What Next for Occupy?

Text and pictures by K. Kendall

From South Bend, Indiana to Ottawa, Canada, from Democracy Now, to our own Portland Spokes Council, everyone is asking, Where do we go from here?  Do we go inside a warehouse or a building, as Occupymediagroup (in New York) hopes to do?   Or should we refuse to leave the parks, as  Occupy Los Angeles insists? Should we now develop a list of demands, as Michael Moore suggests?

Op-ed News, which calls itself “Progressive, Tough Liberal” says we should devote our energies to making radical change in the halls of power in D.C.

Kalle Lasn,  co-founder of Adbusters, says the “original magic” faded as news coverage of the encampments around the country began to focus on drugs, violence and homelessness. “Somehow, we lost the high ground, we lost the narrative” he said. “Tactically, the moment was right to declare victory, have a big global party and come back swinging next spring.”

But his website recommends “precision disruptions” such as “flashmobs, stink bombs, edgy theatrics – against the megacorps and the unrepentant 1%, a festival of resistance in the snow with or without  an encampment that’ll lay the tactical foundation for our Spring Offensive.”

Occupy has “changed the conversation.” Everybody agrees to that. But sometimes the conversation sounds like a roomful of TVs tuned to different stations and all playing at full volume. Sometimes it’s difficult to hear anything we want to hear (like those meetings that take place on Livestream while people chat loudly near the microphone about beer and pizza). (Not to say I reject beer and pizza, though sometimes I want to hear what the spokes are putting forth.)

We have developed the art of listening to each other, respecting each other’s autonomous experiences. Now the information glut is overwhelming, the talks grind on endlessly. What was the question?

I am just one person, listening, reading, thinking. I don’t have a list of demands or a strategy to sell. But for me, a few voices do stand out.

One of those is the voice of Rinku Sen, author and political analyst. In a conversation broadcast on Democracy Now she says, “I think that if Occupy Wall Street is going to cause this public shift, a really significant part of that shift has to be the ability to recognize the role that racial discrimination, racial exploitation, and racial hierarchy played in getting us to this very depression, not just historically, but ten, fifteen, five years ago, last month. There are ways in which red-lining and mortgage theft and predatory lending and long-term employment discrimination and housing discrimination got us to the place where our economic systems do not work for anybody, including struggling white people.”

She goes on to explain that there is “a whole set of mechanisms and structures that were actually designed to take stuff from people of color and to disenfranchise people of color, that then ultimately always, always, always bleed out to affect everybody else.” That makes sense to me. Whatever we do, we must do it with people of color. People of color have had to resist “the Man” longer than white people. We need to stand together and examine the strategies that worked for Civil Rights. STAND WITH PEOPLE OF COLOR.

The next voice that stands out for me, in that same discussion, is the voice of Naomi Klein, who says the question before us is not “What are your demands?” but “What do we want to build in the rubble of this failed system?”  ASK WHAT WE WANT TO BUILD.

The Nation reminds us of the advice of Jeff Madrick, who urged the Occupiers in New York to “go to where the injustice is.” So they went to Harlem to protest the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policies, to Verizon’s corporate headquarters to protest on behalf of CWA employees, to wherever New York Governor Andrew Cuomo sets foot to defend his millionaires. GO WHERE THE INJUSTICE IS.

Eve Ensler says, “Occupy Wall Street is a work of art, exploding onto a canvas in search of form, in search of an image, a vision. In a culture obsessed with product, the process of creation is almost unbearable.” BRING FORTH THE ART THAT IS IN YOU.

One of the features of Occupy that has drawn me from the day I attended my first organizing meeting, in late September at Tom McCall Park, is its respect for each individual’s particular talent. Core. Essence. Ability. So it’s possible that each of us, bringing forth the art that is in us, heading for where the injustice is, asking what we want to build, and standing with people of color (even if we are people of color), will find a different path to where we’re going. MANY PATHS, ONE JOURNEY.

OccupyDC has crafted a statement that appears on the website warisacrime.org declaring the following:

We will not divert our energies into electoral work.

We will not identify with or begin to make compromises and apologies for any party, political candidate, or elected official.

We demand that the corporate plutocracy be replaced by majority rule.

We will educate and organize. We will agitate and mobilize.

We will escalate our campaign of cultural and societal change.

We will bring increased pressure to bear on our government in Washington, D.C. We will bring this pressure as the people to the government as a whole, not as cheerleaders for one part of the government against another.

We will not go away, we will not be silenced, we will not relinquish the right to speak freely, to peaceably assemble, and to petition our government for a redress of grievances.

We will not relent. We will not be defeated. We will not be co-opted by either the Democratic or Republican Party, both of which have sold us out in Congress, the Supreme Court, and in the White House.

I can hear that. In that statement is room for each of us to find our own path to what we want to build on this rubble we have now.

  2 comments for “What Next for Occupy?

  1. November 27, 2011 at 9:45 AM


    These are great observations you included in your article. There are many
    voices and many opinions, and it will only be in an orderly manner in
    which all of these will be able to be turned into the symphony of positive
    change as implied in the last photo in your blog.

    The list of complaints is unlimited because there is injustice at many
    levels, and Occupy (the whole movement) needs to address them all. From
    the bribes by Wall Street, to war and police brutality, to education and
    medical exploitation, to what really happened in 9/11. These are not
    things that are unrelated or happened by chance. These are orchestrated by
    a group that Professor Noam Chomsky referred to as “The De Facto World
    Government” (although he will argue that he was only using the phrase
    coined by the London Financial Times), which as he pointed out, operates
    in secret; determines the basic things that happen in life; it has its own
    institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank, the Word Trade Organization,
    as well as the executive branches of the seven rich countries; that the
    major institutions are under totalitarian control; and that the people who
    count own the oil stocks.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9Nf7FYnrx8)

    This Group controls education and even medicine and is responsible for
    millions of death due to cancer and other diseases, due to their orthodox
    medical methods such as chemotherapy, as well as for prosecuting many
    persons that have developed proven cures that are not or less harmful and
    that cost pennies on the dollar. For an example read my blog on Cancer and
    the FDA

    We need to work on at least four things:

    – Identify all the related issues that must be addressed;

    – Identifying individually all those responsible for what is going on as
    it relates to those issues. What are their names? Yes, Goldman Sachs, but
    who is behind it, and I’m not talking about the CEO, but the board of
    directors and those that put them there, the interests they represent.

    – Liberate ourselves from the belief that the government can regulate
    everything we do. People consistently make the mistake of saying that our
    government is violating “their constitutional rights.” What constitutional
    rights? We weren’t a party to that contract. Our rights are God given,
    natural and common law rights (even if you don’t believe in God, law is
    one of precedence and often names God (like the Declaration of
    Independence) and if you take it all the way back it takes you to
    Hammurabi and in more recent times The Magna Carta).

    – Start “Russell Tribunals” type forums to start bringing all these things
    and individuals to light and assign responsibility. Once crimes are
    identified we can demand legal action for such behavior.

    And to do all of the above, we will need to apply the rules of Critical
    Thinking, as identified by my mentor:

    First Rule of Critical Thinking
    Question Authority

    Second First Rule of Critical Thinking
    Question Yourself for you are your biggest authority

    It seems that one of the things Occupy is trying to avoid is the issue of
    9/11 (something the Tea Party also argued initially but has put on the
    back burner due to criticism [the way to stop dissention]),but it should
    not as it is critically important. The war on terror, which really means
    “The War On The 99%” on a global level is based on that day’s event.
    Forget the televised experts, forget the studies and the 9/11 Commission,
    all you have to do is see three buildings collapsing at gravity
    (demolition) speed even though only two were hit with a plane. We have to
    stop depending on other’s explanations on things and trust our own eyes
    and instinct. This is where the rules of critical thinking come in.

    Best wishes.


  2. Lori McMillan
    November 28, 2011 at 6:35 AM

    I could not agree more with the comments Ricardo has posted. Follow the money and you will see where it leads. Seek the truth, do not be deterred. We must find the courage within ourselves to remove the fear-borne blinders we’ve been wearing since 9/11, so that we may determine what’s happening behind closed doors, and possibly even more importantly, WHY.

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