Why not occupy?

Why are you not protesting?

Re. What are you protesting? Letters, Oct. 26. In his letter to the editor last week, Barry Jackson argues that I “exhort” readers to join the occupy movement. He then begins to praise the supposed merits of free-market capitalism.

Jackson believes we should be content, and have little reason to dissent or resist. We have food, clothing, shelter and enjoy “a standard of living that would have rivalled a king’s two or three hundred years ago.”

If Jackson’s highest standard of living is that of a seventeenth century king, occupiers should indeed pack up their tents and go home. Fortunately, some of us have higher goals than feudal monarchies.

He asks why the occupiers are protesting. If he is so curious, I would “exhort” him to find out for himself. Occupy Montreal is still alive and well, and unlike our supposed democracy in Ottawa, anyone can enter the public space and share their views freely, including Mr. Jackson.

Mr. Jackson believes the occupiers represent “a throwback to an unenlightened age when rulers enjoyed absolute authority over their subjects, unconstrained as it were by power-checks such as a constitution or a charter of rights and freedoms.”

It should go without saying that there are no rulers in the occupy movement. Decisions are made based upon popular consensus during public assemblies held on a daily basis. In my view, this is superior to the kind of hierarchical, closed-door haggling we see in our municipalities and national offices.

There are roughly 950 cities in over 80 countries with similar spaces as Occupy Montreal. And while I absolutely agree with Mr. Jackson that comparisons cannot easily be made with the so-called Arab Spring, it is fair to say that something is in the air.

The issues are simply too serious to ignore: global economic volatility in Europe and America raise questions about the sustainability of the global economy, while widespread environmental degradation and global warming raise serious questions about the sustainability of the planet. 

I believe that we may be in the early stages of witnessing significant social change in the world. I am also hopeful that social movements like Occupy Montreal will foster this change. These are all encouraging signs worthy of support and active engagement by those concerned for the future. 

Mr. Jackson twice asks, why are you protesting? I ask, why are you not?

Matthew Brett

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