The New IRS lets your choose where your tax money is spent. What would your chart look like? http://t.co/6OsqBuHMaF pic.twitter.com/zUe9BAVGKE— The New IRS (@TheNewIRS) April 14, 2014

Dear Occupy Wall Street,
I’m writing you because…

JUST IN: 15 Jurors have been selected so far, with OPENING ARGUMENTS HAPPENING TODAY (April 11) at 2:30PM EST. It’s most important that we pack the courts, and show that we stand in Solidarity with Cecily.
Please share! #Justice4Cecily at 100…

“A message from some of our friends in Occupy.” – OSN

Today, a group of occupiers, seasoned activists and future leaders are announcing the launch of a new political movement for a democratic revolution in the U.S.A.

Introducing: The After Party.

Two and a half years ago, we took to the streets in hundreds of cities to protest the financial elite and their cronies in government. We created protest communities in public spaces, abolished debt, wrote the Volcker Rule for financial reform, and helped hurricane survivors rebuild. Now, we’re challenging our corrupt government directly by building political power, starting at the local level.

The After Party isn’t a traditional political party in any sense. We organize by identifying and meeting a community’s needs from beyond the political system, and getting rid of corrupt politicians by getting our own community leaders into local office. We will feed the hungry, educate those who wish to learn, care for the sick, and house those whose homes have been taken. We will break the stranglehold of the broken two-party system by innovating and changing the rules of the game.

Read The After Party Manifesto.

We’re counting on you to tell your friends about the After Party, and help us get the word out about the new political party that will finally speak for, and with, young people, the poor, people of color, the homeless, the hungry, and the uninsured — the same people who have been left out of the conversation for too long.

Like’ and ‘Follow’ us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on Party news!

You coming?

In solidarity with the global 99%,

the After Party team

Join Occupy Wall Street at the University of Puget Sound on April 9 at 5pm for a surprise announcement.
Driving directions:

Monday Update

Manhattan, NY- Cecily McMillan, accompanied by approximately 50 supporters, was back in court today for pre-trial motions. Judge Zweibel upheld his previous decision on motion 50-4(a), denying access again to Officer Grantley Bovell’s personnel files, on the grounds that this previous history of excessive force and corruption are not relevant to the case at hand. The DA argued that none of these cases were substantiated due to the recommendation from the internal affairs bureau, an arm of the NYPD.

Many supporters showed up to court this morning, wearing a pink hand over their right breast, signifying solidarity with Cecily, who was sexually assaulted in this exact manner by Officer Bovell the night of M17. Judge Zweibel ordered that these signs of solidarity would be forbidden in the court room, as the claim of sexual assault is unsubstantiated since Cecily never reported this incident to the IAB directly.

Jury selection was postponed due to a supposed lack of potential jurists in the building. It will begin tomorrow morning,Tuesday April 8th at 9:30am at 100 Centre St Room 116 Part 41.

Press Contacts:
Stan Williams 256-323-1109
Lauren Wilfong 413-207-4207
Marty Stolar 917-225-4596

Backgrounder

Our dear friends, Cecily McMillan is going to trial and we need all y’all occupiers to show up and support!

You are needed to come out full force and show the court system that we stand with our friends and that we will bring #Justice4Cecily.

In an unbelievable turn of events, Ms. McMillan faces 2nd degree assault charges stemming from a 2012 encounter with the NYPD that left her beaten and unconscious.

Join us at 9:15 am at 100 Centre Street, Room 1116 Part 41, New York, NY 10013 In the best interests of her trial, everyone who comes needs to wear proper business casual clothing and remain calm and respectful in the courtroom.

There will be breakfast and hot tea in the morning on Monday outside the courthouse for supporters!

Oh, and did you know?

“Officer Grantley Bovell has been accused of running a motorcyclist off the road to make an arrest, kicking a suspect in the face while he was on the ground, and slamming an arrestee’s face into the stairs on an MTA bus. Bovell was also one of the 500 officers ensnared in the vast ticket-fixing scandal in the Bronx, and was again internally disciplined for his role.” – Cop’s Record Of Excessive Force Allegations Will Be Sealed For OWS Trial, Gothamist

Do this: “Tell everyone you know about Officer Bovell’s history of abuse.” Tweet it. Sing it. Facebook it. Bring it on a sign. Let’s get the truth out there.

Done. Now, you are needed—RSVP here:

 

Directions

The best thing that you can do is come to the courthouse to bear witness to the egregious treatment of Cecily by the “justice” system, and to let them know that we won’t stand for it. The trial starts tomorrow and will likely continue for the next week or two. Court starts at 9:30 am each day, except for Thursday, when our judge will be unavailable, at 100 Centre St, Part 41 (room 1116). Please wear business casual as our appearance can affect the jury!

We aren’t entirely sure how quickly or slowly things will move, but here’s a tentative schedule of events – we’ll update as we can:

April 7th – Jury Selection

April 8th – Opening Arguments

April 9th – Prosecution Case

April 11th – Defence Case

April 14th – Closing Arguments

April 15th – Jury Deliberation

Members of the Justice For Cecily Support Team will be around to answer any questions. Stay tuned into http://justiceforcecily.com/

#Justice4Cecily #Justice4Cecily #Justice4Cecily

Donate Bitcoins

This piece was written for our contemporary myriad movements, but it is particularly poignant in regards to the Wave Of Action, which is attempting to tap into the incredible creativity around the globe. As events, actions, and images are being crafted, remember to look for opportunities to strategically collaborate with one another. We can increase our strength by working together not only in name, but in coordinated actions. This essay was inspired by a group of women during a Women Weaving the World discussion. Many thanks to all of them for the deep reflections, but particularly to Kathe Schaaf who spoke of the movement of movements in an eye-opening way. Learn more about Women Weaving the World here. ~ Rivera Sun

This article originally appeared on WaveOfAction.org

I feel like shaking everyone and saying, don’t you get it? We are a movement of movements.

My friends, we have been trapped in old dominant paradigm thinking. We have been steeped in warmongering, hierarchical, competitive, control-based mindsets since birth. We think we are lacking something, or that we’re ineffectual at organizing, or we’re failing. We call for a Movement of Movements, like the War to End All Wars, a rallying cry that will amass the allies on the edge of the battlefield so we can massacre our enemies.

It makes me want to laugh – and cry.

We want to name, label, categorize, and control the emergent phenomenon of this revolutionary resistance. We want to take the wild flurry of activity that is erupting on a thousand fronts and turn it into an army for change. We want to call it something because then we can control it. This is what our lineage of science and religion has taught us: if we give it a name, it is ours. If we trademark the Movement, we can capitalize on it. If we organize it all in one place, we can make it work to what we consider its highest potential.

We need to let go.

We need to surrender to this very large phenomenon and join with it. We need to trust each other, the causes, and the organic, emergent nature of what is happening . . . this is revolutionary.
This is a way of participation that is radical in our society. The long history of invasion, conquest, genocide, wars of aggression, and abuse of people and the planet has indoctrinated us in false beliefs that we must organize everything in order to survive. But these old patterns of competition and control are a worldview perpetuated by the wealthy elite, who profit from such mentalities at our expense. To this end, they have abused the theories and philosophies of the Judeo-Christian God and Darwin, alike. They school us in fear-based, violent mindsets to ensure that we will never pose a serious threat to their dominance. If we do not emancipate our minds from their worldview, we will remain blind to the greatest strengths of our movements.

Building a Movement of Movements seems to be the logical, strongest, and wisest approach to breaking our opponents’ power, but our real strength may lie in our myriad movements. The empowered elite are fighting us on all fronts. We have them surrounded on all sides. Our plethora of issues distracts them, divides them, and weakens their centralized position. They sit in the fortress of wealth and power, staring wild-eyed into the living, breathing, diverse jungle of opposition. There is nothing they would like more than to see us assemble all of our strength in one place and march down the road to their fortress. Then they could destroy us in one swoop. So, from the balustrades of their socio-political system, they taunt us and mock us, calling us disorganized and inefficient.

We are not disorganized. We are organized differently.

“We are the ivy crawling up the buildings, the moss breaking down the bricks, and the dandelions shooting up in the sidewalks. We’re as vast as the planet and as microscopic as infectious disease. The Dandelion Insurrection isn’t a handful of radicals. It’s all of Life itself!” – from The Dandelion Insurrection

We must learn to look at the interconnections of our myriad causes and wage struggle through collaboration, not control. Our causes are not at odds with each other, nor do they need unification under one name or coordination from a central command. Instead, we need to collaborate strategically, using our diversity of issues as our strength. If we look at the overlapping issues of health, economy, jobs, peace, surveillance, education, energy, housing, environment, democracy, and so on, we will see that every movement is working to replace destructive, corrupt systems with constructive, life-supporting, sustainable alternatives. Our strength lies in our inherent unity, not in the label attached to it. Our only weakness is in our uncertainty . . . and the fact that we remain unaware of the power of our situation.

We can tap into the collective and coordinated strength of our many movements by learning to strategically collaborate with one another. A few key elements of such an approach are:
- Celebrate other’s achievements; the success of one cause is the success of the whole.
- Support each other’s efforts through solidarity, encouragement, resources, media campaigns, etc.
- Take time to analyze the interconnections of the movements. Search for untapped strengths and sources of support. Identify pivot points of change and opportunities for other movements to help sway a critical element of your own movement.
- Talk with each other. Find out how your efforts overlap and look for opportunities for strategic collaboration.
- Our movements are revolutionary; their manner of collaborative, horizontal organization is the most natural, organic system on Earth. We terrify the empowered elite because we reflect, in our very structure, the most powerful force on the planet: Life. In what they call our disorganization, we embody the natural systems that the patriarchal, Puritanical European colonizers have been trying to repress and control for thousands of years. Our movements are as frightening to them as a liberated woman, or the pagan religions of old Europe that succumbed to the first invasion of the mentality that now engulfs the empowered elite around the globe. We are organic and uncontrollable…and we are, ultimately, unstoppable.

Instead of codifying our movements under one name, we must learn to recognize who and what we are. We are a movement of movements, a great multiplicity of motion.

Author/Actress Rivera Sun is a co-founder of the Love-In-Action Network, a co-host on Occupy Radio, and, in addition to her new novel, The Dandelion Insurrection, she is also the author of nine plays, a book of poetry, and her debut novel, Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, which celebrates everyday heroes who meet the challenges of climate change with compassion, spirit, and strength.


HOW TO HELP: FOOD FUND


Donate Bitcoins

“You are needed for a wave of action.” – Occupy Wall Street

We need you to join the #WaveOfAction that is rising everywhere on Friday. If you cannot make it to an action in your city, please consider supporting the food fund for on the ground participants.

In NYC we will be directly confronting the power of the 1%. Marching on multinational airport corporations who pay poverty wages in the morning, and on Wall Street for the closing bell in the afternoon, and back to our park in the evening where we will begin a three month fight back against the oligarchy that gets stronger everyday.

On the first day of Occupy Wall Street no one thought it could happen either.

The Plan on Friday (April 4) in NYC

3:00 pm: Summer Disobedience School Reunion (People’s Gong!)

Federal Hall, 26 Wall St., NYC

Perform the People’s Gong with the #OWS Direct Action Summer Disobedience School! This is a great entry point into the global wave of action on Wall Street.

Find out the specifics at nycga.net.

7:00 pm: 99% City-Wide Wave Of Action (People’s Assembly!)

Liberty Square (Formerly Zuccotti Park)

7:05pm Vigil for Dr. King / 7:15pm Assembly

The People’s Assembly will happen after the vigil of Dr. King to reconvene the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street Movement as well as many of the movements that preceded it.

All the details are at nycga.net


HOW TO HELP: FOOD FUND


Follow #WaveOfAction and #YouAreNeeded.

WaveOfAction.org | OccupyWallSt.orgWorld | NYC | London | Chicago | Boston | Reno, Nevada | Fort Wayne, Indiana | Orange County, CA | Windhoek, Namibia | Philadelphia | Mississippi | Brisbane, Queensland, Australia | Amsterdam | Seville, Spain | Lansing, Michigan | 5 cities in Tennessee | Ontario, Canada | Various cities, Germany | Johannesburg, Za | Various cities, South Africa | Sydney, Australia |

Tweets about “(#waveofaction OR #youareneeded)”


Wave of Action in Los Angeles: https://www.facebook.com/events/1413346825582931/


Full Schedule for NYC:

Friday, April 4

9:30 am: The Dream Marches On: Sanitation Workers 1968–Airport Workers 2014

Meet just south of the intersection of Belt Parkway and Lefferts Blvd

Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in 1968 as he stood with striking Memphis sanitation workers, who were struggling to make the American dream accessible to all. 48 years later, New York area airport workers are organizing renew that road to the American dream. Workers, elected and clergy leaders and community supporters will gather at the Lefferts Blvd JFK AirTrain Station at 9:30 a.m. They will march along Lefferts to 83rd Avenue to Queens Blvd to Junction Blvd, with the march ending at 3:30 p.m. on the 94th Street Bridge by Ditmars Blvd, which leads into LaGuardia Airport.

RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/432929090175142

11:00 am: Vigil at Congressman Charlie Rangel’s Office

163 W 125th Street, New York, NY

Join the vigils at congressional district offices across the United States to demand that congress pass the Robin Hood Tax on Wall Street – the only real cure to the illness of rampant economic inequality.

RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/752900214729898/756392451047341

3:00 pm: Summer Disobedience School Reunion People’s Gong

Federal Hall

Join the #OWS Direct Action Summer Disobedience School Class of 2012 as they come together as a part of the global wave of action on Wall Street to perform the People’s Gong.

Find out more at nycga.net.

4:20 pm: Medicine for the Movement

Liberty Square (Zuccotti Park)

Occupy Reefer Madness is a coalition of seasoned lawyers, policy experts, Occupy Wall Street Activists, artists, marijuana users and non-users who are new to activism.
We demand the passage of The New York State Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. We will be giving a public teach-in on the details of this bill how you can help make recreational marijuana a reality in New York and beyond as part of our contribution to the #waveofaction beginning on April 4th. If we can make our medicine legal in the marijuana arrest capital of the world then we can do it everywhere.

RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/744843895539992/

5:30 pm: 99% Wave of Action – Say No To the Regressive Agenda of Cuomo!

Federal Hall

Demand a New York that works for #AllOfUs, not only the 1%.

RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/475983245864460/

6:00 pm: Political Prisoner & Movement Martyr Night Vigil

New York City Veterans Memorial

Join local peace activists as they join the World Wide Wave of Action with a candle light vigil & silent night march from Foley Square to the NY Veterans Memorial to raise awareness about those killed & imprisoned during the on going non-violent struggle for justice for all.

More Information: Wave Of Action

6:00 pm: Know Your Rights – NYC #WaveOfAction Mask Edition

Did you know you can be arrested for wearing a mask during #WaveOfAction?

Police in New York City sometimes enforce a very old city law that bans masks and facial coverings at gatherings of two or more people unless it is “a masquerade party or like entertainment.”

If there is more than one masked individual at an event, everyone wearing a mask could get arrested. The law permits the police to use discretion in enforcement, so there may be some situations, and some types of face coverings, that police will ignore.

Find out more at nycga.net

6:30 pm: Operation Safe Winter Community Potluck

60 Wall Street, New York, NY

Join members of the NYC Activist community to provide healthy hot meals to those in need in & around the Financial District of New York City. This project is a grassroots volunteer effort inspired by Operation Safe Winter.

Find out more on nycga.net

7:00 pm: Book as Tactic: NYC Launch for Debt Resisters’ Operations Manual

Join us on Friday April 4th for the New York City launch of the fully revised and updated edition of the Debt Resisters’ Operations Manual. We will discuss the original conception of the manual as a form of collaborative research to emerge from Occupy Wall Street, and reflect on the possibilities of using the format of the book as an organizing tool in the task of building a debt-resistance movement. Along with a brief introduction to this revised edition, the event will also be an opportunity to celebrate the role played by books in emancipatory movements more generally—including book blocs of course! Refreshments will be served, red squares will be distributed, and plans will be hatched for moving from analysis to action in the years to come.

RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/1375597829385171/

7:00 pm: 99% City-Wide Wave Of Action- People’s Assembly

Liberty Square (Formerly Zuccotti Park)
7:05pm Vigil for Dr. King / 7:15pm Assembly

The People’s Assembly will happen after the vigil of Dr. King to reconvene the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street Movement as well as many of the movements that preceded it.

Read more at nycga.net

8:30 pm: People’s Grassroots Conference on Monetary Affairs

Federal Reserve Bank 33 Liberty Street New York 8:30pm

We will be giving presentations and answering questions on the history of the Federal Reserve, The NEED Act, the Livable Wage Movement and the New York City Bitcoin Center in front of the NYC Federal Reserve from 8pm – 11pm as our contribution to the #waveofaction kick off party.

RSVP: https://www.facebook.com/events/517755408329988/

9:45 pm: Occupy Veterans Memorial Civil Disobedience

New York City Veterans Memorial 55 Water Street New York 9:45pm

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a POP space intended to be open to the public 24 hours a day to honor those who served in South East Asia yet at 10 PM it is closed by management. Take a stand with Occupy as we honor those who have died in wars both past & present on April 4th with a reading of names at the space starting at 9:45 PM. At 10 PM we will engage in a non-violent sit in to protest this 1st amendment infringement & to raise awareness about the need to end all wars. This action is to also show solidarity with Veterans for Peace who have supported Occupy & it’s community.

Find out more on nycga.net

For more information go to nycga.net

Occupy Jail Support

NYPD Central Booking 100 Centre Street 10:00pm
Civil Disobedience often means having to take an arrest to carry the message of economic injustice to the wider world & those facing arrest need your solidarity in the form of jail support.
Please join the Occupy Wall Street Jail Support community as they volunteer to track, wait for & then greet those arrested as they are released. For more information please follow the hashtag #JailSupport on April 4th online via Twitter & Facebook and visit nycga.net.

11:00 pm: Wildcat March

From Federal Hall Steps to Union Square

Wear Black. Bring Pots, Pans & Noise Makers.

Find out more on Facebook

If only bank regulations were enforced with the same vigor. #WaveOfAction pic.twitter.com/567rc6AXPA— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallSt) March 29, 2014

Break the system by creating something new. pic.twitter.com/pnlLQuTpC1— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallSt) March 29, 2014

This article was written by @TysonKelsall and originally published at Over The Edge. We’re reposting because Cascadia is the future. Stay in the loop. – OSN

There is a separatist movement building slowly in the Pacific Northwest. Its speed reflects the pace of the people outside of its metropolitan centers.

It is not your typical movement based on the right and left spectrum, nor is it necessarily about protecting a certain culture. More so, it is about creating one, building off the foundation of what already goes on in the westernmost bioregion. It is about decentralizing two governments that seem to disregard what the population wants on the West Coast. The movement calls for a new sovereign state: Cascadia.

@freightliner Free #FreeCascadia! bumperstickers for all Freightliner #Cascadia drivers :) pic.twitter.com/QFMk5w9FoG

— CascadiaNow (@cascadianow) March 13, 2014

The map is not perfect yet. To some it stretches from Northern California to the Alaskan Panhandle. For Cathasaigh Ó Corcráin, co-editor of underground journal Autonomy Cascadia: A Journal of Bioregional Decolonization, since Cascadia is based largely on ecological designs its borders would reflect that, more so than current political ones. Corcráin, following Dr. David McCloskey’s influence, says that watersheds should dictate Cascadia’s region. For example, he uses the Alsek River in the Alaska and Yukon as the northernmost border, and the Klamath River as the southernmost. He also points to the importance of sharing the Salish Sea. Others include Idaho or use current political borders.

Flowing from that, Corcráin also sees the focus of bioregionalism as challenging the current way we associate ourselves with the land. Bioregionalism, as defined by Brandon Letsinger, founder of the Cascadian Independence Project and manager of Cascadia Now’s web presence, is “a way to reframe and rethink a lot of the boundaries and borders on this region to better represent economic, political, social and environmental realities.” Corcráin, who traveled around theoretical Cascadia when filming Occupied Cascadia, says that he also noticed many similarities to communities around the region who shared similar relationships with natural resources and surroundings. For example, a logging community in rural Washington likely shares many cultural characteristics as a logging community in rural northern British Columbia. Furthermore, Corcráin points to that fact that Cascadia is a very wild place, and the wilderness is rugged and “in your face, hard to ignore.” Letsinger said that Cascadia is the birthplace of the idea of bioregionalism. Further, Cascadia has much of its ecological systems still intact relative to the rest of North America.

What is #Cascadia? #Culture Editor @TysonKelsall looks into what the movement means: http://t.co/ZPTp0UJES8 @cascadianow #freecascadia

— Over the Edge (@OVERtheEDGEunbc) March 20, 2014

In 2004, there was the creation of the Cascadian Cup; an intense soccer competition between the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers and the Vancouver Whitecaps. Perhaps, if Cascadia ever were to form, the Vancouver Canucks would change their name to the Vancouver Cascadians and have an entire nation behind them. Maybe then, they could finally win a cup. Letsinger says that Washington state residents are the only state to tune in and cheer for the Canucks. He says the same can be said for British Columbians and the Seahawks. In 2011, the “Republic of Cascadia” made it onto a Times Magazine list as number 8 of the Top 10 Aspiring Nations, which, despite the journalist’s throw-in that Cascadia “little chance of ever becoming a reality,” maybe it is just the beginning.

Many British Columbians have probably inadvertently seen Cascadia’s flag, amicably nicknamed the “Doug Flag,” as it has made its way onto the packaging of one of Victoria’s most popular brews, Blue Buck. The Doug Flag depicts a Douglas Fir over a typical horizontal tri-colour flag. The three colours, blue, white, and green, represent the bioregion of Cascadia. The blue is for our ocean, lakes, rivers and other bodies of water; the white for our snow-capped mountain ranges and glaciers; and the green for our lush forests.

The environment is a key factor in any movement towards Cascadia. Letsinger points’ to the 1970s novel Ecotopia, where a country formed by Washington, Oregon, and northern California is a different sort of place, with a sustainable and socially just foundation. Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly, PhD, associate professor of Public Administration and Jean Monnet Chair at the University of Victoria, sees similar outlooks and values on the environment throughout what some call Cascadia. British Columbia and Washington have similar ecosystems; as both Letsinger and Corcráin point out, an oil spill in the Salish Sea, or, Puget Sound is going to transcend a man-made border. Brunet-Jailly adds that Cascadia, or, the Pacific Northwest consists of a culture very engaged with the sea.

Letsinger sees growing support for Cascadia. He points to lack of other alternatives and general unhappiness when it comes to the Canadian and American federal governments. He sees this largely due to the fact that Cascadia focuses on positives and a new, untainted prospect. According to Letsinger, Cascadia Now is in direct communication with 10-15,000 people and also acknowledges the many social media groups with 1000s of followers surrounding the idea of Cascadia. Corcráin agrees, saying that he himself has seen the idea of Cascadia grow since he was first involved. He agrees that Cascadia comes without “ideological baggage,” and says that the WTO protests of 1999 were a re-awakening of the bioregional movement in Cascadia, previously being popular in the 80s. He also points to the bankruptcy of some Oregon counties, stating that economic collapse can be tragic, but it can also lead to opportunity for something new; and that through this, change is on people’s mind in a very basic and practical way.

Going further down the road of politics, of course colonialism and unceded lands in Cascadia would still exist if the moment of independence were right now. So, what could be done about this? What does decolonization look like in an independence movement? As a comparison, the Mohawk population in Quebec says they will hold their own referendum for independence if Quebec wins theirs. Alternatively, Corcráin views a tenant of decolonization as looking at how a colonial power dominated local governance, and sees the potential separation of Cascadia as being Indigenous-led, settler supported. To him, it would be interesting to see how traditional laws can be applied to a modern region with a settler majority. Part of this may be the ability to move throughout the Cascadia bioregion unimpeded by borders. Is there potential in seeing how Cascadia could play to fair land title and rights compared with British Columbia, Canada, and America, all of whom have failed to do so?

Some say Cascadia is a chance to break the old, traditional left-versus-right spectrum. Letsinger argues that it is not a red-versus-blue issue, but one of empowering communities. He says that there has been some energy in Cascadia behind a “progressive libertarian” movement. Is localizing the economy really a right or left argument? Are many people in Cascadia really chasing corporatism as a political ideology? Of course, mix in the Cascadian respect for the environment, and the political landscape starts to unfold. Letsinger points out transparency and real democracy as important tenants to Cascadia; he says the question then becomes “why are we not doing this?” when we consider the “dirty corruption” and limited democracy currently in Canada and America. He says Cascadians are further united by a love of place. He claims that none of these things are attainable within the current system.

So, is a sovereign, but undefined Cascadia possible? Letsinger says surely, and that the foundation is already being built. Brunet-Jailly says the idea of a country is too far-fetched and not something he considers, but does see much cooperation across the British Columbia and Washington border. For example, when BC-based officials were concerned that Americans would not attend the Vancouver Olympic Games, the two sides came up with an enhanced driver’s license so that border crossing would be easier, which Brunet-Jailly states is an incredibly complex process. Letsinger uses the renaming of the Salish Sea as an example, breaking down cross-border division that had an arbitrary meaning at best. Only time will give clear definition to Cascadia.

What is a #FreeCascadia? A new article featuring @CascadiaNow, @CorcranIsAinmDm and more. http://t.co/UCp6A8f0rb #Cascadia @LeaderlesRevolt

— Tyson C. Kelsall (@TysonKelsall) March 20, 2014

This week’s Theory Thursday is by Micah White, PhD. – OSN

Although our individual human life is finite, each of us is born into a human story that stretches back to the dawn of inegalitarian society—a story of the struggle for equality, autonomy and mutual aid among the people… We call this the story of democracy.

The people’s spiritual uprising toward democracy is like the Pacific Ocean seen from Neahkahnie Mountain. The surface of the ocean is in a state of flux—constant dynamic change—and the individual human mind is incapable of anticipating the movement of the sea. Even when the waves are calm, they are truly in a state of motion and unpredictability near the shore or around sea stacks.

Humanity has learned to never turn their back on the ocean. One never knows when a tsunami might hit. The ocean receives our respect because at anytime the waves may turn from placid to furious and wash away the structures that once looked permanent.

The fury of the ocean is influenced by natural forces: the distance of the earth to the moon, the wind, earthquakes, and more.

The waves of the social organism are equally influenced by natural forces. Revolutions follow patterns. An increase in food prices, for example, historically precedes a revolutionary moment. Witness the 2011 Tahrir Uprising in Egypt. Each era has a unified theory of social movement creation that remains to be defined by those striving toward its discovery. The great revolutionaries behind the uprisings of the 18th century (French Revolution, American Revolution, Haitian Revolution), 19th century (Europe’s Insurrection of 1848 and the Paris Commune of 1871) and 20th century (Russian Revolution, Chinese Revolution) were modern theorists of understanding, stimulating, and channeling the insurgent waves of the social organism toward liberatory political goals.

The social organism is under pressure from the trifecta of ecological, economic and spiritual catastrophe. The ongoing crisis of the 21st century is a symptom of these three catastrophic pressures that guarantee a continued increase in uprisings.

Our objective as social movement creators is to develop a predictive understanding of the complex forces of dynamic social change in order to use the momentum of coming global waves to achieve our populist vision of a better world for the 99%.

Micah M. White, PhD is on the board of the Occupy Solidarity Network.

@OccupyWallSt: #truth pic.twitter.com/fa1fh5VRr0#trewth

— Russell Brand (@rustyrockets) March 19, 2014

While a rag-tag group of young activists were setting up tents in Zuccotti Park, New York Magazine writer Kevin Roose was occupying Wall Street with a very different mission: to get inside the lives of Wall Street’s new recruits. From the other side of the barricades, Roose finds himself immersed in a world of over-worked and morally bewildered young bankers. He writes about his experience in his new book, Young Money – Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street’s Post-Crash Recruits.

Justin Wedes sat down with Kevin via Skype recently to ask him about his multi-year dive into the depths of Wall Street:

JW: This isn’t your first book. Before Young Money you went undercover to a semester at “America’s Holiest University”. Tell me about that.

KR: That’s right. Liberty University, which was founded by basically the most conservative televangelists in America.

JW: Tell me about how this experience was similar or dissimilar to the last book you wrote.

KR: One of the things that attracted me to Wall Street as a topic, in 2010 when I started the book, is that it’s an area that many people feel very strongly about but that there wasn’t much actual information about out there.

We’ve all read the books and seen the movies about the financial crisis and we feel like we understand what the CEO’s of these big firms were doing and how they acted/reacted. But no one had really ever gone inside the trenches, to the 1,000’s of young people who come to Wall Street to start working their way up the ladder. I was curious after the crisis: why would any 22 year-old want to do this?

Also, how are they educated? How do you take someone fresh-faced and turn them into a Wall Street banker?

JW: You followed eight Wall Street recruits, right?

KR: Yes, and they were all doing this unauthorized. These firms did not permit me to talk to their employees, but the employees took a chance anyway even though they knew they could have been fired for talking to me… They’d be fired within 10 minutes.

I changed all of their names. I changed some details about them. That was part of the terms of participation. They said, “Look we’ll be open with you, but you have to protect us.”

JW: So what were some of the common threads you discovered as you were shadowing these eight young Wall Street bankers?

KR: We tend to think of Wall Street as this go-go, happy place where the cocaine and the champagne run freely and everyone is having the time of their lives. But for the eight young people…It’s hard to feel sorry for people who are making so much money, but I almost did start to feel sorry for them. They’re working 100 hour weeks. There’s this thing called the “Banker 9 to 5” where you get in at 9am and you work until 5 am the next morning, so a twenty-hour shift. They were just completely miserable.

JW: We have what’s called the “Occupy Wall Street 9 to 5”, but it’s in a media tent in the middle of Zuccotti Park. You mention Occupy a few times in the book. Question: What was it like to be on the other side of the barricades?

KR: I think Occupy was a turning point for my book and a lot of the people in my book because it came about halfway through my reporting. For the CEOs at the big banks, I don’t think many of them truly paid attention. It wasn’t really on their radar. But for the young people – imagine, you’re 22 years old and you’ve just gone to work for a big investment bank. Many of your friends and roommates are involved in the Occupy movement. There’s a lot of cognitive dissonance there. I talked to one guy who was working at Goldman Sachs who said, “It’s very weird to be on this side of things, to be the one in the office looking out at the protests, and knowing that they’re protesting, in some part, what I’m doing.”

So I think it was very odd for them and it also led to some real social fallout where people had gotten used to not talking about what they did when they went out. I talked to several of them who said they no longer say they’re a banker when they go out to bars. There’s too much of a stigma attached.

JW: Interesting. I’m trying to compare this to some of the experiences I’ve documented as an independent journalist covering Occupy protesters in the various different encampments across the country. You know, one of the critiques of OWS was that it was largely young, white, well-educated people. And that’s not, obviously, the entire truth. At the height of the movement we did see a beautiful cross-section of Americans. But I still believe that to be a very legitimate critique. Many of these young people at Occupy protests may have come out of the same elite or second-tier universities that your bankers came from. What kind of emotions and comparisons did that evoke when you spoke to them about Occupy?

KR: Well, there’s one scene in the book where I go up to Yale University during their sort-of Wall Street recruiting season. Traditionally, about 25% of their graduates go to work on Wall Street. I went up there during the height of the protests and there was actually an Occupy Yale movement had sprung up. Part of what they were doing was challenging their classmates, saying “Why are you going into finance? You are a talented film-maker or a talented historian or there are any number of things you could be doing. You went to Yale. You can have your pick, so why are you doing this thing that seems so useless.”

They actually stood outside the recruiting sessions of big banks like Morgan Stanley holding signs that said things like DON’T GO INTO FINANCE or MORGAN STANLEY IS BORING!

I think it really had an effect. I talked to one Yale professor who compared it to ROTC recruiting during the Vietnam War. He said, “There’s this real feeling that there’s a tension brewing and that something is very amiss when we have students sort of turning against their fellow students.”

JW: It sounds like on college campuses this was a real dialogue that was happening. Do you get the sense that on Wall Street this was happening as well, or did these banker’s lifestyles insulate them from some of the critiques of their career?

KR: It certainly didn’t insulate them from criticism, because they started to lie about where they worked when they went out beyond their finance bubble. I think there’s an interesting phenomenon that I observed among these eight young finance bankers where I observed that there’s a kind of compartmentalization going on. They have these very demanding jobs that require attention to very small details and doing Excel spreadsheets and making PowerPoint presentations. That takes up the majority of their brain cells. It’s very rare that they have the time or the energy to step back and contemplate the sort-of bigger issues: “What am I doing with my life? Is this creating value?” It’s almost like triage in their brains.

“Maybe I have misgivings about this, maybe I sympathize with the Occupy movement, but right now I have this Excel spreadsheet due in ten minutes and if I don’t get it done my boss is going to scream at me so I better get the excel spreadsheet done and worry about the big picture stuff later.”

JW: Did you get the sense that their bosses – in other words the Associates and the higher-ups – sensed a kind of hesitation amongst these young recruits? Did they respond in any way?

KR: There’s a huge change in morale right around the time of the Occupy movement and part of that was because of things going on in the financial sector: you had layoffs, bonuses that were shrinking, firms that were closing. This was a bad time for Wall Street regardless of what Occupy was doing. But then you add Occupy to it and I think it created a crisis of conscience and a sort of self-awareness that hadn’t been there before in young people worked on Wall Street. People asking themselves “maybe this isn’t what I want to do with the rest of my life.”

In the book, I talk to at least a handful of people who saw that as a moment where they realized “maybe I want to be starting a tech company” or “maybe I want to be working in something that’s a little closer to my passion”. I think that was something that banks were a little late to catch on to. Now they’re trying to catch up and deal with it and stop the brain drain.

JW: At Occupy Wall Street we saw a couple of what I like to call the “Wall Street defectors”. Alexis Goldstein is a good example. She’s been an outspoken critic of Wall Street since she left Wall Street to join Occupy. Are there more of these now, leaving Wall Street at a young age to join tech companies, or non-profits or government?

KR: I don’t think any of the eight people that I followed join the Occupy movement and it would surprise me if they did because I think they’ve all moved onto new jobs or are still on Wall Street. I would say that going to Silicon Valley, as so many people of done, is a form of protest. It’s not always easy to see that. To a lot of people that just looks like following the money. But if you really ask people why they’re doing this – why this shift is happening – it turns out that a lot of people want to feel good about what they do. They don’t want to have protesters outside their window. They don’t want to be hated for trading derivatives or what-have-you. That reflects a shift in the millennial consciousness. You have people that not only want to make a lot of money but also want to feel good about what they’re doing for the world while they’re making it.

JW: Has Wall Street’s culture changed since 2008?

KR: Yes, absolutely. I think Wall Street has changed in many ways. It’s obviously not a total change and I would say more change is needed. But I would say the lessons being imparted to young people – some of the bosses are still hanging on to the old Wall Street culture. But I talked to one analyst who put it pretty succinctly. He said this isn’t like the days of 2007: the bosses who do cocaine off a stripper’s ass are not there anymore. This is a very different financial sector than the one that existed in 2006.

JW: Now, at the same time, you documented sneaking into the Kappa Beta Phi secret society dinner at the St. Regis. Could you talk about that and perhaps how it shows that Wall Street’s culture isn’t changing?

KR: So the Kappa Beta Phi dinner was one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. It was a secret society of Wall Street executives formed in 1929 during the Great Depression. It’s a sort of friar’s club for the 1%.

So I snuck into this. I was the only reporter who has ever gotten in the door. I sat there and watched as these millionaire and billionaire financiers, dressed up in drag, told off-color sexist and homophobic jokes. Actually, one of the young analysts that I later told about it said it sounded like something Occupy would make up as propaganda for the movement because it was so evil. These people were just laughing about the bailouts and doing skits about the Occupy movement. It was one of the most offensive things I’ve ever seen purely on a citizen level.

I was depressed and thought “OK, perhaps Wall Street hasn’t changed” but when I talked to the young analysts they thought it was as ridiculous as I did. So that cheered me. That made me think that maybe the next generation is going to be a little bit better because they weren’t asking “Where do I sign up?” but rather “This is totally ridiculous. I can’t believe this exists. What a terrible idea!”

JW: So there was a different sentiment amongst older and younger bankers. I have to ask, though, for all of the thousands of Occupy supporters out there who want to know: What did they say about Occupy? What does it reveal about them?

KR: There was one skit with a guy who runs a bond investing firm who went down to Zuccotti Park with a camera – this was a pre-taped skit – and he found a guy with a face tattoo and he said, “Wash it off! Get a job!” and stuff like that.

There was another skit where there was a private equity executive and a hedge fund executive who were sort-of role-playing. One was dressed up in tie-die and raggedy clothes as an Occupy sympathizer and another one in a suit as a 1%’er and they were tossing back and forth lines like “Why don’t you take a bath, you dirty hippy?” and “We need to create jobs!”. It was very offensive.

JW: Have there been any repercussions from that event from any of the people that you quoted?

KR: Not officially, but one of the people who made a homophobic and sexist joke about Hillary Clinton and Barney Frank had to issue an apology because he’s a Trustee at the University of Richmond and the students were outraged.

JW: It’s interesting because one of the main tenets underlying the Occupy movement is this notion of transparency. That if we could peak into this top-secret Wall Street culture people could judge for themselves what they think about it. Does your book do that?

KR: Absolutely. That’s why I wrote it. I wanted to get inside this world and I was sick of just reading about CEOs filtered through the press apparatus. Forget the stereotypes, forget The Wolf of Wall Street. What are these people actually doing and what are they like? These are the stories of eight actual people who work in finance. It’s the story of their lives and what they actually think about their work. And for me it was totally fascinating and I hope that other people will feel the same way.

JW: I have to agree there, Kevin. I think the book is absolutely eye-opening and it’s actually a very human account of what is going on. It’s very easy to abstract and say “Wall Street is this” or “Wall Street is that” but Wall Street is made up of human beings, many of them young people…

KR: Totally! Corporations are people! [both of us laugh]

JW: Of course, my friend! [sarcastically]

KR: I think it’s important to separate the institutions from the individuals.

JW: I think some of the people on this end may want to see some accountability for the individuals instead of just accountability for the institutions, but that’s a whole other question…

We talked about “has Wall Street changed?” In some ways it has, and in some ways hasn’t. But after reading your book, it’s clear that the young people on Wall Street have changed. In what ways have they changed, and does it reflect a larger change in young people in this country today?

KR: Absolutely. I think the change that’s coming to Wall Street is a demographic tidal wave. It used to be for many years that if you went to Princeton, or Harvard or Yale orPenn – one of these Wall Street “feeder” schools – you went to Wall Street just because everyone else did it. Even if you were an art history major or a music major you could still get a job at a big Wall Street bank by virtue of where you’d gone to school. For many years it was sort of the default option. That’s not really true anymore. Those that are going there now are the ones who truly want to be bankers. It’s no longer the catch-all for Ivy League graduates. It’s a little more professionalized. It’s not the kind of crazy go-go atmosphere it used to be.

My hope is that when the people who are young today are running the show, they’ll remember what it was like to be in the industry when finance was under the gun.

JW: I agree with you, but when I see the struggles of young bankers who are upset because they only got a $20,000 bonus it seems a bit petty in the context of the broader picture of the economy. Can you abstract from the experience of these eight young people any kind of statement about the larger population? Many people would probably say that they never even had the opportunity to be in the shoes of these young bankers.

KR: Totally.

JW: What do you see as the broader difficulties facing not just young Wall Street recruits but young people in general?

KR: Well, obviously, it’s a tremendously hard time to be young in this economy and youth unemployment is still high and we’re having all sorts of trouble still that’s a result of the crisis. The thing that buoyed me and gave me a bit of optimism is that they weren’t just pre-occupied with making money. Some of them were. But for most of them, money was not the foremost concern when they were thinking about their lives and what they want to accomplish.

One guy who talked to me is in private equity – living the dream, on the surface – and he said to me “The guys who really do shit in the world, the sort of Mark Zuckerbergs, the guy who created Instagram… those guys are not just sitting around in an office making Excel spreadsheets. They’re out there in the world making stuff. So if there’s one note of optimism about the next generation, it’s that they’re not just satisfied making a six-figure paycheck. Many of them, I would venture to say most of them, want to do something more productive.”

JW: Kevin Roose, everybody. Author of Young Money – Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street’s Post-Crash Recruits. Check out this book, it’s great. Thanks, Kevin!

KR: Thank you for having me!

Justin Wedes is a Zuccotti, activist, educator, media-maker and community organizer. He is a stubborn optimist and sometimes-workaholic. You can read more about his work at his blog.

While a rag-tag group of young activists were setting up tents in Zuccotti Park, New York Magazine writer Kevin Roose was occupying Wall Street with a very different mission: to get inside the lives of Wall Street’s new recruits. From the other side of the barricades, Roose finds himself immersed in a world of over-worked and morally bewildered young bankers. He writes about his experience in his new book, Young Money – Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street’s Post-Crash Recruits.

I sat down with Kevin via Skype recently to ask him about his multi-year dive into the depths of Wall Street:

JW: This isn’t your first book. Before Young Money you went undercover to a semester at “America’s Holiest University”. Tell me about that.

KR: That’s right. Liberty University, which was founded by basically the most conservative televangelists in America.

JW: Tell me about how this experience was similar or dissimilar to the last book you wrote.

KR: One of the things that attracted me to Wall Street as a topic, in 2010 when I started the book, is that it’s an area that many people feel very strongly about but that there wasn’t much actual information about out there.

We’ve all read the books and seen the movies about the financial crisis and we feel like we understand what the CEO’s of these big firms were doing and how they acted/reacted. But no one had really ever gone inside the trenches, to the 1,000’s of young people who come to Wall Street to start working their way up the ladder. I was curious after the crisis: why would any 22 year-old want to do this?

Also, how are they educated? How do you take someone fresh-faced and turn them into a Wall Street banker?

JW: You followed eight Wall Street recruits, right?

KR: Yes, and they were all doing this unauthorized. These firms did not permit me to talk to their employees, but the employees took a chance anyway even though they knew they could have been fired for talking to me… They’d be fired within 10 minutes.

I changed all of their names. I changed some details about them. That was part of the terms of participation. They said, “Look we’ll be open with you, but you have to protect us.”

JW: So what were some of the common threads you discovered as you were shadowing these eight young Wall Street bankers?

KR: We tend to think of Wall Street as this go-go, happy place where the cocaine and the champagne run freely and everyone is having the time of their lives. But for the eight young people…It’s hard to feel sorry for people who are making so much money, but I almost did start to feel sorry for them. They’re working 100 hour weeks. There’s this thing called the “Banker 9 to 5” where you get in at 9am and you work until 5 am the next morning, so a twenty-hour shift. They were just completely miserable.

JW: We have what’s called the “Occupy Wall Street 9 to 5”, but it’s in a media tent in the middle of Zuccotti Park. You mention Occupy a few times in the book. Question: What was it like to be on the other side of the barricades?

KR: I think Occupy was a turning point for my book and a lot of the people in my book because it came about halfway through my reporting. For the CEOs at the big banks, I don’t think many of them truly paid attention. It wasn’t really on their radar. But for the young people – imagine, you’re 22 years old and you’ve just gone to work for a big investment bank. Many of your friends and roommates are involved in the Occupy movement. There’s a lot of cognitive dissonance there. I talked to one guy who was working at Goldman Sachs who said, “It’s very weird to be on this side of things, to be the one in the office looking out at the protests, and knowing that they’re protesting, in some part, what I’m doing.”

So I think it was very odd for them and it also led to some real social fallout where people had gotten used to not talking about what they did when they went out. I talked to several of them who said they no longer say they’re a banker when they go out to bars. There’s too much of a stigma attached.

JW: Interesting. I’m trying to compare this to some of the experiences I’ve documented as an independent journalist covering Occupy protesters in the various different encampments across the country. You know, one of the critiques of OWS was that it was largely young, white, well-educated people. And that’s not, obviously, the entire truth. At the height of the movement we did see a beautiful cross-section of Americans. But I still believe that to be a very legitimate critique. Many of these young people at Occupy protests may have come out of the same elite or second-tier universities that your bankers came from. What kind of emotions and comparisons did that evoke when you spoke to them about Occupy?

KR: Well, there’s one scene in the book where I go up to Yale University during their sort-of Wall Street recruiting season. Traditionally, about 25% of their graduates go to work on Wall Street. I went up there during the height of the protests and there was actually an Occupy Yale movement had sprung up. Part of what they were doing was challenging their classmates, saying “Why are you going into finance? You are a talented film-maker or a talented historian or there are any number of things you could be doing. You went to Yale. You can have your pick, so why are you doing this thing that seems so useless.”

They actually stood outside the recruiting sessions of big banks like Morgan Stanley holding signs that said things like DON’T GO INTO FINANCE or MORGAN STANLEY IS BORING!

I think it really had an effect. I talked to one Yale professor who compared it to ROTC recruiting during the Vietnam War. He said, “There’s this real feeling that there’s a tension brewing and that something is very amiss when we have students sort of turning against their fellow students.”

JW: It sounds like on college campuses this was a real dialogue that was happening. Do you get the sense that on Wall Street this was happening as well, or did these banker’s lifestyles insulate them from some of the critiques of their career?

KR: It certainly didn’t insulate them from criticism, because they started to lie about where they worked when they went out beyond their finance bubble. I think there’s an interesting phenomenon that I observed among these eight young finance bankers where I observed that there’s a kind of compartmentalization going on. They have these very demanding jobs that require attention to very small details and doing Excel spreadsheets and making PowerPoint presentations. That takes up the majority of their brain cells. It’s very rare that they have the time or the energy to step back and contemplate the sort-of bigger issues: “What am I doing with my life? Is this creating value?” It’s almost like triage in their brains.

“Maybe I have misgivings about this, maybe I sympathize with the Occupy movement, but right now I have this Excel spreadsheet due in ten minutes and if I don’t get it done my boss is going to scream at me so I better get the excel spreadsheet done and worry about the big picture stuff later.”

JW: Did you get the sense that their bosses – in other words the Associates and the higher-ups – sensed a kind of hesitation amongst these young recruits? Did they respond in any way?

KR: There’s a huge change in morale right around the time of the Occupy movement and part of that was because of things going on in the financial sector: you had layoffs, bonuses that were shrinking, firms that were closing. This was a bad time for Wall Street regardless of what Occupy was doing. But then you add Occupy to it and I think it created a crisis of conscience and a sort of self-awareness that hadn’t been there before in young people worked on Wall Street. People asking themselves “maybe this isn’t what I want to do with the rest of my life.”

In the book, I talk to at least a handful of people who saw that as a moment where they realized “maybe I want to be starting a tech company” or “maybe I want to be working in something that’s a little closer to my passion”. I think that was something that banks were a little late to catch on to. Now they’re trying to catch up and deal with it and stop the brain drain.

JW: At Occupy Wall Street we saw a couple of what I like to call the “Wall Street defectors”. Alexis Goldstein is a good example. She’s been an outspoken critic of Wall Street since she left Wall Street to join Occupy. Are there more of these now, leaving Wall Street at a young age to join tech companies, or non-profits or government?

KR: I don’t think any of the eight people that I followed join the Occupy movement and it would surprise me if they did because I think they’ve all moved onto new jobs or are still on Wall Street. I would say that going to Silicon Valley, as so many people of done, is a form of protest. It’s not always easy to see that. To a lot of people that just looks like following the money. But if you really ask people why they’re doing this – why this shift is happening – it turns out that a lot of people want to feel good about what they do. They don’t want to have protesters outside their window. They don’t want to be hated for trading derivatives or what-have-you. That reflects a shift in the millennial consciousness. You have people that not only want to make a lot of money but also want to feel good about what they’re doing for the world while they’re making it.

JW: Has Wall Street’s culture changed since 2008?

KR: Yes, absolutely. I think Wall Street has changed in many ways. It’s obviously not a total change and I would say more change is needed. But I would say the lessons being imparted to young people – some of the bosses are still hanging on to the old Wall Street culture. But I talked to one analyst who put it pretty succinctly. He said this isn’t like the days of 2007: the bosses who do cocaine off a stripper’s ass are not there anymore. This is a very different financial sector than the one that existed in 2006.

JW: Now, at the same time, you documented sneaking into the Kappa Beta Phi secret society dinner at the St. Regis. Could you talk about that and perhaps how it shows that Wall Street’s culture isn’t changing?

KR: So the Kappa Beta Phi dinner was one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen. It was a secret society of Wall Street executives formed in 1929 during the Great Depression. It’s a sort of friar’s club for the 1%.

So I snuck into this. I was the only reporter who has ever gotten in the door. I sat there and watched as these millionaire and billionaire financiers, dressed up in drag, told off-color sexist and homophobic jokes. Actually, one of the young analysts that I later told about it said it sounded like something Occupy would make up as propaganda for the movement because it was so evil. These people were just laughing about the bailouts and doing skits about the Occupy movement. It was one of the most offensive things I’ve ever seen purely on a citizen level.

I was depressed and thought “OK, perhaps Wall Street hasn’t changed” but when I talked to the young analysts they thought it was as ridiculous as I did. So that cheered me. That made me think that maybe the next generation is going to be a little bit better because they weren’t asking “Where do I sign up?” but rather “This is totally ridiculous. I can’t believe this exists. What a terrible idea!”

JW: So there was a different sentiment amongst older and younger bankers. I have to ask, though, for all of the thousands of Occupy supporters out there who want to know: What did they say about Occupy? What does it reveal about them?

KR: There was one skit with a guy who runs a bond investing firm who went down to Zuccotti Park with a camera – this was a pre-taped skit – and he found a guy with a face tattoo and he said, “Wash it off! Get a job!” and stuff like that.

There was another skit where there was a private equity executive and a hedge fund executive who were sort-of role-playing. One was dressed up in tie-die and raggedy clothes as an Occupy sympathizer and another one in a suit as a 1%’er and they were tossing back and forth lines like “Why don’t you take a bath, you dirty hippy?” and “We need to create jobs!”. It was very offensive.

JW: Have there been any repercussions from that event from any of the people that you quoted?

KR: Not officially, but one of the people who made a homophobic and sexist joke about Hillary Clinton and Barney Frank had to issue an apology because he’s a Trustee at the University of Richmond and the students were outraged.

JW: It’s interesting because one of the main tenets underlying the Occupy movement is this notion of transparency. That if we could peak into this top-secret Wall Street culture people could judge for themselves what they think about it. Does your book do that?

KR: Absolutely. That’s why I wrote it. I wanted to get inside this world and I was sick of just reading about CEOs filtered through the press apparatus. Forget the stereotypes, forget The Wolf of Wall Street. What are these people actually doing and what are they like? These are the stories of eight actual people who work in finance. It’s the story of their lives and what they actually think about their work. And for me it was totally fascinating and I hope that other people will feel the same way.

JW: I have to agree there, Kevin. I think the book is absolutely eye-opening and it’s actually a very human account of what is going on. It’s very easy to abstract and say “Wall Street is this” or “Wall Street is that” but Wall Street is made up of human beings, many of them young people…

KR: Totally! Corporations are people! [both of us laugh]

JW: Of course, my friend! [sarcastically]

KR: I think it’s important to separate the institutions from the individuals.

JW: I think some of the people on this end may want to see some accountability for the individuals instead of just accountability for the institutions, but that’s a whole other question…

We talked about “has Wall Street changed?” In some ways it has, and in some ways hasn’t. But after reading your book, it’s clear that the young people on Wall Street have changed. In what ways have they changed, and does it reflect a larger change in young people in this country today?

KR: Absolutely. I think the change that’s coming to Wall Street is a demographic tidal wave. It used to be for many years that if you went to Princeton, or Harvard or Yale orPenn – one of these Wall Street “feeder” schools – you went to Wall Street just because everyone else did it. Even if you were an art history major or a music major you could still get a job at a big Wall Street bank by virtue of where you’d gone to school. For many years it was sort of the default option. That’s not really true anymore. Those that are going there now are the ones who truly want to be bankers. It’s no longer the catch-all for Ivy League graduates. It’s a little more professionalized. It’s not the kind of crazy go-go atmosphere it used to be.

My hope is that when the people who are young today are running the show, they’ll remember what it was like to be in the industry when finance was under the gun.

JW: I agree with you, but when I see the struggles of young bankers who are upset because they only got a $20,000 bonus it seems a bit petty in the context of the broader picture of the economy. Can you abstract from the experience of these eight young people any kind of statement about the larger population? Many people would probably say that they never even had the opportunity to be in the shoes of these young bankers.

KR: Totally.

JW: What do you see as the broader difficulties facing not just young Wall Street recruits but young people in general?

KR: Well, obviously, it’s a tremendously hard time to be young in this economy and youth unemployment is still high and we’re having all sorts of trouble still that’s a result of the crisis. The thing that buoyed me and gave me a bit of optimism is that they weren’t just pre-occupied with making money. Some of them were. But for most of them, money was not the foremost concern when they were thinking about their lives and what they want to accomplish.

One guy who talked to me is in private equity – living the dream, on the surface – and he said to me “The guys who really do shit in the world, the sort of Mark Zuckerbergs, the guy who created Instagram… those guys are not just sitting around in an office making Excel spreadsheets. They’re out there in the world making stuff. So if there’s one note of optimism about the next generation, it’s that they’re not just satisfied making a six-figure paycheck. Many of them, I would venture to say most of them, want to do something more productive.”

JW: Kevin Roose, everybody. Author of Young Money – Inside the Hidden World of Wall Street’s Post-Crash Recruits. Check out this book, it’s great. Thanks, Kevin!

KR: Thank you for having me!

Justin Wedes is a Zuccotti, activist, educator, media-maker and community organizer. He is a stubborn optimist and sometimes-workaholic. You can read more about his work at his blog.

OSN editors’ note: Our friends at Earth First! published this much needed intervention into contemporary environmental activism. When will we North American activists learn to use the “lawful excuse defense”? Committing “illegal acts” in order to prevent the greater crime of climate change is not illegal. Learn about that here Not guilty: the Greenpeace activists who used climate change as a legal defense

Earth First! Journal editors note: This letter was originally published as a comment on our re-post about the No KXL protests in Washington D.C. this week. While we fully support a diversity of tactics, ranging from petitions and lawsuits to civil disobedience and sabotage, the critique made in this letter has been actively suppressed in environmental movement coverage of the climate crisis for fear of causing “horizontal hostility.” We hope student and environmental NGO organizers will hear the loving pleas of “not enough” and take the constructive advice to “start listening to the people most affected and supporting their struggles.” For example, support is needed right now to resist pipeline expansion in Wet’suwet’en territory!

An Open Letter to the NO KXL Movement http://t.co/nA1IVenmYV

— Earth First! Journal (@efjournal) March 3, 2014

An open letter from some students at Green Mountain College re: XL DISSENT

This isn’t personal, honest. Nothing holier-than-thou. Most of us are playing the same game as you– conference calls, teach-ins, unpaid internships. And it’s for the same reasons, or at least we think so-we’ve seen some of what this way of life is doing to the world, and we know that there’s more out there that we don’t know, more than we could ever absorb. And we’re scared, and we want it to stop.

But we’ve started, slowly, to realize something even scarier. The ways that we’ve been taught to fight back aren’t cutting it. Not even close. Candlelight vigils, petitions, chaining yourself to the White House fence, none of it is going to make the continued extraction of fossil fuels less profitable, and none of it is going to shift our communities away from a way of life centered on profit.

Barack Obama does not care about your arrest record any more than he cares about a soundbite he delivered to a bunch of rich college kids at Georgetown a couple years back. When he told some fellow students trying to speak truth to power that “We had the pipeline rally in the summer,” it summed up pretty well how much pressure he’s actually feeling from all of the environmentalists’ efforts to stop KXL.

Let’s break it down a little bit. This KXL dissent thing, as well as pretty much all of 350 and friends’ strategy, is meant to draw media attention and put political pressure on the president. We’re gonna hold Obama accountable, make him deliver on his promises. The problem is, there’s absolutely nothing in it for him. Even if we all have to hold our noses, the vast majority of self-identified environmentalists are going to vote for Democrats in 2016 and beyond because there’s no other viable option. Third parties sound nice but we all took Gov in high school and know that it’s not gonna happen. The Democrats also know it. It would be nice for them if we knocked and doors and phone banked in 2016, but it’s nothing compared to the money they need from Wall St. And I’m sure you know where Wall St. stands on the whole pipeline thing.

The truth is we’re not going to get anything done if we keep playing politics. Bill McKibben is wrong–this movement is not solving the climate crisis, and there’s no time to stick to the same old strategies a little longer, hoping for a different result. The crisis is here. We’re living in it, even though we’re all insulated to some degree by our privilege. It’s scary, but it doesn’t mean we have to give up. It means we need to try something new.

Rather than appointing ourselves representatives of frontline communities, let’s start listening to the people most affected and supporting their struggles–not just by paying lip service and not just by offering a few minutes of stage time at Powershift. Other communities have much more at stake here than we do and if we’re going to say that we’re standing in solidarity then we need to start acting like it. If you have the privilege to travel across the country to get arrested, use it to take some pressure off people of color fighting for their lives instead of helping some big non-governmental organization put out another press release.

We’re not doing the best job of this either. Very few allies are. It’s hard enough to face the police, classmates, your parents, even when you’re doing the kind of activism you can put on a resume. But we all know what’s at stake here–how many lives, how many communities are threatened by this system–and if we really want to dismantle it we need to start having serious conversations about our priorities and our next steps as a movement. We hope this letter will help start those conversations at your school.

Original Source:
Earth First!

Suggested reading:

“The Climate Movement’s Pipeline Preoccupation”

“Earth First! Means Social War”

“Introduction to the Apocalypse”

“Decolonizing Pipeline Resistance”

This is one of the best “open letters” written to environmental activism in a long time: https://t.co/KUcEh5iahv via friends at @efjournal

— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallSt) March 5, 2014

Jehane Noujaim’s documentary The Square captures the urgent intimacy of the ongoing struggle in Egypt in a way that no news outlet ever could. Going beyond the simple headlines, the film drops viewers directly into the heart of the Egyptian revolution as we follow a group of young activists — Ahmed, Khalid, Magdy, Aida, Ramy, and Ragia – risking their lives for a better future for their country.

Watching them resist corrupted powers, question their alliances, and ultimately reframe the Egyptian narrative is a thrilling reminder of what is at stake not just in Egypt, but in social movements around the world. Egypt’s revolution is often cited as the inspiration for the Occupy movement here in the United States. And although the two movements began with different goals— regime change in Egypt, financial reform in the U.S.— they both shared a larger feeling of disenfranchisement and signaled the return to street politics and the reclaiming of public spaces to force political change. In essence, Tahrir and Occupy represent civic engagement in the wake of failing policies.

The ideals and successes of the two also draw similar criticisms, not just from those in power who are either trying to oppose or hijack their momentum, but also from journalists and media who tend to be allergic to decentralized movements. Without even experiencing the events themselves, they define Tahrir and Occupy in outsiders’ terms, labeling both movements as failures.

Yet The Square digs deeper, showing viewers the anatomy of mass movements and the DIY ethos that drives those within to action. It shows you first-hand that decentralized movements aren’t about the headlines and the talking heads that define them, or, for that matter, the establishments that oppose them. They’re about the people and objectives within that propel them. The Square is an important film– not just about Egypt, but about freedom movements and social change for an entire generation.

The Square is a snapshot of a greater uprising, a social shift that is interconnected with Occupy and others like it all over the world. And while some have turned their backs on protesters within both movements, The Square is a vital reminder of the lessons that Tahrir’s revolutionaries taught Occupy and the world, inspiring the disenfranchised to to turn to the streets to amplify their voices.

1. Change Doesn’t Happen Overnight

The American Revolution took eight bloody years before it led to independence. It took the United States 144 years to give women the right to vote. It has been fifty years since the March on Washington, and Americans are still fighting for civil rights for all. Radical social change is often the result of years of struggle. Instead of measuring political change in tangibles, look for it in the more subtle shifts of attitude and awareness of ordinary people. As one of the revolutionaries in The Square notes, watching children play “revolution” in the park – their innocent games mimicking the struggle of Egyptians for freedom and democracy – is the best indication of how deeply Tahrir has affected Egyptian society. It may take these very children to enact lasting change in Egypt. But it will come.

2. Revolution Is About Showing Up

Sign your petitions, send out your tweets – that’s all great when it comes to spreading the word globally. But real change happens on the ground. In Tahrir, protesters were targeted, beaten, and shot at, and yet the always returned, undaunted and ready to take on the powers that be. “The biggest mistake we made was that we left the square before the power was in our hands,” Ahmed Hassan laments in The Square. Revolution doesn’t happen from a distance. It requires you to put in the effort at the front line.

3. Start By Changing the Narrative

“The battle isn’t just in the rocks and the stones,” says Khalid Abdalla, the English-Egyptian actor who became the voice of the revolutionaries to the Western world. “The battle is in the images. The battle is in the stories.” In other words, revolutions aren’t just about who runs the country. They’re about who owns the narrative – the people in power or the people on the street? Whether in music, in media, in murals and graffiti, creative expression is vital, because it is how people give voice to their aspirations when the normal lines of communication are monopolized by the government. “A lot of people didn’t feel that they belonged in Egypt during the Mubarak era,” human rights lawyer and Egyptian protester Ragia Omran explains, “so they never bothered to get involved or care about their community, but initiatives all over the country are reflection of this spirit.”

4. It’s Not About Democracy vs. Islam

It’s a pundit cliché to pit Islam against democracy. Talking heads love to talk about how Islamists are a threat to freedom and democracy, but they rarely if ever put them in the greater context of extremism, which exists in all religious faiths. Remember 90% of Egypt is Muslim. That means an overwhelming majority of Tahrir’s protesters, against both military rule and religious rule, are Muslims. When it comes to freedom, no one singular religion is the enemy. In Tahrir, “there was no such thing as Muslim or Christian,” Ahmed Hassan explains. “We were all present. We were one hand.”

5. Human Rights Violations Affect Us All

As a microcosm, Tahrir is about the future of Egypt. But as we learned in 9/11, the success or failure of democracy in a country like Egypt can have ripples across the world. One of Tahrir’s biggest protectors has been its international attention. The responsibility to keep Egypt in the narrative is a global one, because the more people tune in from abroad, the more accountable and transparent reform has to become.

6. If You Want The Story, Go To The People

The number one rule in understanding a revolution is to never believe the officials’ narrative of events. This is especially true when it comes to state-run media, which has the incentive of staying loyal to the regime in power. “Politics is not the same as revolution,” Khalid Abdalla explains. “If you want to play politics, you have to compromise.” If you want to know the real story, if you want to understand Egypt, you listen to the people on the ground, not the people in the government. Ahmed Hassan puts it best: “Only we can tell our stories.”

Samiezade’-Yazd is an Iranian writer and editor whose expertise falls into two categories: contemporary art/performance and the Middle East. Together, the two give her a unique perspective on the depth of a region that is usually overshadowed by its politics.

The only form of public housing the government has invested in since the 1960s. #YouAreNeeded for a #WaveOfAction pic.twitter.com/tYC2NNsASc— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallSt) February 28, 2014

This article is by Damien Crisp

The future has not been written, but blueprints are being drawn up everywhere.

Many of us live as prisoners to architecture defined by capitalism. Rent is too high and far out of balance with wages. Mortgages are rigged against us.

We can pay and pay but still lose our home to foreclosure. The job market around you has collapsed and you live in fear of exile. We live in fear. Many people are homeless in the United States. Elderly and whole families unable to find shelter are becoming more and more common across the country. Homelessness and becoming a prisoner to your home mortgage are intertwined states.

did you know: 44% of homeless people are employed. pic.twitter.com/KU7OUawFqD

— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallSt) February 27, 2014

What is the solution? There are endless solutions. Long term solutions demand redefining architecture, redefining the home, redefining homeless shelters, and redefining perceptions of homelessness. These solutions require lengthy dissections of our whole system but their need is immediate.

In Wisconsin, Occupy Madison occupiers collected energy leftover from the end of a successful occupation and focused on building an organization capable of redefining what it means to shelter the vulnerable homeless from economic violence.

Their tiny houses project has the promise of permanent revolution for Madison. Each homeless person, inside each tiny house, will become a homeowner and steward of projects on the land where houses are parked. Occupy Madison’s solution is: give people a home. Plans for OM’s tiny houses include composting toilets, structures wired to plug into both the grid and solar power sources, vented propane heaters for blistering Wisconsin winters and a water system.

The group imagines on-going construction leaving many tiny houses spread across the city. Mobility and adding sites are central to realizing this larger idea. Tiny houses are designed with trailers on wheels. Keeping homes mobile will allow owners to rotate through a circuit of sites. Becoming stewards for various spaces, every owner would play a role all along this network. Travelling with their house to points along a circuit, owners would have shifting views through windows as they switch parking lots. Tending to projects such as gardens established at all sites, everyone would contribute to projects sustaining the community without becoming fixed on one particular role. Expanding the projects’ map furthers potential for sustainability. One garden becomes two gardens, two become four and four become eight as the list of sites grows. Every additional site multiplies openings for new stewards.

As the circuit grows, it could become a community living visionary alternatives to our dominant order that question traditional parameters defining how living, home and survival are conceived. Purchasing just one site, however, has been difficult enough. Buying one site after another is an impossibility for now but Occupy Madison is working around this obstacle by connecting with churches willing to share their parking lots and surrounding land.

How did Occupy Madison shift from encampment to construction?

“Our encampment was one of the longest,” Occupy Madison’s Bruce Wallbaum said. “It was about 580 days. We found that people that camped and were part of the political protests joined with people who didn’t have homes.“

When Occupy Wall Street was in full swing and energy flowed towards occupations movements nationwide, Wallbaum says, their focus was the “greater political protest”. Special communities had developed within Occupy Madison and lasted after “greater political protests” under Occupy’s banner were pressed until dissolution under the boot of the all-knowing State. Small communities within communities, which had orbited within Occupy Madison at its encampment, were all seeking ways to create a better world with the collective energy they found together occupying. Several people from OM travelled to Eugene, Oregon and learned from a tiny house project there. Wallbaum recalls they found the same narrative there: collective growth during occupations and a shift from greater protest towards creating another world. Because Occupy Madison became a combination of occupiers with homes and Madison’s homeless, their shift from encampment towards building another world for the homeless was simply their group dynamic manifested into an idea.

The homeless population in Madison faces a hostile real estate owner’s market hell bent on constant production of high-end residential buildings with little consideration given to ensuring balanced growth for people from diverse economic circumstances. The city has a 2% real estate vacancy rate, which is only 1% higher than New York City. This creates a top end expensive housing market for owners and renters. It also exacerbates homelessness. The city briefly had more sway over development which ensured real estate plans included affordable housing . This attempt at balance came from legislation championed by future Occupy Madison activists.

Building a solution has been easier than challenging powerful local real estate developers with legislation. Support for OM’s tiny houses has been overwhelming, according to Wallbaum, who says the group struggles to plug in all who want to volunteer. Fundraising events have also seen overwhelming response. Still, OM’s vision faces a myriad of local zoning laws as well as the not-in-my-backyard syndrome which plagues many attempts at empowering, or even sheltering, people who find themselves homeless.

The tiny house movement is an escape for the homeless. Other models of alternative housing gaining popularity focus on building escapes from mortgages and and escapes from rent. Bruce Wallbaum says younger activists joining the tiny houses project see it not only as a solution to homelessness but as a solution to their own crisis of how to survive against the pressure of debt, against a flood of low wage jobs, against widening economic inequality. Escape from standard residential space, which demands its owners or renters play the game out of fear of homelessness, as well as escape through solutions to homelessness, could reach a depth of transformation comparable to any other powerful social revolution.

Too often “home” is narrowly defined by square feet, location, and income from full-time work. Too often “home” is defined by what we are told we deserve if we just work hard enough. Cracks in the illusion our system rewards hard work will not be repaired by raising more expensive condos or denying suffering under the thumb of capitalism all around us. Cracks in the illusion of our dominant order should be encouraged, not repaired, until the illusion shatters and leaves us free to redefine living on a large scale we can only begin to glimpse in projects like Occupy Madison’s Tiny Houses.

Damien Crisp is an artist, writer and activist. He has lived in New York City, Guadalajara. Mexico, and currently lives in southeast Tennessee. His writings can be followed on social media and blogs. He was a body, voice, and citizen journalist during Occupy Wall Street’s time at Zuccotti Park, as well as a coordinator for Occupy Sandy.

We received this dispatch from an occupier

Good afternoon all,

My name is Tracy and I would like to get involved in the Occupy movement. But I don’t know how to proceed.

I am what you might call an “Average American” in that I am married, my husband and I both work ( he in sales and me for American Airlines until I was injured on the job), we have two cars and a motorcycle, a house, one child in college which we struggle to help pay for and another child in high school. One might consider my husband a “conservative” as he has guns and believes in that as a right and he has voted Republican for his entire adult life. I am decidedly liberal. One might even say socialist. The point is, we both know that the deck is stacked against us no matter what our political persuasion. We will always be “working class” and all the corporations we deal with have a vested interest in keeping it that way. So when the big Occupy protests began a few years ago, my husband encouraged me to join in the local activities as much as I could. And I did. I found the movement locally disorganized, fragmented, and lacking in a mission statement and leadership.

Unfortunately, I think that regardless of intentions, the Occupy movement has also alienated many of the so called “average Americans”. Sure, there needs to be a consciousness change for many Americans to embrace anything not spoon fed to them by the media but I think the lack of the “average American” visible in the movement only served to keep the perception of the movement as one of “intellectual elites” or “disaffected youth”. This was another problem I saw with the movement. It did not address those issues central to getting the movement into the “mainstream”. For example, many people could not come to protests because of jobs or taking care of their children etc. Protests could’ve been scheduled throughout the day so people could come whenever they had the chance; there could’ve been activities for the children; there could’ve been more networking with more organizations who have similar goals. Catholic Charities would have been great to reach out to in my community as they run the largest homeless shelter network in the city. All this general disarray led many people to think this was just about young people pissed off because they hate rich people. I gave food and handed it out to the Occupiers and protested in my city but, obviously nothing has changed except the movement is not active in the public. With the possible exception of those deeply entrenched in the movement, it has all but disappeared in my city and indeed in the national news as well.

Income inequality is not going away unless ALL the 99% use their voices. I would like to help find a way to bring more of those people into the light. The government, with complicity from the media have divided and conquered Americans. Places like FOX and MSNBC (among many) keep us fighting amongst each other to divert our attention from issues that are pertinent to all of us.

I am not an articulate intellect, a disaffected young person, or a savvy blogger. I am a wife and mother close to retirement who is tired of being taken advantage of. I’m sure that most of the people in Occupy are “average Americans” as well; the rest of the country just needs to see that and know that speaking up isn’t a privilege, it’s a right.

Thanks for your time.

Regards,
Tracy

Justine’s response

Hi Tracy,

Thank you for reaching out and sharing your story. I agree with many of your criticisms. One of the things we have to do if we move forward is accept everything good about what we’ve done in the past… as well as the bad. That’s the only way we’re going to learn.

Right now the most important thing you can do is to continue to take care of yourself, your family, and your community. These are tough times for everyone, regardless of belief (as you mentioned.)

But if you’re sure you still want to get involved with the movement, we’d need to know more about you, where you live, and what skills you have. Resumes are always a good way to do this if you have one. We’re also going to be doing a “census” of the movement in March and you should hear from us when that happens.

Until then, stay strong :)

Justine Tunney
The Occupy Solidarity Network, Inc.
https://occupywallst.org/about

Yo Occupy! Please post your own response to Tracy below. What are the projects and initiatives that you are most excited about in 2014?

Ed.Note: A frequent question to the team of the Occupy Solidarity Network is, “Why are you still here? Isn’t Occupy over?” The response is that we carry a moral responsibility to maintain and grow the networked communication hubs that we have been a part of building to help bring radical social change. Ms. Donovan’s article speaks to the importance of servicing, preserving, and lighting up these networks when needed. Additionally, this article speaks of how interconnected the networks are with on-the-ground work, and how one cannot happen without the other. Activists are only as good as the community that we organize and work with, so we honor all of you who work tirelessly organizing with information, resources, or people, one cannot work without the others. -Priscilla Grim

Occupy, Solidarities, and Social Movement Creation

by Joan Donovan

I am often asked, usually in a pejorative tone, “What has Occupy even accomplished?” As a sociologist though, these questions make me wonder “How do occupiers accomplish anything? How are projects made? How are they spread? Under what conditions are they successful? What do failed projects have in common?”

This has led me to study of very boring things, like infrastructure across multiple platforms. Here, I articulate how the Occupy movement communicates and coordinates action using the example of Occupy Sandy. I also introduce an idea that I am calling net work, i.e. the use of one’s free time in the service of a project involving multiple skills, knowledges, technologies, and people. It is concept closely related to Star’s work on infrastructure, where she describes infrastructure as a process and product where people ideas and technology are densely entangled. The concept of Net Work helps to better grasp how Occupiers organize without organizations. Important for Occupy, no one directs how the movement will unfold. Instead, people begin working on an idea, recruit some allies, and carry out action without knowing if another group is doing the same thing. The hacker ethos of “don’t propose, just do” helped Occupy become a multi-modal movement that melds online worlds and offline spaces. Focusing on how the communication infrastructure became formalized across occupy projects illustrates how occupiers as knowledge workers cull, assess, analyze, summarize, and distribute information in the service of the movement. I conclude with the example of Occupy Sandy to show how the forms of communication networks already used by occupiers were leveraged to provide direct aid to storm-torn communities.

Photo of black leaf

Those who participate in net work projects are often already employed as knowledge workers. Italian theorist Bifo Berardi describes them as the cognitariat, workers whose labor consists of spending a good deal of their time thinking about and moving knowledge from one place to another. They gather, analyze, and assess data, facilitate collaboration and think critically about future directions. In the case of Occupy, the cognitariat remix the corporate space of social media for their own purposes, while also taking up public space or “privately owned public spaces” (POPS) as a way to challenge corporate rule. I argue that net work becomes possible because the main currency of the internet is keywords. A keyword like “occupy” can be used to move between online and offline groups and helps the user find similar communities of practice in ways that keywords like “social justice” simply can not.

Star stipulates that “Nobody is really in charge of infrastructure.” This is because infrastructure is layered overtime and involves not just different locales, but also generations of users with different skill sets and idiosyncrasies. Occupiers did not consciously make decisions early on about how to build a unified infrastructure, but rather, many infrastructures appeared with similar characteristics. For each occupation there was a facebook page, twitter account, webpage, general inquires email address, a google group, a donation page, phone number, a camp or public meeting space, as well as a set of committees.

Also, they all had keywords in common: #OccupyWallStreet is not an address, but an organizational schema that signals to the user to go on twitter and use that keyword to seek out like-minded people. When coupled with other keywords like “#OccupyOakland” or “#OccupyCleveland” localized groupings become possible.

Keywords also produce a kind of solidarity, if solidarity is thought about in the sense put forward by Emile Durkheim. Durkheim believed that solidarity refers to the interdependence of components within a social system which are held together by a set of similar values. The term “Occupy” became synonymous with another more potent phrase “We are the 99%,” where 99% refers to not just a proportion of the population, but a class position opposite the moneyed 1%. Becoming part of Occupy was more than just identifying with a subject position, it included finding a niche where you could use the skills that you have in order to start a new project or work on an existing one. For some, this could mean sleeping in parks, going to street actions, doing outreach, picking up garbage, or working on the group’s finances. But for the cognitariat it meant curating information, producing content, broadcasting livestreams, and administering social media platforms. Each form of participation was integral for the whole system to operate. Without people using the internet to promote actions, they would be sparsely attended. Without actions to report on, live streams would be dull, and social media stagnant.

The ability to find one another as well as a place to plug into the Occupy movement is an effect of rhizomatic communication. Communication across this global movement has no center or command post; instead, there is a sprawling organizational structure that leverages all points of connectivity to foster growth. It’s a rhizome, a nodal mass of roots that grows horizontally under the soil, such as a root of ginger. Like infrastructure, rhizomes rarely become visible and as such require some digging.

Occupy employs rhizomatic communication, wherein multiple channels are used to strengthen networked connections that spread ideas from one group to another. This model includes the simultaneous use of email groups, social networking sites, text loops, conference calling and face-to-face meetings to circulate information from many to many. This rhizomatic form, then, becomes a model for how to carry out direct actions themselves in distributed and redundant (while also coordinated) fashion.

Mobile communications such as smart phones and laptops with WIFI are technologies of social change that allow users to connect to the global network from anywhere with signal. Global movements against capitalism have creatively re-imagined the uses and constraints of social media’s capacity to network and broadcast. Castells calls this counter-power, where people use technology to build a sense of togetherness to combat state power. And this, I argue is where 8net work flourishes. Today, no single call to action is effective, but rather cognitarians, push information through networks with the intention of networking networks. Posting, linking, liking, friending, inviting, sharing, tweeting, retweeting, following, instagramming, regramming, streaming, broadcasting, commenting, blogging, emailing, texting, calling, watching, donating, recording, editing, documenting, note-taking, meeting, and finally, protesting are all forms of “GSD” within Occupy. GSD means “getting shit done” … In other words, labor or work.

Importantly, many cognitarians brought skills from their daily lives to bear on occupy projects, while also poaching much of their paid work hours to conduct mundane tasks for Occupy projects, like answer email, write press releases, admin social media accounts, all from their workplaces. Being able to plug into the network from both inside and outside the camps was critical for building solidarity and coordinating massive direct actions, like the west coast port shutdown in December 2011.

In my opinion, Occupy Sandy is the most sophisticated project to come out of the Occupy camps. Responding to the devastating superstorm, occupiers leveraged all existing platforms around a set of keywords in order to organize donations and volunteers. Instead of adopting a rigid bureaucratic structure that requires compliance to a set of rules (Think Red Cross), networks that use rhizomatic communication leverage aspects of bureaucratic communication, including reliance on documentation and skill building, while removing the hierarchical process of approval for taking action. “Don’t propose, just do!” became the ethos after the storm. With 40K New Yorkers without power, water, or access to public transit, already-existing Occupy social media accounts began using the keywords #sandyvolunteer to query needs and link people to social services and web resources. However, this quickly became an overwhelming and ineffective way to organize. The demand for information and resources far surpassed the people-power managing those accounts. Moreover, occupiers on the ground in Rockaway, Red Hook, and Staten Island were also experiencing a myriad of communication glitches from lack of electricity to cell services.

Enter InterOccupy.net, a small group of “network nerds” based in locations all over America. IO began in October 2011 during the height of the encampments, as a project to link different occupations together and provide conference calls, email lists, and documentation tools for those who wanted to spread ideas or coordinate actions nationwide. Importantly, by the time Sandy hit New York, IO had some practice dealing with ecological crisis as some worked on a campaign after Hurricane Isaac hit New Orleans. Moreover, IO and OWS volunteers also were able to rapidly set up internal and external email lists, a website, and social media accounts with nearly 30 administrators from all over the USA. Sharing the burden of communication and information management to those outside of the crisis area allowed for other forms of work, like databasing volunteers, routing donations, and answering emails, to get done more quickly.

The name #occupysandy was adopted later because one occupier who worked on finances for the camp in Manhattan already set up a donation page bearing the name. Moreover, in tweets inquirers were re-using occupy-related keywords and overlapping them with #sandyvolunteer. Many of the people volunteering in the emerging network were opposed to an occupy related organization, but were powerless to stop its momentum.

In order to remain cohesive around the Occupy Sandy keywords, a facebook page, twitter, and email account were set up to drive people to the website, donation pages, and volunteer locations. On the back end a series of conference calls, email lists, text loops, chat boxes, google docs, maps, phone calls, carpools, a volunteer database, newsletters, and wifi equipped volunteer locations, held the network together, albeit by a thread. Because Verizon held the lone cell towers in badly damaged areas, some were unable to reach the cell network and began using google voice numbers through their wifi as a way to patch holes in the communications system.

Interestingly, while InterOccupy always envisioned themselves as a network that circulated ideas, it did not occur to any of us that we could also distribute goods. This fact though was obvious when the movement had camps; as occupiers were able to feed, clothe, and provide medical services to many on a daily basis. But after the raids the question remained: how could Occupy enliven a spirit of public service akin to the one felt in the camps? Occupy Sandy shows that whatever networks move information, can also move goods and people. Yet, the conditions of the crisis still matter.

A hashtag like “mutual aid” would not have produced the kind of solidarity needed to respond to hurricane sandy. However, mutual aid is the basis for projects that use net work to meet community needs. In the case of Occupy Sandy, a group running the social media accounts might never speak to the person transporting 1000 flashlights, but all of the work is significant for making Occupy Sandy successful because actions are animated by mutual aid.

The anarchist zoologist, Peter Kropotkin, describes the benefits of mutual aid in his study of bees, “These small insects by working in common, multiply their individual forces; by resorting to a temporary division of labor combined with the capacity of each bee to perform every kind of work when required, they attain such a degree of well-being and safety as no isolated animal can ever expect to achieve, however strong or well-armed it may be. In their combinations, they are often more successful than man, when he neglects to take advantage of a well-planned mutual assistance. Thus, when a new swarm is going to leave the hive in search of a new abode, a number of bees will make a preliminary exploration of the neighborhood, and if they discover a convenient dwelling-place-say, an old basket- they will take possession of it, clean it and guard it, sometimes for a whole week, until the swarm comes to settle therein. But how many human settlers will perish in new countries, simply for not having understood the necessity of combining their efforts.”

Here, the combined efforts of Occupiers acting as cognitarians to leverage the networks built during the days of the encampments, while also scaling-up the technologies of communications that occupiers are already accustomed to using, led to direct aid in the most devastated areas. In the words of the New York Times, “Where FEMA Fell Short, Occupy Sandy Was There.”

Joan Donovan researches global anti-capitalist movements use of information and communication technologies. In 2011, she helped build the InterOccupy.net platform, which facilitates distributed direct actions by linking networks of activists. She is completing a dissertation at the University of California San Diego on the communication infrastructure of the Occupy movement.

This article was originally published on Occupy the Social.

Home Defenders Take Action Against Wells Fargo in Support of 86 Year Old Grandmother Facing Foreclosure

#truth pic.twitter.com/xfmR4QYZFz— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallSt) February 17, 2014

As European parliamentary elections approach in May, a revolutionary citizen network in Spain is emerging to challenge the business as usual approach to electoral politics.

Under the banner of the Partido X: a Citizen Network, a new project conceived around the 15M constellation, the people are putting together a new structure for political participation that seeks to channel the 99%’s thirst for meaningful action, while at the same time undermining the corrosive grip traditional political parties have had in Spain over the last decades.

Read me: “We want to open new ways for the people’s victories to materialize.” – @Partido_X chats w/ @OccupyWallSt http://t.co/GWh8U1PjnK

— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallSt) February 13, 2014

The idea is simple: create tools and methods for active citizen participation in the drafting of a party platform and the selection of candidates, that if elected must abide by the decisions of the network. “We want to open new ways for some of the victories the citizen movements have achieved to materialize, because the political parties in Spain are totally ignoring the population” says 15M veteran and Partido X organizer Miguel Aguilera.

Partido X combines a variety of emerging practices from around the world—like Brazilian participatory budgeting, wiki-constitutions in Iceland, citizen driven public transparency efforts in Sweden, Denmark or Finland, or regular use of referendums in Switzerland. Partido X is also creating new methods like the “Federation of Competences” an organizing principle that proposes mechanisms to implement effective distributed democratic participation in large-scale organizations. They are radically redrawing our expectations of how a political party ought to look like.

Turno de preguntas y conversación en Castellón con la gente que ha venido a la presentación de la #RedCiudadana pic.twitter.com/luW3vhgV8s

— Red Ciudadana (@Partido_X) February 11, 2014

The Federation of Competences is an attempt to overcome some the limitations of both vertical and horizontal decision making structures. For example, the program of the Partido X is developed through crowd-sourced drafting of public policy proposals, where we invite groups or experts that are already working on a given issue and are socially recognized for it to submit the first draft of a policy proposal and later we post it online for the network to amend. This way we combine expert knowledge about an issue with open and transparent participation.” According to Aguilera so far they have approved three platform proposals using this method, and each go around has proven more successful than the past “our first proposal Democracy, Full Stop took several weeks to pass though the correction and amendments process, since then we’ve passed an Economic Plan and an Emergency Plan to confront the crisis, both have evolved in much smoother fashion.” More than 2,000 people have participated so far in the amend processes, and as the platform grows so do their numbers: around 25,000 are registered in their newsletter, which is the first step to collaborate in the network.

Partido X candidates are also selected differently “we create open lists of candidates, the only requirements are you not be affiliated with an existing political party and not be convicted of corruption or criminal charges. Candidates are then submitted to test-run events where the network can judge their competence.” When pressed on whether the reliance on candidates would jeopardized the democratic structure of the network, Aguilera suggest “we think of Partido X candidates as though they were public avatars for the network. By establishing radical transparency and new methods of participation, candidates will be constantly held responsible, not just until the next election cycle. We already have empty politicians, the difference is they respond to the interest of the corrupt and powerful.” What the Partido X Citizen Network is trying to do isn’t completely new, some established political parties have been experimenting with some of these methods, but it does represent the first incursion into electoral politics on the part of one of the diffuse network movements that sprung up during the global uprisings of 2011: “we took great pains from not trying to profit at the expense of the 15M and other citizen movements, and create to some extent our own identity and network infrastructures. But we are definitely tapping into the spirit of empowerment that 15M created.

Currently the Partido X is going on tour throughout Spain, spreading the word and gauging whether to run European Parliament candidates for the elections in late May. The tour has become a powerful organizing tool, since it encourages cities that want to host a Partido X event to develop the crowdfunding campaign, promote it through local social networks and take care of the logistics, thus creating autonomous nodes for the Partido X across the country.

“These next european elections promise to be interesting. Even though our approach is different from the 5 Star Movement in Italy, what we are seeing is the growing momentum of a network driven opposition to the big financial interests thats have eroded democracy in Europe. The hope would be that if we start winning elections more parties will begin to adopt this approach.

Miguel Aguilera is part of a large group of organizers some meeting through 15M and others attracted by the opening of a new front in the electoral arena, either in squares or online, and are spread all across the country. They have been working tirelessly over the past two years to assemble a workable alternative to the domination of the party system “we have been primarily focused on trying to set up a workable, scalable structure, which continues to evolve as the network grows. Soon we will have to focus on how to win elections.”

Many of the tools from different citizen movements will be re-purposed to garner support: everything from live streaming, to creative actions. But what members of the Partido X network are truly banking on is that:

“People are fed up. They are fed up with the political parties, they are fed up economic policies that serve the rich. They’re fed up with not having a voice. It’s time for the people to beat the Party System at their own game,” says Partido X.

This article was written by Pablo Benson and published by Occupy Wall Street.

We are the 99%… We are rising up… This year is gonna be hot… 2014 is going to be hot. pic.twitter.com/rcOIcuIorB

— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallSt) February 13, 2014

Hello OWS!
I don’t want to waste your time so I’ll be brief.
I think you should start a new civilization.
If you can raise $7m for a rolling jubilee it should be easy to raise money for a new society. I read this fictional story called “Mann…

“Happy Valentine’s Day to all the Occupy lovers out there.” – OSN

♥+ Love More. Fear Less. http://t.co/Vua7p3yhRg #occupylove pic.twitter.com/vGrkCoFiHA

— Occupy Wall Street (@OccupyWallSt) February 13, 2014

What is it about love that makes it a compelling or politically interesting concept? What kind of work does love do politically that other concepts don’t do?

Michael Hardt: One healthy thing love does is it breaks through a variety of conceptions about reason, passion, and the role of affect in politics. There are a number of other ways of doing this, but considering love as central to politics confounds the notion of interest as driving politics. Love makes central the role of affect within the political sphere.

Another thing that interests me is how love designates a transformative, collective power of politics – transformative, collective, and also sustained. If it were just a matter of the construction of social bonds and attachments, or rupture and transformation, it would be insufficient. For me, it would have to be a necessarily collective, transformative power in duration.

Lauren Berlant: We’re looking for something, some way of talking about the possibility of an attachment to a kind of collectivity that doesn’t exist yet. There are lots of things that can do that, like fascism, or the politically orchestrated forms of sociality that could do that. But we want the thing that includes a promise…

The thing I like about love as a concept for the possibility of the social is that love always means non-sovereignty. Love is always about violating your own attachment to your intentionality, without being anti-intentional. I like that love is greedy. You want incommensurate things and you want them now. And the now part is important.

When you plan social change, you have to imagine the world that you could promise, the world that could be seductive, the world you could induce people to want to leap into. But leaps are awkward, they’re not actually that beautiful. When you land, you’re probably going to fall, or hurt your ankle or hit someone. When you’re asking for social change, you want to be able to say there will be some kind of cushion when we take the leap. What love does as a seduction for this, and has done historically for political theory, is to try to imagine some continuity on the affective level. One that isn’t experienced at the historical, social or everyday level, but that still provides a kind of referential anchor affectively and as a political project.

Michael Hardt: Let me start with the non-sovereign thing. I like that. If one were to think a political project that would be based on or include love as a central motivation, you say, notions of sovereignty would be ruptured. That’s very interesting and powerful. I assume we are talking about a variety of scales here simultaneously, where both the self and the social are not sovereign in love.

When we engage in love, we abandon at least a certain type of sovereignty. In what ways would sovereignty not be adequate in explaining a social formation that was grounded in love? If we were to think of the sovereign as the one who decides, in the social relation of love there is no one who decides. Which does not mean that there are no decisions but, rather, that there would be a non-one who decides. That seems like a challenging and interesting question: what is a non-sovereign social formation? How is decision-making then arrived at? These are the kinds of things that require modes of organization; that require, if not institutions, customs, or habits, at least certain means of organizing the decision-making process. In a politics of love, one of the interests for me is a non-sovereign politics, or a non-sovereign social formation.

By thinking love as political, as somehow centrally involved in a political project, it forces us to think through that non-sovereignty, both conceptually, but also practically, organizationally.

Davis: I’m really intrigued by the ways you both speak of how love is a project of non-sovereignty in terms of the social, the self, and the relationship between the social and nature. If you’re trying to conceive of each of those layers with a certain consistency, whether that is a surface of habit or as an institution, then what is the difference between those formations and sovereignty?

Michael Hardt: I’ll start with some basic things. I think within the tradition of political theory, it’s not at all clear what a non-sovereign politics could be. It’s hard to make such grand generalizations, but the tradition of political theory we inherit is fundamentally related to the role and decision making of the one, whether that one be the king, the party, the liberal individual, all of these. Here, decision-making can only be performed by the one, and so I think this is what Toni Negri and I have felt is interestingly challenging about the concept of multitude itself. How can a multiplicity decide? The organization of decision-making is central for me for thinking politics or political theory. I guess I would apply this to the level of the individual too. How can an individual as multiplicity, and hence as non-sovereign, decide and not be just an incoherent helpless heap? What I think is required for that, now back again at the level of political theory, is understanding how collective structures, or structures of multiplicity, can enable social decision-making. We also have a long tradition of the possibility of the democracy proper – the rule of the many – but it’s a minor tradition, or sometimes a subterranean tradition. That seems to be one way of characterizing what’s at stake, or challenging in this.

One other pedagogical way of thinking about this, that seems to me useful for posing the problem, is the long tradition in European, Chinese, and many other political theorizing that goes back thousands of years, which poses an analogy between the human body and the social body. In these traditions, the analogy is very explicit: the army is the arms, the peasants are the feet, the king is the head, and so forth. This assumes the centrality, hierarchy, and unity of the organs of the body that ground and justify the centrality and unity of the organs of the social body. The natural assumption, in Hobbes and any number of others, about the human body and its functions, are what make necessary that kind of social form.

So what if one were to take seriously the contemporary or even the last thirty years of neuroscience that talks about the non-centrality of thought processes and decision-making processes in the brain? What if we were to keep the analogy and say, well, actually the brain is not centered. It’s an incredible complex of neurons firing and chemical processes. Thinking about the human body and the brain, in particular, as a non-centered multiplicity, would help us understand a radically different social body. I think that my inclination generally would be to throw out the analogy, but it’s at least polemically interesting to say let’s take the analogy and recognize it for what it is, and the functioning of the brain might help us understand that sovereignty was a mistaken idea in the first place for how the individual functions.

Lauren Berlant: I think “sovereignty” badly conceptualizes almost anything to which it’s attached. It’s an aspirational concept and, as often happens, aspirational concepts get treated as normative concepts, and then get traded and circulated as realism. And I think that’s what happened with sovereignty. So, in “Slow Death,” I say that perhaps we should throw sovereignty out, but people are so invested in it maybe we can’t, because you can’t just decide that ghosts don’t exist…

Read the full discussion between Lauren Berlant and Michael Hardt on the politics of love at Reviews in Cultural Theory