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.