Occupy Wall Street: One year later and people still don’t “get” it
September 17, 2012
As American anti-capitalists prepare for the one-year anniversary of Occupy Wall Street today, media outlets are reviving beaten-to-death stories questioning the movement’s tangible influence.
Of course, barely any legislative reforms have come from the protest movement that stirred so much debate last year. Money continues to reign supreme in elections, Wall Street oligarchs are still President Obama’s beloved mistresses, education debt is continuing to skyrocket and corporations are still the kings of policy. But that is what slides by most people trying to grasp the influence of OWS.
A radical movement like this cannot (and must not) work within the system it is trying to replace. Protesters who first camped out at Zuccotti Park and other campsites across the country already know voting for Politician A or Politician B will only enforce the parasitic capitalist system that tramples on the working class. Camaraderie between big banks and politics can’t be broken unless capitalism is replaced with social justice. We cannot expect fair and equal education opportunities without severing the chains that tie students to debt and private interests. We’re not looking to support the “lesser of the two evils”; we want to create an alternative. So of course policy changes can’t be seen as a win for OWS. The movement is beyond electoral politics and complying with those who only strengthen the institutional powers that hold us down. But just because play by the rules gains haven’t been won doesn’t mean OWS has rendered itself useless one year later.
The radicalization and awakening of Americans has been one of the most difficult and most crucial wins for the anti-capitalist struggle. Seeing the web of connections between environmental degradation and corporate greed, student debt and privatization, women’s rights and electoral politics, mainstream media and poverty has most visibly become OWS’s most vital legacy. Once connections are molded between the working class struggle and the ruling class that tried to suppress OWS, they cannot be erased. But occupiers already know this.
Activists aren’t waiting for the mainstream media to catch up because there is work to be done. OWS knows what its demands have been from day one and now that we are enlightened, action must continue and spread. The year wasn’t perfect, but a mere beginning was all people needed.
Groups once solely focused on OWS have now broken down their struggles to combat various branches of capitalist deterioration. Fights against mass incarceration, Monsanto, worker’s rights, immigration, foreclosures, police brutality and poverty have replaced complacency for those occupiers who spent the latter of last year in tents and general assemblies. So we cannot expect the mainstream media or politicians to “get” what we’re doing. OWS is still in its natal stage and is already developing into a whole new creature on the revolutionary trajectory to rattle the ruling class.
Happy one year anniversary to a movement that flooded the streets in nearly 100 countries and shook many out of their blindness.