Shut it down: Occupy Central and the global economic system

One of the strongest, most incendiary things an individual, or a group, can do is to seize a physical place and refuse to leave. The action of occupation is as old as mass movements, and predated the big-O Occupy movement. It is used to protect people from eviction, to keep park space free from development, to block access to political institutions, and to paralyze the economic infrastructure of towns, regions, and whole nations. As was the mantra in 2011 among some activists, sometimes you need to shut this motherfucker down.

Protestors in anti-pepper spray gear. September 28, 2014. Alex Ogle/AFP
Protestors in anti-pepper spray gear. September 28, 2014. Alex Ogle/AFP

Occupy Central comes from a long and storied history of nonviolence. The color revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia, and Lebanon occupied key places of political and cultural importance. Central goes beyond that to a more radical place- using occupation as an economic weapon of the people. We saw this happen with the West Coast port shutdowns three years ago, and the related Block the Boat campaign against Israeli industry. There is an added weak point in places like Hong Kong, Singapore, and other major ports- access of goods and labor is of international importance. To shut down central portions of Hong Kong is to amplify the power of the act of occupation, so it can reverberate into global markets. In the short term, good business must be paid for by increased political rights. From that platform, working to change the global economic system becomes easier.

Clash between umbrella-holding protestors and police. September 28, 2014. Alex Ogle/AFP
Clash between umbrella-holding protestors and police. September 28, 2014. Alex Ogle/AFP

They now call it the Umbrella Revolution. It certainly has gained that tangible thing that defines great movements, whether a place, color, or object (Serbia’s 2000 peaceful revolution is sometimes dubbed “The Bulldozer Revolution” due to protestor tactics to break up barricades).

The whole world is watching. We have been blind to the authoritarianism creeping throughout Hong Kong. It has been a time to get educated, and get on the right side of affairs.

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