An article by Yotam Marom speaks not only for OWS although Yotam was clearly inspired by that. He has a message relevant for the whole of the Occupy movement. He summarised his message to the movement of how to stay powerful, create solid foundations and expand in 5 words: Grow, Deepen, Build, Liberate and Fight.
The quotes in this blog post are from his article in the U.S. Solidarity Economy Network (SEN) published on the 22nd Dec. 2011.
The title of his message was ‘Revolutions Don’t Happen in a Day: 5 Ways OWS Can Stay Powerful and Truly Build a Movement’.
The time for the biggest Idea of 2011 and beyond had truly arrived with the massive awakening in the summer of 2011 that became the Occupy movement. It took the Liberty Square on the 17th September ignoring any restrictions, barricades or authorities. People felt inspired to create new social norms and institutions fit for a future we could so far only dream about. Ordinary people hadn’t felt so confident and invincible for a very long time. Summer temperatures helped of course to feel free and energised and many people wondered how the movement would survive the winter months.
Many people including sympathisers predicted that the movement would burn itself out once the novelty wears off, when camping outdoors in the cold becomes too challenging and the camps would attract more and more people with serious social and mental health problems.
Well winter has arrived and there have been many challenges on many levels but the occupiers havent given up. Contrary to popular expectations, they are building resilience and are learning pretty fast how to model the future we all want to see.
Instead of experiencing the winter as a threat and something to fear, they are accepting it as reality, even as a gift to enhance learning. Hibernation was clearly not seen as an option. In any case it would only have given the authorities time to plan to prevent a revival. Instead occupiers and their allies are engaging in a deep dive learning journey over the winter and Yotam’s Winter to-do-list could proof to be very useful indeed.
1. Grow. Growing strong relationships with and in communities is crucial and needs to spread. Mutually supportive networks will connect different groups. Joining struggles that protect people from austerity measures, from home re-possessions, from unfair treatment by authorities, from exploitation and oppressive rules and legislation that limits their freedom of expression and assembly. Accept that a hard and long way lies ahead to build a successful movement and every step counts. To have the millions of necessary one-to-one conversations we may even decide to go knocking on peoples doors. There is nothing to loose, only our fear.
2. Deepen. Being open to learn from others who have been doing this for longer i.e. land liberation movements in Brazil.
Our learning deepens when we teach as we go and ask each other difficult questions: How do we organize in a way that is inclusive and liberating? How do we build a movement led by those most marginalized and oppressed? How do we use decentralization to actually empower people and address the imbalances we face in society? We will think radically about what systems and historical processes led us to where we are now, dream deeply about the world we want and the institutions we will need in order to live it out, and plan thoroughly for the building and the fighting it will take us to get there.
3. Build. We need to continue building structures for communication, transparency and accountability so that people feel motivated and invited to participate. Decision-making processes and coordination need to become easy to learn and practice. Assemblies need to be local to where people live or work. We already have pioneering examples with neighbourhood assemblies. This is a shift from general assemblies to constituent assemblies – assemblies in neighborhoods, workplaces and schools
We will create mechanisms to meet people’s needs using the skills we honed at Liberty Square to provide things like food, legal aid, shelter, education, and more. We will do it all in a way that is in line with the values of the world we are fighting for.
4. Liberate. We will take new space, indoors and outdoors. We will do it because the movement needs bases in which it can create the values of a free society, begin to build the institutions to carry them out, meet peoples’ needs, and serve as a staging ground for the struggle against the status quo. We will take space for the movement to have a home and a workplace, but we will also take space back for the communities from whom it has been stolen, and for the families who need it in order to survive. We mean not only to take space for its own sake, but to liberate it; we will transform foreclosed houses into homes, empty lots into gardens, abandoned buildings into hospitals, schools and community centers. We will use the space we win for dreaming up the world to come.
5. Fight. We will continue to use direct action to intervene in the economic, political and social processes that govern peoples’ lives. We will use our voices and our slogans, our banners and our bodies, to shine a spotlight on the classes and institutions that oppress and exploit. We will make it so that the tyrants who are ruining this planet cannot hold conferences or public events without our presence being felt. We will fight in a way that is not only symbolic, but also truly disruptive of the systems of oppression we face. We will block their doorways and their ports, interrupt their forums, and obstruct the systems of production and consumption they depend on. We will do it until they will have no choice but to disappear.
Spring Will Come
The conditions that brought us here – the brutal and systemic oppressions we face – aren’t going to disappear on their own. The window we have opened to the world being born can’t be closed. Now winter is here, but we are not afraid. We will face the cold with intention and wisdom, using it as an opportunity to grow our movement, deepen it, and build structures that can carry it forward. We will continue to build the world we want while fighting to topple the institutions that stand in its way.
It will take some time for the seeds we have planted to grow into the beautiful flowers they are meant to be. Patience. Spring will come.
Yotam Marom is an organizer, educator, musician, and writer. He is a member of the Organization for a Free Society, and can be reached at Yotam.firstname.lastname@example.org. © 2011 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved. View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/153529/