The following article first appeared in the Occupied Wall Street Journal on November 18th, 2011.
We the people of the global Occupy movement embody and enact a deep democratic awakening with genuine joy and fierce determination. Our movement — leaderless and leaderful — is a soulful expression of a moral outrage at the ugly corporate greed that pushes our society and world to the brink of catastrophe. We are aware that our actions have inaugurated a radical enlightenment in a moment of undeniable distrust and disgust with oligarchic economies, corrupt politicians, arbitrary rule of law and corporate media weapons of mass distraction. And we intend to sustain our momentum by nurturing our bonds of trust, fortifying our bodies, hearts and minds and sticking together through hell or high water in order to create a better world through a deep democratic revolution.
We refuse to be mere echoes of the vicious lies that support an illegitimate status quo. Our deep democratic awakening takes the form of we everyday people raising our individual and collective voices to tell the painful truths about unjust systems and unfair structures that yield unnecessary social misery. The past thirty years of a top-down, one-sided class war on precious poor and working people — with the greatest transfer of wealth from bottom to top in human history — have taught us that we either fight together in the name of truth and justice or we lose our livelihoods and sacred honor. In this sense, the movement is already victorious: our organizing and mobilizing have shifted public discourses toward truth and justice — towards a focus on corporate greed, wealth inequality, escalating poverty, obscene levels of unemployment, the role of big money in politics, and abusive military and police power. But we have work ahead of us yet.
The full-scale bankruptcy of the neoliberal order — of deregulated markets, unaccountable oligarchs, bribed politicians — is now an established fact of life and history. Its age is coming to an end. Our deep democratic enlightenment must break us out of our narrow intellectual frameworks and our parochial cultural habitus. Like the inventors of jazz, we must be open-minded, flexible, fluid, inclusive, transparent, courageous, self-critical, compassionate and visionary. We must recast old notions of empire, class, race, gender, religion, sexual orientation and nature into new ways of thinking and being.
Our movement is a precious, sublime, messy and funky form of incubation. Again like jazz, we must embody and enact a loving embrace of the art of our collaborative creations. We must embody a universal embrace of all those in the human family, and sentient beings, and consolidate an unstoppable fortitude in the face of systems of oppression and structures of domination. We will suffer, shudder and struggle together with smiles on our faces and a love supreme in our souls. Just as justice is what love looks like in public and tenderness is what love feels like in private, deep democratic revolution is what justice looks like in practice.
Revolution may scare some people because of its connotation of violence. And this is understandable in light of many past revolutions, such as the American revolutions against monarchy in 1776 or against slavery in 1861. But the revolution in our time — against oligarchy and plutocracy — need not be an ugly and violent one. The rich legacies of Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, and recent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, have taught us that we can deal with our social catastrophes with social compassion and that we can transform unjust societies with courageous visions and nonviolent strategies. If we equip ourselves with truthful systemic analyses of power in our minds, moral commitments of steel in our backs and a genuine joy in serving others in our hearts, then our dream of a nascent justice spread across the globe may be no mere illusion.
We are prisoners of a blood-stained, tear-soaked hope. This means we are free to imagine and create a more deeply democratic world than we have yet witnessed in history.