Occupy's Spiritual Quest

The fork in the road ahead.


Dear occupiers, jammers, dreamers,

Three years after the May 1968 uprising that swept the world, the great French philosopher Michel Foucault observed that a key strategy of power is to “appear inaccessible to events.” Power, Foucault argued with a nod towards 1968’s failed insurrection, acts to “dispel the shock of daily occurrences, to dissolve the event … to exclude the radical break introduced by events.”

Forty years later, in light of Occupy, Foucault’s observation still strikes home. Despite achieving the impossible at unprecedented speed – sparking a global awakening, triggering a thousand people’s assemblies worldwide, and giving birth to a visceral anti-corporate, pro-democracy spiritual insurrection – Occupy is now struggling through an existential moment. Our movement has been dealt a blow: our May 1 and follow-up events have been dissolved by power; the status quo has shown itself to be far more resilient than many of us expected.

Now a passionate debate is emerging within our movement. On one side are those who cheer the death of Occupy in the hopes that it will transform into something unexpected and new. And on the other are patient organizers who counsel that all great movements take years to unfold.


May 1 confirmed the end of the national Occupy Wall Street movement because it was the best opportunity the movement had to reestablish the occupations, and yet it couldn’t. Nowhere was this more clear than in Oakland as the sun set after a day of marches, pickets and clashes. Rumors had been circulating for weeks that tents would start going up and the camp would reemerge in the evening of that long day. The hundreds of riot police backed by armored personnel carriers and SWAT teams carrying assault rifles made no secret of their intention to sweep the plaza clear after all the “good protesters” scurried home, making any reoccupation physically impossible. It was the same on January 28 when plans for a large public building occupation were shattered in a shower of flash bang grenades and 400 arrests, just as it was on March 17 in Zuccotti Park when dreams of a new Wall Street camp were clubbed and pepper sprayed to death by the NYPD. Any hopes of a spring offensive leading to a new round of space reclamations and liberated zones has come and gone. And with that, Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Oakland are now dead.

The task ahead of us in Oakland and beyond is to search out and nurture new means of finding each other. We are quickly reaching the point where the dead weight of Occupy threatens to drag down the Commune into the dustbin of history. We need to breathe new life into our network of rebellious relationships that does not rely on the Occupy Oakland general assembly or the array of movement protagonists who have emerged to represent the struggle. This is by no means an argument against assemblies or for a retreat back into the small countercultural ghettos that keep us isolated and irrelevant. On the contrary, we need more public assemblies that take different forms and experiment with themes, styles of decision-making (or lack there of) and levels of affinity… Most of all, we need desperately to stay connected with comrades old and new and not let these relationships completely decompose.

— Read the rest of the this article, by anonymous West Coast anarchists, at Bay of Rage



ccupy Wall Street was at the pinnacle of its power in October 2011, when thousands of people converged at Zuccotti Park and successfully foiled the plans of billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg to sweep away the occupation on grounds of public health. From that vantage point, the Occupy movement appears to have tumbled off a cliff, having failed to organize anything like a general strike on May Day – despite months of rumblings of mass walkouts, blockades and shutdowns.

The mainstream media are eager to administer last rites. CNN declared that “May Day fizzled,” the New York Post sneered “Goodbye, Occupy,” and The New York Times consigned the day’s events to fewer than 400 words, mainly dealing with arrests in New York City.

Historians and organizers counter that the Occupy movement needs to be seen in relative terms. Eminent sociologist Frances Fox Piven, co-author of Poor People’s Movements, says:

“I don’t know of a movement that unfolds in less than a decade. People are impatient, and some of them are too quick to pass judgment. But it’s the beginning, I think, of a great movement. One of a series of movement that has episodically changed history, which is not the way we tell the story of American history.”

— Read the rest of Arun Gupta’s What Happened to the Occupy movement?

The fire in the soul of Occupy burns from Oakland to Quebec, Barcelona to Chicago, Wall Street to Moscow and Frankfurt… the question now is which fork in the road will our movement take?

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197 comments on the article “Occupy's Spiritual Quest”

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Squirrel Power.was used successfully in the Soviet Union for decades, until the evil Americans bankrupted their system.

We need to spend time studying squirrels to learn their system, then adopt it. Oh, and steel their nuts, too!


Occupy will triumph, as it is inevitable that we are in fact the evolution of society. Not by marches. Not by actions, protests, media coverage, or any of the old way. But by being the change we want to see. When a million zucotti's spring up, when thousands of Occupy the farms are established, and our own successful communities are created and thrive, the rest will follow and join us. When instead of preaching at the masses what shouldn't be, we show them by example what they can become, we will grow. When the millions of zombies, billions of oppressed peoples see they can live with compassion and love, without becoming consumer/slaves, without running on the hamster wheel of a job to pay off a falsely inflated student loan, we will thrive. When the people realize that we are happy and functional in our new system of community-ism, they will join. Its inevitable.


send me an email at occupywallstreetnow at gmail dot com if you woudl like to write an editorial for occupywalstreet dot com.



Occupy failed because much of the radical left in America wanted it to. If a revolution were to really happen, imagine what the Left would lose: the cool, youth, anarchist subcultures (that dominate the West Coast), the well-paid academic positions, the glamorous non-profit and organizing careers, etc.

The article out of Occupy Oakland only confirmed this. Did they not listen to Zizek when he warned against the "narcissism of the lost cause?" He said we must avoid the sense of, "Oh, we failed, but how beautiful it was!" So what is the point of the article? To narcissistically immortalize themselves. To always be able to say, someday in the future, "Oh, I was at Occupy Oakland, we were so radical, we exploded one time in a moment of beautiful rage, those were great times..."

These anarchists only wanted their own countercultural movement (just like the 60's and 70's) and their own May 1968. They don't really want a revolution. Secretly, they relish in their oppositional stances, and if the revolution actually happened, what then can they be "against?" This explains the movement into increasingly oppositional positions (like anti-civilzation. Anti-capitalism becoming too popular? Not as cool anymore? Losing your edge on radical politics? Find something even more radical to oppose: civilization itself! What's next? Walking upright?) This is narcissism to the core.

I see two options for the radical, young, anarchists, especially those on the West Coast who focus primarily on maintaining a cool, anarchist subculture (your zones that nobody reads but your friends anyway, your cool clothes and style, your obscure politics, etc). You can either pretend nothing happened, that Occupy was a dream, and keep on living your cool, oppositional, anarchist lives. Or you can get serious about anti-capitalism, really want a revolution, link arms with the working class and tear this shit down.


Occupy didn't fail. No movement succeeds overnight, or even in a year or two. The abolitionists didn't see success until the end of the civil war, and the civil rights movement took decades, starting with the Communist Party in the 30's. Occupy has just begun. It might not be called ows in 5 or 10 years time, but it will be global and it will be growing in numbers and influence.


Occupy is off the charts. The numbers in Canada were/are awesome. This protest was part of the Occupy movement as is what's going on in Greece. It doesn't get any more intense than this. I pray everyday that Greece sets itself free like Iceland. And someday soon, America will tell the bankers to pack their useless BS paper and get the f*** out.

This whole story that OWS is not what it is suppose to be or not up to some unnamed person's definition of what is an impressive turn out, is asinine. This movement will only build, and everyday the outrage over the theft from Wall Street, ignored by our lawmakers, makes every American a little more awake.


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