Back Stories of the Occupy Libraries, Self Education & Universal Education as a Human Right

Education is at the heart of change.  Education empowers us to ask more of ourselves, and to demand more of those in power.  Education helps us envision a better future.  Education helps us communicate our vision.  And education helps us create that future.

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
~Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson believed in universal education, and there is a very good analysis of  his thoughts on education at

Is it any wonder that in the United States, formal education is rationed out only to those whose families can afford to pay?  The powers that are currently entrenched surely do not want a nation of intelligent, well educated citizens who would inevitably stand up and demand fair wages, fair benefits, and a true democratic government.  Better to keep them barely literate and zoned out on reality TV.  But there are always those who thirst for knowledge, and this is what the liberal idea of truly unfettered free public libraries are for.  Perhaps especially, the Occupy libraries.

There’s a great article by By Tom Engelhardt on the libraries and teach-ins that have almost spontaneously appeared at various Occupy locations.  He speaks of his own college days in the 1960s:

…despite all those years in college and graduate school, the most crucial part of my education — learning about the nature of American power and how it was wielded — was largely self-taught in my off-hours.  And I wasn’t alone.  In those days, most of us found ourselves in a frenzy of teaching (each other), reading, writing — and acting.

And interviews people involved with the Occupy libraries now:

Bill Scott: “Part of the reason we’re down here is because we live in a society which promotes the idea that education should be bought and sold on the open market.  We want to establish it as a human right.  What the People’s Library proves is that books belong to the people, as does education…  ”

Tom’s insights are always powerful, and this article is a great one. You’ll enjoy reading it for yourself.


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