Occupy Wall Street has swept the world and accomplished a lot, even if it doesn’t seem like it | Akin Olla
IIt’s been 10 years since Occupy Wall Street rocked the United States and spread like fire across the planet, as part of a new era of political consciousness that included movements like the Arab Spring and the Outrage. Spanish. Originally launched September 17, 2011 by members of the Canadian political magazine Adbusters, and famous for temporarily occupying Zuccotti Park in Manhattan’s financial district, Occupy broadcast in more than 900 cities of countries around the world in one month. In the end, hundreds of thousands of people had engaged in a broad political struggle against the dominant political order of economic inequality and the irresponsible capitalists who had plunged the world into recession a few years before.
Occupy has been dismissed for years as ineffective, but time has refuted the cynics. On the contrary, the Occupy movement has shown what is possible when a motley group of organizers transform private suffering into public action. Occupy not only helped redefine the political conversation in America, it served as a dress rehearsal for many organizations and movements that followed. Through the policies proposed and adopted in its wake, the individuals it has put in place to lead a new generation of social movements and political institutions, Occupy Wall Street has left a powerful legacy.
Political uprisings are generally classified as successful or not based on the policies they carry out at their peak. But that’s not the only way to measure motion, as theorists Paul and Mark Engler noted. The Englers, authors of the 2016 book This Is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt is Shaping the Twenty-First Century, argued that movements can also be measured by their ability to shape public opinion and formulate new solutions, which many need older organizations to bring to fruition.
The Fight for $ 15 movement, for example, began in New York City shortly after Occupy Wall Street, with fast food workers demanding a fair wage for the one percent bosses who controlled the industry. The movement also borrowed from Occupy political strategy, initially focusing more on dramatic protests than on the slower organizing methods of unions and community organizations. Despite this break with traditional labor strategy, Fight for $ 15 was strongly supported by one of the largest unions of service workers in the country, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which also provided support for Occupy Wall Street. Since Occupy, 33 cities have increase their minimum wage at $ 15 or more.
The biggest and most obvious impact of Occupy has been to change the rhetoric of the Democratic Party. While the party remains linked to the capitalists, as clearly indicated by its to give the priority the healthcare industry during the pandemic, the way Democrats talk about the economy has certainly changed. In the 2020 Democratic primary, even the most moderate Democrats on stage were dumping policies that borrowed more democratic socialist Bernie Sanders than Barack Obama. While Obama’s rhetoric in 2008 focused on improving access to private health insurance, the more recent Biden and Buttigieg platforms have focused on expanding coverage by the ‘Medicare intermediary. And while Obama had no initial plan to write off student debt, Buttigieg argued that four-year colleges should be free for most students and called for automatic enrollment in repayment plans based on income with loan cancellation after 20 years. Centrist Rahm Emanuel, former Chicago mayor and Obama’s chief of staff, spoke of the change when he conceded in a 2020 editorial that “the landscape today is much more conducive to progressive ideas than it was when Mr. Clinton or Mr. Obama ran for office.”
This change can of course be seen as the result of Bernie Sanders’ impressive performance in the 2016 election season and his status as the country’s leader. the most popular senator. But Sanders himself relied on the rhetoric and elders of the Occupy movement. His digital team was filled with Occupy alumni like Brett Banditelli of Occupy Harrisburg and Charles Lenchner, who once helped run websites for the 2011 movement. For Sanders’ 2016 campaign, Occupy activists even returned at the cradle of the movement, Zuccotti Park, to make phone calls for his main fight. At the end of primary, Sanders declared that his campaign was “to create an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1%”, much like in 2020 when he tweeted: “[T]The top 1% may have tremendous wealth and power, but they are only the 1%. When the 99% stand together, we can transform society. “
Occupy’s electoral success also didn’t stop with Sanders. Occupy alumni like Max Berger would go on to develop organizations like the Justice Democrats, which helped elect progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Cori Bush. Other Occupy alumni like Mimi Hitzemann and Guido Girgenti helped build Momentum, an American social movement training center (not to be confused with the British organization of the same name) focused on applying the lessons of ‘Occupy to more traditional forms of social change, in the way the civil rights movement combined public spectacle with ingrained grassroots organization. Momentum executives continued to to create organizations like the Sunrise Movement, which championed the Green New Deal, and Black Visions, which popularized the “Defund the Police” demand that swept across the country amid George Floyd’s uprising. And while these organizations may seem further removed from Occupy, there are a handful of fruits closer to the root.
Almost immediately after the movement’s initial wave and its call for a 99% uprising, new organizations were forming around its broad mission. Strike Debt was one of the first; the collective was formed in 2012 with the aim of supporting debtors in resisting their own personal debt and the debt system as a whole. They published a Debt Resistance Operations Manual which aimed “Provide specific tactics to understand and tackle the debt system so that we can all get our lives and our communities back.” The collective’s best-known project was the Rolling Jubilee, a project in which they bought $ 15 million in medical debt and erased this. The group now lives in chapters across the country and as a new consumer union called the Collective debt.
Other organizations like Occupy Sandy and Occupy Homes have also taken over to fight for those in need of help. From Occupy Sandy, who rescued the victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, The New York Times noted: “Where FEMA fell short, Occupy Sandy was there.” Likewise, Occupy Homes fought to prevent foreclosures after the 2008 real estate crash. Occupy Homes’ work can be seen in organizations such as the Occupy Philadelphia Housing Authority, which forced the city of Philadelphia out last year. to agree to create a community land trust and permanent low income housing.
There has never been, say, a major congressional “Occupy Wall Street” bill that immediately addresses the concerns of the movement. But perhaps Occupy’s greatest legacy is showing the world that movements are more than the legislation they pass or the regimes they overthrow. These are training grounds for the future, a practice for the new generations to find their place in the political arena. Movements can redefine the way political parties express themselves and the way future organizations lead the struggle. With these measures, Occupy has been a success. And because of the organizations and individuals inspired by his work, the next Occupy can deliver all that the former couldn’t.