The 99 Percent: Is a Critical Majority Being Forgotten?
Even throughout the Northern hemisphere, where the Occupy Movement – the mobilization of the 99% – is primarily centered, there is criticism that traditionally marginalized communities are still finding it difficult seeing themselves, and their needs, reflected in the movement’s character and priorities. Despite the fact that participants and organizers have worked diligently to include the needs and desires of these communities in their declarations, there still seems to be a divide between the stated goals of the movement and the diversity of participants.
Much attention, effort, and resources have been allocated to outreach, community education, and inclusion. Principles of equality, inclusion, diversity, and horizontal decision making are at the heart of the Occupy Movement. The eradication of the marginalization of communities due to race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc., and the institution of true egalitarian, representative democracy, free from the control of the moneyed interests that perpetuate and aggravate our divisions and inequalities, is fundamental to the movements inception and continued purpose.
So why the continued division and strife? Could it be that there is still an element of our societal conditioning that continues a sense of ‘we will do it for you’? It that sense a reality or a perception, substantiated only by a history of hatred, half-hearted reforms, and misunderstandings? Does the predominantly white make-up of the occupiers belie their sincerity and give rise to deep rooted memories of a paternalistic ‘white man’s burden’ syndrome. The psychological abuse perpetuated against our society cannot be undone over night. Not by those that have grown up as a privileged population, and not by those who have grown up the victims of a society that stacks the odds against them.
Another explanation is that the fight for equality, economic justice, and social justice, has just now hit the population that the corporate media pays more attention to. We’re all familiar with how disgusting the difference is in the media reaction to a missing white child, particularly of affluence, but not necessarily, than it is to a missing child of color, let alone a missing child of color from an impoverished environment. Could it be that angry white people have suddenly given the media something novel and unexplained? If so, does this account for their inability to report accurately on the underlying issues, or is this just a continuation of the biased coverage that exploits the fear, ignorance, and divisions they’ve worked so hard to create.
Even domestically these issues stand to cause a challenge that will threaten the success of a truly unified effort by the 99% to emancipate themselves from the tyranny of the global elite. But, the recognition of these imposed barriers, and the desire to educate ourselves and unite with all our brothers and sisters has gained a traction that will not easily be subverted by those that would maintain our slavery. The often ugly and chaotic push-and-pull of gaining understanding, and overcoming generations of misinformation and propaganda, has become a welcomed challenge to the 99%, the occupiers, unwilling to fall victim to the same old tired tricks of the ruling class that have kept them ignorant, fearful, and confused, for so long. Despite all the challenges they face, the 99% is waking up to the fact that one of the key hurdles they need to get over is themselves.
While this enlightenment may be celebrated domestically, the transference of this knowledge and understanding to a global scale is little more than a glimmer of hopeful light on the horizon.
For decades, the privileged working class of the norther hemisphere – those that have at least a chance of making a living wage, and possibly being part of a collective bargaining unit – have been complaining that their livelihoods are being outsourced. As workers fight for adequate pay, health care, workplace safety, and a secure pension, their jobs are being exported to underdeveloped nations where corporations are allowed to exploit the local population.
While the 99% of the northern hemisphere are in the streets trying to right these wrongs on a domestic level, the real solution to their problem is still being exploited. In the eyes of the workers from the southern hemisphere, these efforts are little more than a meaningless attempt by spoiled children to squeeze a few more dollars out of the corporations that will only result in more manufacturing and production being transferred to them – to further exploit their peoples, and further decimate their environment.
The solution to the problems we face do not lie within any population, group, demographic, nationality, region, or border. Unless we establish a global solidarity, like the domestic solidarity so many are working towards, all our efforts will be for naught. Success for the working and middle class in America and Europe will only be erased by multinationals moving more jobs and production to already exploited countries and their populations, just as success for the middle class in America will only be erased by the continuation of exploited populations within their own borders.
The global corporations, and the world’s financial elite, operate beyond all borders and treat the earth as a singular source of wealth and resources to be exploited. Unless the 99% adopt the same global strategy they will continue to be the victims of a broader thinking predator. A solidarity beyond any previously achieved is the only hope humanity has for emancipation from those that would enslave us all, and destroy our planet for their own short-sighted profit.
The colonialist mindset must be challenged. This is not a problem that ‘we’ can solve for all of us, or for ‘them’. A struggle within the borders of North America, or Europe, will not reap any benefits for our brothers and sisters in the south,and, in the long run, will only be nullified by that oversight. This struggle must be a joint struggle. A struggle of equals against a common foe.
The same propaganda that has infected our thinking domestically has been festering for just as long, if not longer, on a global scale. The dehumanization of others that has been used to lead us into unjust wars against our brothers and sisters must be confronted. The ignorance that has been nurtured by our media in order to foster the fear needed to gain our compliance must be vigorously denied. We are all accountable. We must accept the responsibility to seek enlightenment and challenge the paradigms that have been forced on us.
Our oppressors operate without regard for borders. The challenges we face socially, economically, and environmentally exist without regard for borders. If we are going to be successful, we must throw off the divisions that have been imposed on us domestically and globally. We must reach across communities, regions, and borders and join hands in our common struggle for freedom. The middle class cannot succeed unless every marginalized and exploited community succeeds as full unconditional equals. And, likewise, the northern hemisphere, the industrialized nations, the privileged of this planet, cannot succeed unless the most underdeveloped communities and exploited populations in the most remote and exploited areas of our planet become equal shareholders in a future of sustainable prosperity of unconditional equality.
The 99% has become a valuable rallying cry, but, unless we remember that we are all ONE, equally, both in this struggle and in the outcome, it is the other one, the 1%, that will continue to win.