Wall Street Occupiers Inch Toward a Demand—By Living It

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–September 30, 2011 – 7:52 pm.

By Adam Roberts.

When, in July, Adbusters called for an occupation of Wall Street starting on September 17, it asked, “What is our one demand?” Online discussions began ahead of time about what that might be, in the hopes that it could be settled ahead of time, and Adbusters even suggested a few of its own, like calling for a new anti-corruption commission (a la Anna Hazare’s controversial proposal in India), or the revocation of corporate personhood. There has also been talk about a Tobin tax, or the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act, or other wonky policy proposals.

After almost two weeks of occupation in renamed Liberty Plaza, the protesters have yet to settle on any one demand, or even on the idea that they want one. (This doesn’t mean it isn’t rather obvious why a bunch of angry Americans would be making a fuss at the exact center of their country’s concentrated wealth and reckless corruption.) Still, their evening General Assembly meetings—which are devoted to big-picture items like demands—have been busy. The Assembly has so far approved two significant documents about what it stands for, documents that are indicative of what the experience of the occupation is doing to those taking part. For many who came with a particular demand in mind, even, the experience is changing how they think about what politics, and political activism, can look like.

“This is not about the demands,” said occupier Amin Hussein at a General Assembly meeting on Monday night. “The demands will come. It’s about the beautiful thing we’re doing here.” The demand, so far, appears to be a process—one in which all people can speak and money can’t.

Last Friday, September 23, in the rain, a statement called “Principles of Solidarity” was passed by consensus by the General Assembly as a working draft. (This qualification is important—again, process.) The “Principles” states in its preamble a complaint about “the blatant injustices of our times perpetuated by the economic and political elites.” The principles themse