I had to go to Spain to get the true grasp of Occupy’s potential for galvanizing action!
My contact, we’ll call him “Vlad,” is an expatriate of Brooklyn now living in Madrid with his wife, Nikki, and their very young daughter. An activist long pre-Zuccotti, but a major Occupier there, he is now part of a web of ingenious tech experts who are collectively serving as a Communication Nexus for the upcoming, world-wide Monsanto protest to take place May 25.
Monsanto is just the tip of the spear and the present focus of outrage over corporation ownership of the most essential of human needs — their food. Monsanto is the “poster child” in the way that it has demonstrated unwelcome international as well as local sway over governments that are supposed to protect its citizens.
This, fueled by recent revelations of beyond-cozy relationships between this poster child for a “biotech corporatocracy” and the U.S. federal government has caught the attention — and ire — of activists everywhere. It is the Monsanto Protection Act rider slipped into law which launched what will become known as the March Against Monsanto.
What started between six weeks and two months ago on Facebook as a “good idea,” Vlad reports, has coalesced into a one-day protest that will simultaneously span six continents, 36 countries, all 50 states in the U.S. plus the District of Columbia, and take place in at least 350 cities. All of this is reported on daily and hourly in some 250 (at last count) Facebook pages and scores of websites tasked with coordinating as many as four hundred thousand of marchers.
This is where Occupy, uniquely proven as a non-hierarchical and self-coordinated system, comes in to serve as “Command Un-Central” to link these disparate groups and individuals and to help direct information flow.
“Any kind of centralization is a weakness. If all this information had to be aggregated and dispensed by one person or one location, it would assuredly fail,” Vlad asserts as one of a loosely-affiliated covey of some 200 tech-savvy volunteers.
Will this be picked up by mainstream media — or go unnoticed?
Occupiers see MSM and its influence or effect on either Occupy or this day of action to be minimal. As Vlad describes it, “At first in Zuccotti Park they tried to ignore us. That was a mistake, because it gave us an opportunity to define ourselves rather than be defined.” The march against Monsanto “will be a strengthening of that self-definition.”
Whatever is said or written about the May 25 event through corporate-controlled media — positive or negative — will be offset or corrected by citizen journalists who are putting their own “feet on the street” to document what really happens and not just what is being reported on.
In short, an exponentially-growing population of citizens will have access to facts and field reports and not just carefully edited talking points intersticed between commercials.
“This will give us — again — the opportunity to occupy public space and discuss our (collective) future,” Vlad declares. “Just Google Monsanto Strike May 25,” he directs, and then provides two of his own key sites to visit: http://www.MonsantoMarch.org which provides a map — a sea of red and blue dots — signifying participating cities, and FB site (MarchAgainstMonsanto) which claims over 81,000 members and provides a spreadsheet of local and international events.
Whither goest thou, Occupy?
One of the many charges leveled against the Occupy movement was that it lacked a central theme or “demand.” Given the number of wrongs that Occupiers have railed against over time, this is an understandable but irrelevant question. Occupy questions it all: fracking, women’s rights, workers rights, indigenous issues, immigration, free speech, corporate personhood, Hurricane Sandy, banking evils, and on and on.
What will be demonstrated in at least this one occasion is that Occupy is non pareil in its ability to awaken, inform and inspire the citizenry to mobilize anywhere and everywhere against specific illegal — even immoral — corporate and governmental actions. Monsanto is the flashpoint.
It is this March Against Monsanto action which will confirm Occupy’s political and social relevance beyond Zuccotti Park. On this one day, especially, it intends to be a very, very large and powerful megaphone likely to answer the questions about Monsanto voiced by a blogger:
Why do they need to be protected from the law? Why are they putting themselves above the law? And who are these politicians that are willing to just do what they are told to do because of the money they are receiving from these huge companies?
I suspect that a number of my readers may show and be seen as part of that answer.
Been to Occupy Wall Street?
If you’ve been to an Occupy Wall Street event anywhere in the country, we’d like to hear from you. Send OfftheBus your photos, links to videos or first-hand accounts of what you’ve seen for possible inclusion in The Huffington Posts’s coverage.
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