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Excerpt: "We're conscious of the injustice, but not fully conscious of it, because frankly, we have enough to worry about in our own lives. As such, we've come to accept these injustices as simple facts of life - prepackaged side effects of the human condition, as natural and intertwined with our existence as water to a stream, beyond our capacity to effect in any significant way. This collective sense of powerlessness and default apathy is why we're striking."

Occupy protester being lead away and arrested by police. (photo: Daniel Goodman)
Occupy protester being lead away and arrested by police. (photo: Daniel Goodman)



Why Are We Striking?

By Mike David, Adbusters

01 May 12

 

Occupy Wall Street: Take the Bull by the Horns

 

Why are we striking? Or to put it another way - what's wrong with the world?

f course, most of us know what's wrong with the world. We know about the poverty, war, violence and disease. We're conscious of the injustice, but not fully conscious of it, because frankly, we have enough to worry about in our own lives. As such, we've come to accept these injustices as simple facts of life - prepackaged side effects of the human condition, as natural and intertwined with our existence as water to a stream, beyond our capacity to effect in any significant way. This collective sense of powerlessness and default apathy is why we're striking.

Our growing sense of isolation and disconnection, whether from ourselves, from those next door to us, or from those producing our food and products halfway across the globe, is why we're striking. Our forced support of perpetual war waged for and by the 1% - whether explicitly with speech, or implicitly with inaction and tax dollars - without ever paying mind to the true causes and motives behind it, is why we're striking. Our failure uptil now to connect the dots and realize that the benefits of a cheap iPod, lovely as it may be, would be far outweighed by the benefits of a truly just world free of exploitation, is why we're striking.

The fact that most of us are too busy being exploited to realize we're being exploited - too busy greasing the cogs of our economic system to notice how the fruits of our labor never fail to float up and out of our reach - is why we're striking, as is the fact that most aren't able to do anything about this exploitation even when we do notice it. While some of us are lucky enough to have jobs and careers that give real meaning to our lives, allowing us to take full advantage of our talents and fulfill our destiny, most of us have jobs devoid of meaning and dignity, yet full of the feeling that we are fulfilling someone else's destiny. Our recognition that the ruling class's seat at the top of the pyramid is prepared and propped up by the working class is why we're striking. Our knowledge that it's actually the CEO who is the most dependent among us, and that the ones truly indispensable to our society are not bankers, lobbyists and politicians, but workers, teachers and engineers, is why we're striking.

Indeed, the fact that we have an economic system which functions in the same manner as a virus is why we're striking. Just as a virus's only reason for existence is to expand, without regard or awareness of the effect of its expansion on its host body, our economic system pursues its infinite expansion without regard or awareness of its effect on human welfare or the environment. Though the earth is finite, it is sustainable, so we reject, in the words of Michael Nagler, "the inherent contradiction of an economy based on indefinitely increasing wants - instead of on human needs that the planet has ample resources to fulfill."

We're striking because we also reject the notion that selfishness must be the driving force in our world. We believe, contrary to propaganda, that most people in our world are not selfish, and would rather work together than constantly compete against each other. We believe that the only people who really care about things like power, corporate monopolies and global dominance only make up, say, 1% of the population, making it seem only logical that we should have an economic system which reflects the values of the 99% of us who don't care about such things. The fact that most of the decisions which have a profound impact on how we go about our daily lives are made by folks in Washington or Wall Street, rather than in our communities by the people actually affected by those decisions, is why we're striking. The fact that power rests only with those who lust after it is why we're striking.

We're striking because another notion we don't buy into is the presumption that the profit motive can have no outcome other than the best possible one. We understand that the success of McDonald's has nothing to do with having the best burger, and everything to do with having the most cutthroat business plan. We understand that building prisons, waging wars, polluting the environment, and paying employees inadequate wages are actually quite profitable. Sustainability, economic justice and true equality? Not so much. We understand that being ruthless and unscrupulous is an economic advantage, and being truthful and virtuous is an economic disadvantage. We understand that money is treated as more natural and inviolable as nature itself, and that too often our place and perceived value in society is determined solely by how much of it we make, or how much of it we make for someone else. We understand that, whether or not you believe in climate change, our ability to adequately address it or any other pressing issue is greatly compromised when our shortsighted need for profit skews our vision of the whole. We're striking to suggest new motives and new values going forward.

The fact that you might not have known why we're striking, and you didn't get and maybe still don't get what Occupy Wall Street is about, is why we're striking. And who can blame you? Just like you don't have the time or energy to really do anything about the world's problems, you probably don't have the time or energy to do the deep digging required to get your news from any source other than the corporate outlets conveniently floating on the surface. It's understandable that you wouldn't see the inherent conflict of interest of a handful of for-profit corporations with their own interests telling the world's story to the majority of people in this country. The fact that it's so hard to be truly informed, and that it's in the 1%'s interest for the majority of us to be uninformed, is why we're striking. The fact that it's entirely possible you could go about your day today and not hear a thing about the general strike, is why we're striking.

To counter the charge that it's unrealistic, and overly idealistic, to want to bring about real change in our world, as well as the trusty "life isn't fair" rationale always used to justify injustice, is why we're striking. We didn't accept that line of reasoning during the civil rights movement, and we don't accept it now. We think it's far more unrealistic to think that a small cadre of elites will be able to keep up their never-ending pursuit of power consolidation and mass manipulation without waking us up in the process. We think it's far more unlikely that in 1000 years, humanity will still be playing this game of perpetual one-upmanship, instead of picking up the far more efficient and beneficial manner of interacting with each other in honesty, cooperation and genuine respect.

Perhaps the biggest reason we're striking is to simply exercise that ever-cherished American value of freedom. Just as our business leaders are free to use every means at their disposal to maximize profit, we are free to use every means at our disposal to maximize the realization of whatever objective we feel is worth pursuing. And by the way, even if you don't support the Occupy movement, whatever you think the Occupy movement is about, we respect your view, because another reason we're striking has to do with our political system - the way it thrives and prospers by pitting us against ourselves, encouraging us to demonize each other while discouraging us from disagreeing civilly.

The fact that this post is completely and utterly inadequate in expressing why we're striking, is why we're striking. But that's OK, because like May 1st, this post is just the beginning.

Happy striking!

Mike David is an occupier in San Francisco. He blogs at www.primitivetimes.com.

 

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+20 # bugbuster 2012-05-01 09:40
"in 1000 years, humanity will still be playing this game..."

I think that as long as most of the people in the world are people we don't know personally, we will be playing the game.

I discussed this on the OWS chat last year with two anarchists. After drilling down into their core, we found that what they really want is person-to-perso n management of our daily affairs, not impersonal authority doing that for us.

I wish I could envision a just society composed of anything other than small self-governing villages and nomadic bands of hunter-gatherer s, but I can't. Not as long as we are who and what we are.

What I can hope for is a stable system of checks and balances of power. We have never had a perfectly functioning system, but we have had one that worked better than this one does. I believe that TV-driven politics and the environment of ignorance that nurtures it are the core of the problem.
 
 
+4 # noitall 2012-05-01 10:46
These greedy bastards have been around for a 1000 years and more. As long as having more than anyone else and using it to greedy ends is acceptable, this will continue and they will call the shots. "Calling the shots" is what Churches, customs, traditions, etc. are for but churches have broken their own tenets in the name of the sin 'greed' and they have collaborated in destroying the fiber of community that maintained the traditions, customs and social mores that kept the group morally stable and healthy. These rats are just that and we reap what they sow.
 
 
+22 # Andrew Hansen 2012-05-01 09:40
A beautiful essay.
 
 
+21 # tedrey 2012-05-01 09:40
Absolutely beautiful, Mike. And not inadequate at all. Bless you!
 
 
+8 # Andrew Hansen 2012-05-01 10:02
Same reaction, same time, striking... (sorry, had to express the pun :^)
 
 
+9 # NanFan 2012-05-01 13:01
Quoting Andrew Hansen:
Same reaction, same time, striking... (sorry, had to express the pun :^)


Same here, but I'm watching now as violent anarchists (not part of the Occupy Movement) are smashing windows and causing chaos in Seattle amid what should be a non-violent strike.

These people are all dressed in black and hooded and masked, as usual, and once they finished bashing in things, they disperse and remove their coverings and meld into the crowd of peaceful Occupy protestors.

Unfortunately, their violent actions deflect from the valid purposes for the strike and the overarching reasons for the Occupy Movement.

Will the violence EVER end in the US? Or will it escalate, and use a righteous movement to perpetuate it?

This saddens me deeply.

N.
 
 
+16 # firefly 2012-05-01 10:17
I think that was very well stated. Until each one of us realizes that we are interconnected on an individual level, we are doomed to have the psychotics running the circus (since they are the only ones who truly believe that they are the only 'real' people).
 
 
+4 # Martintfre 2012-05-01 11:24
Quoting firefly:
I think that was very well stated. Until each one of us realizes that we are interconnected on an individual level, we are doomed to have the psychotics running the circus (since they are the only ones who truly believe that they are the only 'real' people).


excellent point FireFly
- using the power of government to get things by force that one normally can't voluntarily get from others is a huge magnet for those who are dishonest and uncaring of others and have no problem lying and pretending like they care to get the power that they want.
 
 
-31 # Martintfre 2012-05-01 10:18
//Our growing sense of isolation and disconnection, whether from ourselves, from those next door to us, or from those producing our food and products halfway across the globe, is why we're striking. //

Complete disconnect from reality - people across the globe can read and comment on this foolishness within moments and that hard fact totally escapes you casting a huge shadow of doubt when you do stumble across some actual truth.
 
 
+17 # Vardoz 2012-05-01 10:44
Even David Frum, on Tom Ashbrook, on NPR today, a staunch Republican from the Bush administration, said that the GOP, right and Blue Dog Dems are completely sold out. We are in a serious crisis and if we the people don't take a stand one way or the other, whether it is a phone call or protest march we will continue to be sucked into the suicide mission that Wall St. the polluters, the govt and the military are taking us on. All of our lives and futures are at stake. They are waging war on us and our very ability for us, our children and all living things on Earth to survive. This ravenous mentality defies all reason or logic and is devoid of all morality, principles or ethics. We will vote for Obama - the best of the worst and hope that we can change the congress that now has the worst environmental and human rights record in our history.

But in no way should people let up. We need to be heard and as Patrick Leahy just said. "KEEP THE PRESSURE UP." NOT VOTING IS NOT A SOLUTION. And having a Rove puppet as president is not the answer either.
 
 
-36 # Martintfre 2012-05-01 10:45
When the non producers go on strike, leave their parents basements and go whining in the street -- who cares.

When the producers - those who have "exploited" you with their goods and services like iPhones, and polar fleeces, and their gasoline, and their computers, their medicines, their cars and their best services for the lowest cost and you have "exploited" them with your money -- when they are over taxed and over regulated to the point of economic failure and THEY go on strike -- you better be ready to take care of your greedy selfish selves for once.
 
 
+6 # seeuingoa 2012-05-01 11:10
Good luck to Mike and all other occupiers!

OCCUPY OCCUPY OCCUPY !

Gandhi style:

Step 1: Sit down and get arrested
PEACEFULLY

Step 2: When released a few hours later,
repeat Step 1.

Overload the whole system.
Where will they put all these people?

Guantanamo?
Concentration Camps?

and show their true face.

(google Gandhi and see how he managed)
 
 
+7 # Martintfre 2012-05-01 12:23
I like Ghandi, He and MLK had it right.
 
 
+4 # cordleycoit 2012-05-01 11:18
What about striking ouf longing and desire. I long to see peace. every cell wants to to see justice. I seire my partner for her warmth and humor when the stress is gone and there is desire in its many forms can be attained.
 
 
+8 # caniscandida 2012-05-01 11:30
This is a beautiful essay, which expresses true and strong observations that most of us all too often miss, in our thoughtlessness.

It reminded me of a magnificent point made by Trevor J. Saunders, in the essay with which he introduces his translation of Plato's "Laws," in the Penguin Classics series. Writing on the institution of slavery, which, we are disappointed to obsserve, many great-souled people in antiquity could never quite get beyond (cf. the recent movie "Agora," which turns on the troubled relationship between the brilliant mathematician Hypatia and her slave), Saunders writes, "We [moderns]reject [slavery] utterly; yet it was as completely taken for granted in the ancient world as the employer-employ ee relationship today (which may itself in time come to be regarded with as much distaste [!] as slavery is regarded now."

And yet, it will never be easy to overcome the systemic evil of competitiveness , since we are sexually reproducing animals and social primates. Competitiveness , and zero care for the suffering of outsiders, is our original sin. The strikers today maintain a hope that we may yet overcome that sin. And for that, I love them, admire them, and stand with them.
 
 
-5 # Andrew Hansen 2012-05-01 12:02
-----
Correction: Was intended to be a reply to the comment posted 2012-05-01 10:45 by Martintfre, not directed at the article's author Mr. David.
-----

I am reminded of the 'ask a bitter man' skit of years past.

I submit that there is a different 'Complete disconnect from reality', maybe from being stuck behind a computer only connecting (or being paid to connect) on comment boards.

When speaking of greedy selfish selves, do you mean all of those people who became rich by striking?

Randian-speak at its finest.
 
 
0 # barbaratodish 2012-05-01 13:17
We accept injustice, because it's easier than accepting anyones solution to injustice because real solutions involve the truth that all most of us are is ego!
I used to be unable to deal with any criticism, now I look at criticism as an opportunity to turn anyones criticism of me right back at them! So instead of anonymous thumbs down, what is your solution to injustice?
 
 
+5 # Buddha 2012-05-01 14:26
Touches on the core problem, that of the consistantly uninformed American voter. While we still have some semblance of a democracy, we should be able to elect leaders who have our best interest at heart...but too many voters allow their own ignorance and prejudices to be manipulated by those of high wealth and power to voting against their own economic self-interest. So, we see middle-class and poor voters electing leaders who are championing policies that are eviscerating the middle-class and the poor, who are pushing a cruel Social Darwinist vision of America that will most hurt these very voters. We get the government we deserve.
 
 
0 # robbeygay 2012-05-01 16:41
That's it:- "Just as a virus's only reason for existence is to expand [..]our economic system pursues its infinite expansion without regard or awareness of its effect on humans" Right to question...
Why did Monarvchy change or fall? Why did Communism change or fall? Why will NWO USA change or fall?
Same answer.... it's the reverse of your thinking..not exist to expand....expan d to exist is the Robyn Hoood idea when it crosses the National borders in war to sell more everything at homw and rid populations to destroy things to make more labor jobs and force the richest to pay more to the machine than the machine pays to them.
Unindustrial revolution your need, out with GMO weedicides etc, back with weeders labor, out with Combine harvesters for rice, back with paddyworkers. Out with I-pad, Iphone, back with I can walk postie labor etc. Out with digital billing back with book keepers.
 
 
+2 # Eliza D 2012-05-04 14:37
Mr. David-Thank you for making one almost-giving-u p-hope fighter for justice happy and inspired. Transcendent writing!
 

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