Friday, October 14, 2011

Occupy: When Will It Stop?

October 14, 2011, 8:15 a.m.

[And see the related,
“Why ‘Occupy”? What Do ‘Those People’ Want?,”
“Those Kinds of Riots Here,”
"Economic Recovery? It's Simple and Obvious; Recovery Requires Consumers, and Consumers Require Jobs"]

It will not stop until . . .

It will not stop until there is an end to the corporate abuse of the poor, the working class, the elderly, the sick, children, those being slaughtered in our imperial wars and tortured in our black sites. It will not stop until foreclosures and bank repossessions stop. It will not stop until students no longer have to go into debt to be educated, and families no longer have to plunge into bankruptcy to pay medical bills. It will not stop until the corporate destruction of the ecosystem stops, and our relationships with each other and the planet are radically reconfigured. And that is why the elites, and the rotted and degenerate system of corporate power they sustain, are in trouble. That is why they keep asking what the demands are. They don’t understand what is happening. They are deaf, dumb and blind.
Excerpt from, Chris Hedges, "Why the Elites Are in Trouble,", October 10, 2011.

[Photo credit: The Guardian.]

Freedom, justice, dignity and equity have seldom, if ever, been beneficently granted. They have almost always required a struggle, and too often required bloodshed. And they take time. It took us awhile, and the Civil War, to begin the process of releasing African-Americans from the bonds of slavery -- longer still to grant women the right to vote, and provide African-Americans the benefits of the Civil Rights, Voting Rights, and Public Accommodations Acts. There are gains, and there are setbacks. There are swells of popular participation, and retreats into apathy, resignation, despair and depression.

No one can know, can predict, where Occupy will go and when. It could fizzle. It could grow into marching millions. It could become a third party.

And, of course, there is always the possibility that not every participant will always react to police and national guard tanks, excessive brutality, pepper spray, tasers -- or Kent-State-style shootings and deaths -- with the near-universal non-violence we have seen from Occupy participants so far.

[John Filo's iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of Mary Ann Vecchio, a 14-year-old runaway, kneeling in anguish over the body of Jeffrey Miller minutes after he was shot by the Ohio National Guard; from Wikipedia "Kent State Shootings" link, above.]

How likely is violence?

As Chris Hedges has written elsewhere,
The death of liberal institutions that once made incremental and piecemeal reform possible, which once could respond to the suffering of the poor, the unemployed and working men and women, which once sought to protect the Earth on which we depend for life, means the last thin hope for reform is embodied in acts of civil disobedience. There are no established institutions that will help us. The press ignores the cries of the underclass and the poor. The labor movement is atrophied and dying. Public education is degraded and being rapidly dismantled. Our religious institutions no longer engage in the core issues of justice. And the Democratic Party is on its knees before Wall Street. The most basic government services designed to ameliorate the pain, including Head Start and Social Security, are targeted by our corporate overlords for destruction. The Kyoto Protocol, which was not nearly ambitious enough to prevent environmental collapse, has been gutted so companies like Exxon Mobil can continue to amass the largest profits in history. . . .

Those of us who demand a return to the rule of law and remain steadfast to nonviolence will find ourselves cast aside—the useful idiots Lenin so despised. I watched this happen in the social and political implosions in El Salvador, Guatemala, the Palestinian territories, Algeria, Bosnia and Kosovo. I watched the same cocktail of despair, economic collapse and callousness from a corrupt power elite mix itself into potent brews of civil strife. I watched the same untiring efforts by those who detested the violence and cruelty of the state, and the nascent violence and intolerance of the radical opposition. I covered as a reporter the disintegration that tore these societies apart. Those who held fast to moral imperatives, including Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador and Ibrahim Rugova in Kosovo, were thrust aside and replaced with killers on both sides of the divide who embraced violence.
Chris Hedges, "Ralph Nader is Tired of Running for President,", July 4, 2011.

Let us, please, do more than just hope and pray this will not become America's path. Let us act to assure it. For although Occupy's ranks may decline and grow again, perhaps even with a different name and generation of participants, it will not stop. Ultimately, the legitimate grievances born of greed will be addressed, whether with brutality and bullets, or compassion and creativity.

Each of us can choose our favored option; ultimately, each of us will have to. The question we must answer, as the old labor song put it is, "Which side are you on?"

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