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View Diary: I wasn't in favor of OWS. Now I am. (206 comments)

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  •  Political space vs. public space (3+ / 0-)
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    Kurt Sperry, evergreen2, Creosote

    I think a couple of responses are in order.

    My first response is that OWS is a symbolic or metaphorical response to the fact that "political space" has been "occupied" increasingly and now wholly by the power of money. The 99% have been squeezed out of an effective say in "political space." This has been happening for 30 years or so but, of course,has become even more of a threat post-Citizens United. A billionaire plutocrat like Michael Bloomberg  can buy his office and even buy the overturning of term limits so he can stay in office; the Koch Brothers can buy the political process behind the scenes.

    Concurrent with this has been a shrinking of the available "public spaces" for free expression. We have seen the rise of the Orwellian "free speech zones." When this republic was founded, the roads were available for marches--now they are taken over by traffic. And the various rules promulgated by the authorities, while ostensibly content-neutral, are effectively (and probably intentionally, as we see in the changes decreed at Zuccotti Park) designed to constrain the expression of First Amendment rights.

    The "occupation" of "public space" thus becomes an ongoing critique of and riposte to the "occupation" of "political space" by the 1%. And the reaction of the authorities, I would argue, is proof that they see it and take it in precisely that way.

    But why continue? Activists have tried the "protest and go home" mode for quite a while now. It doesn't work. Hundreds of thousands of Americans got into the streets to try and prevent the Iraq War but we all went home after the demo and Bush did what he  wanted. What if we hadn't gone home?

    OWS needs to be a constant reproach, a constant reminder of this festering cancer on the body politic. The authorities want to have business as usual but there needs to be ongoing refusal of business as usual.

    Having a constant presence in "public space" is a way to force the 99% back into "political space." (And it is also important to reassert, in a nonviolent and yet confrontational way, the right to free, dissenting expression. The response of authority nationwide to the Occupy movement is proof of just how hollow the claim to freedom in America is.)

    •  Thank you so much for this comment! (1+ / 0-)
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      Creosote

      Way out here in Albuquerque I have been mesmerized, trying to comprehend the significance/non-significance/relevance/non-relevance of holding a continuous (and often highly frustrating/complicated/hassle-filled collective physical Occupation if some public space.  

      We were ousted from ours on October 25th and have been arguing over what/where/why/whynot Occupying a physical space as we head into winter.

      And this is Albuquerque, where we are actually (un)occupy/occupy Albuquerque, even, because of issues around colonization--so add THAT to the complexity of it all.

      Since Saturday I have been following closely first the ousting of Portland, then the ousting of Oakland, and, just when I was about to go to bed Tuesday morning, the ousting of OccupyWallStreet from its/our home.

      And, yes, to some extent, FreedomPlaza aka ZuccotiPark is the home of us all.  I have felt almost a visceral wounding watching, even from way out here in Albuquerque, as I watched, via the amazing Ustream by Tim, the destruction of that encampment. That Occupation, that encampment was, I think, the physical heart of the Occupy Wall Street movement, the mothership, as it were.

      All along wondering, what is the reason for going through all this hassle to occupy a physical space, especially when it is on ambiguously controlled territory, in which to gather and speak?  What does it mean?  What does Occupy mean?

      Sam Seder (sp?) this morning on Majority Report (sorry I don't have the link)  was getting close.  He talked about how, if corporations have been supported in their claim of money as a vehicle of free speach, why aren't tents equally supported as a vehicle of free speech in this case? If money is considered a legitimate means of speaking, why aren't the tents that house the voices of the people?  It's a very provocative argument, well articulated by Sam.

      But your comment really describes even more succinctly the multifaceted significance of the Occupation.

      Your comment really articulates perfectly the meaning and importance of it.  This:

      OWS needs to be a constant reproach, a constant reminder of this festering cancer on the body politic. The authorities want to have business as usual but there needs to be ongoing refusal of business as usual.

      Having a constant presence in "public space" is a way to force the 99% back into "political space."

      Your comment is worthy of a diary in itself.  But even if you don't do that, I have bookmarked your comment and will do a lot of thinking about it.  You are spot on!!

      Namaste!

    •  I meant to add this: (1+ / 0-)
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      Creosote

      From Grist:

      Locked out: Where is Occupy Wall Street without Zuccotti Park?
      BY SARAH GOODYEAR
      15 NOV 2011 7:14 P

      Watching the occupiers try to find their place today made me think of a huge flock of starlings startled from a tree, swirling around, coming together in small numbers before regrouping and resettling right back where they had begun.
      ...
      This somewhat bland and corporate space has taken on an emotional charge and significance for hundreds, if not thousands, of people. That is not going to dissipate immediately.
      ...
      The movement has always intended to reach beyond the boundaries of Zuccotti Park. As powerful and useful as that place has been, if the force behind OWS is as powerful as its organizers believe, it will soon spring up somewhere else.

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