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What do occupied (freedom) and 'occupy' movements have in common?

By Wendy Johnson

David Graeber: It's becoming increasingly obvious that the real priority of those running the world for the last few decades has not been creating a viable form of capitalism, but rather, convincing us all that the current form of capitalism is the only conceivable economic system, so its flaws are irrelevant. As a result, we're all sitting around dumbfounded as the whole apparatus falls apart.

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Citizens in the West may be uninformed about what is happening in places like Balochistan, but a long-running and unaddressed economic crisis is materially changing their own experience of government and its failures. The walls that U.S. protesters have run up against--both virtual (snarky and condescending news coverage) and real (arrests, limitations to direct action)--as they rally for change, is giving them a small (VERY small) taste of what the Baloch have faced since Pakistan moved in to occupy their newly independent country in 1948.

One hopes that in the future, freedom and occupy movements around the world will find common cause. Baloch activists who rally for change face immeasurably worse threats (abduction, enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, threats to life, limb and families, etc.), but the issues that drive all these movements are remarkably similar. David Graeber, in his most excellent coverage of the #OccupyWallStreet movement observes:

Why are people occupying Wall Street? Why has the occupation – despite the latest police crackdown – sent out sparks across America, within days, inspiring hundreds of people to send pizzas, money, equipment and, now, to start their own movements called OccupyChicago, OccupyFlorida, in OccupyDenver or OccupyLA?

There are obvious reasons. We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.

Is it really surprising they would like to have a word with the financial magnates who stole their future?

Just as in Europe, we are seeing the results of colossal social failure. The occupiers are the very sort of people, brimming with ideas, whose energies a healthy society would be marshaling to improve life for everyone. Instead, they are using it to envision ways to bring the whole system down.

The above could also be written of the Baloch who are so actively clamoring for change. Their numerous movements are comprised of young men and women (as well as professionals, laborers, the elderly, etc.) who are 'brimming with ideas, whose energies a healthy society would be marshaling to improve life for everyone. Instead, they are using it to envision ways to bring the whole system down.' This, because the system under which they live--the Pakistani government/military-industrial complex--is broken. It offers them no jobs and no future. Only those suffering a complete lack of imagination and empathy can possibly take sides with the status quo.

So, keeping in mind the similarities common to both old and new movements, I will occasionally add articles to this page that offer insight into the world's new #occupy movements. While the material conditions activists face in Balochistan, the Middle East and elsewhere, are incomparable (activists in the West are not going to disappear into a black hole and end up on the side of a road, tortured and bullet-riddled), the goals of all movements (a just society with opportunity for all) are shared. We all know there is strength in numbers; let's hope we 'citizens of the world' can UNITE in ways that are beneficial and supportive for all seeking change.

Below are two links that lucidly explain what is driving occupy movements in the West:

Juan Cole's account (click for full article): 'New York and Cairo Protests Show Egyptian 1% more Responsive than the American':

Excerpt: American government is often a kind of elective dictatorship, where politicians and bureaucrats feel that once they cast their ballots, the people should sit down and shut up and let those elected run everything and make all the decisions (even if those decisions clearly run counter to what the electorate was signalling it wanted). Thus, who could have imagined that by fall of 2011 there still had been no significant reform of Wall Street so as to forestall effectively a repeat of the 2008 crash? Surely such reforms were part of the change people voted for in 2008? But ‘legislative capture,’ the process in American politics whereby the industries and corporations regulated by Congress tend to ‘capture’ the legislators through campaign contributions, and then write the legislation themselves that regulates their industry, ensures that very little change can be enacted by Congress.

Since elected government is in the back pocket of the top 1%, and since the top 1% is using derivatives and sharp practices to speculate with the public’s money and is throwing people thereby out of their jobs and their homes, it is only strange that more people weren’t on the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday.

When will American government show the flexibility and willingness to compromise on issues with an engaged democratic public that the generals in Cairo are showing?


The Guardian's David Graeber's account (click for full article): Occupy Wall Street rediscovers the radical imagination

The young people protesting in Wall Street and beyond reject this vain economic order. They have come to reclaim the future.