From Tahrir to Toronto: it’s time to occupy the world!

  • October 15, 2011

People & Protest

It is time to occupy the world. We are the masses. We are the power. We have glimpses of what we want. We need only have the courage to fight for it.

When I was in Cairo speaking to the revolutionaries, a consistent story kept being told to me. This story was about peace, acceptance, and the coming together of humanity. This story melted hearts and left a lasting impression on anyone and everyone who witnessed its unfolding. But, this story was not the revolution that took part in the streets, the violence by police nor the resignation of Mubarak. Rather, this story was about the occupation of Tahrir Square — the infamous square that started a world wide movement. I was told stories of a Utopian society within this square, one which I must admit, I had a hard time imagining. From the description given to me by people of all ages, religions and political views it truly seemed like something out of a blissful dream – a dream who’s daunting power and beauty I have only now understood.

If anyone reading this knows the background to Egypt’s situation — or has continued to follow the current news — one will know about the rift in the population. But during the occupation of Tahrir, something happened which no one had expected. Stories about members of the Muslim Brotherhood standing shoulder to shoulder with Coptic Christians were only the beginning of the unveiling of the heart of Tahrir. I heard stories of unveiled women handing water and bandaging men who had never expected to speak to a “heathen”. I heard stories of the educated teaching the poor how to read and write. I heard stories of people with all kinds of political and religious views staying together under a single tent, speaking philosophically and respectfully about their own views, and listening to one another. And most beautiful of all I heard stories of sharing, whether poor or middle class, people shared food, water, tents, and medical supplies. They would protect one another, use each other’s strengths and stand strong as a single force.

This is what I had believed the people would fight for, if nothing else, to expand the ideals of what occurred in Tahrir Square into the country of Egypt. But, with Mubarak’s resignation, there was a void of power. So, when the dust  and tear gas settled, when solidarity needed not be in the limelight, people went back to their segregated parties, affiliations and religious umbrellas — all of whom made a seemingly individual pact to accept what had occurred in Tahrir as an anomaly one would never witness again. And so they are separated once more, Salifenes, Muslim Brotherhood, atheists, Coptic Christians, right wing, left wing, no wing.  But all those who were present in the occupation of Tahrir had been witness to a glorious beauty almost never seen before.

Then, when I travelled to Spain, I met with many indignados who spoke to me about the occupation of Puerta del Sol. But no longer was there an occupation. Instead, they seemingly evolved from the square, leaving only an information booth, art work and memories behind. The information booth and artwork was later destroyed by the Spanish police. Then, a call to action. Tens of thousands of people rushed the square instantly, demanding they take back a square which had barely been occupied at all. It hadn’t made sense to me until now, you see, they destroyed the physical aspects of the square, but the memories of beauty, solidarity and peace were still there, lingering. With it, a message: world peace is possible if we all have an equal voice. And so when the police rushed, the people needed not to save petty physical monuments, but the beauty that was the society in the square.

While there, I had learned about how the indignados were creating an international online handbook of sorts called  ““. The website explains how to conduct people’s assemblies, which they have been conducting for months. They explain the rules of participatory or direct democracy and how to initiate it within the society of the square. And they worked tirelessly in assemblies that would discuss a possible new system. Individual assemblies would speak on economic and political structuring. They had devised a way to bring what had been created in Tahrir and in Puerta del Sol (and indeed squares across Spain and the world) into a tangible new system that would combine individual views into a hive mindset structured to ensure equality and with all the best attributes of people’s personal political views. Though my stay was short, the effects will last forever.

I then headed to Greece where I finally met the people that had helped me get in touch with those who are pushing for a European Revolution. I spoke to many people in Syntagma Square, all of whom dawned bags beneath their eyes and beaming smiles. They were working hard spreading the message, working on organization and pushing for change, but all knew that what they were doing was for the greatest good. Spirits were high, just like the temperature. Conversations of philosophy and hypothesis of the future would ensue, each one leaving me with a lasting impression.

And so upon my return to Toronto, I pondered all that I had laid witness to, and slowly sank into a state of depression. A single question lay in my mind: with all that is happening around the world, why had North America stayed silent, with heads bowed to the injustices caused by the political and corporate elite? And in that state I stayed, the same question circling my mind for nearly two months. Then, salvation, a sign of resistance! Adbusters, the Canadian anti-corporate magazine, called for the occupation of Wall Street. The movement had finally travelled across the ocean, it had started.

On September 17th, the occupation began. Soon, though, they occupied largely unbeknownst to much of the population, through the spreading of images of brutality incited by the NYPD the word began to spread. Now, on the eve of the international protest against corporate greed and capitalism started months before in Spain, over a thousand cities in the United States and all major cities in Canada will have squares occupied. October 15th will go down in infamy, stories will be told as history is being marked. This may very well be the beginning of the first international revolution in human history.

Keep in mind, though: do not, by any chance believe it has just sprout out of nowhere. This revolution has been generations in the making. The visionary baby boomers saw this coming but were up against the world. Now, with the youth standing up to fight, with technology spreading the word and organizing the masses of the globe together, nostalgia of the baby boomers has turned to a belief, a reality that their battle is not over, that it exists today as it did before. But now, we do not battle the rest of the world, rather, the world’s two largest populations are working together towards a single goal. We need not “dream” as Martin Luther King Jr. had. Nor “imagine” as John Lennon had. No. We have tangible views of a future we fight for. All you need to do is visit a square, speak to the occupiers, attend a general assembly. All that we had hoped for in the past, all that we had believed and been told throughout our lives was impossible, all that we should fight for exist in the squares being occupied by the 99%.

Though demands are always on the forefront of what voyeurs ask for, the demands of a new system is the society of the square. We are testing a new world in small areas, we are exemplifying all that we demand so we not only point out the fallacies of the system, but provide a solution to it. It is time to occupy the world. We are the masses. We are the power. We have glimpses of what we want. We need only have the courage to fight for it. Long live the world revolution. Long live the occupations. Long live the 99%.

Nadim Fetaih

Nadim Fetaih is a writer, activist and documentary filmmaker. His first film is A Tale of Two Revolutions.

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