OVERLAND Occupy special online supplement published 30 January 2012 The Occupy movement that spread across the globe in 2011 saw a revival of extra-parliamentary politics and sweeping debates about the idea of democracy. It was a movement ignited by the…
What does it mean to be a part of Occupy Wall Street?
For me, the meaning has changed and shifted; it changes and shifts every day. Today: co-editing a press statement about ‘Occupy our Dreams’ on Google Docs with people I have never met. Yesterday: teaching my college students about the consensus method and how our classroom would be different if it were run that way.
On the five, the window of an ancient Roman edifice. On the ten, a medieval Romanesque portal. On the twenty, two slender Gothic windows, one taller than the other. On the fifty, a detail from a Renaissance building. On the hundred, the ornate entrance of a Baroque palace. On the two hundred, a section of a late-nineteenth-century public building, perhaps a train station.
Like the Russian poet, I, too, have seen many countries, and it is my understanding of the cataclysmic events in the country where I was born which provides me with an introduction to these comments on the Occupy Movement. The Iranian Revolution of 1978 serves as both an example of a grassroots civil insurrection that overthrew an entire political system, as well as a warning about the idea of ‘universal brotherhood’ being subverted by religious particularism and sectarian chauvinism.
The global justice movement, born from the globalisation of the 1990s that propelled the uprising of the internet-savvy Zapatistas and the anti-World Trade Organisation meeting protests in Seattle, is in its second wave. Inspired by the ‘Arab Spring’, the Spanish indignados and Occupy Wall Street, the Occupy Together movement went viral on the global day of occupation on 15 October 2011.
‘She won’t be right mate’ – sign at Occupy Melbourne 2011 was a year of unexpected protests, revolts and revolutions. Demonstrations in Tunisia and Egypt toppled dictators, while thousands camped in Madrid’s Puerta del Sol and Barcelona’s Plaça de Catalunya…
So William Wordsworth famously invoked the romance of the French Revolution. ‘Reason’ seemed a ‘prime Enchantress’, going forward not in ‘favoured spots alone’ but across ‘the whole earth’. The ‘inert’ were ‘roused’, and ‘lively natures rapt away!’
No-one would seriously equate the storming of the Bastille in 1789 with the first encampment in lower Manhattan, 2011.