This statement expresses the vision and goals set by Occupy Utrecht (The Netherlands) in solidarity with all Occupy movements across the globe.
The global Occupy movement consists of people who have spontaneously come into action for worldwide economical and social-societal change. The movement has no central organisation or leaders. Occupiers, as in their name, occupy public spaces in a long term, peaceful protest. We are here for the people and by the people. Everyone has a right to speak, to discuss, the option to contribute, ask questions and enter into dialogue about topics relevant to their interest. Occupy stands for the broadening of awareness regarding the problems in the world today, the equality of us all and the responsibility for our actions, as individuals, states, and organisations.
Awareness and dialogue, peaceful (non-violent) protest
Occupy strives for a healthy and just global society. Freedom, solidarity, sustainability and connectedness should be of central value. Occupy Utrecht wants to reach this by creating a forum for dialogue, as has been established on the Ganzenmarkt, in the centre of Utrecht. There, Occupiers, supporters and those interested can discuss with and inform each other how our current global society is constructed, how it should be, and how to accomplish this. This helps creating awareness regarding the fact that the current state of affairs is not self-evident and certainly not inevitable. It is crucial to become aware of the responsibility for the consequences of our own actions as individuals, states and politicians, and organization and their leaders. Occupy Utrecht creates the platform for people to jointly think and discuss about innovative forms of democratic network structures. Here, everybody has a vote and is directly approachable and responsible for their own participation and initiatives.
State of Affairs
Within our current global political and economical system there is a demonstrated inequitable distribution of wealth and power. The economy, powered by politics, business, industry, the financial sector and the media, is aimed at a perpetual growth, ‘more, more, more’. We are increasingly aware that this is unsustainable in this world with finite resources, through the damage this growth causes to the environment. In respect to our relationship with our natural surrounding, we are on the brink of disaster.
This does not only affect the global community but also local communities.
Politics today is experiencing an ethical crisis. Economic value, expressed in monetary terms, is too often granted precedence over human values which cannot be expressed in terms of money. Politics are subjected to the will of the market and no longer serve the public interest, which it is meant to serve. This puts a massive strain on democratic relations, obscuring who exerts what power where, and how this can be checked. The impression one gets of this system is that a relatively small group of people makes the political and economic choices, which in turn lead the small group of people to enjoy the benefits and put the burden down on many others, locally, nationally and globally.
We are increasingly confronted with the consequences of these choices. The most serious consequences for both humans and the planet are sometimes not even visible for us, yet.
The Drop and the Ocean
This lack of responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions is no longer acceptable and ultimately unsustainable. Where to start? It starts with small steps, with the realization that there are alternatives and that everything is negotiable. Most of us do not have the power to make choices that have such large, direct impact. But we do have influence: through the politicians we elect, the products we buy, how we interact with one another, which values we ourselves express in our actions, and how we together give attention to it, opening it to dialogue.
Occupy Utrecht stands for equality, solidarity, connection, peace, sustainability and responsibility. If everyone can take their own responsibility for the consequences of the choices we make, then we can truly change the world. .
* * *
Occupy occupies squares in cities all over the world, thus connecting the local with the global. Awareness should focus on the discussion of alternatives. “The field is open”. We invite everyone to contribute ideas and to participate in the dialogue. The following requires attention:
– Breaking the power of the banks and how they deal with the responsibility they have as an institution, and the lessons they seem unwilling to learn.
– Developing new forms of democracy and control at local and global levels. We want transparency, accountability and liability of officials and managers (both political and industrial) and direct forms of citizen participation.
– Creating of a fairer distribution of wealth and risk, between North and South, urban and rural, rich and poor, young and old.
– Reassessing the role of science and the interests and goals it should serve: that of man and nature, or of profit and capital?
– The functioning of education and art: focusing on economic gain or the formation of critical (world) citizens and civil society?
– Searching for a new relationship to nature because we are responsible for it in all our actions. Basic natural resources, such as water and air, are the source of life to which every human is entitled. They should be, like life itself, available for everyone to enjoy on an equal, healthy and sustainable basis. Our earth belongs to everyone, and none should have the right to irreparably damage nature. How shall we protect and manage our natural wealth as a global community, and how shall we give it back to those entitled to it?
– The meaning of nature for man has to be renegotiated, with respect and space for a diversity of meanings other than only economic ones.
– Nature as a source of inspiration, meaning, spirituality and significance must be protected for the present and future generations.
– Valuing cultural diversity and protecting it against erosion and progressive commodification for profit, such as by selling land of traditional peoples, the exclusion and reduction of the Other and all that is Different.
– Eradicating war once and for all. Respect and non-violent dialogue should come first, the undemocratic influence of industry and the possibility of political or economic gain by war must be eliminated.
– A culture of competition, profit, selfishness and fear, as is often seen in politics, our voting and the media, leads to inhumane treatment of individuals and populations. We wish to think about a community where uncertainty does not lead to exclusion, blindness, anxiety and aggression. We wish for a community in which cooperation, solidarity, caring, love and personal freedom in fruitful relationships are central.
We are capable of meaningful, peaceful dialogue and cooperation. This capability can and should become our central focus to jointly achieve healthy, creative and constructive solutions.
Occupy Utrecht, 29 November 2011