Since the fall of the Occupy Camp at Dewey Square, which held for 71 days in the shadow of the Boston Federal Reserve building outside of the doors of South Station, a contingent of activists and community members have focused their energy and planning on the debt and budgeting controversy surrounding the MBTA. An offshoot of Occupy Boston called Occupy the MBTA staged demonstrations and organized canvasing missions in which activists and community members rode the subway.
It was gratifying to take part, as the more or less self-appointed representative of the war tax refusal community in Eastern Massachusetts, in the planning of the tax day events coming up on April 17th. The idea of war-tax refusal - even while the overall banner is a call for the corporations & the rich to pay their fair share - was well received.
Lesser evil or Left alternative? In fact, this is not a true either/or. Our task is by definition to build a Left alternative. But this does not mean that we can ignore aspects of the existing framework that may facilitate or obstruct this effort. Whether or not this entails identifying and voting for a “lesser evil” depends on the immediate circumstances.
The Occupy movement around the country is gearing up for what some have called the “American Spring.” Still reeling from the hammer-blow of police repression which put an end to the birth phase of the movement, the Occupy movement has been driven underground over the past two months, like many other hibernating organisms.
Howard Zinn would have loved to see you all here today, and to have been part of this historical moment. He believed that we should each do the right thing regardless of whether or not it has a visible impact. When a positive impact materializes, it then comes as a pleasant surprise. But it wouldn’t happen without all the seemingly thankless work that came before.
What the Occupy movement recognizes is that the problems facing the 99% are systemic in nature. They won’t be cured by putting one or other of the two capitalist parties in office.
I think that at events like this it’s good for us to remember how lucky we are to have had this opportunity to work together with so many wonderful people over the years: to engage with each other both as colleagues and even as friends.* I know Howard Zinn used to talk about this, and as usual, he was right. What a privilege to have been fellow travelers with people from different generations who long for worldwide human community and an end to socially created human suffering. Of course we have to deal with each others craziness. But who else would you want to hang out with?
I was enjoying the Thanksgiving holiday in New York with my wife and her family, when I noticed that there was a voice message on my cell phone.
Black Friday is upon us. The malls have been mobbed since midnight, and retailers are saying they want to be allowed to open on Thanksgiving Day too. They argue that consumers should have the choice to shop on Thanksgiving, which state law now prohibits. Fortunately for them, Rep. Colleen Garry has filed legislation (House Bill 00989; perhaps it’s one of several) to allow stores to sell anything, anytime – even on Christmas, unless it falls on a Sunday. Say what?
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has given our timorous, unimaginative, and politically ambivalent unions a much-needed ideological dope slap. Some might describe this, more diplomatically, as a second injection of “outside-the-box” thinking and new organizational blood.