If you have "no place to go," come here!

Report: "Don't Be Afraid to Say Revolution!"

MsExPat's picture

[Welcome, Naked Capitalism readers! Please note that MsExPat is the author and very much not lambert, who only facilitated. --lambert]

"Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. will smile from the grave/ And say, we movin' step by step/ Toward what he called a revolution/Don't be afraid to say, Revolution!"

"Cornel West is here", Milcho said, as we were wandering through Zuccotti Park at dusk. The sky was gray and it smelled like rain; people here and there were securing food, medicine, bedding, under plastic tarps. Milcho, Wendy and Amy and I came to Wall Street together tonight. I am corralling everyone I know to come to the Park to see this live and without filters. And you who are reading this, and can get here should come too, for this is history, friends!

We walked over to the meeting area, and sure enough, there was the unmistakable corona of hair, the too-long white shirtcuffs. We followed him up to the meeting area, sat down. And then watched as tonight's General Assembly of Occupy Wall Street unfolded:

It's late, and I'm too tired to write this well, but as the 11th night of Occupy Wall Street closes, I note a couple of new things:

1. Demographics: Changing, indeed. More diverse, different ages. Some union people, college professors doing teach-ins, old lefties having a look-see. Also: the front line of the media has officially landed. Yesterday it was Michael Moore, today Susan Sarandon. Matt Taibbi says he's visiting tomorrow. Moore is coming back tomorrow to film the General Assembly with Laurence O'Donnell for his MSNBC show. I think O'Donnell is a jerk, but if they just sit back and film the process of the meeting, that would be a real breakthrough in changing the MSM narrative, I think. Right now, most of the people I talk to in my daily life still think OWS is a hippie fest.

2. Cops: Now there are two kinds of blue shirts on the scene--the regular patrol cops, and the (kinder, gentler) Community Relations cops in royal blue polo shirts. No ranking officer white shirts in view. When the community police are around, you know someone is worried about image. What this says to me is that the city's decided that more violence would be really bad for optics.

3. The Organization--continues to dazzle! After West's remarks, the meeting began with reports from Outreach Committees (they've teamed up with an important black radio station in Philadelphia for Occupy Philly, and they're going to support the Verizon worker's union strike), from the Medics who've started a counseling service, from techies who are doing Linux and open source teach-ins, and from the Laundry Committee, who've washed everything. They've even organized morning tours of Wall Street, which they're offering free to passing tourists!

And, since we must have Bread but also Roses: there's a "free people's stage"--a square sheet taped to the ground--and you can sign up to perform there.

The most interesting report though was from the committee that's drafting demands. This is the big "grownup" media sticking point (as in, "But What Do They Want? There's No Unified Message!"). But if you stick with the #occupywallstreet folks for the long haul, you begin to wonder just who are the "grownups."

For their solution to hacking out a platform knocks me flat with amazement: The group is going to use the next few days to talk about these demands. And then here's what they'll do: on Friday, they will spread blank sheets of white paper all across the park. Some will have topic headings, some will be all blank. Magic markers will then be distributed, and everyone will write, in large letters, the issues and goals they think are most important. If you agree with someone's poster, you can put a "Check".

Fascinating! It is actually rather Chinese in technique. It reminds me of the student Big Character Posters that appeared in Tienanmen Square.

After the writing exercise, they'll collect all the papers and collate them into a larger online manifesto, which can then be debated/modified/changed online in a Wikipedia-style collaboration.

4. Location, location location: It's becoming clearer that the choice of New York City, as opposed to say, Washington DC, for the launch of this effort, was genius. For what it says is, of course, that this movement is not about the US government. The real enemy is the Financial-Bankster complex. I have not heard or seen any mention of any political candidate or party inside the Park. Forget "post-partisan"--that was so 2008. This is a post-party movement. It is what we Correntians participating in this blog have been waiting for--but not in the form we expected!

5. Obama is dead, dead, dead. Really. These young people were his eager troops. And they've moved on. Way on. The talk on the ground is not about elections anymore. It's about transforming society.

And it's not about leaders anymore. Occupy Wall Street remains a messy, wonderful, chaotic, stunning collective. In eleven days, 500 protesters have succeeded in making Washington, Obama, presidents--heck, even elections seem as obsolete as a Commodore computer. *

That's it for now. I urge all of you who can to come to Wall Street if you possibly can make it. This is one of those moments when time seems to hover and pause, and focus is laser-sharp. It's a rare moment of collective creativity. Who could have guessed it would bloom now?

*As I update this, I see that the New York Times has caught onto the fact that there's something happening here. The trouble is they can only see it when it's coming across their Foreign Desk, not when it's in their back yard! As usual, The People are waaaay ahead of them (check out the Comments section of this very good article).

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DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

everybody hates Wall Street, so the location was perfect. Thank you so much for these eyewitness accounts.

Maybe it is just that I have been following this closely to the exclusion of other news, but I do sense that there is some sort of sea change going on. By failing to address the crisis, politicians have made themselves irrelevant.

coyotecreek's picture
Submitted by coyotecreek on

Pizzas have been ordered.

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

call me a couch potato, but I think what we are doing here at Corrente is really important. Just publicizing these events is a service.

coyotecreek's picture
Submitted by coyotecreek on

But sometimes I'm just itching to do something more, so it's good to know how to do it.

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

If you can't get to New York you can:

Donate online to #occupywallstreet at their great and informative website. which also has updates and much, much info.

Mail money, food, dry clothes, blankets to their PO Box:

The UPS Store
Re: Occupy Wall Street
118A Fulton St. #205
New York, NY 10038
Money orders only please, cannot cash checks yet. Non-perishable goods only. We can accept packages of any size. We're currently low on food.

Stay tuned Occupy Wall Street is spreading, franchise like, to a city near you. Already there is #occupyChicago, #occupySF, #occupyBoston, #occupyLV (Las vegas) and new ones sprouting every day. You can join your local and participate.

Learn about and use the tools The group is working on a manual and manifesto so that any organizers, anywhere can adopt the OWS techniques of group democracy. This is an incredible idea. It's so much more important, I think, to create new tools and building blocks of social change then to obsess about your media message.

I guess you can tell these guys are knocking my socks off.

coyotecreek's picture
Submitted by coyotecreek on

And thank you for the support information.

I just ordered pizzas - hope it gets to the right people. Would you suggest better ways to get food to the group?

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

The material needs down there change from day to day. I think the best approach is to send money to their fund so they can use it for whatever is needed most at the time.

They won't accept cash donations on site (only material donations). Everything you contribute goes to their central fund, and every night the Finance Committee makes a financial report of what they have and where it's going. They're really trying to do finances in the most transparent way possible.

The Other Elizabeff's picture
Submitted by The Other Elizabeff on

The celebrities showing up is bad news. Especially Michael Moore.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Moore is an ass.

I don't know about Sarandon, but I do know the celebrities showing up usually gives the media an excuse to focus on them, not the message.

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

But the protesters don't seem star struck, and they are militantly leader-less. The lack of microphone makes it impossible to hog the scene, and the "stars", like everyone else, have to depend on the People's Mike--which will turn on them and shut down if there's too much grandstanding.

As with the "Demands" issue, I think the group has a good grasp of the pros and cons of celebrity politics, and will use it to their advantage without compromising what they're building.

To be sure, while Cornel West's speech was electrifying, the long group meeting that followed was even more so. If even part of that gets on MSNBC tonight, that will go a long way towards dumping the "Stupid Hippies" meme.

JohnnyG's picture
Submitted by JohnnyG on

In 2008, Susan made one of the most cringe-inducing, fanatical Obot statements ever, comparing Obama to Jesus. So I certainly wouldn't trust her until she says something to indicate she's aware of what a complete corporatist fraud he's been.

Submitted by jawbone on

Dare I say it?...hope.

Earlier in the protests, a young man got a sound bite on air which was that this was not about politicians because both parties were enabling Wall Street's Gang Banksters (not those exact words. but I remember thinking...Correntian, in word, if not actual reader).

Also, I'm now understanding how businesses are facing a really different type of employee in the Millennials (not sure if so-called Gen X has some of these of these traits attributed to Millennials). When the 60's and 70's protesters got into the business world, everything was still so buttoned down. Women, who finally could get jobs formerly closed to them, for the most part wore skirted suits with high necked blouses, bows or bow ties at the neck, even some smaller versions of men's ties. So they could be taken seriously, not called someone's "girl." And for some women, getting ahead meant not revealing "feminine" traits. It took years of women having jobs with authority that finally let that part of the work styles come through.

Looks like the times, the people, are a'changin'.

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

I have a lot of thoughts about how the history and experiences of this generation--in Hong Kong they're calling them the "Post-80s"--are informing their political approaches.

A juicy topic for a future post! In the meantime, I'm running to catch up with this new culture and language.

Submitted by jawbone on


He sure seems to have seen the light on that issue -- and from what I've heard of him on Dem Now! he's still working for the common man.

Now, he is what he is, but his documentaries were important in helping people understand what's going on in this nation. How many of the people in Occupy Wall Street would have the understanding they do without, in however small a part, his films?

I'm hoping he's going to get some of this on film. Well, video.

The revolution will not be televised -- due to the corporate part of the MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media), but it will be videod.

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

To make things all about him, he's still in the shallow pool, and he's a sexist douchecanoe.

There's a blog over at Historiann's about him and Maher hrr-hrring over the sexism in the White House allegations and stuff.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

the Assange reporting too. I hadn't heard "sexist douchecanoe" before (is that your coinage?), but describes him perfectly.

Back in 2008 I decided I'm done with lefties who are sexist jerks, no matter what else they may have contributed.

Rangoon78's picture
Submitted by Rangoon78 on

Without calling for Obama's Head a demand#1 its all . . .

Over drinks at a bar on a dreary, snowy night in Washington this past month, a former Senate investigator laughed as he polished off his beer.

"You put [Goldman CEO] Lloyd Blankfein in pound-me-in-the-ass prison for one six-month term, and all this bullshit would stop, all over Wall Street," says a former congressional aide.

"Everything's fucked up, and nobody goes to jail.  You can end the piece right there."

DCblogger's picture
Submitted by DCblogger on

just back from the store. I glanced at the NYT to see that the lead story was about protests across the globe with, you guessed it, nothing about OWT.

also, Occupy Boston

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

In fact, he's more than a little condescending, although I'm sure it's not intentional.

The Occupy Wall Street protesters are really, really sharp. They know MORE about media strategy than the so-called "Media Strategists". Being young doesn't mean they are not experienced or professional. Hey, how old is Mark Zuckerman? Greenwald needs to go down to Zuccotti Park and get himself some education.

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

Look at their very pro website. It's BETTER than Obama's ever was. And notice: it is https encrypted, even the home page.

Did I mention they're running free new media training seminars?

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

The whole way this has come about without any top down leaders and messaging has been encouraging to me and, yes, "hopeful". I heard Dave Marsh on "Sirius Left" on Sunday being skeptical of OWT for not having a clear demand and I yelled "What?!" at the radio. He considers himself a real leftie and a non electoral politics organizer. So somebody misinformed him about what is happening down near Wall Street. Monday morning on Alex Bennet of Sirius Left also was skeptical about OWT. He thought it sounded like just a bunch of kids Twittering. I hope both Dave, Alex, Mike Feder and others go down and see for themselves.

I was heartened by the way these people are educating themselves and working towards a demand like in Egypt that says "He must go". I remember going to teach ins on Vietnam and civil rights to understand that I must oppose the war and stand up for inequality. It was also about changing the system then but we didn't finish the job because a lot of us had to gets jobs. "It's the human economy, stupid".

Thank you so much for this. I will try to get there, but will also send stuff. I especially love the tours of Wall Street for tourists. They could do a "Living Newspaper" like in the 1930s. I have suggested that around here to mix up the journalists and the actors.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

It's great to have this firsthand report. I was afraid this would go nowhere, but boy, was I wrong! I'll send a $$ order tomorrow.

Thanks very much for doing this!

Submitted by jawbone on

with input from Tel Aviv and New Delhi reporters. That may explain why there is absolutely no mention that the techniques described (arm signals, etc.) are now being used in NYC by Occupy Wall Street.

However, since they were able to write about Spanish protesters, one would think there might have been some way to incorporate at least a brief mention of the NYC, Lower Manhattan protest.

Sounds like an editorial decision to me, quite likely not the reporters -- unless word has gone out: Do not mention the US protests. Period. Unless it's for snark and denigration.

NYTimes editors should realize this kind of thing engenders scorn for the MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media), just as it does for, per the article, voting (As Scorn for Vote Grows, Protests Surge Around Globe).

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