OWS Needs No Demands

The Occupation does not need Demands.

The strength of this movement is it’s passion. It appeals to the deep seeded feeling that somewhere on our collective journey humanity took a wrong turn, and now is the time to correct our mistake. No one knows exactly which way to go, but we all agree it has to be different than the way we’re heading. To find a future that benefits all of us we must talk, debate, and reason with one another. Our knowledge, like our power, is much greater collectively than individually. Our future needs a forum, a hearth for citizens to gather around and share ideas. Occupy Wall St is that forum.

What cannot happen is a goal or date that, once met, will dissolve the movement. Even if we achieve everything we could hope for, OWS should remain as a reminder and warning of what can happen when we let politicians, lobbyists, and TV personalities do the talking for us. Creating a list of demands will be the beginning of the end. Demands can be marginalized, appeased, and brushed aside. Demands can be twisted and used to demonize and divide us. What can’t be marginalized or misconstrued is a citizenry in the streets demanding our government act in our best interest and that when it does not we will hold those in power accountable instead of looking the other way for the sake of convenience or lack of a viable alternative.

Occupy Wall Street needs to become a place of great discussion and learning, a think tank of the people, by the people, and for the people. From this can grow limitless ideas and movements to tackle the many individual problems facing our country and our world, movements that can set specific goals and demands then disband when they are achieved. In this way we can achieve tangible results without forfeiting our reasons to assemble. Occupy Wall St can be a driving force for an American re-catalyzation, a paradigm shift in our world view.

This movement is not about taxes, healthcare, inequality, the economy, education, corporate power or the police state, though these are all part of it. This movement is about we the people and the society we choose to create. Too long have we passively accepted what has been given to us as the cultural ‘norm’. We know that the ‘norm’ is a distortion, a world where our financial and environmental misconduct have no consequences, production and product are unrelated, and politics is a spectator sport. In silence we’ve allowed these injustices to fester and grow into the great societal sins of our age, believing the propaganda that we are too small and too weak to change the system. This, as the worldwide Occupation has shown, is false. There are billions of people ready to fight for change if we raise our voice above the din.

2 replies on “OWS Needs No Demands”

But how do you correct mistakes if you don’t clarify and articulate solutions to mistakes? I hope the sentiments of OWS live on forever, but I believe a protest movement at some point has to come to an end. Let’s do as much as we can to make society better now, while we have the energy and momentum!

I substantially agree with Garrett, with a few additional points:

1. To protest and make demands of the power structure (of ANY power structure) is to accede to its existence. Bad idea, if what we really want is to abolish it. I’m getting the sense that more and more people are coming to that conclusion.

2. The occupations are only the initial phase, or at least that’s what I’d hope. We might want to take a cue from the Spanish indignados movement and make the next step spreading the structure of assemblies and work groups out to neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, etc. everywhere. Let everyone speak, exchange ideas and make decisions together. That’s real empowerment.

3. It would only be natural for the 3rd step to be creating new institutions that replace the old and better reflect most people’s real needs. This has happened before (the existence of credit unions is one example), and there’s no reason it can’t happen again and on a much larger scale. Again, no demands, just walk away from the crap and make something better.

4. Let’s not lock ourselves into anything. Once large numbers of people are able to communicate and work together in the extraordinarily flat, non-hierarchical and leaderless structures that the occupy movement has created, there’s no telling where it could go, and that’s probably a good thing.

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