What Do They All Want, Anyway?

In restaurants that run Fox News the whole day long, you can’t avoid self-appointed experts asking that question about the Occupiers. There are as many answers as there are people IN Occupy, all correct answers, and probably a plethora of answers from people OUTSIDE of Occupy, answers with varying degrees of credibility largely depending on the source. But despite TV talking heads endlessly pretending not to know what is going on, there is some value in contemplating the answer, for yourself at least: What do you want Occupy to accomplish?

It came to me last night just before I fell asleep, exactly what I want Occupy to undertake and (with luck) achieve: I want them to establish, in this current chaotic age we are enduring, that we really do have the rights of assembly and petition. The last clause of the First Amendment was not tacked on the end for literary balance, or to annoy students memorizing the Bill of Rights: it is there to guarantee that we the people have the right “… peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” It means just what it says. It means peaceable assemblies should not be cleared out of public spaces by the police. It means that it doesn’t matter if, say, Mayor Bloomberg thinks our grievances are legitimate… we have a right to voice them in public, and he, in his role as the executive member of his local government, has an obligation to listen. If Occupy does nothing other than establish the rights of assembly and petition, it will have performed a great service, whatever economic justice it manages or economic injustice it staves off. Without assembly and petition, we are toast, burnt and with no butter.

My thoughts are with the 99 percent in Oakland and all around the world today. Do not let them take you for granted!

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  • jams o donnell  On Thursday November 3, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    A few nutters around the edges aside have been extremely impressed by the Occupy movement.

    Obviously nowhere near as big in the UK as it is in the US it has already had a profound effect on one major British institution in the form of the Church of England. Perhaps the CoE will find its compassionate soul again. As for the Temples of Mammon in the City of London there has been no effect. Thatsaid the level of anger against the greed mongers has increased substanially

    • Steve  On Thursday November 3, 2011 at 7:34 pm

      jams, that anger would be there with or without the Occupy movement. Without it, though, it might be less constructively expressed…

  • phil  On Thursday November 3, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    I’m glad that you’ve underscored the importance of that hope, which, as you explain, is at the heart of any given occupy (a word that has become a noun over the past few weeks). The problem is, our corporate media wants to stand in place of any real public assembly. It wants to keep everyone on their couches, imagining that witnessing noise and light being emitted from a screen or voting for a slogan of change will itself constitute the change people desperately need.

    p.s. Thanks for the link to the Chomsky statement on the occupy movement. It is a sad thing that Howard Zinn is not here today to participate in the movement. I just hope that by summer, when I plan to be in the US again, the movement will not have died down or been overtaken by forces inimical to it. Meanwhile, Obama has flown off to Cannes to assemble with European leaders and petition for the interests of Wall Street, the people of Greece be damned. This president deserves a very rude awakening on his return home. One that lasts for a long, long time.

    • Steve  On Thursday November 3, 2011 at 7:39 pm

      phil, I don’t know about your access to American corporate media in your current situation, but I have utterly given up on it. All the networks, broadcast and cable, are wholly owned, their news divisions no less so than the networks themselves. If Big Media doesn’t like a movement, even if it’s making news all over the nation and the world, Big Media simply ignores, or at least minimizes, that movement. The only exception is if they can show footage of violence… which of course they reliably blame on demonstrators, not police. America doesn’t have any TV news anymore.

      I miss Howard Zinn more than you can imagine… well, actually, you of all people probably CAN imagine.

      Sometimes I wish Obama would spend more time sitting on his Cannes…

  • Bryan  On Friday November 4, 2011 at 12:37 am

    They are trying out a new meme in the corporate media, they call the Occupy movement ‘anti-capitalist;. by implication making them socialists. They make a point of not understanding the concept of capitalism, as well as anything else that annoys their corporate masters.

    • Steve  On Friday November 4, 2011 at 9:40 am

      Bryan, once, a couple of decades ago or so in a foolish moment, I found myself hoping that all the screaming of ideological epithets was over. But of course that wouldn’t suit the masters at all, so the invective was revived, including among the talking heads on the Sunday “news” shows. But if the MOTU think they can kill the Occupy movement by applying a term that ends in “-ist,” I think they are far more foolish than I ever was in my life. Violence may kill it, or allow it to be killed. But I doubt name-calling will do the job.

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