(Originally posted at the Daily Censored for Project Censored).
Listen to Fox News and the screaming right-wing, and you might think the screaming left-wing were a bunch of lazy, unemployed drumbeating freeloaders that are pitching tents in public spaces and defecating on the streets. However, you don’t need to go to Fox News for such ridiculous notions. After the Huffington Post headlined video of last night’s police raid on the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park, the live Twitter feed was all abuzz with such right-wing smear comments, designed to delegitimize the Occupy movement.
Yet, it is hard to delegitimize a movement that is spreading world-wide and calling into question the legitimacy of the corrupt institutions of corporations and the government. Thanks to Republicans, a populous progressive movement is gaining traction and right-wing name calling is not going to stop it.
Nor will police nightsticks and pepper-spray. Like it or not, the Occupy movement is here to stay (well at least till next year’s presidential election). The reason why they will stay, and continue to grow is because the Occupy movement has already shown its effectiveness.
For all those on the right, center, and left that have argued against the movements main tactic (which is to occupy a location), you may want to consider the host of successes the movement have already accomplished. For those that suggest the movement needs a leader, I ask you what other movement has accomplished so much in so little time? This Thursday, November 17, the movement will hold protests in over 300 cities nationwide will be celebrating the movements two month anniversary.
One of the stated aims of the Occupy movement clearly has been to address the egregious behavior of the “Too Big to Fail” banks, especially the way they are handling small business loans and foreclosures. There have been several successes on this front. With majority support for the progressives issues that surround this movement, Americans nationwide expressed anger at Bank of America’s announcement to add a $5 service fee to their ATM debit card users. Customers responded with overwhelming disapproval and two weeks after the announcement Bank of America reversed course and withdrew the service fee. However, by that time it was too late, supporters of the Occupy movement hooked up with the Move Your Money campaign and helped promote a national Move Your Money day in which nearly a half a million people, over the course of a few days, began moving their money out of the big banks and into the local, credit union banks.
And then there is the grassroots efforts by local Occupy encampments to help individuals who are going through foreclosures. Last Friday, Amy Goodman, host of DemocracyNow! ran an incredible segment on the local victories on the Occupy movement. The following are a couple excerpts from this segment of the show:
Amy Goodman: Well, we turn now to an offspring of the Occupy Wall Street movement: the Occupy Homes movement. The loose-knit coalition of activists aim to stave off pending evictions by occupying homes at risk of foreclosure when tenants enlist their support.
The movement has recently enjoyed a number of successes. In New York, Occupy Wall Street protesters occupied a derelict Harlem building’s boiler room until the landlord agreed to provide adequate heat and hot water to tenants. Meanwhile, in California, Occupy Los Angeles protesters held a vigil outside a home at risk of foreclosure, then organized a sit-in at the Pasadena regional office of Fannie Mae. The bank eventually called off the eviction and agreed to renegotiate the homeowner’s mortgage.
And in Minnesota, a woman is crediting the support of Occupy protesters in helping her gain more time to move out of her foreclosed home. Ruth Murman, a small business owner who has not received a paycheck in three years, explained how the Occupy Minneapolis movement helped her.
Goodman goes on to interview three guests, Nick Espinosa with Occupy Minneapolis, Max Rameau with Take Back the Land, and Monique White, a homeowner facing foreclosure that has enlisted Occupy Minneapolis’ help. Like with the Move Your Money organization, progressives movements are harnessing the power of the Occupy movement and shifting the tide of influence from the “Too Big to Fail” banks and their government cronies, to the consumers and “We the People” in general.
Another success of the Occupy movement has been in the environment. For some that have missed it, the Keystone X.L. pipeline was a proposed project to send Canadian tar sands oil down to Texas, where they could exports the oil, tax free. The problem was the pipeline was planned to go over millions of peoples drinking water source and, of course, only perpetuate our dependency on oil.
Naomi Klein is the award winning author of the book The Shock Doctrine and Bill McKibben is the founder of the non-profit environmental organization 350.org. McKibben’s organization helped organize the massive protests against the Keystone X.L. pipeline project around the White House over the last three months. Speaking in at a conference in New York, Klein talks about how the Occupy movement help build the momentum and possibly influenced the White House to call for a further review of the X.L. Pipeline project. Here is an excerpt where Klein explains the connection:
“Naomi Klein: And when Occupy Wall Street happened, I had a conversation with Bill McKibben, who has just been the powerhouse behind this campaign, just a hero. And I said to Bill, “I think this is helping us. What do you think?” And he said, “I think it’s helping us, too.” And the reason we believe this is because—precisely what Patrick was talking about—the ground has shifted, the climate has shifted. And what it would mean for Obama to cave in to this corporation, especially after we exposed all the cronyism going on between TransCanada and the State Department and TransCanada and the White House, this kind of corruption is precisely what’s on trial in parks and plazas around the world right now. And now that it’s been exposed, this has become the ultimate example. You know, as Bill said, we’re occupying—we’re occupying Wall Street because Wall Street is occupying the State Department. So there is a—there’s been a clear connection between, and a conversation between, these campaigns. I don’t think we would have won without Occupy Wall Street. I really—I can’t imagine how we could have. And this is what it means to change the conversation. And that’s why this whole idea—you know, “What are their demands?” and, you know, “What are they trying to accomplish?” There are already victories happening. And this is just one example of it.
What I find exciting is the idea that the solutions to the ecological crisis can be the solutions to the economic crisis and that we stop seeing these as two problems to be pitted against each other by savvy politicians, but that we see them as a single—single—crisis born of a single root, which is unrestrained corporate greed that can never have enough. And that is that mentality that trashes people and that trashes the planet and that would shatter the bedrock of the continent to get out the last—the last drops of fuel and natural gas. It’s the same mentality that would shatter the bedrock of societies to maximize profits. And that’s what’s being protested.”
As usual, Naomi Klein hits the nail on the head. Both the ecological and economic crisis are merging into a unified root cause to the problem, “unrestrained corporate greed”. The Occupy movement is not anti-capitalist. Rather, it is anti-unrestrained corporate greed. It is the greed that argue corporations are people, all the while putting profits above actual people. And it is the Occupy movement that has put all these issues back on America’s table.
It has been reported that the Occupy movement is now linked up to no less than 30 working groups connected to essentially every liberal progressive cause imaginable. This is not a little accomplishment. Nor is Occupy a movement that can be accurately called disorganized and confused. Instead, this has all the makings of a mass political movement that will, like the Tea Party, be one for the history books.
Some may claim the whole tactic of encampments is not only illegal, but ill advised. However, had the Occupy movement not actually occupied space for an extended period of time, would this movement’s activities remained and even dominated the corporate, mainstream media’s attention? I don’t think so.
While many people may disagree with some of the Occupy movement’s tactics, and even like to call them every dirty name in the book, they can’t argue the Occupy movement has ineffective. In fact, for the last two months, nearly every day some major news events happens in the encampments and all the media is abuzz. Keep this up, as they plan to do, and the Koch brothers funded Tea Party could end up looking like political child’s play by a group of aging, senile has-beens.