…Until Everything that Belongs to Everyone has been Reclaimed
A Speech Prepared by Members of the Soccer Institute for the Occupy Edmonton Solidarity Rally at the High Level Bridge, Nov. 28, 2011.
We want to speak to a few of the reasons we are here today, to the reasons why after our eviction on Friday Morning we haven’t disappeared, to the reasons why we will continue to assemble, to speak and act out against the injustices of the world we live in.
The Occupy Movement is, at its core, and when it is at its best, an unequivocal refusal of the status quo. It is an absolute rejection of the corrupted common sense that everyday seeks to coerce our consent for an economic and political system whose most fundamental operating principle is exploitation. Occupy is a rejection too of the forces that seek to discipline our bodies, to mold us merely as workers ready and willing to fill the pockets of the already grossly wealthy, and to shape us as consumers choked by false desires for things we don’t need.
The principle upon which we make our stand is equality, and the realm we rise up to defend is the Common. Our rebellion is not a new one. The revolutionary ground that we Occupy is a territory traversed and inhabited by a long history of struggle against economic and social oppression. We stand in solidarity with those who have fought, and who continue to fight, for the rights of women, for an end to racism, for the livelihoods of working people and an end to the systems of privilege, so long entrenched against us. We add our voices proudly to those of Rosa Luxemburg, Silvia Federici, Stephen Biko, Nelson Mandela, Karl and Eleanor Marx, Fredrich Engels, Che Guevara, Angela Davis, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and to the voices of the millions of people that have fought and continue to fight against oppression and for equality all over the globe.
Our revolutionary chorus calls out for a struggle beyond the confines of emancipation thought merely as an equality of opportunity, as it is all too often so narrowly defined. We emphatically reject the competitive logic, and the principle of exclusion, that characterizes the markets we are forced to exist in. Equality for us will never mean equal opportunity to exploit and be exploited, which is the corrupted ideal of the free market, the housing and labor markets—even, increasingly, of the supermarket.
In response to globalization—which is understood best as the extension of capitalist modernity to all corners of the world—we rise up as a global movement of resistance. This ruthless expansion has been enabled by the privatizing logic of neoliberalism, which for at least two decades has been cannibalizing the public in all of its guises, from health and housing services to public spaces, epitomized for us, necessarily, by the privatization of Melcor Park. This latest recession has made apparent the way accumulation by dispossession operates: As millions of people lose their jobs and houses, we are simultaneously asked to bail out or otherwise bankroll some of the world’s wealthiest corporations, while hundreds of billionaires are spawned around the globe.
We see the symptoms of this globalized neoliberal logic at our oldest public institution: The University of Alberta. Although this institution was originally imagined as a space for the “uplifting of the whole people”, it has more and more become a place for the very privileged few. As an aristocratic class of central administrators grows year by year, student tuition and debt levels continue to soar and acts of austerity are directed toward the most vulnerable members of the University. Despite Alberta being the only region in the world whose economy is not mired in debt, the share of the university’s revenue provided by the province has been frozen; the University’s administration has used this scenario as an opportunity to cut back the budgets of faculties and departments, like English and Philosophy, to name only two, whose knowledges aren’t easily instrumentalized by the logic of accumulation. This year alone, if our challenges to these cuts are unsuccessful, fifteen people will lose their jobs and their livelihoods. Furthermore, these tactics are made possible in part by the corrupted provincial labor laws that prevent these valued support workers and, indeed, all laborers at the University, from seeking protection from such abuses within registered unions. This scenario is just one example among thousands that points to the terrain on which the battle we are waging must be fought. In response to neoliberal austerity, we say Occupy your university! Occupy your government, your city-halls and your courts of law! In response to the neo-conservative cynics who have told us to “Occupy” our “Jobs,” we say, good idea! Occupy your work place and demand an equal share of the wealth you help to generate!
Against this ever-growing inequality, we advocate, as we declared this Tuesday past, for a radically participatory democracy, an end to cuts to public services, an end to corporate influence in politics; we demand fair wages and social supports, fully funded healthcare, free post-secondary education, just and sustainable environmental and labor laws, and the implementation of the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
We have been told that our demands are “too Utopian”—a nonsensical phrase that would be utterly perplexing if the ideology behind it were not so baldly communicated by the police who raided our camp. We can only understand this charge of being “too utopian” as suggesting that we demand too much equality, too little exploitation and poverty. But we are not thwarted or defeated by such immoral cynicism. Rather, we greet our detractors with a fierce smile and the loving spasms of revolutionary laughter. For Occupy is nothing other than the return of the Dispossessed, the beginnings of a new Awakening of a Revolutionary Body whose Massive and Monstrous form is impervious to such petty and stupid attacks.
Today, we are here at the High Level Bridge, a symbol of the gathering together of energies by traversing the prejudices that divide us, a reminder of the necessity of—and our commitment to—expansion. For the Occupation will not end until we Occupy Everywhere, until Everything that belongs to Everyone has been reclaimed, and the Common Wealth of the world is enjoyed Equally by All!
The Soccer Institute
High Level Bridge, Edmonton, November 28, 2011