October 11, 2012
This Monday, October 15, 2012, a broad and diverse community of social and environmental justice activists formerly aligned under the Occupy Toronto banner will be reuniting for an evening in St. James Park, to celebrate their first year of collaboration in activism, direct democracy and resistance.
The St. James movement, short lived as it was, effectively put theoriy into action and did so in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Some of the themes included opposing local austerity measures, framed in the global context, prisoner solidarity advocacy — a crucial human rights issue — labour power and a century of struggle, exploring ecology as a world view, contrasted by the dangers of climate change and the Alberta Tar Sands, understanding the human cost of mining and other forms of colonial exploitation done against Indigenous peoples, both abroad and at home.
From the very outset the spirit of cooperation, inclusiveness, egalitarianism, and generosity was emphasized, and put into practice through the General Assembly. Political arguments were debated, and issues of concern were raised, popular education methods were taught. Through persistent dialog, and a tenacious attitude bent on solving societies most sensitive and complex problems, participants situated at all points along the cross/cultural and class divisions, gained a profound learning experience about what it means to design the ideal community, and as a corollary effect, gained a glimmering of the different perspectives that social stratification can blind them to, such as confronting poverty, and racism.
Occupy Toronto was just one instance of a global solidarity effort, its legacy tends to be generalized and misinterpreted. The Occupy Movement was described as a movement of the 99%, but the lived experience of the encampment proved to be instructive that no two people in a society can ever completely agree on anything. The uniting task of attempting to dismantle the problems that imperil us, each as individuals and as a whole, will require a different kind of thinking.
Though the encampment may have ended, the protests subsided, the problems unsolved, —as Western Capitalism progresses down its spiralling trajectory into ruin— friendships have developed, and the organizing continues. These are the some of the legacies we can (and should), all celebrate and remember when we take back the park.