Keeping the Vision Going: OWS One Year Later by Kristin Schall

One year ago Occupy Wall St. began with a few hundred people milling around in a small public park in the financial district of New York City. The atmosphere was filled with anger at a system that had created massive inequality, had stolen the homes and jobs of millions and had driven people into huge debt. While the target of this anger was largely banks and multi-national corporations, there was also an understanding that there is something inherently wrong with a system that allows these entities to wield so much power.  It was within the cramped confines of Zuccotti Park that a new anti-capitalism was born.

However, underneath the anger was something else. There was also hopefulness for the future. There was a vision of a society based in love, solidarity and justice. Over the next month, that society came to fruition on a smaller scale as  occupiers remade the lunchtime hangout for financial workers into the living breathing activist hub known as Liberty Square. Thousands of people descended into the heart of the financial side of capitalism each day to take part in this experiment in democracy. There was a kitchen, a library, a medical tent, a place to get clothing, blankets or other necessities, all of this offered free of charge to those who were sleeping in the park, other participants or those just passing by. There were also endless teach-ins, music, and conversation.  Democracy came to mean that your primary needs for food and shelter were satisfied while your revolutionary need to fight back was being cultivated.

Spending a day at Liberty Square was like spending a day in the society that we, as Socialists, envision. It was as if many of our theories of cooperative decision making, autonomous action and an alternative economy based on horizontalism had jumped off the page and planted themselves in the center of all that we oppose.  Members of the Socialist Party USA had no need to impose ideas on Occupy, or stop to comprehend Occupy, or attempt to shape Occupy.  Occupy combined our desire for horizontal organizing with our decades long commitment to direct action.

Now, as we have celebrated the anniversary of the very first day of Occupy Wall St., the Socialist Party USA stands with all those who have kept meeting, organizing, and agitating over the last year.  We have been there to support the veteran Occupiers and to welcome those who are taking action for the first time. We once again took to the streets as part of OWS to march for justice, for economic democracy and civil rights.  We share the vision that OWS brought to life last autumn and will continue to fight with OWS to see that vision brought to life on a grand scale.  And we have gone to jail for Occupy, joining in on countless direct actions that have helped advance the cause of OWS and have proven to the world that people are willing to put their bodies on the line for the vision of an anti-capitalist future. It is clear that the same issues that brought us together a year ago are the same issues that we are still fighting for today.

Together, we will learn how to forge a more equitable society where people’s voices matter, where decisions are made based on the best interest of the whole, where people’s needs are met, and where education and the arts are valued. And look at how far we have come.  Occupy has had a serious impact on once morbid trade union politics.  Occupy has galvanized support from communities of faith.  Occupy has enlivened struggles by community groups.  Occupy has brought a new generation of young people into the struggle against the forces of capitalism.  Together, one year in, we will continue to stand up to Wall St., to Corporations, to Capitalism and refuse to take part in a system that does not work. We share the old desire of the Civil Rights movement to use our activism to fragment the dominance of the Banks and Corporations into a thousands pieces in order to put them back together in the image of democracy.  Together, we fight, and together, we will win.  We Are the 99%!

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