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Why Are They Occupying Wall Street?

Lawyer Chase Iron Eyes discusses the Occupy Wall Street protests and what they could mean for both Indian country and America.

I hope we have all been following the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) action that is unfolding before us. Why are they protesting? Hopefully OWS is not only due to the rich-poor gap -although, that is reason enough. The main-stream media is describing this movement as having no discernable organization or purpose. Protesters are simply making statements against corporate greed.

I did not think that this movement would catch a fire in New York, let alone spread to other cities in America. I am very happy there are Americans who are “still alive.” OWS seems truly spontaneous at this point. Who sent out the first call to, and to whom? What were the purposes? Where is the manifesto? The movement gained momentum even without main-stream attention. The revolution will not be televised. That saying has become a cliché; revolution and activism have been made fashionable. Yet, this is more than that.

It seems obvious that this movement is a response to the state of the American economy and the obscene inequities of Western capitalism. In that line of reasoning, neo-classical economics should bear the brunt of the blame. Pundits generally refer to neo-classical economics as the modern world economy. To me, neo-classical economics describes the economics that has been propagated all over the globe, controls our means of survival, and is propped up by all institutions, be they government, legal, academic, media, etc. Neo-classical economics pretends it is a science, attempting to force us to believe in its authority, attempts to make us accept that GDP should be the measure of civilized nations; that with its aloof formulas and it can best provide for any nation’s needs. It is a kind of economics that does not take into account rapid deforestation, loss of species, loss of fresh water, oil spills, melting ice-caps, nuclear disasters, tsunamis, hurricanes, etc. in its “cost” or GDP calculations. Purveyors of neo-classical economics do not want us to know their economics is myth that presumes mother-earth has limitless “resources.” Whether expressly or not, I believe all the protesters are standing up against these basic tenets of modern economics, which are incompatible with continuing sustainable civilizations and our spirits.

OWS is not as violent as Tunisia, Libya or Egypt, or any number of Arab spring risings; however, this movement is no less significant. Could this be the crucial moment in our time when we demonstrate for the world that we are willing to move beyond ideological obedience to corporate greed?

Usually protesters present a list of demands and we watch the T.V. to see the results. This time the reasons behind the protests are at the very heart of our modern existence. Hopefully, protesters are not only protesting because they want more pay, job security or other incidental benefits of a corporate-world economy. Because, surely that system cannot last—we are keeping it on life support.

I would hope that at some point OWS announces that it seeks, among other things, a true cost “global market” where we incorporate real costs of continuing down the oil-slicked road and further engaging the carbon economy. Although it is more than enough to be mad at our own economic collapse, unfair rates of pay, loss of jobs, Wall street bailouts, and corporate greed, I hope that OWS includes as a demand, that we consider an American-Western, and global strategy for dealing with our current path to planetary destruction.

Protesting within the confines of the system has often been criticized for the perceived reason that it does nothing to really change the system. There is criticism that protesters are only pacified within the system and life returns to corporate normalcy once again. Never mind that, we should be happy that a tangible spark of change has been created. We should appreciate this time, this moment, the direction it could take us.

I expect the movement to grow despite police brutality, unofficial silencing, and other tactics. We will see an increased police-state in New York and other cities. How far are Americans willing to go: loss of job, loss of freedom, etc. Can we afford to go on as usual? The financial-industrial powers are not listening to the peoples’ loud message for change.

Some professional friends caution me to write with care to not jeopardize a future job or client; I take that advice and write so as not to jeopardize my future job as a grandfather or risk losing my real client, the ancestors yet to come.

I personally hope this movement grows. We, as Americans, should all be prepared for change, abrupt growing-pains-like change, if we are to forge our way forward in a world which seeks to displace us as the pre-eminent world power.

Hecegla (That is enough)

Chase Iron Eyes is an attorney licensed in the State of South Dakota and the Federal Courts of both North and South Dakota. You can read more of his writing on his blog,