One thing I’ve heard repeated over and over, and usually in derogatory terms, is that the “occupiers” don’t have a clear message. Personally, I always thought that pulling it all down to a few specific “demands” was not only premature and limiting, but a way to destroy the movement, fracturing it into a thousand little pieces from the inside. I mean, when we built this country, it started with a group of people saying eff the current government. None of our most important treatises were exactly written overnight. This quote is what really struck me as most true:
You can’t just say “We demand a world of peace. Demands have to be specific. Anything that people can articulate can only be articulated within the language of the current political discourse. And that entire political discourse is already too small. And that’s why making explicit demands reduces the movement, and takes the heart out of it. So it’s a real paradox, and I think the movement understands that.
There was another bit in there that I think is incredibly relevant right now – the part where he’s talking about how we buy everything, and no one knows who makes it, no one knows their neighbors, and yet so many people don’t have jobs, and so few feel actually fulfilled in theirs:
Everybody wants to live a life of meaning. And today, we live in a money economy where we don’t really depend on the gifts of anybody. But we buy everything. Therefore we don’t really need anybody, because whoever grew my food, or made my clothes, or built by house, well if they die, or if I alienate them, or if they don’t like me, that’s okay because I can just pay someone else to do it.
And it’s really hard to create community if the underlying knowledge is “we don’t need each other.” So people kind of get together and act nice, or maybe they consume together. But joint consumption doesn’t create intimacy. Only joint creativity and gifts create intimacy and connection.
If you look around and what sectors of the population are trying to do via farmer’s markets, farm to table organizations, co-ops, even local craft fairs, and what Etsy started out as, you see people looking for connections in what they consume, and the makers looking for outlets to make the work they consider valid something that can support them.
It’s hard to say what will ultimately become of this movement, but this video contains messages that I hope will remain heard. These ideas need to make their way into the mainstream, and to take hold.
More videos and info here: occupylove.org