An Internet-based social-change movement that views capitalism as a chief source of human suffering, October 2011 (O-2011) calls on the U.S. government to end all American economic policies “which foster a wealth divide”; to “tax the rich and corporations” at especially high rates for the purpose of diminishing the “significant disparities of wealth [that exist] between small numbers of extremely wealthy Americans and … the 99% who do not have extreme wealth”; to create a single-payer healthcare system while expanding such programs as Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, and unemployment insurance; to “end corporate welfare” by eliminating tax credits for the oil and gas industries; to spend large sums of money on “creating jobs” rather than implement “spending cuts”; to guarantee the right of all working-age people to “a sustainable living wage, paid leave and economic protection”; to guarantee all U.S. residents a “publicly-funded” education “from pre-school through vocational training or university”; to use taxpayer funds to guarantee all Americans “the right to affordable and safe housing”; and to “end corporate influence over the political process” by banning corporate campaign contributions and establishing a publicly financed campaign system.
Further, O-2011 presses the government to develop “a carbon-free energy economy” as a means of combating “climate change,” about whose threat there is “virtually no debate” in the scientific community; to quickly “end the wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan while cutting military expenditures and eliminating the use of private, for-profit military contractors; to end the political and judicial “exploitation of people in the U.S. and abroad”; to make all three branches of the American government “accountable to international law”; to abolish the death penalty; and to classify the broadcast airwaves and the Internet as “public goods” that should be made “accountable to the people.”Encouraging its members and supporters to pursue “a culture of resistance,” O-2011 selected Washington, DC’s Freedom Plaza as the site of its first major Call to Action, which was held on October 6, 2011. This date was chosen because it marked the tenth anniversary of America’s post-9/11 invasion of Afghanistan, and because it represented what O-2011 called “the beginning of the 2012 federal austerity budget”—a reference to a recently passed debt-ceiling bill designed to curb the United States’ escalating national debt. Promoting the October 6 event as a “nonviolent resistance similar to the Arab Spring and the Midwest awakening,” O-2011 pledged to “resist the corporate machine” and to “demand that America’s resources be invested in human needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation.”[
More than 150 organizations](http://october2011.org/organizations) sent representatives to the DC gathering on October 6, including the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party, the Backbone Campaign, Code Pink, Food Not Bombs, Global Exchange, the Green Party USA, Healthcare-Now, the International Action Center, International ANSWER, the Middle East Children’s Alliance, Movement for a Democratic Society, the Network of Spiritual Progressives, Occupy Wall Street, Pax Christi, Peace Action, Progressive Democrats of America, Sojourners, Tikkun, United for Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace, the War Resisters League, Women Against Military Madness, the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and World Can’t Wait. Another key supporter of O-2011 is the National Lawyers Guild.
The chief organizer of O-2011 is Dennis Trainor, who runs the “No Cure For That” website and served as a writer/media consultant for Dennis Kucinich’s presidential campaign in 2008. Asserting that O-2011 “in not [merely] a reform movement,” Trainor contends that capitalism is “homicidal” and that the United States needs a full-blown revolution. According to Trainor, the O-2011 protesters seek to topple the U.S. government and create a new system based on such foundational principles as higher taxes on the wealthy, free health care for all, and an end to all wars.
Other leading figures in O-2011 include Kevin Zeese, a Baltimore-based attorney and longtime radical activist; Devra Morice, an “organizing committee” member of the Movement for a Democratic Society; and Ellen Davidson, who formerly worked with the Covert Action Information Bulletin, a (now defunct) anti-CIA publication associated with CIA defector Philip Agee, who became a paid agent of Fidel Castro‘s Cuba.
In September 2011, a number of O-2011 activists—including Zeese, Medea Benjamin, and Noam Chomsky—collaborated with several Egyptian activists who had been instrumental in the historic Tahrir Square demonstrations earlier in the year, to draft a pledge of “solidarity” designed to foster the notion that O-2011 has some sort of intellectual relationship with the Arab Spring. This pledge likened the political corruption which had existed in Egypt under Hosni Mubarak to “American elections [which] are actually dominated by the wealth of economic elites and concentrated corporate power.” Further, the pledge chastised both the U.S. and Egypt for the “widespread suffering” caused by their unequal “distribution of wealth”; it lamented that both nations had been guilty of “decades of human rights abuses [including] suppression of free speech, illegal detention, secret rendition, and torture”; it asserted that U.S. diplomatic and military actions in the Middle East had often devolved into “ventures of destruction, death and chaos”; and it exhorted the United States to become a member of the International Criminal Court as a sign of its willingness “to join the global community of nations as a partner rather than a predator.”
As the autumn of 2011 progressed, O-2011’s activities became increasingly synergistic with those of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
On October 19, 2011, it was reported that National Public Radio (NPR) host Lisa Simeone was acting as a spokeswoman for O-2011, possibly in violation of the taxpayer-subsidized network’s ethics rules which forbid employees from “engag[ing] in public relations work, paid or unpaid.” When questioned about the matter, Simeone said that because she was a “freelancer,” she was not obligated to abide by the restrictions. Asserting that O-2011 planned to “occupy” Freedom Plaza for a long time, she added:
“Our main focus is that we are against corporatism and militarism…. I do know whenever it ends, we are not going to stop acts of civil disobedience, and various acts of civil resistance and organization. That will be done in the myriad of ways around the country, and again, this is not the end, but only the beginning.”