So. That's what democracy looks like these days.
For the last eleven days, lower Manhattan has been alive with mass protest; catalyzed by a movement called Occupy Wall Street, this protest is very broad, not so much making specific demands as displaying systemic dissatisfaction with the immense social inequalities plaguing our country at this time. As David Graeber at the Guardian puts it:
We are watching the beginnings of the defiant self-assertion of a new generation of Americans, a generation who are looking forward to finishing their education with no jobs, no future, but still saddled with enormous and unforgivable debt. Most, I found, were of working-class or otherwise modest backgrounds, kids who did exactly what they were told they should: studied, got into college, and are now not just being punished for it, but humiliated – faced with a life of being treated as deadbeats, moral reprobates.
The protestors in New York have inspired sister-actions in Los Angeles, San Fransisco, and Chicago, with more being organized in Detroit, Denver, Cleveland, Boston, Phoenix, Seattle, Kansas City, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.
Naturally, these protests have not been getting much mainstream coverage. Ok, essentially none at all, which should come as a shock to no one. I only became aware of the protests myself two days ago, when police started doing what they do best when the cameras aren't rolling: violently surpressing the protestors. Feminist and social justice blogs are alive with this, and Anonymous, bless their little anarchist hearts, have started going straight for the cops who perpetrate the violence.
Ed called it back in February. There are global stresses and forces at work here, and a groundswell of popular outcry in the United States was inevitable. The question now, it how it will proceed. Will this be another flash-in-the-pan protest campaign that dies because no one hears about it? Or will it escalate, as the corporate technocrats in their panic deploy the dogs and firehoses? It's too early to tell, I think. But the most important thing we can do right now is to spread the word, and join in the protests where we can. Also, if some broad unrest does manage to occur in this most apathetic of nations, the Feds may well respond with the sort of DNS shutdown that Egypt and Iran deployed against their own protestors in the last couple of years. Those protestors were able to circumvent the DNS shutdown by KNOWING THE IP ADDRESSES of key websites, thus:
These addresses were pinged from our apartment in Eugene, OR this morning. They may change, and there may be better servers closer to you if you don't live in the Emerald Empire. To ping your own IPs: enter your command prompt (start->run->type "cmd" for WinXP; start->accessories->command prompt for Win7), and type (for example) "ping google.com" to retrieve the IP address for that server. This command sends a few packets of data to the target server and times how long it takes them to return; usually used to determine the quality of a connection, this command also returns the IP address of the target server. Obviously, since this depends on domain names, the ping command as I have described it won't work if DNS is down, so be proactive! I recommend that you keep a regularly updated list of IP addresses handy!
The revolution will not be televised. Spread the word.
photo: Sam Glewis, h/t to Melissa McEwan