On Power.  An institution gains power when people surrender their individual agency to the institution. The more people that do this, the more powerful the institution. Power can be thought of as a gathered pool of people’s individual agencies. Our movement is about trying to make people take their agency back and fully engage with themselves and reality. Surrendering agency is the opposite of that. Therefore, institutions should not have power. They should be for facilitating the coordination of individuals. The General Assembly (GA) can be seen as functioning this way. It facilitates coordination and action. People follow consensus decisions of the GA because they agree with them. However, we should resist the idea that people must follow the GA’s decision, or that you need the GA’s permission to do anything. It is not a power body. People must retain their individual agency, meaning they can chose not to follow the GA’s decisions. We have focused a lot of energy on not having leaders, which makes sense because leaders also exercise power that has been surrendered to them. It doesn’t make sense to substitute another power body in place of leaders. We will end up with the same problem. Individuals are always free to act without GA blessing. This is a fundamental human right. —Anteant

On Outdoor Space. After the raid on Liberty Plaza, the absence that opened up in the center of our movement was greater than the size of the physical space in that tiny, concrete park. For us, space is not a mere necessity—a place to lay our head, to eat our meals, to congregate and assemble—it is also a symbol and a direct action. Literally, vacant lots are voids that we fill with physical representations of our concerns, hopes, fears, and dreams. We invite others to join us and create an infrastructure that liberates minds. We must reassert our rights to occupy public spaces. Privatization has created a dichotomy of those with and those without, those with being landowners—a fraction of the population. We must partner with communities, artists, educators, not just taking for ourselves, but opening locked gates for all to occupy.

Now that we are rebuilding, some say that it is in our best interest to occupy indoor spaces. The reasons for this are various. Occupying indoor spaces such as foreclosed houses and abandoned buildings politicizes individual struggles. It answers the question of how to survive through the winter and how to create a life outside of the spectacle of this revolutionary project. It allows the message of our movement to enter communities through individual voices. But occupying indoor space is fundamentally about reclaiming private space, a shift from our notions of what it is to be public, transparent, inclusive and collective. Outdoor spaces symbolically oppose Wall Street in a manner that directly threatens its stability, and maintaining our presence in opposition is crucial to enfranchising more supporters moving forward. Indoor spaces are an important compliment to whatever we do, but we must remember that outdoor public spaces embody the heart of this movement. With each space we consider, we must ask whether it gives form to our collective desires. This is our metric. We will not wait for channels of bureaucracy to gift spaces to us. We will liberate them. —TH

On Celebrities.  The list of celebrities that want to throw benefits, concerts, events, etc., is endless. We use celebrity status as a resource that gets coupled with a strategic objective. We first ask whether they are arrestable for an action? We ask celebrities to participate in direct actions, throw concerts in neighborhoods without permits, mobilize their followers for actions. We ask them to tweet and facebook messages we draft for them. We do not want our movement mainstreamed in order to make activism cool for people to join. Our movement radicalizes people to act in a non-violent manner. It shifts consciousness and empowers. When we do an event, we should create space for marginalized voices to be heard. Bruce Springsteen is a privileged voice. He can make himself heard anytime. So maybe he speaks less. Maybe there are testimonials from the marginalized. Maybe the event has a radical educational component. Maybe the artists participating are made sufficiently informed of what OWS is. That’s one way to spread the movement. —N.D.

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When bodies gather as they do to express their indignation and to enact their plural existence in public space, they are also making broader demands. They are demanding to be recognized and to be valued; they are exercising a right to appear and to exercise freedom; they are calling for a livable life. These values are presupposed by particular demands, but they also demand a more fundamental restructuring of our socio-economic and political order.


In this time, neo-liberal economics increasingly structures public institutions, including schools and universities, as well as public services, in a time in which people are losing their homes, their pensions, and their prospects for work in increasing numbers, we are faced with the idea that some populations are considered disposable. There is short-term work, or post-Fordist forms of flexible labor that rely on the substitutability and dispensability of working peoples, bolstered by prevailing attitudes toward health insurance and social security that suggest that market rationality should decide whose health and life should be protected, and whose health and life should not. And this was, for some of us, keenly exemplified at that meeting of the Tea Party in which one member suggested that those who have serious illness and cannot pay for health insurance would simply have to die. A shout of joy rippled through the crowd, according to published reports. It was, I conjecture, the kind of joyous shout that usually accompanies going to war or forms of nationalist fervor. But if this was for some a joyous occasion, it must be precisely because of a belief that those who do not make sufficient wages or who are not in secure enough employment do not deserve to be covered by health care, and that none of the rest of us our responsible for those people.

Under what economic and political conditions do such joyous forms of cruelty emerge? The notion of responsibility invoked by that crowd must be contested without, as you will see, giving up on the idea of a political ethics. For if each of us is responsible only for ourselves, and not for others, and if that responsibility is first and foremost a responsibility to become economically self-sufficient under conditions when self-sufficiency is structurally undermined, then we can see that this neo-liberal morality, as it were, demands self-sufficiency as a moral ideal at the same time that it works to destroy that very possibility at an economic level. Those who cannot afford to pay into health care constitute but one version of population deemed disposable. Those who are conscripted into the army with a promise of skills training and work, sent into zones of conflict where there is no clear mandate and where their lives can be destroyed, and are sometimes destroyed, are also disposable populations. They are lauded as essential to the nation at the same time that their lives are considered dispensable. And all those who see the increasing gap between rich and poor, who understand themselves to have lost several forms of security and promise, they also understand themselves as abandoned by a government and a political economy that clearly augments wealth for the very few at the expense of the general population.

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Read more: From and Against Precarity

Creating new autonomous community zones is necessary for the survival of the movement. We must project our vision of a just world onto the blank paving stones of public parks and into the silent hallways of abandoned schools. Our priorities have shifted; now it is time to shift our communities—to turn our collective imaginary into a collective reality. We must occupy, regardless of the mass of unknowns and fears that might be tied into the act of liberation.

Interviews or articles about Occupy Wall Street eventually lead to one question: “What does a just world look like?” We need only to look at Liberty Square, or at any people’s occupation from around the world, for an answer. Although these sites are microcosms, they are nevertheless worlds where we aspire to achieve mutual aid and solidarity, autonomy and horizontality.

The overarching belief seems to be, however, that a just world is a world without conflict, and that the occupations are too chaotic to embody the world we work towards. This stumbling block is a dehumanizing sentiment that stunts our ongoing critique of how we interact with one another and confront the baggage carried over from generations of oppression. We are not as concerned with utopia as we are with justice, meaning that we as occupiers do not avoid confrontation. On the contrary, the greatest distinction between our community and the society around us is that we approach conflict with revolutionary priorities.

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Read more: An Occupier’s Note

We believe we can’t have radical action without radical thought.

Tidal offers theory and strategy as a means of empowering occupiers, whether actual or potential, to envision actions that ultimately transforms existing power structures.

In Tidal, theory means an assumption based on limited information or knowledge. Strategy means the art of devising or employing plans or stratagems towards a goal. Action means this. This moment; This struggle. many voices. history. and process. collectively, imagine.

We are an ongoing horizontal conversation among those who have spent most of their lives thinking about this moment, and the people in the Occupy Movement that are making decisions every day about its future. Aware that ability is a privilege, Tidal endeavors to offer challenging ideas in language that’s accessible to the common person. We hope these writings positively impact the Occupy Movement, propel it forward and clarify its goals.

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We have come to Wall Street as refugees from this native dreamland, seeking asylum in the actual. That is what we seek to occupy. Through this occupation we seek to rediscover and reclaim the world.

We were born into a world of ghosts and illusions that have haunted our minds our entire lives. These shades seem more alive to us than reality, and perhaps by some definition are more actual, hyper-real. We grew up in this world of screens and hyperbole and surreal imagery, and think nothing of a long-dead actor appearing on a wall in our homes to urge us to buy or live a certain way. Some generations ago, we might have all been burned, perhaps rightly, as witches. After all, who knows where these images really come from? 

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Read more: Communique #1

The point is to occupy our schools with clear political purpose. It’s not enough for a tiny band of adventurous students and teachers to take a school building and hoist a flag. We need to gather vast networks of resonant support if school occupations and strikes are to succeed.We can see how in Chile, Puerto Rico, California and around Europe, educational activities proliferated, rather than halted, when people effectively shut down campuses.

We’ve reached a month and a half into Occupy Wall Street—a movement catalyzing millions into decisive action around the world. For many of us, ‘occupy’ has become a verb to be sung. This rowdy crowd word, at once descriptive and prescriptive, aims to body-flip the logic of imperialism on its head. A radical people’s occupation of public space doesn’t erect checkpoints; it tears them down. Instead of usurping others’ resources, we heartily pool our own for free distribution. The call to occupy now reverberates from Oakland ports to NYC Department of Education hearings, from garish Sotheby’s art auctions to rush-hour subway ciphers. The wealthy are now hounded at public appearances, while banks begin to dance the frantic backpedal. The results are in, folks: A poor people’s movement is once again changing the course of history.

So how can we apply such electric tenacity to occupy our schools? Initially, education activists did well to look beyond the immediate horizon of campus grounds and help transform public squares--the movement’s major first act. The recent “People’s University” and “#occupyCUNY” teach-ins at Washington Square Park demonstrated, along with each OWS assembly and Open Forum, how to re-shape public places as free venues for collective education, places where each of us can actively make meaning in a range of critical discussions. With the goal of shaking prevailing school priorities inside out, these wide-open counter-classrooms have been essential. But for our second act (and just in time for winter!), we need to boomerang the “occupy” movement back to where our power was latent all along: our college environments.   

Teachers and students reoccupying our schools means jettisoning many failed tenets of higher education’s current operation. Competitive individualized learning, rigid demarcation of disciplines, shallow celebration of difference, grading systems that all-too-viciously distort self-worth—these are the pedagogical tools of the 1%. Instead, let’s host at each campus OWS-style General Assemblies that welcome the surrounding community and put educationally marginalized voices at the top of the speaking list and the top of resulting activities. Let’s collaborate via write-ins to produce "People's Dissertations" about the Occupy movement’s significance, with public writing times, committees of peers and involvement across disciplines. After each dissertation is created, we can hand out P(eople)h(ave)D(dreams) certificates en masse, thus rupturing the emblems of intellectual prestige.

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Read more: Step 1: Occupy Universities. Step 2: Transform Them.

There are ninety and nine that work
  and die,
In hunger and want and cold,
That one may revel in luxury,
And be lapped in the silken fold;
And ninety and nine in the hovels bare,
And one in a palace of riches rare.
From the sweat of their brow  
  the desert blooms
And the forest before them falls;
Their labor has builded humble homes,
And the cities with lofty halls;
And the one owns the cities and houses  
  and lands,
And the ninety and nine have empty
But the night so dreary and dark  
  and long
At last shall the morning bring;
And over the land the victor’s song
Of the ninety and nine shall ring,
And echo afar, from zone to zone:
“Rejoice, for labor shall have its own.”

From the Machinist Monthly Journal,
November 1931

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