Liberty Square on October 9th 2011
More than three weeks into the occupation of Liberty Square, the amount of occupiers keeps increasing. Now that the press cannot ignore the movement anymore, criticism and mockery are the response. The main argument emerging from the sea of contempt is that the movement did not come up with any consistent demands. This observation is symptomatic of a profound misunderstanding (including leftists). There are no demands for a good reason: there is nobody to whom these demands can be directed. Addressing a demand to a specific person or institution would simultaneously give them a political legitimacy, and therefore contradict the very principle of the movement that consists in more direct democracy.
For the last three weeks, hundreds of New Yorkers have experienced and demonstrated what a system of direct democracy looks like. They did it without asking the authorization of anyone and gained their legitimacy retroactively by an absolute openness and strict ‘leaderlessness’ of this occupation. “This is what democracy looks like,” regularly chanted by the occupiers, is not just a slogan: it is a manifesto of what is currently happening on Liberty Square. What comes next, detached from the thread of the present, has no importance.
Only the continuous effort to make this movement live according to its collective principles matter. This process is a beautiful thing to witness and in which to participate. Each person comes to Liberty Square with a set of skills that (s)he can teach, communicate and, more importantly, apply in the most direct way.The following film, Right Here All Over directed by Alex Mallis & Lilly Henderson is a beautiful ode to this spirit in which everybody has something useful to bring in.
I am well aware that this interpretation of the movement created on Liberty Square can be seen as somehow pessimistic as it recognizes that the refusal to formulate demands will eventually lead to the extinction of the movement with no practical progress in the laws that rule the United States and in the foreign policies they implement. However, I would like to argue that we have reasons to be happy about this interpretation: First of all, because we do not depend on anybody else other than ourselves; second, and that is much more important, because more than gaining a microscopic change authorized by condescending institutions and their representatives, we will have modified the political imaginary of every person who will have seen us or have heard about us with an open mind.
Access to all the previous articles about Liberty Square by following this link.