By Mankh (Walter E. Harris III). Axis of Logic
October 5, Foley Square, NYC. (Photo John Angelillo)
I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
- Leonard Cohen, from his song "Hallelujah"
There is music in the voices of the People declaring real, impassioned concerns and demands. Personal and communal truths rise on the autumn air. Whether from a student who can no longer afford college because her father lost his job or from a union seeking pensions, People are being treated unfairly and are hurting.
And there is music in the New York City General Assembly's Greek chorus of repetition, the "People's Mic", a human amplification system created because typical forms of amplification are not allowed.
But will The Powers That Do let down their orange-net guard enough to learn to care for this intoxicating music of a People waking up from a mainstream mediocre, American I-dull, unfair & imbalanced, sit-com while the enemy gets drone-bombed slumber? In an age of cell-phones, Skype and other communication gadgets will We as a People truly be able to communicate peacefully, face to face?
Century of Dialogue
On Saturday, October 1, as an estimated 700 people were being arrested for blocking traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge, this writer, while talking with a friend, wondered: What about dialogue? What about Mayor Bloomberg or some of the 1% taking the time, making the effort to communicate?
One report stated that the protesters didn't listen to guidelines, while other reports from people who were there indicate that the People were allowed to get on the bridge and were then orange-net penned, hence "entrapment."
After a 20th century of violence, the Dalai Lama has called the 21st the "Century of Dialogue." People know how to talk, talk, talk but real dialogue is a conversation, a two- or more-way street of sharing viewpoints with the aim of identifying problems, presenting solutions, and reaching agreements. As of this writing, Bloomberg has talked one-way via radio on The John Gambling Show1:
"You know people have a right to protest but we also have to make sure that people who don’t want to protest can go down the streets unmolested."
Actually, while watching and listening to the livestream of Zuccotti Park/Liberty Plaza, this writer heard a discussion amongst the protesters about "sacred sleeping space," and of how some People were being "grabbed" at night and that this was "unacceptable." This is a perfect example of People dialoguing and self-regulating, as well as of democratic anarchy in action.
Mayor Bloomberg again, from radio show:
"You're worried about sanitation, and you're worried about lots of different — there's lots of laws on the books of what you can do in parks and that sort of thing,"
Yes, there are laws (some smart, some stupid), and yes, there are revolutions. And there are corporations doing un-sanitary things to Mother Earth and corrupt moneychangers who have not gone to jail.
Mayor Bloomberg, from radio show: "And people in this day and age need support for their employers. If the banks don't go out and make loans we will not come out of our economic problems, we will not have jobs so anything we can do that's responsible to help the banks do that is what we need."
Seems that while some may be able to get loans and start a business, the poor, the minorities, and anybody looking for a job to make ends meet would have a hard time getting such a loan. The banks are part of the problem! As example, how many banks are lowering mortgage rates so more people can stay in their homes or more easily afford basic living expenses? As Jimmy McMillan, a recent candidate for NY Governor, has said: "The Rent Is Too Damn High."
Whether you go to an Occupy site or not (and there are many national and international, as shown at Occupy Together), you can still participate by talking with people and spreading the word. A suburban liquor store owner told me that he thinks small town protests would be a better way to make change, for example, with regard to lowering property taxes. Wherever you are, the following link may be useful: "Quick guide on group dynamics in people’s assemblies."
If there's any one focus right now, it seems to be as stated on the Occupy Wall St. website:
"We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the 1%." While at Occupy Wall St., Michael Moore said: "Right now, this afternoon, just 400 Americans -- 400 -- have more wealth than half of all Americans combined . . .Four hundred obscenely wealthy individuals, 400 little Mubaraks -- most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion-dollar taxpayer bailout of 2008 -- now have more cash, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined."
The legitimate basis for Moore's stats are explained.2
One solution is getting the 1% to change their behaviors and start sharing the wealth. But in the meantime, as one livestream chatter wrote: "if 99 share with each other we do not need 1." At a café, Russ Green, who feels that initially a broad spectrum of demands will weaken the Movement, told this writer his advice: "Have one or two clear, specific demands that everyone can easily understand. Go out in the streets or be part of the problem." Another concern, mentioned in several articles, is the lack of attention on the non-governmental, private practices of the Federal Reserve.
Think and Act Globally and Locally
The Occupations and Protests are both part of a global movement and specific to any given country or city. The US Occupy(s) draw inspiration from the Arab Spring, the protests in Spain, Greece, Israel, Argentina (circa 2001), and elsewhere, as well as historically from the civil disobedience of Thoreau, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, and the communal vibes of the 1960s. A friend who experienced the '60s told me that he feels re-energized by what is happening, and cited the "Port Huron Statement of the Students for a Democratic Society, 1962" as having relevance to the grievances and demands of today.3
On livestream video an Egyptian and several Spaniards could be seen sharing ideas and lessons from their countries' recent experiences. A petite woman with short black hair said that she came to "give tips and help with the Movement," and that for every day People stay at the Occupy sites the Movement gets stronger. She added that, "October 15 is a day of Global Revolution, all cities to make hugest demonstrations ever on the same day."
And some excellent quotes from a Spanish man, "We are human beings. This is a new kind of politics." And, it's not about me rather "what I can be with other people." And, "We built a city inside the city to show the city how the city can be." The Spaniards said that the Spanish Movement is favored by 80% of the People! (Large crowds of People, by the way, have gathered again in Egypt.)
On a US national level, the very choice of site, Wall St., identifies the main issue (however vague or in the process of being solidified) as economic, which includes the destructive capitalist system in toto, hence the wide range of grievances. In toto is a potential sticking point as well as a potential liberty point, because, while getting a job may be satisfaction to one person, to another, nothing short of overthrowing the entire corrupt system known as empire would be enough. Ay, there's a rub.
When CEOs get bailouts and bonuses while workers lose jobs, you don't need a PhD to realize that People get pissed off. Nationally, two of the gorillas in the war room are the war and national security state budgets, and this connects to the United States Empire (USE) which has a track record of mercilessly use-ing people and resources to support its materialistic agenda addiction. This is, in essence, what People globally are speaking up about, as empires bear resemblance in whatever country they are based and do business with each other, making for a larger global corporate empire. (For a more specific look at what is bringing people together and what many of the grievances are, see the " Declaration of the Occupation of New York City ." A newspaper, "The Occupied Wall Street Journal" has also been printed and distributed
Roots, Mentors, and The Future
The giddiness of moving forward and multi-tasking with phone/computer/video/textstream/etc. can be stabilized by staying connected with historical roots and mentors, plus keeping an eye on what the future may hold. Along with the wonderful use of technology and concrete cities as epicenters of the Occupy(s), let us remember that we are standing with Terra Firma, Mother Earth, Pachamama, Turtle Island . . . and all breathing the same air.
August 23 was the earthquake. Then followed hurricane Irene. And now the People's energies can be felt vibrating with the Earth, their voices heard on the wind.
From the Amazon (the place, not the e-shopping site) comes the prophecy of the Eagle, Condor, and Quetzal:
"Mayan shaman/priest Wandering Wolf speaks of the wisdom of the Southern peoples, the Inca, the "condor" coming together with that of the Northern peoples, Hopi, Iroquois, the "eagle", at the Center, the place of the Quetzal, the land of the Maya."
"Another layer of this prophecy is shared by John Perkins in "Confessions of an Economic Hit man" -- "The Prophecy of the Condor and Eagle" can be taken at many levels — the standard interpretation is that it foretells the sharing of indigenous knowledge with the technologies of science..."4
However specifically interpreted, the "secret chord" has to do with connecting people from various regions; the "secret chord" has to do with the blending of Indigenous and intuitive wisdoms with laptops, livestreams, and such like. When these "chords" are played, our ability to be at the Center is enhanced. As one woman said: “Occupy your own heart, not with fear but with love.”
Empires are responsible for the occupation of Iraq, which is in many ways a continuation of the occupation of America's Indigenous, Tribal Peoples, and now the 99%. (Russell Means' video talk "Welcome to the Reservation" explains a lot.)5
The word Occupy is appropriate for a People peaceably taking back what is left of what has been illegally and brutally taken. Also, let us remember that the Tar Sands protests, where approximately 1,200 People have been arrested in D.C., are also going on and are part of the same essential purpose.
Again via Occupy Wall St. livestream video, a man could be seen holding up a dollar bill and addressing the People, saying, "I am a 23-year-old Native American. They told me this was my future, but you are my currency, you are my future!"
Gil Scott-Heron may have been correct, "the revolution will not be televised," yet it is being livestreamed, chat-messaged, activated in-person, and is perhaps the most exciting thing to come along since Tom Paine played "the secret chord" and town crier chatted: "These are the times that try men's souls."
Mankh (Walter E. Harris III) is an essayist and resident poet on Axis of Logic. In addition to his work as a writer, he is a small press publisher and Turtle Islander. You can contact him via his literary website.
READ MORE OF MANKH'S POEMS AND ESSAYS ON AXIS OF LOGIC
- Bloomberg Hints That Wall St. Protesters Could Overstay Welcome
- Michael Moore says 400 Americans…
- Port Huron Statement of the Students for a Democratic Society, 1962
- The Prophecy of the Condor and the Eagle
- Welcome to the Reservation