What is Occupy Doing Now?
I am interrupting my 5 part series to answer questions I am getting about what Occupy is doing now.
What is Occupy Doing Now?
In East New York, in Dorchester, MA and in many places in the US, the Occupy Movement took new, concrete steps last week by occupying empty homes that banks are sitting on. The "Occupying Homes" movement is focusing on the crisis of home foreclosures in communities hardest hit by these foreclosures. Occupy is basing itself, grounding itself and orienting its spotlight better on working class issues. Occupy is more going to the root of problems. More than focusing on just one family that is threatened by eviction, Occupy is focusing on the banks sitting on homes and is helping families move into homes, defending homes that have been foreclosed and defending homes that are threatened with foreclosure. It is a qualitative leap for the movement.
There are millions of homes with no people in them and millions of people without homes. Occupy is showing that a home is a human right, not purely a commodity to be bought or sold for profit. As educators, we know the difficulty of educating families that are constantly on the move and do not have a secure roof over their head.
Occupy the Homes is exposing the problems with the system of banks taking homes. It is challenging the concept of financing home ownership and even challenging the concept of property. Occupy is promoting the concept of "the commons" (starting from the notion that nobody owns the water and air); for the right to live in a home, Occupiers are questioning the current logic of buying, selling and making profits off homes without consideration for its human impact. The idea is to treat a house similarly to an education or healthcare, which many of us think of as rights. This shift illustrates the ideological battle of our day: is everything for profit? Are there things that belong to us as humans on this planet? Occupy is promoting this idea of public spaces, including public education.
How does this relate to education?
Public education is facing the opposite challenge. Education is currently seen as a fundamental right. The most ideological of the 1 percent are trying to turn education into a product to be bought and sold (the way homes are mostly treated in our society). These 1% supremacists want to make education exclusive. Occupy is fighting the commoditization of learning so that education does not become a marketplace where profit rules supreme. Occupy is fighting to keep education inclusive. In the United States education is free and the struggle now is to keep it free - and expand the right for all children to have access to a high-quality education. Hardcore capitalist extremists are trying to make education private; a commodity.