Ten Years After Occupy Wall Street

from It's Going Down

Ten Years After Occupy Wall Street, Its Real Legacy is Anarchism in Practice

Statement from Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council (MACC) on the anarchist legacy of Occupy Wall Street on the movement’s 10th anniversary.

Lenapehoking, Turtle Island (also known as New York City) – Since its demise in the Fall of 2012, various individuals, websites, social media accounts, and politicians have tried to claim the mantle of Occupy Wall Street. The associations are endless, from Bernie Sanders-aligned “socialists” to neoliberal Twitter accounts praising landlords for evicting people. Any journalist writing about the OWS movement should know its actual history, separated from the machinations of those who later tried to co-opt its message for themselves. OWS was anarchism in practice, and that is its legacy.

Several members of MACC were present for the early days of Occupy Wall Street, and, along with thousands of others, helped to build it into what it became. We have drafted this press release to ensure journalists understand that in all likelihood, if you are seeing a website or Twitter account that is “Occupy” branded today, it does not reflect the politics of OWS. On this, the tenth anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, we, as anarchists, activists, and witnesses to history, want to clarify and reclaim the legacy of this incredible movement.

As anyone who was actually there at the creation knows, Occupy Wall Street was never about electoral politics, and it certainly wasn’t about earning clout or making money. The occupation of Zuccotti Park was a direct action; we did not ask permission or request a permit. We, the 99%, liberated and transformed the park into a directly democratic space through general assemblies and working groups. Our example inspired the occupations of hundreds of public spaces across the country and informed the horizontal (non-hierarchical) politics of the broader Occupy movement. The goal was not to take state power, but to demonstrate a truly egalitarian society and a living alternative to capitalism. This is what we meant – what we have always meant – by revolution.

"Occupy Wall Street and Anarchism": https://www.youtube.com/embed/4Cq9R4Lqr1o

Multiple books and articles have been written that emphasize the anarchism of OWS. In The Democracy Project, the late anarchist and anthropologist David Graeber claims OWS was part of a long history of democratic resistance against the state and capitalism. In Thank You, Anarchy: Notes from the Occupy Apocalypse, the writer Nathan Schneider provides a first-hand account of the self-organization taking place in the park. In Translating Anarchy: The Anarchism of Occupy Wall Street, historian Mark Bray interviews over 200 core organizers of OWS, the vast majority of whom identify as anarchists or have anarchistic politics. To those who have studied OWS at length, its fundamental anarchism is not in debate.

Mark Bray has said about the anniversary, “Ten years later, let the historical record show that Occupy Wall Street was planned and organized in large part by anarchists. OWS’s popular assemblies, direct actions, mutual aid projects, rejection of hierarchy, and distance from electoral politics were thoroughly infused with anti-authoritarian values and practices from the beginning. This groundbreaking movement that helped spark a dynamic decade of resistance was not street theater for the Democratic Party, but rather a bold experiment in imagining a world beyond capitalism and the state.”


The legacy of OWS is the ongoing anarchist movement. It is in occupations of public space (Occupy ICE, Abolition Park), workplace actions organized by rank-and-file workers (Industrial Workers of the World, Brandworkers), pipeline disruptions (Occupy the Pipeline, Sane Energy), and refusing to pay debts (Strike Debt). It is in networks of mutual aid providing food (Food Not Bombs, Club A, The Gym, WSP Mutual Aid, Woodbine) medical aid (NYC Action Medical) and care (MACC Care Assembly). It is in the call to abolish police and prisons (Anarchist Black Cross, Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, Revolutionary Abolitionist Movement, Black and Pink). It is in the fight against fascism (J20, Charlottesville). OWS lives when people stop thinking of the world as it is, and instead imagine what it could be. OWS lives, when people act as if they are already free.

The Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council (MACC) NYC was formed by original organizers of Occupy Wall Street (OWS). We have explicitly drawn on lessons learned from that experience. We have assemblies, spokes councils, and working groups. We operate via the consensus process. We have robust financial control procedures. We have a community accountability team to address harm and conflict. The principles and structure by which we organize are directly informed by OWS. We are the legacy. 


There are 8 Comments

Haw haw -- I'll bet! This IGD person is clearly in the market to buy a cool bridge I own that goes from somewhere near Zuccotti Park -- and very close to it in spirit! -- to Brooklyn.

What we see in this piece is the usual Mountain-must-come-to-Mohammed delusions of grandeur of the protest ghetto left, spiky-guy-division. I was in and around Occupy Oakland -- it had no traction among the vast majority of those of us who must sell our labor power for wages and have nothing to lose but our pains. It quickly decomposed into being the same old stuff that left-liberal compulsive protestors always do already. It was a theatre of opposition, not a bare-knuckle real world opposition to what capitalist social relations do to our lives.

This stuff had, and continues to have, no material impact in the real world.

In a democratic capitalist society, there are politicians who win most of the time. There are politicians who lose most of the time. And there are capitalist politicians who lose all of the time, and that's the left in America. We don't need politically incoherent hippie street theatre, we need something analogous in 21st century terms to the real IWW of the early 20th century -- an anti-wage labor social movement of the wage-earning class.

Occupy was not it -- not even close.

you were a voyeuristic tourist at occupy, nothing more. there's a reason nobody would have listened to your whining if you'd been brave enough to offer anything resembling a critique; the left was stillborn at occupy oakland. every move their splintered sectarians made was quashed by the instinctive anti-authoritarianism of most of the campers -- which is not to say that they were ready for a full frontal assault on capitalism, they weren't. but the most important part of occupy oakland was that people were finding their sea legs as they went, without the generous tutelage of communist creeps like you. you knew that as soon as you deigned to show up twice (or was it three times?). there was no place for you to gain traction, which is why you beat hasty retreats each time you wandered by. no doubt about it: occupy oakland was flawed. but not for the reasons you think, and the correctives would have had nothing to gain from listening to self-indulgent ultra-left losers like you (who are in thankfully short supply).
tl;dr: fuck off keating.

MACC needs to lay off the edibles. The current-day version of Ye Olde IWW aren't "rank and file workers" any more than people wearing Mister Spock ears at sci-fi conventions are actual space aliens. Just because MACC indulges in some fantasy projection here -- hosted by IGD, of course -- it doesn't mean that anyone outside of their social set harbors similar illusions about Occupy.

Show's what a dead end MACC and other orgs and discourses like them are. They learned the wrong lessons and are pursuing procedures that will go nowhere towards qualitative social insurrection. The post-occupy lesson should be ABANDONMENT not occupation. Exit not Voice. If you want to focus on what a potential insurgent subject could be for radical abandonment I would suggest shaping the views of pre-adult adolescent pupils(forget the proles that aren't lumpen). If you were to get an abandonment tendency from THAT demographic(11-17) THEN things might actually get interesting.

Also, why is Mark Bray's name and words appearing anywhere? ANY radical discourse that involves that antifatarded clow is DOA.

"If you want to focus on what a potential insurgent subject could be for radical abandonment I would suggest shaping the views of pre-adult adolescent pupils" --SirEinzige

Translation: "I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be." SiReiNzIgE

Ain't far off and I don't mean that in a Bateman sort of way. The future for children in any civilization is ALWAYS Molochian without exception to varying degrees. Things like self love which that song gets at are very often not achieved by many. Make fun of me all you want but I have an insurgent take on 'The Greatest Love Of All.

It's all part and parcel of the Stirnerian idea of personalism at the end of the day.

(As someone who wasn't just a voyuer of a local chapter of occupy) is that it mostly wasn't an anarchist think. OWS had full exposure in the spectacle, and was coopted and criticized by journalists. The article above is definitely well written labor agitation rag, but it's something that cant be recreated without wrestling with the dramatic changes that have occurred since.

To say that it was unquestionably anarchist is like saying that the charles manson family was more revolutionary than crime thinc. because they were dumpster diving when crime thinc was wearing diapers.

I'm not debating that there were clearly anarchists who innovated the whole thing it got consumed by society at large, but I would feel ridiculous going into the street with signs about all the spaces I occupy in my pedestrianism.

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