With encampments being closed across the country it is important to remember the end goal is not to occupy public space, it is to end corporate rule. We seek to replace the rule of money with the rule of people. Occupying is a tactic but the grand strategy of the Occupy Movement is to weaken the pillars that hold the corporate-government in place by educating, organizing and mobilizing people into an independent political force.
The occupations of public space have already done a great deal to lift the veil of lies. People are now more aware than ever that the wealth divide is caused by a rigged economic system of crony capitalism and that we can create a fair economy that works for all Americans. We are also aware that many of our fellow citizens are ready to take action – extreme action of sleeping outside in the cold in a public park. And, we also now know that we have the power to shift the debate and force the economic and political elites to listen to us. In just a few months we have made a difference.
Occupying public space involves a lot of resources and energy that could be spent educating, organizing and mobilizing people in much greater numbers. There is a lot to do to end corporate rule and the challenges of occupying public space can divert our attention and resources from other responsibilities we have as a movement.
When we were organizing the Occupation of Washington, DC – before the occupation of Wall Street began – we were in conversation with movements around the world. The Spanish Indignados told us that an occupation should last no more than two weeks. After that it becomes a diversion from the political objectives. The occupation begins to spend its time dealing with poverty, homelessness, inadequately treated mental illness and addiction – this has been experienced by occupies across the country.
Occupying for a short time accomplishes many of the objectives of holding public space – the political dialogue is affected, people are mobilized and all see that fellow citizens can effectively challenge the corporate-state. Staying for a lengthy period continues to deepen these goals but the impacts are more limited and the costs get higher.
What to do next? The Occupy Movement needs to bring participatory democracy to communities. Occupiers should develop an aggressive organizing plan for their city. Divide the city and appoint people to be responsible for different areas of the city. Depending on how many people you have make these areas as small as possible. Develop plans for house-to-house campaigns where you knock on doors, provide literature, ask what you can do to make their lives better. Do they need snow removed? Clothes? If so, get the occupy team to fulfill their needs, find used clothes, clean their yard – whatever you can do to help. This shows community and builds relationships.