The global uprising against the rich and the powerful is spreading to the United States. But it was not preceded by "a period of quiet".
When an uprising occurs, people tend to think of the uprising as activism (which it is), and the period before the uprising as a lack of activism (which it isn't). You'll hear comments such as, "The public finally couldn't take it anymore and they rose up." This is a mistaken description of what takes place. In between visible rebellions, organizers and activists, artists and writers, courageous community members -- in short, resisters of all kinds -- are working tirelessly on causes, with triumphs and defeats. The daily grind of fighting for our rights has little glamour and less thanks, but we all owe a tremendous debt to those who do that work. We would live in far worse conditions than we do without the thousands and thousands of people who find ways to stand up to power. Not only that, but a successful rebellion would be next to impossible without the structures, the organizations, the analysis, the strategies, the decision-making approaches, and the funds that activists develop year in and year out.
At the time of 9/11, the American people were the most mobilized they had been since the sixties. The Seattle WTO protests were a high-water mark of open resistance. But the rulers of this country were able to capitalize on the World Trade Center demolition to brazenly intimidate the leftwing and make visible resistance much riskier and more difficult. The resistance didn't stop, however -- not even big visible street actions stopped, as evidenced by the huge demonstrations at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis in 2008 that were repressed by police with violent brutality. The resistance during this past ten years has mostly been less visible but still tireless; the work of union organizers at hospitals, immigrant rights activists combating the Arizona mentality, feminists fighting the use of rape as a weapon of war, climate activists trying to keep us all from choking to death, anti-racist activists going all-out to stop the execution of Troy Davis, and on and on and on -- it has all been continuing.
Uprisings are exciting and important, but they happen in a context of long, arduous, committed work. Those activist efforts make uprisings possible, and make the gains from uprisings last -- otherwise whatever we win would just fade as soon as the uprising quieted. We need to remember to always honor the women and men who live the struggle all the time, and we need to join those struggles between uprisings. Showing up for the revolution is exciting -- and we need you there -- but it's not enough.
BY THE WAY: According to the Occupy Wall Street website, Mayor Bloomberg has declared that he is clearing the park starting at midnight tonight. Please visit the website to see actions you can take to support the protesters. And, for your knowledge and entertainment, read Delia Smith's Basic Blockading. It's not to be missed.