On Tuesday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg evicted the Occupy movement from its spiritual home near Wall Street. Soon afterward, a longtime Occupier sent us his testimony from the streets of New York:
“Lost my stuff, including power cord for my laptop, in the raid, something or someone cleared out my bank account, and it’s raining. I could just write a country song. I’ll tell you this: the resolve is still here. People I talk to are a healthy mixture of rage, comedy, resolve, and excitement. Also exhaustion. Maybe the raid was the best thing that could happen? Winning at last, winning at last, thank God Almighty, we are winning at last.”
New Gingrich, Herman Cain and Eric Cantor on Occupy Wall Street.
For two heady months, the amorphous encampment in Lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park had been the symbolic heart of Occupy Wall Street, the birthplace of the greatest social-justice movement to emerge in the United States since the civil rights era. This primal cry for democracy sprang from young people who could no longer ignore the angst in their gut — the premonition that their future does not compute, that their entire lives will be lived in the apocalyptic shadow of climate-change tipping points, species die-offs, a deadening commercialized culture, a political system perverted by money, precarious employment, a struggle to pay off crippling student loans, and no chance of ever owning a home or living in comfort like their parents. Glimpsing this black hole of ecological, political, financial and spiritual crisis, the youth and the millions of Americans who joined them instinctively knew that unless they stood up and fought nonviolently for a different kind of future, they would have no future at all.
The Occupy Wall Street meme was launched by a poster in the 97th issue of our international ad-free magazine, Adbusters, the hash tag #OCCUPYWALLSTREET and a “tactical briefing” that we sent to our 90,000-strong “culture jammer” global network of activists, artists and rabble-rousers in mid-July. The movement’s true origins, however, go back to the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. That was when the world witnessed how intransigent regimes can be toppled by leaderless democratic crowds, brought together by social media, that stand firm and courageously refuse to go home until their demands for change are met. Our shared epiphany was that America, too, needs its Tahrir Square moment and its own kind of regime change. Perhaps not the hard regime change of Tunisia and Egypt, but certainly a soft one.
Only a soft regime change can end the pervasive corruption at the heart of our political system, in which corporate money wins elections, drafts laws and trumps citizen desires. Only the plural voices of everyday Americans, the 99 percent, have the capacity to wake up the 1 percent to their greedy, self-serving ways, and to dismantle the global casino in which $1.3 trillion worth of derivatives, credit default swaps and other financial instruments slosh around every day without a hint of concern or regard for the millions of lives that such speculation can destroy.