Occupy Wall St. handout

October 8, 2011 at 1:35 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Somebody gave me this flier today. I was leaving the square on Wall St. in Zuccotti Park and Broadway and Liberty Sts. It provides some of the most lucid explanation of the movement.

Occupy Wall St.
Frequently Asked Questions – 10.3.11

These can help you as you speak with members of the public at the street level, through the press, or during organizing meetings. None of the below constitute demands. They are merely guidelines for ways to approach commonly asked questions about Occupied Wall Street.

What is Occupy Wall St?

Occupy Wall Street is an otherwise unaffiliated group of concerned citizens who have come together with the general purpose of holding Wall Street (as the drivers of an increasingly undemocratic power structure) accountable for their fiscal recklessness and criminal perversion of the democratic process. We are a bunch of people like you and me who came together and said “enough.” We will not remain passive as formerly democratic institutions become the means of enforcing the will of only 1-2% of the population who control the magnitude of American wealth.

Occupy Wall Street is an exercise in Direct Democracy. Since we can no longer trust our elected representatives to represent us rather than their large donors, we are creating
a microcosm of what democracy really looks like. We do this to inspire one another to speak up. It is a reminder to our representatives and the moneyed interests that direct them, we the people know and hold real power.

We feel we can no longer make our voices heard as we watch our votes for change usher in the same old power structure time and time again. This is the simplest, most effective democratic exercise we have left to employ, and we all must participate in order to be heard. Let the power that be know –by physically joining in and occupying space in Liberty Plaza.

What do you want: what are you protesting for/against?

We want what everybody wants: the ability to have a home, to make a livelihood, to have a family or a community, to live free. We all want economic and social justice. Thus, we are protesting for the rights of the 99% – for our most basic rights as citizens, to convene, to express ourselves, and to be heard. We unified by our sense of economic injustice, as a result of both our domestic, and foreign, policy.

***Then, skipping on to the next page … ***

How do you work?

We engage in horizontal democracy. This means that we are a leaderless movement, in which every voice is equal and autonomous action is encouraged. This also means we cannot be easily defined by outside observers, and it also means that we cannot be easily hijacked by outside forces. We try as much as we can to gain consensus because we believe everyone’s experience is equally valid, every voice and opinion should be heard, and none more than any other communication in a non-hierarchical meeting. In order to assure that all voices are heard and to facilitate better communication in a non-hierarchical meeting, we commit to engaging in “meeting process”. It is inherently slow, requiring patience, which makes consensus very empowering. Liberty Plaza provides an inspiring space for people to meet one another, discuss and organize.

Why don’t you have demands yet?

This movement is unique in that, rather than a bunch of organizers deciding on demands a year before the protest date, the premise of this protest is that hundreds or thousands of people should show up and say their piece and add their demands during meetings held each night after the protests. At meetings (called “General Assembly”), the demands are being worked out in a horizontal, transparent, and democratic way, rather than top-down, i.e. from people behind the scenes.

*** Finally, at the end …***

Are you guys like the Tea Party?

No! Many Tea Party politicians have consciously circumvented the best and most finely hued ores the lessons of history safeguards enshrined in our democratic process. The Tea Party hearkens back to the Revolutionary War era, however what they call for is not revolution, but to go back in time. At best, the Tea Party ignores the lessons of history about taxation, workers’ rights, unions, and deregulation often mean the time before n. But when they speak of the time of the Founding Fathers, they often mean the time before the end of slavery, before the workers’ rights movement, before the women’s movement, before the civil rights era, and before the environmental movement.


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