Very few topics I’ve covered have generated as much anger as my previous post regarding OWS. Being politically correct is not in my language and I have enough friends so as to not lose sleep over who’s panties get all bunched up. If someone has a different opinion, you’re more than entitled to it. In fact, if you present it in an adult manner, without insulting and in a way it makes some sense I might even publish that different opinion in my blog.
That’s where the signs of trouble start with OWS. I can´t remember the last time I’ve got so many angry email, comments and insults. Even when talking about the Tea Party movement and allowing some people to be more disrespectful towards the movement than I should have I didn’t get that type of hate email and messages. That’s a sign of maturity, understanding and simply knowing better. When all you can do is insult then you either lack the maturity to explain yourself properly or your movement just lacks any content worthy of being explained.
One of the things that apparently angers OWS people the most was my comparison to our version of it, the “piqueteros” and either similar groups of social groups that somehow “evolved” from the piquetero movement.
What is a piquetero?
Seems every member has his or her own definition of what OWS really is. There’s apparently as many definitions as people involved, another sign of trouble in my opinion. What apparently most of the would agree on is that they are people fed up with the system/government and are most of all fed up of Wall Street, bankers and other global corporations owned by evil greedy men that are basically destroying our planet and enslaving hard working people around the world. So far so good, and so far I’m feeling represented myself. The piqueteros started in somewhat similar way, keeping in mind the clear differences between what is considered a poor person in USA and what´s poor by South American standards. Before becoming political, piqueteros where simply people from all walks of life, mostly poor, that were just fed up of being hungry, unemployed or exploited by both the government and politicians. Eventually the piqueteros became the strong arm of the government itself, but the origins weren’t different form the ones of the OWS movement.
Occupy and Okupas
I sometimes wonder, do people really know what they are joining before saying they support this or that movement? During hard times like these its easy to be misled. You find a group of people that say they are the 99%, that they are fed up, they don’t want to be exploited by big corporations any more, “What the heck, I feel the same way!” and you finally feel represented.
But what is “Occupy”, where does it come from? It comes from another grassroot movement, but one that may not represent you as much as you think. “Occupy” comes from the “Okupa Movement”, which is slang for “ocupa “, purposefully replacing the c for K as if making reference to their lack or dislike towards proper education and literature, maybe some rebellious spirit and lack of maturity in there as well, something the young Spaniards are known for these days. The “Okupa” movement refers specifically to occupying land, public or privately owned, that has either been abandoned or in the majority of cases, is simply unoccupied. This social problem was already common in South America but it started as a movement in Barcelona with young people living on welfare and not wanting to live with their parents any more. The movement became popular all across Europe and it went well with the idea of working very little or nothing at all, traveling across Europe collecting gov. checks and living in occupied property. The Okupa philosophy is that if a property isn’t occupied, they have a right to occupy it themselves. Sometimes the Okupas have a social twist, some form vegetarian kitchens, do arts and crafts and have a certain hippie air about them. The okupas with more political aspirations go for establishing self-managed cultural or social centers and growing gardens.
This sort of activities have gained them social acceptance to some level but the root problem with Okupas is significant. For one it completely ignores the right to private property, to manage or inhabit it in whatever way you like. For another it indulges a lifestyle of no responsibility and lack of productivity. During one of my trips to Spain I found what I consider to be a good example of the okupa movement and the core problem of Europe: A 30 year old English skater that was skateboarding in one of the Museums of Barcelona. Dirty, unemployed, and with no intention of finding a job any time soon, he had been living off welfare for several years. I found it to be an interesting metaphor how this person showed no respect, nor any intention to visit the museum he was “playing in”, but had no contempt in damaging the structure he was using for skateboarding.
We’ve seen this kind of social “okupa” movement in Argentina after the 2001. We already had people settling and living in land they didn’t own, forming shanty towns, but after 2001 we saw it grow not only as a matter of occupied real estate, but as a political and social movement as well. Given the magnitude of the crisis it also occurred in industries as well. In some cases workers occupied factories that had been abandoned, but in many others they simply took over what didn’t belong to them. A glorification of this sort of practice can be found in the documentary “The Take”. Naomi Klein, the director of this documentary is a communist and I’ve seen her on CNN talking for OWS movement and organizing events. She’s clearly a OWL leader. While this may sound all very romantic to some remember that this is a double edged sword that cuts both ways. I’d like to hear how much you like the Occupy movement if you one day come back home after a weekend out only to find that some other family has decided to put to better use your “vacant” property. This happens all the time around here and again, its also happening in USA.
The OWS movement has no clear ideology and strategy. Some of their members claim they have, but again its as if there’s as many opinions on what should be done as people involved, with many of them claiming they don’t have a clue, they are just mad and fed up. All of them show resentment towards the so called 1%, but if you’re supposed to “redistribute” what this greedy 1% is taking away, how exactly are you supposed to do that? Through more taxation? Bigger government? It should be no surprise to see Obama showing his support to the OWS movement while being against the Tea Party movement. While not perfect the Tea Party movement has clear objectives or at least some clear stances such as less taxes, not more of them and smaller government.
Ron Paul has showed his concern for the OWS movement and I’ve always considered him a very smart man. Not only do I agree with him, I think the problem he sees with the OWS movement could be much worse if certain people with very clear agendas manage to take control of it and pull the mass that isn’t that sure of what OWS is all about in their direction.
By definition alone, and by some of the key leaders involved, the Occupy movement is clearly leaning to the left. On one hand its supposed to represent the 99% that are fed up, but on the other we all know who benefits from redistribution and socialism. I hope most of the good people that got involved because they felt identified with it in some way understand what this kind of movement is about. More taxation that is supposed to target that 1% inevitably ends up affecting the other 99%, and the bigger government is just the cause of the problem, not the solution. Maybe some of the people involved in OWS believe they are against both of these, but that exactly the monster they are feeding, even if they do it unknowingly.
Who are the leaders, speakers and representatives of OWL?
Naomi Klein, feminist, anti-consumerism , communist.
Cornel West, Black Panther Party admirerer, honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America
Slavoj Žižek, Marxist, atheist philosopher
SO, still feeling you’re part of THIS 99%?
Have a nice weekend people.
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