Paul’s Perambulations

November 19, 2011

Occupy Philly — revolution in the making (how far can it go?)

Filed under: Politics — admin @ 10:18 pm

Fran and I have been to Occupy Philly a number of times and have attended the general assemblies and participated in various actions by Philly Occupy. Demonstrating with Brandywine Peace Community and marching to the Market Street Bridge were particularly significant actions (marching in the snow to Temple University is another story). Meanwhile I have been involved with establishing Nova99% at Villanova, where we have a tent and literature table set up in the library.

Personally I am trying to sort out my relative degree of commitment to what appear to be twin goals of Occupy Philly. On the one hand, I share Occupy’s commitment to the overarching goals of equal opportunity and justice for all. More specifically, Occupy is working for changes in the financial sector that would make elections fair and not to be bought by the highest bidder. End Corporate Personhood and void the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court. It is these legal cases that enable elections to be won by the highest corporate bidder. In addition, reinstitute an updated version of the Glass-Stiegel Act for the effective regulation of banking. In this way, the 99% could wrest power back from the 1% that has seized it. Occupy is calling for many additional reforms also.

On the other hand, there is a great interest in the process, with Occupiers concerned about doing the process right and thereby modeling an effective system for full participatory democracy. In this regard, the General Assembly is particularly interesting as an example of full participatory democracy. Many feel that developing such a process is the most important thing the group can do at this time. Process is recognized as a method/means inseparable from the end goal. This is a particularly fascinating aspect of Occupy and clearly distinguishes Occupy from other movements that have had similar goals. But this is not without its challenges. Personally, I find that this good process can be so slow and inaccessible (due to the practical time constraints/conflicts experienced by many) that the process can become relevant in practicality for only a relatively small number who may be not truly representative of the 99% they claim to represent.  There is a danger, if the numbers drop off late at night due to passage of time and fatigue, that a small group may claim the right of speaking for Occupy Philly. I am reminded of how something similar to this happened for SNCC and SDS.

The Occupy Movement is a fascinating and significant undertaking with peaceful revolutionary goals. I am in sympathy with most of what Occupy is doing and what I see that it stands for.  At the very least, I am convinced that it will contribute to significant changes in the financial sector and that the Movement is developing some of the best future leaders of this country. Such leaders are sorely needed.

1 Comment »

  1. Hi Paul,

    I always look forward to your thoughtful comments on BLW’s blog and thought I’d drop by. I appreciate your perspective on Occupy, and your participation. Occupy has certainly helped focus my attention and energy. Things are moving. Two weeks ago the L.A. City Council passed a resolution (first in a major city) calling for an Amendment to void the Citizens United decision.

    Comment by Wolf Pascoe — December 18, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

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