10/27/2011 04:49 pm ET | Updated Dec 27, 2011

The "Occupied Territories": A Meme of Power to Describe All the OWS Locales

I first heard the term, "Occupied Territories" from Vanessa, a press person and occupier living at Occupy Philly.

Occupied Territories!!

It struck me as such a more powerful word than the words I had been using to describe the different Occupy Wall Street locales and communities.

Locales or communities exist. They are. But Occupied Territories, well that's a term with some muscle in it, some fight, some power.

It is often used to describe territories controlled by invading armies, like Israel occupying the Palestinian lands. Israelis refer to the land as the "Occupied Territories" or "the territories."

But here, in America, and throughout the world, the Occupy Wall Street movement represents a new kind of occupation -- the kind that reared its head in Tunisia and Egypt's Tahrir Square that led to a bottom up movement of the people waking up and taking back their land, their control of their nation and their lives.

Occupy Philly, literally up against the wall of City Hall. Photo By Rob Kall

The Arab Spring is a work in progress. The Occupy Wall Street Movement is at an even more embryonic and early stage. But they represent the flowering of a new idea, a new movement that has swept the globe, sweeping out old power hierarchies and structures like a massive tsunami. Tsunamis change the landscapes, but often leave some old infrastructures still standing, like the Egyptian army, for example.

Here in the U.S., the idea of "occupied territories" is getting characterized in new and different ways. I'd like to see the phrase "occupied territories" as the term used to describe the collective group of local occupy communities, locales -- whether they include hundreds or thousands of inhabitants sleeping there or dedicated people who come back each day because the occupying police forces sweep their territories every day.

Describing the encampments, the organizing and deployment zones from where marches and protests and civil disobedience and civil resistance originate gives a meme that adds power to the movement.

Perhaps it's perfect, but at the least ironic that the occupied territories are almost always near the centers of power.

Gov. Chris Christie's view of Occupy Trenton from his office at the NJ State House. Photo By Rob Kall

Occupy Philly at the base of Philly's City Hall. Photo By Rob Kall

Zuccoti Park occupied territory is in the midst of the Financial District. Photo By Rob Kall

From now on, when I revisit or refer to Occupy Philly or Zuccoti Park or Occupy Trenton -- the occupied territories closest to me, I will refer to them as OCCUPIED TERRITORIES.

There are people on the right, like Orrin Hatch , who are scared of the Occupy Wall Street Movement. They should be. Our goal is to become the occupying power, taking control back from the corporations, back from the 1 percent. But every person I've talked to and met in the "Occupied Territories" wants to do it peacefully, as they did in Tunisia. When there is violence, expect that it will come directly from the police or indirectly from agents provocateur either sent by the police or freelancing antagonists to the movement.

Words have power. The power of the OWS, Occupy Wall Street, Occupied Territories is already big, already reaching far beyond the people who sleep there. We've seen the potential of the Arab Spring. Let's tap this power and expand it in all the ways we can. This is a big experiment in Democracy, in activism, in resistance, in awakening and taking power. Let's make the most of it. Tomorrow, someone may come up with better words. We need to be ready to embrace the new ideas, the language and ways that the occupied territory paradigm germinates. We aren't even close to seeing all the flowers it will produce yet. 

Crossposted from