Dispatches on a series of attempts to mount mass mobilizations in the United States in the fall of 2011.

Decentralized people power: what OWS can learn from South Africa’s United Democratic Front

At an Occupy Wall Street meeting in midtown Manhattan on December 20th, a debate broke out about the general assemblies (hereafter, GAs)—the core decision-making forums of the movement and its most visible embodiment of direct democracy. The meeting was the second of its kind devoted to exploring the idea of a city-wide general assembly. About…

January 3, 2012

On Occupy Wall Street’s radical roots

As it moves into a new year, and an election year no less, the Occupy movement will likely be claimed by more and more hopefuls in the mainstream trying to benefit from it, and to sanitize it in the process. I guess that’s why I’ve found myself writing a lot lately about the movement’s radical…

December 28, 2011

Why Occupy calls for “Sanctuary”

As Occupy Wall Street’s birthday party got going at midday today, the mood was mixed—not unlike the mood with which, in a series of improvisations, the movement began three months earlier on September 17. I talked with organizers I’d known from the movement’s first planning meetings, who were milling around Duarte Square, an open space a…

December 17, 2011

Occupy Wall Street as talking point

Politicians of both major parties are increasingly addressing—or having to cope with—Occupy Wall Street. So far this has been mainly limited to rhetoric, though perhaps more tangible actions will follow in the weeks and months ahead. Meanwhile, as politicians discuss the movement and add their perspective on OWS’ goals, we’ll also be watching how the…

December 15, 2011

Occupy Justice

As an activist for over seven years, I have witnessed numerous progressive organizations—even entire movements—fall apart due to internal conflict. Many blame this phenomenon on government infiltrators, which undoubtedly have played a role in sowing discontent and provoking violence within our ranks, but the presence of infiltrators alone cannot account for the general divisiveness that…

December 8, 2011

How (not) to give advice to Occupy Wall Street

Sometimes people ask me to tell the Occupy movement it should do this or that. It’s tough to know what to say, since the movement doesn’t exactly respond to advice from the outside. How could it? This is a participatory, relationship-based community. No one person really is in control, so it’s not like I can…

December 7, 2011

Would [blank] Occupy?

At Religion Dispatches, Ira Chernus (whom I interviewed here a few years ago) ably responds to Ian Diaz’s New York Times op-ed, which argues that Gandhi would call for disbanding the Occupy movement: [T]he Mahatma would have been amazed at the conclusion Desai draws: Dismantle the occupations and fan out to establish “community centers, schools, shelters, charities”…

December 7, 2011

Occupy Our Homes occupies with more moving parts

Occupy Wall Street found a new home today—not a new park, or a plaza, or a square, but a house. Just weeks after the eviction from its encampment in the financial district, hundreds of occupiers joined local community members in a foreclosure tour of the East New York neighborhood of Brooklyn through the rain, which…

December 6, 2011

Occupy the opera

On Saturday night at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, just before the third act of Faust began, a man began yelling from the audience, “Occupy Wall Street! Occupy Wall Street!” It had neither the rhythm of a chant nor the participatory quality of the usual “mic check” that has been used to disrupt so much…

December 4, 2011
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