Our Occupy Ypsi teach-in on Saturday went really well. Hopefully, at some point in the near future, I’ll have an opportunity to go into everything that was covered. For the time being, though, I wanted to share this video of historian Peter Linebaugh addressing the group.
The following will hardly do Peter justice, but here are a few notes that I scribbled into my notebook as he was speaking. I would encourage you to watch the video yourself, and correct my notes where necessary.
• It all started on the 17th of September, 2011, when we, the people of the United States, first sought to occupy Wall Street… when we first sought to take back the place where the 1% divvy up the wealth created by the 99%… What they do on Wall Street is not investment. Investment is educating your children, and creating things with your labor. What those on Wall Street do could better be described as gambling and trickery.
• Wall Street marks the location of a wall that was built by the Dutch East India Company in 1607 to keep out Native Americans. Occupy Wall Street is seeking to end that enclosure, and restore the indigenous commons that once existed. Our task, as we struggle to “decolonize” Wall Street, is to reclaim these resources that mankind once owned in common. And that, according to Linebaugh, is why the police are exerting force, and shutting down our general assemblies. They don’t want for us to find our own solutions.
• Men and women, throughout history, have been able to work together to find solutions regarding the sharing of common resources. This, Linebaugh says, happened in the hobo camps during the Great Depression. We, according to Linebaugh, share a common memory of our commons that we can tap into. He says that our indigenous ancestors, and our slave ancestors are behind us, and that we should not do recreancy to them… that we should not betray them… that we should have the courage to imagine a better future.
• Linebaugh notes the corporate lies told recently to the people of Japan living in the vicinity of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant concerning the level of environmental contamination that they have been subjected to, and draws a parallel to the corporations of America that are not acting with the best interests of our citizens in mind. How can we bring these corporate thieves to justice, he asks. The answer, according to Linebaugh, is to broaden the constitution so that it it encompasses the commons. We need, in his words, a future where people have the expectation of warmth in winter.
• Our labor has been stolen. Our wealth has been taken. And this has left us with a society of “miserable-ism” that is “polluting the cosmos.”
As I mentioned above, I don’t do Linebaugh justice, but I thought that I’d share these brief, cryptic notes in hopes that they might encourage one or two of you to actually watch the video. If you do watch, please feel free to suggest edits and additions to my notes.