Note: This opinion piece was written by Greg Lewis of the All Power to the Positive Podcast:
May Day is What YOU Make of It!
My [edited, amended] Reply To Someone Who Asked
“Why Rise and Decolonize?” and “Why Strike?”
by Sensei Gregory C. Lewis. allpowertothepositive.info
The following was inspired by an original fb reply I wrote to a fan of Hip Hop Occupies.
It has been edited for length, grammar, and [ideally] greater clarity.
May Day is what YOU make of it! This is what really makes it a “worker’s holiday”.
May Day consists of 24 hours. A lot can be done in that short period of time. Part of the day is for those who do not or cannot go ‘hands on’ at the system or its supporters. Many more will be hearing the collective ‘decolonize’ message for the very first time on May 1st.
You worry about the cops doing something violent at a permitted event. I got two words for you: “Trayvon Martin”. Also,”Sean Bell”. Want to avoid potentially deadly conflict? Stay away from other people. Keep in mind that living like a [scared] hermit is NOT living.
Here’s another dirty little secret: people in america are 15 percent of the world’s wealthiest. This economic relationship to the global social product has real world consequences.
It is why in Egypt the bus drivers, along with other industries, are STILL on strike. Yet, in america, organized/unionized labor is still less than 10 percent of all u.$. industries. And all are o.k. with this exploitative global economic relationship, as long as their members can still afford to live ‘the American dream’. Few are striking in the u.$., and those that are get little mainstream press coverage or support from the assorted Democratic party funded and controlled national labor bureaucracies.
Meanwhile, large sections of the oppressed/captive nations (so called ‘minorities’) in america are shut out of those good paying union jobs (or shut out of the job market entirely). Yet, most of them/us still believe very deeply in this system and the current administration; despite what their/our actual life situation(s) tell them/us, or what any of us in Occupy have to say about it.
I absolutely bear witness that most amerikkkans find it easier to be ignorant, violent, self medicating, fascistic, sheep and cattle. I also bear witness that this is due to the aforementioned exploitative global economic relationship and the social relations it perpetuates. They didn’t start off that way. None of us did.
Americans are made ‘amerikkkan’ by [mis]education of all types, harsh penalties for non conformity and grand rewards for obedience and allegiance, including financial compensation for participation in a shared material interest with the 1 percent: the exploitation of the resources and labor of the ‘developing’ nations for the benefit of the upper classes, and the bribery of the lower classes, in america (and other ‘industrialized’ nations).
The poor of the industrialized nations spend most of their waking hours catching crumbs. For most, it is a situation of “the dog initiates the master, but only eats the leftovers” (Tobacman) and most seem o.k. with being that dog that imitates his or her master, as long as there is material comfort and social privilege that comes out of being just as ignorant, violent, self medicating, and fascistic as ones master.
The people of Egypt want a hell of a lot more than just to ‘get money out of politics’: they want to get america out of their politics! In places like Greece and rural India, you have large groups of workers taking that phrase to a whole new level, by actively struggling to bring down capitalism, its oppressions, and the oppressors who promote and protect it. This is very different than getting a piece of legislation passed or getting a local bureaucrat to listen to a marginalized community; or getting that same bureaucrat to work exclusively in favor of that marginalized community against the monied interests currently in power.
To ‘decolonize’ begins with getting one’s own mind off the plantation first. Sadly, for far too many, the decision to finally go down this path is shaped by the intensity, frequency, and severity of the abuse put on them by this system, its governments, and its supporters.
To ‘decolonize’ means to not just simply ‘go through the motions’. It means being crystal clear about who you are, what you want, and why you do what you do in this moment in this movement, let alone in life. It means being upfront about your politics, especially around ‘dividing line’ issues; in particular all things considered ‘life and death’.
For me, a ‘dividing line’ issue is regime change.
I have lost count of how many times I have heard the words “Tahrir Square” drop from the lips of my fellow Occupiers since October, 2011. Yet, as I participate, I often see that few even understand what they are truly advocating, since their avowed inspiration(s) and aspirations often do not match the ‘real politic’ of how they approach their obligations to the global movement, let alone the local one (and how these are related); indeed few bear witness openly that obligations exist for them (and all of us) in this movement.
Obligations? Yep. And here’s a major one: if our goals are genuinely more ’forward thinking’ than simply being ‘seen and heard’ by an indifferent (and increasingly, more openly hostile) 1percent, more than simply voting for their political leadersh*t every 4 years in the name of ‘pragmatism’, if Occupy in america is to truly echo the world’s collective cry for real freedom, democracy, equality, and power in the hands of real people, let alone do our part to create the space for any of that to happen, then we must be more and must do more.