Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Reflections on (Un)Occupy

Besides the perpetual debating on the name change of originally "Occupy Burque" to "Occupy Albuquerque" to (Un)Occupy there are lots of interesting observations.

One was going to the Country Club area and hearing tons of Spanish from the parents while their kids went trick or treating! It was sweet at this particular moment in history. Friends were discussing dressing up as zombies with signs saying "we are the 1%." The other was making sure that we find out what the richest census tract is in Albuquerque and going there for the taking of the treats.

After having participated in a few General Assemblies (GAs as short) I am starting to get it. The effort at direct democracy is important. It fits the sentiment that has grown against the two corporate sponsored parties. Even some of the liberal and progressive radio talk show hosts have begun to talk about more choice. They stop short of proposing proportional representation as a solution. Another option that might work is instant runoff voting as a local an intermediary improvement.

What I like is knowing that the direct democracy work is not new nor necessarily a "white hippy" thing like many people assume or report. It has been working in many places for a long time. The participatory budgeting was implemented because the Brazilian Workers' Party took over Porto Alegre, Brazil and implemented an increasingly democratic practice. It has even started in Chicago. Some schools also use direct democracy - youth power!

Here in Burque people are working on specifics to some degree. There is the Anti-capitalist conversations, Socialist Drinking Club, Stop Foreclosure work, Solidarity with the Oakland call for a General Strike, an electoral reform affinity group, and more.

What is not being discussed openly, mainly out of some politeness, is the bottom line. There are many people and communities that were doing poorly while the economy was doing "great." People fighting for the health and self-determination of their communities while others went about their business. These folks now get fairly upset even hearing the word privilege. Which is unfortunate. Things will not change as fast without them.

The reality with this "crisis" is the reality of many different moments in US history. When things get tough for Middle-Class, White folks then it is important. It's tough to say, and likely tough to hear. It is probably tougher to go beyond hearing and to listening and transforming.

Part of it is attempting to say it in a way that is not about hate, resentment, or anger. Just a reality. One that needs to be discussed and overcome.

Some of us have been struggling a long time. Part of what happens is that the establishment will soon throw out bones that get enough people feeling like, "I'm OK, things are good again." Then slowly things may slow down. The concern for communities that have been struggling with persistent poverty for decades may start to wane. Any concern for the issues Indigenous people have been dealing with for centuries may fade quickly - as that is where the (un)occupy name stemmed from. Seemingly some of the most difficult feelings to deal with as well.

Concern about racism may move back to the "we had the Civil Rights movement" already mind-frame and complacency may set in. Maybe the rhetoric about dealing with racism, colonization, sexism, homophobia, the homeless, etc... will all just fade to where they were the last time a large number of Middle-Class people felt comfortable.

OR - maybe this will not be THAT moment again. Maybe this will be the moment where we decide to fight until we have democracy in which we ALL get to participate. Maybe this is the moment where we decide to fight for REAL equity and address racism, sexism, colonization, homophobia, and of course classism fully instead of bailing out early once we get some improvements. Maybe this will be the moment where we stand together until everyone gets a fair share of human needs. Maybe this will be the moment where we truly re-invent society and not just accept even a large amount of us getting better off. Maybe THIS is the moment where we say that NO ONE GETS LEFT BEHIND EVER AGAIN!!! SOLIDARITY!

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"Maybe this is the moment" ? Are you waiting for someone to do stuff for you and/or your community? You'll wait a long time. You'll also wait a long time before the community does something for itself beyond complaining and blaming other people for it's troubles.
A junky (trash or addicts, take your pick) neighborhood is the way it is because the people there allow it to be that way, not because someone else from outside the 'hood is not helping or doing it for them.
"Maybe this will be" is a nice thing to wish for...but the only way things will change is when enough people say THIS WILL BE.
That's the easy part, the hard part is actually DOING something, working hard and accomplishing something consistently. It's a thankless task, by the way, but it's the only way things get better. It's not money, it's human capital:planning, working, doing, working some more, getting something accomplished and never, ever going back to what was.
I wish I could be hopeful, but I'm not. Call it cynical if you wish, but I've seen too much effort and expense ignored and wasted by the people who were supposed to be helped.
Good luck to you.
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