We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

On the Occupy Wall Street ‘Media Blackout’

Click here to access article by Nathan Schneider from Indypendent. 

I find that this author introduces a considerable amount of confusion to the issue of mainstream media coverage and how the current "Occupy Wall Street" movement should relate to media reporters.

First, the author is critical of people who complain about the lack of mainstream media coverage by writing that they should expect this and some forms of censorship. Then he blames the poor media coverage on the movement itself, and that they need to become media savvy because such media coverage is very important. Next he claims that the movement is gaining substantial media coverage and should prepare to gain as much as possible. 

I think that this confusion mirrors the present lack of consensus about what Occupy Wall Street is really all about. Wall Street is at the very center of the Empire, its system of capitalism, and class rule. There are some people, like this author, who essentially view this as a reform movement or a movement with a specific objective like "stop the war". But, there are also many people who know that they are in a very serious class war and up against a very well-armed and powerful foe. The latter are aware that they are at the early stages of what is really required if any significant changes are going to be made--a revolution: the replacement of rule by a small class of people called capitalists with a genuine democratic rule by the people. A movement with a specific and limited objective like "stop the war" or ending segregation is very different from that of a class war which is by definition a revolutionary movement. 

If it is, indeed, a revolutionary movement, then it follows that mainstream media will be used by the ruling class as another weapon to destroy it. Thus, cooperation with this media should be opposed. Instead, what is required is the further development of alternative media that is tied to the movement and the people. 

And, activists must understand that the entire social system has been organized to serve the interests of the ruling class. Hence, not only media, but several other important alternative institutions must be developed in order to win this war: welfare, education, health care, and employment.

Welfare is needed immediately to support those who are on the front lines of this war and suffering casualties in the form of imprisonment, loss of income, and direct assaults on their health due to beatings and gas. We, the people, must organize ways of supporting these brave warriors. We, the people, must immediately engage in political education for the people through alternative media so that they can understand what is really happening and what the movement is fighting for. We must organize alternative medical services for people without adequate health insurance. And, we must set up and support worker enterprises to employ people to produce what is needed to sustain their local communities. Any successful efforts along these lines will greatly attract more support from the people and aid in building a powerful revolutionary movement.

Finally, the new alternative institutions can serve as a testing ground and nucleus of a future society whose goals are social justice, peace, and sustainability.