Mic check! [mic check] Mic check! [mic check]
Fellow Americans, good evening! [Fellow Americans, good evening!]
We are men and women of the 99 percent
Many of us have spent many months at Occupy Wall Street
and at other Occupations across the country and around the world
We are here tonight to report on the State of the 99 percent in America
Of course most Americans know the state of the 99 percent very well
But sometimes the one percent, on Wall Street and in Washington, need a reminder
Financially, the state of the 99% is not strong
That is an understatement.
Never in our lifetimes have so many hard-working Americans
Faced so many difficulties, so many uncertainties, so many indignities
In Occupy camps around the country
We find Americans from all walks of life
[3 personal story couplets]
Some of us have had it rougher than others
And it turns out living in camps is no picnic either
But we do not give up easily
And we take inspiration from the brave Americans who came before us
From Dr. King, who gave his life fighting for economic justice
From the Suffragettes, who insisted the voice of women be heard
From all of those brave or foolish enough to believe in America’s defining idea
theidea [sic] of democracy
That we are all created equal
And we all have an equal voice in shaping the laws we all live by
Let’s be honest.
When our courts tell us corporations have more right to speak than we the people do
That’s not democracy.
When pepper spray and midnight raids make a joke of the 1st Amendment right to assemble.
That’s not democracy.
When defrauding clients, blowing up our economy, forging thousands of documents and seizing people’s homes illegally is not a crime
but protesting all that is a crime
That’s not democracy.
Our America is not a democracy, not yet.
We all know why: Wall street owns Washington.
Bribery is legal, and the laws we live by are for sale to the highest bidder
That is why our government serves the very rich and powerful
at the expense of the rest of us
It protects the bonuses of bankers and Wall Street executives,
while failing to keep hard-working families in their homes;
It shields offshore tax havens for the very wealthy,
while letting our bridges, schools, and infrastructure fall apart;
There have been dark periods in our nation’s history, when corruption became the norm
when grave injustices stood in the way of America living up to its best ideals.
But time and time again, Americans stepped up to take back their government and correct our course.
Today Occupy Wall Street and the 99% movement step into this proud American tradition.
But fear not, one percent!
We are not here just to help the 99% at your expense.
We are here to help you too.
For when you’ve begun to think rigging the game is fair game
When you regard hard-working Americans as undeserving of a middle-class life
and unworthy of the profit their own work creates
When you treat the people who build your buildings and serve your food and raise your children and patrol your streets
You have not only lost touch with our humanity
You have lost touch with your own humanity
You need to find it again, for everyone’s sake
Real democracy will do you good
We are the 99%
We are here to create the democracy we have all been promised.
We are the 99%.
Our finances are weak, but our spirit is strong.
We are the 99%.
Our spring is coming.
It’s got an old-time, slightly corny, Pete Seeger protest song feel.
If you haven’t heard, Occupy Philly was evicted last night. This is just 10 of the over 1000 images I took last night. You can see about 100 images at http://www.michaelalbany.com/occupy-philadelphia-eviction/
Wall Street’s recession cost 1.5 million times more than the cost of securing Occupy protests.
Something is certainly happening right now, something new is at hand, and it is this double beginning that gives Occupy Wall Street its character of the im-possible. One of the biggest critiques of the Occupy Wall Street Movement, however, has been its lack of specific demands. But this lack strangely resembles the ancient tradition of negative or apophatic theology, of “unsaying” our finite language about a mystery that exceeds whatever could be said. Like a sort of negative-politico-theology, the people who have been marching and occupying have been apophatically unsaying what they see as an absolutely broken and unjust system that can’t continue. And they have been unsaying with their “fleshy, fragile bodies taking up political space together”, as Jake Erickson pointed out in his recent post…
…And like negative theology, it is precisely in the unsaying and un-naming that the affirmation emerges. What these detractors do not understand, but are now beginning to realize, is that our reluctance to posit overarching demands has in no way caused us to avoid speaking and organizing together. If anything, we are reluctant because we are humble, reflective, and critical, not only about the political world that we seek to build, but also about ourselves and our own conceptions of what ought to be. And precisely because of this, we have not allowed ourselves to be moved by this monoculture that broadcasts so many words and yet always avoids actually saying anything on its endless radio and television shows. That monoculture it is, that will seek to bend, twist, co-opt, and colonize any “demand” or “affirmation” that might come forth.”
“ If we firmly believe that poverty is unacceptable to us, and that it should not belong to a civilized society, we would have built appropriate institutions and policies to create a poverty-free world. ”
“ The paramilitary bureaucracy and the culture it engenders—a black-and-white world in which police unions serve above all to protect the brotherhood—is worse today than it was in the 1990s. Such agencies inevitably view protesters as the enemy. And young people, poor people and people of color will forever experience the institution as an abusive, militaristic force—not just during demonstrations but every day, in neighborhoods across the country. ”
Anyone who has been at Occupy Wall Street rallies or Occupy rallies across the US (or in Canada!) and has photos/stories they might want to share with a larger audience, or intends on going to a rally in the near future and taking pictures, can get in touch with me via ask box or email. I’d be interested in posting some of them here. (Unfortunately I can’t do anything nice like pay you for this.)
For Zhounder.tumblr.com who has zillions of amazing shots of Occupy Philly.
“We’ll never deal successfully with the many challenges our country now faces if we merely seek what’s possible within the framework of today’s system of political economy,” notes Speth. “Our challenges require moving beyond incremental reform to systemic change that addresses the root causes of our current distress.”