Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dear Occupy Worcester...

OK, so let's talk about the purpose and context of the Occupy movement.

There was a great outpouring of public rage at Wall Street following the bailouts, but nothing much changed, no fundamental causes were addressed, no one was held accountable as t
he economy collapsed and failed to recover in any meaningful way while the billionaires continued to profit. The foreclosure crisis and the ballooning student debt created a mood of anger and rebellion directed at the banks and the wealthy. People, inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings and frustrated by the inability of the old-line movements to organize a response, took these grievances to the street. The potential for a mass rebellion was in the air, but that mass rebellion didn't happen. 

Now OW is the local heir to this moment of expectation, however disappointing the outcome may seem. And the need for such a movement is about to become wildly apparent.

The Arab Spring is a shambles, but the crises that fueled it and fueled Occupy continue to build as the US and world economies slumber toward the next stage of the Great Debacle. Congress is about to come home from the Fiscal Cliff circus in Washington with a Very Bad Deal. (But people will remember who offered to lead them in the struggle to prevent this!) The economies of Europe, Britain, China and Russia are already going back into recession. The $640 trillion derivatives market, a vast Ponzi scheme, is teetering on the brink, and the world flight from the dollar is already beginning. 

Everyone who is still holding their breath hoping that things have at least stabilized is about to get a massive jolt of reality.

Among other things, tens of millions of people, young and old, who borrowed to stay or go back to school are about to find themselves without further financing for school and without jobs to pay their new debts. The foreclosure crisis, which has receded like the ocean from a beach before a tsunami, is building up toward a massive new assault by the banks on people's homes. Millions thrown out of work will find themselves not eligible for even minimal unemployment benefits. 

The food security net, already stretched to the limit and probably further cut by Congress next week, will be unable to cope, and actual hunger will stalk the land. 

The Occupy movement has earned its place as a brand name, looked upon with hope by millions. Remember the steady stream of regular people who stopped at the encampments to find out what was going on? When public outrage starts to spike again, OW has the potential to give it some urgently-needed leadership, direction and focus. What would that look like? I don't know. But it's worth talking and thinking about, preparing for and sowing the ground for.

One thing it would look like is the ability to take on and keep commitments to, for example, show up at a meeting no matter how we feel when the moment comes.

Are the people who still identify with OW the ones who can take on this great historic challenge? Are you? Are we?
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