Everybody freak out! Occupy Wall Street is now in its eighteenth day and the swelling ranks in Liberty Park and tandem actions that have spread to 148 other cities have not provided the rest of us with their goals/DEMANDS/solutions. By God, they owe us an explanation so that we can decide whether we’re for it or against it. Do they really expect us to watch raw unedited footage on the internet and make up our own minds? Exactly how soon is the blood going to start flowing in the streets- I need to take my car in Friday for an oil change.
Can it possibly be true that we, as citizens, no longer know what democracy looks like? A loosely aligned group of individuals, predominately the young at first, has provided the organic grit in the oyster around which a pearl of moral clarity has begun to coalesce. Their declaration begins “we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice,” and continues with “a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power.” It is apparent that moral clarity is what we have needed to interject in a powerful, unequivocal way, into our policy discussions and political action.
The protesters have taken up peaceful, non-violent residence in a public space, and without leaders have established a way of communicating without amplified sound, of feeding each other, and establishing a makeshift infirmary and library. They participate in general assemblies, have provided a cogent description of why they are there, published a newspaper and established on online presence. They have inspired similar actions in 46 other states. All in eighteen days.
Unless you subsist solely on Fox News, you cannot be oblivious to the local and national solutions that have been suggested to deal with the grim economic inequity that exists in this country. We have advocated an end to the wars on not only moral but fiscal grounds. The majority of us expect the wealthy to assume their fair share of the tax burden. The majority of us support closing tax loopholes and eliminating corporate subsidies. We want the banks that we bailed out to renegotiate mortgages instead of foreclosing on our neighbors. We want Citizens United to be thrown out. The solutions, the demands, the goals, go on and on.
The legitimacy of Occupy Wall Street is not contingent upon a list of “demands” although that may very well be part of the outcome of their efforts; the legitimacy of Occupy Wall Street derives from the moral clarity it provides and the solidarity in which we can express a feeling of mass injustice. It is not a PowerPoint presentation. It is the real deal populism, and it is firmly rooted in the democratic process.