In honor of the Year of the Protestor (as proclaimed by Time Magazine), the Journal of Ordinary Thought has reposted three poems from its summer issue on Art as Activism. I like “What’s Next” by Lester Hemingway (I like them all, but as you’d expect from a Hemingway, this one is pithy):
you’re angry. me too
attention! the fruit is rotting
let’s save what we can
One of the best overviews of Occupy Wall Street is “The New Populists” in this month’s American Prospect. Participant-observer Christopher Ketcham illuminates the fascinating dynamics of the movement with a depth and detail missing from most accounts, from the earliest discussions, to the intricate network of solidarity built on hard work and endless discussion, to the “blitzkrieg” – and markedly violent – police eviction on November 15, followed by a massive protest.
He notes the parallel with the populist movement of the 1890s – even citing a populist song on “the ninety and nine” who live in hunger and cold “that the one may live in luxury” – and America’s history of occupiers: Rosa Parks, lunch counter sit-ins, Martin Luther King’s Resurrection City, sit-down strikes in Flint, Coxey’s Army and the Bonus Marchers. “The idea of occupation has outlasted Zucotti Park,” he writes.
Homes, schools, clinics
We’ve covered the local movement to “occupy foreclosures” — its roots in Boston and Florida go back years, and its opportunities are expanding everyday. Another arena for occupiers is the fight to defend public schools.
At a recent teach-in by CTU and community allies, several angry parents spoke about the need to “occupy our schools.” The Nation reports on occupy tactics being deployed to oppose the encroachment of charter schools in New York City and New Jersey as well as CPS chief Jean-Claud Brizard’s previous domain of Rochester — and his new one of Chicago.
The fight over school policy presents all the issues of the Occupy movement – the post-hoc, pro-forma charade of public input by CPS , presided over by a rubber-stamp Board of Education, makes a mockery of democracy. Politically connected groups like UNO and AUSL have the inside track. The wealthy elite – Penny Pritzker and the “billionaire boys club” — has overwhelming influence, even as corporate interests undermine school funding by evading taxes and sucking up TIF subsidies.
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