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Occupy LA Physically Disbanded; but Movement Lives on

Posted on the 01 December 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost

Occupy LA physically disbanded; but movement lives on

Occupy LA. Photocredit: Neon Tommy

Is camping finished for the Occupy movement? The Occupy LA encampment was dismantled this week, as was Occupy Philadelphia. Whilst Occupy London protesters (still happily camping outside St Paul’s Cathedral) have stormed mining giant Xstrata’s building, protesters across the globe are regrouping in other ways. Since Occupy Wall Street was disbanded, the activists have continued to turn up in various different ways, blocking the street in front of the mayor’s house, attending bankers’ meetings, opposing tuition increases. They’ve also, reported Matt Flegenheimer on the City Room blog in the New York Times, protested against a fund-raising event for President Obama. One of the signs they bore read “Obama is a corporate puppet.”

Occupy Seattle has simply moved to a community college. Whilst there are still tents in San Francisco, “their days may be numbered,” reported the LA Times. However, The Guardian reported that the Occupy movement is truly global, “sparking up to 2,600 demonstrations.” The movement has many roots, many voices: commentators agree that whilst the physical nature of the camps will be disbanded, the issues that the protesters have raised will remain with us, even creating an entirely new political discourse.

“[O]ur movement is not just made of symbols,” said Mario Brito, an LA protester, quoted in the LA Times.

Refocusing. Getting rid of the camps won’t dissolve the movement, said a professor of management at Northwestern University, Brayden King, (speaking to the LA Times.) Instead, it will “give them a chance to refocus on the issues themselves.”

They do have an agenda! Sort of. And perhaps, reported Amy Westfeldt on ABC News, the protesters will now come up with a clear statement. Demands range from removing corporate money from politics, to “making sure Washington politicians act with a moral conscience.” It’s hard, though, to get a solid answer out of the protesters – it seems that rather than actually influencing the government, the movement wants to “empower people” so that they don’t depend on corporations. Regulation of campaign corporations is the big one – but it won’t “gain traction anytime soon”; the other one is returning the Glass-Steagall Act – which separated investment and commercial banking – to its pristine state.

And a new political language. In an interview with Arun Gupta in  The Guardian, novelist Arundhati Roy stated her support of the movement. It’s introducing “a new political language” and “reigniting a new political imagination.” The movement shouldn’t just be defined by occupying physical space – it should keep “re-imagining itself.” She believes that though the camps may be disbanded, the movement will in fact expand, although the greatest risk to it is the upcoming presidential election. People who “know the secrets of sustainable living” should be “guides to our future.”

A new grammar! Bernard Harcourt in the same paper went further than Roy, asking for “an entirely new grammar”, owing to the “leaderless paradigm” of the movement. Normal language has failed; the new structure allows “multiple voices, views and opinions” so that contradictory opinions can be held by Occupy members without the need to adjudicate or arbitrate between them. As Foucault has suggested, there is no need to propose a solution – more “positive” conditions come from “the struggle itself.” The Occupy protesters, deploying this new grammar and syntax, show that “there is a virtue in keeping contestation open.”

Well, they certainly stick to their guns: Check out this video of a guy trying to sell Bank of America accounts. Without much success.

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