On January 8th, 1912, the business and property owners of the San Diego Common Council passed Ordinance No. 4623. The function of the ordinance: to criminalize free speech in a zone centered around the intersection of 5th and E streets, populated primarily by workers. By January 16th, the IWW had responded by forming the “California Free Speech League,” with the support of socialists, churches, and other union locals. The Wobblies, with the benefit of sheer numbers and little else, sought to test the ordinance and its enforcement with aggressive soapboxing and incessant speechifying in the restricted zone.
After the raid on Zuccotti Park early this morning, what remains of Occupy Wall Street? The library was destroyed and thrown in the garbage; the kitchen and commune that fed and housed hundreds now gone. But what about the general assembly? The police violence demonstrates that the relevance of Occupy Wall Street as a political situation is by no means in its attempts, failures and very real successes at direct democracy. It is instead a question: what is beyond democracy in the spirit of Occupy Wall Street?