Promise and Challenge of the Occupy Movement
The nationwide Occupy movement that took off in the US in late 2011 – inspired in part by popular movements around the world – has changed the landscape of our work. It signals a vastly increased receptivity to socialist ideas, and has sparked bursts of defiant energy in unexpected places. But it has yet to channel such power-resources into an agency capable of mounting a true challenge to the powers that be – one that can survive bad moments, attract newly aroused populations, develop a lasting structure and culture, and eventually become capable of reorganizing the society.
This goal is more than ambitious. But, because of the escalating environmental crisis, it has become a prerequisite to long-term species-survival.
We all have a general sense of the kind of changes that are needed. The Occupy movement now challenges us to define our agendas much more concretely. It does so by giving us a new sense that people are listening to us – not to provide them with ready-made answers, but to draw out the necessary conversations.
The present set of short pieces is our own contribution to such an exchange. It makes no claim to being fully representative, but it includes, in addition to three Occupy talks, a photo-essay on Occupy Wall Street poster-art as well as a number of essays combining description and reflection. Six of these comprise a subsection produced by a group of scholar-activists at the Borough of Manhattan Community College of the City University of New York – the campus closest to where the movement’s first salvo was launched on September 17.