The Occupations in Winter

By Lambert Strether. Cross-posted from Corrente.

From the Barcalounger:

Snow happens. So some Occupations are in hunker down mode right now (“We’re waiting for warmer weather”; “Until Spring weather arrives the new GA schedule will be as follows”; which explains why #OccupySupplyFund supplies winter gear.)

The dark happens, too. And although some see Occupy as an aerial canopy of leaping bright fire, I prefer to see Occupy as a species of rhizome: A mass of roots (radix) growing slowly and irresistibly, indeed invasively, and scaling horizontally by sending out runners everywhere. Underground and in the dark. Right now cold, but soon to be warm. And just like hops, asparagus, ginger, turmeric, galangal, irises, or Lily of the Valley, if you chop an Occupation into pieces, you get as many Occupations as the pieces you chopped.

But then, I garden; learning to grow food is my personal hedging strategy. So that’s how I would think of Occupy: A healthy and conviviality-inducing tasty vegetable. And since right now all I can do is look at seed catalogs and plan my order, this also seems like a good time to muse on Occupy as well. (That, and I just got some warm clothes so I can go down to Occupy Congress on this latest 17th.) So, from one person who’s tried to pay attention:

Here’s the state of play this winter, which, readers, you will doubtless amplify or correct: Beginning last spring, Occupy started and spread in the ancient cities surrounding the Mediterranean basin: Tunis, Cairo, Athens, Madrid, Rome, among many others; Alexandria, Manama, Barcelona. According to some accounts, Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor whose self-immolation set Occupy in motion, had difficulties getting a permit from the government for his vegetable stall. So a critique of the rentier mentality, where rewards are related to chance or situation, can be seen as having been integral to Occupy from its inception. Following the ensuing revolt and Tunisian President Ben Ali’s forced departure, events in Cairo provided the paradigm of a self-organizing crowd taking and holding space in a central city square (Tahrir Square, Syntagma Square, Puerta del Sol), exercising their right “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Factors that made Cairo uniquely successful in its application of this template were: (1) one demand (to Mubarak: Leave!) that “all walks of life” could accept; (2) years of social capital built up by the various organizers in organizing, especially union organizing; (3) Al Jazeera’s serendipitous ability to train a camera on Tahrir Square 24/7, which meant that what Mubarak did was transparent and he could be held accountable for it. (Also, and luckily, Al Jazeera as a news gathering organization was at the top of its game). The Egyptian Occupiers also had some tactical knowledge transfer from the Gene Sharp-inflected Otpor organization that took down Milosevic. To the Tahrir Square paradigm, the Occupiers in Madrid’s Puerto del Sol added social capital from the deep Spanish anarchist tradition: The General Assembly and consensus-based decision-making. The Cairo paradigm, as modified in Madrid, then crossed the Atlantic and took root in Zucotti Square.

* * *

I’m sure I wasn’t the only observer who, watching the Occupations move steadily westward, asked: Will Occupations scale?

After all, Morocco, Egypt, Greece, and Spain are all small-ish European countries; small in population, area, and GNP, and peripheral at that. And one might also argue that “the square” assumes a different position in the European imagination than “the square” does here, where the agora, if there is one, is “the mall.” Further, the United States is a multi-lingual and multi-national empire of continental scope. And the architects of the Federal system tried to ensure that there would be multiple centers of power in the United States. Would the Cairo + Madrid occupation paradigm scale to the United States?

And yes, amazingly, wonderfully, awesomely, the Occupation paradigm did scale. My own small and small-c conservative state, Maine, has not one, not two, but three Occupations in Portland, Augusta, and Bangor (each of quite different character). When Occupy San Diego, on their way to Occupy Congress, got thrown off the Greyhound in Amarillo, TX, Occupy Amarillo came to their aid. UC Riverside researchers surveyed 482 incorporated towns and cities in California and found that 143 – nearly 30 percent – had Occupy sites on Facebook between December 1 and December 8.”. Rhizomic growth. Occupy didn’t spread because of celebrity endorsements, or online petitions from career “progressives,” or corporate marketing programs, or billionaire funding. There were no focus groups. There was no polling. Occupy encampments spread despite — or because of — “clearing” operations organized by city mayors (who used oddly similar tactics and timing). Occupy participation spread despite — or because of — ongoing police assaults, especially by the NYPD “white shirts” of New York Mayor For Life Michael Bloomberg, and the thuggish OPD of Oakland Democrat Mayor Jean Quan. And Occupy ideas and tactics spread despite a relentless propaganda campaign in our famously free press comparing Occupiers to disease-bearing vermin and filth, with a rhetoric and an intensity worthy of Der Stürmer. (Cleverly, OWS had pre-empted this tactic by using some of its donated money to hire a cleaning truck.) Happily, “We are the 99%” stuck as a slogan, and in just a few months Occupy had changed the discourse to put “income inequality” (translation: class warfare) on the table; something that career “progressives” and their D allies in Washington have, oddly, or not, been unable to do in thirty years. Let’s not forget or downplay these tremendous achievements! I am so grateful to the Occupations and the Occupiers, all of them, for giving me more hope than I’ve had in years.

Occupations in the United States seem to differ from the Cairo + Madrid in several ways. After all, Egypt is a client state, and the United States is the heart of the empire. In fact, none of the unique conditions that enabled the Eyptian Occupiers to achieve “their one demand” — that Mubarak leave — obtain. (1) In the US, unlike Egypt, there is no one demand, other than implicitly the right to continue to occupy (“peacably assemble”). Nor can there be; one demand would need to be formulated, rhizomically, on the continental scale. How would that happen? (No points for saying “twitter” until you can point to an online system of consensus-based decision making.) Of course, the stupid and/or evil 1% are behaving so badly right now that a single grievance to address with a demand could crystallize in the coming year. In the meantime, the lack of demands is, in its own way, a strength: After all, in today’s political economy, “What is your demand?” really means “What is your price?” and who wants that? (2) In the US, unlike Egypt, the social capital available exhibits great regional, class, and cultural variation. The NYCGA was informed by international experience; Oakland has a long and proud history of union and black activism; Portland and Seattle have their own traditions; Occupations in Maine tend to be quite decorous. It’s not clear that the elite [DHS-authored?] anti-Occupation playbook is going to work in all cases, although the usual calls for brutality and informers are clearly being made. (3) In the US, unlike Egypt, there’s no 24/7 press coverage. To replace Al Jazeera’s camera, we have a patchwork of livestreams and mobiles run by dedicated and courageous individuals, but vulnerable to interruption or even spoofing. “Underground and in the dark.”

However, Occupations in the United States and Egypt can share one crucial characteristic: The joy that many speak of when they enter a genuinely public, self-organized space. (Having immobilized the Army by developing a reputation for non-violence, the Egyptians won the battle of Tahrir Square by out-organzing Mubarak’s security forces.) I’d argue, although I’ve never done the deep analysis, that when that sense of joy is expressed — and it’s never the story, it’s always an aside of some sort — that the Occupation will be a success in its own eyes (Tahrir Square, Madrid, Wall Street) and that when the sense of joy is absent, the Occupation, again in its own eyes, will fail. Matt Taibbi writes:

This is a visceral, impassioned, deep-seated rejection of the entire direction of our society, a refusal to take even one more step forward into the shallow commercial abyss of phoniness, short-term calculation, withered idealism and intellectual bankruptcy that American mass society has become. If there is such a thing as going on strike from one’s own culture, this is it. And by being so broad in scope and so elemental in its motivation, it’s flown over the heads of many on both the right and the left. …

People want to go someplace for at least five minutes where no one is trying to bleed you or sell you something. It may not be a real model for anything, but it’s at least a place where people are free to dream of some other way for human beings to get along, beyond auctioned “democracy,” tyrannical commerce and the bottom line.

An Oakland Occupier had a similar experience:

Never in my life did I imagine I’d be sitting with a group of adults seriously debating policy as if our decision made a difference.

After three decades as an American citizen and years of leaving messages for my representative, only last night, speaking into the human microphone, did I feel for the first time that my political participation could matter

I think if next spring’s Occupations can continue to provide this sense of joy, other prerequisites will fall into place, and Occupy will continue to grow and thrive. (The General Assembly, the people’s mike, and other organization structures are the Madrid part of the Cairo + Madrid paradigm. And so what if they come from the anarchist tradition?)

Oh, and “From the Barcalounger”? My brand of choice for a comfortable armchair. I’m not unaware that some (many) might read this post as reeking of WASP privilege, and of course it does. (Le style c’est l’homme même.) Even if I do have a Plan C of growing my own food, I can still pass! At least until my teeth go. For now, so and but if indeed “all walks of life” can participate in Occupy, I can still do my bit. From a comment on an article by Boots Riley at Oakland Local:

I am happy as hell that these middle class jerks show up with their bourgie Canon EOS Rebel 2Ti’s and capture the brutality of OPD in precise, undeniable detail. Then use their college educated grammar and vocabulary to blog this on their middle class Macbook Pros.

This is what makes Oakland’s Occupy great. We are upper middle class business owners, homeless vets, web developers, teachers, working poor, students, people of color, angry white males and everything in between.

We aren’t gonna make it across the finish line as the 15% or even the 45%.

That’s me! A middle class jerk! Also: Basing discourse on evidence and reasoning means that ideas can be shown to be valid or useful no matter who advances them; and even if the progressive stack means that I’m not the person doing the advancing, nevertheless… I might be.

Further reading, discuss in comments.

1. Black Agenda Report, Occupy Wall Street Joins Occupy The Dream: Is It Cooptation, or Growing the Movement? Nooo! Don’t go in the haunted house!!

2. Via Lois Proyect, Boots Riley on black bloc tactics Passionate and informed discussion on tactics from the ground in Oakland.

3. Bella Eiko, The Truth About Occupy Oakland – the Tactical Action Committee. Equally passionate and informed. My takeaway is that the Oakland Tactical Action Committee has a very tough job. I venture to suggest — only because I don’t see this idea expressed in the posts I’ve read — that the TAC may not realize the tremendous leverage they have to define in the eyes “all walks of life” the best that Occupy can be, or the worst. And if they don’t do it themselves, our famously free press will be more than happy to do it for them.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Middle Seaman

    There isn’t much in common between Occupy Tahrir and Occupy American city. We don’t have a dictator and we don’t have 60%-70% of the population surving on minimal subsistence.

    “After all, Morocco, Egypt, Greece, and Spain are all small-ish European countries; small in population, area, and GNP, and peripheral at that.” Egypt and Spain are large in area and in population. Their GNP is not large in particular Egypt.

    Occupy transferred form the Middle East to Europe and the US not because of the similarity of problems; it is probably the dynamics that started in the ME and appealed to affluent societies in steep deteriorations.

    1. Maju

      The situations and the likely short term achievements are clearly different in some aspects BUT that does not mean that there are such extreme differences when you look at the issues in depth and when you don’t skip the European link (between Tahrir and Zuccotti was Puerta del Sol and Syntagma).

      The European link is important because the economic drama of Southern Europe is not that different from that of North Africa: massive unemployment (specially youth unemployment) and generally very bad economic outlook, with very limited, if any, welfare to cushion the fall. This last is probably what links most directly the Mediterranean (both shores) to North America: no or very little welfare that can mitigate the social damage of the economic crisis. So all the various peoples and youths happen to be quite desperate economically, even if the detail varies.

      Politically is where the differences may be greater, however the western democracies in general are every day less genuinely democratic and more just oligarchic corporatocracies in which formal democracy is like in ancient Rome just a formality in which all is tied before any irrelevant choice is offered to the citizenry, that every day look more like subjects of an absolute monarchy. Does it matter at all if Obama or Romney (?) win in November? Not really. Does it matter if Zapatero or Rajoy administer the commands of the IMF and Brussels in Spain? Not much. Will Greece have a referendum on the austerity budget? Early elections? Not at all. And meanwhile more and more totalitarian laws are passed and gradually implemented: soon Mubarak’s regime will seem as the normality in NATOland. Maybe some formalities will be retained but, meh, Mubarak also held elections even if they mattered not at all.

      The differences are not that big, more on appearance than in substance.

    2. James

      Google “inverted totalitarianism.” And keep in mind that Americans are the beneficiaries of the fact that their overtly fascist imperialist government’s thermal imaging gun sights are primarily focused on the rest of the world, rather than here at home. For now.

    3. Historicaecon

      Dear Middle Seaman,
      The Occupy protests and those in Tahrir Square have one obvious thing in common: They are protests against the same empire. Egypt under Mubarak and the new military regime is one of the largest recipients of American military aid. Simultaneously, U.S. investors have more at stake in Egypt than any other African country. The same can’t be said for Libya or Tunisia, but the point still stands. If Occupy protests are, in part, protests against the realities of American empire, than they do have much in common with their counterparts in Cairo.

  2. June Goodwin

    Funny, I’d been thinking of Occupy as a rhyzome too, to the point of putting it in a poem:


    It would be
    to leave
    than bones.


    Leaves have
    with no
    are their


    In November
    ocher fur on soy pods
    and umber leaves
    collapse along with
    other arabesques
    to pass the winter
    seducing sap
    to rise in spring
    and lick inside
    the curlicues of
    plants and brains
    so we can once
    again exude
    spring memes
    like April showers
    bring May flowers
    and oh look:
    the Occupy memes’
    nemeses have failed:
    the 99% rhizome
    has overwintered,
    flowering fury.

  3. Jessica

    That was a nice overview/review/catchup.
    I second your emphasis on the importance of joy. That is the mark of a superior human culture. If that is present enough, friends will increase and many enemies will be disarmed. If that is lost, great explanations and righteous anger will not make up for the loss.
    I agree with you that Occupy Oakland has the bull by horns: big opportunity, big danger.
    The 2nd link made more sense to me (violence not helpful in the current situation) but the 3rd link was the most persuasive case for the other side that I have run into. It touched me in a human way even if I wouldn’t follow that route.
    The one opening for a solution to what is clearly a difficult question for OO is that the writer in the 2nd and 3rd link are actually addressing different questions.
    Boots Riley (2nd link) is saying that violence is counter-effective in the current situation.
    As I read Bella Eiko (3rd link), she did not say the violence is helpful. But that some people are so angry that one can not deny them the right to a mild outburst. (And after all, chucking stones through a window is mild compared to many things the police did.) And that it would not be right for OO to take on the job of policing how people express feelings whose expression has been suppressed by society.
    So perhaps there would be some way could be found to express the anger and to acknowledge the oppression at its root that would be less tactically disadvantageous.
    That is just an idea I am offering. Not trying to tell anyone on the ground what to do.

    1. June Goodwin

      Oh yes, so winter is coming and maybe I shouldn’t be so optimistic.

      the last lines of the poems should, for the moment, maybe read:

      the 99% rhizome
      is overwintering,
      storing fury.

        1. June Goodwin

          Fury is often the basis, I think, of constructive action. People sometimes need to coalesce their aggravations to provide momentum for solving them.

          Thank you for reacting to my poem.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      The third link, Eiko, along with the comments, made me focus on the human situation of the TAC, and the difficulties they must face. That’s one reason it’s always good to get as close to the ground as possible.

    3. Bella Eiko

      Thank you for reading my blog and your constructive comments. Rest assured that there is an ongoing dialogue. I will pad your comments onto those I know on the ground.

      To the blogger: thank you for linking to my blog and your very kind words. I appreciate it and will be sure to link to you when I can get my blog set up a little better.

    1. June Goodwin

      Revised ending of poem, since, as you say, winter is yet coming:

      the Occupy memes’
      nemeses will fail:
      the 99% rizome
      is overwintering,
      storing fury.

  4. Jessica

    “So a critique of the rentier mentality, where rewards are related to chance or situation, can be seen as having been integral to Occupy from its inception.”

    I submit that identity politics, especially when they are used to suppress discussion rather than enrich it, can become a form of petit-rentier-dom.

    Suppressing discussion: “XX is not a ZZ, therefore what XX says is not permitted to be said (and will not be discussed on its merits).
    Enriching discussion: “As a ZZ, I want to add my view that ____ into the mix.”

    Many people speak sincerely from the perspective of identity politics. However, some people make their living from their identity politics. Some of those receive tiny rent payments from the overall rent collections of the elite. For example, a position as a professor of identity studies. In return, they are expected to use the weapon of their identity to police discussion and keep it within the range that is acceptable for the 1%.

  5. Petey B.


    Huh? So much talk. You’ll bore your audience to death.

    Occupy is a PR campaign. Since it is non-violent, it wins social improvement by convincing mainstream America that there is a problem. This is the power of occupy, it has the potential to break thru denial and expose the systematic-and-fixable policy reasons for growing inequality.

    The strategy is simple and universal:

    #1: Get attention
    #2: Get media attention and maintain the sympathy of the mass media. This is key.
    #3: have a message that people are sympathetic to (should be easy since our government has screwed up so bad non-stop this millenium).
    #4: recruit fresh blood to grow and repeat above steps.


    #3 means cut down on the introspective babble. Talking points. Keep it short and simple.
    #4 means be realistic. Winter time is no time to be camping out in icy rain in city parks. Go home, warm up, save some cash. Do it when the weather is better.
    #2 means it would be wise to try to win over those who run the machinery of American Television first. Be visible near where *they* work. recruit in the schools that train them. Have a simple and compelling message- again this should be easy since our so-called leaders have worsened the lives of many.

    Finally, don’t forget that we are in a global world. Dont try to hide it. The 99% in the USA are the 5% for the rest of the world. This dynamic cant be swept under the rug. We Americans, as a group, OUGHT to and WILL have less. It’s just a question of who among us gets our fairly reduced share of the world’s pie.

      1. Jessica

        I don’ think Occupy is primarily a PR campaign. I believe it is transformative social action. People changing as individuals and as members of society through what they do together. For example, the GAs and using the people’s mic.
        Trying to get the mass media on our side is what we have tried since the 60s. Ultimately, the mass media are the 1%’s mass media. That is structural.
        I don’t think it is time for the simple direct likeable message because honestly no one knows what that is yet. It needs to be discovered together. The depth of our problems and our inability as a society to change course even when the current course is clearly an utter failure suggests that the solutions will need to work on a very deep level, will be profoundly new. So first, we will have to find those solutions, then we will have to convert them into something simple and understandable. If we start with the simple, we will have more empty PR. “Change we can believe” is simple. It also turned out to be a lie.
        That is my two rhizome’s worth.

  6. Diane

    As an avid gardener and economy watcher, I appreciate your rhyzome symbolism in relation to global ‘occupy’ sites. May we all break ground this spring/summer!

  7. RanDomino

    “So what if they come from the anarchist tradition”? Anarchists are the only ones articulating the vision that the Occupy movement, and this wave of revolutions in general, is grasping at, to afraid of the word to name it.

    1. James

      And some form of localized anarchy WILL win out in the end regardless. The current global system is based on global power projection and vertically integrated supply networks, all of which will fail with the depletion of cheap energy, which is happening as we speak. Throw in the unbridled greed of the 1%, who know the score but dare not admit it – even to themselves – and you have the recipe for a global conflagration of epic proportions, although that last part will certainly be a matter of perspective. From the 1%’s perspective, the thieving has never been better. And from the 99%’s perspective, their only hope individually whatsoever (seemingly) is to do battle with the rest of the 99% for the scraps. Once that illusion is popped – and it is just an illusion – the party will start in earnest. Let’s just call it the Bonfire of the Vanities for now. It took a fully vertically integrated global wealth suction and consolidation machine to concentrate so much wealth into the hands of so few. It will take its polar opposite – a horizontally integrated localized real wealth distribution system to ultimately undo its effects. And you’re not gonna hear that from anyone exercising power under the current system.

  8. Jim


    You pulled together some good observations and descriptions:

    “Only last night speaking into the human microphone did I feel for the first time that my political participation could matter.”

    This sounds like the birth of a new sense of self, a new sense of self-respect that is often a consequence of direct participation in democratic collective activity(in this case, a general assembly) by a group determined to bring about the new–a feeling of personal achievement but also organizationally, a product of collective action.

    “The joy that many speak of when they enter a genuinely public self-organized space.”

    Perhaps, an emotional feeling of harmony with others–a brief but actual lived experience of non-alienation.

    “…the United States is a multilingual and multinational empire of continental scope. And the architects of the Federal System tried to ensure there would be multiple centers of power in the United States.”

    It may be time for OWS to engage in a candid dialogue on the kind of institutional framework necessary to guarantee the permanance of direct democratic practice.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      On institional frameworks: Definitely from the Barcaloungerm but I keep thinking of the Central Office of AA, which distributes the literature. Otherwise, AA groups are autonomous, like General Assemblies.

      On the other hand, AA had charismatic founders, who literally “wrote the book.” How to bootstrap that in the Occupy context is not clear at all to me. (What I do think is key is PROCESS much as in gardening ;-) That’s what enables the rhizomic architecture to persist and thrive. Policy, e.g., Move to Amend, may do that but does not necessarily do that.)

      1. Otter

        Central Office exists because in US law any person or corporation (a brewery for example) can register names and trademarks like “Alcoholics Anonymous” and “AA”. The peoples’ groups certainly could then go to court asserting prior use; but the corporation would simply throw legions of lawyers at them until the people are exhausted and bankrupt.

        I have no idea whether AA has an official position, nor what it might be. However, realistically, the founders, like any recovering alcoholics, did not always attend. Everybody needed to learn to work together. To their credit, the founders encouraged self-sufficiency.

        To this day, any member may, and many can, go off and form new groups… without being harassed for solidarity and ideological correctness.

  9. sdemetri

    The Occupations in Bangor and Augusta, Maine have been closed down for a few weeks now. The Occupation in Portland is still up, but most of the folks staying there rotate in and out of warmer accomodations. It has been in the single digits here the past few days, and a snow fall last week was fairly significant.

    Vandalism at the encampment includes cutting the hoses off of the cooking grills, and over the weekend ALL of the signs that were placed on the fence that surrounds Lincoln Park were stolen, even some painted by a local art professor at the University of So. Maine. There is a belief, unconfirmed at present, that the signs were taken my the police, although they deny it. It has been hard to police the camp against such things.

    On a positive note, Wednesday evening the Portland City Council is taking up a resolution modeled after Move to Amend’s efforts condemning corporate personhood. The newly elected Mayor is a co-sponsor with three other council members. Occupy Maine, the League of Young Voters, and the Green Independent Party of Maine came together with one of the councilors to draft the language and move the effort forward. We need one more vote to assure passage.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks for the update. Occupy Bangor is has a functioning GA, even though they are no longer encamped by the Bangor Public Library. I believe that Occupy Augusta is in much the same state; I met a streamer who identified themselves as being from Occupy Augusta just a few days ago. I expect that when Spring comes, there will be more outdoor efforts….

  10. Susan the other

    If only less than 20% of our economy is associated with imports from China and India, then it stands to reason that we have been wrung out by our own domestic corporations and unequal politics. Maybe job loss has little to do with job outsourcing after all. So jobs could be re-established. In addition to demanding jobs or else, Occupy could begin to form all variety of co-ops. To buy, to produce, to sell, to transport. Occupy could do a national single payer health insurance. No shareholders. Only members. Occupy should look at every point where it can take America back and then do it. And take no prisoners. America is Occupy.

  11. citizendave

    Lambert, thank you for writing. I always appreciate your thoughts and observations.

    I like the rhizome metaphor. It seems much healthier than “viral”. I’ve been looking for a metaphor that suggests a response that arises spontaneously in individual minds as a reaction to the problem we all face. There is no need for recruitment into the movement. Many of us feel the pain. What we need is a way to join in and respond en masse, in concert, as though spontaneously. I think a distinction can be made between the anarchist viewpoint, and taking a non-violent course of action that is unanimous despite being leaderless. I don’t want to voluntarily participate in any activity that I fear will be prone to erupt in violence. A strictly non-violent approach requires considerable discipline: if stuck, do not strike back. I think the majority of We The 99% are not rousers of the rabble. But we are willing to pour out into the streets to peaceably assemble and make our voices heard.

    I like the quote from Matt Taibbi: “…If there is such a thing as going on strike from one’s own culture, this is it…” That describes it almost perfectly for me.

    Here is a sample of joy from Madison last February, with an Arcade Fire soundtrack. I love to watch their faces.

  12. EmilianoZ

    One question: what have the Spanish protesters achieved? They have been at it for a longer time and in larger numbers than us. For what? Has the Spanish government taken any steps to reduce inequality?

    1. blueanthrax

      i think it would act differently without the awareness of such big occupy movement but i cannot say exactly what. no one can be sure that the occupy movement have no influence on lets say war with iran now. the awareness of such unknown force may affect politicians decisions at the level money cant. thank you for the article. the authors hope is infectious.

  13. chuck roast

    re: sdemitri…
    he/she is accurate.
    The perception here is that Occupy has run out of steam. We noticed today that all the signs on the fence at Lincoln Park were disappeared. So, why don’t you Occupy BOA as long as your not agitating on Monument Square. They throw you in the can…at least you’re warm, you get what I would consider “good press” and at the same time ramp up the opposition to the oligarchs.
    Ignore me…I’m just another 60’s retard who is hoping he doesn’t go bald because people will actually see the brain damage he sustained from the “officer’s batons”.

  14. patricia

    Return summer to us;
    the joy of a red fruit
    with its blue-bottle fly
    and white worm.

    Remind us how to speak:
    the wind’s sibilant hiss,
    a sparrow’s chirp,
    the honk of a goose.

    Run our cold blood warm,
    and rock the water of winter
    with its dripping greys,
    into flickering clarity.

    Wait for sun, wait for us,
    Our sturdy bright leaves uncurling,
    Thick brown legs plunging
    Deep into black earth.

    Soon, flowers bursting into fruit.

  15. Tom in AZ

    Getting through the winter, just occupying a place for people to gather when the weather improves is a huge deal for now. Not direction, meme, or any of that. Being there, surviving the cold, and opposition as the country warms/wakes up to the election battles this year. That is important. IMHO. Something/someplace tangible, will be as attractive as pollen to bees. Then we’ll see if they can bring about something positive.

    I am proud to help out a little.

  16. JTFaraday

    I think it is going to be an early spring, and thank goodness.

    The electoral nonsense is starting again.

  17. different clue

    Lambert Strether,

    You’ve said “rhizome” enough times that I wonder if you have been reading Jeff Vail’s Rhizome: A Theory Of Power.
    And maybe other things by Jeff Vail.

    One thing I hope the Occupyants do is discuss what they will do in the ho hum drum ordinaryality of their daily lives beTWEEN Occupy events. What will they do to bake a new Occuppie on the empty Occupiepan of the old?

    (Perhaps a new movement needs new songs . . even if only satirical at first. I imagine a new song to the tune of We Shall Overcome. I title it We Shall Undermine.

    We shall un der miiiine.
    We shall un der mii ii iine.
    We shall un der miine eeeach dayyy ay ay ay ay . . .

    I am not smart enough to write the rest. But surely enough smart people could write enough smart verses to make a good song.)

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