Alternatives to Occupying Things
Last week, I ranted a little about the language of Occupy _insert city here_, and how we really need to consider how semantics inform our actions. As a bit of a reminder, I support actions that look to significantly counter the growing chasm between the haves and the have-nots, but I don’t think we need to adopt the language–and behavior–of colonialists to do that. Besides, occupying occupied spaces does not make us much–if any–better than the folks we’re protesting.
All that said, I thought I might start a list here. What alternatives are availble to those of us who can’t or won’t occupy _insert city here_ ? What else can we do to disrupt the heart of capitalism? Since we live here, it’s nearly impossible not to participate, but perhaps we can limit our activity in some noticeable way.
- Barter — There’s no rule (is there?) saying one has to pay money for services. If you have a useful skill, why not offer that instead of the Benjamins? You need a hair cut? Offer to clean-up the shop in exchange for a fade. Accountant? Do someone’s taxes in exchange for bike or car maintenance.
- Bank account — Move your money. Find a bank or a credit union that didn’t take a bailout. Or one that doesn’t arrest folks for closing bank accounts. (So. Not. Cool.) Hell, you and your friends pool your money and start your own bank. Yes, ATM’s are convenient, but with bartering, who needs money?
- Support independent shop owners — The holidays are coming. How about copping gifts some place not immediately tied to those Wall Street fat cats? This holiday season, buy unique gifts from a place that is not the subsidiary to some large multinational corporation. Or make gifts. Kwanzaa does not have a monopoly on the hand-made gifts game. That said, if someone can hand-make an iPad for me, I’ll tweet or hate on people or fax stuff for her for like three years. (Sorry. Only skills I have.)
- Check ‘Other’ — Seriously, folks. We can change the tennis match between Democrats and Republicans by adding other parties to hold serve. We treat our political system as if it’s 1950s television. We’re in the cable era now; let’s require more choices. The two-party system is bogus. It’s apparent. And both sides of the aisle are filled with folks who are more focused on maintaining power than employing it to make their constituents’ lives better. There are options beyond Democrat and Republican. Perhaps those so inclined to vote should demand the other options.
I hope we can generate conversation about how we can help with the aims of this OWS movement without occupying spaces. I know the above list is just a beginning. I also know that many folks who are in support of OWS and its goals want to help but can’t. Perhaps those of us who can, will. I hope the (better) ideas I didn’t mention here are shared. We’ve got to find a way to get what we want without replicating the behavior of our oppressors. Otherwise, such actions are pointless.