Mr. Beyonce got it right – and wrong – this week with the release of his new t-shirt, “Occupy All Streets”. Jay-Z and his rocawear line of clothing put out this “occupy wall street” inspired t-shirt to support the cause of OWS protesters. However, not only has Jay-Z chosen to hold back the first reported % of sales to the OWS protesters (something he promised to do) but the whole impetus for the movement originated with Adbusters – a decidedly vocal and bombastic anti-consumerist magazine. Everyone saw the dollar signs in Jay-Z’s eyes as he attempted to equate his “hard knock life” with the rest of the 99%.
Jay-Z is right though. In light of the forced decampments happening across North America it maybe time to re-orient the Occupy movement into something else. The one element of the OWS movement that I never quite agreed with is not the reported lack of focus on the issues but the lack of focus on the target(s). I think that reflecting on Wall Street and NYC creates a bit of boogeyman argument but when you think – “What does the Occupy movement mean/look like in Oakland? Calgary? Toronto? Houston?” than things need to look different.
It’s easy to target Wall Street because of the stock exchange and the corporate banking infrastructure but when you’re thinking of your own city…what does occupying a city plaza in Nashville really accomplish? Corporation will always and have always taken every inch that legislation has given them. They are dedicated to interpreting corporate law so that they can find every conceivable loophole and deduction possible. Corporations are doing exactly what they are empowered do: assert their personhood, earn the higher profits possible, capitalize on any tax loophole available and rationalize the steamrolling of any individuals or competition under the banner of progress.
The real way to castrate corporations is to get in control of the ranch. Only the owner of the cattle get to choose and use the brand for their ranch. Governments have created their brand for corporations and corporations are doing what they’re supposed to. Unless the ranch comes under new ownership than the cattle will continue to graze wherever and whenever they want too.
What is the occupy movement really did move to “all streets”? What if the focus was shifted from the businesses to the legislators, congressmen, senators, parliamentarians and government employees? What if the Parliament grounds were occupied? Or the state legislatures? If you pressure the politicians – and do so in articulate and populist ways – then change will have to happen?
In my city, the best thing I heard YYC occupiers say was that “if we get evicted from Olympic Plaza and then we’ll occupy city hall”. This makes sense to me. Get in the face of politicians – force them to hear you and think about how even civic policies can be adjusted to meet the call of equality, corporate responsibility and civic engagement. So, let’s grow some balls and fight for political change to accompany consumer change. If we don’t grow some than we’re the ones who will continue to find ourselves a bit light where it counts.