Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Wall Street Within

Al Giordano has finally weighed in on Occupy Wall Street. This is something I've been waiting for as he is, to me, the quintessential community organizer. And he doesn't disappoint. As a matter of fact, he inspires.

The truth is that there are two “occupations” going on simultaneously; that which the media is reporting, often badly, which is now a societal spectacle, and the more private and personal occupation by every individual involved. The spectacular protest may not know, or be able to coherently articulate, its own demand or demands as anything other than a shopping list of disembodied causes and issues. But that should not stop any individual involved in it to get to know, embrace and advance upon his and her own more personal demands that brought him and her to occupy Wall Street in the first place.

Wall Street, ahem, isn’t just in your wallet: It’s in everything you own, rent, use, borrow, find or steal. It’s also in the “identities” and roles we put on and take off in each department of our daily lives. And one should never worry as much about the police on the street – there are time-honored tactics for working around them, developed by pioneers in nonviolence, available to every person who wants to learn them – as much as one should be very concerned about the cop in one’s head. There are also tactics available to make that police force – the invading army in our innermost thoughts and fears that polices our very behavior, officers of the psyche that we all have, through unspoken fears, invited into our brains and hearts – retreat and even disappear.

He then introduces us to Raoul Vaneigem's Traité de savoir-vivre à l'usage des jeunes générations, or The Revolution of Everyday Life. He sums it up in twitterspeak:

Occupy your daily life. Occupy your body. Occupy your home. Occupy your building. Occupy your neighborhood. Occupy YOUR STREET. Occupy your own head! Occupy your own media. Occupy your own school. Occupy your own workplace. Occupy your own time. Occupy your own space. Occupy your own life story! Yes, it requires collaboration with others to win those terrains back. But they're not the people already protesting. They're the authentic 99 percent. The ones right next to you already.

Or maybe they’re not right next to you. In a world where the advertising industry shouts that “everybody is connected,” that’s really to distract from the alienation imposed by an over-mediated technological society. Maybe your family, your relationship, your classroom, your workplace, your home, your building, your neighbors are so caught up in dysfunction and the food chain of domination of one person over another that everything within you screams for an EXIT sign and that you must go out and find that place where you can see a path to begin to drive Wall Street out of your body, the cop out of your head, and the imposed loneliness of residing in a technological “paradise” out of your aching heart. Maybe, just maybe, that’s what brings you to occupy Wall Street.

Go read the whole thing to learn from someone who knows a thing or two about organizing and occupying. But most of all, be inspired - like I was - to begin to see the Wall Street within. What Al is talking about are the very things that drive us to keep searching for an alpha male to vent our frustrations. Until we recognize that - we'll simply be trading one Wall Street for another.


  1. This was written before he went there. He's in New York now, observing and interviewing and doing what an authentic journalist does. It's his report from the field I'm waiting for.

  2. Great post and Al's post was really good!


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