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The Occupy Spring: shareholders meetings disrupted and a general strike …

Occupy Wall Street is seven months old.

It started on September 17th 2011, inspired by the Arab Spring, and rapidly became a global movement representing the 99 percent who are squeezed out of opportunity by the 1 percent who control all the assets and wealth of the world.

The trouble is, being seven months old and now turfed out of their occupancies by the authorities, the movement has nowhere else to go.

Or does it?

In a fascinating series of articles, the US magazine the Nation asked a range of commentators and analysts to discuss the movements future.

And there are some key things in the articles that point to more radical action and activism.

For example, from April 25th, the annual general meetings of major US banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America, along with GE and more, will see their shareholder discussions disrupted.

And, on May Day, there are calls for a General Strike across America, something that strikes fear into many as we have not seen General Strikes in most developed economies since the 1930s.

Oh yes, there are many comparisons with past struggles, and so, in the spirit of sharing, here are a few highlighted paragraphs from the over twenty pages of analysis:

Horizontal Meets Vertical; Occupy Meets Establishment by Stephen Lerner, architect of the Justice for Janitors campaign

Starting with GE on April 25 in Detroit and moving on to Wells Fargo, Bank of America and dozens of other corporations in May and June, tens of thousands of people from Occupy, community organizations, unions and environmental groups will show up at the annual shareholder meetings of major corporations. Some people will be on the inside with proxies, and others will be massed in the streets, all delivering the message that it is no longer acceptable for giant, unaccountable corporations to decide the political and economic fate of the country.

Labor and Occupy: A Match Made in… by Gabriel Thompson, author

The next big challenge and opportunity is May Day.  In New York, heeding calls for a general strike that originated with Occupy LA, Occupy Wall Street has been in lengthy meetings with organized labor and a collation of immigrant groups.  It appears that after some initial hiccups – labor didn’t think a general strike was feasible – compromise wording will for a day that combines militant occupy actions with a mass march in the late afternoon, beginning at Union Square and heading to Wall Street.

More Than a Protest Movement by Todd Gitlin, author of Occupy Nation 

It’s not a bad idea to restate Occupy’s core principle: it is a movement on behalf of the thwarted 99 percent against the dominant institutions that fatten the 1 percent. It aims to bring to an end the grotesque state of affairs in which the burden of big money crushes democracy and to depose the forces that produced economic catastrophe, along with their shabby ideas and financial delirium. It knows, in the words of one sign, “The system isn’t broken, it’s fixed.”

Occupy Climate Change by  Jeremy Brecher, author of many books on labour and social history

An economy driven to enrich the 1 percent cannot meet the needs of the 99 percent for a secure, sustainable future. We need a strategy to counter the threats to economic security and climate security by putting people to work to create a low-pollution, climate-friendly, sustainable global economy—what is sometimes described as a Global Green New Deal. It will require democratizing our economy so that we can direct our labor and our investment to sustainably meeting the needs of all people. It will require not just different policies, or even different structures, but a global society mobilized for change. A Global Green New Deal will ensure jobs and livelihoods for all, because it will take all the work—and all the creativity—we can muster.

The Purpose of Occupy Wall Street Is to Occupy Wall Street by Michael Moore, filmmaker and author

It’s important to remember that Occupy Wall Street is about occupying Wall Street. The other Occupies that have sprung up around the country are in solidarity, and while they attack the tentacles and the symptoms of the beast that exist locally everywhere, the head can be chopped off only in one place—and that place is in downtown Manhattan, where this movement started and must continue.

Occupying the Unexpected by Arun Gupta and Michelle Fawcett

The secret to Occupy’s strength remains its ability to disrupt power—an ability retained by Occupy movements working on housing, labor, finance, electoral reform, corporate accountability, the food supply and pretty much any other issue you can think of. It can be seen from Occupy the SEC, which released a stunning 325-page critique of the Volcker Rule

Occupy Is Dead! Long Live Occupy! by Ilyse Hogue, former director of MoveOn.org

The rallying cry of the Occupy movement—“We are the 99 percent”—has also taken on a life of its own. With a spirit of inclusiveness that mimics the slogan, established institutions from MoveOn to National People’s Action to the United Auto Workers are investing collective resources into The 99% Spring, a massive training project that aims to train 100,000 people in nonviolent civil disobedience and economic literacy.

Occupy the Imagination by Bill Fletcher Jr., co-author of Solidarity Divided and racial justice activist

The fact that several opinion polls over the past four years have indicated that about 30 percent of the population is open to alternatives to capitalism seemed to have gone almost unnoticed, at least until the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  Thirty percent is about 90 million people, but it also roughly the proportion of the colonial population that supported the Revolutionary War. 

What Does Democracy Look Like? by Marina Sitrin, editor of Everyday Revolutions

Under capitalism, decisions are made by those with economic power and then political decisions follow to support them. The Occupy movements turn this trajectory on its head and say, No! First comes democracy; first people decide, and this political process is inseparable from economic and social issues. That is the slogan of the 99 percent. It is a framework of the majority—the people lead. This is the meaning of democracy, coming from the Greek, δημοκρατία (dēmokratía), “rule of the people,” which says nothing about economic interests predominating.

Occupy! and Make Them Do It by Frances Fox Piven, faculty member of the City University of New York (CUNY)

The great victories that have been won in the past were won precisely because politicians were driven to make choices in the form of policy concessions that would win back some voters, even at the cost of losing others. Thus the Democrats who finally supported civil rights legislation were not stupid. They knew that by conceding to the civil rights movement they were risking the long-term support of the white South. They tried to straddle the divide. But the movement forced their hand.

Thanks to the lunacy that has overtaken the GOP, Obama is in a good position to win re-election. But he is vulnerable to an escalating Occupy movement. In particular, minority, young and poor new voters are volatile voters, and they are susceptible to the appeals of Occupy. I, for one, hope the movement forces Obama to pay for its support, in desperately needed economic, political and environmental reforms.

And there’s lots more at the Nation’s website area dedicated to Occupy Wall Street http://www.thenation.com/occupy-wall-street.


About Chris M Skinner

Chris M Skinner
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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