On September 17, 2011 an open ended peaceful occupation of Wall Street began with the stated goal of restoring Democracy in America. In holding their multi-day protest at Wall Street, the activists are targeting a symbol of corporate greed in America. Their action speaks out against corporate greed, corporate bail-outs, corporate welfare, corporate personhood, corporate political contributions, corporate limited liability, a lack of affordable healthcare, a Wall Street created debt crisis, mass foreclosures across the country, privatized profits & socialized losses, political corruption, overbearing student loan debt coupled with increasing tuition and much, much more. On Saturday, Day 1 of the protest, the New York Police Department prepared to protect their symbol of power, cutting off access to Wall Street, choosing to protect the Wall Street Bull.
Battle lines were clearly drawn, and many protesters noted the hypocrisy and absurdity of the situation. But many tweets from protesters on the scene praised the NYPD for their restraint, and for protecting them and their freedom of expression. Calls for solidarity with the police were made, as they too are part of the 99%. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg even said, “”People have a right to protest, and if they want to protest, we’ll be happy to make sure they have locations to do it.”” By Sunday the police were preparing to make way for business as usual on Monday morning. Monday and Tuesday saw confrontation, with police circling the now much smaller crowd, seemingly picking off any one who strayed to far from the group, and violently detaining peaceful protesters.
The Occupy Wall Street protesters have called for this peaceful occupation in the spirit of Tahrir Square; a mass occupation to restore democracy. But the message from the shock troops of this empire, however illegal their actions, has been made clear: protest all you want as long as you get back to work on Monday morning and don’t actually instigate any real change. While Arab Spring tactics have been successful around the world, we Americans live in the very heart of the empire. We are in the lions den. The failure of this movement to mobilize the lower classes, the working class and the sinking middle class coupled with this Empire’s willingness to crush peaceful protest spells doom. Even if successful, what “change” will come from this action? Activists would point to the Vietnam War protests and the Civil Rights movement as examples of the effectiveness of this sort of protest. Yet this country has been in a near perpetual state of unprovoked war since the end of World War II. And minorities in this country still suffer from crippling poverty, police brutality and marginalization. Even after the election of “change” we have even more bail outs, more war, more unemployment, more police brutality, more imperialism, more foreclosures, higher health care costs, higher tuition, and more debt. Protests alone will not change this.
Demonstrations, occupations and protests are but one tactic we have in this movement, they are not the movement itself. This should be evident because the vast majority of the sinking middle class might have seen some coverage of the occupation on the evening news, and is possibly cheering on the police in clearing the riff raff out of the financial district. At best we have their support in spirit, but not boots on the ground.
What ought we do about this? To me the solution is clear, pan secession from Wall Street and Washington D.C. The thugs who control this empire rely on these 50 states as their home base, their life’s blood, their sustenance, their existence. Keith Preston, in his article “Why the Radical Left Should Consider Secession” says this:
Among the most compelling reasons why the Left should consider dissolving the U.S. into multiple nations, regions, or city-states are:
-Break-up of the U.S.A. means an end to the American empire that has killed millions of people throughout the world over the last sixty-five years, including perhaps two million Iraqis, three million Southeast Asians, hundreds of thousands of Central Americans, half a million Timorese, thousands of Afghanis, and many, many more.
-Without the support of the U.S., international capitalist organizations such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO, etc. would be much less powerful and influential.
-The demise of the federal regime would mean an end to U.S. aid to Israel, and a fighting chance for the Palestinians.
-The collapse of the U.S. federal system would mean an end to federal corporate-welfare, bank-welfare, and, above all, the death of the military-industrial complex.
-No more federal regime means no more DHS, FBI, CIA, DEA, BATF, Bureau of Prisons, Bureau of Indian Affairs, federal drug war, federal mandatory minimums, or the national police state built up around the war on terrorism. What could be more successful at overturning the “terror war” legislation of the last eight years than complete disintegration of the federal government itself?
-An end to federal corporate welfare means a severe weakening of Big Pharma, agribusiness, or local developers utilizing federal money in efforts at gentrification.
The elite of this country have made it clear over the course of US history that they will not tolerate a restoration of democracy. They simply have too much to lose. Power at the federal level will always be used for their ends, and the empire will continue to be enforced at the local level by police across the country.
I do not deny the power that 10,000 strong clogging the streets of down town Manhattan would bring (if we managed to muster that many,) but in order to effect actual, sustainable change in this country we need to start building grassroots secession movements across the country. What we need to do is chop the legs out from under the corporate monster that our government has become. What could they fear more than an independent New Hampshire and Vermont, secession of the Republic of Cascadia, the People’s Republic of Portland, of Austin, of Seattle, an indpendent Bay Area city-state an independent city state of Manhattan and New York City and a rainbow of smaller, autonomous sub region movements including truly independent Native American tribal nations, autonomous urban enclaves of different ethnicities and sexual orientations, and autonomous communes, co-ops, collectives, and townhall style democracies? At these levels we could forward progressive ideals including but not limited to an instant end of support of imperialism and foreign wars, forgiveness of student loan and home loan debt, an immediate end to home foreclosures, the imposition of a guaranteed living wage, free and equal access to all levels of education, single payer health care, and withdrawal of support of a corrupt financial system that rewards the top 1% at the expense of 99% of America. A federation of such independent nation states, regions, city states and collectives could engage in the ultimate form of civil disobedience that this government has ever seen: pan secession from the empire. We could form a network of mutual self defense and support for one another and simply turn our backs on the corporate plutocracy and walk away.
How will we do it? Surely we won’t be allowed to go peacefully, just as we no longer seem to be allowed to peaceful assemble and protest. We could do it through state legislatures. We could form regional and local secession parties, or “city and state” first political parties. We could simply start declaring our independence as was done in the American Revolution and form a new “Continental Congress” and begin building a shadow government from the ground up that excludes the corporate plutocracy and their cronies in Washington D.C. We can start issuing our own currency, stop paying taxes, organize alternative institutions to provide education and health care. We can organize to protect home owners from evictions in our communities. We can organize a boycott of student loan payments. We can withdraw all of our savings (if you are fortunate enough to have any) and invest in local, resilient communities. We can form our own militias, courts, townhall democracies, unions, communes, collectives and city councils. We can start rebuilding this country from the ground up. Truly from the ground up.
Once we’ve done all that, then we storm Wall Street and Washington D.C. and drag the corporate plutocracy into our streets kicking and screaming. Then we occupy Wall Street. Then we occupy Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C. Then storm every financial district across the country and kick these fuckers out of power!