It’s relatively common knowledge at this point that AdBusters issued the first call for an American Tahrir Square-style protest; this has become #OccupyWallStreet and the Occupation movement. But little has been said of October2011, an aligning organization that issued the same call shortly before AdBusters. Most may think the Occupation gimmick is a new thing, but some of these organizers have been “Occupying” since at least 2007. It’s a history rooted in the anti-war and anti-imperialist factions of the left, which today often brings together the anti-consumerist Green Party and some of the anarchist elements into the same circles of activism.
It’s an interesting alliance, to say the least, but with the recent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere, the anti-capitalism momentum here in the U.S. appears to be building and bringing more of these factions into the mainstream left. As Democrats fear more discontent in the next election, one can’t help but ask: is the Democratic party more involved in the movement than the protesters are willing to admit?
It starts with October2011.org, a movement that aims to “Stop the Machine” and “Create a New World.” Organizers talk of ending the wars in the Middle East, creating a single-payer health system, and tearing down the current capitalist order of society to institute a new economic system. From October2011’s statement:
We call on people of conscience and courage–all who seek peace, economic justice, human rights and a healthy environment–to join together in Washington, D.C., beginning on Oct. 6, 2011, in nonviolent resistance similar to the Arab Spring and the Midwest awakening.
A concert, rally and protest will kick off a powerful and sustained nonviolent resistance to the corporate criminals that dominate our government.
October2011.org was registered on May 22nd, 2011, just seventeen days before AdBusters posted its call on June 9th for a Tahrir Square. On June 10th, several of October2011’s steering committee members posted their launch announcement to Veterans for Peace, an organization run by several October2011 committee members. Suffice it to say, the posting was none the lacking in drama, albeit lacking in evidence to support its claims. It also introduces the same “Tahrir Square” and anti-corporate rhetoric of the prior day’s post from AdBusters.
There comes a time when one can no longer shut out the atrocities of U.S. foreign and military policy: trade agreements that destroy farming; mass unemployment; especially among communities of color; illegal detention and torture; increasing drone attacks resulting in mass civilian deaths; and once again a President who lies the United States into another war for oil and bankers.
A time comes when one can no longer close one’s eyes to the atrocities of a U.S. domestic policy that steals from the people to add to the already hideously bursting pockets of the wealthy, that kicks people out of their homes, denies needed medical treatment and drives families into bankruptcy so that CEOs can dine on gold-lined plates in their personal jets as they travel from gated mansions to leather seats in penthouse offices.
A time comes when one cannot help but realize that the path is unsustainable and one must make a choice. History is knocking, and each of us must choose how we will answer. What do you want to say you did when history was at your door? […]
October 6 is the 10th anniversary of the Afghanistan invasion, and the beginning of the new federal budget year–an austerity budget for everything except for war and the corporate security state. On this day, we are calling for sustained and nonviolent mass resistance in Washington, D.C. The action, Stop the Machine! Create a New World!, portends an American Tahrir Square at Freedom Plaza between the White House and Congress, a block away from the National Press Club and a few blocks from the Chamber of Commerce and K Street, the stomping ground of corporate lobbyists.
October2011 and OccupyDC joined together on the event, as organizer Kevin Zeese explains in this video.
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“We heard about Occupy Wall Street in July, when AdBusters put out their story, and then we immediately endorsed it?” What an amazing coincidence then that so much of the messaging between October2011 and AdBusters is exactly the same…in June.
Zeese also contributed this opinion piece to Al Jazeera in June, appealing to the revolutionaries across the globe.
Inspired by the courageous, nonviolent uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Greece, Spain and elsewhere, people in the United States have come together to form the October 2011 Movement. This fusion of peace, social justice, environmental, student, and immigrant rights organisations is in solidarity with all who seek a peaceful, just, and sustainable future and stands ready to engage in its own campaign of nonviolent resistance – beginning in Washington, DC, this October. We recognise that your revolution is our revolution, that the US empire prevents you from achieving self-determination and economic justice, and that only together can we achieve our shared goals.
To be sure, this is not the first time some of these anti-war organizers and their affiliated groups have utilized the tactic of “Occupation.” It became mainstream with “Camp Casey” in 2005, when Cindy Sheehan protested outside President’ Bush’s Crawford, TX ranch over the death of her son Casey, killed in the Iraq war. Sheehan and Zeese have done various political fundraisers and activist events together, and today, they serve together on the board of Voters for Peace.
In 2007, anti-war activist groups CODEPINK, Declaration of Peace, and Veterans for Peace teamed up with Voices for Creative Non-Violence to launch, in an obvious play on words, “The Occupation Project.” Participants demanded their representatives “publicly commit to voting against any funding for the Iraq war or we will nonviolently occupy your offices.” The campaign spread to cities in 25 states and was embraced by Democrats.com (Zeese can be seen on video participating in one of the MD events).
October2011 and the Occupation (OccupyWallStreet) movement take many cues from the early days of The Occupation Project. By launching the movement on a much bigger scale in 2011, however, it’s more feasible for protesters to sustain their occupation until their demands are actually met.
Expanding the activism element today, October2011 also appeals to revolutionaries from across the globe, as Zeese indicates in this post, “October2011 Movement and Egyptian Revolutionaries Unite: Call for Genuine Democracy, End of U.S. Empire, Equitable and Sustainable Economies, and Human Rights”. October2011 has also published a statement of solidarity with the U.S. Day of Rage.
To get a sense of the groups involved and the issues on which they focus, you can review the core activists’ bios, which also help to illustrate the networks through which October 2011 can reach so many activists and groups.
Kevin Zeese is an attorney who ran for the Maryland US Senate in 2006 as a Green Party candidate against Michael Steele and Ben Cardin. Prior to that, he was the press secretary for Ralph Nader, Green Party. Zeese is the Executive Director and co-founder of Voters For Peace. He also served as a director of Democracy Rising and is on the board of Velvet Revolution, among many others. Zeese is a member of the Steering Committee of WikiLeaksIsDemocracy.org and the Bradley Manning Support Network, which endorses October2011. As mentioned in a prior BigGovernment post, Zeese has also been listed as an attorney on various press releases from the hacktivist collective Anonymous.
David Swanson began working for RootsAction.org in March 2011. Prior to that, he was a press secretary in 2004 for Dennis Kucinich’s presidential campaign, and spent three years as a communications coordinator for ACORN. Swanson is also a board member of Progressive Democrats of America and Voters for Peace, and is the Washington Director of Democrats.com. He works with many other groups as well.
The October2011 website domain was registered by Swanson, himself a director of Democrats.com. He has covered the October2011 movement there in a post, The Occupied Turn Occupiers. Meanwhile, many Congressional Democrats are embracing the movement.
The other day, when I wrote about the potential collision course that may lie ahead for the Occupation movement and the hacktivist collective Anonymous, I also had some of these details in mind. Organizers of the October2011 movement are anti-war activists, globalists, environmentalists, and members of the Green and Socialist parties – usually considered outside the mainstream left. Add to the equation the relatively new phenomenon that is Anonymous. The face of the left is changing. What used to be on the fringe is now becoming mainstream, as is evidenced by the growing number of “Occupiers” at these protests. All of the organizers and all of the politicians have been precise in their statements that this is an entirely spontaneous grassroots movement. But all of the breadcrumbs leading up to this, from the days of Camp Casey, to The Occupation Project, to October2011 – they seem to suggest otherwise.
When Democrats embrace a movement run by organizers who, for years, have tried to pull them further to the left, you can’t help but wonder – is the Democratic Party co-opting the globalist activists, or are the activists co-opting the Democratic Party?