‘Occupy Toronto’

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They wanted to change the world, but first they had to change the location of their demonstration.

Billed as “Occupy Toronto,” the Canadian version of America’s “Occupy Wall Street” ran into a problem not long after their protest began in cold, rainy weather last Saturday on Bay Street in downtown Toronto, Canada’s largest city. Bay Street was the natural location for such an event that would include a large number of anti-capitalist participants. Like Wall Street in America, the corner of Bay and King Streets is Canada’s financial heart where the Toronto Stock Exchange and the country’s largest banks are located.

But because the annual Toronto Marathon, scheduled for Sunday, was to have its finish line at this intersection, workers were there setting up barriers, causing the protesters to move to a cathedral park about a ten-minute walk away. They did, however, considerately leave one lone individual behind, holding a hastily-manufactured cardboard sign with an arrow on it, indicating to any perplexed late arrivals that the demonstration went thataway. Maybe this person’s lonely vigil and sign will eventually serve as the metaphor for the whole “Occupy Toronto” movement when all is said and done.

Arriving in the park, the first thing one noticed among the several hundred people present were the signs the demonstrators were holding and the rather unusual things written on them. One of the more memorable ones read: “Quit buying stuff.” Which makes one wonder: how does this person suggest people feed and clothe themselves? And wouldn’t a lot of workers, who anti-capitalists say they support, be unemployed if people didn’t?

Other signs were more explicitly anti-capitalist, such as: “This Revolution Will Not Be Privatized,” “Separation of Corporations and Politics,” and “Capitalists: You’re Fired.” These messages create a lot of confusion, since they leave one wondering how these presumably well thought-out statements are to be carried out in practice.

But the confusion dissipated somewhat for this writer when a sign was spotted that read: “1984 was an instruction manual.” So, everything was now clear – at least momentarily. All a person had to do to understand how all these weighty thoughts were going to be implemented was to read George Orwell’s classic novel. But, then, upon further reflection, it could occur to one that perhaps this sign was directed at the capitalists and their evil machinations.

My confusion continued despite talking to some of the individuals involved in the protest. Darren (he would not give his last name), who was selling a socialist newspaper, said he belonged to the Canadian Peace Alliance and was affiliated with several socialist groups. Darren accounted for his presence in the park by saying he was against government austerity measures and the war in Afghanistan.

“I don’t like the way our government is prioritizing its expenditures on the military,” Darren said. “We’re going to Afghanistan and killing innocent civilians when we have problems at home.”

Darren summed up the Canadian government’s bad behavior with his own, rather catchy, homemade slogan: “Peace and prosperity out; war and austerity in,” of which he appeared to be quite proud. But as to how he and the other people involved in the “Occupy Toronto” movement were going to reverse this and what was to happen after Saturday, he was unable to say.

“That’s the big question,” he said. “It’s totally up in the air at the moment.”

Zack Morgenstern, a student and member of the Canadian Communist Party, was more optimistic as well as good enough to educate me about the fact that “capitalism is a doomed movement.” He believes that if these demonstrations, like the Wall Street ones, last long enough, the movement can get “broad support.”

“We want to rally people around a revolutionary movement, around mass consent, and bring down ultimately the capitalist state,” said Morgenstern of his and his party’s goals, apparently having missed the history of world events between 1917 and 1991.

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  • Fred Willcutt

    Let me explain something to the reader that the author doesn't seem to understand. We like the opportunity for confusion caused by the press to be cleared up, for even the dimmest among us are aware that everyone has an agenda of their own.
    As with any peoples movement taking place within the public sphere in a free market where rights are protected, many individuals and groups move in to subvert it into something of their own. The socialists are attempting this with their banners and slogans, some crackpot neo-nazis may try in their furies of butthurt, the big media guys work by using their advantageous positions strategically in ways that reflect the time and state of the situation. Right now the voice of the media is unified in their criticism, that the movement need produce a list of demands and statements of representation. The attempts to marginalize made by a media looking to move opinion directions that serve their corporate interests will not be something that we forgive.
    This is a movement of people worldwide who have been disadvantaged because of a corrupt system that has nothing in common with its name. These people cannot be marginalized – even if a segment hammers out a list of demands or a manifesto or whatever, it won't be representative of the whole. This is an unfortunate fact that the hand full of network/print/web media owners need to come to terms with – this is the first movement that you will not be able to marginalize onto a sideline by using emotionally packed labels. You will not get an appeal to authorities from this movement. You will be made to understand who the authorities are. The authorities are the people, and this will be made known in a way that will not be easy to forget.
    Then what is the problem, what is the complaint? The matter at hand is obvious even to those behind these inauthentic attempts to slow it down. It will continue – in the free marketplace of ideas, socialists, communists, and nazis are welcome to embarrass themselves when they pretend to represent the people. The media is welcome to play pretend with them. Have fun playing pretend amidst a legion of dissent. Expect us to not be bothered!

    We'll just wait here in the street while you guys resolve the ancient partisan conflict over the cause and solution to what is now a crisis. When you realize that the only obstacle left is your partisan conflict, we'll still be here in the street – we're in it for the long haul. Each wing focuses on cause being fault of either gov or corp, reception of criticism by opposite wing returns defended exaggerations. The right sees selfish greed covered in ignorant adolescent idealism, the left sees selfish greed covered in bigotry, ignorance, or superiority protective of wealth. Both are victims defending their corrupt abusers who play three ring circus while playing musical chairs.

    Heads up! The division bell rings from the line, and the sound is heard from above by 99% of us.

    Politix is broken, the memo is camping on the streets. The few actors in the game with electable positions serve the same agenda. Those buildings that came down mirrored each other, but terrorists brought them down and they now no longer exist. The cause isn't worth arguing about, the only partisans left will not fix politics through their winged sound byte philosophies. The target of your scorn does not obey the boundary conditions found within your fury of complaints you hurl at the supposed opposition. The focus of your blame for this fiasco does not divide itself between the side that you defend and the object of your scorn, the seats are labeled with their name in both boardrooms and government offices.

    There are no strategies left to engineer consent of the status quo. There are no remaining methods of managing perception using emotional levers. There is no public relations strategy in the toolbox, no social construction possible for concerned stakeholders, and no creative destruction on or off the menu for resolving a world wide uprising that requires only the return of justice to an unfair world.

    Let's fix this problem so that we can bring politics back! I really miss arguing with you fools. I posted a shorter version of this comments earlier and expected it to not be approved, I'll be surprised if this on is accepted.

  • PhillipGaley

    To such a well done presentation, the only which I might offer in the way of correction might be that, the last sentence: "The anti-capitalist demonstrators should, however, learn a lesson from my pro-hug predicament. Like in all socialist societies, past and current, where there is no competition, there will always be shortages.", requires its own paragraph. But I should mention too, as with: "And wouldn’t a lot of workers, who anti-capitalists say they support, be unemployed if people didn’t?"—the author's skill in the clever and not all that common of use of regard for power of thought in his reader, to connect the parts of a paragraph together, . . .

    But however all of that might be—and, all of the pleasant expertise in sardonic presentation quite aside, somewhere along the line, doesn't someone have to say something about what capitalism really is—I mean, making investments in tools, books, people, employees, land, education, buildings, transportation and so forth (these, spoken of as "capital investments"), so's you can say, tear up and plant and grow, or, dig up and process, or, it might be something like chopping down and cutting up and making, and all of this so that, you'll have something to sell?

    This old woman once told me—she's a pianist in Portland, Oregon—"Men like to work—if they get a night's sleep and get up and have breakfast, they like to go out and work.". And, with those capital type investments, isn't that about what a large part of the world would like to do, in freedom?

    And, so much of that capitalist type of activity is so very private; I mean, say you have a shovel, and you make a deal to trench up your neighbor's yard for a new water line, because only one person can use a shovel at a time, that digging is going to be a very private activity; and contrariwise—though the many of them so apparently disparate—isn't what the OWS people are doing, demonstrative of wishing for some kind of group way to gain and well-being? At bottom, then, isn't their fundamental paradigm, wrong? And yes, I did get that idea from the article—beside having lived on "the left coast" for thirty years—I just wanted to point out further that, though a bank can have some part in a capitalist enterprise, to present that, capitalism is all about banks and mortgages and foreclosures, and embezzlement and so forth—in its larger practical use—is to have sort of hi-jacked the word, itself, . . . I don't know, . . . I have some tools and things, and I like to make a deal and do the work and get paid, . . . I'm a capitalist—if academic economic theory and labels are worth anything, . . . it's a good way to go, . . . it can give you a chance to get ahead, . . . the OWS folks appear of the type who've not yet learned how that, digging and chopping and cutting and welding and hammering and making and selling is a great activity, . . . helps others, and so, is fulfilling of our mission as social creatures.

    And so, no wonder that, the article could present that gathering true-to-life as mere disparate individuals, . . . they appear not to have learned what the race of mankind is all about, . . .

  • stern

    Great article, thank you. Just one question: Who arrested Hugs and why? Unless I get an answer, I shall also demand FREE HUGS.

  • Guest

    It looks like the writer here could use a plex-i-otomy. That's when you head is so far up your as you need a window in your stomach to see where you are going. As long as the are writers like this we will solve nothing.

    • tagalog

      An "otomy"-type operation is to make an incision, usually to take something out (as in "epesiotomy" or "appendectomy"), not to add something. Just for the sake of the terminology.

  • StephenD

    Guest, that was so authentic and clever! What did he write to cause you to revert to childish snide remarks? Just a thought, but if I wanted to convince someone that what they just read is faulty in some way I think I would quote what was written and refute it with facts. If on the other hand I merely wanted to sound off and be heard, why I guess your approach works well for that.

    • stern

      Guest is the typical leftist blowhard. The only aim is to make enough noise to drown out any opinion that disagrees with yours.

    • PhillipGaley

      "But if on the other hand, I wished to blow hard and merely sound off, why, I guess your approach works well for that.", . . . that's funny, . . . good hit!

  • Great White North

    Occupy Toronto. Lol.

  • tagalog

    Isn't Toronto already occupied?

  • mrbean

    Almost three-quarters of Torontonians aged 15 or older have direct ties to immigration. About one-half (52%) are themselves immigrants while another 22% are 2nd generation immigrants with at least one parent born outside of Canada. The remaining 26% of the Toronto population (aged 15 or older) is comprised of individuals who were born in Canada to two Canadian-born parents. The dark side of diversity is coming and was best illustrated when In Europe, the harbinger of the new century came a half-decade ago when North African youths in the Paris banlieues went on a 7 days-long rampage of firebombing cars and attacking police and firemen, many of whom drove off and let the fires burn out. Coming to America with the non assimlating cultures,

  • Lisa_H

    Stephen did you perchance see 'the only sane man" at occupy toronto? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7ZTM0Z2Nec

    • stern

      Great video, thanks for posting. Just proves how the left cannot bear to hear any dissenting opinions. I also particularly enjoyed the useful idiot who showed up near the end pushing his marxist.org website. What irony!

    • StephenD

      Thank you Ms. Lisa. and Sir Stern. I like the thought of being associated with folks like yourselves.

      • Lisa_H

        The feeling is mutual, I'm sure :)
        Have you read the comments section to the video? The leftists are hysterical (as in funny ha-ha and panic-mode). As a Canadian, I'm enjoying it!

  • stern

    Great article

  • Jacques

    Here's where Canadian cities have the advantage over their US counterparts when it comes to parasitic occupation: colder weather. Throw in a bit of cold rain or some snow and voila! the tent cities will thin out like magic.

    • tagalog

      "Rain is counter-revolutionary."


  • waterwillows

    Well the 'occupiers' can wait in the streets until the sun and the moon disappear from the sky. But it is not going to change human nature and it's ongoing quest for personal gain and self interest. They are simply going about it all from a losing standpoint.

    Do none of them realise that trying to change the usual human nature, is really just 'hidden' usual human nature trying to promote it's own self interest and gain? So do they think to eliminate it…..by promoting it? They are very confused.

    • tagalog

      They're not confused, just wrongheaded. Ever since the French Revolution, the Left has adhered to the principal that the human race is so malleable that the correct power structure in government can create the New Man. Back in the French Revolution, the ideal was the worship of Reason; during the period of socialist utopian community experimentation, the Fourier/Owen, Brook Farm/New Harmony period back around the time of the First or Second International, it was the New Communal Man; around the end of the 19th Century, it was the Working Class, conscious of itself and revolutionary; after the Bolshevik Revolution, it was the New Soviet Man. In the 1970s, in Cambodia it was the New Agricultural Man. The Left has attempted to fit the human square peg into the Leftist round hole for as long as it has existed; it has NEVER worked, and has resulted in attempts to force people into shape, causing scores of millions of murders.

  • Guest 1

    This planet is not getting any bigger and the human race as we know it will not survive under capitalism. It's time you righties stop whining about the non existant lefties and offer up some solutions otherwise stop the gum flapping.

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