It’s that time of year again, where we make sure to take a break from the pervasive shuffle of organizing liberally to raise a glass and celebrate our collective accomplishments at the Drinking Liberally annual celebration!
This year bodes to be a particularly libatious occasion, as it is the 10th anniversary of the umbrella Living Liberally organization, which provides a crucial cultural underpinning to the ties that bind liberals across the country.
Before last year’s edition I opined on the importance of this cultural constituency through the prism of the powerful OWS Drinking Liberally events that occurred during the peak of the occupation of Zuccotti Park.
It was a perfect match. OWS is an idea, one whose time has come and which never could be evicted. And this is precisely why OWS is made manifest through so many cultural formats, which are so naturally able to express a central idea like this one.
Living Liberally is a platform to celebrate liberal culture, which finds direct alignment in the Occupy idea. Namely, that our political structures should serve us, the people — all of us.
Little did I know, however, how far-reaching the implications of those OWS Drinking Liberally’s would be, especially insofar as providing an inviting atmosphere for some key participants involved in the progressive political sphere to find an easy entry point into Occupy Wall Street.
Each time, after we would (naturally) have a few drinks, we would go on a tour of Zuccotti Park, with one rendition including Adam Green of the Progressive Congressional Change Committee particularly having an impact.
In fact, we discussed this instance in depth during the New Organizing Institute’s (which is a DL celebration co-sponsor) Rootscamp unconference at a session entitled ‘Occupy My Candidacy’ that Yetta Kurland put together along with myself, Adam, and then fellow occupiers Winnie Wong and Amy Miller, where we discussed “how we might combine the strengths of occupy and the strengths of netroots to build a bottom up movement of political change in a campaign for City Council.”
“To Adam’s point earlier about how directly local officials have impacted occupations, something that, Adam, I don’t know if you remember, but we were with [DL founder] Justin Krebs right after an OWS Drinking Liberally, and it was early enough on in the occupation when Mayor Bloomberg was still first starting to put pressure on us in this way, where we had noticed that all of a sudden it just so happened that at 7pm right when the General Assembly would start, there was jack hammering that would begin on some construction project that none of us had any idea about, where all of a sudden there would be jack hammering that would begin right when there was a mic check.This jack hammering example is a poignant picture of how political pressures even from our purported allies can have a tangibly negative impact on movement activities. And from my vantage point, I will never forget Adam’s shocked face recognizing this shameless political payback when I first explained this to him moments before the obtrusively loud work on this random construction project began in the immediate aftermath of the GA coming together that evening.
It was like one of those omens where you really see how clearly a member of the democratic party -- well not a member of the democratic party -- but how political officials can corrupt their office in the most blatant, brazen way.”
It is inescapably true that Occupy Wall Street has an uneasy relationship with electoral politics, but these unfortunate actions illustrate how, despite being above the electoral, OWS nonetheless impacts the electoral sphere from within this kind of cultural framework.
Politicians who operate in this democracy-defying manner deserve to be punished, and such instances of this highly inappropriate abuse of power have already acted as rallying cries against the bankrupt culture of the 1% that has been building up en masse since the Bush administration.
Moreover, many of OWS’s great greatest political allies will be attending this year’s Drinking Liberally annual celebration, which is why I couldn’t encourage supporters of the 99% across the board to take part any more!
So on Saturday join us for this 10th anniversary toast of liberal culture, and let’s all raise a glass to 10 more years of Drinking and Living Liberally together. Onwards!