by Joe Wade
Call of Solidarity for Comrades Held in Van Outside 1st Precinct: this is the title of an article on OccupyWallst.org, the main website of the protest at Wall Street and therefore, one of the strongest voices of the protest. Getting ready to visit the NYC movement for the third time—I believe I am beginning to have an understanding of its zeitgeist—something the connotations of “comrades” is not reminiscent of.
During general assembly where the entire group gathers together to discuss issues pertinent to the movement, speakers make a conscious effort to choose words carefully. Words that carry bad flavors given them by human failings, should be avoided with every effort so they don’t represent the movement as something it is not, in truth, the movement doesn’t understand itself yet.
The movement at NYC should be making a conscious effort not to use language that has been formed or abused into symbolism by previous regimes and movements around the world throughout our history.
Symbolism is a great part of a movement, and words a powerful part of communication. Often, language is so imbedded in our culture that its symbolism is forgotten. For instance, we forget that comrade triggers thoughts of communism, and that comrade sounds militant; the movement, as I have witnessed to date, is neither of these things, but rather progressive in nature; it is at the moment, social democracy on a large scale, and I would love to see it become something that triggers a new word, something as grand as the development of the republic, and the progression of capitalism from serfdom. A word with a new symbolic meaning, one of equality, that would be a word I would like to see define the movement; still, the movement has to earn that symbol, as symbols are representations of a socially accepted idea, whether true or idealized.
A good symbol can only be earned by a movement if the general consensus believes the movement is good. A word-symbol is something that represents many words or ideas; it is nebulous and what it represents can change with the words the people of that movement use. That is why it is so important that movement in NYC, and across the nation, does not use words like comrade. If they do, they risk being represented by the word-symbol, communism, which includes China, Russia and oppression.
If that is what the Occupy the Wall movement is doing, I would be writing about everyone walking, because at the moment, I am hearing about people hoping for less oppression, not more.