November 2011 

Occupy Philly

Messaging Working Group

People’s Plaza

Broad St. & Market St.

Philadelphia, PA 19107 



Results and Locating Pathways to Keep Moving Forward

Within the financial industry, neoliberal doctrine informed the promotion of loose governmental regulations, encouraged speculation, and made a strong reliance on market logic appear rational; all of which resulted in the housing market bubble and bust and the subsequent financial industry collapse in 2008. In reaction to the collapse, the US government responded by resuscitating the failing private banks with public taxpayer money, channeled through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Since the financial industry collapse and its state aided recovery, the general public within the US has had to contend with a poor economy, high unemployment, greater precariousness in the workplace, and increased amounts of personal debt and financial losses- most visibly seen in the form of homes lost to foreclosure.

Within this context, in mid-September 2011, activists descended upon Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, New York City and established Occupy Wall St. to protest the current neoliberal informed workings of finance capital and its influence over and its immersion into the US political system. In solidarity with Occupy Wall St., similarly styled occupations were established in towns and cities nationwide, including here in Philadelphia.

In the course of forming Occupy Philly, it became apparent that many different issues were of concern to members of our community. In order to identify and address these issues, the Occupy Philly Messaging Working Group was formed. Over the course of the last few weeks the Messaging Working Group conducted surveys and compiled the resultant data. According to survey results across Local, State, National, and International categories; it was determined that the following issues were of concern to the Occupy Philly movement: Education, Economy/Jobs, Corporate/Private sector accountability, International Conflicts and Human Rights. The prevalent, persistent, and interconnected nature of these issues suggest that they are complex and not necessarily contingent upon local or state particularities; but rather, they are issues of wide concern with far reaching consequences for many people regardless of geographical location.

As we move forward and continue to explore these issues and search for solutions to our problems many fundamental questions will need to be confronted. Some of our now familiar refrains hint at these questions; “Banks got bailed out! / We got sold out!” highlights our government’s implication in re-establishing the neoliberal status quo within the financial industry, which occurred at the public’s expense- all while blind to the fact that neoliberal logic lead to the industry’s collapse in the first place. “Banks got bailed out! / We got sold out!” suggests indignation with the status quo and a strong desire for change; but, change is never easy.

Today, neoliberalism impacts nearly every facet of our society and our lives. Neoliberalism can be seen in the dominate role that corporations have assumed when it comes to influencing legislation that shapes our health care system. Neoliberalism is the driving force behind the increasing privatization of our public education system and neoliberalism fuels the proliferation of the for-profit prison system. Neoliberalism informs US foreign policy. Neoliberalism plays a role in determining how, where, and when we engage in international conflict- or if we decide to engage at all. Neoliberal logic drives the US military to apportion large amounts of its budget to private sector defense and contractor companies for their services in key military operations…

At some point it will need to be asked; do we, as a country want to continue our unambiguous support of neoliberalism’s preferment of private sector solutions to public problems? Is market logic always the best or most humane basis for decision making? Is a reliance on market logic always rational or pragmatic? How many more industries will we have to bailout after they’ve been gutted by a small few and then left in an entangled ruin? Let’s keep examining these issues and continue working towards solutions.

– FM


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