The Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Together movement is growing. Let us hope the momentum continues because those in power will move to clamp down hard on this.

Occupy Wall Street: The Most Important Thing in the World Now

by Naomi Klein

I was honored to be invited to speak at Occupy Wall Street on Thursday night. Since amplification is (disgracefully) banned, and everything I say will have to be repeated by hundreds of people so others can hear (a k a “the human microphone”), what I actually say at Liberty Plaza will have to be very short. With that in mind, here is the longer, uncut version of the speech.

I love you.

And I didn’t just say that so that hundreds of you would shout “I love you” back, though that is obviously a bonus feature of the human microphone. Say unto others what you would have them say unto you, only way louder.

Yesterday, one of the speakers at the labor rally said: “We found each other.” That sentiment captures the beauty of what is being created here. A wide-open space (as well as an idea so big it can’t be contained by any space) for all the people who want a better world to find each other. We are so grateful.

If there is one thing I know, it is that the 1 percent loves a crisis. When people are panicked and desperate and no one seems to know what to do, that is the ideal time to push through their wish list of pro-corporate policies: privatizing education and social security, slashing public services, getting rid of the last constraints on corporate power. Amidst the economic crisis, this is happening the world over.

And there is only one thing that can block this tactic, and fortunately, it’s a very big thing: the 99 percent. And that 99 percent is taking to the streets from Madison to Madrid to say “No. We will not pay for your crisis.”

That slogan began in Italy in 2008. It ricocheted to Greece and France and Ireland and finally it has made its way to the square mile where the crisis began.

“Why are they protesting?” ask the baffled pundits on TV. Meanwhile, the rest of the world asks: “What took you so long?” “We’ve been wondering when you were going to show up.” And most of all: “Welcome.”

Many people have drawn parallels between Occupy Wall Street and the so-called anti-globalization protests that came to world attention in Seattle in 1999. That was the last time a global, youth-led, decentralized movement took direct aim at corporate power. And I am proud to have been part of what we called “the movement of movements.”

But there are important differences too. For instance, we chose summits as our targets: the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the G8. Summits are transient by their nature, they only last a week. That made us transient too. We’d appear, grab world headlines, then disappear. And in the frenzy of hyper patriotism and militarism that followed the 9/11 attacks, it was easy to sweep us away completely, at least in North America.

Occupy Wall Street, on the other hand, has chosen a fixed target. And you have put no end date on your presence here. This is wise. Only when you stay put can you grow roots. This is crucial. It is a fact of the information age that too many movements spring up like beautiful flowers but quickly die off. It’s because they don’t have roots. And they don’t have long term plans for how they are going to sustain themselves. So when storms come, they get washed away.

Being horizontal and deeply democratic is wonderful. But these principles are compatible with the hard work of building structures and institutions that are sturdy enough to weather the storms ahead. I have great faith that this will happen.

Something else this movement is doing right: You have committed yourselves to non-violence. You have refused to give the media the images of broken windows and street fights it craves so desperately. And that tremendous discipline has meant that, again and again, the story has been the disgraceful and unprovoked police brutality. Which we saw more of just last night. Meanwhile, support for this movement grows and grows. More wisdom.

But the biggest difference a decade makes is that in 1999, we were taking on capitalism at the peak of a frenzied economic boom. Unemployment was low, stock portfolios were bulging. The media was drunk on easy money. Back then it was all about start-ups, not shutdowns.

We pointed out that the deregulation behind the frenzy came at a price. It was damaging to labor standards. It was damaging to environmental standards. Corporations were becoming more powerful than governments and that was damaging to our democracies. But to be honest with you, while the good times rolled, taking on an economic system based on greed was a tough sell, at least in rich countries.

Ten years later, it seems as if there aren’t any more rich countries. Just a whole lot of rich people. People who got rich looting the public wealth and exhausting natural resources around the world.

The point is, today everyone can see that the system is deeply unjust and careening out of control. Unfettered greed has trashed the global economy. And it is trashing the natural world as well. We are overfishing our oceans, polluting our water with fracking and deepwater drilling, turning to the dirtiest forms of energy on the planet, like the Alberta tar sands. And the atmosphere cannot absorb the amount of carbon we are putting into it, creating dangerous warming. The new normal is serial disasters: economic and ecological.

These are the facts on the ground. They are so blatant, so obvious, that it is a lot easier to connect with the public than it was in 1999, and to build the movement quickly.

We all know, or at least sense, that the world is upside down: we act as if there is no end to what is actually finite—fossil fuels and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions. And we act as if there are strict and immovable limits to what is actually bountiful—the financial resources to build the kind of society we need.

The task of our time is to turn this around: to challenge this false scarcity. To insist that we can afford to build a decent, inclusive society—while at the same time, respect the real limits to what the earth can take.

What climate change means is that we have to do this on a deadline. This time our movement cannot get distracted, divided, burned out or swept away by events. This time we have to succeed. And I’m not talking about regulating the banks and increasing taxes on the rich, though that’s important.

I am talking about changing the underlying values that govern our society. That is hard to fit into a single media-friendly demand, and it’s also hard to figure out how to do it. But it is no less urgent for being difficult.

That is what I see happening in this square. In the way you are feeding each other, keeping each other warm, sharing information freely and proving health care, meditation classes and empowerment training. My favorite sign here says, “I care about you.” In a culture that trains people to avoid each other’s gaze, to say, “Let them die,” that is a deeply radical statement.

A few final thoughts. In this great struggle, here are some things that don’t matter.

§ What we wear.

§ Whether we shake our fists or make peace signs.

§ Whether we can fit our dreams for a better world into a media soundbite.

And here are a few things that do matter.

§ Our courage.

§ Our moral compass.

§ How we treat each other.

We have picked a fight with the most powerful economic and political forces on the planet. That’s frightening. And as this movement grows from strength to strength, it will get more frightening. Always be aware that there will be a temptation to shift to smaller targets—like, say, the person sitting next to you at this meeting. After all, that is a battle that’s easier to win.

Don’t give in to the temptation. I’m not saying don’t call each other on shit. But this time, let’s treat each other as if we plan to work side by side in struggle for many, many years to come. Because the task before will demand nothing less.

Let’s treat this beautiful movement as if it is most important thing in the world. Because it is. It really is.

Editor’s Note: Naomi’s speech also appeared in Saturday’s edition of the Occupied Wall Street Journal.

Original post on The Nation

32 Responses to “Naomi Klein Addresses Occupy Wall Street”

  1. kloppinaka says:

    What are some books people recommend to I recommend: No Logo by Naomi Klein, The Color of Violence by INCITE! & Foucault

  2. mcfarmengr rabachiodo says:

    CIRCULO DE ESTUDIO ” BRUJULA METROPOLITANA”: La cosa mas en el mundo; movimiento Ocupa Wall Street, Naomi Klein: ‘via Blog this’ La cosa mas en el mundo; movimiento Ocupa Wall Street, Naomi Klein La cosa más del mundo Naomi Klein 23/10/11 Si algo sé, es que el uno por ciento ama una crisis. Cuando la gente entra en pánico y está desesperada, y parece que nadie sabe qué hacer, es el momento ideal para lograr que se apruebe su lista de deseos de políticas pro empresariales: privatizar la educación y la seguridad social, los servicios públicos, deshacerse de las últimas restricciones al poder empresarial. En medio de la crisis económica, esto es lo que actualmente sucede en todo el mundo. Sólo hay una cosa que puede bloquear esta táctica, y, es grande: el 99 por ciento. Y ese 99 por ciento está tomando las calles, desde Madison hasta Madrid, para decir: “No, no pagaremos tu…

  3. bata asmitheur says:

    2 women my age ( /-) who I think are great are Liz Phair and Naomi Klein, but LP is really andBjoLvq

  4. yoshilponc olentz says:

    FUBAR So the President won’t weigh in on Occupy Wall Street and the republicans refuse to address any legislation that includes a Jobs Bill

  5. Email not displaying correctly? View it in your browser. A daily TV/radio grassroots, global news hour, hosted by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, airing on over 950 stations, pioneering the largest community media collaboration in the United States. Democracy Now! Daily News Digest November 11, 2011 Naomi Klein on Environmental Victory: Obama Delays Keystone XL Oil Pipeline Decision Until 2013 Environmental activists are claiming victory after the Obama administration announced Thursday it will postpone any decision on the proposed 1,700-mile Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline until 2013. The announcement was made just days after more than 10,000 people encircled the White House calling on President Obama to reject the project, the second major action against the project organized by Bill McKibben’s and Tar Sands Action. We play an excerpt of Canadian author and activist Naomi Klein speaking last night at an event about Occupy Wall Street organized by The Nation magazine….

  6. goood video {{{police ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ah ah ah ha ha ha ha ha wa wa wa wa wa good video bro

  7. Collectivism, the difference between this and the Borg?
    Human nature, though innately good, is corrupt in spirit, therefore the ideals of collectivism are corrupt.

  8. United States and Canada signed a military agreement February 14 2008 and Obama continued in Feb. 2011 allowing the armed forces from one nation to the armed forces of the other nation during a domestic civil emergency, even one that does not involve a cross-border crisis!
    And there is no end i sight to the occupy movement.

  9. Aleister at American Glob was yukking it up over the stunning incoherence of these idiots at Occupy Boston interviewed by Holly Robichaud of the Boston Herald: “I created much of the intellectual foundation for what they do. I what they do.” – Elizabeth Warren, referring to Occupy Wall Street “In 1996, Warren was the […]

  10. must read klein in guardian: did homeland security [lead by rep peter king] & white house coordinate local police attacks on occupys

  11. kelmler satier says:

    How much a day does the “Occupy Wall Street” movement cost? Just vote the out, it’s a better and longer lasting solution. –

  12. having seen the animated grinch movie every year around christmas since i was little, i can tell you that is indeed a line from the movie…..

  13. You are the 99%? wow Albuquerque is smaller than I thought. Well you .03% have fun with that. the rest of us have lives. Just curious, can anyone explain the timing for all this? been bailed out recently? What corporate scandals have happened? While I Ron Paul the main goals of this protest appear to be socialism and redistribution, not very Paul friendly. Until you guys form a singular message and goal, will be timid.

  14. mita bouloua says:

    “To begin with,” he wrote, “any theory that connects a tiny (in this case 1 percent) of the population with exploitative banking practices is susceptible to taking on anti-Semitic I suppose that’s technically true, …
    Tablet Magazine

  15. I just want to comment on protesting today in America. Not saying that all of the protests in the 60’s were great, but when they protested – they REALLY protested! Why is it that we have to get permits to express our 1st Amendment? Why do we have “free speech zones”? If MLK had to get a permit, or if the protestors had to get permission to have a sit-in, do you think anything would have changed much? I mean, it’s something to think about… I hope I was clear on my statement…

  16. they stop showing the occupy wall street RIOT videos on the news

    Cause the government dont wanna show ppl on tv fighting for there rights

  17. maristrill says:

    Brooklyn: Bedford Ave & 8 St NYPD Calling a level 1 mobilization in regards to Occupy Wall Street Protesters protesting.

  18. platoligur bell says:

    Official haiku prediction: GIANTS WON’T OCCUPY WALL STREET: Pats will win by four; I won’t be frozen to core; At parade, a bore.

  19. degawa suparrindi says:

    BUSH CIA Memos + “SHOCK DOCTRINE” NAOMI KLEIN + WHAT Is THIS / Is This Anything Made In America ?

  20. conata cader says:

    ‘noam chomsky, eduardo galeano, and naomi klein will be there. that’s like the father, the son, and the holy ghost, bro.’

  21. ebertino says:

    esse texto do chomski é essencial, ‘o poder e a mídia’, assim como o ‘sem logo’ da naomi klein. o ‘cachorros de palha’ do grey tbm ajuda

  22. Shirley — an 1849 novel by Jane Eyre author Charlotte Bronte — is a must read for people interested in the topics of: economic justice; Occupy Wall Street ideas; women’s social history; feminism; war and peace; and charity. Shirley Keldeer is such a vibrant character, and such a strong woman, that she changed cultural history.

  23. Just watched Naomi Klein speaking at TED. I love Naomi’s work but I never really walk away from it feeling ‘cheery’. Sigh.

  24. croffon vas says:

    Re-reading “The Shock Doctrine :The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” by Naomi Klein – I wish everyone would read this .

  25. Occupy’s latest project: Forgiving peoples’ debt: Occupy Wall Street, the protest movement launched to fight corporate greed and corr… –

  26. rossholbec winger says:

    I like Naomi Klein very much, but her on Post-Sandy Shock Doctrine is difficult to absorb. What would she do?

  27. sasalvenci beiterman says:

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  28. How FBI Infiltrated Occupy Wall Street-if OWS are branded as domestic terrorists, then the war on terror will never end htt … –

  29. If you want to know EXACTLY what this “government” is doing then please read “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein. …

  30. lol. I remember going through occupy wall street at the moment of its peak. It was a great experience –

  31. The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
    Naomi Klein (Author)
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  32. heinley rayla says:

    is a march against the police. How about a march against the FBI on there involvement against Occupy Wall Street Movement.

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