By Kevin Heade
But, if constructing the future and settling everything for all times are not our affair, it is all the more clear what we have to accomplish at present: I am referring to ruthless criticism of all that exists, ruthless both in the sense of not being afraid of the results it arrives at and in the sense of being just as little afraid of conflict with the powers that be.
We are standing amidst one of the largest and most significant social movements in human history. Yet chances are, you are skeptical that those scruffy looking kids holding signs in your local park are anything more than disgruntled “hippies” or ignorant anarchists. The thousands of protestors demanding justice for the “99%, an end to corporate control of the world, and calls to #Occupy everything could change the world.
It already is changing the world, one participant at a time.
Most people won’t ever get the #Occupy Wall Street Movement. This is because most people won’t take the time to attend a General Assembly meeting and participate in a consensus-based decision-making process. Participatory democracy is character building. It affirms the agency of the individual and the necessity of endeavoring for the collective good.
Perhaps it is this experiential process that the #Occupy Movement will be known in history.
“Never before in all of human history,” said this 26 year-old world traveler and college procrastinator, “has participatory democracy been possible at such a mass level. Now, with social networking through the internet, it is possible for every single voice to be heard on every issue. This possibility has lead to the spread of the #Occupy Movement, and it is why we are here in Cesar Chavez Plaza, and why the protestors were in Tahir Square.”
Through all the dischord of political theory among the collage of liberals, pacifists, audit-the-Fed-types, anarchists, socialists, free marketeers, and indigenous activists, there is one resounding point of unity: the current system of inequality is unacceptable. There must be change. If not for us, for the Earth. The idea of infinte growth in a finite world is preposterous.
But, hell, this is all theory. As of now, #Occupy Phoenix is stuggling for the right to sleep. The City of Phoenix has been stern in its persistence to arrest anyone caught violating the city anti-urban camping ordinance. A coalition of human rights activitsts, including the ACLU, have challenged the city’s enforcement of the law. At least one court has held that it is unconstitutional under the 8th Amendment to arrest people for sleeping in public when the city has inadequate homeless shelters.
Now, in the context of 1st Amendment concerns regarding sleeping as political speech, the #Occupation is challenging the constitutionality of the anti-urban camping ordinances. One thing that has been common among many of the 951 cities in 82 countries where the #Occupation has rooted is that the movement of the 99% has encamped itself right in the territory of the lowest portion of the 99%– the nation’s homeless. The #Occupations offer free food and accommodations to any participant, and many homeless people have found homes and roles within the movement. So it makes sense that the first wars being waged are for the right to sleep.
The support for the #Occupations continues to grow. Occupy Wall Street has raised over 500,000 dollars and the gourmet cuisine has garnered the attention of jealous stomachs everywhere. As the holiday season approaches, and winter along with it, many observers may expect the #Occupy Movement to define achievable goals so that it may claim “success” and reserve its power into a more dignified political party. But such observers will never know the successes of the #Occupation unless they were there.
Liberation is an experiential process.