Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Who's Behind Occupy Worcester?

Part I of article submitted to the Worcester InCity Times for publication on Oct. 21, 2011:

The media is full of talk about who is behind the Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Washington, Occupy Boston and now the Occupy Worcester movements, and what they’re really after.

I can’t answer for the other cities, but I know the answer for Occupy Worcester: No one!

No one is funding it. There are no paid organizers. No scheming hand of Obama or Soros. The entire decision-making process is entirely transparent, and care is taken that there is never just one or a few leaders.

In fact, there is no money. Sure, we may have to raise money for bail bonds or porta-potties, but people bring food and all kinds of skills. The Mass Nurses Association just showed up at an Assembly with a large gift of food. But “no one” is behind it – no one but the people who’ve stepped forward to participate – mostly young people but a growing number of older folk.

It is an idea whose time has come, driven by the desperation that regular people everywhere are feeling over the economic hardships and injustices that just keep getting worse. I’ve met working people and professionals at Assemblies. I’ve met libertarians, Democrats, anarchists, socialists, died-in-the-wool apathetics, and even a Tea Party Republican. None of this seems to matter. The conversation cuts below all of the hot-button issues and old ideologies to the core problems that we all face.

The young people involved are deeply concerned about foreclosures and bank bailouts, about the attack on Social Security, the endless wars and the erosion of our liberties, but talk with them long enough and the conversation usually comes around to their crushing student loan debt – for college, graduate school or trade school – that can never be repaid because the good jobs aren’t there.

Our critics talk about this movement’s lack of focus; but what brings us together is the recognition that all the issues we face have a common thread - the growing power and wealth of the so-called 1% and their corporations and banks at the expense of the rest of us. (Some would argue it’s really the 1/10 of 1%, the folks with enough money to buy political influence and game the system. See “Who Rules America, posted by G. William Dumhoff, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=25759 )

This idea is captured in the slogan “We are the 99%!”

What the Occupation is doing is moving the conversations that have been going on around millions of kitchen tables and barbecue pits all across our land “into the commons”, with a goal of drawing us all – the 99% - together into a larger conversation. It is an attempt to create a space where we can find each other and join together our struggles, our anger and our strength.
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