So much of the political side of PEN’s work is concerned, quite appropriately, with struggles for freedom taking place around the globe; but this week I spent a good bit of time—not as a representative of PEN but as a private citizen—learning about the General Assembly, a revolution currently taking place not much more than a mile away from PEN American Center headquarters: at Liberty Plaza in the Wall Street neighborhood of New York City. Here a group of activists have assembled for a full two weeks now under the motto “Occupy Wall Street,” protesting a wide range of injustices that for
the most part center around the U.S. government’s privileging the interests of private corporations and the wealthiest Americans over those of the citizenry at large. Cornel West, Class of 1943 and University Professor in the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University, visited the General Assembly yesterday (his second visit in three days) with a CNN truck in towand praised the protesters’ gumption for taking on “Wall Street oligarchs” in the pursuit of a truly representative government.

The protesters, who have sorted themselves into an ever more complex microsociety based on the principles of direct democracy as their numbers continue to grow, are in the process of formulating statements describing what they are objecting to and what they want to see done about it. And thanks to the newly-established Translation Working Group of the New York City General Assembly, these statements will be translated into a large number of languages for the sake both of foreign-language communities in the greater NYC area and interested parties around the world. Earlier, I wrote at length about the protests and my participation in the Translation Working Group associated with them. To learn more (including about ways to get involved, if that interests you), check out “The Revolution Will Be Translated” on my blog Translationista.