Occupying the Occupiers – UNH

On Thursday (11/10/11), dozens of socially-conscious students and community members gathered on the campus of the University of New Hampshire to express their frustrations and solutions to the current state of affairs in America. Two not-wholly different groups gathered on Thompson Hall lawn that day: one organized in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, and one rallied around capitalism and free markets as a counter-protest, organized by Young Americans for Liberty at UNH and UNH College Republicans. They stood a fair distance apart, but over the 2-hour protest a practical dialogue arose among the attendees about the causes and solutions to the ills that weaken America in support of an elite few over the many.

Towards the end of the “stack,” or speakers list, I submitted my name for a chance to address the assembly. Instead of devoting my time for comments on the future structure, organization or name for this group as most were discussing, I chose to spark an existential dialogue within the occupiers. 

The occupiers were there to express their frustrations with capitalism, pointing to the failures of a system propped up by large corporations and the US government. Some spoke about corporate person hood in elections and Citizens United as well as corporate welfare in the form of bank bailouts. As far as I could see, I agreed with the occupiers on this issue of rampant corporatism in America. The thing was, they would tell you that capitalism begets corporatism, and I would go to say that “ignoble politicians” perpetuate this unjust system. I believe solutions grounded in markets and free people — capitalism — will decentralize power away from state, a collection of powerful elites unaccountable to the public. We might as well call it “the 1%.”

 

Their rules for speaking in a General Assembly begin to break down at a point when the event organizer has to restore order and determine the course of discussion. Although this GA didn’t have proper speaking limits, the occupiers attempted to follow the structure outlined by the Occupy Wall Street General Assembly Guide and Good Neighbor Policy. It seemed peculiar to me that after about 5 minutes, my time was cut by the facilitator because I was attempting to spark a discussion within the rally. He believed the GA’s time would be better spent on organization of the forming group, instead of a dialogue on issues.

I got there around 1pm, an hour into the rally. Keith Carlsen, NH State Chair for Young Americans for Liberty had been there since noon holding signs and meeting attendees. He estimated that there were about 40 people in each group at the height of the concurrent rallies, with about 6 to 8 people floating in between each group to watch the conversation. All this despite the rain. Foster’s Daily Democrat, a local newspaper based in Dover, NH covered the event.

The rallies showed us that there are students and community members that are angry with the current state of affairs in America, and they chose this time to air those grievances. Occupy the Occupy near you and express your own concerns with the nation. Engage other attendees in dialogue to identify their concerns, and present your solutions within a framework of liberty and people-powered solutions.

UNH College Republicans

Some nice NH tea-partiers came out as well

 

YAL @ UNH member Jenn Hall

 

Some of the Occupy group, discussing corporate welfare and campaign reform

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