What Has Happened?

From his vantage point in Durham, N.C., Laurent Dubois attempts a summary of what has happened during two months of the Occupy movement:

The rapid spread of the Occupy movement, of its slogans and symbols, has been unexpected. It’s a truism of American politics that any attempt to mobilize people along class lines faces many obstacles. By declaring “We are the 99%,” the Occupy movement tried to skirt that problem, insisting on a radical inclusiveness, and even inviting the 1% along as well. But in the many critical responses to the movement bouncing around in the media and on twitter (“Get a job!” is a favorite refrain, as if the whole movement is the result of the leisure time of lazy unemployed people), you can see how challenging it is to break through established attitudes and codes.

The Occupy movement has nevertheless managed to do so, creating a new space for people to articulate a critique of the social order. The movement has become a magnet for a powerful, diffuse, but widely shared sense of deep unease about the shape of our institutions and their inability to address the pressing concerns of individuals and communities. That the anxiety and anger seems to run so deep is perhaps why the movement has generated so much concern, alarm, and especially in recent weeks, police repression.

Read the full essay here.

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