If you know about the protests staged in New York City by Occupy Wall Street, you might have heard of the numerous arrests and the allegations of police brutality – what you always hear about during large demonstrations. You might know that famous activists have shown up during the protests – Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, and Cornel West, for example.
You probably haven’t heard anything about who’s leading these protests. The one thing media outlets are able to agree on about Occupy Wall Street is that there are no leaders.
What they do have now is a powerful icon throwing his support behind them. Noam Chomsky released this statement:
Anyone with eyes open knows the gangsterism of Wall Street – financial institutions generally – has caused severe damage to the people of the United States (and the world). And should know also know that it has been doing so increasingly for over 30 years, as their power in the economy has radically increased, and with it their political power.
That has set in motion a vicious cycle that has concentrated immense wealth, and with it political power, in a tiny sector of the population, a fraction of 1%, while the rest increasingly become what is sometimes called a “precariat” – seeking to survive a precarious existence.
So there are the financial oligarchs (“banksters”) and then there are all the rest of us – the 99 percent. Occupy Wall Street is supposed to represent the rest of us. As for leaders, the group calls itself “a leaderless resistance movement.”
Leaders are the everyday people participating in the occupation. We use a tool called the “General Assembly” to facilitate open, participatory, and horizontal organizing between members of the public.
That means anybody can be a leader of Occupy Wall Street. If you want to learn about organizing protests in your city, you can go to Occupy Together, a hub for “all the events springing up across the country in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street.”
But what is all this really about?
A website has been set up to inform you. “Allow us to introduce ourselves,” it says.
Who are we? Well, who are you? If you’re reading this, there’s a 99 percent chance that you’re one of us.
You’re someone who doesn’t know whether there’s going to be enough money to make this month’s rent. You’re someone who gets sick and toughs it out because you’ll never afford the hospital bills. You’re someone who’s trying to move a mountain of debt that never seems to get any smaller no matter how hard you try.
You do all the things you’re supposed to do – take classes, get a second job, buy store brands. But it’s never enough. Why? Because you’re lazy and undisciplined, according to the banksters.
They say it’s because you make poor choices. They say it’s because you’re spoiled. If you’d only apply yourself a little more, worked a little harder, planned a little better, things would go well for you…
They are the 1 percent. They are the banks, the mortgage industry, the insurance industry. They are the important ones. They need help and get bailed out and are praised as job creators. We need help and get nothing and are called entitled. We live in a society made for them, not us.
Sounds pretty familiar.
They say they are converging on Wall Street – and on other financial districts throughout the country – to let the 1 percent know just how frustrated they are with living in a world made for someone else. I wonder if anyone on Wall Street is listening.
I read that Occupy Wall Street was inspired, in part, by events in Tahrir Square in Cairo earlier this year.