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We are the 99 percent

Articles tagged tidal

Mutual Aid in the Face of the Storm

Posted 11 years ago on Nov. 21, 2012, 4:14 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: mutual aid, tidal

via Tidal

People are not helpless against the storm. While the winds howl, the thunder rages, and the waters rise, people can find shelter when they act together in the face of collapsing economies and ecological crises. Shelter can take the form of robust mutual aid networks and solidarity economies by which people empower and support one another to sustain themselves outside the constraints of the capitalist system.

Those within the community can share their knowledge and talents, letting people know what they are willing and able to do, and what sorts of non-market goods and services they are willing to accept in exchange. Plumbing and repairs in a home reclaimed from a bank or a building liberated from a landlord; gleaning and sharing unsaleable goods cast off stores and markets. Learning to grow and distribute our own food as we traffic between the urban and the rural through community gardens, neighborhood potlucks, Occupy Farms. Legal and tactical skill-shares among those being hunted down by the debt-collectors and Repo Men. Forming industrial co-ops in which managerial decisions are made by workers in their own collective interest rather than for the profit of a Boss. Medical care provided to those who have put their body on the line in a protest or encampment. Self-generated energy-systems for those who want to opt out of the fossil-fuel economy that is destroying the very basis of life on earth.

The specifics of a solidarity economy vary based upon those participating and the resource-landscapes of particular areas. But the focus should always be on creating communities of sharing and mutuality. Such communities are not based in charity, or simply giving things away for free.

They present, rather, a way for people to use their talents and skills — regardless of economic worth — to build social bonds that subvert the way capitalism has warped and colonized our human relationships.

In constructing a solidarity economy, it is always prudent to reach out to local organizations and see what sort of meaningful work can be done for them in exchange for what they, in turn, can provide for you. Even people who have never heard of mutual aid will understand it on a fundamental level. Against private accumulation and self-interested gain, we advocate the communal support of life, the reciprocal donation of resources, and the passing-along of good will across space and time. Starting a conversation about mutual aid with friends and partners can create a space in which to challenge the relation of their work to the constraints of paternalistic State and well-meaning 1% donors.

The powers that be are counting on our efforts to construct alternative economies to founder, especially since the current system has made us feel isolated and alone in the face of crises. Debtors are encouraged to think that they failed, individually, to fulfill their promises, even though going into unpayable debt is a structural condition of life under capitalism. Tenants feel they must acquiesce to the negligence of the landlord. Consumers think they must buy into an endlessly developing energy economy based on the burning of fossil fuels. Workers imagine themselves in a perpetual competition to work harder and for less against their fellows at home and abroad in the name of economic growth.

As long as the system isolates and pits us against each other, successful strikes against capitalism are impossible. Thinking and acting alone, we suffer alone. But creating a unified front disrupts this ongoing pattern. We are forming debtors’ unions, energy coops, food networks, strike committees, and more. When we develop sustainable networks based on mutual aid and solidarity, we will realize that, as terrifying as the storm of the current system makes itself out to be, the power it wields is minuscule compared to the torrential deluge that we, the 99%, are capable of unleashing against capitalism itself.


Election Day Report: The People's Emergency

Posted 11 years ago on Nov. 6, 2012, 10:01 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: nyc, occupy sandy, tidal

occupy sandy banner

via Tidal (OccupyTheory.org)

Today, we are told, we should go out and participate in the so-called political process: stand up and be counted, let our voices be heard, pick the man who supposedly best represents our interests. That is fine. We are not for or against it. We are agnostic. In truth, we are living and dying in another universe altogether--we are aliens from the future who recognize the perils and the promises of our latest disaster.

Ten days ago, the climate went on strike against Wall Street -- and we all got flooded. The tide surged and the lights went out. Our friends and families, our neighbors and communities, our networks and allies were under water and in the dark. Our lives are at stake. We could not wait for the State. We had to step in.

We declare a state of emergency. This is our emergency. They have tried to claim it--in their own belated, uneven, incompetent manner. For them, the emergency is a temporary problem to be managed and administered in the name of restoring things to normal. But their normal was already a perpetual emergency for us--an emergency of economic inequality, debt-bondage, racial oppression, union-busting, municipal austerity, ecological destruction, police violence, historical amnesia, and more...

We will not allow a return to normal.

The People's Emergency responds to the crisis; we set up distribution centers and energy-generators; we mobilize volunteers; we raise money and attract media; we help folks on the ground when their lives are in danger from hunger, darkness, and exposure to the elements.

But the People's Emergency is not a humanitarian operation. It is not about charity. We are not an army of salvation or an agency of administration. We wear red squares, not red crosses. We are creating autonomous zones for community and solidarity, not camps for managing the lives of powerless victims.

We are autonomous, but this does not mean that we are indifferent or hostile to the State and the vital services it could or should provide. We are simply stepping into the void to do things for ourselves as the clock ticks and the Winter storms approach.

The National Guard has come to sniff around our autonomous zones. The young working-class New Yorkers in uniform--Black, Latino, Irish, Italian, East Asian, South Asian, Arabic, Jewish, Polish, Slavic--see themselves and their communities in the disaster; they see themselves in the People's Emergency, because they come from the same places we do.

At heart they are good people and they want to help, but they are hamstrung by their commanders and their marching orders. They roll up in their armored vehicles, but they don't know how to plug in. They are disarmed. They ask us what to do and where to go, like newcomers used to do back when we had Zuccotti Park. We tell them to get in line at the back of our trucks and help unload the care packages being sent from communities around the city and the region. They offer their cardboard MREs: cold freeze-dried meals cooked up in a military-humanitarian factory months ago and stored for the latest disaster. We politely nod, but we are more concerned with laying out warm aluminum trays of homemade lasagna, arroz y gandules, collard greens, macaroni and cheese, biryani, chicken noodle soup, halal and kosher meats, vegan lentil salad, apple pie...and magical brownies for those who choose to partake after hard days of shoveling debris, pumping out basements, sorting boxes, lugging generators, shuttling volunteers, directing traffic, taking care of the kids and the elders.

The People's Emergency is a real emergency for the 1% because we intend to sustain our intensive care units beyond the immediate crisis of food and blankets and electricity. We assume the State and the companies will eventually come to restore power, haul out the rubble, put people in trailers, and so on--not because of any deep love of humanity, but because of the shitshow they will have on their hands if they continue to neglect the hardest-hit communities. Among other things, the State will offer emergency loans, backed up by corporate debt-collectors. Real-estate developers and disaster capitalists of all sorts will be swooping in too. We will be prepared.

The People's Emergency is doing something different than the disaster-management of the state and the traditional relief organizations. Even as we respond to the short-term crisis, we are building power from below and establishing networks of intensive care and mutual aid for the long-term. In the coming months, we will see the People's Bailout to abolish predatory debts; we will see the establishment of debt-clinics throughout the city; we will mobilize for an Eviction-Defense of the Earth of November 17th; we will see the Black Friday strike by workers and communities against Wal-Mart; we will see a People's Reconstruction from Red Hook to Staten Island to Rockaways and beyond. In each case, we will practice direct action in the deepest sense of the word: everyday folks taking matters into their own hands, outpacing and outsmarting the corporate and governmental agencies tasked with managing and containing the potentially revolutionary life-energies of the People.