Occupy, Year 2 Begins
A mid-September sunny day in New York City draws those with the day off to go to the parks and laze along the avenues, walking by the workers on call, cleaning up after tourists, holding together a city that always seems held together by the sweat of its massive workforce and a dose of city pride. Beneath the massive Washington Arch, a woman in a wheelchair, beside other men and women in wheelchairs and other prosthetic devices, holds a sign that says, “Occupy Wheelchairs.” The Occupy Wall Street Disability Caucus is holding an assembly to proclaim its presence at Occupy, Year 2.
Behind their wheelchairs, on the Arch, is a sculpture of Wisdom (made by Stirling Calder, the father of Alexander Calder), whose hand holds a book with Ovid’s quip, Exitus Acta Probat, which can be loosely translated as “all’s well that ends well.” It is a good hopeful slogan for the Occupy festival in anticipation of S17 (September 17), the day OWS returns to the canyons of Wall Street to shut down Money.
Student debt is now over $1 trillion, just above credit card debt. No longer is the credit card a convenience for purchases. It is now the “plastic safety net.” A 2012 study by Demos shows that 40 percent of households used their credit cards to pay for basic living expenses (including food and rent, medical care and insurance). As Demos’ Amy Traub put it, “Americans are using credit cards to make up for the inadequacy of the public safety net, and to give themselves a raise at a time when unemployment remains high and real wages are in decline.” This is, as Strike Debt puts it, “history in reverse.”
The Manual ends with a litany of ways to deepen the resistance. Strike Debt has a campaign called Rolling Jubilee, a mutual-aid project that buys debt at steeply discounted prices and then abolishes it (to get involved, write to firstname.lastname@example.org). It has plans to create a Debtors’ Union, to remove debt from an individual-bank relationship to a much more equal debtors-bank relationship. To Wall Street and its minions, Strike Debt says, “We owe you nothing.”
This is the kind of boldness that emanates from Washington Square Park. And it comes with a big smile.