Posts tagged ‘movement strategy’

December 30, 2011

From the Arab Revolutions to the Occupy Uprisings, the Winter of Our Discontent

By Hena Ashraf

Originally published at Left Turn

A few weeks ago on the train my mind drifted to Mohammed Bouazizi and a great sorrow descended over me. I thought of how his tremendous sacrifice on the 17th of December 2010 was the literal spark that set the fire for uprisings around the world. I thought of how an ordinary Tunisian street vendor profoundly affected the lives of millions of people everywhere with his tragic protest.

His self-immolation captured the immense anger and frustration that millions experience on a daily basis. By setting himself on fire in front of the local governor’s office, Bouazizi showed the world that he could no longer endure the harassment and humiliation he suffered at the hands of corrupt local authorities. His example shows how revolutions start from the ground up, from ordinary people who are fed up of being pushed around. His actions set off revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, uprisings in Bahrain, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and throughout the Arab world, as well as in Greece, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

What’s been most remarkable is that despite the War on Terror and its racist underpinnings, in 2011 Europeans and Americans learned how to revolt and protest from Arabs and Muslims. In just a few months, by demanding that regimes supported by Western governments end once and for all, the people of the Middle East defeated centuries of Orientalist notions that they are backward, ignorant, and not ready for democracy. Alongside the toppled regimes lies Orientalism. It is wonderfully astonishing that the reference point for Madrid, Rome, London, New York, Oakland, etc, is the Arab world.

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November 4, 2011

Message of Solidarity to Occupy Wall Street from the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq

Editors’ note: We are sharing and re-printing this statement of solidarity written by the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq because we find it an inspirational reminder of how movements against oppression, militarization and the 1% are necessarily connected.

By Yanar Mohammed and Ali Issa

Originally Published at  Jadaliyya


Dear Occupy Wall Street,

The people of the world are watching you, following your news and hoping that – rather than just vent your anger and frustration – you achieve all of your dreams.

While democracy should guarantee all people an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives, you find yourselves forced to take to the streets, as politicians and bankers make decisions behind closed doors and hire an army of police to send you back home with nothing.

While a wealthy 1% ravages your jobs, health, and very lives, their focus is always on their banks and not on the welfare and future of innocent, unsuspecting millions of people. In times of growth, those banks are sustained by your labor, resulting in extravagant luxuries for the 1%; while their economic failures and crises deny you basic resources and economic rights.

This is the same 1% that pursued the war on Iraq without hearing the millions who marched – in the United States and around the world – expressing their opposition. While claiming democracy, the 1% builds vast armies to be launched not just against people all over the world, but also within their own borders.

A second wave of global revolutions has begun as the 99% (that is, the global working class) rejects the tyranny, marginalization, and poverty which capitalist authoritarian governments force onto billions of us. Despite all claims of representation, capitalist states make the people pay the price of the economic failures of their political systems with unemployment and government cuts, while the banks get bailed out by the same resources that people’s toil has created. Avoiding the poverty and starvation of billions is never the concern of these so-called democracies as much as the stability of their own political rule. Moreover, that same 1% re-creates the same failing model of “democratic” capitalist political structures in newly-invaded countries around the globe.

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October 25, 2011

Letter of solidarity to OWS from Tahrir

Editor’s note: We are sharing and re-printing this statement of solidarity written by activists in Cairo, as we think it is crucial to acknowledge the connections between our movements. 

To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it’s our turn to pass on some advice.

Indeed, we are now in many ways involved in the same struggle. What most pundits call “The Arab Spring” has its roots in the demonstrations, riots, strikes and occupations taking place all around the world, its foundations lie in years­-long struggles by people and popular movements. The moment that we find ourselves in is nothing new, as we in Egypt and others have been fighting against systems of repression, disenfranchisement and the unchecked ravages of global capitalism (yes, we said it, capitalism): a System that has made a world that is dangerous and cruel to its inhabitants. As the interests of government increasingly cater to the interests and comforts of private, transnational capital, our cities and homes have become progressively more abstract and violent places, subject to the casual ravages of the next economic development or urban renewal scheme.

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October 20, 2011

Reflections on Organizing Towards Collective Liberation at Occupy NOLA

By Lydia Pelot-Hobbs

Over the past few weeks, I have been invigorated and moved by the energy surrounding Occupy Wall Street and it’s offshoots across the nation. Yet, at the same time I’ve been faced with the tensions being articulated by so many folks on the Left: how can this energy be connected to and further long-standing organizing work for social and economic justice?

Here at Occupy NOLA, I have been excited about the potential of making these bridges through the project of the anti-racism working group.  In less than two weeks, this working group has been developing a collective analysis and strategy that I think has the possibility of contributing towards long-term movement building.

From Difficult Moments to Moments of Promise

This is not to say this work has been easy. Many of these conversations are painful and difficult. At the second General Assembly (GA), a debate emerged regarding the use of the livestream at the GA. Since the initial planning meeting, Occupy NOLA had been posting photos and videos on Facebook without those in attendance’s permission. Myself alongside several others from the anti-racism working group raised the concern that having the entire area video taped led to the space not being safe or secure for a variety of folks: immigrants, trans folks, queer folks, etc. and offered the proposal that 1/3 of the space not be included in the livestream.

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October 19, 2011

Sites Speak Louder Than Words: The Symbolic Language of Our Targets

By Samuel Stein

Occupy Wall Street is growing.  What started on September 17th as an encampment of hundreds in one small park has turned global.  On October 15th, demonstrations were held in 1,500 cities in 82 countries.  In New York City, our numbers are growing, and momentum is building to expand to more sites around the city.  As a formally leaderless movement without explicit demands, we are defined primarily by the spaces we create.  What do our choices of venues say about our politics, our critique and our vision?  The choice of our next sites will communicate more to the world than any simple list of demands ever could.

We began our movement in Liberty Plaza, a “Privately Owned Public Space.”  The park was created through a mechanism added to the New York City zoning code in 1961.  The 1961 revisions were full of new ways to shape development in the city, prefaced on the idea that zoning could be used to shape the city’s social as well as spatial patterns.  One of these planning innovations, the “density bonus,” allows developers to build higher than would otherwise be permitted if they create an open space for public use.  The spaces could be inside a building’s lobby, or outside on land owned by the developer.  While some of these plazas supported active street life, many were poorly designed and underutilized, and became empty caverns among skyscrapers.  Left urbanists have largely written off the program as a giveaway to developers and a retrenchment of the state as planner and provider of open spaces.

Occupy Wall Street’s reclamation of Liberty Plaza turns this logic on its head.  What was once seen as a boon to real estate capital is now a thorn in its side.  Our presence signals to the city and to real estate capital that social movements will use any and all spaces available to the public, regardless of its formal ownership.  Claiming a privately owned public space as our initial home base created a posture for the movement that was critical of both capital and the state, and especially hostile to its collusion.

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