• Going Forward: Occupy Everything!

last modified March 7 by strypey

by Danyl Strype

Update 16/12/2011: Occupy your life! An inspiring blog post by a US TransitionTowns activist, written in response to a visit to her area by Indian activist Vandana Shiva.

This following text was written for the Occupy-Aotearoa-Networking email list (hosted by OnlineGroups.net) as a summary of my thoughts about the occupations of public spaces around Aotearoa, inspired by the Arab Spring, the Spanish 'indignistas' and OccupyWallSt, and the future of the social movement that has begun in these spaces.

A few thoughts. Firstly, I'm proud to know every one of you who have helped build the occupations, dedicating big chunks of your spare time to sitting in discussions, solving sticky problems, and developing online tools to carry those discussions and solutions further afield. I've met some inspiring people through being part of Occupy Aotearoa, and I look forward to keeping in touch with you all as we continue helping our society and our species with the difficult transitions - political, economic, cultural, and technological - that are now underway.

I'm amazed at what we have achieved since October. Over two months we have asserted our right as members of the public to use public space as a venue for popular democracy. We have demonstrated some of the forms direct democracy can take, and stimulated weeks of intense, and passionate public debate about the tactic of occupying, and many of the topics and issues that have been discussed, workshopped, lectured on, and protested by people involved in the occupations. We have challenged people's assumptions about what powers councils, police, and parliaments have to determine how the public can use public space. We have demonstrated the creative power and community solidarity that
emerges when we gather, face-to-face, with common concerns and a will to search for equitable and sustainable solutions.

I think there are two important streams to the movement for a just and sustainable world - the creative, and the defensive. There are many social movements developing locally-manageable alternatives to corporate rule and privatisation; permaculture and transition towns; free code and open source; CreativeCommons and open science; intentional communities networks and eco-building associations; farmers markets and community garden networks; co-operatives associations and local currency networks. However, the community-based co-operative projects they develop and nurture need to be actively protected from the 1%, the state-corporate elites who are determined to keep people trapped as long as they can within their power pyramids, their debt-based economies, and their fossil-fuel driven machinery.

Occupations have included aspects of both the creative and defensive. Their form demonstrates alternatives; general assemblies suggest an alternative to elected dictatorship; sharing of food, shelter, and equipment suggest an alternative to privatisation of the commons; recycling, composting, and tidy sites suggest an alternative to using the enviroment as a source of raw materials, and a dump for the waste we turn them into. In resisting their eviction, we demonstrate the need to defend radical community-building, and suggest some of the ways it can be done.

That said, I think the most radical thing about the occupations in Aotearoa is not hundreds of people joining in civil disobedience by camping in public spaces, but using general assemblies and consensus processes to make decisions about the communities they are creating through their activities. I feel that general assemblies are the beating heart of the occupations, and that it was a mistake to stop having them every day. If the occupations are going to continue for weeks or months, I feel that a return to daily general assemblies will be necessary to sustain this, even if that means waiting until after northern new year to do so.

Going into the future, what the Occupy movement is calling for, in my opinion, is a recognition of the economic rights of the 99%, driven by a massive democratisation of every part of our society. I'd like to see people being encouraged to occupy *everything*. Occupy your workplaces. Occupy your local schools. Occupy your community centres. Occupy your neighbourhood parks. Occupy your universities. Occupy your churches. Not necessarily by pitching a tent village (although in some cases, as in the CMP lock-out it has been helpful to adopt this tactic), but by asserting personal and collective rights to live our lives in those spaces, and have meaningful input into decisions about how they are run.

Long may we Occupy this planet in peace. Long may we assemble to find consensus on how to share its common wealth.

Kia kaha
Kia toa
Kia manawanui

He mihi aroha ki a koutou

BTW I encourage anyone who cares about the future of life on this planet to join the ongoing discussions, and help with the development of http://www.occupyaotearoa.org [update 2019-02-07: that website no longer exists, but there is the Aotearoa General Assembly group on Loomio]

Originally published on Aotearoa.Indymedia.org (December, 2011)


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