The Significance of Occupy

Dan La Botz

September 20, 2021

Occupy Wall Street, a national mass movement against economic inequality and the influence of corporate money in politics, began in New York City and then spread across the country until it involved tens of thousands in dozens of other cities and towns. Occupy’s slogan“We are the 99%”— referring to the mass of ordinary working people as opposed to the top 1% with their trillions — captivated the public imagination.

The Occupy activists in the United States and then in countries around the world created encampments that served as launching pads for mass actions of all sorts. Utopian in the best sense of the world — suggesting that another different and better future was possible — Occupy profoundly changed public consciousness. The inspiring Occupy movement was crushed violently by local police forces, state troopers, and federal agencies, thousands arrested and several indicted on a variety of charges.

At the time, the movement failed to create a political vehicle, but its energy later flowed into the presidential campaign of democratic socialist Bernie Sanders. The following piece, originally published by Solidarity on August 9, 2012, attempted to capture the experience, to analyze it politically, and to ask how such a movement might become more effective.

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