Here’s an update from a local group of the Occupy movement. (Thanks for permission to reproduce it.) I agree with almost every word. The tone is a little darker than I would use, but I can understand the sentiment. (Also, it was devised on my birthday!)
The Declaration of Occupy Elmira/Corning
Consented to by General Assembly December 14, 2011
We have been captives of corrupt economic and political systems for far too long. The concentration of wealth and the purchase of political power stifle the voices of the increasingly disenfranchised 99 percent. Corporate dominance subverts democracy, intentionally sows division, destroys the environment, obstructs the just and equitable pursuit of happiness, and violates the rights and dignity of all life.
Occupy Elmira/Corning is an open community of diverse individuals, facing different forms of oppression and impacted by economic exploitation to differing degrees, but united by a shared vision of equality for the common good. The harsh economic conditions that have plagued the poor, working class, and communities of color for generations have begun to affect the previously financially secure. This acute awareness of our common fate has united us in our struggle for a better future. We recognize that inequality and injustice systemically affect every aspect of our society: our communities, homes, and hearts. To build the world we envision, we commit ourselves to overcoming our personal biases so we can successfully challenge systems of oppression in solidarity.
We are assembled because…
- It is absurd that the 1 percent has taken 40 percent of the nation’s wealth including through exploiting labor, outsourcing jobs, destructing unions, committing fraud, and manipulating the tax code to their benefit through special capital tax rates and loopholes. The system is rigged in their favor, yet they cry foul when anyone even dares to question their relentless class warfare.
- Candidates in our electoral system require huge sums of money. These contributions from multi-national corporations, special interest groups, and wealthy individuals destroy responsive representative governance. A system of backroom deals, kickbacks, bribes, and dirty politics overrides the will of the people. The rotation of decision makers between the public and private sectors cultivates a network of public officials, lobbyists, and executives whose aligned interests do not serve the constitutional government or the American people.
- Candidates are elected via plurality rather than majority causing a two-party system which overlooks public interests by pursuing narrow political goals. This climate encourages candidates to polarize voters for individual power and personal gain. Citizens’ meaningful input has been compromised by gerrymandering, voter disenfranchisement, and unresponsive politicians.
- The 1 percent benefits from economic, political, and legal structures that oppress communities targeted by displacement, forced homelessness, denial of sovereignty, wage slavery, and other injustices. These persecuted but resilient communities continue to suffer through generations of disproportionately higher rates of unemployment, poverty, criminalization, and homelessness. Facets of the 1 percent campaign to blame these groups for these problems while obstructing healing and restoration.
- Those with power have divided us from working in solidarity by perpetuating historical prejudices and discrimination based on perceived race, religion, political affiliation, immigrant or indigenous status, income, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, and disability, among other things. These divisions have inhibited our ability to work in solidarity, though today we recognize the power of uniting as the 99 percent.
- Through financial speculation and fraud, several financial institutions gambled with our savings, homes, and economy causing the collapse of the financial system. These institutions then required the public to bail them out of their failures yet they continue to deny any responsibility and continue to fight oversight. Corporations loot from those whose labor creates society’s prosperity, while the government allows them to privatize profits and socialize risk.
- Corporate interests threaten life on Earth by extracting and burning fossil fuels and resisting the necessary transition to renewable energy and sustainable life. Without public oversight drilling, mining, clear-cutting, overfishing, and factory farming destroys the land, jeopardizes our food and water, and poisons the soil with near impunity. They privilege polluters over people by subsidizing fossil fuels, blocking investments in clean energy and efficient transportation, and hiding environmental destruction.
- Private corporations, with the government’s support, use common resources and infrastructure for short-term personal profit, while stifling efforts to invest in public goods. These corporate entities have a responsibility to the indigenous people and the society in which they exist and rely on.
- The U.S. government engages in unnecessary, costly conflicts abroad. Numerous acts of conquest have been, and continue to be, pursued to control resources, overthrow foreign governments, and install subservient regimes. These wars destroy the lives of innocent civilians and American soldiers, many of whom suffer adverse effects throughout life. These operations are a blank check to divert money from domestic priorities.
- Government authorities cultivate a culture of fear to invade our privacy, limit assembly, restrict speech, and deny due process. They have failed in their duty to protect our Constitutional rights. Used by profiteering interests, the criminal justice system has unfairly targeted marginalized communities and outspoken groups for prosecution rather than protection.
- The commodification of culture subverts social relationships and communication and warps our perception of reality. It cheapens and mocks the beauty of human thought and experience while promoting excessive materialism as the path to happiness. The entertainment industry is manipulated to distract the public from the important issues of society. We condemn the corporate news media which furthers the interests of the very wealthy, distorts and disregards the truth, and confines our imagination of what is possible for ourselves and society.
- Some leaders are implicitly or explicity trading our rights to quality basic needs in exchange for handouts to the ultra-wealthy. Our rights to healthcare, education, food, water, and housing are sacrificed to profit-driven market forces. They are attacking unemployment insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, creating an uncertain future for us all, especially those who can least afford it.
- Class-warfare has been engaged upon the working class through deconstruction of unions and worker benefits. The right to collectively bargain for fair wages, safe work places, and employee rights needs to be defended and enforced. Workers deserve the right to quality healthcare at an affordable rate and the ability to retire with dignity through a pension fund and social security benefits.*
A better world is possible.
To all people,
We, the Elmira/Corning General Assembly, urge you to assert your power.
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble and reclaim the commons. Re-conceive ways to build a democratic, just, and sustainable world.
To all who value democracy, we encourage you to collaborate and share available resources.
Join your voice with ours and let it amplify until the heart of the movement booms with our chorus of solidarity.
*These grievances are not all inclusive.