First of all, I am impressed with the persistence and growth of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the creation of a North American Autumn, perhaps even a Global Autumn beginning with the Arab Spring. Organizers and participants get my admiration for the effective dissent they have accomplished, and the constructive possibilities they have opened up in an age defined by the despair. The despair of a uniform world defined the 9/11 era of home foreclosures, prisons, financial disaster, wars and a dis-empowered public that comes with it all.
That said, to me “Occupy” is a more than an unfortunate banner to run a new social movement through. And too frequently typical of the Euro-American left. The generous reading is that they are inspired by old school 60s style sit-ins and the success of the ‘Arab spring.’ Both iconic examples used civil disobedience in the form of sit-ins in major public spaces. Camp in the square! Occupy the deans office. Sit-in at the legislature, etc.. All worthwhile actions.
But an unfortunate tragedy is that the spirit of radical democracy and civil disobedience is limited by and wrapped-up in a colonial lexicon, “occupy,” in places (Wall St., New York, the U.S., Victoria, B.C. Canada) that are so definitively shaped by the history and ongoing practice of colonialism. In fact settler colonialism seems to be the most profound commonality connecting these diverse and distant locations. Read the rest of this entry
Occupy Wall Street: The Game of Colonialism and Further Nationalism to be Decolonized From the “Left”
By Jessica Yee
The “OCCUPY WALL STREET” slogan has gone viral and international now. From the protests on the streets of WALL STREET in the name of “ending capitalism” – organizers, protestors, and activists have been encouraged to “occupy” different places that symbolize greed and power. There’s just one problem: THE UNITED STATES IS ALREADY BEING OCCUPIED. THIS IS INDIGENOUS LAND. And it’s been occupied for quite some time now.
I also need to mention that New York City is Haudenosaunee territory and home to many other First Nations. Waiting to see if that’s been mentioned anywhere. (Author’s note: Manhattan “proper” is home to to the Lenape who were defrauded of the island by the Dutch in 1626 – see more from Tequila Sovereign).
Not that I’m surprised that this was a misstep in organizing against Wall Street or really any organizing that happens when the “left” decides that it’s going to “take back America for the people” (which people?!). This is part of a much larger issue, and in fact there is so much nationalistic, patriotic language of imperialism wrapped up in these types of campaigns that it’s no wonder people can’t see the erasure of existence of the First Peoples of THIS territory that happens when we get all high and mighty with the pro-America agendas, and forget our OWN complicity and accountability to the way things are today – not just the corporations and the state. Read the rest of this entry