For a few weeks last fall if you visited the occupation in the financial district you could taste it in the air; the world was about to turn over. Occupy Wall Street stuck a chord of discontent so profound that thousands gladly went to jail, yet so simple everyone understood. It was a visceral outrage coupled with complex statistical analysis; and it’s confident audacity and momentum shocked us toward hope. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed. But it’s dead. It died when it divorced itself from the tactic that defined it and broke from a singular community into thematic groupings. But it changed us, it changed how activism acts, and, more importantly, it changed how we all interact and identify with each other. Occupy Wall Street may be dead, but its influence continues to grow.
Occupy is Dead; Long Live Occupy!
For the first time in months the mainstream press is not only paying attention to, but praising the life born in the death of OWS. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the very first people to respond were not affiliated with government or established relief organizations, it was a group of individuals who wanted to help their community and named themselves “Occupy Sandy.” Occupy Sandy has developed a wide network throughout the affected areas bringing relief, often more efficiently than anyone else. Occupy Sandy has provided a way for non-professional concerned citizens to plug in to disaster relief. This has never before existed, and the need has never been greater. The Rolling Jubilee, another life born from OWS, is set to launch a campaign to abolish individual debt. The idea is that this group will buy heavily distressed debt from collectors for pennies on the dollar then abolish it. The hope is that that person will then pay it forward, spending a few hundred dollars to free someone else of ten thousand, and so on.
Both Occupy Sandy and the Rolling Jubilee are creations that could only exist in a post-Occupy world. They both depend on a socio-political shift that began with the occupation last year that says: We are all in this together, and if we want change we must create it ourselves. Occupy Wall Street may be dead, but it has infected our collective consciousness in a way that continues to evolve. Long live Occupy.