comes our word, “empire.” In Roman times, imperium
meant 'the power to command'. In today's world, as it was back then, the sovereignty of the state trumps that of the individual. Authority is exercised within the constructs of imaginary borders encompassing real geographies and real peoples.
Wall Street is another kind of imperium
, or empire. It derives its powers from one source: money. There are a few hundred corporations commanding the lion's share of all global wealth. In the US, these corporations buy elections
and command multi-trillion dollar bail-outs
from taxpayers. They wield the power to loan money for homes, cars, and educations for millions of people. They control the terms – and they make up their own rules as they go along to defraud people of their homes and investments. They control the politicians. Bottom line: They bought a republic and sold off democracy's stock a long time ago. And today, if you accept their money on their terms, they control you.
Occupy Wall Street set out to change all of that on September 17, 2011. It was a tall order, to say the least. Not only did Occupy Wall Street have to stand up against the Wall Street Empire, OWS had to endure against another empire too, the domestic branch of the American Police State. But nothing stands forever, or even beyond a few short months.
Today, the camps are cleared. The large-scale protests have diminished considerably. The movement has largely gone underground but still maintains its vast networks of activists, many of whom are still busy with OWS pursuits (like myself) or working on community projects that pre-dated the movement.
It's hard to swallow at times, but we did fail to storm the castle. Wall Street did not come crumbling down. If anything, Wall Street has only consolidated its power, over our lives, and over our so-called representatives in Washington. But OWS had an effect, and it's still in effect. We communicated to the powers that be that their days are numbered, that nothing stands forever. Supporting evidence is abundant if one cares to look. But before I go any further with this line of thought, allow me clarify that I don't believe that OWS was the 'start of it all' or the end game of what is to come. I view OWS as a transition period, as part of a global movement reflecting a general shift in the mindsets of a great many people who have experienced various forms of the same oppression.
So if we care to look, we can see this 'transition' in the real time, in the here and now, right under our noses, probably where many of us shop and eat. Single-issue protests are rocking the United States like never before. Tremendous numbers are turning out for anti-Monsanto and Big Ag demonstrations. Fast food workers have been striking by the thousands across the nation. Walmart employees and labor groups have also been striking and working hand-in-hand to shed light on shameful labor practices by the world's top retailer. Hundreds of angry, highly-motivated individuals are personally taking a hands-on approach to stopping the Keystone pipeline proposal by putting their bodies in front of bulldozers and in the trees to form living blockades. We've also seen many people in the streets protesting the NSA scandal and Obama's pending war with Syria.
Nothing stands forever – not even the inspiration for Occupy Wall Street. But we should recognize this inspiration while we still possess it, while we're still capable of sharing it with others. It's not all doom and gloom out there after all. Let's celebrate solidarity while it's on the table. And while we're at it, let's have ourselves a piece of that birthday cake.