When Foreign Affairs puts inequality on its cover – and hosts a debate on the topic at the tony offices of the Council on Foreign Relations – the Occupy Wall Street movement has achieved a major victory that eclipses even the generally favorable coverage in liberal bastions such as The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and The New Yorker. It’s also a sign that a profound anxiety gnaws at the foreign policy elite in this country. The question is: why are foreign policy mandarins suddenly so fretful? Or, put another way, why does Foreign Affairs want its readers to take this issue so seriously?
We are producing a special edition on the recent Occupy… movement. Our aim is to publish around a dozen short papers in a ‘virtual issue’, made freely available (open access) on our journal website; around half of these papers will also be printed in the hard copy of the journal. Given the timeliness of Occupy… events, we intend to collate this edition quickly, for publication in summer 2012 (volume 11 issue 3). Continue reading CFP on ‘Occupy’ for Social Movement Studies special edition→
For the past two months, a website called Global Revolution TV has become the main video hub for the Occupy Wall Street movement. Featuring live video feeds from New York and dozens of other cities hosting Occupy protests, the site has transformed how protests are covered and observed. When OWS protesters hold a General Assembly in Zuccotti Park, the gathering is usually live streamed across the world. When police raided the park early on Tuesday, it was caught on live stream as well. We speak to one of the site’s co-founders, Vlad Teichberg. He is a former derivatives trader who gave up a life in the financial world to work on video activism. “This project started initially with the beginning of the New York occupation. Other, similar versions of this project had been done in the past for other actions and revolts,” Teichberg says. “People think of Occupy Wall Street as an American revolution. It has its roots though, in the Arab Spring, obviously, which inspired a lot of things. And it has very direct roots in the Spanish revolution.”
Whatever happens in the immediate future, a wall of silence on the accumulated misery of four decades has been breached. Every day brings further news of attacks on working people as world capitalism spins out of control. Never has it been clearer that capitalist “normalcy” depends on the passivity of those it crushes to save itself, and from Tunisia and Egypt, via Greece and Spain, to New York, Oakland, Seattle and Portland, that passivity is over. The task today is to throw everything we have into approaching that point of no return where conditions cry out: “We have the chance to change the world, let’s take it.”
But we started thinking about creating a more unifying moment. A celebration of the birthday of Occupy Wall Street. Maybe taking the roadway and having lots of arrests might not be best thing. What if we took the pedestrian walkway, and gave out LED candles? We would give out 10,000 LED tea candles, a river of light streaming over the walkway.
And a guy named Hero, who has been central to a lot of facets of the occupation since the beginning, turns to me and says, “We need a bat signal. The 99%.”
An interview with Stephen Graham, professor of Cities and Society at Newcastle University. His book is “Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism.” “What the Occupy movement is so powerful at is demonstrating that by occupying public spaces around the world, and particularly these extremely symbolic public spaces, it’s reasserting that the city is the foundation space for democracy,” Graham says.
Kafka, Huxley and Orwell used speculative work to highlight complex political issues which went unaddressed by standard genres. The best academic work in this field does this too, using non-traditional themes and issues as imaginative sources by which to open up fields of enquiry. Michael Shapiro, Cynthia Weber, Jutta Weldes, Iver Neumann, China Miéville and others focus on big, important issues: power and the production of knowledge; identity and representation; the blurriness of reality and fiction. In contrast, Drezner’s book serves up the same old stories, told by the same old theories. By the end of the book, I was not even sure how much he knew about zombies, at least not beyond the recent vogue for Anglo-American books and films on the subject.
But these are well-trod criticisms. What interests me is that the minimal programme of 99%ism – that it is so attractive and so immediate a rallying cry. No doubt some of this is to do with the liberating sensation that one doesn’t need a fully fledged theory of political economy to take part in action. It’s diffuse groups with similarly minimal programmes that have been peculiarly successful here, too – especially UKUncut. Like many, I share a disquiet that hesitancy to voice radical critiques of wage labour and capitalist culture (because we’re scared of spooking the horses) means that these minimal programmes will find themselves as acting, essentially, as parliamentary pressure groups, articulating basically cosmetic and reformist demands. The worst outcome of 99%ism could well be a response to one of its structuring logics – that there are some bad people in the 1%, that they have behaved badly, and that once they’re suitably chastised, we can all go home and return to normal. Continue reading Three thoughts on #Occupy | openDemocracy→