What We're Reading: Occupy Wall Street and beyond
Written by FRSO/OSCL
Saturday, 08 October 2011 22:35
If you haven't been living under a rock for the past month you've probably heard about the wave of protests across the United States set off by Occupy Wall Street on September 17. By now you've probably seen them in your own city: Occupy Together lists events in more than one thousand cities in North America and elsewhere around the world. Some have spoken of a new movement like the anti-apartheid and anti-globalization movements of the '80s and '90s; others look back to 1968 or beyond for comparisons.
For socialists and leftists of all stripes these "occupations" have been both exciting and challenging, raising new questions every day. Can this movement grow and sustain itself until it can challenge the political status quo in the US? What are the politics of the occupations and their likely political trajectory? As socialists, as members and leaders in mass organizations, as community members and victims and resisters of the Wall Street parasites and their system -- how do we take part in the movement and in this rare historical moment?
Here are a few things that we've been reading to help sharpen our thinking around some of these questions.
•Theory, tactics and practice: In So Real It Hurts: Notes on Occupy Wall Street, Manissa Maharawal writes about her experiences at the Occupy Wall Street general assembly. McKenzie Wark writes about challenges and opportunities for OWS in How To Occupy An Abstraction and Earl McCabe writes about tactics and goals at the blog Permanent Crisis. A piece by "SKS" discusses the politico-military dimension of Occupy Wall Street's "leaderless resistance".
•Occupy/unoccupy: Many people have written about the contradictions of a movement calling for "occupations" on land which was stolen from its inhabitants -- and is still being occupied by the descendants and beneficiaries of that theft. Michelle Merrill writes about it in Occupied Lands, and "Tequila Sovereign" writes more about the history of Manhattan and the Lenape who were its original inhabitants in her post Manna-hatta. Another challenge to the perceived whiteness of Occupy Wall Street comes from Occupy The Hood, as Julianne Escobedo Shepherd reports at AlterNet.
•International solidarity: As Occupy Wall Street was inspired by the wave of revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa and movements against austerity in Europe, so in turn it has inspired solidarity actions across the globe. The Maoist website Utopia reports on a gathering in Zhengzhou, China, where protestors called for "Determined Support for the American People's Great 'Wall Street Revolution!'" (Summary in English here, original full report in Chinese here.) Participants in the movement of the indignados in Spain have linked their struggle to that in the US and called for a global day of action on October 15.
•Politics and prospects: Many arguments about this movement center on the "demandlessness" of the occupiers. Should they have a list of specific demands? What should they be? This leads to even bigger questions: where is the movement going? What should it strive for and what can it achieve? Vijay Prashad offers some analysis of the movement and its place in the politics and society of the US in Zombie Capitalism and the Post-Obama Left. Matt Sledge writes about occupiers resisting co-optation in a piece for the Huffington Post. At Fire on the Mountain, Jimmy Higgins admits he was wrong about Occupy Wall Street and looks to the bigger picture.
•Stray thoughts: Sarah Jaffe discusses the class implications of the call for protestors to 'know your history.' Time collects 50 of the best photos from Occupy Wall Street. Sady Doyle tells stories from her life that challenge the idea of the 99% versus the 1%. And at The Nation, Richard Kim says We Are All Human Microphones Now.