#OccupyBoston is Coming. Expect Us.
I'll be blunt. Open Media Boston supports the fast-growing call for an #OccupyBoston movement to join with their sisters and brothers in the #OccupyWallStreet movement born 10 days ago in New York City. We therefore - as is our fashion from time-to-time - encourage all people of good conscience to join the Boston General Assembly that is being organized on the Boston Common at the Parkman Bandstand tomorrow (Tues. 9/27/11) at 7:30 p.m. Like it's NYC counterpart, the emerging movement is working on putting together a peaceful, non-violent and persistent presence near Boston centers of power and taking their case for new political and economic alternatives to the people of this region over the long term.
We plan to stick to our role as professional journalists in our approach to covering this emerging new movement. But we are grassroots journalists. Movement journalists. We view our role as the same one that many Latin American journalists - and other people with good educations and professional training in that part of the world - have played over the past many decades. That role is to accompany the movement for democracy, human rights and social justice. Then to cover it. Then to make sure that coverage spreads as quickly and widely as possible. So that as many people as possible clearly understand what is happening. And so that a great number of those people join that movement - if it proves worthy of their support.
And hopefully help change our society for the better through our action in tandem with the actions of the movement.
Read all about #OccupyBoston on our Storyful page where we'll be posting our up-to-the-minute coverage on this breaking story as it happens.
For myself, naturally, I think the whole push to organize a grassroots movement against the destruction of this country and this planet by greedy corporations and their owners is exactly the right thing to do at this moment in history.
Not to say that I wasn't critical of the initial call to #OccupyWallStreet. I was. You can read my comments here
(scroll down to the comments section of the piece the link takes you to and look for jpramas)
Basically, I was concerned that Adbusters and other organizations that told people to set up an encampment on Wall Street were being irresponsible. Not because I didn't agree with the need for action against Wall Street as the major locus of economic and political power in the United States. I absolutely did. But because I thought that the Adbusters crowd weren't nearly as experienced as they seemed to think they were, and that they were going to draw far fewer than the 20,000 people they amateurishly projected would show up. And furthermore that the 2,000 to 5,000 mostly young activists that I projected would show up, would then get jumped and "kettled" on Wall Street by the famously vicious NYPD. And have the living shit kicked out of them. And that the main result would be to drive lots of well-meaning cool kids away from movements for social justice, and that a better organized militant action would be forestalled until it was too late to make a difference.
So it turns out I was correct about the initial lower numbers of the first action on September 17th - my estimate turned out to be pretty much right on the money. And I was right about some other stuff besides.
But I was wrong that #OccupyWallStreet wouldn't turn into a movement. It did. And those generally young activists turned out to be pretty damned tough, and extremely tenacious. And they've done a good job making a go of it since their sort of shaky start.
So as this all played out, I made it a point to watch the developing events carefully for hours every day. I read reams of Tweets. Watched dozens of videos and the globalrevolution livestreamwhenever it was up. I looked at hundreds of photos. Listened to podcasts. Read all the text articles, blog entries, broadsides and manifesti that I could find.
And after a while I came to realize that whatever the many problems the #OccupyWallStreet participants faced, they were muddling through. Finding their way. And gaining support all over the place from large numbers of people that are just fed up with the way their lives are going, and with the politicians and CEOs that are responsible for kicking them to the curb in a thousand different ways.
So when I started getting word across various social media that there were people calling for the movement to spread to Boston, I knew what I had to do. And what role Open Media Boston had to play.
And do you know what it was that ultimately changed my mind about the whole thing?
The #OccupyWallStreet movement made me remember my own roots.
They made me remember the anti-apartheid movement. The CIA Off Campus Movement. The Northampton 15 Trial. The Continental Anarchist Gatherings. The Network of the Alternative Student Press. The Rutgers National Student Convention '88. The Northeast Student Action Network. The first American student delegation to the first Intifada in Palestine. The Youth Greens. New Liberation News Service. The National Writers Union/United Auto Workers Local 1981. As We Are - the magazine for working young people. The Gray Panthers. The Massachusetts Employees Association. The Campaign on Contingent Work. And on and on.
They made me remember furious periods of unpaid or barely paid work against imperial wars or poverty or racism or any number of other inequities. And the inevitable outcome of all that work on my health and my budget. Since, like most progressives, I come from a working family - not a rich family. And they could never support me economically.
They made me remember all the crappy temp and part-time jobs I had to work to make ends somehow meet. Some of which injured me permanently (forklift? no training? no problem!). The nasty apartments and squats and streets I had to live on at times. The two colleges that expelled me for political activity and the one that banned me from their campus for the same.
And the fact that I am almost 45 years old, up to my neck in debt, with a small salary I draw for running Open Media Boston barely keeping me out of outright penury, paying a stupid amount of rent for a place that cost less than half what it does now before the real estate industry stole rent control from us, with no pension or other money to fall back on.
And that the rolling collapse of capitalism and the environment - so long predicted by many left-wing intellectuals - is now so far advanced that I often think it quite possible that my wife and I may end up dying by the side of a road somewhere, long before our natural life span is reached, because dirtbag capitalists were allowed to drive our civilization off a fucking cliff.
Making themselves filthy rich in money that will likely prove useless in the looming near future scenario where they have made sure we run out of fossil fuels rather than switch over to carbon neutral energy sources in a timely fashion. Where they have poisoned our air, earth and water beyond its capacity to feed our teeming population - which will then find itself further pressed by rising sea levels caused by industry-driven global warming.
And where they hand over our political institutions to a bunch of psychotic attack dogs that may yet bite the hand that feeds them - after they finish off a rather large number of their enemies (us) one way or the other, of course.
The #OccupyWallStreet movement made me remember why I have fought for democracy, human rights and social justice. And why I fight now.
And that fight, in this moment, is to do my best to make sure that any local movement that arises out of the spark struck by #OccupyWallStreet gets good news coverage from this publication, and any media outlet that is willing to work with us.
Now if you're a Boston area media person, and you want to help me in that particular fight, then join the Open Media Boston staff. Or help us push our content to mainstream media that's willing to work with us in some fashion.
But if you're anyone else, and you live anywhere near Boston, and you're one of the "99 Percent" that you've hopefully heard the #OccupyWallStreet folks talk about - the unemployed, the underemployed, the overworked, the indebted, the young, the old, the sick, the injured, the hungry, the homeless, the ignored … and as the Europeans now put it, The Indignant - then you need to think about joining #OccupyBoston.
It won't be perfect. It will be chaotic. Mistakes will be made. People will disagree. There won't be clear demands at first. Or maybe ever.
People often look back at certain key moments in world history like 1968. Or 1848. Or name your favorite year of international mass movements for a better world.
And they wonder what the world must've looked like just before everything changed. And they wonder if people knew that they were living in a world historical moment.
And given the events of the last several months in the North Africa and the Middle East and Europe and Wisconsin and now New York City, they wonder if they're living in such a revolutionary moment right now.
Well all I can say is … we are living through such a moment if we decide we are.
History is, after all, made by the living.
So you've all got to make a choice. Do you act? Even though there is every chance of failure. And your way forward is not clear. And you can expect to be beset at every turn with seemingly insurmountable challenges.
Or do you take the safe path? Try to earn enough money for you and your family as best you can. Keep your head down. Maybe participate in one of the many feel good, but ultimately pointless little reform campaigns that are offered up by both well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning people as your only alternative to miserable future.
I will close with two slogans that might help you make your decision.
The first from May 1968 worker-student uprising in France
"Be realistic. Demand the impossible!"
And the second from the World Social Forum process that I was heavily involved in as an organizer of the Boston Social Forum in July 2004
"Another World is Possible."
Whatever you decide, remember, #OccupyBoston is coming.
Jason Pramas is Editor/Publisher of Open Media Boston.