Disclaimer: This document was never brought before the Occupy Austin General Assembly for consensus. The views expressed here reflect the opinions of individuals within the Language of Unity Working group and not Occupy Austin.

by the Language of Unity Working Group, Occupy Austin, USA

“What we call a poem is mostly what is not there on the page.” -Harold Bloom

I can not speak for the global Occupy movement, but I think we here in the US have done a poor job of representing ourselves. We are not professional media spinners, and it is unfair to judge this movement by what is shown on the television news stations. Even those sympathetic to our cause, such as the John Stewart Show or the Colbert Report, while often painting Occupy Wall Street in favorable light, have been unable to avoid widespread misconceptions.

Please allow me a few words to a attempt a more clear painting of what Occupy is and is not.

First, our movement is radically inclusive. There are many supporters from the right, center and left of the political spectrum. We have many Tea Party-ers who are unhappy with how that movement has developed. We have many Ron Paul supporters who do not believe he has been treated fairly by the Republican party. We have Veterans concerned about healthcare, and Green party supporters concerned about environmental issues and genetically-modified foods. And yes, there are some students, hippies, and anarchists; some homeless people looking for a handout, and soccer moms looking for a cause.

But Occupy does not support any particular political party. Instead this movement has focused on the things that bring people together. The Occupy protesters have latched on to the “99%” moniker because it is a statistical number that appears very infrequently. The US’s two party system focuses, both in the media and in Washington DC, on issues which divide the populace into two halves. The media only covers controversial issues and pollsters only measure the divisions.

For instance, you will never see Occupy approach the issue of abortion. It is too derisive. Rather than championing one side, the huge innovation of the Occupy movement is its focus only on issues which unite people. We care most about people and care what most people support.

Rather than asking if government regulation should be increased, a complicated issue on which many people have different opinions, the Occupy movement seeks a language that describes the frustrations of people on both sides of the regulation debate. While Republicans and Democrats differ on their solutions, most people agree that corruption in the financial sector has lead to a crisis which should have been avoided.

Yet, Occupy has no shortage of real-world solutions, and we do not shrink from an intelligent conversation of both the problems and solutions, but that is not the conversation currently represented in the media or in Washington DC. As John Stewart said, the “well” of political debate has been “poisoned” with the “toxic language” that indicts anyone who questions corporate greed as “freedom hating.” Once the conversation has been framed as pro-Amercian vs anti-American, it becomes nearly impossible to return the subject to a constructive and realistic debate about the issues.

Occupy has not defined their demands because they refuse to allow our concerns to be dismissed out-of-hand by sound bites and the curt one-up-man-ship that pervades political discourse in the popular media.

Secondly, the Occupy movement is far from disorganized. Our inclusive nature does not mean we give equal weight to everyone, regardless of the merit of their ideas. Radical inclusion simply means we are willing to listen. We still have goals, rules, process, critical evaluation and all the systems required to be successful.

The rumors of Occupy’s demise have been grossly exaggerated. The Occupy uprising in America united many people with common interests and there is nothing that could happen to dispel our common connection. We have collected in small groups that meet regularly in coffee-shops, salons and restaurants, far from the tent cities and violence which appears in the TV news. And until there is some outlet for our common concerns, until our demand is met, we will continue to organize, build and convert more to our circles.

In conclusion, our efforts to find those things which concern All of US, our attempts to find language to articulate the most popular of reforms, we have found one thing that seems nearly universal across all demographics within the US and likely beyond: nearly everyone agrees that there is a problem. Everyone agrees that things can not continue as they have been.

The only question is what to do about it. The answer Occupy offers, and its amazing innovation over the last 20 years of politics and activism in America, is the simple statement: doing nothing is not an option, and we will hold vigil until something is done.

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3 Responses

  1. as an autonomous individual active with Occupy Austin and supportive of its aims, I want to express my frustration and displeasure with this document. Every stand and position taken is tautologically divisive. It can’t be helped. Radical inclusivity would include those who directly oppress and oppose us, and what the fuck good would that do. We could all sit around congratulating each other on our ability to be inclusive, but how would we ever agree to take any action at all. Fuck that. I strive to persuade Occupy to stand for what is righteous and against oppression and pro-freedom — at any cost to “unity” with our oppressors or sexist dickheads or anyone. We got to move. It takes five seconds, brothers and sisters, five seconds of decision. Five seconds to realize your purpose here on the planet. Five seconds to decide if you are going to be part of the problem, or if you are going to be part of the solution.

  2. […] was recently referred to a blog posted on OccupyAustin.org titled,¬†What Occupy Is and Is Not. It was obvious to me after reading the blog that the writer (a member of the Language of Unity […]

  3. […] recently read a blog posted on OccupyAustin.org titled What Occupy Is and Is Not. It was obvious to me after reading the blog that the writer (a member of the Language of Unity […]

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