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Occupying America: Sowing the Seeds of a Second American Revolution

By Lori Spencer  Posted by Dave Lindorff (about the submitter)     Permalink
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By Lori Spencer

Sign on a tent at the Oklahoma City Occupation (photo by Lori Spencer) by ThisCantBeHappening!

"There are combustibles in every state which a spark might set fire to." 

          -- George Washington's letter to General Henry Knox concerning the

                  Shay's Rebellion, 1786

One month ago, a group of some 1000 demonstrators gathered in Manhattan's Zuccotti Park to protest the pillaging of the nation's economy by powerful corporations and international houses of high finance. While these young activists were entirely peaceful, they also made it clear that this would be no hippie-dippy flower-twirling love-in, sit-in, teach-in, or even a camp-in; this was an occupation. The demonstrators announced that they intended to Occupy Wall Street 24/7, stayinguntil hell freezes over if need be.

The New York City police welcomed them warmly with pepper spray and more than a few violent smack-downs, even going so far as to arrest some 700 protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge who werelured into a position where they could be charged with blocking traffic.

After video of these outrages went viral on the Internet, a wave of righteous indignation swept the land. Hastily-formed Occupy groups proclaiming themselves in solidarity with the NYC protesters began to spring up in big cities and small towns across America. At first it was just a handful: 20-30 groups in the first week, growing to a few hundred in the second week, then rapidly mushrooming to today's current total of 1,947 cities around the globe.

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The most common critique leveled against the Occupy demonstrators is that they don't seem to have a plan. "Disorganized," "unfocused," and "aimless" are buzzwords the movement's detractors --both liberal and right-wing --   like to toss around. Last week former President Bush's key political adviser Karl Rove cynically opined in the Wall Street Journal   that Democrats should distance themselves from the Occupy Wall Street movement to avoid alienating potential voters in 2012.

And it's true that even those Americans who are in fact part of the 99% and generally support OWS's principles are themselves unclear as to what the protesters ultimately want and how exactly they are going to accomplish it. What are their demands? How long are they going to keep this up? Have they proposed any concrete solutions? But that's an awful lot of pressure to put upon a spontaneous social movement that is only little over a month old.

Certainly these are valid questions. In defense of the revolutionaries, though, remember that the last time we   had a revolution in this country , it took 20 years to start it, eight years to fight it, and still another six years to fully secure and implement a new government. If the Occupy movement is indeed the genesis of a Second American Revolution , we should not expect its progenitors to simply cough up a prefabricated quick fix. After all, if our elected representatives couldn't seem to figure out how to correct the country's multitude of problems over a few decades, is it reasonable to expect a loosely-organized band of citizen activists to offer the solutions within just a few months? We may be sowing the seeds of a revolution now, but let's not forget that it usually takes many years to reap the harvest.

History shows that revolutions do not occur overnight. Reasonable humans always prefer to work out their differences through lawful avenues and communication whenever possible. It is only after many years of futile petitioning that the oppressed are left with no other choice but to revolt. Some 236 years ago, the American colonists signed a Declaration of Independence -- prepared to back it up through force of arms if necessary -- but that unforgiving line in the sand was only drawn after 22 years of peaceful attempts to negotiate with Britain had failed.

The seeds of the American Revolution were planted not in 1776, but in 1754 during the French and Indian War. Colonists became further disenchanted when taxes were levied upon them to pay the costs of that war. A number of other encroachments added fuel to the fire : restrictions on settlement of the West, increased duties on imported goods, the Stamp Act, the banning of colonial currency, outlawing town meetings, quartering British troops among the citizenry, and closing Boston Harbor, just to name a few. Discontent festered for nearly 20 years whilst the Loyalists and Patriots argued amongst themselves as to whether or not they dared to overthrow British rule.

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When the first armed conflict of the Revolutionary War began on April 19, 1775, only one-third of colonists supported the cause. The Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, but it took another year for all the delegates to actually sign their John Hancocks, quite literally putting their lives on the line for what they believed in. Although the final battle was fought in 1782, the state of war did not formally end until the Treaties of Paris and Versailles were ratified in 1784. The U.S. Constitution was written in 1787 but was not ratified until 1789. This delay was the result of ongoing debate between Federalists and Anti-Federalists over just how much power the new national government should have. Debates were so heated in fact that they frequently turned into armed skirmishes, standoffs, and deadly showdowns with authorities. One resonant example was Shay's Rebellion, a populist uprising of debt-ridden New England farmers who had served their country in  the war, only to come home and have their lands foreclosed upon. (A scenario all too familiar for today's veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the returned veterans of practically every war in the 20th century.).

"You say you want a revolution...well, you know...we'd all love to see the plan."

-- The Beatles, "Revolution"

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We just lived through the second revolution, when ... by Judy Palmer on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 at 10:15:03 AM
Lori, you have done an amazing thing: you have wri... by Alan MacDonald on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 at 10:18:51 AM
Alan, you are incorrect in your put down of Lori's... by Dave Lindorff on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 at 10:41:38 AM
Dave, yes, I know that what you and Lori say clear... by Alan MacDonald on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 at 11:46:22 AM
Alan, "it is extremely important from both a ... by Francine Lindberg on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 at 9:16:42 PM
Kudos for your commentary. I'd be keen to see Alan... by Lionel John on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 10:22:13 AM
Many in the Occupy movement probably want revoluti... by Don Smith on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 at 10:51:03 AM
Right you are, Don. This movement must prepare its... by Lori Spencer on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 at 6:58:29 PM
Lori's piece was unified around the word "revoluti... by Lionel John on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 at 12:03:04 PM
I believe what is coming will not only reform gove... by E. J. N. on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 at 12:56:41 PM
the separation of CORPORATION and STATE!Of course ... by Lori Spencer on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 at 7:24:08 PM
the criminals in charge have already ignored and v... by Donald on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 6:29:44 AM
Can't argue with ya there.... by Lori Spencer on Friday, Oct 21, 2011 at 1:35:32 AM
The link I cited quotes Jefferson, not only about ... by E. J. N. on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 2:33:18 PM
Let is all hope so.  If there is anything we ... by Beverlee Couillard on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 at 2:39:31 PM
Mainstream editors will cry themselves to sleep to... by Paul Repstock on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 at 8:07:54 PM
Wish someone would tell the corporate mainstream m... by Lori Spencer on Friday, Oct 21, 2011 at 1:49:40 AM
 Mr/Ms. Spencer,  I'm surprised by ... by Ad Du on Friday, Oct 21, 2011 at 11:14:51 AM
attention spans, not specifically an educational l... by Paul Repstock on Friday, Oct 21, 2011 at 12:28:07 PM
Great piece, Lori Spencer!Thank you for putting OW... by Francine Lindberg on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 at 9:02:22 PM
I am a 77 year old conservative, and I support the... by Mary Jones on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 at 9:56:51 PM
I too found the message of the article sobering ye... by Francine Lindberg on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 at 11:39:36 PM
I feel this is it. 2012 sounds like the perfect da... by Nancy S on Wednesday, Oct 19, 2011 at 10:22:02 PM
In this 'article' Mr. Wenzel picks a few facts and... by Paul Repstock on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 12:15:39 AM
I think not... by BFalcon on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 12:50:32 PM
Now is the time to take action. If you do not, the... by Paul Repstock on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 1:25:27 AM
The MONDRAGON Corporation mission is to produce an... by Michael Dewey on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 1:51:24 AM
We're done with trusting politicians to sort it ou... by Michael Dewey on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 1:52:47 AM
"The Next American Revolution," U Calif Press Grac... by fusion on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 1:54:16 AM
Lori is surely right that this revolution will tak... by Paul Carline on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 2:06:01 AM
The 99%'ers should make NO DEMANDS of the current... by iviewit on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 6:06:06 AM
The Second American Revolution has now been launch... by Paul Bern on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 9:36:20 AM
I would be more specific by calling the American p... by Luis Magno on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 9:46:29 AM
Couldn't agree more about Hamilton. An opportunist... by Lori Spencer on Friday, Oct 21, 2011 at 2:45:51 AM
Sometimes we neglect how powerful movements can b... by Thomas Brown on Friday, Oct 21, 2011 at 11:02:06 AM
@ Lori Spencer I did not say that Alexander Hamilt... by Luis Magno on Monday, Oct 24, 2011 at 2:06:21 AM
Sign up on the site to support Dyl... by Joel Hirschhorn on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 12:23:27 PM
Thanks for the comment, Joel. I'm a longtime reade... by Lori Spencer on Friday, Oct 21, 2011 at 3:33:31 AM
It is a big difference  between the rebellion... by Mark Sashine on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 12:59:27 PM
I don't see what we have in the U.S. as anomalous,... by Paul Rye on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 10:46:54 PM
The first order of business is not one of evolutio... by Paul Rye on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 11:02:16 PM
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all... by Lori Spencer on Friday, Oct 21, 2011 at 3:41:56 AM
Actually we've been piling up these grievances for... by Thomas Brown on Thursday, Oct 20, 2011 at 9:43:10 PM
Well intentioned as you may be, no law to upset th... by Paul Repstock on Friday, Oct 21, 2011 at 1:30:13 AM
It's been about 10 years now that I've been where ... by Thomas Brown on Friday, Oct 21, 2011 at 8:02:19 AM
Great article, Lisa. Overall a terrific read!Howev... by David Brooks on Saturday, Oct 22, 2011 at 1:10:00 AM