative


CBS News/New York Times Poll. April 25-29, 2008

"Do you think foods that contain genetically modified ingredients
should be labeled indicating that or don't you think that is

87% Should be


CBS News Poll. May 20-23, 2011

"Who do you think benefits most from the policies of the federal
government: the rich, the middle class, the poor, or do they all
benefit equally?"

66% Rich


United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll
conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International. July
28-31, 2011

"This year, have Republicans and Democrats in Washington been working
together more to solve problems, or have they been bickering and
opposing one another more than usual?"

82% Bickering more than usual


CBS News/New York Times Poll. Oct. 21-26, 2010

"When it comes to reforming the way political candidates raise and
spend money, how important is it that the amount of money campaigns
can spend be limited: very important, somewhat important, not too
important, or not important at all?"

86% Very or Somewhat Important

"How important is it that campaigns be required by law to disclose how
much money they have raised, where that money came from, and how they
have spent the money: very important, somewhat important, not too
important, or not important at all?"

92% Very or somewhat important


Polling Data Source:

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