Why go out in the streets? Here are two reasons. The first is that whether you are in the street or in the four walls of “home” (however much that is, or isn’t), if you are poor, it’s true that you remain poor. But, at home, your poverty is intensified by your isolation: perhaps it’s you that’s a slacker, perhaps it’s your bad luck, perhaps the system is too far away for you to do any damn thing about. That isolation is a structural feature of “divide and conquer”. Walk out in the street – and you find you’re not alone. And immediately “divide and conquer” has itself been vanquished. As a first step toward the transformation that must come – and that will come – joining in and joining up breaks one of the strongest chains that bind us to the agenda of the system – when we share our stories and see them in each others faces, we begin to share as an experience of the common.
The second reason is that bodies count. The difference between a thousand in the street – and ten thousand, or a million, or ten million – is peaceful “regime change”. Governments pay attention when the crowd is large enough.
The question has been raised – who is the audience? Do we send a message to the oligarchs? to the governments in collusion with them? to each other to affirm the integrity of the 99%?
I think the answer is we are sending messages to all of the above. To the oligarchs, we are saying “somehow we are going to take back what was stolen – and redistribute fairly both the resources and the burdens of human endeavour”; to governments, we are saying “Not in our name”, on the one hand and, “you work for the common, not the elite”, on the other; and to each other, we are saying “solidarity forever”.
If you can’t get to an Occupy. Lend your support. Find their webpages and sign petitions, lend money, food, clothes – whatever you can that will help them – and help you to be part of this. It may be the last chance we all have to avert the ecological disaster that awaits us all if the oligarchs do “business as usual” – and it may be the last chance we have to stop the institution of corporate feudalism – or worse. For a wonderful analysis – go to Alternative Radio and listen to the David Korten podcast. He has well thought out steps that could lead us into a fairer economic system and a sustainable ecological relationship.
But, most of all, end “divide and conquer” isolation. We are the 99% – and the common belongs to all – it’s just outside your door.