Project 2 – Occupy, the Internet, and Communism

Occupy sprang up while I was still in high school. By that time I learned of America’s many historical blunders in history classes, English classes, and in my own research.  In much of the coverage of Occupy on the news and online,  the movement was depicted as some kind of socialist-communist bull-crap event organized by a bunch of lazy people.

As I started looking into Occupy more, I began to see the movement more as a response to the bank bailouts and what many called “unchecked capitalism. ” Occupy activists argued that this unchecke capitalism allowed banks and corporations to create a great disparity between the working class and the capitalists in charge of said businesses. I did not see lazy people occupying Zuccotti Park; I say people tired of being screwed over. Activists seemed to be asking: If the working class is the reason why this country stays afloat, and they make up the “99 percent”, how is it these families loose their houses, small businesses, and jobs while some of the richest corporations in the world get bailed out?

As much as it was a progressive socialist movement, it wasn’t lazy nor an attempt at some communist revolution. However being so young I was able to give little help to the cause other than posting constant memes and videos of the events, and one event that horrified me. UC Davis pepper spray incident, for those not familiar here’s a link. This will be more relevant later.

Coming into college as a psychology major I always had a long fascination of people, this is why drove myself to sign up as an anthropology major after taking many courses in that field. I quick fell in love with Karl Marx, a political/economic philosopher whose ideas leaked into anthropology. Now he was a communist, not (all*) Occupy protesters. But as his theories suggest culture creates a way to ‘legitimize’ oppression from the powerful. American capitalism has the idea that we fail because we are not good enough, it is a personal problem, not a system problem. Those who work hard are rich, those who are poor are lazy. This is exactly what Marx was explaining, we have the ‘working poor’ class and that can’t be because they are lazy with 3 jobs. American culture has an adoration of our public service workers, especially our cops. They’re all the good guys, here to protect you. Yet with the UC Davis incident, that cop clearly used excessive force, doesn’t matter if they were told not to camp out. They were students and using their own campus, students peacefully sitting. The cop that just began to casually pepper spray them in the face was defended by the station to the point they lied about being ‘closed in’ by protesters and worried about their security (as stated in the link about the incident above). They look out for themselves, not the people.

Occupy went viral fast, but the UC Davis incident exploded! I saw the videos on Facebook the day it happened, probably hours afterward. This movement sent ideas and videos around the world within minutes. With new technologies, they mastered new weird ways of having discourse. Memes were big but this meme was like one I have not seen before in the movement. It took everything we knew about beloved American pictures and/or items and defiled them.

Before I talk about the bigger picture I need to explain some history and how it all ties together. You’re probably wondering why this post is titled with the word communism yet all I talked about is a bit of Marx, well this is where it comes in.

Occupy was not the first major progressive-socialist movement, in fact, its almost the baby of other movements, this was not a one-time idea out of nowhere. America has a long-term history of attacking progressive ideas, even though America was a nation founded on revolutionary ideas. Literally (Necessary Trouble p.198). There have been other recent attempts throughout American history towards more socialistic ideas and unionization. Worker’s movements became associated with immigrants and foreigners and therefore targeted as attacks on America. This grew to detrimental proportions during Vladamir Lenin’s Russian Revolution of 1917 happened, when a leftist workers’ revolution took place. The fears of this communist uprising made the USA create the Sedition Act of 1918 which prohibited any anti-war effort (p.198). This fear grew greater during the second Red Scare, which happened after World War 2. The Red Scare of this time was little about punishing crime as it seemed to attack those with more progressive ideas. It put people against each other and was made to divide. It successfully allowed for a narrowing of what was deemed proper discourse in America, “class struggle” was not accepted (p.199-201) and people lost jobs, rights, and became pawns in a game of fearmongering. Those in power pointed fingers and without a real crime could say “you’re unAmerican!” and sabotage your whole life. The Red Scare benefited those in power and stopped any further movements of worker’s having an equal share to their bosses.  It was in one easy sentence a war on workers (p.199). As Marx stated, “the history of all hitherto existing society, is the history of class struggle” (The Communist Manifesto p.62).

Back to the Casual Pepper spray Cop meme of UC Davis, within hours hundreds of memes circulated about him (John Pike). As states in the last paragraph, it was the powerful/oppressors who pointed the finger and called one’s ‘unAmerican”. This time in the revitalized worker’s movement, THEY pointed the finger and called out “unAmerican”. The memes the sent around depicted the pepper spray cop defiling well-known pictures with meanings attacking the integrity of those who were against Occupy. I use defile as the term because I feel as if this word and our feelings to how it’s also used creates the perfect feelings of what the tactic is.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The constitution being vandalized, the Iwo Jima soldiers being assaulted, the Founding Fathers’ constitution being destroyed, even the famous picture of the Tibetan monk martyr suicide against China, a chilling image of someone going to the extreme to demonstrate against a corruptive force to the demonstrator. The doctored picture of pepper spray cop defiled the original meanings of these pictures and tainted their meaning and directed a new meaning. The villain is the cop attacking those who fought against something tyrannical or a threat. The threat is very visible, the authority figures.

The socialist movements of my parents or grandparent’s time failed because of the fear mongering of communism or socialism. The fear of Russia was real back then, fear of nuclear fallout. Something that scares me to this day but the fear is not that of what older generations faced. A professor of mine from another class told the story about him growing up and praying every Christmas Eve that the nuclear fallout wouldn’t happen because he wanted his presents. The new generation growing older and becoming the next ones in line to take the country do not have this fear, in fact, we have seen a huge movement towards a more socialistic government and economy this past election.

We have the same general ideas of the movements from before but we do not falter to fear mongering of ‘Anti-American’ views since a lot of us are way over the accepted level of ‘American values’ and ‘views’ today. Occupy did not spring up from laziness or random boredom, but is connected to ideas shot down before. These memes, although funny even in terrible ways sometimes, have strong meanings connecting to other struggles we adore today. Occupy is showing that if you go against the people in this struggle, what difference is it to the other ones?

Jaffe Response 1

Jaffe Response 2

Jaffe Response 3


Necessary Trouble Project 2

When I first began to listen to an episode of the Belabored Podcast featuring Sara Jaffe discussing her new book, Necessary Trouble, I was not anticipating the first words out of her mouth to be about the US Women’s Soccer team — one of my all-time favorite sports teams. Jaffe detailed the struggle women face regarding the pay gap between men and women’s sports, particulary the pay gap between men and women’s soccer.

As a female collegiate athlete, I am all too aware of the disparity between tEngland_Women's_Vs_USA_(16365778038)he pay men and women receive for the same work, and that a change needs to be made. After the U.S. Men’s  Soccer Team lost in the first round of the 2016 World Cup, the team was still paid $8 million. After the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team won the 2016 World cup, they only made $2 million. This is just one of the many unfair examples of men’s sports being paid way more women’s, and Jaffe addressing the issue immediately in the beginning of her podcast shows it is also an important issue to her as well.

I chose to include Jaffe’s podcast in this project, because I feel that the more exposure to Jaffe’s work, the more people who can make  a difference.  In just under an hour, Jaffe covered so many different aspects of American Activism, and the different movements she was personally involved in. Jaffe not only talked about American Activism, she also addressed the new child labor laws in India, and the implication that these new laws can have on Indian society. What Jaffe does is take domestic issues, as well as global issues, and makes them more tangible. While the everyday citizen is not thinking about child labor issues in India, by starting on a more local level by addressing the US Women’s soccer team, then gradually growing to address more globally based issues, makes Jaffe’s work a lot more tangible. By having an easy segue from the domestic to the global sphere of activism, Jaffe shows the connection between all levels of activism, and how many movements are interconnected, with the issue of interest serving as a connection between them all.

My first post about Necessary Trouble focused on the Occupy Movement, a movement that I had heard about but really did not know much about. What I found extremely interesting about Jaffe’s writing on the Occupy Movement is how she details the process of becoming involved in the movement, although she had not really planned on it. Jaffe writes about American activism from a very personable approach, and that makes it very accessible to everyday people.

The second post I wrote regarding Jaffe’s book was about the LGBT community, which is a huge part of my life, and the book actually led to me finding some new LGBT resources, which are always helpful. Each movement that Jaffe writes on is connected to the others in some way. By helping the LGBT youth of today, it provides the basis for the next generation of activists to accept all people, and to help others without question.

The last post I wrote regarding Necessary Trouble was in regard to the way activism travels. Growing up on the Jersey shore, one of the most memorable events in my lifetime has been the experience of Superstorm Sandy, and the subsequent devastation and rebuilding that occurred. Jaffe writes of the Occupy Sandy Movement, an activism group that looked to repair damage following the superstorm. Many of the people involved in the movement were not directly affected by the storm, yet because so many people had been there to help during the Occupy Wall Street movement, the same people who had received help were now the ones in a position to help those in need. There was no obligation for those involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement to help those affected by Superstorm Sandy, yet what federal aid failed; Occupy Sandy was there to help in the wake of the devastation.

What I really enjoyed about Jaffe and her book is how incredibly accessible she is. The movements are explained, history is given regarding how Jaffe became involved, and the inclusion of personal details about her own experiences that brought Jaffe to where she is today, and the network that her activism has caused. This idea of paying it forward, and what one is able to do can help someone who can in turn help someone else is a fascinating notion, because many Americans do not think that way today. Just as we do not often think about issues such as the Women’s soccer team making drastically less money than the men’s team, yet having had a history of performing better,we do not often think about the different social movements that have passed through the United States, especially within the last few years, and the way these movements are connected is nearly never brought up in conversation.

We gotta lot of problems…

In her book, Necessary Trouble, Sarah Jaffe highlighted activist movements around the country from 2008 to about 2015, many of which connect to movements are currently happening or happened recently. Jaffe’s emphasizes that social media has been a key factor to bringing all the movements together; but, in a broader sense, she suggests that social media is now a key factor that connects movements everywhere.

The horrendous government bail outs of  banks lead to people losing their homes and jobs so that big shot millionaires could receive even more money.  In my post “Too Big of a Head,” I write about Jaffe’s story of the workers from the Republic of Windows and Doors. Workers were laid off by the company only to find out that the company and investment banks would be bailed out by the government with millions of dollars. They fought for their right to  severance pay by sitting in the factory until they got what they demanded. Workers were and still are fed up with the dealings of banks. Many banks will invest in business deals that do more harm than good, but then expect the citizens of the U.S. to continue feeding them their money.

“Wells Fargo: NO DAPL, Invest in Schools” by Joe Piette-Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Specifically, the people of South Dakota and countries all over the world had to intervene with a particular bank after the investments began to impede on their daily lives and well-being.  The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) was put to a halt when a local tribe called Oglala Sioux supplied a lawsuit against the project since it could contaminate 200,000 resident’s fresh water from the Missouri River. Since the water is sacred to the tribe, they knew something had to be done. While Barack Obama was still in office, he decided to investigate the pipeline using the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Once Donald Trump took office, he began his reign of terror by lifting the EIS hold and leaving the Oglala Sioux and South Dakota residents to deal with the pipeline.

“Hey Wells Fargo- No DAPL! Rally” by Joe Piette- Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

With courage, protesters decided to go even deeper than the oil company by protesting at Wells Fargo banks all over the country so they would divest in DAPL financiers. The news spread so much about the DAPL Wells Fargo protest that Green Peace and 350 Japan organizations began to protest big banks in Tokyo. In December of 2016, Norway activists convinced their banks to defund the project and activists all over the world pledged to demonstrate their frustrations every day for the month of December. An important aspect that is reflected in this movements and many more that I will mention is the social media involvement to connect others who feel the same about this issue. One of the best things for an activist movement is news coverage, twitter hashtags, and much more because it is easily attainable for the public to grab onto.

In April 2014, a hashtag swept twitter after 219 Nigerian girls were kidnapped by members of the Islamic Sects. #BringBackOurGirls hashtag began in America to help activists in Nigeria demand their government get involved to save these young women.

Image found on

The 276 girls went to school on April 14, 2014 not knowing that their day would end in tragedy. The were kidnapped by the radical group because of the beliefs that women should not be educated. Fortunately, 57 girls managed to escape their abductors, but none have been found ever since. On the activist website, they provide steps for each country to get involved on this issue. Many steps include creating campaigns and rallies in order to bring to light the obstructive ways the government of Nigeria has dealt with the 219 girls missing for almost three years now.

Michelle-obama-bringbackourgirls (1)
By Michelle Obama, Office of the First Lady [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The citizens of the U.S. used social media platforms to advocate for the girls and support the activists in Nigeria. One of the most influential people who took action was Michele Obama, previous first lady of the United States. While holding up a sign saying “#BringBackOurGirls,” she had a look of despair that captivated the nation to protest even further for these girls knowing that they had the first lady behind them. Sadly, the 219 girls have still not been found and in about a month it will mark the three year period of the poor girls being missing. The hashtags fueled the protests and activism in Nigeria to spread all over the world and without that small influential piece of the puzzle there probably would not have had the coverage it did. In my #KillTheBill blog post, I discuss hashtags being a huge impact to connecting people across the nation and world in order to support a movement. Kill the Bill became incredibly strong protest in Wisconsin and their relating hashtag was how they were able to gather so many people into the capital building. The use of social media and specifically hashtags are what many movements thrive on since it is a simple way to connect people from around the world. Although some people believe hashtags are irrelevant in social media, the truth of the matter is that they provide a linkage to problems and people all over the world.

On the first day of office for Donald Trump, 45th president of the United States, was greeted with thousands of protesters in Washington and actually all over the world. All of the protesters including both men and women were protesting the right for women’s rights. Throughout the duration of Trump’s election, many remarks and promises were threatened against women, religious backgrounds, race, ethnicity, and the LGBTQ community.

Image by

People from all over the world decided that it was time to stand up against the president and show the government that they were not going to take human rights away without a fight. One of the most prominent aspects of the campaign was towards the rights of women emphasizing that women’s rights are human rights since Trump openly disrespected women and threatened to “throw” immigrants out of this country. Not only were there 500,000 people who participated, but many celebrities such as America Ferrera, Ashley Judd, Scarlet Johansson and many more spoke to the crowd about how infuriated about where our government has gone–down the drain. The Women’s March overwhelmed Twitter, Facebook, and so many other social media platforms that connected others who were not participating in the march, but felt the same about the concerns they were presenting.

Image by

In my You Go Girl blog post, I describe a powerful woman who Jaffe mentions is a political activist in Seattle, Washington community in 2011. Kshama Swant is that activist whose presence in protests are fumed with influence and competence that would make any woman feel like they had a voice because SHE has a voice.The Women’s March was to represent all human rights, but to have so many women making a huge difference by sharing their voice with others who felt the same way, it must have been such an empowering feeling for women around the world. In the past decade, women have gotten to be more and more influential in our government and society to the point where in 2017 millions of women all over the world felt that they were influential.