Understanding the Occupy Movement

Over three and a half months in, and the Occupy Wall Street Movement has spread across the United States and across the world. Obviously, the best way to get an understanding of the Occupy Movement is to visit and/or join them yourself, and supplement this with reading articles/stories by them, about them, and for them. And watch the myriad related videos that have been produced and distributed across the internet.


Certainly, something powerful is going on. In the US, it’s generated the largest public mobilizations in approximately 40 years. It’s garnered the attention of newspapers, magazines, politicians, the public, and the police. According to a number of public opinion polls, the majority of Americans support the general goals of Occupy. There are already four books published or soon to be—one from Verso Publishers, one from Yes! Magazine, one from Alternet.com, and one from Time Magazine—of which I know. And now, along with protesters in a number of Arab countries (particularly Tunisia and Egypt), Greece, Israel, and England, “The Protester” has been named as Time’s “Man of the Year” for 2011.


And while the Occupy Movement seems to have “retreated” in the face of police repression, along with oncoming cold weather, it was still strong enough to shut three ports on the West Coast on December 12:  Oakland, Portland, and Longview, WA.


[Accounts of Occupy efforts will be supplemented in early January, when a book about 2011’s Wisconsin Uprising will be published by Verso, It Started in Wisconsin:  Dispatches from the Front Lines of New Labor Protest in America, edited by Mari Jo Buhle and Paul Buhle.]


At the same time, activists are thinking about how to use creatively the winter months, so as to emerge with warm weather even stronger, more informed, more unified. As one living in Chicago (albeit not extensively involved with our local Occupy project), this is all the more important since Mayor Rahm Emanuel has secured the G-8/NATO meetings for our fair city, and they will be here in May:  the need to be as clear as possible seems especially important. [Add in the bi-annual Labor Notes conference for labor activists—to be held here for the first time instead of Dearborn, MI—and a possible

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