Corporations are disemboweling every last social service program funded by the taxpayers, from education to Social Security, because they want that money themselves. Let the sick die. Let the poor go hungry. Let families be tossed in the street. Let the unemployed rot. Let children in the inner city or rural wastelands learn nothing and live in misery and fear. Let the students finish school with no jobs and no prospect of jobs. Let the prison system, the largest in the industrial world, expand to swallow up all potential dissenters. Let torture continue. Let teachers, police, firefighters, postal employees, and social workers join the ranks of the unemployed. Let the roads, bridges, dams, levees, power grids, rail lines, subways, bus services, schools, and libraries crumble or close. Let the rising temperatures of the planet, the freak weather patterns, the hurricanes, the droughts, the flooding, the tornadoes, the melting polar ice caps, the poisoned water systems, and the polluted air degrade until the species dies.
Who the hell cares? If the stock values of ExxonMobil or the coal industry or Goldman Sachs are high, life is good. Profit. Profit. Profit. They have their fangs deep in your neck. If you do not shake them off very, very soon, they will kill you. And they will kill the ecosystem, dooming your children and your children’s children. They are too stupid and too blind to see that they will perish with the rest of us. So either you rise up and supplant them, either you dismantle the corporate state for a world of sanity, a world where we no longer kneel before the absurd idea that the demands of financial markets should govern human behavior, or we are frog-marched toward self-annihilation.
The long, long road of sacrifice, tears, and suffering that led to the collapse of previous oppressive regimes throughout the world stretched back decades. Those who made change possible were those who had discarded all notions of the practical. They did not try to reform political parties. They did not attempt to work within the system. They did not know what, if anything, their protests would accomplish. But through it all they held fast to moral imperatives. They did so because these values were right and just. They expected no reward for their virtue, and they got none. They were marginalized and persecuted. And yet these poets, play-wrights, actors, clerics, singers, and writers finally triumphed over state and military power. They drew the good to the good. They triumphed because, however cowed and broken the masses around them appeared, their message of defiance did not go unheard. It did not go unseen. The steady drumbeat of rebellion embodied in their lives exposed the rot, lies, and corruption of the state
The Occupy movements were a physical embodiment of hope. They returned us to a world where empathy is a primary attribute. They defied the profit-driven hierarchical structures of corporate capitalism. They knew that hope has a cost, that it is not easy or comfortable, that it requires self-sacrifice and discomfort and finally faith. In Zuccotti Park and throughout the country, they slept on concrete every night. Their clothes were soiled. They ate more bagels and peanut butter than they ever thought possible. They tasted fear, were beaten, went to jail, were blinded by pepper spray, cried, hugged each other, lauded, sung, talked too long in general assemblies, saw their chants drift up-ward to the office towers above them, wondered if it is worth it, if anyone cared, if they would win.
We may feel powerless in the face of the ruthless corporate destruction of our nation, our culture, and our ecosystem. But we are not. We have a power, as the Occupy encampments demonstrated, that terrifies the corporate state. Any act of rebellion, no matter how few people show up or how heavily it is censored, chips away at corporate power. Any act of rebellion keeps alive the embers for larger movements that follow us. It passes on another narrative. It will, as the state consumes itself, attract larger and larger numbers. Perhaps the full-blown revolution will not happen in our lifetimes. But if we persist, we can keep this possibility alive. If we do not, it will die.