Daily Archives: October 19th, 2011

We Can’t Avoid Change ~ by Lawrence Swan

WELCOME TO THE NEW PARADIGM ~ OWS banner in Washington Square Park, October 15, 2011

I love that people everywhere are expressing their ideas about the Occupy movement. I don’t have to agree with every point a person makes to know that the best ideas and creative solutions will come to, for and by the people as we brainstorm our way out of the mess we’re in … together. The following is one such opinion by Lawrence Swan shared on Facebook yesterday in response to an earnest question about the movement’s validity.

Tuesday, October 18, at 7:28am:

Lawrence Swan

Whenever I’ve gone down to Zuccotti Park I’ve found a remarkable variety of viewpoints. One might wonder what they all have in common. I believe capitalism is destroying itself and the people in the streets today are refusing to be the victims.

Free market fundamentalism is delusional utopianism, at best. At worst, it’s just propaganda to justify the widening gap between rich and poor. The system isn’t working. The economy is collapsing in Europe and here and people are angry. They are asserting that rule by the 1% wealthiest is unacceptable. We claim the 1% have been making the decisions, as well as accumulating the wealth. We want to spread the wealth and democratize America. As to who should decide what a just society entails — who would decide in a “democracy?” — this is an experiment in participatory democracy. The governments have failed and the free market has failed. Who do you think should decide?

I don’t understand what some people have against this. As to being specific, institutions were named in the NY march I was involved in – Chase and Citibank — and the specific goal was to advocate the mass closing of accounts in the big banks and moving of money to credit unions and regional banks.

The movement’s ideas and goals have seemed formless because it is in creative flux and considering the alternatives. I imagine it will break into many subgroups with competing agendas, but that is good. A multiplicity of interests is how democracy works. Social media has been central to the new democracy movements and has been the means to organizing and coordinating activities. Videos on YouTube, Vimeo, and elsewhere contribute to spreading the message. On October 15, global protests hit 950 cities in 82 countries.

I am a philosophical utopian but I think a practical grassroots politics aimed at transforming the parties we have is the best course. The Democratic party should be democratized and become a party for the people. Obama should fire Geithner and other financial industry creeps who share responsibility for the destruction of the economy. But that might not be enough, because the situation in this country could suddenly change in ways we can’t anticipate right now. We know that the world economy is at a critical phase and the powers-that-be seem to be at a complete loss as to what to do, or are paralyzed by electoral politics. The movement is a mass response to a crisis in capitalism that is analogous, and probably related to the crisis that bought about the collapse of communism twenty years ago. It’s a mass response that appears to me to indicate a collective willingness to change things, because change is necessary and unavoidable. What I find at Zuccotti Liberty is a lot of individuals looking for community, and that is the definition of democracy.

Those quaint old documents from 200 years ago assert that people are right to rise up and change their governments, and create governments that serve them. Most people who claim to be against government turn out to receive some kind of government service or even assistance they don’t want to lose, but we also see that the corporate state has been in the service of the 1%. We recognize that the time of change is here and we agree creativity is necessary – collective creativity.

The old ideologies and parties are inadequate, and that’s why the alternative movements are looking for common ground. And they really are. We can’t avoid change. I don’t know if we will like what we get, but change is coming.
God save us.

Here’s a great video of protester interviews at OWS in New York, also by Lawrence Swan:

As always, APV thanks and appreciates our writer friends who contribute to this blog.