To the Politicians and the 1%: This occupation is its own demand. Since we don’t need permission to claim what is already ours, we do not have a list of demands to give you. There is no specific thing you can do in order to make us “go away”. And the last thing we want is for you to preserve your power, to reinforce your role as the ruling classes in our society.
It may not be obvious to you, but the decisions you make daily, as well as this system you are a part of, these things are not working for us. Our goal is bring power back where it belongs, with the people, so we can fix what politicians and corporations have screwed up.
This is the most satisfying articulation I have heard yet on why the Occupy movement has no official demands. Just between you and me, I don’t think some of the occupiers are as clearheaded about this as the folks in Oakland, but I hope that they soon become so. I feel that this should be adopted as the definitive statement on demands to the 1% now and possibly forever and to the thousands of people who move in and out of the broader movement these occupations have spawned.
Reading this along with news of other occupations has created a lot of clarity for me. Elsewhere I had lamented that the Occupy movement was becoming ‘a big sit-in without conditions for not sitting anymore.’ a concern that the Oakland statement neutralizes with its insistence on reclamation and permanence and its unwillingness to recognize the king through the act of petitioning him.
Along with this discovery, I am learning that some of the occupations — like Oakland and also Philly — seem very geared toward sustenance and respite for the most severely abused survivors of ruling class predation. According to Jacob Russell, an activist who is heavily involved in #OccupyPhilly,
We’ve been at this less than two weeks, and have managed to build a community, 300 + tents, feed 1500 peeps a day, including several hundred homeless.
This recalls things like the community efforts of the Black Panthers during the 60s and I hope this tendency is more widely adopted and continues to grow. First of all, sustaining and creating community for struggling people is a good in its own right; second, I have a hunch that through communities like these, people who are in a position to give aid to others – legal aid, health services, food, technical support etc. – will be able to do so more directly and with fewer of the frustrations of working through established volunteer organizations, many of which reproduce all the dysfunction of a workplace and are, in some cases, sick and corrupt themselves. Third, it’s hard to imagine anything more frightening to the 1% than a growing network of space-reclaiming occupations that continually repudiates and condemns their corrupt hegemony; fortifies and educates people for more resistance and which militantly fights back against state attempts at liquidation.
Now, I come at this as someone who still thinks that for practical purposes the problem of the king can’t be dismissed entirely and that certain policy matters have to be addressed urgently – wars, prison policy, wealth disparity etc. Evolutionary change is too slow for some of the problems confronting us. I just don’t think that the Occupiers themselves should task themselves with this in any specific way. Their very presence creates leverage for policy change regardless of whether they make official endorsements. In fact it it is very much not in the spirit of horizontal revolution to defer the matter of how to engage with the king to them at all. People should stop doing it.