Rise & evolution of Occupy: An international view




S17 photo by Marie Countryman,

We recommend the latest tour de force of reporting and analysis by Jerome Roos of ROAR Magazine. Titled “Beyond Occupy: Liberating Ourselves From Debt Slavery,” Roos’ essay examines the evolution of the Occupy movement in the context of the evolving global uprising against monopoly capitalist domination of our lives. Assessing the ongoing lessons of the movement, Roos points out:

From the very beginning, the point of Occupy was to create alternative pathways of political engagement. The occupation of public spaces was first of all an experiment: an experiment in new forms of collective decision-making and leaderless self-organization. In this respect, it would be absurd to claim that mobilizing millions of people around the world in a timespan of just a few weeks – without any centralized form of authority coordinating these actions – somehow constitutes a “failure”, just because that incredible mobilization wasn’t sustained indefinitely. The moon landing wasn’t a failure just because we refused to set up a permanent lunar base. Similarly, Occupy wasn’t a failure just because we refused to set up permanent encampments everywhere.

Roos goes on to highlight Occupy’s signal accomplishments: The emergence of popular assemblies “in a thousand squares across the world;” the creation of countless new activist networks and media outlets; shifting the “limits of the possible” away from the right wing’s obsession with deficits; and advancing methods of horizontal decision-making and radical direct action. Its main failing, he suggests, may have been in embracing a name for the movement (particularly in the US) that ties it too narrowly in the public mind to just one tactic – physically occupying public squares – that has had a profound political impact, but was certain to be temporary.

Following the lead of many OWS organizers, and of David Graeber’s recent Nation article, “Can Debt Spark a Revolution?,” Roos proposes that the next wave will mainly focus  on the need to “liberate debtors from the shackles of debt.” Linked with movements of workers, artists, environmentalists and others, squatter campaigns to reclaim foreclosed homes and workplaces are the leading edge of the movement’s next wave.  Roos concludes:

As we get ready for another long, cold and grey winter, let it not be forgotten that spring awaits us at the end, and that no matter how long and deep the darkness may be, one day the sun will shine again. And on that day, after the seeds of our revolution have laid dormant for many a stormy night, let us finally break through the cracks of capitalism like millions of brightly-colored flowers, reaching out for the light that still shines upon us all. Undivided. As one.

The full essay is at