Nobody Can Predict the Moment of Revolution
Much as the Arab Spring uprisings in the early months of 2011, the spread of the Occupy Wall Street movement was fueled by social media, allowing an isolated act of civil disobedience in NYC’s Lower Manhattan Zucotti Park (referred to by its former name of “Liberty Park” by the protesters) to gain global inertia in a matter of weeks. There are currently “Occupy”-modeled movements in over 900 cities worldwide.
The governing body that sprang from the Wall Street protests calls itself the NYC General Assembly. The NYCGA is an open, leaderless, horizontal, participatory democratic working group, which seeks to solve issues surrounding the Liberty Park “occupation” and provide direction for the protests through consensus. The NYCGA’s draft “principles of solidarity,” posted to the GA’s web site on September 24th, characterizes the Occupy Wall Street movement as follows:
On September 17, 2011, people from all across the United States of America and the world came to protest the blatant injustices of our times perpetuated by the economic and political elites. On the 17th we as individuals rose up against political disenfranchisement and social and economic injustice. We spoke out, resisted, and successfully occupied Wall Street. Today, we proudly remain in Liberty Square constituting ourselves as autonomous political beings engaged in non-violent civil disobedience and building solidarity based on mutual respect, acceptance, and love. It is from these reclaimed grounds that we say to all Americans and to the world, Enough! How many crises does it take? We are the 99% and we have moved to reclaim our mortgaged future.
The “99%” chanted in the protests’ slogans of “We Are the 99%” refers to the disparity in wealth and privilege between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population. These principles, arrived at by consensus of the NYC General Assembly meetings, go on to state the following rallying goals of the Occupy movement:
Through a direct democratic process, we have come together as individuals and crafted these principles of solidarity, which are points of unity that include but are not limited to:
- Engaging in direct and transparent participatory democracy;
- Exercising personal and collective responsibility;
- Recognizing individuals’ inherent privilege and the influence it has on all interactions;
- Empowering one another against all forms of oppression;
- Redefining how labor is valued;
- The sanctity of individual privacy;
- The belief that education is human right; and
- Endeavoring to practice and support wide application of open source.We are daring to imagine a new socio-political and economic alternative that offers greater possibility of equality. We are consolidating the other proposed principles of solidarity, after which demands will follow.
8 Rules to Guide the Non-violent Protests of Occupy Wall Street
The “Occupy Wall Street” protests are explicitly non-violent in the tradition of Mahatma Ganhdi‘s movement for civil rights in India, which he named satyagrapha, meaning “the force contained in truth and love,” or “nonviolent resistance.”
Submitted to the NYC General Assembly on September 29th, 2011 by Cynthia Boaz, a Political Science professor at Sonoma State University and proponent of satyagrapha—and re-transmitted hundreds of times after that via social media channels—the #8rules serve as mantras for the protests of Occupy Wall Street. These rules have been used to focus the energy of the protests in a positive and constructive way, and have been subsequently adopted by many of the General Assemblies of nationwide Occupy movements, modeled after the original NYCGA.