On Saturday, October 29, 2011, I had the honor of addressing a gathering Occupy Tacoma supporters in Lincoln Park, Tacoma. My remarks were a part of a longer statement. Several people asked me to post the entire statement here. Above is a video of the speech as it was presented on Saturday. Following is a full statement, including the parts I left out when speaking, slightly edited to make it suitable for posting purposes. This article was originally published on the Occupy Tacoma Website.
My name is Alan OldStudent, and I love what I am seeing here today. You are great! You are amazing!
In my long life, I have seen many amazing things. I saw how a mass nonviolent movement ended the infamous Jim Crow laws, — laws that legalized racial segregation, — laws that made it a crime to marry outside of your race. And now, I am seeing a how a mass nonviolent movement is ending laws against marrying the person you truly love, even if that person is the same sex as you.
In the 1960s, many years ago, I saw how a mass nonviolent movement, which even included many military people, ended an unjust war in Vietnam.
In fact, it was mass movements, not politicians, not corporations, which brought about every social change that has benefitted the 99%. That includes:
- The right of women to vote, a right only gained in 1920.
- The right to join a union.
- The right to be able to use birth control, to plan your family size, and many other rights.
- The abolition of child labor laws.
- Universal education from kindergarten through high school.
- Social Security and Medicare, as well as many others.
It even was mass action that caused the founding fathers to add the bill of rights to the constitution, including the democratic right we enjoy to assemble here today.
Young people, such as so many of you, seized those rights and social gains and others like them. The 1% did not give them to the people. No, it was the people, especially the youth, who wrested those rights from the 1%.
HOW can we win against the most powerful ruling class in world history, the 1%?
We 99 percenters have no armies, no air force, no navy. but we have the power of our bodies, the power of nonviolent mass action.
The 1% know that their power is doomed as soon as the majority of the 99% mobilize.
THEY tremble when they see us out here.
THEY know they’ll lose their power to squash democracy, and:
- TO RUN our lives,
- TO STEAL our tax money.
- TO SEND our fathers, mothers, brothers sisters, sons, and daughters TO KILL and be killed IN FIGHTING wars for oil and money SO THEY can profit by poisoning our mother,THIS green and watery planet we call earth.
TO make us powerless to speak and to mobilize the rest of the 99%, the 1% want to discredit us so we can’t mobilize a mass nonviolent movement to make a real democracy.
In many cities in this country, they are infiltrating troublemakers into our movement to make us look bad. They are infiltrating internet moles into our online communities. We must guard against that trap.
- WE must not listen to the infiltrators who would urge us to engage in illegal or violent acts.
- WE must not feed the internet trolls by responding to their taunts. (Those are clickable links).
ANOTHER trap to avoid is the sandbox of electoral politics, of Republicans versus Democrats.
IF various capitalist politicians want to support us, fine. But we simply must not, as the Occupy Movement, endorse any particular capitalist politician because it only causes disunity amongst ourselves and cuts across building a mass movement, our only road to power.
Instead, we need to mobilize our fellow 99 percenters, no matter what party, into mass nonviolent action to seize power. Let’s not permit the corporate-bought and sponsored parties to coopt us.
TO THE young here, I have a special message: WE OLDER people support you.
BUT we are yesterday and you’re tomorrow. IT IS you who can and must change the world.
- BELIEVE, that together, we can change the world!
- BELIEVE that together, we can fight injustice, war, racism, exploitation, AND create a decent world!
- BELIEVE, we can clean up the environment!
- BELIEVE we stop imperialist wars.
- BELIEVE in the power of unity, of nonviolent mass action!
It is we, not the 1%, who can build a new world on new foundations. The 1% won’t do it simply because building a decent world fit for us and our children is not a profit-making enterprise.
IF THE 1% could make as much money doing these things as they can make killing people in wars and exploiting us, they’d have done that 100 years ago. As a famous German opponent of Hitler once said:
""What is the crime of ROBBING a bank Compared to the crime of Founding a bank?"
So young people, do not let your elders say you’re naive and unschooled in the ways of the world because you believe in this revolutionary change and nonviolence. Don’t listen to them when they tell you that you just have to come to terms with injustice and violence.
Don’t let them make you believe that their rule is inevitable, that there’s no use in resistance! That you must accept their rule!
No! No! No!
INSTEAD, have the wisdom to understand that THE FATE of humanity rests on your shoulders today, that each and every one of you is a part of a world-wide revolt OF THE YOUTH against injustice, war, dictatorship intolerance, ignorance, and economic oppression.
SEIZE THE POWER because the 1% use power to oppress,
AND POWER takes a backward step only in the face of power.
SEIZE the power of liberation, THE POWER of freedom, OF democracy, OF nonviolent mass action.
IN THE words of an old anarchist and socialist hymn:
Arise, you wretched of the earth!
For justice thunders condemnation!
A better world’s in birth!
The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living — Socrates
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