By Kevin Zeese
October2011.org seeks to Stop the Machine and Create a New World. It can be done. Indeed, it must be done and now is the time to do it. The thousands who have joined October2011.org know the challenges we face but we also know that the disastrous direction the country is going is unacceptable. We have seen that the normal tools – elections, lobbying and education – do not work. The U.S. is facing a crisis on many fronts – economic, environmental and in foreign relations – and the government does not respond or even makes things worse.
We certainly understand the despair, lost hope and discouragement that many Americans feel about the U.S. political system. The system seems designed to make change impossible. We also see the power and sophistication of the corporate propaganda media machine. But, we also see people in the United States seeing through the propaganda, understanding the truth and getting angry. In every rebellion around the world that has occurred in the last year – from Egypt to Spain – the view that it can’t be done, the people will not rise up would have been the belief of 95% of the population before it happened. Predicting the future is not as easy as it looks. There is a lot of evidence that the time may be right for an American Awakening. The past is not always the future.
The organizers of October2011.org are well aware of the challenges we face and aware of the power of the U.S. police forces to stamp out dissent. We have faced them before. We are developing contingency plans to deal with those issues. And, we know if the police remove us on the first day, October 6, we will come back in the days that follow with even more people. We will not give up. Indeed, in Spain on the first day, the police cleared out a few hundred people, and then they came back two days later with thousands more and stayed for a month. They continue to pressure the government with their indignant independent movement demanding real, fundamental change starting with real democracy, not the phony two party charade they encounter in Spain as we also do in the United States.
October2011.org is a peoples led effort. The people who have signed up are doing their part: Spreading the word; Urging their friends and families to come; And, coming themselves. We all know we cannot let business as usual continue — it is literally killing us and others, degrading the environment, destroying the middle class and creating massive transfers of wealth to the richest 1%.
One thing that stops many from doing anything is fear of failure. We don’t fear failure. October2011.org will be a success. The issue is what level of success will it be? That is up to you, dear reader. If you see the misdirection of the country, do not despair, join us. Unified with confidence in our power we cannot be stopped.
There are always people who say “it can’t be done.” If the human species lived by that credo we’d still be living in caves and not growing our own food. Africans would still be slaves in the United States. Women would not be allowed to vote. All of these changes became inevitable after seeming impossible. Indeed, change is inevitable. Our economy is collapsing and government is dysfunctional. This cannot continue. Change will occur. It is our job to direct it to a better world.
People involved in this effort have been organizing for years, some for decades. Some of the leaders, including me, organized events where 130+ were arrested in December and 110+ in March protesting the wars. Many were part of organizing demonstrations of tens of thousands of people. This event builds on years of organizing, not just demonstrations but organizations. It is not an event coming out of nowhere or disconnected from other organizing work. And, none of us see this event as the final event that will solve all the problems the United States is facing.
We see October2011.org as another event building an independent movement. This event is not about “instant”gratification, it is about persistent, well-informed citizen action that demands an end to war and domination by concentrated corporate interests.
In December I worked with some of the leaders of Veterans for Peace and other organizations to protest the wars. We knew when we organized this event we would be building to something like October2011.org — we called it building a “culture of resistance” . At this event, Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent and author Chris Hedges , made a clarion call for resistance, large and small, against corporatism and militarism: “Hope will only come now when we physically defy the violence of the state. All who resist, all who are here today keep hope alive. All who succumb to fear, despair, and apathy become an enemy of hope. They become in their passivity agencies of injustice.”
The people of the United States are showing they are ready to revolt against the tyranny of corporate power. October2011.org is not alone in organizing a revolt against corporatism and militarism. We are part of a rising tide of Americans who have had enough. If the corporate media covered what was going on in the U.S. this time would be seen as one where the country is in revolt. The corporate media does not cover the culture of resistance because they know that if Americans knew they were not alone they would be empowered to do more.
Here’s a snapshot of America in Revolt. There are many more examples – big revolts in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan against austerity and challenges to union rights. There are many other revolts being planned that are bigger than the ones listed below. October2011.org may be timed exactly right, it may be the zeitgeist moment where the people of the United States are ready to stand up against the corporate-state and demand real change; demand that the peoples necessities come before the profits of campaign donors. Here are some examples of Americans revolting against the status quo, some you may have heard of, but I doubt you have been aware of all of them: Peace protesters have been out all over the country demanding an end to the war. On the anniversary of the Iraq War a protest was held in Washington, DC: Stop These Wars, Expose the Lie, Free Bradley Manning :
Those who favor transparency in government, oppose war crimes, oppose abuse of prisoners and want to see a fair justice system have been protesting for Bradley Manning, the alleged Wikileaker. After this protest at Quantico , Manning was removed from solitary confinement and placed in more appropriate pre-trial conditions:
And, outrageous police force did not prevent the success of the Free Bradley Manning Movement:
Wall Street has been a particular target of U.S. protest. Banksters were protested on April 15th as we became aware that the nation’s biggest banks, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase were not paying any taxes:
Some are showing they can even mount successful protests by themselves, see this Los Angeles Bank of America protest, a Dharna , sitting in silent meditation at the door of the offender until they comply:
U.S. Uncut, a new protest movement organized bottom up has resulted in hundreds of protests against the banks. Here is one example of many, US Uncut vs. Boston Bank of America:
You can see more at U.S. Uncut .
National People’s Action has mounted some of the most effective protests against banks and the austerity being caused by Wall Street:
They have also been very effective in pushing over the issue of property foreclosures and holding banks accountable:
Many are angry about the foreclosure crisis which is taking people out of their homes, resulting in vacant buildings undermining neighborhoods and families living in the streets. See these California foreclosure protests which lead to 22 arrests:
Students are protesting lots of actions being taken against them in the name of austerity and budget cuts. Students in Arizona took over their school board when they tried to cut the Mexican American Studies program.
Students in Detroit took over a high school the government was closing, a high school for pregnant girls that was having excellent educational outcomes:
The group By Any Means Necessary described the destruction of public education and why people are protesting in this video :
College students have protested around the country over massive tuition hikes, once again caused by austerity budget and deficit spending. Here are some examples, among many, Rutgers’ students sit-in president’s office:
Berkeley students protest tuition increase:
and a report on protests by students across the country:
While the media put a spotlight on the Tea Party, magnifying their protests beyond their real size, they also ignored nationwide protests against the health insurance industry as Obama pushed health care reform that further entrenched insurance domination of health care. The reason the Tea Party was covered by the corporate media was because their message was consistent with the insurance industry, keep government out of health care, leave it to the market. Those who challenged corporatism were ignored by the corporate media – but they were protesting across the country. The National Mobilization for Health Care shows many of the videos and tells the stories of health care protests at insurance companies throughout the country where more than 1,000 signed up to risk arrest to stop insurance domination of health care.
You can see videos and report of health care actions all over the country here .
The issue of climate change has been manipulated by the media to make it look like the science is unclear and the people oppose dealing with the urgent issue of climate change. In fact, many Americans are standing up. Tim DeChristopher, who will be sentenced on Tuesday, July 26th for stopping the illegal leasing of public lands to the oil and gas industry, stands out as an important resister. Here he is being hugged and sung to by supporters after being found guilty of fraud in oil lease purchase.
Tim gave a powerful, impromptu speech after the guilty verdict where he explained the strength of unity – why we must work together and support each other to make real change.
DeChristopher is not alone. Here are climate protesters taking over the Department of Interior earlier this year:
resulting in some being arrested .
And more on the arrests here .
Related to climate change is the continued dependence of the United States on coal. The fact is the U.S. could have a carbon-free/nuclear-free energy economy by 2035, instead the U.S. continues to allow mountain tops to be removed to mine coal. Many Americans are speaking out and opposing this practice. At this flower show mountaintop removal protesters criticized PNC Bank for their support of coal, 2011:
and here is a protest in West Virginia:
Earlier this year opponents of Mountain Top removal conducted an inspiring 50 mile march up Blair Mountain:
People in the United States also see the human rights violations of big business, especially the mistreatment of workers and the sucking out of dollars from local communities. Here hundreds of students march on Ohio State to kick out human rights violator Sodexo:
Others are protesting Wal Mart for its race to the bottom business practices:
and this event in Washington, DC last week:
These are a few among many, many more examples of America in revolt. Multiple protests are occurring every week. America is in revolt and October2011.org is seeking to bring all of these concerns together. October 6 ,the beginning of the occupation of Freedom Plaza, is the beginning of 11 years of war in Afghanistan and the first week of the new federal fiscal year that will make austerity spending – for everything except war – a reality. Every issue will be affected by this new budget and the link between war spending and austerity will become evident to all. October2011.org seeks to unite Americans who recognize the need to end corporatism and militarism.
Already enough people have signed up and many more have told us they are coming without signing up so that we know October2011.org will be a success. The only question is how successful. When we announced October2011.org we published an article History is knocking ! Now that we have been organizing this event for two months, there is no doubt history is in fact knocking. October2011.org will be an event of historic significance.
We know that out of this event will come more actions – just like a splash creates ripples; mass resistance will create more resistance. As Wikileaks says, “Courage is contagious.” We want to make as big a splash as possible so that the impact is long-lasting and an independent political movement builds so it cannot be ignored. If you would like to see a turning point in history be part of October2011.org . Join us in spreading the word, reaching out to all Americans and making the turnout as large and as strong as possible.
Kevin Zeese is on the steering committee of October2011.org and directs It’s Our Economy .