Visiting OWS reminds me of Utopian Socialists in the 19th century, Anarchists in the 20th, the alternative consciousness politics of the 1960s– a deeply human, American and global impulse to reach for total transformation. I also think to my own experiences with social revolution: The abortion rights movement, feminism, gay liberation, AIDS activism and my current commitments to the Palestinian queer movement. As someone who has seen, and therefore believes in paradigm shift my instinct is with the sequencing ¬†of action that Dr. King talked about in his “Letter From Birmingham Jail” and that was used successfully by ACT UP. First, self-education to be the expert who truly understands the mechanics of how change can be made. Then a proposal for change, rooted in this knowledge, that is doable, winnable and reasonable. When the powers that be oppose possible change, we go through what Dr. King called “Self-purification” and engage in non-violent civil disobedience and direct action until our applicable vision overwhelms the stagnant norm. This is how AIDS was transformed, and when we stepped out of this mode, this is how AIDS became bureaucratized. OWS is a gorgeous expression of the right to rebel, non-cooperation and the ever present human wish for justice. The greater challenge is to impact in such a way that the vision is both realized and sustained. Looking forward every day.

HOME